In Poser 4, I used Victoria 2 by DAZ as my base geometry to work from. I selected the various body parts and, using the Parameter dials, gently nudged the proportions of the figure to a point where it had an otherworldly feeling, while still maintaining an indisputable feminine allure.
The "Blumen" in the forefront were based on Michael, also by DAZ. I made modifications to them to give them elongated bodies and large hands and feet. I then exported the models as a .3ds (3d Studio) geometry file using File > Export > 3d Studio. For the female tower, I selected only the upper body elements for export, with Export All parts as Single Objects checked. I left the Blumen as complete hierarchies for export with Export All Parts as Single Objects checked.
I then had my raw geometry ready to take into 3d Studio Max, where I could begin creating the basis for my illustration.BASIC COMPOSITION
Once I had the geometry imported into Max, I used the Boolean function to cut the face from the head. I then deleted half of the head and face, once again using the Boolean function to make it easier to work with. The most time-consuming part of the refinement process was achieving the thickness I wanted the object to have. This involved the selection and duplication of edges and the construction of faces within the sub-objects and then the assignment of smoothing groups to the faces for mapping and rendering. Once this was complete, I simply mirrored the main portion of the head, attached the elements, and used the Weld Selected function under Vertex Selection subset. Mirror was also used to duplicate the other half of the face door.
I then selected and moved the Pivot Point for the face to create a virtual hinge where the doors of the face met the head. With the camera in position, I used Rotate to open and close the face panels until I was comfortable with the general composition.
Further refinement of the composition came as I began to populate the scene with additional elements. The foreground layer was now occupied by my little Blumen, the midground had the lady and her architectural details, but I had not yet decided on the background elements. This strict delineation of my composition was essential to the final results I wished to achieve in the illustration as I created the layers to be composited in Adobe Photoshop.
It is also worth noting that several elements (meshes) that make up my scene are a variety of shareware, stock, and custom meshes. The buildings that form the base of the lady tower are alterations of a combination of some free sci-fi meshes I found on the Net. Using existing meshes becomes helpful when you are trying to visualize very quickly; you can later go back and create from scratch to your heart's content, or you can just leave it as it is. When used properly, 3D clip art also works very well.RENDERING
Once the overall composition was set and I was generally happy with the placement and lighting, I moved on to prepping the file for output. My technique used multiple renders of the same objects with a variety of texture solutions that I would combine in Photoshop. Some elements were to remain flat shaded, while others would have full diffuse and bump maps. The diagram provides a much clearer idea of how my final composition was assembled.
I started by rendering each of my compositional layers: foreground, midground, and background. I selected the elements to render, and under the Displays tab I choose Hide Unselected, which isolated the objects to be rendered. I applied default materials to all of my objects so that when I grouped the layers, I could still modify the materials for additional renders. These would then be blended and combined within Photoshop. I usually render my components at 6500 pixels wide by 4875 pixels high, at 72 DPI. The settings might seem a tad high, but because I create limited-edition prints of some of my pieces, it does well to shoot high and scale down later. Each of the four layers shown was rendered as a Targa file with an 8 bit alpha channel.FINAL COMPOSITION
My next step was to open Photoshop and select or create the canvas upon which these illustrative elements would be composed.
I keep an extensive library of photographs and scans of all sorts of interesting textures and surfaces. These images become the canvas upon which I assemble and manipulate my 3D components. In this case I used some rusty metal, combined with an image of the planet Pluto and a skyscape photograph I took during a trip to Mexico. I already knew that I wanted more visual weight at the bottom of the illustration than at the top,so I accounted for this. It is also worth noting that I did not collapse my layers for the background to avoid having some images inserted between these textural components.
I built my composition with the rendered elements using the alpha channels supplied with the Targa files to knock out and isolate the elements.
This technique is not unlike glazing in traditional mediums, such as watercolors or gouache. The weight and density of an illustration are slowly built up by adding more layers and elements of layers to the composition. I advise experimenting with the different Layer properties available in Photoshop. You can create some cool and unexpected effects with soft light blends and translucent color overlays. At any given time during this process, I constantly go into the different layers to hand paint, tweak, and erase elements within the composition.
At this stage, I went back to my 3ds max file and played with the texture settings on the lady tower. I increased the resolution and bump of the texture, which I felt was a little too understated. I then proceeded to add my Blumen and duplicated the Pluto texture to put it several layers above the current composition, with a Multiply effect and Translucency set to about 30%.
My final challenge was to introduce the illumination and sky effects within the head. My first attempt, using 3D objects and texturing within 3ds max, gave me unsatisfactory results, so I opted to create the elements from scratch within Photoshop. Making the light beams was a very simple process of using the marquis-select tool with Feather and a layer set to Color Dodge and creating many layers of such 'light' objects until I goe the effect I was looking for.Software: Poser 4, 3ds max R4.2, Adobe Photoshop
The Magazine Interact Forum's Back Room is the place to go for editorials, magazine excerpts, discussions, and plenty of surprises. Also, if you haven't done so yet, you can buy single issues or the whole magazine collection in our Marketplace. And don't forget that Issue 7 is now available for pre-order!
To find your way there, go to the Magazine Interact Forum, and click on the link to the Back Room at the top.