*da-da-daaaaaaaaaah, da, da, dah*
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!
“Whirlwind. I… I have something I need to talk to you about. Meet me in our chamber at sundown.”
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 it about?”
A short growl emanated from Thunder’s throat as that question was asked.
“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 the contrary.
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 here.”
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 my mind.
“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, simply.
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, blushing.
“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. “A-ah!”
“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 light-hearted tone.
“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 her muzzle.
“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. XD UPDATE 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)
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. 😛