#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)

CREATING "FOREST WAR GOBLIN SHAMAN"


This tutorial is an in-depth explanation of how I created a scene, and postwork afterwards :)

ROLL MOUSE OVER PIC BELOWTO SEE THE INITIAL, UN-TOUCHED RENDER, VERSUS THIS FINAL IMAGE


CONCEPT
My idea on this image is a forest scene, it's a light forest so it has small trees not huge ones (I'll use birch and the like), with a small rise in the ground
centrally, with main characters at bottom, fighting
Usually characters are central to an image, but here the forest IS a main character, it's what the fighting's about, so the forest must have prominence.

A goblin shaman is fighting an elven archer. I improved it as I worked, adding content I already had added to my Vue library from Poser imports:
scorpion bodyguard, and conjured tentacles!

I've detailed in previous tutorials how I make the Poser characters very realistic by tweaking their materials, rather than using the "Poser shaders",
which I find to be very poor ocmpared ot Vue materials. It takes time but is well worth the end result :)
For skin I usually use David Burdick's excellent "Skin Vue", which I can't recommend highly enough for most work, especially big portraits.
But for this image I didn't, instead just using the Poser textures and bump maps in Vue materials, with translucency as one of my tutorial shows.
The goblin shamn though I had to do a lot of hand tweaking ot his skin as his skin is green, hehe!


BASIC SCENE & ECOSYSTEMS

Here is the basic scene, with materials turned to the "default rock" on everything bar ecosystems, to show the terrain design much clearer.
Main camera is off screen to bottom left, looking uphill
It's like a small stream has worn down this high point when it rains heavily, the gulley has ferns to show it's damp.


Note the trees with the "square leeaves", lol, these are Vue plants from the global ecosystem I converted to normal
Objects, using the "Edit---> Select Ecosystem Instances" command, then "Manipulate-->Convert To Objects"
Command.
( When I made the material into "default rock" to show you, it removed the transparency on the leaves, hence the odd look, hehe)

I converted these trees to "hero trees", because they are main foreground items which must be made into "hero items".
"Hero Items", are object sof special note, ones you must have good detail on, such as trees, rocks in the close
foreground, characters up close etc. So these are "Hero Trees".

You want the best detail for any hero object, but default ecosystem trees usually have low polygon counts that
show up poorly when they are in the foregorund, so convert these to hero objects, edit them and
increase the polygon count (use the "x2" command in the plant editor one or more times depending on need)

EDITING ECOSYSTEM INSTANCES TO MAKE THEM INTO NORMAL OBJECTS

MAKING A "HERO TREE"


Below is the Global Ecosystem painter, showing the plants I chose to use.
Lacy lady Fern from Martin Frost's "Lady Fern" collection
Barnyard grasses from Martin' Forst's "Banryard Grasses collection
The two tree types come with Vue Infinite.
This makes up a believable light forest plant growth :)

I must say that I didn't do a good job with the grasses as there is too much colour variation with them, oh well, who's perfect? ;)


As I built up the ecosystem, I noticed the background wasn't going to have enough trees to make it look like a forest receeding into the distance,
and if I painted too many trees at the border, it would look fake as they'd ALL be too close.
So, rather than mess the existing terrain up, all I did was add a simple "plane object" beyond the terrian and slightly lower than it.
It isn't going to be seen, saves polygons! ;)
You can also adjust scale of the trees at the rear as you paint, bigger or larger, to make the distance/size seem different.

SIDE VIEW OF THE SCENE, SHOWING THE PLANE AT THE REAR


THE ATMOSPHERE

Lighting is crucial for any scene!!
I went through many atmosphere's and tweaks until Ichose this one, it's from Laurent Rodriguez New Latitudes, Vue 6 Collection 1
though I've tweaked it a bit :)
Note the Sun's in a different position than from the default in Lauren'ts "Stormy Sunset" atmosphere.

I need a powerful sky, glooming and somewhat scary.
Note, since this is a near-sunset pic I've made the Sun quite soft at 3 degrees. Sun softness makes a BIG fifference
I don't use shadow maps for fine renders by the way, I find they suck but that's my prefference :) Slows renders though

Also, since it's a fine render I want, I use Radiosity. It's outdoors though and a messy, natural scene, so I leave the quality boost at -2.0
as the orginal settings of -2.0 is fine for such a scene. Generally, you want to use negative numbers there, to keep render times low.
Only in indoor scenes with lot of different lights do you want to turn it above -1.0, but render times suffer higher it gets.


THE LANDSCAPE

This is how I built the landscape itself.
Since I used to love walking in the woods, I had an idea of what I wanted, it really helps, or using photos as reference :)
Real landscapes are often very odd.

Using the "material painting" ability in Vue, I made it so there is a drier, earthier area on sloped parts, as if worn by gravity and rain etc

Then I clipped the terrain, to remove uneeded polygons.

I tried using an ecosystem of grass on the forest grass material, which was very nice, but had WAY too many instances, so I just used
the Global ecosystem, and painted onto "selected objects only" (the terrain) and with selected objects only (grasses, fern and a few flowers, iirc)


RENDERING

Once it's all set up nicely, it's time to render!
My settings are below. This was a VERY slow render, took 26 hours on my quad core, ouch.
But worth it in the end :)

Note I added lens glare in post, so it changed the "anti-aliasing strategy" Lens glare is very nice in any scene with strong light!


FINAL RENDERED IMAGE


POSTWORK IN PHOTOSHOP

And now, time to tweak the render in Photoshop (or your fave 2d editor) :)

I add special effects in Photoshop, sometimes in Particle Illusion.

here, I'm making it appear as if the elf's magic has trapped the scorpion, miring it in the suddenly boggy ground!

To do so I make a new layer, paint using a Photoshop brush of flames (many such are avaliable on the Net, free and commercial).
IIRC, I used "Ron's Flames".
White colour for this brush.
Then, I add a "layer style" to that layer, giving it "outer Glow", and using a "Noise gradient".
This gives an eerie colour to it!


SPELL EFFECTS

Next it's the shaman's spell effects!
note, always make such effects on seperate layers!! important tip! stops much hassles!

The staff has magic erupting from the top, as it draws in power for the shaman's spell. I made a layer, white brush, special brush, sorry I can't recall which one, I have loads! :p
then applied a "Layer style - Gradient Overlay" giving it varied greenish yellow colour as if it was flourescent.
However, this was far too neat and straight edged.
I duplciated this layer, gaussian blurred it a bit and used the BLUR TOOL to smear it our aorund the skull at the base a bit, as if it was flowing around the skull as you'd expect.

New layer, brush with white paint, I used "Flux" brush from Renderosity to give a weird looking effect as the shaman cast his spell at the elf, using a "layer style gradient overlay" with
suittably eerie looking colour choice.
I used "Warp" in Photoshop to alter the shape of the painted on brush to better fit the scene, and some "blur tool" to tweak it into shape.

Note the spell effect layer is NOT set at 100% opacity but at 88%, generally all such effects shouldn't be at 100% opacity, so as to let some of the background show through,
and thus be more realistic.These effects need to be slightly transparent.

I made a mask in Photoshop to cut out a tentacle from the spell effect , to make it look like the spell was going behind the tentacle, another wee tweak that adds the illusion of reality ;)


TWEAKS

There is a very simple tweak to add some real punch to your image, now I read this in 3DWorld magazine, who got it from the folks at GeekAtPlay.com, whom
I guess got it from an old trick that's been going around from Poser folks experiments years ago :)

What you do is make a copy layer of your entire final, finished image. In Photoshop that's easy to do, select a visible layer, hit CTRL and ALT and SHIFT and E, bingo, all visible layers copied into one new layer :)
So, that's yer final image.

Now, duplicate that layer twice. Set the layer mode of one of the copies to "Overlay", the other to "Multiply", set opacity of both layers between 10% to 25% depending on what you want, I used 18%.
BINGO! massive punch added to your pic :) please see the roll over image below

For more softness, very good for moody, images, you can use GAUSSIAN BLUR on these two Mutliply and Overlay layers, about 4 to 8 pixels depending on need. I didn't want to do that on this one.

Also, as a final touch, I used the BLUR TOOL, to add some blurring around the tentacles, archer's arm, to indicate motion.

VOILA'! :)

 

ROLL MOUSE OVER IMAGE TO SEE THE EFFECT THE MULTIPLY AND OVERLAY IMAGES HAS ON THE FINAL IMAGE


For Mary on the C3D forums, 'cause she wnated to know how I'd done this ;)
I hope you find this of use! :)

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