Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

World Machine Training

Posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015 at 8:08 PM in Ray-Tracing by Garstor

I love heightmaps!

Using heightmaps to build terrains was probably what I enjoyed most about Carrara. There are several great programs out there that can be used to create heightmaps. Of course, Photoshop leaps to mind. But for really awesome terrain, you want a specialized program.

I started with Leveller. It’s pretty good but I found it a bit clunky at time. The license key is tied to the computer name so that really put a cramp in my use. Terragen is quite cool but also quite expensive. And the Vue family of products is stupefyingly expensive.

I have found World Machine Standard Edition to be the sweet spot that I was looking for!

There is no secret – I am an unabashed whore when it comes to tutorials. Especially video-based tutorials. I have bought a wide-array of tutorials for my 3D hobby. I’ll probably review them all here one day. For World Machine, I started out with Liberty 3D’s World Machine Foundations.

I have bought quite a lot from Liberty 3D. They do produce some really great training. I loved this tutorial but it was too short and it just barely scratched the surface of World Machine’s power. This is a really good start for a reasonable price.

I have just added the Geek At Play Discovering World Machine series to my collection. This is very thorough. My only complaint is that Vladimir Chopine has a very thick eastern European accent. It is sometimes difficult to follow him. But I have definitely learned a great deal from this series.

Soon I will show-off some landscapes rendered in LightWave.

Resetting Blog Theme

Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2015 at 5:00 PM in Personal by Garstor

WebHost4Life has found that the error is related to customization on the WordPress theme. I have switched themes (now using my original theme – called Rubix) and the error is now gone.

There is a lot that I like in the look to this theme but it does not seem to be easily customizable. I really do not like the grey About link at the top of the page. Hopefully I can find a way to remove that in the future. I’d also like to increase the width of the right-hand sidebar.

We’ll see what happens in the future.

The Wave Of Busy Continues…

Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2015 at 7:29 AM in Personal by Garstor

I can directly point at my job as the primary reason why I have not been able to blog quite so often lately. I know I haven’t been the most studious of writers to begin with; however, work has really heated up.

  • I am working at training a group of colleagues to deal with SQL Server issues. We meet every Wednesday and I’m currently taking them through some deep internals discussions; this takes quite a bit of time to prepare for
  • I have been volun-told to be on a “Technology Leads” group to represent SQL Server. This primarily concerns working with our developers (extremely aggravating) on the next version of our tools
  • I just came back from nearly a week of training and it looks like there is more training coming in my future

On the non-work front, the static website (www.garstor.com) and this blog were – mildly – hacked. WebHost4Life temporarily locked my site as a precautionary measure. The attackers must have cracked my FTP password.

The static site was meant to be a place where I can practice and learn ASP.NET. My coding skills are atrophying badly and I have lost much of my passion for it. So that single webpage just sits there; nearly completely ignored. Then I spotted it one day about a month ago…

Hundreds of links to websites had been added to the page. There was no visual indicator of this because the <a> tags did not surround any text or images. They had been added between the <body> and <html> tags that mark the end of the document. The page looked as it did before but if a status bar was displayed in the browser you could see all the link addresses as the mouse moved across the page.

Cleaning that up was easy and it was a good excuse to setup Dreamweaver again.

Then WebHost4Life contacted me directly. They had detected malware on the blog. I quickly deleted the two offending files but I am still working with WH4L support to get the blog back into its full working order. Hopefully that will be soon.

Busy Again…

Posted on Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 at 10:10 AM in Personal by Garstor

A lot of stuff going on at work. I’ll spare the details for a variety of reasons but it has been stressful.

My one reprieve has been experimenting with bringing the DAZ Victoria model and textures into LightWave. Two big goals that I would like to achieve are rigging the Victoria model using LightWave’s Genoma system and using FiberFX to generate hair.

I’d show off the renders but the skin texture is naked and would probably get flagged in Flickr. I’ll have to put some lingerie on the model or something.

Spring seems to have finally come to North Texas! We’ve had quite a bit of rain lately but the temperatures have stayed well above freezing.

More Texan Snow

Posted on Saturday, March 7th, 2015 at 10:08 AM in Personal by Garstor

It was not long after moving here that I quickly learned of the old joke, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait 30 minutes.”

My Backyard - March 5, 2015 01Seeing snow in Texas always amuses me. It has been getting more severe in a very noticeable way – unless you are a member of the Republican Party that is. It often shuts the city down and drivers are moving slower than I can walk. They honestly think that black ice forms with any snowfall at all!

Get used to this Texas; climate change is real and most of you insist on electing idiots who would prefer to deny reality. These politicians are just whoring themselves out to the fossil fuel industry of course.

During the night of March 4-5, North Texas received a fairly deep blanket of snow. It was about 5:30am and the sun had yet to rise when I grabbed my camera to capture what my backyard looked like. Most of the illumination comes from the floodlights on my house.

My Backyard - March 5, 2015 02I think these turned out rather well given how hastily I took them.

By noon, the temperature was above freezing and climbing higher. Most of this melted before the end of the day and by Friday morning only shaded areas still had some snow on the ground. It was fun while it lasted.

More Gobel Photoshop Actions (Stardust & Sandstorm)

Posted on Sunday, February 15th, 2015 at 4:15 PM in Ray-Tracing by Garstor

I really cannot get enough of the Photoshop Actions that Brad Gobel is creating! They are about the only reason that I am still using Carrara these days.

V4-Katie-StardustHere is Brad’s Stardust Action at work.

I used the Victoria 4 model and put the Katie texture on her. Although this is a nude model, the Action post-processing usually hides the “naughty bits.” I think these are very tame images; however, a prude may still find these images offensive.

I used the Amarseda hair model from the DAZ Store as well as the Feathered Wings prop.

The default parenting of the wings to Victoria was far too low on her body in my opinion. I disabled the parenting and placed the wings where I fell they looked best. I spent some time playing around with morphs on the wings to find something I liked.

After applying the pose (I don’t recall which one, but it was from a purchase on Renderosity), I needed to adjust the morphs on the hair so that it was sitting more realistically.

I did tweak the pose by adjusting Victoria’s right arm and hand.

Stardust provided a happy accident with the flare effect. I liked how the pose was reaching for something, so I put the flare in place appropriately. The last step was a very quick and dirty vignette.

hires1-Sandstorm2Next, I tried the Sandstorm Action.

At first, I kept everything the same in Photoshop. As you can see in Brad’s videos, you need to have a layer called “brush” to control the placement of the Action effect. With Stardust, I used a Quick Mask to select nearly all of the image.

Sandstorm obliterated everything! It was kind of cool on its own, but not the result that I wanted.

I adjusted the “brush” layer to concentrate on the wings. I still lightly selected along the legs and torso though. I made sure that the particles from the left wing did not hide the reaching arm.

Brad has created a few new Actions. I’ll definitely buy those shortly and see what else I can come up with.

New Renders

Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2015 at 8:58 PM in Ray-Tracing by Garstor

I bought several more of Brad Goble’s excellent Photoshop Actions and I finally made some time to play with them today. In Carrara, I rendered Victoria 4 using the Kay skin texture and the Philly hair. I used a preset pose from a collection called Coy Poses.

V4-Kay-ForgeThe lingerie top is see-through, but I knew that the Actions would obscure her slightly visible nipples.

I used the same render for all three Actions.

This first image was processed by the Forge Action. This Action is probably better suited for vehicles on a roadway since it generates rock pieces and glowing dust particles.

I tweaked up the colour a little bit and fringed the border a little. I should have spent more time and care with that next time. The effect could be better with a grunge brush or texture.

V4-Kay-FractalThe second image was created with the Fractal Action. I don’t have much to say for this one. It is a neat effect but it would probably benefit from a base image that has a lot more action going on in it.

I’ll experiment further with this Action on other base images.

V4-Kay-MoonstoneThe third image is by far my favourite of the three!

It was created with the Moonstone Action and I spent the most time tweaking this one to get this end result. I am a sucker for blue-green colours and love the diagonal light streaks.

I am sure that I will return to the Moonstone Action a lot in the future.

Busy!

Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2015 at 11:26 AM in Personal by Garstor

Wow!

I have been extremely busy at work the last two weeks. It was even burning-out kind of busy. Individually, it was all pretty easy and straight-forward stuff that I love to do. Every now and then however; it piles up and comes at me all at once. I hate it when that happens.

Ah well. I think I am coming out of it now and hopefully my life can calm down a bit.

There are a few more stressors still ahead but I can face those down and write out them if they become interesting / annoying enough.

BALDURSGATE UPDATE

The new 3D rig was experiencing some very odd performance issues. I tried to save a bit of money by re-using some of the disks from my older machine. I could hear clicking noises however and several programs seemed to take a very long time to load. Disturbing to say the least.

So I have purchased a new external USB 3.0 drive and have moved all the files over to it. I hope that’s all that it needs. Future purchases will improve the wireless signal and – if possible – expand the SSD size for the Windows volume.

I have installed Dragon Age: Origins to replay since I have kick-ass video cards now. It will take a long time, but I will eventually get up to DA3: Inquisition.

My disappointment in DAZ continues… I was able to install Carrara 8.1 but the content package won’t work. This severely hobbles the program. At least the Poser runtime libraries appear to be intact.

Back to it!