Black-and-White Renders in DAZ Studio

I’d seen another DAZ Studio user post a black-and-white render on Facebook, saying it had been done in DAZ Studio without postwork. I didn’t ask at the time, but just figured it was done with special b&w textures or the like. I didn’t think much more about it until I saw the promo pictures for the Hi-Drama Iray Lights product for sale in the DAZ store. One of the promo pictures for the product was labeled: “Render in Color or Directly to B&W.” That got my attention. But when I read the product description, it didn’t mention the b&w feature. It said something about there being 2 rendering settings. If not for the promo picture, I’d have completely missed the fact that the product was useful for b&w renders.

Nevertheless, I’ve got my copy now. Using the b&w feature is as easy as locating the appropriate icon in DAZ Studio and double-clicking it. To get back to color rendering, there’s another icon you can double-click for that. That’s the kind of simplicity I like in a product. If you’re a DAZ user and interested in b&w rendering, I highly recommend Hi-Drama Iray Lights.

The below images make use of the Hi-Drama Iray Lights product for both lighting and for the b&w effect. I rendered the same scene three times, with the camera set in different positions, to get an idea of how b&w would look with the figure at different distances. No postwork has been done to any of these images.

Hope you enjoy.

If you are an author and have a story for which any of the above three images would make for a good book cover, let’s talk. I can render the image at a higher resolution suitable for book cover use.

Fake Book Cover Art – Mean Streak Leo

I’m overdue on posting to my blog. To remedy that, I’m posting my latest “fake” book cover art rendered in DAZ Studio. This is cover art for a book that doesn’t exist. I’m practicing for when I want to do the covers for my own novels, which are still in progress, btw.

For this project, I rendered an image of Leo 7 HD’s head against a night-time cityscape backdrop and a black background. I wanted Leo to have a tattoo around his eye, and I created the 2D version of the tatto in my 2D photo editing program. The trick then was getting it to onto Leo 7 HD’s head in DAZ Studio.

If you use DAZ Studio to do 3D renders, you probably know about the LIE Image Editor. It’s useful for layering your own images on top of the normal images used in materials applied to surfaces. An example usage is to overlay a tattoo image on the skin of a figure. I’ve done it before, but ran into a problem this time.

There are several properties for a material in DAZ, and it’s usually the “Diffuse Color” property that I’d edit with the LIE Image Editor to drop in my tatto image. But with the Leo 7 HD figure, the “Diffuse Color” property isn’t used in the material for his face skin. Instead, it had a “Base Color” property. Problem with that is the “Base Color” property doesn’t have an image assigned to it. There was nothing for me to layer my tattoo image onto.

So I assigned to the “Base Color” property the same image that was assigned to the “Translucency Color” property, and set the associated color value to pink. This turned out to look decently well imo. Once I’d done that, I had an image to lay my tattoo image over. Opening up the LIE Image Editor for the “Base Color” property, I loaded my tattoo image, and scaled and positioned it until I was happy. Perhaps I could have used the LIE Image Editor on the “Translucency Color” property instead of the “Base Color,” but that’s an experiment for another day.

After the render, it was time for postwork. I typically don’t do much postwork to images rendered in DAZ Studio. The exception is in adding text, since I have more fonts available in my 2D photo editing tool than in DAZ Studio. Other exceptions are rare but do happen. For instance, I wanted the skin tone in this image to be just a tad darker than it had rendered in DAZ. But I didn’t want to take the 40 minutes it would require to render the image again after tweaking the scene in an attempt to get the desired darker tone, especially as there is no guarantee I’ll get what I want no matter how many tweaks I make in DAZ Studio.

So I did the little trick of creating two layers with the same image in them, then combining them in the desired way. If I want light areas in the image to pop out more, I screen the image with itself, usually at about 40% to 80% opacity on the screen layer. If I want a darker tone, I use the “burn” effect on the top image layer, with an opacity setting usually in the range of 10% to 80%. For this image, I used the burn effect in the top layer and have it set at 10% opacity, so the overall effect on the image is subtle. The first image below is the one with the burn layer. The second image (the one where I used some white text) doesn’t have the burn layer, so it shows the original skin tone as rendered by DAZ Studio. Do you notice any difference between the two images other than the text color?

If you’re a self-publishing author looking for book cover art and you like my style, leave a comment below if you’d like to discuss the possibility of my providing exclusive, unique book cover art for you at a low, low price.

Kari Dance – Animation With DAZ Studio

DAZ Studio enables artists to create animations as well as still images. I’ve been experimenting with seamlessly looping animations for a while, and wanted to share my latest effort. I call it “Kari Dance.” The image below is a 225×225 animated GIF file consisting of 120 frames. It is 2.16 MB in size.

Kari Dance - 225x225 Animated GIF

When I rendered the image, I rendered it at a size of 900×900. The size of that image file is 27.6 MB. It took four hours to render. I could have let it run longer, but the increase in quality would have been marginal.

A 450×450 version of the image can be seen on Deviant Art. It is 7.49 MB and available from Deviant Art as a free download.

If you have some DAZ Studio experience and are interested in some of my animation techniques, I’ve written a tutorial. An animated GIF is good for advertising, as it is eye-catching and will still play in browsers that block Flash Player animations. If you’re going to make an animated GIF, you might as well make it seamlessly looping. Personally, I don’t care for those GIFs that make a sudden jump from the end back to the beginning. A seamlessly looping animation doesn’t have that sudden jump.

The tutorial is available in PDF on Deviant Art to Deviant Art members for 290 DA points (roughly US $3.63). Included are all three versions of the image mentioned above.

The tutorial and example GIFs are also available for US $3.50 on DriveThru RPG, for those of my friends who frequent that site more often and might be interested in the tutorial.

If you read it, I’d be interested in your feedback, either here or on the product page.

As always, thanks for visiting!

Tribute to My New Favorite Song

I’ve been writing a lot on my novel-in-progress, but sometimes I get an idea in my head that won’t go away until I let it out in a creative manner. So I took a break from my writing long enough to do some art that I just had to do. I’ve been listening a lot to the latest album from Meg Myers, and one of the songs on the album is called Lemon Eyes. I saw on Twitter an image of Meg Myers with lemons placed over her eyes, produced apparently by some app. I don’t go much for that kind of app, but my mind got going about creating an image in DAZ Studio where a person has lemons, not over their eyes, but in their eyes, so that they actually had lemon eyes. Continue reading “Tribute to My New Favorite Song”

Eposic Pre-Made Book Covers

[Edit: I am no longer selling pre-made book cover art through SelfPubBookCovers.com.]

When I first acquired the free DAZ Studio scene editing and image rendering program, it sat on my computer hard drive for a few months. The program was free, so I grabbed it when I learned of it, but then it just sat there, waiting patiently for me to give it some attention. I’d used Poser and Bryce in the past and had fun with them, and guessed that using DAZ Studio would be a similarly enjoyable experience. I didn’t realize how much more I’d enjoy it.

The time came when I needed a distraction from writing on my novel. Working on a novel can sap my creativity. Such a long project leaves my muse feeling antsy, ready to do something different. Creating artwork, snapshots of a moment in time, satisfies my muse’s desire for variety, since I can finish a single image in a matter of days, as opposed to months or years.

One form of artwork of interest to me as an aspiring author is book cover illustration. So I’ve turned some of my creative energies in that direction. I’ve turned out about twenty covers so far. Since my primary interests are in speculative fiction genres, most of my covers were created in that vein. But a few of my covers are intended for other genres.

Here are thumbnails of a couple of the covers I’ve done.

Skeleton Army thumbnail

Cleric and Snow Dragon thumbnail

As you can see, the covers have sample titles and bylines, to give an idea of what the cover will look like with a real title and byline in place. The site provides a tool for authors to place up to four lines of text on covers licensed through the site. Or you can add text in your own image editing program.

The licenses acquired through SelfPubBookCovers.com are exclusive licenses. When an author licenses one of these book covers, that cover is removed from the list of available covers. The artist retains the right to display their artwork as samples of what they’ve done, such as in an online portfolio, but no one else will have any rights to use the artwork as cover art. Visit the site for full license details. All covers on the site are priced at $69 or higher. They can run as high as the artist wants to price them, but all of mine are priced between $69 and $99.

Thousands of covers are posted by hundreds of artists selling their work through the site. While my covers are all original works, most of the covers available on the site are created by combining two or more images from stock art sites. Many genres are covered. If you’re an indie author, no matter what genre you write for, you might just find the perfect cover for your next novel on the site, priced to keep you under budget.

Eposic Character Art Now Available on DriveThruRPG

If you’re an individual or self-publisher who could use a bit of royalty-free fantasy character art, check out the Eposic store on DriveThruRPG. I’ve put up a couple of art packs at a price anyone can afford: Pay What You Want. Even if you’re just curious, you can grab it for free if you like. Decorate your web site with it, put it on a roleplaying game character sheet, use it in your self-pubbed fiction or game books.

Sample image from the Dark Jasmine art pack:

Dark Jasmine sample art

There are two art packs available now. Grab them both at the Eposic store on DriveThruRPG.