Monday, March 27, 2017

Poser: Fitting Clothes to a Heavily Morphed Figure

I did not write this, but it's important to remember, so I'm copying this from the Renderosity Forum so I can find it easily. This was originally written by 3dcheapskate.

Select the figure you're trying to conform to, do Figure > Spawn Full Body Morph..., and give the morph a name starting with an exclamation mark (e.g. "!MyFBM"). A new morph will be added to the figure's set to zero. Don't touch it.

Load the clothing item and conform it, then do Figure > Copy Morphs From..., and select ONLY the FBM you just spawned (starting the name with an ! means it appears at the top of the list - that just makes it easy to find)

Dial the newly added "!MyFBM" morph on the BODY actor of the clothing to 1.0, and it should fit much better. Note: If the clothing has already picked up some super-conforming morphs from the figure you may have to dial those back to zero.

More details on the "Tips/Tricks/Tools for getting the best fit of clothes to the body - Suggestions and help with general ways of getting the best fit of clothing items to the bodies" thread over in CGbytes Poser forum, post #20 onwards - here's a link to post #21 of that thread

Monday, March 20, 2017

First test with Akvis Sketch

As I said last week, I finally took the plunge and invested in Akvis Sketch as a post-processing tool to create images that look like they were hand drawn. I have a project coming up and I think this would be a good look for it.

I paid for the commercial license, which runs $154 -- but I was able to get %15 off by posting links to the software on my blog and then requesting a coupon code. The software publisher responded overnight, and i got the software for $130.90. BTW: The non-commercial license is less expensive, so you can buy it and then upgrade later. It won't save you any money (the upgrade will cost the same as the full commercial license, but you do get the benefit of trying the software out before you pay for the commercial license). And, of course, there is a 10-day trial so you can test drive it before you buy (and make sure it runs on your hardware).

Copyright 2017 Mike Mitchell
Render from Daz Studio, converted to line art with Akvis Sketch

These are my first "serious" tests with the software. As usual, it's a composite of multiple passes. I created multiple layers of the image in Photoshop and then masked out the different parts I wanted to work on. You see, I wanted a darker pass on the dress, lighter on the face (I also turned off cross-hatching on the face) and a different pass on the hands and gun. The background is also on a separate layer -- I just splashed some colors around and then ran Akvis Sketch on it. I wanted bigger strokes, so I actually scaled up the background about 200% so I could get nice, big strokes on it. I also added some touch-ups along the edges and some extra lines (her elbow bend and chin, for example) to give it more definition. All in all, not bad for something I'm just playing with at this moment. I think this could be a useful tool in my production artwork and I'm looking forward to working with it more.

Copyright 2017 Mike Mitchell
Render from Daz Studio, converted to line art with Akvis Sketch
then converted to b&w.

I worked in color and then converted to gray scale so we could see what it would look like in both formats. What do you guys think? Which is your favorite? (NOTE: these are worth clicking on to see at a larger size – you'll get a better look at the line work).

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Delving into Akvis Sketch

I'm finishing up my behind-the-scenes tests with the trial version of Akvis Sketch, and will soon have some art to share with you. In the meantime, I thought this video might be of interest to anyone thinking about adding sketch tools to their repertoire.

This is a cool video, but I think it barely scratches the surface of what you can do with this product. I hope to demonstrate that to you all shortly.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Akvis Sketch to my Digital Toolbox

To be blunt, there are so many programs that "convert photos to sketches" that I consider them to be a dime a dozen (although most hardly charge that little). Photoshop has plenty of tools that all do a decent job of outlining the figure and adding sketchy lines. The problem is, none of them produce production-level work. By that, I mean they all come out looking like a photo that has been run through a filter.

While that's fine for hobbyists, it doesn't fly when you're trying to create something for print that actually looks like a sketch instead of a photo that's been run through a filter.

Anyone who follows my art at all knows that I'm a big fan of the India Ink Photoshop Plug-In by Flaming Pear (I use it to create the woodcut/engraved art used in my Western illustrations), which does a fantastic job once you get a handle on how to use it.

I've spent a long time looking for something that will give me control similar to what is available in the Sketch Render Designer in Poser, where I get a lot of control of edges, angle, density, and all of the little tweaks that make it look more organic and less procedural (in other words, more hand-drawn and less computerized).

With a few tweaks, Poser can turn the crisp line art render
of the Live Comic Book Preview into something
that looks hand sketched... almost.

I'm not bashing the other tools like Filter Forge or any FotoSketch or any of those items. They do a good job – just not the job I need done. 

Anyone who knows me is fully aware of the fact that I do not just jump in and buy new software. I test it... and test it again... and test it again to see if it's going to get the job done. That's why I'm a big fan of free trial software. I need to shake something down before I will spend money on it. One of the tools I've downloaded multiple times (one of the bonuses of having multiple computers) is Akvis Sketch.

This is a commercial tool that includes settings for edges, angles, midtones and things like that. In other words, it offers a degree of control that I need to attempt getting professional results. 

I have used the demo version for a few samples, and have decided that it is worth the $154 business license (I did consider buying the Home License while testing it and then upgrading later, but I think I've seen enough to know that this could wind up in my professional work very soon). 

I will post new artwork, using Akvis Sketch, as soon as I've got something worth looking at.

BY THE WAY: Sketch is just one of the many cool filter packages available. If you're at all interested in taking your digital art to the next level, you really should check out the other fine tools available from

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Something Sketchy

I'm actually not a fan of artwork that looks overly sketchy. By that, I don't mean dodgy or shady, but just having lots of uneven lines and a rough finish.

Harry Kirchner, 1935 
I know several artists who love the look, saying that it contains a dynamic energy. And I agree – when done correctly it can look great. But, most of the time it isn't done correctly (at least not to my eye). In those cases, it looks sloppy to me.

Now, I'm a huge fan of many of the interior illustrators from the old Pulp Magazines (like this Harry Kirchner illustration below). But illustrators like him maintained control of their work that I find missing in many modern "sketchy" artists (and I'm not going to name any because I'm not slamming them for being bad artists, I just don't find it attractive to my sensibilities).

I'm not being wishy-washy or trying to protect anyone's feelings, it's just that I recognize the difference between not liking something and claiming that thing is not good. It's a matter of taste, and in this case, it's very subjective.

That being said, however, there are times when I need to achieve that look in my own digital work. Sometimes the source material calls for me to recreate a work-in-progress or something rough, rather than the more-crisp noir style I've been experimenting with.

To that end, I've been playing around with some new tools, which I'll debut later this month. In the meantime, though, I thought you guys might be interested in taking a look at how I expanded the noir style by using the Sketch Designer in Poser 11. BTW:, the Sketch Designer is available in both the base version and the pro version of the software, and even goes back  several years. I think it's even included with the Poser Debut software, but I won't swear to that.

Officer looking at a notebook.
Illustration for the Collectors' Club Newsletter #120

This is okay, as far as it goes, but the edges are still far too crisp for this type of work. This is a nice stepping stone toward the look I'm going for, but it's just that: a step on the path to creating a look that is closer to hand sketching.

I'll cover more about this (and the Sketch Designer) next week.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ultra has arrived

It only took about 35 years from start to finish, but here she is!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Book Covers: Resizing Images (Pixels vs Inches)

Copied from a post over at the Daz 3D forums.
[Can] anyone else who can answer this question.  I was watching the book cover webinar that _manne_ did and I'm trying to wrap my head around the idea of rendering at 72 ppi inside DS and increasing the resolution to 300 ppi in a 2D program.  Let's say that the final image size I need is 10 inches by 13 inches and I set my render image to those dimensions and render at 72.  Do I understand correctly, then, that PS can increase the resolution to 300 ppi and that will work fine?  Or do I need to render larger at 72 ppi inside DS and then increase the resolution and then scale down the image?  How do you know that you have enough pixels to in an image size to increase the resolution like that?
I'm not sure I'm explaining my confusion exactly.  But, I'd like any info on this that anyone can tell me.
Sorry that this is complicated, but printing terminology doesn't really sync up with the terminology used in 3D. As I would tell my students (and this is a generalization that I know will annoy some people who would rather speak in more precise terms about screen angles and image resolutions), but, simply put: A pixel is a dot and a dot is a pixel. Don't worry so much about pixel-per-inch or dots-per-inch. In very simple terms (and I don't mean to be insulting in any way), but at your technical level you can use those terms interchangeably. If you dive deeper into the topic, you can learn the distinctions later.

Now, here's what you need to concentrate on: Always focus on the final, printed size of your image. If you need an image to be 10 x 13 inches and you plan to print at 300 ppi, multiply those dimensions by 300. This will result in a final-target sized image of 3,000 x 3,900. Now, when you open Photoshop (GiMP, or whatever app you use), you are in for a shock. The image details might tell you that your image will print at 41.667 x 54.167 inches. Yeah. That's humongous. The reason it says that is simple: PNG and JPEG graphics do not automatically store the information needed to print the image. In other words, Daz Studio always outputs 72 dip. You can actually ignore this, if you want. It has no bearing on anything, other than your sanity. So, if you want to add the printed size to your graphic (thus returning it to the realm of the reasonably sized graphics), you may do so by opening the Image > Image Size... menu in Photoshop (I know this is also in GiMP, but don't recall where). You will see the following.

This is where you will change the Document size.

  1. Make ABSOLUTELY SURE the "Resample Image" box is NOT CHECKED.
  2. Then change the 72 to 300.
  3. You will see that the Pixel Dimensions do not change, but that the Document Size does (see image below). 
  4. The save your image again (probably as a PSD or TIFF).

And that's it. I cannot stress how important it is NOT to resample the image. You can destroy your work by resampling at this stage (it's okay to do it later, but not here).