Sunday, January 6, 2019

When the 'Big Brother' gets it so wrong but is still right (sort of)

I hope I can relate this amusing anecdote without "triggering" anyone to go on and on about online privacy and how they always use a TOR browser behind a VPN routed through the Netherlands. I am fully aware of how online privacy works and have a VPN and don't need or want any advice about improving my online security. I'm quite comfortable with my online presence and I found this so funny that I actually laughed out loud so hard my wife came over to find out what I found so amusing.

I am not a musical person. It's not that I couldn't learn to play an instrument (I played Cornet in junior high band and didn't suck more than anyone else did at that age), it's just that I would rather draw and write. So Saturday afternoon I was puzzled to see a bunch of ads from Amazon pop up in my Facebook feed for things like Guitar amps, mixing boards, custom guitar picks and a plethora of things like that. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why I was seeing these things, and then it hit me.

It seems that the Great Data Analytics in the Cloud decided that I suddenly had developed an interest in learning guitar because of something I did on Friday night.

Friday night I started work on an illustration of Conan the Barbarian (I'll share it when I get it done). I didn't like the poses and props I had on hand, so I went to Renderosity and found several products that were on sale, so I bought about four or five sets for under $25. And yup, I bought a few guitars and multiple poses so I can show the Cimmerian shredding it on an "axe."

And that's when I started to laugh and laugh and laugh!

I just had to shake my head because all that technology got it so wrong while still getting it right (sort of).

Friday, December 14, 2018

Poser: A discussion to give me some ideas

I'm currently working on knocking out some comic pages for Days Gone, and I'm about to dive into my next project with some character designs for Princess of the Trees 2: Heart of the Forest. As such, I'm really struggling to get clothing to work with highly morphed/stylized figures.

Based on advice from the Daz3D forums, I'm checking out some discussions over at the Smith Micro Forums, and I'm finding some interesting discussions about the Fitting Room (a reasonably new feature in Poser) and doing some other rather extreme approaches like merging clothes and figure meshes.

The base discussion is here:

Here are some tips from the article (copied in case the link goes dead):

There are Fitting Room Helpers for Dawn and Pauline (I believe they allow those figures to use V4 clothing):


  • Mesh Combination Method (from sgbryan):

    • Definitely agree about the copy morphs from command. It is even more powerful after you use the Dials to Single Morph command.
    • That is how I put my characters together - Load base mesh (will ALL morphs); load character; fiddle about with dials; Dials to Single Morph; load clothing; Copy Morphs From; then either reduce the polys, or merge figure & clothing into 1 mesh; delete unused morphs; reload expressions.
    • End result - lightweight, clothed figure ready to go to work.
    • (someone else observed that sometimes this messes with hair, so perhaps it's best to add the hair after combining the clothes and base figure?)
    • (it looks like Dials to Single Morph is very important)

    Another possible tool (from morkonan)?

    • I suppose that would be nice. But, there are some third-party tools out there that are perfect for many things a vendor would want in regards to conversion capability. I like Autogroup Editor, helps immensely with grouping and preserves the UV (is somewhat difficult to fine tune individual polys in groups by hand,though), Quick Conform, for basic quick rigging transfers and editing out bones (tweaking necessary, though, using the Joint Editor), and Morcloth, for morph transfers. (Though, it takes a bit of fine-tuning, but it yields serviceable results that can be manually tweaked).
    • If SM could make the Fitting Room more powerful and could exceed the results already available using third-party apps, without significantly increasing their costs or ours, I'm all for adding super-powers to the Fitting Room! :)

    A note about copying morphs from figure to clothes (from viters):

    • My normal practice for "Copy Morphs from" is as follows:
    • Select the Morphs to copy to the clothing on the figure. We all know by now that this works but sometimes is pretty rough.
    • Then go to the clothing.
      • Click on the little arrow behind one of the morphs and select "Edit morph"=> This opens the morph brush.
      • Fine tune the morph to your liking.
      • Mostly that is some smoothing, or some "fitting" to get the correct "offset" between clothing and figure.
      • (Select by vertex group or by material zone, and you have even more control).
      • => Done.
    • Rarely this takes over a minute per morph, and I like the manual control to fine tune things.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    I made the "Poser Staff Pick of the Week" list again!

    I got another virtual pat on the back yesterday!

    Once again one of my illustrations was selected as a "Poser Staff Pick of the Week" at the Renderosity online community. Considering there are thousands of Poser-based illustrations posted there each week, this is a pretty big honor (and the second time it's happened, the first being in June 2017 with a Ms. Marvel illustration).

    This time it happened for a simpler illustration that is a character design for the the up-coming comics project, "Princess of the Trees 2: Heart of the Forest." Read other posts for more about this project with writer Roger Keel.

    Here's this week's pick: Arton + Bow 3

    Arton + Bow 3
    © 2018 Mike Mitchell

    You can see the entire list of illustrations selected here:

    You'll probably need a Renderosity log-in to see the whole list, but trust me, I'm in some pretty amazing company (in fact, if I'm being completely honest, although I think this is an interesting illustration with a good expression and some decent lighting, this isn't the best thing I've done lately).

    And before anyone asks, no: there is not a prize or award. It's just an honor to be recognized by my peers.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2018

    Poser Tip: Copy Body Morphs to Clothing

    I'm working on a new character design and I'm having the usual problems getting the clothes to fit my figure's body. I knew there was a way to do it, so a quick search yielded this cool video.

    Short Summary:

    1. Load figure and clothing in Poser.
    2. Conform the clothing item to the figure ( Menu: Figure > Conform To... ).
    3. Select the clothing.
    4. Select Menu: Figure > Copy Morphs From...
    5. From the pop-up window, select only the morphs you need copied (you can usually ignore body parts you don't use, like head, hands, feet).
    6. The morphs associated with the body parts will then be available when working with the clothing.

    Friday, October 12, 2018

    Days Gone 19: Poser Tip – Cloth Room Settings

    I'm doing some experimentation with a dynamic version of the hero's chest harness, and in doing so I came across these useful settings for the Poser Cloth Room:

    I found this online at a discussion group. You can find it here:

    My first attempt at using a dynamic harness.
    Not bad, but it looks too thin to be leather.
    Definitely needs some more work.

    For those of you unfamiliar with this feature, Poser has the ability to simulate dynamic cloth. That is, it creates an animation wherein the cloth folds and flows across the body in an attempt to create realistic folds and flow with the body. It's a neat feature (and there is now a plug-in for Daz Studio that does the same thing), but it's very tricky to get it looking just right.

    NEXT TIME: More about the dynamic harness experiments

    Friday, October 5, 2018

    Days Gone 18 - Panel Set-up, part 1 (Fitting the Frame)

    Now that I've got my first render complete, it's time to see how it fits into the panel shape I have already defined in Manga Studio (Clip Studio Paint). As you can see, the slight oversize render makes it fit darned near perfectly in the frame.

    Render pasted into the frame in Manga Studio 5 EX
    (aka Clip Studio Paint Pro).

    I'm more or less happy with the size and shape, but his neck looks a little weird at this angle and I think I need to make him either bigger or smaller. Or, I might start small and then progressively make him bigger in each of the four panels.

    I'm going to have to play around with this a bit more to decide what I want it to do in terms of composition and emotional progression.

    Next Up: More about panels

    Wednesday, October 3, 2018

    Days Gone 18 - Fight or Flight

    I'm getting deeper into the page, particularly these four panels, and here I hit a problem that is one I frequently encounter with 3D-based artwork: one of the wardrobe pieces doesn't fit the way I want it to fit. In this case, it's the Epoch top (the leather chest harness he is wearing), and in this panel you can clearly see down at the bottom that the strap is folding over.

    Red background and blue frame added in
    Photoshop to make it easier to see the
    render's dimensions.

    Now, I don't care if this might be technically accurate in the way that leather straps hang (I don't think it is, but they do flow and fold based on the way your body is moving – and no, I will not tell you how I know that). In this case, it just looks weird.

    As I've said, this is a comic book not a movie. I am not striving toward 100% realism. So, I'm faced with a problem that I call Fight or Flight.

    Do I spend time in Poser fighting with it (I've already spent about half an hour with the built-in morphs and controls to get it as good as it looks now) with a magnet/deformer? I could easily set one up and try to twist it (I could also try some of the simpler adjustment tools).  Or do I just give up (flight) and fix it in Photoshop afterwards?

    Now, if this were his hair or some part of his britches or armor, I probably would spend the time to fix it in Poser. But, honestly? This is a simple strap across his belly/lower chest. I can do a quick edit and resolve the problem.

    A few quick lines are all it takes to fix this problem.
    That makes it not worth the effort to fix the geometry in Poser.
    (Potential edit shown in blue line)

    So, rather than get hung up on something that could take me a full day to fix, it's time to move on and worry about lights and his position in the frame. 

    Next Time: Panel Set-up, part 2 (Making it fit the frame)