I AM! I haven’t heard even a hint of that stupid song yet! I can taste victory! 😀 😀 😀 UPDATE!!:I WON!!
Anyway… harrooo! Merry incoming Christmas! Or whatever it is that you celebrate! 😀 Exactly like last year, when this is posted, I’ll be sliding down a snowy hill on a toboggan in an attempt to beat my sister to the bottom, and losing every time because my toboggan is crap! 😛 Saw lots of people crashing and wall-riding last year because they were too dumb to slow down and/or turn for the corner, which was funny. Hopefully there’ll be more of the same this year. 😀 Oh, and we’ll be sitting in giant inflatable rings and sliding down some ice, too. 😀
I also went to Cadbury World in Bournville with the whole family a couple days ago. 🙂 The best part was… well, I was gonna say the shop, but no, the best part was an accident that happened during one of the shows. One of the actors was sat on a barstool-style chair when the top cushion part of it kind of collapsed, allowing the frame of the stool to tear through the fabric and pelt him (seemingly) directly in the gonads. 😆 He rolled with it so well that it almost felt like it was staged, but it can’t have been. That stool looked totally phwoacked afterwards, and the wicked witch completely fell out of character and could barely stop laughing. Understandably, of course. It was hilarious. 😀 The second best part was the shop, which is now my new favourite shop. I was expecting it to be a total ripoff, but holy crap, there were some really great deals in there. I ended up buying way more than I thought I would. 😀 The rest of Cadbury World? Nah. Don’t bother. Especially with kids. Unless you’re crazy about history or the Cadbury brand (as a company), it’s suuuuper-boring. 😛
Anyhoo, aye, despite having the uninteresting history of the Cadbury brand forced into my ears, it’s been fun. I hope you’ve all had fun so far, too, and I hope you get some nice presents tomorrow! 😀 And hey, I’ve got a slightly early present for you: a Christmas render! Whether it’s a nice present is totally up to you, but hey! PRESENT! Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth! Its breath is terrible! 😛
(where did that stupid saying even come from 😛 )
So, this year, I was a bit worried, cuz I couldn’t think of a solid idea for ages. Usually I have something solid before I start working on a render, because I really don’t like scrabbling around in the dark, so to speak. It’s not fun to work on a vague idea for hours just to realise that it ain’t gonna work out well, or at all. 😛 But I did eventually think of one, and amazingly, it was DeviantArt which kick-started the idea this time.
One day, when I decided to log in just to see if I’d happened to get any views on my work in the past few months (I hadn’t 😛 ), I noticed that they were doing an event where they take Christmas cards made or decorated by artists and give them to people who are in hospital over Christmas. If you participated, they’d give you a free month of Core, too. This was interesting, because it felt like the first time I’d seen something on DeviantArt that I might actually be able to participate in. Normally all they do is competitions clearly aimed at high-level artists. But just as I was thinking about doing it, I realised. I don’t give a damn about DeviantArt’s stupid Core membership, I probably wouldn’t be able to get the render done in time, the price to send a letter overseas would probably be way more than I’d be willing to pay, and I don’t really consider myself to be an artist. They might’ve rejected it for being too weird or not arty enough. I dunno if they look gift horses in the mouth or not. 😛
But the event did make me think… why don’t I do it anyway? Why not base my scene on something that would look nice on a Christmas card? And hell, why don’t I make actual cards out of it and give them to people I know, people who will probably appreciate it? 😀 Kind of an odd idea, really, because I haven’t done Christmas cards since primary school. I think they’re a bit pointless. 😛 Oh well, my brainworks in odd ways, so I guess the idea isn’t so odd for me. 😛
So, I booked my remaining days off work, and when they came around, I used them to work on the render. Then the weekend, too. And the odd day after work the next week. Eventually, after tons of fannying about, I ended up with this! BEHOLD!
Oh maaan, I’m so happy with this one. 😀 And I’m glad, because as you might’ve deduced from what I said up there, it took way longer than I was planning. I initially thought it was a simple enough idea that I’d be able to do it in two days, but nope! It ended up taking six. Not six whole days, of course. I had annoying things like “work” and “social life” that I had to deal with in-between. 😛
Although thinking about it, overall, it probably didn’t take that much longer than normal. I didn’t spend the entirety of every day doing the render, so… it probably only took about 4 whole days, as opposed to my usual 2-3. I think it took longer because of indecision and the need to keep adding things to the scene, not because of things that went wrong. 😛 The worst thing was choosing the environment, and at first, I thought the render would never see the light of day because of it. I tried one which looked quite good and that I felt would work, but when I set it up and rendered it, I found that it didn’t look anything like the promo images… which is a very common occurrence, but still irritating. 😛 The next environment I tried didn’t look bad, but it was mahoosive, and all the detail seemed to be focused on one small part of it that I didn’t plan on using. Thankfully, I got hold of another environment which was a much better fit. I ended up combining the HDRI from one of the other environments I’d tried with the geometry from the new environment, which worked very nicely. 😀
After that, it was just tweaks and mostly unnecessary experimentation. 😛 The most time-consuming one was probably the custom morph I did for the wyverns. There’s a supermorph which transforms the Dragon 3 into a wyvern, but I’ve never properly used it because it never looked “right” to me. The body’s fine, and I don’t mind the bulkier muzzle (even if I do wish it was optional), but the feet really bug me for some reason. I always saw wyverns as having three front toes and optionally one rear toe, so they can grab things easily, kinda like a bird of prey. But this supermorph keeps him as a four-toed dragon, but with an inflated index toe tipped with an oversized talon, and it just makes him look stupid. Like some sort of deformed velociraptor. 😛 So, I made a really rough extension to the morph in ZBrush, in which I scale his fourth toe down to zero (because one cannot simply remove it without rerigging the whole model, and I have no idea how to do that 😛 ), and make all his talons big. Massive overkill, because I reckon no-one will give a damn, and the morph is rough as hell, but hey, I like it and I think it looks better, so shush. 😛
There were other annoying little things I had to do, too. Because the tree and decorations were all one big mesh (not separate), I had to extract some baubles from it to place in the claws (and maws 😛 ) of the dragons, as well as in the decoration box. I ended up having to cut the top off a crate using DS’s lame-o geometry editing tool to make said decoration box, because I didn’t have one that could open. 😛 It was also really tricky to make the tinsel look nicely shiny and metallic. I had to use glossy anisotropy and set the rotations just right to get the effect I wanted.
I got the A5 version done in a few days, and that was printed onto the cards I sent out to people, but it didn’t actually end up being the final version. Because of time pressure (I had to get something reasonably close, otherwise the cards wouldn’t be delivered in time), I’d forgotten to add mist into the background, which made it look like the foreground and background were melding together, even with depth of field. Also, I then realised that when I extended the picture to 16:9, the left and right sides looked… dead. There was no life outside the middle third of the image. So, yep. There was still more work to be done! 😛
I came up with some nice “scene extensions” for the left and right sides, and learned a way to add mist to the scene. I basically just used a bigass cube set to be completely refractive, with a refractive index of 1 (the refractive index of air), a high scattering distance, and a very, very faint light blue scattering colour. It pretty much doubled the render time, but it was worth it. 😀
Wow, that’s a lot of blabbing, but I’m done now! 😀 Lots of tweaking and additions, but I think it was worth it in the end. What about you? Do you like it? 😀
Now for the RENDER STATS! And… I don’t have them! 😛 Not right now, anyway. I know that the render was done in 4K at Quality 3 (one more than I usually do) and it think it took about 12 hours. I’ll get the accurate numbers when I get home, and update later. 🙂UPDATE!!: Lmao oops. I completely forgot, and now the render time’s been truncated from the DAZ Studio log file. 😆 I’ve also since deleted the raw footage used for the timelapse, so the only number I have is from the timelapse itself. Rendering in 4K, it took around 18½ hours to reach 95% convergence at Quality 3. Normally I do Quality 2, but this time, my early test renders were completing really quickly, so I thought I’d spend a bit more time for a tiny increase in quality. When I shifted to 4K, added the new dragons, and especially when I added the mist, the render time spiked, but I didn’t go back to Quality 2 in response. I was probably thinking “naaah it’ll be fine, placebo quality go go go”. And I was probably stupid-tired, too. 😛
As for postwork, there isn’t much, really. The main things are the subtle falling snow and the vignette, but I also removed/masked a few distractions and tiny mistakes, added a cooling filter, and tweaked the levels. I do want to tweak the vignette again because I think the desaturated corners are way more distracting than I intended, but that’ll have to wait until I get home. 🙂
Since the render took longer than usual to create, I made a slightly longer timelapse for it, too. Sorry. 😛 But if you’re still interested, you can watch it heeah! 😀 As always, it comes with vaguely related music. I didn’t put any crappy Christmas music in the video because I can’t stand it, and all the winter-related songs I could find were all friggin’ depressing, so I had to resort to using songs from games I’ve played. 😛 First off, there’s a very wintry-sounding piece from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity’s final dungeon (I think): Glacier Palace (Great Spire). Spoilers. 😛 After that, I stick with the wintry theme by playing Snowy Mountain from Sonic Adventure before kicking it up a notch with the snowboarding music from the same game: Be Cool, Be Wild and Be Groovy! 😛 Then, there’s a song featured in Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd: Decorator by livetune(kz), which I chose because the name of the track describes exactly what’s going on in the scene. 😛 I finish with Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming) by Melanie Thornton, which is both full of cheese and just makes me think of the old Coca-Cola adverts, preventing me from taking the song seriously and making me laugh every time because I have a broken sense of humour. 😆
Also, here’s the progress history, too! You’ll probably need to click on it to enlarge if you wanna read any of my scribbles (unless you have eyes of GOD 😛 ).
I think that’s all for now. Time to schedule this post… if I can figure out how to do it on this mobile app! 😛 Have a great Christmas, and a happy new DECADE! 😀 See yaz!
UPDATE!! I added a few bonus pics to the post in an attempt to make the huge, likely boring wall of text a bit more interesting and less eye-bleedy. 😛
Hiii! Happy Halloween! Or All Hallows’ Eve! Or Allhalloween! Or All Saints’ Eve! Or Saints Row Eve! Not that last one! 😛
How’s your day been? If you’re a kid, I hope you obtained/will obtain many free sweets from creepy strangers! And if you’re an adult, I hope you successfully make it through your evening without any kids ringing your doorbell. 😀 Me? Well, I bought a box of treat-size sweets with the words “ideal for trick-or-treat” on it. And then began to eat them all. 😛 Like hell am I givin’ out sweets to random kids that interrupt my evening! Not like anyone’s ever buzzed my doorbell on Halloween, anyway, and not like I’d answer it if they did. 😛
Ah, seeing as it’s Halloween, I’ve got a spooky story about something that happened recently. Well, it’s not really spooky. Or particularly interesting. 😛 But anyway, for some reason that I can’t quite figure out, one of my videos on YouTube – just one – has seemingly gone viral, because the view count on it has exploded. It’s the last stage in my Streets of Goong series, Stage 8. I finished that series about 9 years ago now, and although it didn’t get a monstrous amount of attention, I was still really humbled by the response. It got far more views than I ever expected it to, around 5K-14K per video. However, all of a sudden, Stage 8 has gotten a monstrous amount of attention, achieving more views than all of my shitey videos combined: 636K, and it’s still rising. :O What shocks/scares/confuses me the most is that seemingly because of this, my subscriber count has jumped from about 100 (which I was genuinely amazed by) to 2,000 (which completely blows my mind), and it’s still going up! I don’t get it! That series is 9 years old! Why’d I get so many subscribers from it now? What’m I gonna do with them?! And why is everyone only watching the last video in the series?! That’s not even the best one in my opinion! 😛
Heh… typical, ain’t it? Back then, I had a ton of free time, so I used to post crap on YouTube fairly frequently, but it only got a relatively small amount of attention. Now I barely post one video a year, and suddenly I’ve got this massive audience for the stuff I posted ages ago. 😛
Y’know, talking about this viral explosion has just reminded me of another one I had a while ago, when a Starbound dev used one of my videos in a news post on their blog for a reason that didn’t really make any sense. The difference was that that ended up being very annoying, mainly because of the fanboyish comments I got which were directed straight past me as if it wasn’t even my video they were commenting on. Instead, most of the comments on the video were directed at the dev who shared the video, in a tone that falsely insinuated that they were bestest buddies, and in a way that made it sound that they believed the dev created the video or something. I didn’t mind much at the time, because I felt honoured that one of the Starbound devs thought my video was funny and random enough to share on their blog for a joke, but now I just get super pissed off when I think about it. Because Starbound, that borderline scam of a game that I backed when its first round of crowdfunding opened (with three others, and I was the one who suggested it, which made me feel bad when it was delayed to the point where we nearly forgot it existed), turned out to be a gigantic pile of turd and one of my most hated games of all time, easily described with words such as “slog”, “dull”, “untested”, “late” and “iwannaplayterrariainstead”. I know that last word isn’t a word. That just symbolises the developers’ lies. I don’t want anything to do with the shithead company who created it and if they shared any of my videos again I would immediately take down the video and re-upload it with external sharing disabled, like a kind of Chucklefish exorcism. Lmao “Chucklefish”, more like “Chucklefuck“. 😛 I encourage everyone to pirate every goddamn thing that has their name on it, and here is a gif just for those shithead devs:
ANYWAY, off-topic, MongMaster, VERY off topic and very ranty. The readers don’t care because they’re too cool for that, so get back to Halloween. 😛 Yes, despite the start of this post looking like some kind of trick, I didn’t come here to do that. I came to give you a treat*, in a kind of Soviet Russia-esque trick-or-treat! And that treat* is… a Halloween render! 😀
*your perception of whether this “treat” really is a treat may vary 😛
I didn’t do a Halloween render last year for some reason. In fact, I didn’t even realise I hadn’t done one last year until this year. 😛 Maybe I didn’t have any ideas for it, or maybe I was busy. To be honest, at first, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna create one this year, either. I wanted to, but couldn’t think of any ideas for days. It was probably just because my brain was a bit fuzzy, cuz when I decided to get serious, sit down, and brainstorm some ideas, I got one quite quickly just by thinking of stuff associated with Halloween. 😀
I ended up writing down “pumpkins”, “the Moon”, “werewolves” and “witches”. I didn’t feel that a pumpkin carving scene was good enough, and I felt like I’d already used the Moon in my last Halloween render, Ghost Stories, with its “ghost stories under the moonlight” theme. I liked the werewolf idea, but decided to put that on the back-burner in favour of a scene based on witches. 😀 And of course, you can’t really think of witches without thinking of the famous “Song of the Witches” scene from Macbeth, which I ended up using as inspiration:
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Blahdeblahdeblah.
I’d say it’s more of a “poem” than a “song”, and that’s only part of it; it goes on for three verses, which is about two verses too long, and the second verse (written above) is the least annoying and most readable of the three. 😛 IMHO, of course. I really hate poetry like this, and I’m not a fan of Shakespeare and his broken English (yes I know how stupid and ironic that sounds 😛 ), but I can’t deny that it’s a classic scene.
Anyway, so I finally had a solid idea in my head, but I still felt kinda unsure whether it would come out good or not. The mini-Arnold in my head said yelled “STAHP WHINING AND DOOEET NAOO”, so I picked a weekend (the only weekend left before Halloween :P), sat my ass down, accidentally stayed up until what was effectively 6AM (because of daylight savings 😛 ) and came up with THIS!
As always, there’re more flavours here! (1080p) (2K) (4K)
DRAGON WITCHES, BITCHES! WOOOOO! 😀
Ahhh, this one came out so gooooood! XD Honestly, I thought I was going to Fail It because My Skill Was Not Enough, but the basic composition of it turned out to be really close to how it appeared in my head. 😀 Beyond that, the little details and pose decisions, such as the jar of eyes and the right witch looking unsure about the recipe, just happened on the fly, as they tend to do. 😀
Not much went wrong during the process, this time. In fact, things went unusually well, which made a nice change after all the difficulties and indecisions I had while creating The One True Egg. 😀 Despite not having a clue about how to create textures properly and not having any of the tools for the job, I created a relatively decent (for me 😛 ) texture for the eyes in the jar. Stacking up about 40 of them in that jar also went really well; it wasn’t too painful, and it turned out great, especially since I thought they wouldn’t show up very clearly in the final render.
After having the central witch stir the cauldron and the left witch add ingredients, I was struggling to think of what the right witch would do at first. I came up with two ideas, and posed both of them to compare and decide:
I ended up going with the second one, because I liked the pose more, it matched up with the rest of the scene a bit better, and I felt that it had a bit more humour to it, in a subtle kind of way. 😀
The only technical problems I came across were pretty easily fixed. The first issue was with the “Instancing Optimisation” setting, which I’ve had a problem with before, back when creating Monster. Hunter. (see right). For some unfathomable reason, when set to “Memory”, it mangled the texture of the Dragon 3’s left eye, even though both eyes used the same material!
Turns out that this time, it was caused by having Instancing Optimisation set to “Auto”, whatever the fuck that means. 😛 I would’ve expected that “Auto” would select between “Speed” and “Memory” depending on how much memory the scene was eating, but no, it appears that Auto does something completely different to the other two options!
This “Auto” option seems to have been added in DAZ Studio 4.12.. or it might’ve been 4.11, but I never actually clicked the dropdown for that option in 4.11 because I never had a problem with it while using that version. Anyway, it was a minor annoyance. I just picked “Speed” and everything was fine. 🙂
The second problem was that I wanted to try dForce, DAZ Studio’s cloth simulation, to get some realistic collision on the hats. I’ve never really used it before because I only render things that don’t wear clothes (that’s dragons, dinosaurs, and the occasional mammal, before you go and make a funny 😛 ), but seeing as I got a dForce-compatible witch outfit so I could have the dragons wear the traditional witch hat, I thought I’d try dForce out. Turns out that the hat, despite being part of the “dForce-compatible outfit”… wasn’t actually compatible. Trying to make it compatible by Doing Stuff(tm) ended in a funny way:
So, yep. I didn’t bother using dForce after all. 😀 I just placed the hats as best I could, and did some morphing in ZBrush where necessary. 🙂 Part of me thinks I should have at least tried to dress them up in the witch robes, but it would’ve probably taken an immense amount of time to get right, and I only had one weekend to finish the scene. I can’t bring myself to pose after work; I feel way too tired and unmotivated. 😛
Also, I was originally planning to use an emissive material for the contents of the cauldron, but I actually found that using a point light and placing it inside the cauldron contents created a massively better effect. Probably because the emissive material just made the whole mesh glow with the same intensity, whereas putting a physical ball of light in the middle of the mesh caused some smexy refraction and stuff. It was a nice surprise. 😀
Anyway, now for the render stats! This was kind of an odd one. At Quality 2, the 4K render took 14 hours 14 minutes 28.57 seconds to reach its iteration limit of 25,000, getting to 73.11% convergence, which was about 22% shy of the target. That’s never happened before! Normally, a render at least gets close to the convergence target before it hits that many iterations, but this time, it was way off! I might have to do another render both overnight and while I’m at work to see if the outcome is any better, but hell, even at 73% convergence, it came out well! UPDATE: Before this post was scheduled to go live, I did another render, and this time it went on for about 27 hours before hitting a doubled iteration limit of 50,000, reaching a convergence ratio of 83.76%. It was increasing by about 0.01% per minute by the time it ended, and as convergence increases slower the higher it gets, it would probably take several more days to reach the target of 95%. 😛 The result of all that extra GPU burning was a microscopic increase in quality that I only noticed by flicking back and forth between the old render and the new one, so I felt that it was pointless to update the final image. 🙂
As for postwork, there was quite a lot this time. I added motion blur to the eyes falling into the cauldron, corrected a massive blunder with the front of the cauldron (there was a very obvious seam caused by the smoke effect from the cauldron, so I had to do some colour tweaks to mask it), did my best to try and make the dragons look more female (painting dark lines around their eyes, it was the only thing I could think of, and I really don’t think it worked 😛 ), removed some nose horns and minor light distractions, added a subtle fake bloom effect, smoothed out some noisy areas, added a vignette, and did some levels and brightness tweaks. 🙂
So… what do you think? Do you like it? Spotted something that looks off? Know an easyish way to make a Dragon 3 look more female? Lemme know! 😀 Honestly, I’ve done it before, but I don’t know how. I’m pretty sure it was a miracle that I made Emerald look as female as she did when I created Amai. 😛
Hmmm… I’m not sure why I use OneDrive to share my timelapses. Maybe I should put them on YouTube… 😛 Oh no no no, I know why, because if I put them on YouTube, I’d get slapped for using copyrighteted musics. 😛
Ah, also, as is also now tradition, I drew notes over my prototype and preliminary renders to keep my thoughts straight and to try and prevent me from forgetting anything, which makes a nice little history of how the render evolved. 🙂 Here it is:
Anyway, I think that’s enough from me for now. I hope you enjoy the render, and the rest of your Halloween! I’m off to trick or treat myself again. 😛 Bye!
‘Sup? Hope everything’s well on your end! 😀 Me, I’ve been somewhat busier than normal, as of late. My mum came down to visit a few months ago, and we visited London because we think Brighton is a boring shitehole. Yes, London is also kind of a shitehole, but at least there are things to do there. 😛 Anyway, that was good, but then the month after that I went to London again with my friends. Then the month after that, my sister came down to visit, and we did an escape room, which we cleared with only 4 minutes left. 😀 We learned afterwards that it has quite a high failure rate, so we were pretty chuffed with ourselves considering there was only two of us. 😀 It was really awesome, and I totally recommend it if you ever find yourself in Brighton for some reason (have a look for Bewilder Box). Oh, and we rode on some bikes along the bike lane on the seafront, too. It’s been at least 9-10 years since I rode a bike, and I’ve never ridden one in public before, and it was genuinely terrifying, especially since the bike lane was about 4 inches wide in places and the bikes were god-awful. I constantly felt like I couldn’t control the thing. 😛 Anyway, two weeks after that, I had another weekend with my friends, this time mainly just hanging out, playing board games and vidya games.
So, this excessive amount of human interaction, combined with work and lack of sleep due to the insane heatwave (it got so bad that I actually bought an air conditioner 😛 ), means I’ve felt pretty burned out as of late. Uh, no pun intended. 😛 Various bits of technology have decided to start being a dick to me recently, too. My printer randomly stopped working immediately after someone printed something with it last weekend, so I had to buy a replacement which happened to have the most irritating Wifi setup process ever. The new Windoze 10 update was near-impossible to install, and when I managed to do it, all it seemed to do was slow my PC down a lot and break Groove Music. And the Wifi on my router has randomly started plebbing out and refusing connections for no good reason. And my idiot firewall recently decided to ignore all its rules again, blocking things I told it to allow and allowing things I told it to block. It’s all so very, very annoying. 😛
To help myself chill out, I decided to book a week off work so I could sleep a lot. And it’s gone way too goddamn fast. 😛 And I haven’t really used it to chill out or sleep as much as I planned, because I’ve spent more than half of it doing a new render. But this is a good thing! I like doing da rendarz. 😀
This time, I decided to make something based on a weird office meme that started recently, between me and a few others. The story goes something like this: one day, one of my co-workers said “Lewis, can you test my branch?” from across the office. Lewis, one of our QA guys, somehow misheard this to a degree no-one could ever have imagined, replying with “What, egg and be true?” Shortly after that, I drew the best egg I’ve ever drawn on the nearby whiteboard, and wrote “Egg and be true” next to it.
Aaaand that how we began a cult. 😛
I’ve been meaning to make a render based on it since then. I came up with an idea for it while bored and daydreaming during a totally unnecessary meeting, but never found the time to put it together. So, with this week off, I thought I’d spend a day creating it, but because of things, that day turned into like 3 days. But I’d say it was time well-spent, as it is a joy to honour the One True Egg! PRAISE BE:
Ahhhh, so much zen! 😀 This was a really fun scene to do, and the pose was interesting to create, too, but when I began, I wasn’t sure it was possible to do it with Dragon 3. Sure, he can stand upright on his hind legs, and he can look pretty good when doing that, but having him sit down on his butt is a totally different story. Not only does his tail get in the way of him sitting down, there’re bend limits on his legs which prevent them from crossing over like that, and I had no choice but to break them by a massive amount (they’re twisted about 130 degrees, which is 50 degrees more than the limit 😛 ). It makes his thighs look really warped and weird, but I think I got away with it here because of the camera angle. His shins and feet block most of the problems, thankfully. 😛 There were other problems too, like his left foot intersecting his right calf, and the fact that his biceps looked huge when raising his arms. I had to fix those by creating some custom morphs using ZBrush.
Oh, and speaking of the raised arms… that gesture the dragon is doing with his claws is our form of greeting to members of the cult. Originally, the dragon was holding the egg in front of him, but I thought performing our greeting gesture was more apt. 😀 It’s performed by forming the top of a triangle with your hands and moving it over your head. The triangle represents the truth, and your head represents the Egg. The motion simulates the Egg piercing the truth. 😛 Nope, that was the QA guy’s idea, not mine. 😛
Originally, I expected to spend an evening doing the posing and lighting, have it render overnight, and do the postwork the next day. Annoyingly, though, a lot of things went wrong, and I kept having second thoughts and random ideas along the way, so I ended up spending way longer on it than I planned. 😛
On the first day, I had the scene assembled and the pose was pretty much finished, although it took a bit longer because I had to re-pose his arms after getting the idea to use the greeting gesture. The lighting wasn’t going great, though, so I had to spend another day on it. On that second day, though, I started getting a lot of random ideas. I changed the candle holders to be black on one side and white on the other, I tried out making a gloss map for the dragon’s tail to show that it was wet from being in the water (which didn’t go very well for some reason), added rim lighting behind the dragon, and struggled with adding lights around the egg to simulate that it was glowing. That’s when I remembered seeing something called “Canvases” in the advanced render options, and thought that it would let me render different parts of the scene separately so I could do some things in post that I wouldn’t normally be able to do very easily. Lol no. 😛 When rendering a Canvas, you can only render one at once, it seems to render them in a totally different way than normal, and it spits out some random garbled junk in addition to your render, which very, very vaguely resembles what I wanted to render:
yay whitespace I can’t get rid of, thanks wordpress, you piece of shit
A long time after rendering these, I realised that these are 32-bit images, which probably explains why the files were so massive. Really not sure why they display like that, but whatever. Converting them to 8-bit gives you something that looks better, but at the same time… no it doesn’t. 😛 It looks awful. Like… all glowy and shit. And the background is gone, too. And judging by the fact that two of each type of candle rendered as a black silhouette in the left image, it seems that Canvases don’t support instanced objects, either:
wordpress is shit
And of course the Canvases feature isn’t documented. 😛 So I gave up on it. It’s really annoying, though. It feels like this would help with things like motion blur, and open up a lot of post-processing possibilities, but nope, no documentation about it, and it’s impossible to figure it out by poking it like I normally do. Maybe I’ll fight with it again in the future.
Anyhoo, after ditching Canvases, I then had the idea to make the egg gold instead of silver… then as I was doing that and trying to decide whether I liked gold or silver more, I accidentally made the egg transparent and thought “AH, A GLASS EGG!”, so I did that instead. 😀 I think it turned out well in the end, but making the glass egg caused another problem which ended up costing me a lot of time. I first noticed it when adding a light behind the egg to re-create some nice-looking water reflections that I’d lost after switching the egg to be made of glass. Doing this made me discover a very… uh, interesting quirk with the Iray shader. If you set a light emitter to have geometry, and place it behind something that’s refractive… even if the light emitter’s geometry is set to be hidden, the refractive material will render it. Basically… you can see invisible things in refractive materials. 😛 This meant you could clearly see a black circle in the egg, that black circle being the emitter I was using to get the water reflections around the egg cup.
Trying to think of ways to fix this without cheating pretty much drained about 4 hours of my time. 😛 I even went back to the Canvases feature in desperation, trying to figure it out so I could fix the issue I was having, but nope. In the end, I had to cheat and render the scene twice, once with the emitter on, and once with it off, and combined the two images in post to get the reflections without the black circle. It made me feel a bit dirty. 😛
After realising that cheating was my only option, and fixing some problems where the lighting changed completely when enabling the Caustic sampler, I was ready to go. But of course, I had to make two more foolish mistakes. 😛 Firstly, I forgot to increase the maximum render time again. DAZ Studio has idiotic defaults where it will stop rendering regardless of the convergence rate if either two hours pass or Iray does 5000 iterations, and you still can’t change the defaults! It’s very rare for any of my renders to take less than two hours, goddamn it! (angry emoji) But my second mistake after that which was even more annoying? I trusted a friggin’ plugin I’d discovered a few days before. 😛
It’s a render queue. Basically, something DAZ Studio should have, but doesn’t, because they’d rather spend years adding “strand-based hair” and other much less useful shit first. 😛 As you can probably tell, the render queue lets you render one scene after another without input. I was a bit skeptical, but in my tests, it actually seemed to work, so I trusted it with rendering these two scenes. When I came back to it the next day, it claimed it had finished, but I could only find one render. That’s when I realised that whoever coded this made two massive schoolboy errors!
My scenes were called something like “The One True Egg 45.1.duf” and “The One True Egg 45.2.duf”. What this idiot plugin does is look at the name of your scene file, find the first dot, and discard everything after it to get the render file name. Presumably, it does this to strip the file extension, but for fuck’s sake, this logic is completely wrong!! When you do that to the scene names above, you get “The One True Egg 45” for both of them! You’re supposed to check for the last dot and strip everything beyond that! I didn’t notice this idiocy before rendering because, as you can see in the screenshot above, the window didn’t show the full target path! I just assumed the target paths would be correct, because why wouldn’t I?! But after scrolling across the window after about 8 wasted hours of rendering, BOOM! That’s when I realised that the coder was a dumbass!
And hey, as if that’s not enough, it doesn’t even bother to check if the file it wants to save already exists before saving it! So the plugin just goes “yep just save with that file name I’m sure it’ll be fine” and shits all over what was already there without giving half a damn! Oh my God, why do you not check if the file already exists?! Both of these errors are so ridiculously basic that all I can imagine is that the author wrote the code, then never looked at it again! Never considered any kind of edge case! That just seems like an “I don’t give a crap” attitude, to me. So yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by this plugin at first, and was gonna keep it after I’d confirmed it working in a real-world situation, but hah, not any more! No chance. I just can’t deal with half-arsed plugins that waste my time. I’ve already asked for a refund. 😛
Anyway… I’m calm. I’m calm… FUCK YOU I’m calm. Come on, MongMaster, zennnn… sit like the dragon and praise the One True Egg… thaaat’s better. 😛
That was the last thing that went wrong, thankfully. 😀 After that, I re-rendered the scene four times (twice for the character-focused version, twice for the desktop version), and all was good and stuff. 😀 At Quality 2, with the Caustic and Architectural samplers on, the character-focused render (6.7MP) took 7 hours 6 minutes 20.2 seconds in total, which was much longer than I initially expected. And that was using both GPUs, because the scene was quite light on GPU memory. As for the 4K render (8.2MP), it took 3 hours 52 minutes 29.3 seconds in total, which makes NO SENSE. It has 22% more pixels but it rendered 80% faster! :S Maybe it’s something to do with the image dimensions? I dunno. Magic. 😛
As for postwork, that consisted of merging the two different renders together to get some nice light around the One True Egg’s eggcup without having a black circle within the Egg, blurring out some noise that the post-denoiser didn’t get for some reason, adding some glint to the dragon’s eyes, tweaking contrast, levels and saturation, and adding a vignette. Here’re the two different renders before postwork, so you can hopefully see what I mean:
fix your shitting editor wordpress oh my god
Continuing the recent tradition, I created a timelapse of this render, too, adding some mildly-related music behind the video. 😀 I really struggled for tracks this time, though, because for SOME reason, no-one wants to sing songs about eggs. 😛 Still, I just about managed to scrape together enough egg-related songs for the video. First off, there’s “E.G.G.M.A.N” from Sonic Adventure 2, followed by “Do The Funky Chicken” by Rufus Thomas (sorry, not sorry 😛 ), and finally, “Egg Shaped Fred” by Mansun. 😀 I was tempted to include “Tails and Dr Eggman Fight but Dr Eggman Dies In An Explosion” by Sonic4ever on there, but I thought I’d use Eggman’s theme instead. 😛 You can check the timelapse out here, and watch me keep changing things and flail around with Canvases and slowly lose my sanity (not like I had much in the first place 😛 ). Yes, I’ve tried embedding the video in the blog post again, but it’s still not working. And I don’t want to use YouTube because they’ll be all like WAAAAAAAH COPYRIGHTED MUSIC, even on unlisted videos, and even though I’m not profiting off using it. 😛
Oh ya, also, like I did with Dino Disco, I drew some notes over my preliminary renders that pointed out problems and things that were going well. I’ve found that this really helps keep my thoughts straight and helps prevent me from forgetting something that I need to fix before the final render. And when the render’s finished, it becomes a nice history of how the render evolved over time. 😀 Here it is:
I also thought I’d try doing something else new and dumb with my renders, for cheap lols important research purposes. 😛 I’m not sure if you know, but Microsoft released something a while back called CaptionBot. It’s an AI which looks at an image you give it and tries to describe it, usually with terrible results. 😛 So, I thought I’d feed CaptionBot my renders and see what it says it is. I’m hoping to be surprised at some point, but I’m mostly just expecting it to fail. 😛 Here’s what it thought about this render:
Boooring. You could’ve at least tried to describe it. That would have been funnier. 😛 But hey, it recognised that something was sitting down! Not sure where it got “cake” from, though. 😛
Oh, but there’s something similar to this that I’ve found really impressive, though: Clarifai. It does the same kind of thing, but instead of trying to form a sentence, it just spits out a list of words that match the concept of the image, along with a “confidence” value. It has all sorts of other features, too face detection, a colour breakdown of the image, and can even determine if it’s NSFW… and now I have a huge urge to try and break that feature for some reason. 😛 Aside from the explicit content detection, I’m not exactly sure what kind of serious use-case all this stuff has, but anyway, there’s a section of the site that lets you try it out, and it’s amazing how close it can get:
“Meditation”, “Zen”, “Spirituality”, “Candle”… there’re so many accurate terms there, it’s crazy! :O However, it didn’t see “dragon” (slightly understandable) or “egg” (bit of a blunder there 😛 ). And yes, it says it’s SFW with 96.8% confidence. 😛 I might make this a thing. CaptionBot vs Clarifai! 😀 Ahhh, I’m such a gorm. 😛
Anyway, I kind of went off-topic at the end there, but I hope you like the render! Let me know what you think. 😀 For now, though, I think I’ll stop writing junk and go and shoot some more giant insects on EDF 5, which thankfully came out on Best Console recently (thank you Sandlot/D3Publisher/whoever else was involved! 😀 ).
Egg and Be True, everyone! 😀
UPDATE!! Firstly, many thanks for the likes! Honestly, it means a lot. 🙂
A couple days after finishing and posting this render, I found myself thinking about it. To me, this scene represents light, and the good side of things… but what about the dark side? I wondered… could I pull a 180 on the atmosphere and make a dark, evil version of this scene?
To find out, I decided to revisit the scene, and began a corruption spree. I took everything I could think of, and flipped it around. White turned into black, sky blue became blood red… and before long, I found it: the Dark Side of the Egg!
So, so EVIL! 😀 I just took the words “evil” and “corruption”, and ran with them. The environment changes consist of the red lighting, the red “Dark Egg”, flipping the candle positions around and giving them red flames, as well as darkening the rocks and sand around the edges of the pool. As for the dragon, aside from the very obvious black scales, I made his eyes and wing membranes red, gave him new horns with a modified texture, made his facial expression more aggressive, lowered his arms, lengthened his talons, and gave him a bit more bulk. Good experiment, methinks! I had fun with it, at least. 😀
I’ve added it to the Render Flavour List under the main render near the top of the post, but of course, you can see the full version by clicking on it above. 🙂 I have the desktop version of the render in progress, and I’ll post it at some point tomorrow. I had an idea for a dual-monitor desktop wallpaper version of this, as well. Nothing special: just a simple compilation of both renders, side-by-side. If it doesn’t end up being a turd, I’ll post that here, too. 🙂
As Ulala would say: staaaay tuned!
UPDATE!! (2) I created the desktop versions of Dark Side of the Egg. You can get them from the Render Flavour List above, where the main render is. 🙂
I also created a basic dual-monitor version, where both renders “blend” together slightly. However, I realised that it’s not going to work for everyone unless I make about a million different versions of it. 😛 For two monitors of the same resolution, it’s easy, but if the monitors are different resolutions, it gets tricky.
I made Double 4K, Double 2K and Double 1080p versions, though. 🙂 I also made a 4K + 1080p version to put on my desktop at work, and if you have a look at that version, I think you’ll understand what I mean when I say it gets tricky, and why I decided to stop there. 😛 Having said that, if you do want a specific version for your monitor setup, just ask, and I’ll create it for ya when I get some time. 😀 Unless it’s triple monitors or something crazy like that. 😛
I be speakingwritingSPRITING (omg no) writing to you this time from the comfort of my (somewhat) new laptop! 😀 Aye, I got one for those occasions when I get in from work and all I feel like doing is eating some food before faceplanting my face on my bed, but don’t want to go to sleep immediately and don’t want to play games but still want to do something with my brain, like writing. Specific, I know. 😛 I already have a cheaper, sort-of-laptop that I backed on Kickstarter a while ago, but it turned out to be pretty much the worst thing I ever bought and is now just stuffed in a drawer somewhere. I have a ranty post somewhere in drafts about it and my reasons for getting it, and I’ve been meaning to clean up and post that for ages now, but I never got around to it. Maybe I’m putting it off because it’s all ranty and negative and crap. Writing negatively is fun sometimes, but I understand that reading negative stuff is usually like “ahhh stfu no-one cares ya shartface”. 😛
Oh, as we’re on the subject of computers, another technomological-related thing that happened recently was that I realised that my Raspberry Pi server was kind of… massively overworked. It was working as a media server, web server, backup device and downloader, and I’m pretty sure it hated me for it. 😛 So, I decided to give it a POWER UP!
It’s now the machine on the right of that picture. So… slightly bigger than a Pi, now. 😛 It’s basically the leftover bits of my old PC build all stuck together inside a stupidly cheap case with a low-end power supply and tiny CPU fan. Cost about £80 for the missing parts, and it’s pretty much just like my old machine was before its last major upgrade (pretty nippy!). Like the Pi, it’s running Linux (Ubuntu), which is the world’s worst OS until you have it all set up like you want it, and then it’s great! Uh, not for everyday use, though. 😛 I called the new machine “Shard”. Because it’s as if the Pwnage-O-Matic (my main PC, the giant thing on the left side of the picture) was upgraded and left some shards of its old self behind which then became Shard. Or something. 😛 Ahh, maybe I should’ve called it Snakeskin… no, no no no, shut up brain, Shard is good. 😛
Yes of course I name my computers. 😛 The laptop’s called Dragonflight! Because it’s an MSI machine, which has a dragon as its mascot, and it’s free to move around as it wants, and it’s quite powerful! Uh, but it’s a really hungry dragon. It needs to eat like every three hours. Friggin’ laptop batteries, man… 😛
Anyway, no, none of that was the actual reason for this post! 😛 Ahh, but maybe I can work the fact that I’m writing on the laptop into the actual post topic, somehow! Ahem… “So, MongMaster, why’re you writing to me on your laptop?!” I pretend to hear you ask. “Are ya just showing off, you fartnose?!” Yes, I be a showoff! But I’m not showing off the laptop… I’m showing off a NEW RENDER! 😀
But, uh… as I’m writing this first section of the post… the truth is that the render isn’t… actually done yet. 😛 That’s why I can’t use the Pwnage-O-Matic right now. It’s been locked up all day, burning the CRAP out of my EXPENSIVE 1080Ti in what is the most complicated render I’ve made so far. 😛 I mean, I could use it if I really needed to, but things will be slow and I’m kinda scared I’ll click the wrong button or do something the GPU really didn’t want me to do, which would cause it to crash and lose all the progress it’s made, and that would make me very angry and depressed at the same time which would cause a strange rip in space time and cause the universe to implode which would kinda ruin the weekend I have planned. So I’m not touching it. 😛
I’ve done some estimations using ULTRA SCIENCE and a simple calculator and figured out that the render is probably gonna take most of tomorrow, too (as of writing). Of course, to be honest, if it’s not done by the end of tomorrow, I’ll become very nervous and very bored, so I’ll probably end up stopping the render at that point and accepting whatever convergence ratio it’s reached. I think it’s entering the overkill phase of render quality right now, so I’m sure it’ll still look good if I do that. 😛
For now, though, I think I’ll save this into drafts and come back tomorrow to finish it off. 🙂
Hello tomorrow! Uh, today! Yesterday it was tomorrow, but today it’s toda- yeah, you get the idea. 😛
So, I never told you the idea behind this render yesterday. Today. 😛 Well… it was inspired by two different songs, one which I heard a while ago, and one I heard recently which ended up being the catalyst for the idea. The first song, the one I heard a while ago, is Liskodisko, by Hevisaurus. Yes, I’m still listening to them, and yes I know it’s Finnish so I barely understand a word, and yes Iknow it’s supposed to be a children’s band, but… DINOSAURS? PLAYING METAL? HELLO?! 😛 Honestly, I’d go so far as to say they’re my favourite band ever. They’re that perfect combination of unique, crazy, fun, and genuinely great. XD Anyway, as you can probably tell, “liskodisko” means “lizard disco”. Translating the lyrics of that song seems impossible for me, mainly because, as I said, I have almost zero understanding of Finnish, and partially because Google Translate just spits out total crap most of the time, but it’s pretty obvious that the song is about a bunch of dinosaurs or lizards partying at a disco and generally being crazy. I’m pretty sure there’s something in there about Herra Hevisaurus (vocalist) and Muffi Puffi (bassist) somehow falling over and getting tangled up after some kinda comic chain reaction, too. 😀
You might be able to tell where this is going already, but I’ll keep boring you with my explanations for now. 😛
The second song, the “catalyst”, popped up while I was listening to an online radio-station-but-not-really called DI.FM (not an advertisement, I hate ads, please use AdGuard on my site, I hate the shitty clickbait ads everyone is forced to see but refuse to give WordPress money to remove them 😛 ). DI.FM’s great for me, because it’s focused more on genres and music shows, which I hugely prefer over specific artists or eras, and I like hearing a random shuffle of tracks rather than going through set playlists. Anyway, I was listening to the Glitch Hop channel one day at work. It’s quite a cool genre until a horrendous, ear-raping turd of a track comes up, but it sometimes plays really awesome, funky tracks that get stuck in my head for days. One of these songs was a glitch remix of a well-known song by Was Not Was, called Walk the Dinosaur. You probably know it. 😀 The track’s great fun until you read into the lyrics and find that it’s actually a insanely convoluted protest against the Cold War. Of course, being me, I completely don’t care about that and just take the song at face value. 😛
I found myself letting my mind drift a bit as I listening to the lyrics of that song, taking them literally. I even ended up mishearing a lyric, and it actually helped the idea (I thought “I walked the dinosaur” sounded a lot like “I was a dinosaur” 😛 ). “Open the door, get on the (DANCE)FLOOR, everybody walk the DINOSAUR.” That, combined with remembering Liskodisko at the same time, was pretty much the moment where my brain went “AAAHAAAAAA! I HAVE AN IDEAAAAA!” and I had to stifle a laugh at the idea, cuz I was in the office and was supposed to be trying to figure out an incredibly irritating and boring bug I’d been working on for about a week. 😛
So… on a night like this, 40 million years ago, yeee-eah-heah the lizard disco’s starting! Everyone kick your legs in the air! This is the DINO DISCO!!
There’re some more flavours here! (1080p) (2K) (4K)
YEAAAAAAAAHAHAHAAAAAHHHH!! DISCO DANCING DINOSAURS!! WOOOOOOOOO!!! 😀 😀 😀
Haaaahh… ahaha… okay okay… okay, I’m calm… I’m calm. Sorry. 😛 I was just super-excited to share this one, because I think it’s my best render yet. 😀
Were you surprised? I mean, look! There isn’t a single dragon in there! :O That’s another reason why I thought this scene would be an interesting, fun one to do: I’ve never posed or rendered dinosaurs into a polished, “final” piece before. No, that one I did with the kaiju, “Monster Fight!“, doesn’t count. 😛 Hell, even in my big cesspit of rough/test renders, I’ve only ever posed one dinosaur-like thing before. So making dinosaurs dance as my first real posing attempt? Sure, why not dive in at the deep end?! 😀 I mean, if I can help dragons break their boundaries and do things like play basketball or play chess or code at 1AM, why can’t I help dinosaurs dance the night away at a disco?! 😀
Gotta say, though… this scene turned out wayyyy more complex than I originally thought it’d be. At first, there were only about 5 dinosaurs, but when I noticed the scene looked a bit “dead” in my first preliminary render, I decided to add more… and it ended up having 10. That means it broke my record for the most number of unique subjects in a single scene (that record was previously held by Fast Break, with 9 uniques). 😀 I’m… glad the subject count stopped at 10, though, because this render was the first one since Monster. Hunter. that really made me want to punch DAZ Studio’s face in the face. 😛 After adding all those different dinosaurs, the scene became so heavy that it stopped fitting in GPU memory. I have a GTX 1080Ti with 12GB of VRAM and it wouldn’t fit! I never thought that day would come, but aaaaargh it happened! And what does DS do when it can’t fit the scene in GPU memory? Why, it tries to render solely with the CPU, of course! And as I’ve said so many times, this is insanely irritating, because I always disable the CPU option under the render settings, but DS totally ignores that and tries it anyway! Yeah, the CPU might be able to render this scene, oh, in about a MONTH! And when this CPU render that I never asked for tries to start, it just takes so loooong to cancel because DS is stupid and dumb and ARRRGHHH! 😛
I fixed the memory issue in the usual way, by cutting the size of texture maps of things in the background, which somehow didn’t actually save that much memory, but it was enough. There was one other thing, though… I found that the Post Denoiser, the best thing DAZ added to DAZ Studio since Iray, sometimes turns itself off silently and without any warning. This seems to happen if you almost don’t have enough memory to render the scene. So, like automatically using the CPU when your GPU doesn’t have enough memory, this is yet another friggin’ stupid silent thing that DS does to “help”. Can’t they tell me when and why stuff like that happens?! It’s so annoying when it silently stops working and you have to fag around trying to figure out why!
Oh, this was the first time I tried out some volumetric lighting, too. DS doesn’t let you do it easily, of course, so I had to use an asset for it. Took a while to figure out and set up so it didn’t look like crap, but it worked well! It works by shining a stupid-bright light at a set of transparent planes with smoke textures on them. The “smoke” then catches the light and gives a volumetric effect. They seem to be quite expensive to render, though, and I had to do some postwork to remove some really ugly artefacts on one of the light sources, but overall, they turned out great, and added a lot of niceness to the final render. 😀
So… yeah, despite DS being annoying as usual when you push things right to the limit of what your machine can do, this all came together really nicely, IMHO. The thing I’m most proud of? Well… it’s gotta be that breakdancing raptor. XD I’m still not sure how I managed it. 😛 What do you think, though? 😀
Now… time for some render stats! This was… by far, my longest render ever. At 4K, Rendering Quality 2 and with the Architectural sampler on, to reach a convergence ratio of 95%, it took… 1 DAY 16 hours 38 minutes 25.58 seconds!! Holy CRAP! :O And normally, I use something called the Caustic sampler, too, which increases quality of light refraction. However, when I tried to use it this time, it made the first three iterations take about three MINUTES. This render needed about 26,000 iterations! I ain’t got that kinda time, foo’! 😛 It was probably the volumetric lighting that made the Caustic sampler hyper-expensive. As for postwork, there’s a fair bit this time. I blurred out some nasty, fuzzy artefacts in the background and on the red volumetric light facing the camera, covered up a blunder which resulted in a black circle near the raptor DJ (no WAY was I re-rendering the whole scene for that 😛 ), added motion blur to different dinosaurs’ arms and legs, added a “fake bloom” effect (which is way better and more reliable than trusting Iray to do bloom 😛 ), added a vignette, and did some vibrancy and levels tweaks. 🙂
Also, I managed to create a timelapse video for this render, too! 😀 Let’s see… the WordPress editor appears to have changed very slightly, so let me try the OneDrive embed code again to see if it works this time…
Okay, it seems to work for me… but it did take 742 years to load. Oh. It stopped working for me, and suddenly says it’s blocked. And it’s suddenly working again. But you can’t make it go fullscreen. And now it’s forcing a redirect to the video page when it loads. And now it isn’t loading again. And now it is, but it still doesn’t go fullscreen. And now it’s blocked again. And it’s working again.UPDATE!!: NOPE, it’s way too unreliable, and doesn’t work in the mobile app anyway, so I’ve removed the embed. Fucking goddamn it, WordPress and/or OneDrive WHYYYYYY?! Sigh. Well, I guess my only option is a lame hyperlink. Click here if you want to watch the timelapse. 🙂
Also, one other thing (slightly) worth mentioning… if you do watch the timelapse, you might notice that I started writing notes over my preliminary renders. They pointed out problems I noticed, things that needed to change, and stuff that was going well. I’ve never done that before, but the notes really helped keep my thoughts straight, and I found it quite useful. Especially when I had a feeling that the render would take ages to finish. 😛 And in the end, it became a nice “progress history” sort of thing, showing how the render evolved (and sometimes how it broke) after each set of tweaks. 😀 Here it is, if you’re interdasted:
Right… whew. I think I’m all partied out. Time for me to faceplant my bed again. 😛 I hope you liked the render! See y’all later. 🙂
…when a 👫 o’ 👨s, they were 👆✌️🚫👍, 🌟🐻 makin’ trouble in my neighbourhoo– yeah, that. 😛 (I had to write that on my phone, cuz that’s where all the emoji that the kids use these days are. 😛 )
Harro! How are you this fine weekend, or weekday if you didn’t read the post on a weekend? 😀 Me? I’m good, nothing particularly notable’s happened recently. Although I do need to phone Virgin Media because they “need information” about something or other. I’m upgrading to 350Mb from 200Mb after finding out that these titfaces have been overcharging me for pretty much no reason at all. I went onto their site the other day and found that I could upgrade to 350Mb for 13p more a month than I was paying for 200Mb. Shitheads. 😛
Anyway, whine bitch moan no-one cares. 😛 I do have something you might care about, though; a brand new, fresh, shiny, tasty* render! *oooooooooooh* (*not edible)
This one came about from this bit of conversation with a friend:
This was awesome, because no-one’s ever requested a render from me before, and that alone makes me happy. 😀 But anyway, dragons playing basketball? Hell yeah! Totally my style! 😀
…Apart from that I didn’t have much of a clue about basketball. 😛
All I knew is that some very tall men in some vests bounce an orange ball around and try and get it through a hoop to score variable amounts of points depending on how far away from they hoop they were when they threw the ball. 😛 So, I did some research, because I probably wasn’t going to get anywhere if I didn’t. 🙂 I searched for pictures of people playing it for pose ideas and mostly just found pictures of basketball riots, then tried to watch some NBA game replays for scene composition ideas but was denied by Fox because I don’t live in America, so I settled for some random friendly match (which didn’t seem very friendly 😛 ) on YouTube that wasn’t in English. 😛 I also read about basketball rules and a page containing shit-tons of lingo on Wikipedia.
I was originally looking for some kind of lingo where I could play around with the words (or not) to make a double entendre (the clean kind 😛 ) for the title. I was originally going for “monster jam”, but that’s just something I heard on Rocket League once, and it’s more commonly known as a motorsport event featuring monster trucks. But one of the terms on that Wikipedia page ended up giving me the general idea for the scene: “fast break”, where players try to advance the ball and score as quickly as possible, so I just went for that with the title, too.
Man, this one was so much fun to make! 😀 I was originally thinking of a scene with some action near the hoop, like a dragon leaping up to score while another leaps to defend, but after some playing around and discovery of the term “fast break”, I really liked the idea of a dragon confidently running up the court while the defenders prepare to intercept. It gave a much clearer focal point. 😀
This render contains the largest number of subjects I’ve ever rendered in one scene, including test renders: five main and technically four in the background, so nine in total! :O When I say there’s “technically” four in the background… that’s because I used DAZ Studio’s instancing system. I created four unique audience members and created two additional instances of each of them, which (apparently) saves resources when rendering. This means there’re actually 12 dragons on the bleachers, but eight of them are duplicates. I did this because… well, you’ll almost certainly never notice, because they’re waaaaaaay off in the background, miles into the camera’s depth of field annihilation zone. Would you have known if I hadn’t told you? 😀
I also realised there was a practical problem… team identification. I wasn’t going to give them clothes because A: I don’t like the idea of that, and B: the only items available are armour and saddles. 😛 I was thinking of spraying player numbers onto their scales, but I didn’t go through with that because I thought it’d look shitey, and I’d had a better idea anyway: armbands! I thought they’d make it very clear without overdressing the dragon and making them look weird. 🙂 So, I grabbed an armband that was intended for humans and hammered the shit out of it using my pathetic ZBrush skills, making a unique morph for each dragon so it would fit well. After doing armband morphs for four of them, I realised… you were only ever going to see two of the armbands. What a pleb I am. 😛 Ah well.
As for postwork, I did quite a bit of it this time. I applied motion blur to the red dragon’s legs and his left arm, as well as the green dragon’s legs. I also added motion blur to the ball. I would’ve done this in Iray rather than Photoshop, but you can’t. 😦 3Delight supports motion blur, but I have no idea how I’d get the motion blur out of that and slap it on top of an Iray render without it looking like… like 💩. 😛 I also removed the nose horns from the red and green dragons, because you can’t remove them from the model itself… well, okay, I’m sure you can, but that would involve things like UV mapping which I don’t fully understand yet. 😛 Finally, I added a normal vignette, and then perhaps most obviously, some manga-like “focus lines” as a secondary, stylized vignette. It took me ages to decide whether to go through with those focus lines, because I found them really distracting. Eventually, I softened them up and made them very transparent, which made them kind of “blend into” the image a bit more, complementing it and guiding your focus rather than stealing it. 🙂 Also, instead of my usual “typed” signature, I used the signature I made for my sister’s Amai canvas print. I’m probably gonna do that from now on. 🙂 For some weird reason which makes no sense, I… kinda prefer not having the title of the art there now. Shrug. 😛 Might be because it looks a bit cleaner.
Oh, oh, yeah! There was something I was supposed to mention after doing Amai, but I totally forgot to mention it then, and I almost forgot to mention it here, too! 🙂 Ever since starting to use Iray, I’ve had this irritating problem with the renders it spits out, where certain areas – usually reflective or out-of-focus – come out as grainy, fuzzy chunks of poo. The way I’ve dealt with the problem has evolved over time. Initially, I used a Gaussian blur in Photoshop, then began to use a combination of 0.6 radius Gaussian blur followed by a 0.6 radius Smart Sharpen. Most recently, I’ve been applying a stronger blur and sharpen to a Smart Object version of the image, then painting the effect mask depending on how strong I wanted the blur in certain parts of the image. Now, though? In the DAZ Studio 4.11 Beta, they’ve added this godsend, called the Post Denoiser:
Just click to make it available, click to enable it (not sure why there’re two steps, lel, it’s not a nuke 😛 ) and boom, it kills that noise like the police killing a noisy party. 😛 It can even make Iray viewport renders more useful by removing the initial noise early into the render so you can get a good idea of how the render will turn out in much less time! 😀 One thing, though: the default start iteration is 8, and while that’s great for viewport renders, I don’t know whether I can trust a number that low for final renders. If the denoiser starts early, it makes the image appear very, very messy early on, and I’m not sure if this is improved as time passes. For Fast Break, I first performed a render with the denoiser off to get a vague idea of how many iterations it would need. After it reached about 33% convergence, I stopped the render and set the start iteration to about the number of iterations it had performed, which, for this render, was about 2500. Thinking about it, though, I used the denoiser on Amai, but never adjusted the start iteration, and that turned out alright. So… maybe I’m worrying for no reason. 😛UPDATE 2!!: Yep! I did an experiment and found out that having the Post Denoiser on from an early iteration doesn’t make any difference to the final quality of the render; it comes out just as sharp as it would if the denoiser was set to begin at a later stage. So it’s a win-win; a more useful Iray viewport experience and no noisy renders! Yay! 😀
Anyway, whaddya think of the render? 😀 I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed making it. Special thanks to Ben for the request! 🙂 I now understand basketball just a tiny bit more than I did originally. 😛 To me, it’s like a crazy “sleight of hand” game, with all the insane passing techniques and dribbling tricks and stuff. 😀
Oh, crap, of course! Render stats! Yaaaaaaaay! 😛 So, at 4K, with Rendering Quality 2, 98% convergence and everything nice on (Caustic and Architectual samplers), my 1080Ti and 970 pushed out a render in 9 hours 42 minutes 34.23 seconds, which, when you consider the 1080Ti, is a really long time! Some maths would suggest that on my old cards, this render (if it had been able to fit in the GPU memory, which it wouldn’t!) would have taken about 18 hours 16 minutes! :O I LOVE MY 1080TI! Best purchase ever. 😀
Right, I’m gonna bounce on outta here. Yeah, I went there. 😛 I’ll leave you with one of the songs that started playing while I was making this render. I found it funny when it came up, because the lyrics say “make more rhymes than Michael Jordan make slam dunks”. XD
UPDATE!! First off, I want to say thank you for the likes, everyone! It means a lot! 🙂
While I was creating this render, I had PlayClaw recording with the hopes of creating a timelapse video for no apparent reason. 😛 I’ve tried doing this a few times in the past, but the videos always had something or other wrong with them, usually PlayClaw or Shadowplay silently crashing when I started a render, or sometimes for no reason at all (Shadowplay -.-). This time, though, the videos recorded with no problems, so I stuck them all into Premiere and made a… er… 5258.17% timelapse video, which you can check out here, if you’re interested! 😀 Almost everything is there, excluding the initial scene setup bit (because I forgot, oops 😛 ), and the bits where I stopped recording to have a break to eat dinner or send messages or talk on the phone or poo. 😛
So, it’s my sista’s burfday today. 🙂 A while ago, when I posted Amai (the render) on Jokebook, she mentioned that she’d have it as art, as in, to put on a wall. I lolled to myself and thought “yeah right, I don’t even consider it to be art”, but as I’m a (un)funny man, I jokingly replied with “burfday present sorted”. 😛
Turns out she was actually serious, though, so with no other burfday present ideas… I got it printed on canvas for her. It arrived way earlier than I expected and she opened it EARLY, NAUGHTY GIRL:
I did a special 8K render for this, which may have been massive overkill, but hey, the site had a 40MB upload limit and I wasn’t going to take any chances. 😛 I’ve added it to the previous post, just in case someone wants to check it out. Made a proper signature too (took me half an hour, top lel 😛 ). It was printed by HelloCanvas (not an advertisement, just a recommendation 😛 ), and it looks like they did a good job! I haven’t seen it in real life, but from what I can tell, it came out pretty much as the preview suggested it would.
I’m glad she likes it so much! 😀 But she’d better not feel like she shouldn’t take it down when it becomes an eyesore. 😛
UPDATE 3!!: For people who have already read this post: I’ve now added the short story I promised – scroll down if you want to read it! 🙂 For those who haven’t read the post yet, great timing! This is the form I wanted the post to take when I first posted it! 😛
Ahh, Valentine’s Day, or what I like to call “love reminder day”. “Hey, you know that person you’re in a relationship with? Did you know you’re supposed to love them? You should try being nice for just 24 hours! And buy a meal deal and stuff, too! Then we can buy our wives LAMBORGHINIS with the money!” 😛
Yeah, I don’t get it. Surely you should be nice to them every day? 😛 Well, doesn’t matter to me; I’ve been single all my life, and I don’t think I want that to change. 😛 I mean, it’s great! I get a whole double bed to myself, I can do any dumb shit I want and the only person that can screw me over is ME! 😛
Anyway, I normally don’t pay attention to Valentine’s Day, but a couple of days ago, my brain randomly decided to Do Stuff(tm), probably while I was bored, and as a result, an idea for a render occurred. 😀 Since then, I’ve been trying to bring it to life in two ways, even though my brain feels like it would rather just sleep. 😛 But “NO” I say, “all I do at work nowadays is really boring shit that doesn’t make any difference, and I’m bored of not doing my own shit which I do find interesting, so #dealwithit and let me pose damn you!”
“Hangonhangonwait, what’s “bring it to life in two ways” supposed to mean?” I hear you ask in one of the many different multiverses. Well, hang on, I’m getting to that! Let me ramble! 😛
Unless you genuinely know me, or you’ve read my About page, or you’ve gone way back through to the horrible, rotten bowels of this blog, you probably don’t know that besides gaming, programming and rendering, I also have a passion for writing. I actually started writing a story way back in 2006. Shit… that long, huh? Damn, that even surprised me. I thought it was 2009. Oh, no, of course, I was still in school when I started, so that makes sense. No prizes for guessing what the story is about. 😛
And oh man… I did just go off on a tangent talking about that story, but realised that’s completely not the point of this post, and have removed those off-the-rails paragraphs. 😛 Maybe I’ll talk about the story in future, if anyone cares (almost no-one cared back in school, so hey, I ain’t holding my breath now 😛 ).
Anyway, yes, I like writing. I don’t think I’m too bad at it, either. Sure, my writing style might be a little basic and my vocabulary might not be as refined as other people, but whatever, I enjoy it, and I sometimes find that I really like reading back what I write, which sounds insanely vain and I now need to slap myself, just a sec…
But yeah, for this render, I thought I’d recruit a couple of characters from that story I mentioned and put them in a scene suitable for Valentine’s Day. I also thought it would be really cool to write a short story to go with it, and set a scene beyond the static image. And that, good sir and/or madam, is what I meant by “bringing it to life in two ways”. 🙂
UNFORTUNATELY, I suck, and haven’t managed to get the side salad of writing done in time. -.- It’s currently 292 words, hasn’t really progressed past the intro yet, and I was hoping for it to be at least a couple thousand words. 😛 I blame my tiredness, the render I only just finished this evening, and the postwork of said render, which wasn’t even complicated yet took me about an hour before I was happy with it. 😛 But no matter, at least I have the render to show you just in time, sort of, just, 5 minutes before Valentine’s is over. 😛
So, I present to you, my Valentine’s render, two ways, with grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon and a caramel jus, topped with a sprinkling of love:
The story comes next, but if you’d prefer, I have it as a PDF, complete with a cover page. Feel free to grab it here!
I… I have something I need to talk to you about. Meet me in our chamber at
Those words stayed with me for hours.
That serious look in her eyes, that stern expression… and
her voice… Gods, it was so sharp,
even thinking of it felt like it was
piercing the scales on my chest. I had never seen Emerald like that before, and
it… it worried me more than anything. Was she alright? Could she have been
unwell? No… she would ask Shikaru or myself for help if that was the case. She
would never be so secretive about an illness, or an injury. B-but then again…
maybe it was something she only felt comfortable sharing with me? Or maybe she
was upset about something? Had I… had I wronged her in some way? Rrrgh… all these
dark thoughts recently…
“Yoohoo, Guira to Sin! You awake up there?”
I shook my head and blinked a few times to force myself out
of my thoughts and back into reality. I found myself sat by a campfire with a
few of the other dragons, while beautiful trees and foliage of the forest surrounded
us on all sides. To my left was Thunder, a Great Dragon, his bright yellow
scales gently crackling with energy as always. Opposite me was Shadow, a
Western Dragon like myself, as black as night, and with sharp, crimson eyes
that could easily pierce the darkness. And to my right was the owner of the
voice I had heard: Ifri, a smaller breed of dragon known as a Drake, his
personality still as vibrant as the bright red scales covering his body.
“Heh, you alright, kin? You keep daydreamin’!” Ifri asked,
his voice a mix of playful curiosity and genuine concern. “Has Em been keepin’
you awake the past few nights, or somethin’?”
“N-no, no, it’s nothing like that.” I denied, lowering my
head. “Sorry, I… kinda just got lost in my thoughts. What were you saying?”
“Was just wonderin’ about where you’re goin’ at sundown.”
Ifri said. “You made it sound pretty heavy, and that just makes me curious. What’s
A short growl emanated from Thunder’s throat as that question
“Ifri, this is the third
time you have pressed Sintarka about this, tonight.” Thunder said, with a hint
of annoyance. “He has already explained twice before that he does not know.”
“I-it’s alright, Thunder.” I said, shaking my head. “But… he’s
right, though, Ifri. I honestly don’t know what it’s about. All I know is that
it just sounded… really serious.”
“Ah… I see. Fair enough.” He said, lowering his head a
moment, before raising it again for another question. “So… who’re you meeting?”
“Ifri, enikkyanar slara!” Thunder growled. “Sintarka, mear
ne’surin sar karkakurta slara.”
(“Ifri, stop nagging him! Whirlwind, do not feel you have to tell him.”)
“N-ne… siturk aram.” I replied, with some hesitation. “It’s…
it’s with Emerald.”
(“N-no… it’s okay.”)
“Oh. Ohhhh.” Ifri said, seemingly realising something I didn’t.
“What?” I asked, frowning slightly.
“No, no, it’s alright, kin.” He replied. “I wouldn’t worry if
I were you. In fact, I’d say you’re probably
in for a good n—mmmf!”
Shadow quickly and forcefully cut Ifri off mid-sentence, clasping
his claw firmly around the drake’s muzzle. Ifri tried to loosen Shadow’s grip
and voice his disapproval, but all he could manage was a few muffled cries of protest.
“That’s enough out of you.” Shadow said, with a growl. “The Sun’s
already begun to set, Sin. Shouldn’t you get going?”
I looked to the Sun through the trees of the forest and was surprised
to see just how far it had dipped. The sky had already turned to a beautiful shade
of orange, the Sun casting its warm, wonderful light over the already-wonderful
Forest Realm. Despite the sunset’s calming beauty, it had caused an unpleasant nervousness
to suddenly take root in my gut. It was time…
“Ah! Y-you’re right. Thanks, Shadow.” I said, quickly
getting to my feet. “I-I’ll see you guys later.”
“Kar ne fir, Sintarka.” Thunder assured me. “I am sure
things will be okay.”
(“Have no fear, Whirlwind.”)
I nodded, letting out a short growl of appreciation before
heading to our nearby cave. Etched into the cliffside, and tunnelling surprisingly
far beneath the surface, it was a very impressive cavern with more than enough
space to shelter all six of us. Tonight, however, with Thunder, Ifri and Shadow
socialising outside and Shikaru out hunting, only one person was in here.
Emerald… my mate.
Words can’t convey how much I cared for her. Our matehood
was proof of that. Dragons only enter matehood with those they truly, truly love, because when a dragon
chooses a mate, that bond lasts for the rest of their life. But for me… I loved
her so much, that I would have been happy to journey into the afterlife with
her still by my side.
Ever since the Battle of Eache Grak, though… we had been
apart. I didn’t even know if she was alive, and I feared that I had lost her forever.
This fear left me feeling… lost, and empty, and as a result, I slowly began to
lose my will to fight. However, as the years passed, fortune began to smile
upon me. I was able to meet up with some old friends and allies, and even make new
ones at the same time. This gave me hope. Hope that I would one day find her.
And then… finally. After 22 long years, I got the lead I was praying for. One
that led me to my mate, alive and well.
Knowing that she was safe… knowing that the children that she
had spent all that time raising on her own were safe… it reignited that flame
inside me. It gave me a reason to keep fighting. I wanted to fight for Guira’s
future… and in turn, I wanted to fight for the future of my loved ones. I wasn’t
going to let anyone, human or dragon,
stand in the way of that future.
But today… I was afraid. Emerald was my drive, my reason to
fight, but the way she acted today gave me the frightening thought that she was
unhappy with me. What was she going to do? What was she going to say? D-did she… intend to rescind our matehood…?!
I stopped walking, shivering at that thought. Gods, no… no,
no, that would… it would rip me apart. The thought shook me so much that I
instinctively lowered my head and closed my eyes, giving a silent prayer for
A few moments later, I continued through the cave, soon reaching
the passageway that led to our chamber. As the gentle pattering of my footsteps
echoed throughout the hall, my heartbeat hastened, and I felt my wings start to
tremble with nerves. Gods, I couldn’t go in like this. I stopped again for a
moment, taking a deep breath to steel myself for what was to come. Then, when I
felt I was ready, I bravely stepped forward, and turned the last corner.
I wasn’t ready.
That word escaped my maw before I could hold it back. In the
chamber, with only candlelight to illuminate her stunning, scintillating green
scales, Emerald was lying there, a mesmerising sight to behold. As she saw me
enter the chamber, she gently blew a ring of smoke in my direction… in the shape
of a heart.
“Evening, Sin.” She said, with a smile.
That smile told me everything. That serious, stern look I
saw on her muzzle earlier in the day was nothing more than a ruse. She did all
that to hide this surprise she had in store for me. Immediately, I felt that
huge, heavy weight that had been with me all day lift from my shoulders… and
with no words to respond with, all I could do was laugh, turn to the wall next
to me, and press the top of my head into it.
“Heh, what’s wrong? Was this a bit much of a surprise?” She
asked, with a chuckle of her own.
I turned from the wall, and began to approach her, my
laughter slowly dying down.
“Vira… you evil, evil dragoness.” I said, with a smile. “All
day, I’ve been worrying that there was something seriously wrong!”
Emerald laughed, shaking her head slowly in response.
“Sorry, love. In hindsight… I-I probably did go a bit far
this morning.” She admitted. “I didn’t mean to be so harsh, I just… wanted to
throw you off the scent. I wanted to surprise you.”
“Rrrh, like I could ever be mad at you.” I said, softly. “Come
Emerald raised her head to mine as I got close, allowing me
to nuzzle her, lovingly. She responded with a soft, affectionate purr, each
time our muzzles stroked against each other. We stayed like this for a few tender
moments, until I found it impossible to hold back the one question that was on
“So… what’s all this about, then?” I finally asked, as I moved
my muzzle away from hers. “What’s the occasion?”
“Don’t you know what day it is today, Sin?” She asked,
I furrowed by brow, and thought for a moment. The days
seemed to fly by, recently, so I often had trouble keeping up. But… as far as I
was aware, today wasn’t a particularly special day. It wasn’t the anniversary
of our matehood… right? Had I forgotten something?
“…Masnakdia?” I said, jokingly.
“You dunce, Sin. It’s Kainakdia (Friday).” She chuckled.
“Ah, heh. I… I clearly don’t know, then. Sorry…” I replied,
“It’s alright!” She assured me. “It’s the first time we’ve
been able to spend it together, after all.”
I tilted my head, puzzled. Before I could open my muzzle to
ask her, she brought her lips to mine, and kissed me, gently.
“Arasi Franaie’dianas, mis amai.” She whispered. (“Happy Franaie Day, my love.”)
“F-Franaie’dianas?” I asked, before gasping with realisation.
“You’ve remembered?” She said, with a smile.
Franaie’dianas… of course. “Franaie Day” in Standard, it was
one of the ten days of the year dedicated to each of the different Draconic Gods.
Each of the Gods governed one of the ten elements, but they also governed two
attributes each. On each of these ten days of celebration, those attributes
were the focus of the festivities. This time, it was the day dragons honoured Franaie,
the Goddess of Fire, and her attributes of love and confidence. On this day, dragons
often cast aside shyness and fear to confess their love towards one they had
feelings for, and those already in a matehood or partnership would express and
affirm their love without worry or inhibition. And this scene… was Emerald’s
way of expressing her love to me.
“Yeah… I-I’ve just realised now. Damn it… how could I have
forgotten?” I said, ashamed. Emerald was right. This was the first time we had been able to spend this day together, and
I’d gone ahead and forgotten. What a fool I was…
“Sin, love, it’s alright.” She said, nuzzling me reassuringly.
“Honestly, I preferred it this way. That look on your face was so worth it. I
love to surprise you like this.”
“Heh, I know… and I love that about you.” I replied, with a
chuckle. “But all this feels so… familiar. Didn’t you do something like this on
the day we declared matehood?”
Emerald’s face lit up.
“Ah, you remembered!” She said, happily. “Maybe your memory
isn’t as bad as I thought!”
“Pah, like I’m ever going to forget that day, Vira.” I replied, shaking my head as I began to reminisce.
“I remember it as if it was yesterday. You looked more beautiful than ever, and
you seemed so confident at first glance, but after we began to talk… wow. I’ve
never seen you so nervous, before or since.”
“Can you really blame me?” She said, defensively, but with a
“Of course not! You were really brave that day. Hell, I would’ve
been even more nervous.” I admitted. “When
I entered the chamber that day, kinda like tonight, I had no idea what it was
all about. It never once crossed my mind that you wanted to propose matehood,
right up until the moment you made it crystal clear. I-I mean… I never believed
that a… a runt of a dragon like me
was ever worthy to mate with a perfect, wonderful, angel of a dragoness like you.”
“S-Sin…” She whispered.
“I-I knew my love wasn’t unrequited. I felt it all along
during our partnership.” I continued. “But I… I never knew if the love I was
showing you was enough. I was scared…
scared that I was genuinely not good enough for you. But when that day came,
the day you spoke those words… ‘I would like to declare you as my mate’… that
was the greatest day of my life. And I’d never, ever forget it.”
I looked down, finally taking a breath. There I went again. My
feelings for her gushing from my maw, with no way of stopping them. But before I
could apologise, I felt Emerald embrace me, tightly, a few tears running down
“D-don’t you even dare to think about apologising, y-you… big, soft…”
She wanted to finish that sentence, but all her emotions
allowed her to do was cry with joy. I let out a gentle chuckle, quietly putting
my arms around her. There it was… that wild telepathy of hers. She had managed to
tame it in the years we were apart, but she always seemed to lose control of it
when she got emotional. It was cute.
“Tch… c-cute…” She whispered. “I-I’d smack you if I didn’t
love you so much… heh…”
She managed a quiet laugh through her tears, and I smiled.
“Thanks for this surprise, Vira.” I said, gratefully. “You looked
amazing. And it was so nice to reminisce with you. It reminds me just how lucky
I am to have you.”
“Oh, Sin… i-it was nothing, really.” She said, wiping her tears
away. “I’m glad you liked it. It’s always a pleasure to make you happy.”
“Well then… it would definitely make me happy to spend the rest of this evening with you. Is that okay with you?” I asked, somewhat rhetorically. “It is Franaie’dia, after all.”
“Hah, says the dragon who forgot about it…” She retorted, with a laugh.
“Trust me, after this… I won’t ever make that mistake again.”
She smiled, closing her eyes as I nuzzled her, lovingly. As I
took hold of her claw in my right, and gently ran my left claw along the side
of her muzzle, I whispered.
“Ir amai sar, Virana.”
(“I love you, Emerald.”)
TITANIC POWER TROUT!! And thus normal service is resumed! 😛
Okay, let’s see, where should I start? Let’s start with the story, shall we?
That… was… a joy to write. 😀 I aimed for 2,000 words, but overshot and hit 2,478. Shows you how much I was getting into it. 😛 I’ve never written a scene quite like that before, and I didn’t know if I could do it. When it was written, and when I was happy with it, I actually felt a bit nervous to put it here. Probably because it’s a pretty big passion of mine and because I feel like I’m “exposing myself” a little bit by sharing it. NO, not like that, you know what I mean. 😛 I really hope you enjoyed it, though, and I genuinely want to know what you thought! It’s been a long time since I shared some serious writing. 🙂
I can’t think of much else to write about the writing. 😛 So let’s move on to the stuff I’d written before, regarding the render.
AHHH! Go up there and look at them again! JUST LOOK AT THEM! LOOK AT ALL THE LOVE! THERE’S SO MUCH OF IT!
Damn! This render was so much different from what I normally do. It was partially inspired by “Shh… it’ll be okay…“, a very old (and not very good, but hey, gotta start somewhere 😛 ) render I created when I was just getting started with DAZ Studio. Whereas that was a more solemn scene with a hint of love, this one is total love. And damn. I really enjoyed doing it, and really, really love the result. 😀 Aaand that was big-headed and vain. Slap time!
Despite its apparent simplicity, this render was actually quite tricky! Sure, I knew exactly what I wanted when I began: I wanted them very close to each other, I wanted their necks to bend in such a way that they made the shape of a heart, and I wanted them to be nuzzling. However, after about half an hour or so of posing, I finally realised that achieving all of the above was impossible if the dragons were in a quadrupedal posture. 😛 Besides, I then thought more carefully about it, and realised that they wouldn’t be able to do some other nice things in a quadrupedal posture, like hold each others’ claws.
So with that, I made them bipedal, but it was still difficult. It required really precise placement to get their chests to touch and their necks to bend in the right way without them looking ridiculous. Their necks needed lengthening, and I had to break several joint limits to achieve the nuzzling I wanted. Then there was the claw-holding that I wanted, which required really intricate posing, and probably took a lot longer than it needed to because I’m a dumb perfectionist and need to make sure those talons that you can’t see look okay and don’t pierce any scales. 😛
After the difficult posing, there was the lighting, which went way better than I thought it would, and I learned something new! I like doing that learning thing. 😀 It’s like this: ever since starting to use proper three-point lighting, I’ve had this really annoying problem with shadows; they always turn out really sharp, and you can often notice multiple shadows from one character. That’s perfectly normal, I guess: you shine three different lights on someone, you get three shadows. But the difference is that Iray’s shadows were always quite sharp regardless of how far away the light was, and that just looks BALLS. 😛 But I have found the SOLUTION, through random poking of things! 😀 LIGHT GEOMETRY:
Normally, it’s on “Point” by default. I never really understood why you’d want it on anything other than that, but now I do! 😛 For some reason, in Iray, the bigger the light is, the blurrier the shadow becomes. It might be because the “point” option doesn’t really give the light a physical presence. It’s kind of a hack, really. Even if you point the camera at a spotlight with “point” geometry, you won’t see any light. However, the other options actually give the light a physical presence, so I guess Iray can light more accurately? I dunno. 😛 Basically, giving Key and Fill lights geometry is a good idea because they’re usually out of the camera’s view. It’s probably not so useful for Rim lights, because they’re usually behind the subject and may appear in the render as a big white block, which would look BALLS! 😛
After lighting, there was the fact that these two are actually characters from my aforementioned story, so I wanted them to look at least vaguely close. Emerald, the green dragoness on the right, has silver horns, which wasn’t too difficult. Just needed a bunch of material tweaking. Whirlwind, the blue dragon on the left, however, has a blue crest down his neck, and for a moment I was pretty damn sure that was a loss because I can’t really model, and definitely didn’t have time to. 😛 However, BRAINWAVE! I went way, way back, and grabbed the tail attachment from the Millenium Dragon! Of course, it needed some heavy-duty modding, so I used ZBrush to adjust the fins so several of them would look okay next to each other. After that, and a schitt-ton of texture tweaks, BLAM! Crest! Didn’t turn out too badly, either! I was worried I’d do all that just to bin it! 😀
Then there was postwork, which just consisted of the background and a saturation reduction. That background, though… goddamn, it took ages to settle on it. I don’t really know why. I think it was the colours. The pink I was using wasn’t really garish, but it stood out too much. It just… clashed with the colours of the dragons. The background was like “LOOK AT MEEEEEE!” while I was like “uh no, fuck you background, look at the dragons”. 😛 It only started to look acceptable after I darkened it and desaturated it. Oh, by the way, speaking of desaturation? For some reason, this render looks fucking ACE in black and white. I’ll make an alternate monochrome version along with the background versions. 😀UPDATE 2!!: I’ve added the monochrome versions and the usual set of resolution options! Go up there and check ’em out if you haven’t already! 🙂
Also, unless you’ve read the story, you might be wondering what the title I gave it is all about, and what language it’s in. Well… “Amai” means “Love” in Guirian Draconic. And no, that language doesn’t exist. It’s a language I created for the story I keep mentioning. Yes really. No it’s not a cipher. No it doesn’t follow any kind of logical pattern. No it doesn’t cover the entirety of English; it’s currently only covering 317 336 words. (I created 19 more for the short story! 😀 )
The majority of the words are just random nonsense. Kamasa. There, that’s now the word for “nonsense”. 😛 Put it in Google Translate and it’s apparently Hindi, a language which I’ve never spoken a word of. 😛 I don’t know how I do it. But I fucking love it. XD
Annoyingly, though, I’ve just learned that “甘い (amai)” means “sweet” in Japanese. The word was intended to be a gibberish mix of the Italian “amore” and the Japanese “愛 (ai)”, both of which mean “love”, but nope, I’ve just gone ahead and accidentally spoken pure Japanese. Damn it. 😛
Anyhoo… whew… that’s about it. Sheesh. I don’t normally talk about a render that much after doing it. Sorry! XD
Anyway, now it’s time for the RENDER STATS! Yay! 😛 Spoilers: this rendered like friggin’ LIGHTNING. At 2560×2560, with Rendering Quality 2, 98% convergence and basically everything nice on (caustic & architectual samplers), it took… 5 minutes 41.27 seconds! BOOM! Yes, really! To be honest, that was kind of expected, since there’s no environment, but even so… I was expecting it to take at least 15 minutes. 😛 Damn, I love this rig. 😀
Gotta post this now! I’ve got like 20 seconds before it becomes invalid! I’ll make a better outro in a sec! 😛
UPDATE!!: OOOSH! Valentine’s post successfully made 15 seconds before Valentine’s Day ended! I call that a win! 😛 Unfortunately, the story not being here is a FAIL! I’ll get it finished tomorrow… uh, today. 😛 It’ll most likely be posted late on Friday 15th or in the early hours of the 16th. If you care. Which I really hope you do. Please care. XDUPDATE 3!!: Since you’re all the way down here, I’m sure you already know I’ve added the short story to the post. 😛 But I just wanted to use this moment to say I SUCK because I said I was most likely going to post it in the early hours of the 16th at the latest, but GOD DAMN it took a LOT longer to write than I expected. I spent at least 6 hours on it between Friday evening and Saturday very-morning, and then spent pretty much the whole of Saturday evening and a bit of Sunday very-morning on it. It took around 14 hours total. And it was so, so worth it. 😀
Anyway, laterz, y’all! And be nice to your partner for the next 364 days, too! 😛
By the way, in case you didn’t catch it, the post title is a reference to this:
(And holy shit what was that, that has to be one of the worst music videos I’ve ever seen. XD)
UPDATE 4!! I did a special 8K render of Amai for birthday reasons, which I’ve added to the Render Flavour List. Hehe, I’ll call it that from now on. I’m such a spaz. 😛 Anyway, I’d love to tell you how long it took, but it’s not in the log file. 😦 It’s 10x more pixels, so I assume it took 10x longer? I dunno. Let’s say it took an hour. I’m pretty sure it took longer, though. 😛