All praise the One True Egg.

OH NOES! IT’S ME AGAIN! ๐Ÿ˜›

‘Sup? Hope everything’s well on your end! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ), means I’ve felt pretty burned out as of late. Uh, no pun intended. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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:

A dragon sat in front of the One True Egg, claws positioned over his head.

More flavours here!
Original version (shown above): (1080p) (2K) (4K) (Character Focused – 2250×3000)
Dark version (shown lower down): (1080p) (2K) (4K) (Character Focused – 2250×3000)

Hahahahaaa I’m so dumb XD

Ahhhh, so much zen! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ). 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› Nope, that was the QA guy’s idea, not mine. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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.

Notice the solid black circle which only appears in the egg? That’s the light emitter which is supposed to be invisible!!

Trying to think of ways to fix this without cheating pretty much drained about 4 hours of my time. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

That was the last thing that went wrong, thankfully. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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:

The render without the water light.
The render with the water light. Notice the black circle in the Egg, and the shadow on the dragon’s legs.

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ I really struggled for tracks this time, though, because for SOME reason, no-one wants to sing songs about eggs. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ), and finally, “Egg Shaped Fred” by Mansun. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ). 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ Here it is:

I also thought I’d try doing something else new and dumb with my renders, for cheap lols important research purposes. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› Here’s what it thought about this render:

Boooring. You could’ve at least tried to describe it. That would have been funnier. ๐Ÿ˜› But hey, it recognised that something was sitting down! Not sure where it got “cake” from, though. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ). And yes, it says it’s SFW with 96.8% confidence. ๐Ÿ˜› I might make this a thing. CaptionBot vs Clarifai! ๐Ÿ˜€ Ahhh, I’m such a gorm. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, I kind of went off-topic at the end there, but I hope you like the render! Let me know what you think. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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! ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

Egg and Be True, everyone! ๐Ÿ˜€

UPDATE!!
Firstly, many thanks for the likes! Honestly, it means a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ Unless it’s triple monitors or something crazy like that. ๐Ÿ˜›

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A night like this, 40 million years ago…

O haiii! ๐Ÿ™‚

I be speaking writing SPRITING (omg no) writing to you this time from the comfort of my (somewhat) new laptop! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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”. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ยฃ80 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› Ahh, maybe I should’ve called it Snakeskin… no, no no no, shut up brain, Shard is good. ๐Ÿ˜›

Yes of course I name my computers. ๐Ÿ˜› 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… ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, no, none of that was the actual reason for this post! ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜€

But, uh… as I’m writing this first section of the post… the truth is that the render isn’t… actually done yet. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

For now, though, I think I’ll save this into drafts and come back tomorrow to finish it off. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hello tomorrow! Uh, today! Yesterday it was tomorrow, but today it’s toda- yeah, you get the idea. ๐Ÿ˜›

So, I never told you the idea behind this render yesterday. Today. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 I know it’s supposed to be a children’s band, but… DINOSAURS? PLAYING METAL? HELLO?! ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

You might be able to tell where this is going already, but I’ll keep boring you with my explanations for now. ๐Ÿ˜›

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 ๐Ÿ˜› ). 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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” ๐Ÿ˜› ). “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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

Haaaahh… ahaha… okay okay… okay, I’m calm… I’m calm. Sorry. ๐Ÿ˜› I was just super-excited to share this one, because I think it’s my best render yet. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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?! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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?! ๐Ÿ˜€

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). ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜› What do you think, though? ๐Ÿ˜€

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’! ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ), 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ), added a vignette, and did some vibrancy and levels tweaks. ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, I managed to create a timelapse video for this render, too! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just like Fast Break, I added some music to it which (vaguely) matches the render’s theme. This time, the soundtrack consists of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, followed by the Crazy Daylight Refunk remix of Was Not Was’ “Walk The Dinosaur”, and finally, of course, “Liskodisko” by Hevisaurus… but while I love the song, I find that music video quite creepy. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ Here it is, if you’re interdasted:

Right… whew. I think I’m all partied out. Time for me to faceplant my bed again. ๐Ÿ˜› I hope you liked the render! See y’all later. ๐Ÿ™‚

Shootin’ some b-ball inside’a the gymnasium…

…when a ๐Ÿ‘ซ o’ ๐Ÿ‘จs, they were ๐Ÿ‘†โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‘, ๐ŸŒŸ๐Ÿป makin’ trouble in my neighbourhoo– yeah, that. ๐Ÿ˜›
(I had to write that on my phone, cuz that’s where all the emoji that the kids use these days are. ๐Ÿ˜› )

Harro! How are you this fine weekend, or weekday if you didn’t read the post on a weekend? ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, whine bitch moan no-one cares. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ But anyway, dragons playing basketball? Hell yeah! Totally my style! ๐Ÿ˜€

…Apart from that I didn’t have much of a clue about basketball. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› So, I did some research, because I probably wasn’t going to get anywhere if I didn’t. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ) on YouTube that wasn’t in English. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ) 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.

So, here it is: Fast Break!

More flavours available here:
(1080p) (2K) (4K)

SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM DUNK! Says me. ๐Ÿ˜›

Man, this one was so much fun to make! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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? ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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 ๐Ÿ’ฉ. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ For some weird reason which makes no sense, I… kinda prefer not having the title of the art there now. Shrug. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ) and boom, it kills that noise like the police killing a noisy party. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, whaddya think of the render? ๐Ÿ˜€ I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed making it. Special thanks to Ben for the request! ๐Ÿ™‚ I now understand basketball just a tiny bit more than I did originally. ๐Ÿ˜› To me, it’s like a crazy “sleight of hand” game, with all the insane passing techniques and dribbling tricks and stuff. ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh, crap, of course! Render stats! Yaaaaaaaay! ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

Right, I’m gonna bounce on outta here. Yeah, I went there. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

While I was creating this render, I had PlayClaw recording with the hopes of creating a timelapse video for no apparent reason. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜€ Almost everything is there, excluding the initial scene setup bit (because I forgot, oops ๐Ÿ˜› ), and the bits where I stopped recording to have a break to eat dinner or send messages or talk on the phone or poo. ๐Ÿ˜›

The video’s soundtrack consists of the song above, “Stimulation (New York Stage)” from Capcom vs SNK 2, followed by “The Fresh Prince of Tidal Tempest” by Qjimbo (I actually prefer that mashup over the original song XD), and finally “Jam” by Michael Jackson, which I chose because it has a music video with lots of basketballing in it. ๐Ÿ˜›

I do not apologise for the Fresh Prince. ๐Ÿ˜›

IT’S REAAAAL!

Aside

Just a quick one!

So, it’s my sista’s burfday today. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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”. ๐Ÿ˜›

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:

Eeeeeee! XD

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ). It was printed by HelloCanvas (not an advertisement, just a recommendation ๐Ÿ˜› ), 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! ๐Ÿ˜€ But she’d better not feel like she shouldn’t take it down when it becomes an eyesore. ๐Ÿ˜›

The age of love!

*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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ˜›

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!” ๐Ÿ˜›

Yeah, I don’t get it. Surely you should be nice to them every day? ๐Ÿ˜› Well, doesn’t matter to me; I’ve been single all my life, and I don’t think I want that to change. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ).

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…

Ow.

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”. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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:

You can get this one in a ton of different flavours:
Colour: (2560 Square) (1080p) (2K) (4K) (8K Square)
Monochrome: (2560 Square) (1080p) (2K) (4K)

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!


Amai

โ€œWhirlwind. Iโ€ฆ I have something I need to talk to you about. Meet me in our chamber at sundown.โ€

Those words stayed with me for hours.

That serious look in her eyes, that stern expressionโ€ฆ and her voiceโ€ฆ 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 itโ€ฆ it worried me more than anything. Was she alright? Could she have been unwell? Noโ€ฆ 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 againโ€ฆ maybe it was something she only felt comfortable sharing with me? Or maybe she was upset about something? Had Iโ€ฆ had I wronged her in some way? Rrrghโ€ฆ all these dark thoughts recentlyโ€ฆ

โ€œYoohoo, Guira to Sin! You awake up there?โ€

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.

โ€œHeh, you alright, kin? You keep daydreaminโ€™!โ€ Ifri asked, his voice a mix of playful curiosity and genuine concern. โ€œHas Em been keepinโ€™ you awake the past few nights, or somethinโ€™?โ€

โ€œN-no, no, itโ€™s nothing like that.โ€ I denied, lowering my head. โ€œSorry, Iโ€ฆ kinda just got lost in my thoughts. What were you saying?โ€

โ€œWas just wonderinโ€™ about where youโ€™re goinโ€™ at sundown.โ€ Ifri said. โ€œYou made it sound pretty heavy, and that just makes me curious. Whatโ€™s it about?โ€

A short growl emanated from Thunderโ€™s throat as that question was asked.

โ€œIfri, this is the third time you have pressed Sintarka about this, tonight.โ€ Thunder said, with a hint of annoyance. โ€œHe has already explained twice before that he does not know.โ€

โ€œI-itโ€™s alright, Thunder.โ€ I said, shaking my head. โ€œButโ€ฆ heโ€™s right, though, Ifri. I honestly donโ€™t know what itโ€™s about. All I know is that it just soundedโ€ฆ really serious.โ€

โ€œAhโ€ฆ I see. Fair enough.โ€ He said, lowering his head a moment, before raising it again for another question. โ€œSoโ€ฆ whoโ€™re you meeting?โ€

โ€œIfri, enikkyanar slara!โ€ Thunder growled. โ€œSintarka, mear neโ€™surin sar karkakurta slara.โ€
(โ€œIfri, stop nagging him! Whirlwind, do not feel you have to tell him.โ€)

โ€œN-neโ€ฆ siturk aram.โ€ I replied, with some hesitation. โ€œItโ€™sโ€ฆ itโ€™s with Emerald.โ€
(โ€œN-noโ€ฆ itโ€™s okay.โ€)

โ€œOh. Ohhhh.โ€ Ifri said, seemingly realising something I didnโ€™t.

โ€œWhat?โ€ I asked, frowning slightly.

โ€œNo, no, itโ€™s alright, kin.โ€ He replied. โ€œI wouldnโ€™t worry if I were you. In fact, Iโ€™d say youโ€™re probably in for a good nโ€”mmmf!โ€

Shadow quickly and forcefully cut Ifri off mid-sentence, clasping his claw firmly around the drakeโ€™s muzzle. Ifri tried to loosen Shadowโ€™s grip and voice his disapproval, but all he could manage was a few muffled cries of protest.

โ€œThatโ€™s enough out of you.โ€ Shadow said, with a growl. โ€œThe Sunโ€™s already begun to set, Sin. Shouldnโ€™t you get going?โ€

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 sunsetโ€™s calming beauty, it had caused an unpleasant nervousness to suddenly take root in my gut. It was timeโ€ฆ

โ€œAh! Y-youโ€™re right. Thanks, Shadow.โ€ I said, quickly getting to my feet. โ€œI-Iโ€™ll see you guys later.โ€

โ€œKar ne fir, Sintarka.โ€ Thunder assured me. โ€œI am sure things will be okay.โ€
(โ€œHave no fear, Whirlwind.โ€)

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. Emeraldโ€ฆ my mate.

Words canโ€™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 meโ€ฆ 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, thoughโ€ฆ we had been apart. I didnโ€™t even know if she was alive, and I feared that I had lost her forever. This fear left me feelingโ€ฆ 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 thenโ€ฆ 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 safeโ€ฆ knowing that the children that she had spent all that time raising on her own were safeโ€ฆ it reignited that flame inside me. It gave me a reason to keep fighting. I wanted to fight for Guiraโ€™s futureโ€ฆ and in turn, I wanted to fight for the future of my loved ones. I wasnโ€™t going to let anyone, human or dragon, stand in the way of that future.

But todayโ€ฆ 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 sheโ€ฆ intend to rescind our matehoodโ€ฆ?!

I stopped walking, shivering at that thought. Gods, noโ€ฆ no, no, that wouldโ€ฆ 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 couldnโ€™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 wasnโ€™t ready.

โ€œS-susaโ€ฆ!โ€
(โ€œW-wowโ€ฆ!โ€)

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 directionโ€ฆ in the shape of a heart.

โ€œEvening, Sin.โ€ 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 shouldersโ€ฆ 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.

โ€œHeh, whatโ€™s wrong? Was this a bit much of a surprise?โ€ She asked, with a chuckle of her own.

I turned from the wall, and began to approach her, my laughter slowly dying down.

โ€œViraโ€ฆ you evil, evil dragoness.โ€ I said, with a smile. โ€œAll day, Iโ€™ve been worrying that there was something seriously wrong!โ€

Emerald laughed, shaking her head slowly in response.

โ€œSorry, love. In hindsightโ€ฆ I-I probably did go a bit far this morning.โ€ She admitted. โ€œI didnโ€™t mean to be so harsh, I justโ€ฆ wanted to throw you off the scent. I wanted to surprise you.โ€

โ€œRrrh, like I could ever be mad at you.โ€ I said, softly. โ€œCome here.โ€

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.

โ€œSoโ€ฆ whatโ€™s all this about, then?โ€ I finally asked, as I moved my muzzle away from hers. โ€œWhatโ€™s the occasion?โ€

โ€œDonโ€™t you know what day it is today, Sin?โ€ 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. Butโ€ฆ as far as I was aware, today wasnโ€™t a particularly special day. It wasnโ€™t the anniversary of our matehoodโ€ฆ right? Had I forgotten something?

โ€œโ€ฆMasnakdia?โ€ I said, jokingly.
(โ€œThursday?โ€)

โ€œYou dunce, Sin. Itโ€™s Kainakdia (Friday).โ€ She chuckled.

โ€œAh, heh. Iโ€ฆ I clearly donโ€™t know, then. Sorry…โ€ I replied, blushing.

โ€œItโ€™s alright!โ€ She assured me. โ€œItโ€™s the first time weโ€™ve been able to spend it together, after all.โ€

I tilted my head, puzzled. Before I could open my muzzle to ask her, she brought her lips to mine, and kissed me, gently.

โ€œArasi Franaieโ€™dianas, mis amai.โ€ She whispered.
(โ€œHappy Franaie Day, my love.โ€)

โ€œF-Franaieโ€™dianas?โ€ I asked, before gasping with realisation. โ€œA-ah!โ€

โ€œYouโ€™ve remembered?โ€ She said, with a smile.

Franaieโ€™dianasโ€ฆ of course. โ€œFranaie Dayโ€ 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 sceneโ€ฆ was Emeraldโ€™s way of expressing her love to me.

โ€œYeahโ€ฆ I-Iโ€™ve just realised now. Damn itโ€ฆ how could I have forgotten?โ€ I said, ashamed. Emerald was right. This was the first time we had been able to spend this day together, and Iโ€™d gone ahead and forgotten. What a fool I wasโ€ฆ

โ€œSin, love, itโ€™s alright.โ€ She said, nuzzling me reassuringly. โ€œHonestly, I preferred it this way. That look on your face was so worth it. I love to surprise you like this.โ€

โ€œHeh, I knowโ€ฆ and I love that about you.โ€ I replied, with a chuckle. โ€œBut all this feels soโ€ฆ familiar. Didnโ€™t you do something like this on the day we declared matehood?โ€

Emeraldโ€™s face lit up.

โ€œAh, you remembered!โ€ She said, happily. โ€œMaybe your memory isnโ€™t as bad as I thought!โ€

โ€œPah, like Iโ€™m ever going to forget that day, Vira.โ€ I replied, shaking my head as I began to reminisce. โ€œI 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 talkโ€ฆ wow. Iโ€™ve never seen you so nervous, before or since.โ€

โ€œCan you really blame me?โ€ She said, defensively, but with a light-hearted tone.

โ€œOf course not! You were really brave that day. Hell, I wouldโ€™ve been even more nervous.โ€ I admitted. โ€œWhen 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 meanโ€ฆ I never believed that aโ€ฆ a runt of a dragon like me was ever worthy to mate with a perfect, wonderful, angel of a dragoness like you.โ€

โ€œS-Sinโ€ฆโ€ She whispered.

โ€œI-I knew my love wasnโ€™t unrequited. I felt it all along during our partnership.โ€ I continued. โ€œBut Iโ€ฆ I never knew if the love I was showing you was enough. I was scaredโ€ฆ scared that I was genuinely not good enough for you. But when that day came, the day you spoke those wordsโ€ฆ โ€˜I would like to declare you as my mateโ€™โ€ฆ that was the greatest day of my life. And Iโ€™d never, ever forget it.โ€

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.

โ€œD-donโ€™t you even dare to think about apologising, y-youโ€ฆ big, softโ€ฆโ€

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 wasโ€ฆ 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.

โ€œTchโ€ฆ c-cuteโ€ฆโ€ She whispered. โ€œI-Iโ€™d smack you if I didnโ€™t love you so muchโ€ฆ hehโ€ฆโ€

She managed a quiet laugh through her tears, and I smiled.

โ€œThanks for this surprise, Vira.โ€ I said, gratefully. โ€œYou looked amazing. And it was so nice to reminisce with you. It reminds me just how lucky I am to have you.โ€

โ€œOh, Sinโ€ฆ i-it was nothing, really.โ€ She said, wiping her tears away. โ€œIโ€™m glad you liked it. Itโ€™s always a pleasure to make you happy.โ€

โ€œWell thenโ€ฆ it would definitely make me happy to spend the rest of this evening with you. Is that okay with you?โ€ I asked, somewhat rhetorically. โ€œIt is Franaieโ€™dia, after all.โ€

โ€œHah, says the dragon who forgot about itโ€ฆโ€ She retorted, with a laugh.

โ€œTrust me, after thisโ€ฆ I wonโ€™t ever make that mistake again.โ€

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.

โ€œIr amai sar, Virana.โ€
(โ€œI love you, Emerald.โ€)














































TITANIC POWER TROUT!!
And thus normal service is resumed! ๐Ÿ˜›

Okay, let’s see, where should I start? Let’s start with the story, shall we?

That… was… a joy to write. ๐Ÿ˜€ I aimed for 2,000 words, but overshot and hit 2,478. Shows you how much I was getting into it. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

I can’t think of much else to write about the writing. ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ) 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ Aaand that was big-headed and vain. Slap time!

Ow.

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜› But I have found the SOLUTION, through random poking of things! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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! ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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”. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜€ )

The majority of the words are just random nonsense. Kamasa. There, that’s now the word for “nonsense”. ๐Ÿ˜› Put it in Google Translate and it’s apparently Hindi, a language which I’ve never spoken a word of. ๐Ÿ˜› I don’t know how I do it. But I fucking love it. XD

Annoyingly, though, I’ve just learned that “็”˜ใ„ (amai)” means “sweet” in Japanese. The word was intended to be a gibberish mix of the Italian “amore” and the Japanese “ๆ„› (ai)”, both of which mean “love”, but nope, I’ve just gone ahead and accidentally spoken pure Japanese. Damn it. ๐Ÿ˜›

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! ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› Damn, I love this rig. ๐Ÿ˜€

Gotta post this now! I’ve got like 20 seconds before it becomes invalid! I’ll make a better outro in a sec! ๐Ÿ˜›

UPDATE!!: OOOSH! Valentine’s post successfully made 15 seconds before Valentine’s Day ended! I call that a win! ๐Ÿ˜› Unfortunately, the story not being here is a FAIL! I’ll get it finished tomorrow… uh, today. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, laterz, y’all! And be nice to your partner for the next 364 days, too! ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜› Anyway, I’d love to tell you how long it took, but it’s not in the log file. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

MAKIN’ BACON!

Hi, ni hao, ohayo gozaimasu yes happy lunar new year sorry I’m kind of in a hurry here I’ve gotta post this before I run out of…

Well, okay. Maybe I’m not in THAT much of a hurry. ๐Ÿ˜› Let’s start again, shall we?

Ni hao once more, citizen of the Internet, and xin nian kuai le to ye! ๐Ÿ˜€ Happy New Year. The Lunar New Year, that is, cuz who gives a damn about the “real” new year? EXACTLY, apart from those many many millions of people, no-one at all! ๐Ÿ˜› And of course, no prizes for guessing what I’m going to post here today. My traditional Lunar New Year render, this time, the Year of the Pig! ๐Ÿ˜€ And it’s the 8th in the series! :O

As you can probably tell by the intro, I really, really cut this one close. ๐Ÿ˜› So close, that I rushed to get the 1080p version rendered out first, just so I had something to post on time. ๐Ÿ˜› The 2K version is currently rendering as I type. And on a side note, because the render is eating half my CPU (overhead, I guess, because the GPU’s actually the thing responsible for the render), it’s making typing slightly irritating. Sometimes letters I type don’t appear on screen for a second. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, so, why did I cut this one so close? Well… the reason’s similar to last year, actually. ๐Ÿ˜› I decided to start it last night after I got home from work because I thought it was going to be easy. Because it’s a pig. A common farmyard animal. Surely there’d be something I could use, right? Hahahaha no! Of course not! There was nothing but the DAZ Pig, a model from about… I dunno, 18-19 years ago? And a low-resolution pig designed for mass rendering. That’s pretty much it. Boom, shat on again, two years in a row! ๐Ÿ˜›

However, it was even worse this time. Last year, I thought out of the box and decided to look for a wolf instead, hoping there was a way I could get it to look more like a dog. In the end, I found a wolf with a texture pack that turned it into a husky. This time, I tried the same kind of logic and searched for a boar instead of a pig. And yes, I found one, but it didn’t… feel right. Sure, in some countries, the pig is replaced by a boar in the zodiac (heck, at least one country replaces it with an elephant, instead), so there was no reason I couldn’t use it. But the boar felt a bit… boring, somehow. I dunno. I can’t really explain myself this time. ๐Ÿ˜› I’d planned to make the background pink this time, too, but that would’ve clashed with the boar, massively. And it’s very difficult to come up with new colours when all the good ones are taken already. ๐Ÿ˜›

So I eventually said “screw it” and got the low-resolution pig designed for mass usage. Why the hell did I do that? Well… because I couldn’t find the DAZ Pig. ๐Ÿ˜› Like fuck am I spending $20 on an insanely old model! If it was like $5, sure, I would’ve done, but they were asking release price for something which is about 18 years old! Hell no! ๐Ÿ˜›

The low-res model was… yeah, it was bad. The poly count was amazing… for its intended use case. For my use case? Nope! Nowhere near enough. ๐Ÿ˜› And the texture quality? It was 2048, which sounds okay, apart from that texture covered every material on the model. Again, great for the intended use case, but not for mine! ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway… so, I had a low-resolution model, low-resolution textures and not much time because I’m a silly shitface. ๐Ÿ˜› But I had to do something, right? Yes, I did! And I did! And here it is, an epic piggy (or as epic as I could make one look, anyway):

Available in these tasty, fresh, sizzling flavours:
(1080p) (1080p Dark) (2K) (2K Dark) (4K) (4K Dark)

Ha HAAAAAA! The power of Iray! And ingenuity! And maybe Look At My Hair had something to do with it, too. No, that ain’t no 3,000-ish-poly model any more; it’s SUBDIVIDED, baby! It now has around 170,000 polys! ๐Ÿ˜€ So, Jill, what do you think? Well Barry, considering what I had to work with, I think this one came out alright in the end! I use it all over the house! It’s great on limescale!

Okaaaaay, there must’ve been something in that leftover KFC I just ate. ๐Ÿ˜› Anyway, I learned a couple of new things this time around. You might be wondering how I massively increased the poly count of the model. Well… I know that DAZ Studio’s had the ability to subdivide its models for a long time now, at least since the Millenium SubDragon was released. That’s why it was called the SubDragon, after all. It was one of the first figures that supported subdivision. I can’t explain it technically or anything (and I don’t really like using technical explanations if I can help it, anyway ๐Ÿ˜› ), but basically, I think it splits all the polygons of the model into four polygons and does magical smoothyness on the result. It can do this several times, but doing more than about 3 iterations is both pointless and explosion-inducing. ๐Ÿ˜› Since I knew DS had figures that supported this out of the box, I was hoping there was a way of applying it to any figure. And yes, there is! With a figure selected, go to Edit -> Object -> Geometry -> Convert to SubD…, and boom! The model is subdivided!

You can get at the subdivision settings in the usual place: with a model selected, in the Parameters tab, go to General -> Mesh Resolution. Initially, the converted model only has a SubD level of 1, but you can adjust that as normal with da slider.

The piggy in the render uses 3 iterations for rendering. So that’s 2,700 base polys x 4 x 4 x 4 = 172,800 polys. Smooooooooth! 3 iterations is probably overkill, though. 2 looks basically the same. ๐Ÿ˜›

So, what else did I do that was new? Well… I used the Look At My Hair plugin to create the fur. Yes okay it’s not really new for me, I’ve used the plugin twice before, and I’ve swore at it so many times already. ๐Ÿ˜› However, the difference? What I used before was the “viewer” plugin, or whatever they call it. You can apply hair presets and export them as an OBJ to use in Iray renders, but you can’t make them. This time, I used the full-fat plugin… that I bought. Yes. I genuinely bought it, much to my dismay, because I hate it so goddamn much. ๐Ÿ˜› But hey, I’m pretty sure I milked the hell out of whatever weird-ass “sale” DS was having at the time that I bought it. Actually, yeah… I think I bought it along with the Hunting Drake (the last dragon-related thing I wanted, at least until they make the Dragon 4/8 hint hint DAZ) and managed to combine offers and discounts in such a way that the total cost to buy LAMH with the Hunting Drake was less than buying LAMH on its own. Seriously, their sales are more like puzzle games. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, the full-fat LAMH plugin allows you to create and modify hair rather than apply presets, which is kind of necessary for this model, because it was made at a time when LAMH didn’t even exist. ๐Ÿ˜› So, how was the experience? It was painful! Literally! And figuratively! It took more than an hour. By the end of it, my hand had almost seized up. ๐Ÿ˜› I have some behind-the-scenes footage, actually. Have a listen to what this plugin drove me to do (or don’t, there’s no yelling or anything, but still, I like your ears enough to dissuade you ๐Ÿ˜› ):

…Oh brilliant, shitty WordPress won’t embed the video even with custom HTML. Fuck their dumb faces. Doesn’t make any sense at all. Sigh… I guess a link will have to do:
https://1drv.ms/v/s!AlJqPkamagmNvW2Mt4lgmjYPRvPD

Yes, sorry, the video is awful quality. ๐Ÿ˜› I was actually recording the whole process of making this render so I could try doing a timelapse video, only to find out that, after the second clip, PlayClaw had forgotten my recording settings for some reason, and had reverted to its default bitrate of 10kbps. Yes, 10 KILObits per second. About 500x less than what I asked for. I’m surprised the resulting video even remotely resembled what was on my screen. ๐Ÿ˜›

So yeah, I realised you can apply subdivision to anything, and through a long and incredibly annoying process, I made some extremely average custom hair for the pig. Woot! Learnding! ๐Ÿ˜›

As for the renders other than 1080p, I’ve added the 2K version now. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was gonna add the 4K version, too, but I was in a rush this morning and didn’t turn on my PC, so I couldn’t connect to it from work and start the 4K render remotely. -.- I’ll get that posted later on, though. ๐Ÿ™‚ UPDATE!!: I’ve now added the 4K version, as well as all the Dark versions. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, traditional render stats! ๐Ÿ˜€ Using a single GTX 970 at Render Quality 2 and 95% convergence with the Caustic sampler on (for some reason), the
2K version took 34 minutes 49.14 seconds, and the 1080p version took 19 minutes 25.68 seconds! Holy bab that’s fast! As for the 4K version, I gave it the Pwnage-O-Matic V10’s FULL POWER, and it took… 31 minutes 23.8 seconds! BOOM! Both GPUs got a 4K render done faster than a single GPU could do the 2K render. ๐Ÿ˜€ But why the hell was it so fast in general? Last year’s render took like, 3 hours. Shrug. Maybe my crappy pig hair wasn’t as detailed as the dog hair. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, happy Lunar New Year! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ll leave you with this dumb-but-funny-and-sort-of-related song:


One! Sleep! TILL BROOKLYN! No, wait – CHRISTMAS!

Heyooo! Merry incoming Christmas! If you’re reading this on the day I asked WordPress to post it (or any subsequent Christmas Eve), then it’s only one more day until Jesus Day! Yay! ๐Ÿ˜€ When this is posted, I’ll be sliding down a big snowy hill on a toboggan in an attempt to beat my sister to the bottom and losing every single time because MY TOBOGGAN IS CRAP! ๐Ÿ˜› I’ll also be laughing at everyone else having massive accidents, of course. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, I hope you’re excited for Christmas! Me? Nope. I’m too old now. ๐Ÿ˜› Jayzuz, “too old”… I’m only 28. XD But yeah, I don’t really get excited for Christmas like I used to. But I am excited to share what I’ve made for y’all. A Christmas RENDER! ๐Ÿ˜€ “ERMAGERD WHAT?! IT’S BEEN SO LONG SINCE YOUR LAST CHRISTMASSY RENDER!”

Yeah, my last Christmas render was done back in 2011, so that’s a whole 7 years. I think the reason I stopped doing Christmas renders was because I was discouraged. All of them have just been “meh”, or worse. I did start work on a Christmas render in 2012, but I ended up scrapping it. I still have a test render of it, actually… should I? Ah, what the hell, since it’s Christmas, here it is:

Ahhh, the good old SubDragon. ๐Ÿ˜€ I tend not to share old test renders because they’re embarrassing as fuck, but hey, there it is ๐Ÿ˜› Honestly, though, looking back, I’m not sure why I gave up on that one. The execution is bad, sure, but the concept is nice. Maybe I’ll visit the idea again some time.

Even though I don’t really share test/failed/quick renders, I still like to keep hold of them. Why? Well, like I say on the MongMaster’s Turd page, why do you keep hold of that Defend Globe when it only affects bug types? ๐Ÿ˜› They’re nice reminders. Some remind me of how far I’ve come since I started rendering, others remind me of certain things I did that I might’ve otherwise forgotten, and others remind me of the PAIN that DS puts me through. Here’re some examples, while I’m at it (I’m also testing WordPress’ new editor by doing this ๐Ÿ˜› ):

DAZ Studio did this while I was doing DOF tests and trying to fix infinite rendering times because of subsurface scattering. Why does it do this to me.
Test render of The Third Breed in Iray before I started using Iray properly. The lighting it rendered wasn’t even close to the lighting I asked for. I genuinely didn’t understand what it was doing.
Made quickly as a bit of fun for someone on a not-very-popular forum. Wish I could remember the details. ๐Ÿ˜› I wonder how those guys are doing now.

Stock raytraced shadows in 3Delight were solid black unless some unknown conditions were met. Thankfully, I learned about UberEnvironment.
Dueling Dragons test render. One time only, DAZ Studio decided to shit this out for some now-unknown reason. Pretty much ruined my evening. ๐Ÿ˜›
One of my very first renders, from 2009. You have no idea how much I hesitated to put this here. It makes me cringe. ๐Ÿ˜›

Wow, WordPress’ new editor has only given me a mild headache, and I only swore three times while doing all that, so it’s not horribly bad. I still refuse to stop putting the “WordPress Is Shit” tag on every post I make, though. TRADITION NEVER DIES! ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent again. That’s enough crap for now! I didn’t come here to give you coal for Christmas. I came to give you DIAMONDS*! ๐Ÿ˜› (*cubic zirconia)

So yes, it’s been a long time since my last Christmas render. Since then, I’ve gotten hold of the DAZ Dragon 3, I’ve learned how to use Iray relatively well, my scene composition skillz are much better, and my lighting skillz have improved, too. I also tend to have ideas more rarely, but they’re much higher-quality. So, when I started this scene, I knew it was going to be a nice way to see how far I’ve come. Here’s the result:

(Available in these tasty flavours: 1080p2K, 4K)

DAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAAAAA SO CUUUUUUTE!! GAAAAH! I WANNA HUG HIM WHILE WEARING A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF PROTECTIVE CLOTHING SO I DON’T GET STABBED!

*ahem* Yes. I… think I’m a bit better at this than I was seven years ago. ๐Ÿ˜€ What do you think? Do you like? ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m not totally sure where the idea for this came from. I think it was partially inspired by my 2011 Christmas render, and I think “cozy” was the trigger word, but it was mostly a shower moment. ๐Ÿ˜› It was also the first time I’ve used the Crystal Dragon supermorph/geograft, which somehow worked way better in this scene than I was expecting. Using the regular Dragon 3 just… lacked something. The more “brutish” look of the Crystal Dragon somehow makes it cuter to see him like that. ๐Ÿ˜€ Oh, and of course, the ice crystals help with the wintery, Christmassy theme. Huh, what’s that? If he’s a dragon with ice crystals coming out of his scales, why is he sleeping next to a warm fire? Well, that’s because ๐Ÿ–•! ๐Ÿ˜›

Now, it’s render stats time! You remember that my previous render “Monster. Hunter.” took about 21 hours, right? Of course you don’t! ๐Ÿ˜› Anyway, at 4K, Rendering Quality 2, 98% convergence AND with Caustic and Architectual samplers on (something I’ve never done before because it increases render time), this one took… ooooohhh… 5 hours 52 minutes 11.1 seconds! Yeah. About 4 times faster, and one hour of that was the last 3% convergence. ๐Ÿ˜› The main reason it was so relatively fast is because the scene is quite a bit less complex. I didn’t have to faff around trying to get the scene memory usage below 4GB, because it only used 3.5GB. ๐Ÿ™‚ But another reason was becaaaause… I got a new GPU! AND IT’S A FRIGGIN’ MONSTER!!

GTX 1080Ti. I got it a couple months ago as a birthday present to myself. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s got triple the VRAM of my old 970s, so I highly doubt I’ll run into any memory issues again, which is more than enough to make me happy. But of course, I was also expecting a bit more speed. ๐Ÿ˜€ I did some tests using the “Monster. Hunter.” scene and found that the 1080Ti is about 58% faster than TWO 970s, cutting render time by more than 4 hours! And then, amazingly, I found out that Iray can actually use any two GPUs to render! I tried putting one of my 970s alongside it, and it cut down the render time by an additional hour! :O So I’ve kept one of the 970s in, just to assist rendering. I’d’ve kept both of them in, but putting a 970 in the bottom PCIe slot covers up the motherboard’s USB 3 header. And I’m not sure if my PSU could handle it, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜›

Oh, and of course, the 1080Ti can run Monster Hunter: World at 90FPS. ๐Ÿ˜€ Just as long as you don’t put the volumetric fog too high, anyway. To be honest, I don’t even notice a difference past Low. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the render. And of course, I hope you have a great Christmas, or whatever it is you celebrate! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ll see you again in the New Year! Probably the Chinese one! ๐Ÿ˜€