Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Hulking Out!

I just could not help myself! I had to create a picture with The Hulk. Well, a Hulk-like character.

I created the character in Daz Studio, using a Genesis 8 Male as a base. Then I morphed the body using Daz own set of morphs for G8 males. I also morphed the face, but I am saving that for another picture.

I changed the skin color of course. If you do something like this, it is worth remembering that there are plenty of different color settings, for the skin, for highlights, for translucency, etc.

The hair is the Toulouse hair for G8 females. It gave him the look I wanted. I gave the hair a dark hair texture, and then gave it green highlights. Worked pretty well.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

The Tunnel

I started working on The Tunnel about a year ago. The photo is a selfie I shot in a tunnel under a railroad a couple of kilometers from where I live.

I set my camera up on a tripod, took a remote triggered hotshoe flash in my hand, set the camera timer for 10 seconds, and ran like crazy to get into the right position in time.

It took several tries, but finally I had a shot that was good enough.

I wnt to a fish store and shot octopus tentacles. However, that did not work out as I had hoped. Dead octopi don't pose well.

After several tries, I finally put the picture aside. I realized I would have to try something else.

Awhile ago, I started using Daz Studio to compose 3D scenes. That got me thinking about using a 3D model of an octopus to create the picture you see. A couple of days ago I gave it a try.

With Daz, it was relatively easy to position the tentacles.

What you see here are the rendered tentacles, right out of Daz Studio.

I composited, added shadows, and relit the picture in Affinity Photo.

At this point, I had a so-so photo composite. It did not quite work as a photo, because the tentacles looked a bit artificial to start with. Also, the photo was a bit too clean. I wanted a dirtier tunnel.

Filters in Affinity Photo, Photoshop, and most other tools, do a mathematical transformation of the image. In many situations, that is exactly what you want.

However, I wanted a more painterly feel. At this point, I had two ways to go:
  • Use the Paint Mixer tool in Affinity Photo to paint the whole picture manually. That works very well, but it is also very time consuming.
  • Use Dynamic Auto-Painter to paint automatically, with manual input only where necessary. Much faster, nearly as fun, and arguably, better results. (Depending on how good an artist you are.)
I went with Dynamic Auto-Painter, and created the picture at the start of this blog post.

I also created a couple of variations. The very dark one you see here is actually closer to what I had in mind originally.

My son thinks this is the best version because "what you cannot see is scarier than what you can see."

He's got a very good point.

Because the picture is so dark, it can appear almost completely black on some monitors though.

I created an in-between version, darker than the first, but brighter than the second.

Which version you prefer, is of course up to you.

You can find these pictures, and a portfolio I am building, at ArtStation.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Lost World V: Protector

I thought I should try something new, like a 360 panorama digital painting.

The painting turned out pretty good for a first try. The main problem is displaying it.

Facebook has 360 panorama support built in. No problem there.

Google, however, relies on 3rd party providers, and that makes publishing 360 panoramas more complicated, and less reliable.

Here, I am trying out a panorama viewer from orb.photo.

Lost World IV: Aftermath (a.k.a. Blood on Her Hands)

This is the fourth and final (unless I get more ideas) picture of Kyla.

Yes, I named the character. I thought it appropriate, since she appears in an entire series of pictures, and may appear again.

As you can see, it is immediately after the battle against the T-Rex.

I have written about my sources of ideas for this series in my earlier posts. What I wrote then, goes for this picture too. However, there is one influence worth a particular mention:

Joe Jusko! (Check out his pictures on DeviantArt. It is a treat.)

I have learned a lot just by looking at Joe Jusko's pictures. They are strong, dynamic, the colors are vibrant, the compositions lead the eye to a point-of-interest, but it is more than that. Jusko has something special, Jusko has angles.

No, not angels! Angles! In some of his pictures, he is careful not to overdo it, he uses unusual angles to create drama, and heighten emotion.

I'll link to a couple of his images on DeviantArt. Check them out and you'll see what I mean:

Here are two more. They do not use viewing angle in the same way. I am including them because I like them, and because they have female protagonists that don't take crap from anyone:
  • First oil painting in 1977 (Wow! I didn't know about this one until I researched this blog post. Except for the hair color, the woman could be my character, Kyla.)
  • Stand Off! (If you think the woman looks a lot like La of Opar, it is because she is La of Opar.)
It is very important to know...oh, screw that! I got a new idea for a picture with Kyla. Got to go.

I'll be back!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Lost World III: T-Rex Battle

For the third picture in the series, I wanted to do something a bit more dynamic. This is an area where I have a lot to learn, but I am working on it.

I am still not convinced that what I am doing is art. All I am doing is that I am putting pieces together, pieces created by other people. On the other hand, as a photographer, I am doing exactly the same thing, and that is considered art.

When in doubt, check definitions. It does not always help, but then again, quite often it does:

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. - The Oxford dictionary
 Well, at least I am trying. I am recombining all sorts of different stuff, drawing on ideas from paintings, comics, movies, and books from several different genres. On top of that, I kit bash like crazy, using commercial 3D models, my own photos, and a suite of different software apps, to create these images. The purpose is to create works of beauty and emotional power, though, I admit, not always at the same time.

It doesn't have to be good to be art. It is making the effort that counts.

Here is the most important bit: If I can do it, so can you!

When I was seven years old, I loved to draw, like almost all children at that age. Then, something happened. When I was thirteen, I was utterly convinced I could not draw, and worse, I could not learn.

Through most of my life, I did not draw anything. Then, I started using simple diagrams, drawn on paper with squares, because I knew I could not draw a straight line, to make notes at work. I discovered I could use simple sketches to explain things.

That was a breakthrough for me. My sketches and diagrams looked awful, but that was okay, because they communicated what I needed to communicate. Mostly software design, at the time.

Later, I got into Systems Thinking, and management, and it became even more important to be able to express myself visually. I did a lot of presentations, paid presentations, so I needed visual aids, both to explain difficult concepts, and to keep the audience awake.

About six years ago, I decided to learn photography. The first year, I took more than 8,000 really, really boring pictures. Mostly of flowers. The second year, I took more than 13,000 pictures. I began varying my subjects more, and learned some basic rules of composition.

Despite this, the one thing almost all of my pictures had in common, was that they sucked. There were a couple of exceptions though, and I think that is what kept me going.

The third year, my skills took off. I learned to take fewer, but much better, photos. I began doing digital effects, and various kinds of trick photography. At first, I was back to sucking again, but I kept at it, and began to improve.

Now, I am still struggling. I am at a different level, but I am struggling more than ever. I used to think that only the results mattered. How I got there was unimportant. I still believe that, as a general principle, but I am starting to have doubts when it comes to my personal work.

I am not to worried though. That nagging doubt is part of the drive to explore, to learn, and to improve.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Lost World II: The Hunters

As I mentioned in my previous post, I went for extreme, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell style body proportions. I think I overdid it a little, and ended up with a She-Hulk version of Cavewoman.

So, I can go back to the drawing board, so to speak, or I can go with it, and see whether I can come up with ideas for a series of pictures about her.

I guess it's back to the drawing board either way.