Oh, rats, it’s the Lunar New Year again!

Ni haaaaaao! Xin nian kuai le! πŸ˜€

Another year, another… Lunar New Year. Yep, I realised how stupid that sentence was, just before I finished typing it. πŸ˜› Anyway, it’s now the Year of the Rat, and you know what that means! Another Lunar New Year render, the 9th in the series! πŸ˜€

Like last year’s render, I cut this one pretty close again. πŸ˜› It was because I spent most of the previous weekend creating something for my brother’s birthday: the Daily Cipher. It’s a rough browser game based on a stupid in-joke that I don’t really understand. πŸ˜› Apparently a daily cipher is some kind of cipher which, I quote: “can be used daily az a way to change da algorithm”. Not really clear on what “da algorithm” is, and if by that he means the cipher itself, it sounds like a “daily cipher” is actually a process in which some information is ciphered, and then every day after that, the original cipher is ciphered by a new cipher, which would basically make the information completely irretrievable after the first day, unless you can somehow decipher some garbage into some… some less garbagey garbage before deciphering that into the original information. πŸ˜› Anyway, my brother is dumb and the game I made is nothing like that. On each day, the website gives you a randomly ciphered phrase, and the aim is to decipher it to get an “epic bassline” (another stupid in-joke πŸ˜› ). You can give it a shot here if you want! Although be aware that it was the first time I’ve ever tried to make a game for web, the API I used was utter shite, and no-one I told about it has really tried to play it, so I’ve been unable to get any feedback to fix any problems there might be. As a result, it might not work properly, especially if you try to access it on a mobile browser (despite my best efforts to make it work on mobile). πŸ˜›

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! The Lunar New Year render! πŸ˜›

So, the past two years, I barely managed to finish the render in time for the Lunar New Year. Year of the Dog was difficult because good dog models were scarce (for some reason), and and the Look At My Hair plugin was a piece of shit. Year of the Pig was even more difficult because good pig models were non-existent and I had to resort to using an upscaled low res pig, and the Look At My Hair plugin was an even bigger piece of shit. πŸ˜›

This year? Yep… pretty much the same thing happened. Apart from that Look At My Hair was the biggest piece of shit this time. πŸ˜›

When I first started looking for rat models, I thought I was gonna have to resort to using a low res one made about 15 years ago, again. But thankfully, I did find a mouse morph for Genesis. Not quite the rat that I was looking for, but I took it, because it was by far the best option. But… that doesn’t mean it was a particularly good option. πŸ˜› The morph itself wasn’t quite what I was shooting for. Sure, it made Genesis look like a mouse, but it was still a bit too anthropomorphic, kinda like what happened with Year of the Monkey. It was made worse by the fact that the eyes didn’t look anything like a mouse’s eyes. And it was kinda fat, too. πŸ˜›

After posing it, it became clear that the model didn’t look good enough, so I had to morph the crap out of it in ZBrush to get it to look reasonably close to what I wanted. I shrunk down the eye sockets to be more circular, morphed out the thumbs, changed the fingernails to be more like claws (that was especially painful), hid the front teeth that were making him look more like a rabbit, and did my best to morph the body shape into something leaner. I don’t think I’ve modified a model so much before. I… guess it was an experience? πŸ˜›

But then came the worst part. The Look At My Hair plugin. Now, I’ve said how shit this plugin is on several occasions, but this time, oh my fucking GOD, I don’t know what the hell its problem was! It didn’t even work at first; I had to reinstall the damn thing. Then it started crashing as I was trying to style the fur preset provided with the morph (it looked way too “poofy”). Then it prevented scenes that contained the hair preset from loading, so I had to uninstall the plugin, remove the hair objects from the scene, and reinstall the plugin to recover my work! Then it refused to let me add more hair follicles without friggin’ crashing! Then, when I was done, it slowed DS down to a crawl until I removed the stupid LAMH preview objects, and then, for some insane reason, it decided to fill up the remaining space on my boot drive! Goddamn, I hate it. I hate that shitting plugin so, so much.

Anyway… caaaaaalm. I’m calm. πŸ˜› I’ll stop yammering about the process now, and just show you what I actually managed to come up with! BOOM:

Available in these flavours:
(1080p) (1080p Dark) (2K) (2K Dark) (4K) (4K Dark)

Wooo! πŸ˜€ The body shape and materials could have used a bit more work, but hey, I don’t think it came out too badly! A bit better than Year of the Pig, at least. πŸ˜› What do you think? πŸ™‚

Now for the render stats! And this one was turbo-fast! Thanks to the scene’s low VRAM usage, both my GTX 1080Ti and GTX 970 were able to pair up this time, and they managed to spit out a 4K render at Quality 2 with Caustics on in just 29 minutes 19.77 seconds! BOOM! πŸ˜€ That’s faster than Year of the Pig, although I didn’t have my 1080Ti back then. Still not sure why Year of the Dog took more than two hours. πŸ˜› Postwork was pretty much the same as every Lunar New Year render: a custom background, some glow effects around the rat, and that’s about it. πŸ˜€

UPDATE!! I’ve got a timelapse for you now! Overall, the render didn’t take that long to create (I’ve got about 9 hours of footage, so excluding all the parts where I took a break or got distracted, it was probably 7-8 hours in total), so that means the timelapse is a bit shorter than normal. You can take a look at it here! πŸ˜€ Because it was shorter, I could only fit in two songs. I start with Expecting More From Ratty by Scooter, mainly because “rat” is right there in the title, but also because it started playing when I was working on the scene and made me laugh. πŸ˜› I then finish with Rat Race by Billy Idol, because again, “rat” is in the title. C’mon, what else did you think I was gonna do? πŸ˜€
Making the timelapse made me realise something, though. The majority of my time was spent on the fur, trying to get it on the rat in the first place, trying to style it, trying to export it as an OBJ, trying to tweak the materials, then doing one or more of these things again because LAMH exported the OBJ wrong. All while the plugin kept crashing DAZ Studio at random intervals. No wonder I felt like I was losing my mind. It’s because I was doing the same shit for about 5 hours! I bet I’d’ve been able to finish this in half the time if it wasn’t for that friggin’ plugin!

Guh. Whatever. Brain is fried, and I am tired. πŸ˜› I’m gonna head off now and play a bit of DJ Max Respect V until I am super-tired and just want to faceplant my bed. πŸ˜› G’niiiiiight!

(Crap, I barely posted this in time; there were only two minutes left. XD)

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