A render NOT done en passant!

Well, t’ other day… and by “t’ other day” I mean “more than a month ago”, DAZ was running one of its insanely convoluted sales, as per usual. 😛 They’re normally something like “buy an item in Group A and get anything from Group B for X% off, but buy two or more items from Group A and get all the things you chose in Group B for Y% off and get Z% off gift cards! (excluding new releases)”. Yes really. Also, several types of sale tend to be running at once, making it even MORE complicated. 😛 Even though they have so many of these sales, they’re never good, they sometimes lie, and I tend to have literally no interest in any of the items they have on offer.

Aha, but the one that caught my eye was interesting. Sure, the offer was totally idiotic: “buy one of these 6 new (they definitely weren’t new because I’d seen them before, heh) special effects items for 40% off and get 80% off everything in these two groups of assets, and 50% off this other group of assets.” Sounded like another overcomplicated yawnfest, but one of the groups of assets for 80% off was themed very nicely. It was all about, yes, of course: dragons! Specifically, the Dragon 3! 😀

Y’see, I didn’t own Dragon 3 legitimately, even though it’s an awesome figure. That’s because, for me, the asking price was way too high, especially for the amount I actually use DAZ Studio. Besides, I never really liked the thought of buying assets for DS. Kinda difficult to explain why… maybe it’s my lack of appreciation for art. 😛 I mean, all you can do with DS assets is pose them and render something out that someone may or may not look at for a maximum of 60 seconds. The renders can be pretty, but it’s not as if they demonstrate real skill. 😛 Sure, designing the scene takes some imagination, and the posing, lighting and camera setup takes a good amount of effort, but you’d never get the same level of respect as someone who actually made the models, or painted the same scene in Photoshop from scratch. Real artists would probably laugh at the stuff that I do, and not in the way I intended. 😛 I think of it in this way: DAZ Studio is like Multimedia Fusion. MMF can help you create games and applications with almost no technical skill, whereas DS can help you create nice artwork with almost no artistic skill… apart from that gamers generally don’t judge a game on the engine it’s built with, whereas artists would judge art based on how you create it… but then again, normal viewers of said art probably wouldn’t… maybe. 😛

Okay, now I don’t even know what I’m talking about. 😛 Skipping over my dumbass logic, another reason why I never really buy assets is because DAZ Studio is not a particularly stable piece of software, yes, even after finding out my BSODs weren’t actually caused by it. And just like I won’t buy broken vidya gamez, I just can’t bring myself to buy figures for a piece of rendering software which doesn’t work properly. 😛 Because of the immensity of this sale, though, and because the Dragon 3 is epic, I thought I’d put things right, and decided to get a legit version of the Dragon 3 Pro Bundle along with a lot of additional mods and an effects pack called DragonFire. Many of the things I got weren’t available anywhere else, anyway. Man, it was like the storefront was made for me, because they even had a different sale on at the same time which featured a crapton of other monster-related items, including armour and attachments for the Dragon 3, a supermorph that turns Dragon 3 into a Wyvern, the awesome-looking Reptilian 6 supermorph for Genesis 2, and a gargoyle mod that required Reptilian 6. Unfortunately, that mod required another mod which was illogically expensive, and this is where I had to stop myself. 😛 Lizardmen and gargoyles are awesome, but I can’t really think of a scene where I can use them… well, not off the top of my head, anyway.

After checking out my haul, I found out you could install these items directly within the fairly new DAZ Studio 4.9 instead of using the DAZ Install Manager or doing it manually. Intrigued by this and whether 4.9 was any more stable than 4.8 when rendering, I decided to open up the DAZ Install Manager (DIM) to install it. Unfortunately, DIM is… dim. 😛 Installing a new version of DS removes old versions automatically, without permission. That, and you can’t install old versions. They don’t show up in DIM and I can’t find DS 4.8 on my account. So… now I’m forced to use DAZ Studio 4.9. Thanks! Thanks a lot. >.<

Doesn’t matter, really. DS 4.9 is pretty much identical to DS 4.8. 😛

Well, okay. There’s a new splash screen. 😛 There’s also “DAZ Connect” and “Smart Content”, which lets you connect to your account, download products and install them from within DS, which is slightly easier than using DIM. Uh… the installation process is slightly easier, that is. Everything afterwards is way harder. 😛 Y’see, Smart Content uses its own content library, so anything you download with it doesn’t go with your other content. That, and it doesn’t… actually contain all the content on your account. I mean, the Dragon 3 Pro Bundle comes with additional textures, and I’ve scrolled through my list about five times now… and they’re just… not here. 😛 So, Smart Content is… not smart. It’s stupid and pointless. Using DIM is better because that does show all your owned content, but after installing content from DIM, if you rearrange your content directories to make them neater because you have mild OCD like me, the metadata breaks. So, doing it manually is the best way, as per bloody usual! 😛

What else is new… er… hmmm… well. It’s er… yeah, there… isn’t anything else I can see. I mean, I thought they’d have fixed that one bug where moving or rotating the camera sometimes makes it teleport 8 billion miles from where you were or rotate 3000 degrees instantly, or that other bug where attempting to adjust a property increases or decreases it by several thousand units instantly, and that other bug where clicking on something in the Scene hierarchy makes it select everything from what you had selected down to what you just clicked on for no reason. I also thought they’d make their interface to the NVIDIA Iray renderer more understandable and less impossible to configure so that I’d actually want to use it, but y’know, they must’ve been really busy with all those other invisible features that they forgot to fix these infuriating issues. 😛 It’s no more performant, renders look the same and take the same amount of time, and it’s just as UNstable as 4.8. Brilliant. GG DAZ.

Anyway, phuck that, let’s get to the point. 😛 In the sale, I snagged a couple of new supermorphs for the Dragon 3, the Hellborn Dragon and Spectral Dragon. I noticed they almost look like polar opposites, and because of this, I thought I’d make a little render with both of them together. A render depicting a conflict between the forces of heaven and hell, good and evil, black and white. A render showing the Spectral and Hellborn dragons locked in fierce combat on a famous battleground. A battle where they must protect their weak points, think before every move they make… a battle that will strain their minds to the limit, where only one dragon will walk away victorious… unless they both agree to cease the fighting, or if STALEMATE OCCURS.

Or if THREEFOLD REPETITION OCCURS!

OR THE 50 MOVE RULE!

You got it?!

YES, it’s TWO DRAGONS FUCKING PLAYING CHESS!! CHECK it out, MATE:

Dueling Dragons (1080p)
Available in: (1080p) (QHD) (UHD)

The Light Dragon slid his Queen across the board, claiming yet another black pawn. A low, quiet growl of frustration rumbled from the Hell Dragon’s throat as his opponent placed the black piece among his ever-growing collection. The Hell Dragon’s skin glowed as he scratched the back of his neck, pondering his next move, trying not to take notice of the white dragon’s calm, complacent gaze, or the gentle sound of his talons clicking against the marble floor.
“Rrr… if we were playing Monopoly, you wouldn’t be so smug.” He snarled.

“check it out mate”, oh god that pun made me feel a bit sick

I… just… yes. I believe this scene is all very yes. 😀  But it took FOREVER!

The environment I used came with a preset lightrig which was… well. It was heh. The default settings were retardedly bright, and all the lights were Uber Area Lights which I hate, because although the lights show up as lights in the scene, changing the light settings of the lights don’t change the light settings, because the light settings are actually part of the material. How wonderfully user-friendly and not-at-all impossible to comprehend! 😛

After dimming the lights down a bit, it looked great. The main problem was what happened when you try to render a scene containing UberEnvironment, a ton of Uber Area Lights, a chess set with refraction and reflection and two dragon figures both using Subsurface Scattering. Heheheh… draft renders took about an hour, and that was with the render quality at a crazy-low level! Because the draft renders were so lengthy, I couldn’t easily preview changes I made to the scene, and there’s only so much you can determine by looking at the viewport. There were those problems with BSODs while I was creating this scene too, hence why I totally flipped out and made a massive effort to figure out why the frig the PC was crashing all the time. If I hadn’t fixed it, this scene would have never been finished.

Anyhoo, render stats! At 4K with Depth of Field enabled, UberEnvironment 2 on the XHi preset, 17 Uber Area Lights, a shading rate of 0.25 and 32 pixel samples, the render time was 5 HOURS 32 minutes 6.73 seconds; the longest render I’ve ever done by far. Thanks to the stupid render times and the nice bluescreens I had at first, it’s also been the longest amount of time I’ve ever worked on a scene. 😛

What else… ah, yes, a li’l trivia. 😀 To get the layout of that board, yes, I played chess with myself, purposefully playing Black like a bit of a spanner. 😛 I was originally gonna place the pieces somewhat randomly, but that would’ve probably made the board look weird. I thought about copying a board layout (since there’re a crazy number of diagrams of chess games in the different chess-related sections of Wikipedia 😛 ), but that would’ve been boring and uninspired. I like to add some authenticity. 😀

Also, as you might’ve noticed in the image, I decided to change my artist pseudonym. 😛 There’re two reasons for this, the main one being that my old name, “DracoAurarius”, didn’t really mean anything. Well, sure, it means “Golden Dragon”, but I only chose that name because, I quote: “dragons are the most kickass creatures ever, gold is shiny and the most kickass material ever, gold dragons are crazy-kickass, and when written down at the bottom of artwork, it looks better than say, “MongMaster”. Or “Carl”.” 😛 Now, though, I really want my pseudonym to reflect my wild, out-of-the-box style, and explain that I love making crazy shit with dragons. Hence the change to DracoIndomita, meaning “Wild Dragon” or “Untamed Dragon”. 😀

The second reason for the change is actually a really dumb one. 😛 A long time ago, I had a DeviantArt account under the name of DracoAurarius. I used it to post the first chapter of Dragon Tail; a novel I started writing years ago. I posted the whole first version on this blog, actually, chapter by chapter, but I later removed it for the same reasons I wanted to remove it from DeviantArt. It was an awful, awful piece of writing that was in dire need of a revision, but at the same time I was so proud and so attached to it that there was no way I wanted it to be stolen. 😛 Instead of just deleting the submission from DeviantArt, though, I trashed the entire account. I didn’t really have any use for it, I mean, it didn’t really get any views. Besides, writing isn’t even art! 😛 Back then I had no idea I’d get into DAZ Studio and become good at using it, though.

When I finished Dragon.Init(), I was really happy with it, and since recently I’m only getting 3 views per day here across all 624 posts, I thought I thought I’d make an account on Deviant Art again with the intention of sharing my better stuff so that more people might enjoy it. Doubt anyone would look cuz almost no-one ever looks at my stuff regardless of where I post it, whine whine whine, but hey, I might as well try, right? I tried to create an account with the same name as before, DracoAurarius, but it said the name was claimed. I figured that was impossible because it’s so obscure, so I tried logging in, aaaand it let me in. I was kinda confused since I was sure I’d deleted the account, but it turns out that when you delete an account, DeviantArt doesn’t actually delete it, it just disables it with no way of reactivating it. DURRRR, why the fuck?! Because of that, I couldn’t use DracoAurarius, and that’s what caused me to think about a new name. 😛 With this image, I finally decided to change to DracoIndomita. Took me friggin’ ages to settle on it. 😛

Anyway, sorry for blabbering on about that crap! Here, have a bonus render of the Spectral Dragon:

Serene Spectral Dragon

Hahaha, I love that pose so much. It’s probably the best pose I’ve created; it came out better than I visualised. 😀 He just looks so friggin’ relaxed and smug. Don’t worry, I haven’t left the Hellborn Dragon out; here’s a bonus render of him too:

Serene Spectral Dragon

The subsurface on this one is amazing. 😀 Takes about 20 minutes to calculate then another 40 minutes to render, but still… 😛

Anyhoo, I hope you liek da epic chess match! Time for beddy byes for me. 😛

 

(UPDATEs are below; the main post content was last modified after UPDATE 6. 🙂 )

UPDATE!!
Hrrrgrhhhhaagahhhh! After fixing the DoF issue, I’ve now noticed something else I’m not happy with! I don’t know why, but I’ve lost some of the reflectivity of the chess board. It’s supposed to be a wooden chess board with some glass over it, and it used to be nicely reflective, but the effect’s just disappeared into POOP! That, and the black pieces are way too black with almost no specular highlights, even though I’ve done about 10 test renders and was really happy with the state of the chess pieces! Where’s it all gone?! 😦

Christ, THIS SCENE IS NEVER GONNA EENNNNDD!! It takes about ten hours to render final versions of all the resolutions I want, and I keep seeing minor details that I’m not happy with! It’s all very very annoying. 😛 Yes, of course, I could just render in 4K and downscale to 2K and 1080p, but then you get crappy blurry reduction artefacts, and that SUCKS! I’m not doing it in a half-arsed way. 😛

Welp, here we go with some more tweaking! WHOOOOO

 

UPDATE 2!!
Phuuuuuck… well, it turns out there was already reflection on the chess board. About 80%, actually, which is too high, yet I could see no reflection. That could only mean one thing: DAZ Studio’s default shader was being SHIIIIIIIT!

I switched it to an UberSurface shader and dropped the reflection strength and boosh, it looked pretty much like I remember it being… a bit better actually, since I tweaked the colour of the black pieces and black squares. But then there was ANOTHER problem. Inexplicably, this increased the render time EVEN FURTHER. A 4K render took friggin’ 5 hours 27 minutes, almost an HOUR more than it used to! And then, I noticed the reflection was still too strong! Gnyyyyyyaaaah!

After dropping the reflection strength, I did some calculations and estimated that the three renders would take about 12 hours, which was way too long, so I decided to do the 4K render and the 1080p render for today and do the 2K render overnight. The Pwnage-O-Matic is still blazing away on the 4K render (about 81% done, whoooo!), and by tonight I should have that and the 1080p render, so I’ll post ’em both then. 🙂

 

UPDATE 3!!
FUCK MY LIFE

I got home to what I believed was going to be the final render. And then noticed that the underside of the Spectral Dragon’s wings were not gold. And that’s because I didn’t re-enable the object after doing my render tests for the chess set, because DAZ Studio is a piece of shit and makes it so child objects don’t inherit visibility from their parents, the exact opposite of what Unity does, which I use every day at work. HEADDESK HEADDESK HEADKEYBOARD ARGHHHH

So, that’s ANOTHER 12 hours of rendering to do, but there is NO WAY it can go wrong this time because everything else is fine except for the wings. Graah, why is everything going so shittily recently?!

 

UPDATE 4!!
Finally. FINALLY! YYYYESH! YYYYESH!

I’ve rendered out the 1080p version of it and I’m pretty much as happy as a clam that isn’t in a restaurant. 😀 I’ve updated the post with the new image; I’ll add the higher resolution versions soon. 🙂

 

UPDATE 5!!
4K version is FINITO, and the 2K version is 84% COMPLETEZ0RD. Should be done in about 15-20 minutes, and in that time I am going to eat a burger, wait for the gas man to complete the inspection of the boiler and not submit the update to this post… 20 minutes later, good burger but worst gas man ever who attempted to arrive 30 minutes earlier than I scheduled, then was unbelievably unfriendly while doing the job.

But it’s okay because the 2K version is FINIIIIIIIIIIISH! I’ve added both that and the 4K version to the post, and that is all. OH WAIT, there’s the bonus render of the Hellborn Dragon. I’ll get that started now. 😀

 

UPDATE 6!!
There; added the bonus render of the Hellborn Dragon to the post, and now it’s time to give the PC a break from rendering. Good job, Pwnage-O-Matic. 😀

But hey, if you want this render in a different resolution, I’d be happy to kick off another render for ya! Unless it’s something dumb like QQUHD, which is… 15360×8640. Actually, DAZ Studio can’t render at that resolution, so nyaaaa. 😛 (The highest it could do is 8K. 😉 )

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2 thoughts on “A render NOT done en passant!

  1. Love the pics 🙂

    I was most interested by your initial analysis of the place of DS as an artistic tool 🙂

    It’s after midnight here and I am about to drop off asleep, so won’t say much. Don’t know h9ow I missed this when you published it. Must have been because the eyes were stopping me from reading much.

    Excellent post

    Greg

    • Thanks, I’m glad you found it interesting! 🙂 I was kinda worried about the first bit while I was proofreading this post, actually; I thought I might’ve been rambling and making no sense. 😀

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