Friday, December 15, 2017

Days Gone 12 - Location, Location, Location, pt 4

Last time I showed you the unretouched render that Poser 11 created. As you could see, the basic shapes were there, but it was nowhere near a finished illustration. It lacked detail, and anything that would really give it a sense of scale. Not to mention the cave near the top where the dragon lived.

So, I then started on a process that surprised me with how long it took to get something solid that I really liked. Oh, I was able to generate a few images that were kind of close to what I wanted, but since this was the first page of the story, I really wanted to make an impression with it. Plus, even though my deadline was rapidly heading toward me (so much so that I was pretty darned sure I was going to miss it), I spent the extra time to figure out what I wanted and how to get it.

Here are a few examples of the early drafts that I was able to create.

1. My first attempt at page 1
Note the dark shadows on the distant mountains
and the tick horizon lines.

This first look (and all subsequent designs) include a hand-drawn trail going up the side of the mountain to a small cave opening. I struggled for a long time as to whether there should be a path leading directly up to the mountain, or off to the side. I finally decided to forego logic (why would anyone in their right mind make a road leading to the home of a fire-breathing dragon?) and just focus on the illustration itself. The composition was simply stronger with this path, so it stayed.

2. This was a very experimental look, with a very
strong tint of gray sand and a less
dramatic sun effect.
My first attempt at darkening the sand was promising, as it made the road really stand out and enhanced the sense of "dramatic scale" that I was striving for. Alas, it was just too dark. And when I showed the illustration to some people at the Daz3D forums, they thought it looked more like a vortex than the sun, so this experiment was very short lived.

3. A later attempt. Note the thinner horizon lines
and the obvious addition of the gray tint to the sand.
This helped make the road "pop" more, but
ultimately I didn't like the effect.

Other experiments included lightening the sand, editing out some of the ground lines, and working to add another layer of shadow the dunes. This one survived for a long time, but I ultimately decided that the ground was still just too dark, so I scapped it and moved on.

4. Getting much closer to the final version.
Note the addition of the mountain's shadow,
and toning down the shadows on the
distant mountains.

The image above (No. 4) is very close to the final piece. I added the ground shadows to the dunes, leaving the barren sands mostly white. And, of course, the mountain's shadow helps deliver the "pop" that the previous "dark sand" versions did. I also simplified the plants in the foreground, and greatly lightened the distant horizon. As I said, a lot of work, but I'm finally mostly happy with it, and that means I was finally able to move onto the interior of the cave.

Next Time: Building a Better Cave


  1. Like the final results...Looks awesome...

    1. Thank you very much! The final version will be a little different, but these are very close.