Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Deadwood - Wolf Willis art preview (part 2)

I was talking to Paul "Mad Dog" Mauer the other night about the artwork for the upcoming Deadwood book (he gets all flustered if I use the full name, Gutshot: Night of the Living Deadwood, in conversation). He likes the look of the final artwork I'm showing, but asked to see what it looks like before I convert it to black & white line art.

To back up a second, the images I'm creating start out in a 3D program called Daz Studio. I'm currently using the latest release, which is version 4.6. This is actually a free program created by a company called Daz3D. I've been a customer of theirs for more than a decade, although I used to just buy content from them. You see, they started out making figures, clothes and hair for a 3D program called Poser.

Both of these are considered entry-level 3D programs and they have tens of thousands of users around the world. Now, to digress for one second, if you're knowledgeable about 3D software you might ask why I'm not using a high-end application like Maya, 3D Studio Max or even Lightwave, or something in the middle like Carrara or even Strata 3D or Blender. The simple answer is, those are bigger than I need.

I'm not creating animations, nor am I modeling my own figures and props. Frankly, there's already a huge collection of props and figures that have been created by professional (and semi-pro) designers out there for use in Daz Studio and Poser. Rather than waste time reinventing them, I've chosen to buy (or simply obtain free models, because there are thousands of freebies out there) and compose them into scenes that I can then use to illustrate the upcoming Deadwood book.

And there's a LOT of manipulation involved. These models do not just magically transform into the black & white line art I'm previewing here. There's no simple mouse-click to do the conversion. It takes a combination of my eye and experience to go from the original render to the final image.

But, to answer Paul's question, here's a look at what I'm actually starting with. As you can see in this animated GIF, the Daz Studio software deals with wireframe 3D meshes that are then covered with textures.

From mesh to man, this series of screen shots from Daz Studio
show how detail is slowly added to the figure to bring it to life.

As 3D meshes, these have been pre-rigged, meaning they have "bones" that let them move at the joints just like people (and dogs) do. Each finger, toe, eyelid, mouth, etc. can also be moved to grasp the rifle and make the face look different (the same figure, for example, could look like different people just by adjusting the chin, cheek bones, hairline and body type). I can also move the camera around so that we can see them from different angles (I could easily switch this to a side view, or do a close-up on the dog's face. Likewise, I can adjust the lighting (in this case it comes from below to add a hint of drama to the scene).

I don't want to get into a big discussion on 3D or what my process is to convert the artwork to b&w, but if you're interested, let me know and I'll post more info about it.

Check out last week's post for a look at the final version of this image.

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