WORK IN PROGRESS
Spelljammer artworks I'm working on,
and explanations if yer interested :)
DOCKS AT BRAL
I'm creating a scene of the docks on the
asteroid city of Bral.
To do this I have to use a lot of 3D models, couldn't do
this without a 64 bit system, eek! 64 bit systems
are relatively recent (as of this article 23-09-2008),
standard PCs are only 32 bit, this limits them to 2 GIGS
of RAM (or 3gigs with some tricks). However 64 bit systems
can have crazy amounts, but, at the moment for ordianry
folk the limits 8 GIGS, nto very useful for games, but for
specialist programs, it frikkin' rocks! Massive improvement
on how much stuff you cna throw into your renders before
running out of memory.
I know roughly the angle and view I wish,
looking down a row of ships docked at the harbour. I duplicate
a lot of the same pier sections to layout the shape.
Next I import a lot of various 3D items
I have that would be suitable for background objects:
barrels, amphorae, crates etc.
Then I bring in the ships. I figure having
a Hammership's "eye" protruding over the dock
will look cool.
I add items to the ships to make them
seem "used": catapults, ballistae, anchor.
I use my "dirt
" trick to make the pier more varied,
rather than 1 repeating texture that would look fake:
the dirt effect breaks it up -important tip!
- I add background items for space: a planet (an Alpha plane
actually), and 2 spheres to create a nebulae. The bright
colour offsets the scene well.
- I try different lighting styles to see what's nice. Although
this is space, I use a "Spectral atmosphere" in
Vue, though tweaked to keep sky black etc, this makes objects
look far more realistic than a simple space background amtosphere
(which is basiclaly no atmosphere!). In REAL space, light
is very harsh and odd, but this is on an asteroid city and
well, it's fantasy and art! It doens't have to be text-book
real! ;) I put in a lot of invisible lights, to spread light
around, as well as 3 fill lights (which I didn't find gave
me what I wanted, later on at the end I've kept one fill
light set very faint to "pait in" any areas which
are too dark).
- I begin twekaing materials. This is a long frustrating
process, ick. Basically, the surfaces of objects are
made from images, these images take up computer memory,
and eventually start to take up a huge amount of
RAM.That's why I need a 64 bit system! So I go through everything
and fidn any images in a material that are too large (over
1000 to 1500 pixels size isall you really need, except for
pin-up very close items or some big objects for specific
purposes). I also tweak materials to make them better. "Poser"
materials always suck when imported, and
take work to improve.
- Some more material tweaks, making nebulae more "see
through" for example,and the carrots in the crate less
- I make the pillars more suitable for a fantasy scene:
Imake them look as if they are dissolving into nothing with
magicial runes and bands on them! I do this using specially
made greyscale (black & white) images which drive Transparency
and Luminous channels, so they chop off the pilings that
hold the pier up, where I tell it to using the greyscale
images and also make parts glow..
- One of the important and again, tedious material tweaks,
is to get rid of exxcess numbers of materials! Each material
takes up memory. Fewer materials the better, but...for realism,
you want lots of materials! However, items in the background
require less detail, so a simple brass material, with a
dirt map for fractal variations so it's not uniform, will
do for all such items. By doing this I cut material numbers
a LOT, I had previously done this on many of the items before
starting the scene, so it went from about 600 materials
down to about 300. If i hadn't trimmed down the materials
on the original objects before hand, it would be well over
1,000 materials used for this scene!
- I add my first characters: a drow warlock and a pair of
rats! Well, rats are inherent todocks, aren't they? ;)
- Optimizing Poser characters is vital, otherwise they will
take up ridiculous amounts of memory and look terrible,
I explain all about that in one of my tutorials. Note: when
doing characters with fine hair, you will have to use finer
render settings in Vue. I rendered this out fine, it was
taking too long though and I stopped the render, it gave
me the info I needed to know, that to have the drow look
good, I need to render out at high quality and he looks
- Here you can see the many small lights turned back on
again, it gives a much nicer lighting rig! In Vue, it's
important for realism to edit each light and give it 85%
shadows and 1degree to 5degree lighting depending on how
soft you wish it to be, candle light maybe 5 to 15 degrees
forexample, and sunlight 1 ot 5. Also, real light is rarely
White, these and the Sun are slightly yellow. Note the fill
light I use in this scene is actually grey, that's how Vue
assigns "power" to the light.
- I add many more characters. Ye gods, this is a sh*t lot
of work!! I had to go through all of them, and check every
texture in each material was around 1000-1500 pixels approx
or less...and then find those that weren't and resize them.....gah!!!!
- This is almost exactly the same scene as the one above,
except I added a giff character (big hippopotamus folk),
and did a "Radiosity Render". Radiosity is a very
fine render technique, it bounces light off things (well
the CPU does), and it colours that light by what it hits,
and also means light bounces into nooks and crannies in
a pic. Gives a FAR better image, but...takes a lot
more time, the large original pic (1680x1050) took 9 hours
t render, versus less than an hour for the others, usually.
ANother reason for it being slow was i cranked the render
setting up to "Superior" as I wanted oto see how
big an improvement that would make...VERY susbstanital improvement
- More to come as I go along :) Not finished yet!
These images were inspired by the gorgeous Spelljammer Setting for AD&D.
Dungeons & Dragons®, Spelljammer are registered trademarks
owned by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.,
a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc
Original ship designs by Jim Holloway and Diesel
All original art, writing on this site, copyright of
Steven James, "Silverblade the Enchanter" ©2012