“Dragon & Virgin” (3D Render with Paint Shop post-processing)
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This image is the outcome of my attempt to make some progress with advanced techniques. Up until now, many of my 3D rendered images have suffered from the same flaw – they look flat and lifeless, plastic and unreal.
So recently I set out to learn a little more – not just about light and shadow, but about all the other (many!) aspects that combine to create a “painterly” quality in an image.
So with the above subject in the high fantasy genre I spent quite a lot of time (as usual) on rigging the models and adjusting the lighting and ray-traced shadows, and setting up the cameras. But then I also paid careful attention to surfaces, making sure the different surfaces (skin. scales, stone, etc.) had appropriate lighting models and levels of light reflection.
I then created four separate renders:
- The basic image.
- An image of just the three foreground figures (dragon, girl, pillar) against a “green screen” background.
- A depth mask (a monochrome image where the level of grey is proportional to the distance of the object from the camera lens).
- A fogged image (where the background is fogged out leaving the foreground sharp and in original colours.
Adjusting highlights, mid-tones and shadows for the whole image is very quick and gets close to the right look for the background; but, it messes with the foreground figures as well, so I used the green-screened version with blend type “screen” to restore the foreground.
I then overlaid the fogged version, and applied the depth mask onto the fog – thereby ensuring that only the background would go (progressively) more “foggy”. It is important not to overdo this, as I wanted a subtle effect.
Final retouching then included applying an “edge-preserving” smooth effect, some sharpening, and some contrast increase to ensure that the shadows were really dark where they needed to be.
I am happy with the result – I feel it has been a small forward step for me.