Freighter Officer Jean Rikter reporting.
10:43:903289: Nothing much to see here on this rock. The guys are all outside collecting some mineral samples.
10:44:904399: Great. Looks like Williams left the door open. Atmosphere is harsh but breathable. I still don’t want to smell it, though.
Also I’d hate for some slimy, one-eyed, tentacled freak to get inside here and start hunting us down one by one and eating us…or worse.
12:28:910553: Well, we finally got out into space, headed back home. Jasper said he saw some kind of slimy, one-eyed, tentacled freak crawl into the ship when they were on their way back from getting the samples. He thought the creature might try to hunt us down one by one and eat us…or worse.
Nice try. They’re always trying to scare me since I’m the only woman on board.
15:11:914587: These guys are disgusting. They’re leaving long trails of slime all over the place. I’m not a janitor, I’m a Freight Alliance Officer! When I told them to clean it up they acted like they didn’t do it.
Also Williams pulled a disappearing act to get out of cleaning. He’ll be formally reprimanded unless he has a damned good excuse -something like “he couldn’t hold a mop because he was hunted down, ripped limb from limb and eaten by some slimy, tentacled alien monster.”
15:24:915626: I heard all kinds of terrible screams last night. Someone (sounded like Jasper) yelled out “Holy Shit it’s a disgusting, slimy, one-eyed, tentacled monster!! He’s hunting me down, ripping me limb from limb and eeeeaatiing meeeeeeeeeeeee!! Aaargghh!”
Or at least I think it was “Aaargghh!”. It might have been “EyyyaAAAAAAHH!!” Sometimes sound gets distorted in this rusty old ship. Anyway, it’s a question for another time. I would ask the boys but I haven’t seen them all day. I’m off to get some shut-eye.
If anyone wakes me up tonight they will damn well be reported when we get back to command.
16:13:919987: Hobarg and Captain Worth haven’t reported for duty this morning. They did manage to leave a slime and blood trail all over the damned ship, though. I know guys play rough but what were they doing?? To Hell with this. I’m going down to the Captain’s quarters and letting him know just because this is a big boys club they still have to act in a professional manner. This is all going in my report!!
16:13:920031: SHITTTTT!! SHITSHITSHITSHITSHITSHITSHITSHITSHITSHITSHITSHIT!!!!!!
CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH. SLURP. BELCH.
Hey, that was pretty good. Think I could get a Hugo Award for this story? This shit could really happen. The first part, not the award part.
Anyway, welcome back, Hypertransitory art fans!
So here’s a piece from my Unfinished Business post a few weeks back that I finally finished. Can you believe it? Me, neither.
I actually ended up “going back to formula” though. Instead of continuing on from where I left off in Photoshop, I decided to make a few changes to the piece in my 3D program Daz Studio 3.
Just to refresh your memories, here’s what the first piece looked like:
As you can see, it only bears a superficial resemblance to the finished work. After revisiting this piece, I decided there were three things I didn’t like about this first one:
- Character expression is a little off what I wanted.
- Never did add that pursuing monster in there, so that had to be addressed.
- I decided to ditch the cartoon rendering and go with more traditional 3D style (this was the biggest hurdle).
I was now determined to finish this one no matter what the cost, or how many lives were lost – so it was time to jump right in.
Back in Daz -Facetime:
So I had to fire up Daz Studio 3 (Daz 4 is out now but I’m gonna stick with what I know for the time being).
If you check the first expression on the character’s face, she doesn’t look truly afraid. She kind of looks like she might be annoyed at her boyfriend or something. Like he forgot to take the trash out or pissed her off in some other way.
To fix that I decided to crank up the dials on the face and really over-exaggerate that open mouth and the wide eyes. I also tipped her eyebrows up to denote more fear/worry. I wanted a pretty extreme emotion on her face. No half-assed “kinda scared”…she’s TERRIFIED.
I didn’t make any other significant changes to the pose besides that, so it was time to move on to the next step -the MONSTER.
At this point I needed some kind of creature to be chasing this poor woman, so what to do?
Normally, when looking for a prop of any kind (animal, clothes, weapon, etc.) I’ll start off at the Daz Studio webstore, then I’ll run a search or just look through all the pages until I find something suitable -but I never did.
When I can’t get what I want at Daz, I’ll usually head over to another 3D model site called Renderosity. After a search there I found the perfect creature tentacles.
There were others there, but these were cool and also cheaper so I went with them.
After adding them to the scene in Daz I played around with the pose of the tentacles until I came up with the scene you see.
It all worked out, except I wanted the creature to have some sort of body/mouth/eyes showing in the doorway -the tentacles have to lead to something, right?
Of course, I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted so I opted to drop a giant eyeball in there. This turned out to be easier said than done.
You eye-ballin’ me??
Believe it or not I couldn’t find a giant eyeball prop. What the heck is that about?
Anyway, I looked through the props I already had installed and I realized I had this dragon figure, so essentially what I ended up doing was adding the whole dragon to the scene, then setting everything except one eyeball to be invisible.
Not very efficient but it worked for what I wanted. So this is what the whole scene looked like at this point:
The long goodbye render
Here’s where things took their most drastic turn. I decided to change the style of the piece from the cartoon art shown previously, to a more realistic type of rendering using a ray-traced lighting setup.
What this meant was that things were going to take a lot longer to render. By a lot I mean HOURS longer. Raytracing is a method in which the program actually traces the path of light through your scene, bouncing off objects as it would in real life. This can be incredibly hard work for your computer to do. Imagine how many times light may bounce off given surfaces as it travels.
You can usually tell the rendering engine to stop tracing after “x” number of bounces or so to cut down on the processing. To spare my little struggling workhorse Mac-Mini, I kept the bounces down to a maximum of 6.
Changing my lighting setup also meant that I had to go back and change the material settings for my props. Most of it had been set to accept light in a way that was much more flat and conducive to cartoon rendering. Now I had to change it so that it worked well for raytracing. This included the skin and suit of the woman and the corridor hallway. Annoying, but luckily not too bad.
The final adjustment that had to be made was the actual size of the art. The first cartoon-looking file was done in a 16×9 widescreen aspect ratio.
I like that proportion a lot, but the only problem is 16×9 ratio is not a standard print size. I’m getting more into the print game and I don’t want people to have to crop my work or worse yet have some auto crop feature distort or resize my art to make it fit one of their sizes.
So I decided to move to a more square 3×2 aspect ratio which fits most standard sizes pretty good. While I like the widescreen better aesthetically, using the 3×2 will save a ton of hassle in cropping and resizing time, so it’s worth it to me to just go with that.
As I was checking out possible venues to host my prints, I looked up the size requirements. I wanted people to be able to order in a 20×30 size if they so desired. Most places specify the prints should be at least 9000 pixels on one side for best results.
Wait…9000 pixels?! Holy crap, that’s big. At least it’s big for my machine. But I crossed my fingers and decided to go for it anyway.
Well, the render itself took 10 hours! I started it at night and went to sleep. I got up the next morning and saw it was still going. I took a shower, ate breakfast, then got back to my machine just in time to see the render CRASH right when the progress bar got to 100%!! Damn damn damn!!
Oh boy was I pissed. All that time rendering with nothing to show for it. I wasn’t gonna let that happen again.
After researching the problem, I realized it happened because the hard drive that file was residing on was almost out of space, like it was down to 700mb. Whoa. I moved all the files over to my new 2tb drive and tried it again that night. This time it actually completed after another 10 hour marathon render.
Post render world
So now I had this 80mb file to work with. To put this in perspective, most of my cartoon renders get finished in a faction of the time and are maybe a couple of megabytes at the most.
After I got done working with this file it was over 1.5gb! Oh, my poor Mac Mini struggled mightily to keep up with a file that big. It was one of those situations where you want to save often because Photoshop might crash, but it was taking over 5 minutes to save sometimes so I really didn’t want to save to often as it was messing up my workflow.
But, I soldiered on and both me and my computer somehow survived. I had to give it a day off though cuz I don’t pay overtime.
Oh, yeah…2 more things:
As I finished up the main version, I also thought I’d go for a couple more versions of the same piece.
So again, here’s the main one:
And now the second one:
I wanted this one to be a little “colder”. Sometimes sci-fi is characterized with colder, bluer palettes and I thought I’d trend that way with this version.
And finally, the third version:
For this last one I wanted to push the “colder” feeling even farther, so I made it more harsh and stark than before. It kind of came out as a one-color piece and I liked the look of it.
Prints now for sale…sort of
I’ve decided on ImageKind.com to fulfill orders for prints. I’m using the free service for now but it has most of the options I want.
One thing I discovered is that the vast majority of my previous work just will not print very large. Some of it might be passable at 10″ x 16″ but I’ll never get 20″ x 30″ out of it -I just didn’t work that large. Crap. Shoulda been on top of that. I’ll probably go back through my stuff to find the best pieces and put them up on Imagekind. Right now “Corridor Horror” is out there by itself.
Those of you interested in purchasing and/or know someone interested in this sort of thing, then please pass on the link. Now what I need to do is concentrate on marketing this stuff (somehow). I suspect it will take more than just posting on Facebook :)
The wrap up
For those of you unfamiliar with the 3D working environment I put together a mini video of me just moving around the interface to give you an idea of how these scenes are built. Check it (IE users may have to click the link instead):
Ok so that’s one down from the Unfinished Business post…now to buckle down and knock out another one. I think I’ll tackle one of the drawings next so I can avoid another 10 hour render for the near future -so stay tuned for that. Until that time, as Stan Lee would say…Excelsior!!