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  1. #1
    Member paulfrancis's Avatar
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    Blade of Jade - Poser 2012 as an Illustrational Tool

    I've been using Pro 2012 for a month or so now, and am beginning to take certain features for granted, such as the SSS and an under-promoted benefit, which is the sheer speed improvements over previous versions. Also the ZDepth feature is vastly improved, so I thought I'd try and combine them all into one (hopefully) relevant/informative post, and also hopefully show the benefits of postwork over a base image.

    I'm an illustrator at heart, and whilst I love to see photo-realistic renders for their sheer "Wow" factor, my own priorities lie elsewhere i.e. I like a render that looks like a painting or an illustration. With Poser 2012, I've finally got a workable tool that I can use with relative ease.

    So, on to the render! Here is the basic render, which is nothing you couldn't achieve with Poser 2010 (actually it was rendered in Poser 2010), except it renders far, far faster in Poser 2012 (this includes not just the actual render itself, but the initial launch/loading of the scene file, and a particularly welcome improvement over 2010, which is the loading of all the texture maps which used to take an age):

    base_render.jpg

    Now, while this looks relatively OK to me, I know that I won't be happy until I've attacked it with Photoshop and my graphics tablet. First off however, I decided to add some atmospheric depth with Poser, so I switched on the volume option for the atmosphere, set at a density of .004:

    atmos_004.jpg

    ...I also took the opportunity to make the blade of the sword an SSS material to show that feature. Next, I took the base render and the ZDepth render to Photoshop:

    blade_of_jade_Z.jpg

    This shows another improvement in this version - if you closely at the hair, you'll see that Poser 2012 can now handle transparency maps in the ZDepth render, which the previous version couldn't (which is why Semideu's plugin was so handy! Sorry, Basil!), and which is vital for postwork. Using the ZDepth map, amongst other things, you can add depth-based effects such as depth of field, atmospheric depth and depth-based selection. Using the latter technique, you get this:

    blade_of_jade_mask.jpg

    You can then use this mask to isolate the foreground figure, which allows you to paint in effects such as smoke and lightning etc, which then do not obscure the main figure. You can also reverse the selection, to allow you to paint in effects over the main figure such as dirt, blood etc and not have to worry about them spilling onto the background. Putting all these together, I then produce the final version:

    blade_of_jade_layers.jpg

    I took the opportunity to re-do the base render with an extra light to match the postwork. It might be of interest to note that I did all this in one morning, thanks to the speed and efficiency of Poser 2012.
    Last edited by paulfrancis; 09-02-2011 at 05:54 AM.

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  3. #2
    Great info and a fantastic piece of artwork!
    Thanks for this Paul!

  4. #3
    Administrator Admin-Aine's Avatar
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    Thank you!
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  5. #4
    Poser 2012 can now handle transparency maps in the ZDepth render
    About effing time too, I've been on at SM to fix this since PP2010 was launched; they said then that it would be fixed, but it never happened in the service release.

  6. #5
    Very nice Paul!
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  7. #6
    Very impressive! Thank you for sharing your work and how you managed it.

  8. #7
    You're one of my favorites over at 'Rendo. Thank you so much for this insight. I agree btw about Poser's workflow enhancements.
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  9. #8
    Paul did you achieved the alpha pass with levels control over zdepth in photoshop?
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  10. #9
    Member paulfrancis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by isikol View Post
    Paul did you achieved the alpha pass with levels control over zdepth in photoshop?
    Yes - I chose the depth at which I wanted the alpha mask and then used levels to create the black and white image you see above. This is pasted over the original image as a new layer, I then used the "colour range" selection tool to select the pixels of one colour and use that selection on the base layer to mask out the effects. Easier to do than to describe! If Basil updates his plugins, I'd probably still use his alpha mask function in the "Render Passes" set.

  11. #10
    I also love the Illustration look!!! Frazetta being my inspiration.
    I am going to ask most likely a dumb question but...

    How did you export into PS? Is there a function in the new PP2012 to do so? Because I am still learning 2012. Did you use adobe bridge or did I misunderstand the process? What version PS do you have, and if there is this function in PP is this compatible with CS2? or only CS5? A site mail would be appreciated to understand the process better if I sound too dense... :/
    I love the way the smoke is layered behind the floor portion.

    Outstanding piece!
    HugZ!
    Ariana
    Last edited by desertgoddessdesigns; 01-25-2012 at 11:18 PM.
    Hugs
    Ariana

  12. #11
    Member catsy_lu's Avatar
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    I'm going to look stupid here, but I have to ask: How you get that ZDepth render in Poser2012??

    I have the Render Passes plugin for 2010 but it's not compatible with new PP2012 and I REALLY miss it while doing my post work...
    Last edited by catsy_lu; 01-26-2012 at 08:19 AM. Reason: adding more data

  13. #12
    It's one of the options under 'Auxillary Render Data' in Render Settings.

  14. #13
    Member paulfrancis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by desertgoddessdesigns View Post
    I also love the Illustration look!!! Frazetta being my inspiration.
    I am going to ask most likely a dumb question but...

    How did you export into PS? Is there a function in the new PP2012 to do so? Because I am still learning 2012. Did you use adobe bridge or did I misunderstand the process? What version PS do you have, and if there is this function in PP is this compatible with CS2? or only CS5? A site mail would be appreciated to understand the process better if I sound too dense... :/
    I love the way the smoke is layered behind the floor portion.

    Outstanding piece!
    HugZ!
    Ariana
    Hi Ariana - thanks for the interest! The image imported into Photoshop (version CS2) was just a straight PNG export from Poser - if you have selected ZDepth render in the additional render options it autosaves the ZDepth render too with the same filename as the main pass. I usually then cut and paste this as a separate layer over the main image in PS as I then use it for multiple masks and for depth-based effects such as DOF and painting in smoke, lights etc. Hope that helps! Let me know if you need any tips or other help.

  15. #14
    Member catsy_lu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cspear View Post
    It's one of the options under 'Auxillary Render Data' in Render Settings.
    Hey, Thanks! And what about the alpha render, like the 4 image?

  16. #15
    Member paulfrancis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catsy_lu View Post
    Hey, Thanks! And what about the alpha render, like the 4 image?
    That was produced in PS, using the ZDepth image, levels adjustment and the "colour range" selection option, so everything in front of a set point is included in a two-tone mask.
    Last edited by paulfrancis; 01-27-2012 at 04:05 AM.

  17. #16

  18. #17
    Member catsy_lu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulfrancis View Post
    That was produced in PS, using the ZDepth image, levels adjustment and the "colour range" selection option, so everything in front of a set point is included in a two-tone mask.
    Okay, can you be more specific on how to do that?

  19. #18
    Member paulfrancis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catsy_lu View Post
    Okay, can you be more specific on how to do that?
    First off, let me say that my methods for post are self-taught (well, with a bit of help from t'Internet...!), so might be laughably amateurish or just plain wrong, but they work for me.

    Right, here goes!

    First we have the PNG file as rendered in Poser:

    dd_5_tutorial.jpg

    I also rendered a ZDepth version as an additional render option; this renders your 3D scene as white nearest the camera, down to black as the furthest point from your camera:

    dd_5 Z_tutorial.jpg

    In Photoshop, I copy the Zdepth render and paste it as new layer over the 1st render. You now have two layers, the greyscale ZDepth render and the full-colour render.

    Determine which part of your image you want to be "in front" of your painted-in FX. In this case, I decided that the figure should be isolated from the background. Next, making sure the ZDepth layer is the active one, using the eyedropper colour selection tool, I sampled the shade of grey on the figure's right hand, which is the part of him the furthest from the camera. Make a note of the RGB value this gives you, in this case, it's 160 - everything further from the camera than his right hand has a lower value and everything closer to the camera has a higher value.

    Next, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and in the first "Input Levels" box, type in the value you got earlier i.e. 160 in the case of this image. In the third "Input Levels" box, enter your value plus two, in this case 162. You should then get a black and white image, where the white areas are the point you selected plus everything in the scene in front of it, and the black areas are all the areas behind that point, i.e. the near equivalent of an Alpha Mask. I've included a screen grab to show this, plus the dialogue boxes in the Image > Adjustments > Levels stage of the process:

    dd_5_levels_etc.jpg

    Now you want to go to Select > Colour Range and, making sure that "Sampled Colours" is the chosen option, click on the black area of your image i.e. the background. When you OK this dialogue box, you should have an active selection of everything "behind" the main figure. If you want, you could feather this selection by 1 pixel. Next, add a new layer over the main render (call it FX or similar), and make what was your ZDepth layer invisible, but keep the selection active in the new layer. You can then paint into this layer, safe in the knowledge that your painted FX, in this case smoke etc will remain "behind" the main figure, including fine detail such as hair etc:

    dd_5_tutorial_FX_layer.jpg

    You can also reverse the selection to add details like blood, dirt etc over the main figure without worrying about it spilling onto the background, although I didn't do so in this case.

    Finally, putting it all together:

    dd_5_tutorial_full.jpg

    You can also use the original ZDepth render to add depth of field to your image:

    dd_5_tutorial_full_DOF.jpg

    So, as you can see, the ZDepth render is really really useful. I prefer it for making Alpha Mask than rendeering them in Poser, because the same ZDepth render can be used to make multiple masks at different distances from the camera, in case you want, say, smoke in front of some objects but behind others. The ZDepth render is also useful for adding atmospheric haze, although Poser 2012 is now so good at doing that itself, I usually no longer add it in post.
    Last edited by paulfrancis; 01-28-2012 at 02:29 AM.

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  21. #19
    Member catsy_lu's Avatar
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    Paul, you are a dear. Thanks for the detailed version. I usually do the alphas in P2010 with render settings, but in p2012 they don't work proper, so I really miss this engine. I also use the ZDepths field to give the image that extra depth that you talk about in the last set of explanation. As in the matter of the subject, I also am a fan of the illustrational art (I do make some realistic portrait testings with hires maps and super closeups, but fantasy theming is what I do most in Poser!).

    I just ADORED this image when I saw it in P2012 sneak peek page here at RuntimeDNA. I'm sorry for commenting so briefly in the other postings, after job my mind is not that witty.

    Thanks again for the tutorial!

  22. #20
    wow and your steps really provide a lot of inspiration...excellent!

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