#59: SHADOWS & LIGHT (Vue)
#58: ADVANCED DIRT MAPPING (Vue)
#57: SSS IN VUE 9, AND THE "SPECKLE" PROBLEM
#56: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL OF ART
#55: FIXING POSER CLOTHING
#54: MAKING "FOREST WAR - GOBLIN SHAMAN"
#53: MAKING A STUDIO RENDER FOR VUE
(and other apps)
#49: NEBULA MKIII (Vue)
#48: RENDER SETTINGS FOR VUE (Vue)
#47: POSTWORK - MAKING A RENDER INTENSE (Any)
#46: MAKING RIVERS THAT FOLLOW TERRAIN HEIGHTS (Vue or Bryce)
TUTORIAL 1
This tutorial shows how I made the image Bedazzlement3

ONE

To begin with I decided I wanted to try and blend some "fractal" images with Bryce to make some interesting combinations. Fractal images are created from a very simple mathematical formula, that can produce incredibly complex results! So much so that only a computer can calculate the string of answers.

It was found that the vast amount of results of these computations, when displayed on a computer screen in graphical format, produced the most intricate, strange and yet beautiful images! To the left is an image created with Aros Fractals.

This program, and others can be downloaded from http://www.download.com some are free, others shareware (search for "fractals" and you should find several). So I made a few suitable images using these programs, just mess around and have fun! :) 

To learn about working with the fractal programs I'd suggest looking up newsgroups, several deal with fractal art, and the folk in them may help or have tutorial sites. I'd suggest saving the fractal pictures  in "Bitmap" form (files have the suffix ".bmp" in that case to show you they are bitmaps) as that doesn't lose quality when you save the image (jpeg ".jpeg" images DO lose quality and thus you should never save vital images in this format, you can save pictures out later as ".jpg" images if you want them saved in small file size such as for the Web (.jpgs lose quality but are very small in size, that's their advantage)


TWO

So I made a scene with Bryce to begin with

(left). Now I was going to apply the fractal images I had made as "textures", that is the surface material of the objects. When you apply a texture, it can be set in many different styles, so that the image will be aligned with the object in different ways, such as from the top down, or as if the object were a sphere etc, this can give rise to many interesting effects, but in this case I stuck to the usual "Parametric" style (the default).

  You can see the pyramid is selected (red colour), so that's what I'll apply the first texture to.  Click the little "M" button, that will let you enter the Materials lab, where you can edit textures and other stuff.

Everyone knows pyramids are cool, just ask the Pharaohs! ;)


THREE

  Now we're in the Materials Lab, we can start to work. I decided I wished the fractals to actually affect the surface contours of the pyramid, this is called "bump" as it makes it bumpy! :> So Click the dot at BUMP HEIGHT into the A Channel. (1)
  To get images to show on the surface, similar to the bump height, you have to click the DIFFUSE and AMBIENT buttons into a channel (2). Now that it's prepared, I'll actual select the image I wish to use.
  To do this, first click the "P" button (3) on the bottom, that lets you manipulate the image texture, then click the button directly above it. This lets you access the TEXTURE SOURCE EDITOR


FOUR

Now that the Texture Source Editor is open, click LOAD on the top left hand side to open your first image. Browse through your system to find and select your image, preferable stored in a bitmap file, but you can also use .jpg, .gif, and other formats as well.

  Since I am wanting it to be a texture that has a bump effect, I must also have an image in the "alpha channel", that is the window in the middle of the Texture Source Editor. An Alpha Channel is a special part of an image that is used to hold selections and other odd information . Only more advanced art programs, Such as Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop, Bryce etc deal with Alpha Channels.

  You can use any image for the Alpha channel but I used the same fractal one, so in the first channel (far left) I COPY the image then PASTE it into the Alpha channel. Now close the Texture and Material windows and go back into the main Bryce window. Note that I used a fractal on the blue sphere as well as the pyramid. You can see both fractals in the small gray cells in the pic above.

  Next you render the image and save it out. I always save images out in Photoshop format (.psd) as it's very high quality, easy to work with and Paint Shop Pro (my favourite 2D paint program) works with that format too.


FIVE

   Now I load the rendered image into Paint Shop Pro.

  Now here is a VERY useful tip, when an image is first loaded it is a "background layer". This means that some special effects etc will not work on it, so you need to "promote" it to a true layer.
  (1) This shows opening the Layer Palette, then Right Clicking on the Background layer to bring up an options window, click "PROMOTE TO NEW LAYER" and it then becomes LAYER 1, ready to work on. A faster way is to do this double left click on the background layer's name bar.
  "LAYERS" are an important part of working with images in advanced paint programs, basically you can have stacks of images, one on top of each other. So you can cut bits out of one to see the layer below etc, this is VERY useful, and lets ye get up to all kinds of fun! ;)


SIX

Next I'm going to make a copy of the original layer, so I can work on the copy and if anything screws up, I can always go back to the original layer, which is on the bottom! Another useful tip if ye screw up as often as I do! :>
  It's also a great way to  let you see what you originally started with for comparison, merely by selecting the original layer, right clicking and selecting VIEW CURRENT ONLY, the first image can be seen.


SEVEN

Now comes the fun bit, adding lightning!! :) This can be done in one of several ways. The easiest way is to use a "plugin" for Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop. Plugins are add on programs for paint programs. Here are some sites that have suitable plugins:

XENOFEX, by Alien Skin software, the Electrify ability makes lightning shoot from an area (rather than as a bolt) which means you can have huge sheets of lightning coming from one place!

ULEAD GIF-X by Ulead, the lightning maker in this is PERFECT for single bolts :)
ALMATHERA LIGHTNING MAKER it can be found on this site, it's free but not so good as the others.
  If you don't have a plugin, all is not lost! There are other ways to make lightning:
1) Get a picture of lightning, copy and paste it into your pic as a NEW LAYER, then start erasing bits that are not part of the lighting, then use the DEFORMATION tool to get it in the right place and angle. You may need to touch it up a bit with the paint brush.
2) If you have Photoshop you can create lightning using this tutorial: NAVWORKS

3) Paint it by hand, if you draw a white line of the appropriate thickness for the bolt (it's best to make it thicker than needed, then you can erase it at extremities to thin it). Using the "point to point" setting from the DRAW LINE tool,  you can make a curving but slightly angled line that is ideal (make sure you do NOT have "create as vector" chosen in the Point to Point line preferences while doing this)). COPY and PASTE your bolt as new layer over the top of the original bolt, then using a slightly wider brush, but with OPACITY and HARDNESS turned down, you can widen the bolt and give it a fuzzy edge, perhaps using the SMEAR tool as well.  Then put the bolt in its own layer and adjust the OPACITY of the layer to blend it in well. When the WHOLE image is completed (everything done bar this next bit), if you use LAYERS--MERGE ALL, then using the DODGE tool (with small brush size, and opacity and hardness turned way down)  you can really make the whole bolt have a wonderful burning glare. Dodge doesn't work until it is on a layer with many variations in brightness/colours. Trust me, it WORKS! :)

 HOME MADE LIGHTING BOLT :)
Ok, not brilliant but just 5 minutes work ;)

 

 


EIGHT

USING ULEAD GIF-X

  The lighning bolt in ULEAD gif-X is first positioned by putting mouse over the MIDDLE of the bolt, then dragged into place.
  When you have it in the right starting point, you click on the END of the bolt (1),  then drag that to where you want it to finish.
  Note that by entering the GALLERY (button on bottom left) you have a choice of bolt types.
  Also you may add or manipulate SEVERAL bolts at the same time, just click on the selection name for that item in the little box to the bottom right, near the (2), such as "Lightning1" or "Lightning3" etc.
  
  One thing to BEWARE of in GIF-X is that adjusts the LIGHT of the selected area, making it darker by default!!! (2) Shows the Ambient light setting, by default it is set at 50%, so remember to set it to 100% unless you wish to darken the picture (which can be a nice touch anyway).


NINE

USING XENOFEX
Xenofex is strange in that the lightning will come from a SELECTED area, so this could be a huge area with many bolts!

  To begin with I SELECTED a circular area around the edge of the blue sphere. Since I wanted one bolt to appear at a time, so I could be precise as to how it fitted in and looked, I put the ARC SPACING (1) to the maximum, this meant that the space between each arc would be huge, limiting it to one arc of lightning at a time. Sneaky, hm? ;)

  Next I adjusted INSIDE MASKING (2), this affects how much glow and bolt will appear inside the selected area, basically how much overlap there will be. More Inside Masking will make the edge harder and further out, the less the closer into the selection and the softer the edges. By adjusting that, and also the size of your SELECTED area, you can make the bolts seem to come from the edge or front of the sphere. 

  The preview window lets you see the effect (3) and you can adjust the scale of the preview window using the small buttons to the left and down a bit of the (3) .

TEN

  Now I'm going to add another fractal to the image! I open this fractal, but I got problems, I only want the fractal, not the background! Well that's easy to do :) I use the Paint Brush to paint unwanted areas black, and use the Magic Wand Selection tool here and there so I do NOT select the fractal bits I wish, just certain colour areas, and paint over these also in black. Since they're selected the paint won't go over the other areas.


  Now the unwanted bits are pure black, I use the Magic Wand with the Tolerance set to 0 (so only the colour I choose, and nothing else will be affected) to select the black, then I use SELECTIONS--INVERT so that just the fractal itself is now selected! I then use EDIT--COPY so I can paste the image elsewhere.


ELEVEN

   Now I go into my original image, and use EDIT--PASTE AS NEW LAYER to out the fractal into its own layer, so I can work on it without disturbing the rest of the image below.


TWELVE

  What I am going to do is to make the fractal appear as if it were behind the sphere. Now there's ways to do this using masks (special techniques that Bryce and Paint Shop are both designed to use), but that won't give the effect I wish. I need to keep as much of the fractal visible as possible, so if I put it behind the sphere, it would mostly disappear! :(
  But, sneakiness comes to hand once again! ;) I select just half of the image (1), then use EDIT--CUT to temporarily remove it.


THIRTEEN

  I use the MOVE tool to position the half fractal where I want, then COPY--PASTE AS NEW SELECTION to return the other half, and align it to taste as well (1).
  Both parts are now roughly lined up with the curves of the sphere, totally accidental effect of making the fractal, but wonderful synchronicity! :>


FOURTEEN

  Next I carefully use the ERASER tool with Hardness and Opacity turned down, to erase the fractal where it overlaps the sphere.
  I want the fractal to appear very faded, just a ghostly suggestion as it were, so I open up it's LAYER options and turn down it's OPACITY.


FIFTEEN

Now I just add my monogram in (the wee SAJ bit) on it's own layer with opacity turned down, hey I am modest! :> And that's it!

 

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All original art, writing on this site, copyright of Steven James, "Silverblade the Enchanter" ©2012