V5 Nichole Test by theSea ()
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Hi, thanks for looking in... after a long break; I recently started playing with DAZ Studio again and here are some test renders of the new "Nichole" character from DAZ for Genesis/Victoria 5.
There are two things being tested here: a new render environment and a new skin technique. I'm also putting DAZ Studio 4.5 though its paces.
The new render environment is an attempt to work with Global Illumination in DAZ Studio. I'm going to share the lighting details so that you can re-create it if you'd like to.
Basically it's a cylinder with an UberEnvironment light and a single distant light.
The cylinder has been turned inside out by scaling it -100% on the X axis: this is important to ensure that the polygon normals are facing towards the inside. Next, I subdivided it (convert to SUB D) so that the top and bottom edges are now smooth curves and there are no nasty polygon breaks along the wall. UberEnvironment's AO function can get a little wonky with polygon breaks like that. Remember to turn off 'cast shadows' for the cylinder so you can place distant lights. In this image the cylinder is just big enough to hold the figure and the cameras - this allows for easy ray bouncing.
The UE lighting is set to 'Global Illumination w/Soft Shadows.' Intensity is 100%, Intensity Scale is 75%. The color is light blue (RGB 195,206,221) with no map in it and the Occlusion Color is a very dark blue (RGB 32,32,37). Occlusion samples here are at 64, Shadow Bias is 0.1, Shading rate is 8, Max Error is 0.1 and Max Trace Distance is 250. This gives a very bright 'sky dome' effect.
The Sun is a single distant light, pale yellow ( RGB 195, 171, 173) Strength 125% with ray traced shadows, 2% softness and a 0.1 shadow bias.
With this setup it is important to keep 'Max Ray Trace Depth' in the advanced render settings as low as possible, in this case it is set to 1. Failure to do so will drastically increase render times!
The skin is also something of a departure for me - I'm working with some new Sub Surface Scatter techniques using the UberSurface 2 shader. Yes, I've finally decided to move beyond PWSurface2 and get a little more modern :)
Essentially you set the diffuse color to a dark cyan color (RGB 150,190,190) and plug the skin texture into the 'SubSurface color' channel. Other values here would be Subsurface refraction 1.3, Subsurface Scale 0.12, Back Scatter Boost 2, Subsurface Shading Rate 1 (very important), Scatter Color RGB 129,34,0; Scatter Strength 0.7, Absorption Color RGB 232,58,0 and Absorption Strength 0.1.
There is no need here for SSS strength mapping as the shader does all the simulation. You can get really effective backscattering around the ears and fingers etc with this technique, although it still needs some refinement.
I'm also not 100% satisfied with the way this shader handles fresnel reflection and specular and I'm currently using the second 'layer' in the shader to do additional reflection and specular highlights.
Similar SSS techniques were used for the eyes, teeth and hair. For the eyes and teeth be sure to remember to set separate 'Subsurface Group' values for things that should not be bleeding together.
Render times for the two standing figures were around 0.5 hours; with the closeup taking around 3 hours due to the hair on an Intel 12 core with 16GB of RAM.
Post work was confined to some levels adjustments and the tried and true technique of adding a duplicate layer of the render in 'screen' mode to make things pop a bit.
Items used: DAZ Genesis/Victoria 5, Victoria 5 Elite Ponytail, Nichole Texture Set, Hongyu's Bikini for V5, and Posermatic's NGM for Genesis Female.
I'd be really interested in your specific feedback about the skin, hair and lighting - what works and what doesn't; especially if you found all of the above technical description to be so much CG gobbledegook :)
Of course, anything you'd care to post in response to this offering would be most welcome and please do have a happy and healthy 2013.
Image Comments (8)
The full image to the left is the most pleasing to my eyes. The shadowing feels right. I like the headshot except for the characters eyes which feel flat and lifeless to me. The full image to the right seems to have very harsh shadow lines for the apparent level of light. I find your technical descriptions remind me of how little I know about the CG character world. I try very hard to learn from them. Thanks for sharing. It is really appreciated.
this is truly spectacular. Could you talk about your issues with the reflection and specular? I also have issues with how it handles specular, and the fresnel controls don't quite make sense to me. Seems I read somewhere that fresnel is supposed to affect specular as well as reflection (as it really should).