The September Carrara Challenge : Just Say NO to Flat 3D - Spinning a Popular Theme

DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
edited August 2014 in Carrara Discussion

Begin posting your WIPs!!!

The September Carrara Challenge : Just Say NO to Flat 3D - Spinning a Popular Theme

For this month’s challenge I'm keeping it simple and going back to the basics. It will focus on using your own lighting with optimized materials/shaders to create the best real 3D render you can. To help focus your creativity and keep you project “simple” we will use a spin on the popular theme of “Vicky in a Temple/Tomb with a Sword”.
Now I can already hear grumbling in the background – “I’m not doing any Vicky in a Temple/Tomb with a Sword renders!!!” HA! You aren’t supposed to, you get to make your own spin on the theme! Think of it this way, your render will be of ________ in/on _________ with a ________.

If you like doing still life renders your spin on the theme could be “An apple in a bowl with an orange”, or maybe you like to render toons, you could do render “A (toon) rabbit in the garden with a carrot”, or if you like SiFi you could render “Aiko in the (SiFi) corridor with a laser gun”, or if you prefer photo studio style renders you could render “Victoria 6 in the studio with a chair”. The combinations are limitless, and can easily pique the interest of just about anyone. Spinning just three elements/subjects will help keep the scene simple, allowing you to focus on creating the best lighting and shaders/materials to really make your render pop in 3D.

I hope this challenge will generate a lot of interest from a wide range of skill levels. This will be the ideal way for anyone who has struggled with lighting and/or materials/shaders to challenge themselves to learn more about lighting and shaders in Carrara to create renders that will amaze your friends and family!
So, now that you’ve read all this, in short, the idea of this theme is to set up a 3D Render Studio in Carrara, and just say NO to flat lifeless renders!!!!!

Note: there should be one more sponsor with great incentives, I'm just waiting for conformation.

Extra special thanks to DAZ 3D and Infinite Skills Inc. for sponsoring this challenge!
DAZ 3D is once again offering:
1st place: $100.00 towards DAZ 3D owned item(s).
2nd place: $50.00 towards DAZ 3D owned item(s).
3rd place: $25.00 towards DAZ 3D owned item(s).
Two honorable mentions will each receive: $10.00 towards DAZ 3D owned item(s).

Thanks to PhilW for coordinating this with Infinite Skills Inc. (and making these great training videos).
Infinite Skills Inc. is offering the following challenge incentives:
1st place: Your choice of 3 items from their catalog here at DAZ (yes, you get ALL three videos) .
2nd place: Your choice of 2 items from their catalog here at DAZ.
3rd place: Your choice of 1 item from their catalog here at DAZ.
One honorable mention will receive your choice of 1 item from their catalog here at DAZ (PhilW with chose the Honorable Mention with consideration from the recommendations from the voters).


Important Note: The prize list: 1st Place winner also gets the horror- I mean HONOR of hosting the next challenge. The winner gets to choose the theme and the rules. I tell ya’ It’s enough to make an atheist pray. Just kidding, it’s almost not that bad.

The rules for this challenge:
1) As always, pre-made content is not only allowed but is encouraged, as long as you list it. Links (if possible, but not required) would be great! (If you have a piece of premade content that has always seemed flat with poor definition in renders – this would be the ideal time to use it and let the experts help you figure out how to make it look better.)
2) Create your own or modify at least one material/shader in your scene. At a minimum, improve the render quality of the materials/shaders on at least one object/figure in the scene, make a post to the WIP thread showing before and after images of the object/shaders in a render, and describe what was done to improve it. Alternately, you can also create your own materials/shaders, but you will need to describe how you created the materials/shaders. A final option for fulfilling the material/shader requirement would be to use a stock Carrara or third party material/shader (from the shader browser in Carrara) and describe how you modified it to meet your needs, with before and after renders of the material/shader..
3) You must also set up your own lighting using any of the lighting tools available in Carrara (lights, sky’s, light emitting meshes, etc.). Post a WIP with least one screen grab of your lighting set up, along with a description of your lighting with a bit of information about why you used that particular set up (remember, one of the reasons for our challenges is to help others learn from our WIPs). Feel free to use an HDRI for lighting as well, but if you do you will need to use a least one of the other Carrara lights (i.e. a spot light for a rim light), and show screen grab of your light set up.
4) When the entry thread is opened, you must link to at least two of your WIPs from this thread in your entry.
5) Renders must be done in Carrara unless you use a Carrara plugin to get the scene into a 3rd party renderer, such as Octane or Lux. If using an external render via a plugin you will need to include a description of the process in one of your WIPs, as well as including the information specific to your renderer for requirements 2 and 3 above is required in one of the WIPs.
6) Only minor postwork is allowed for this challenge (adjusting levels, contrast, brightness, rescaling, etc.) The focus of this challenge is to get the best image possible directly out of your renderer. So multi-pass rendering, and composition in post, won’t be allowed for this challenge. If minor postwork is used, you must post a raw render and a description of the postwork that was done in one of your WIPs.
7) You may enter up to two images, the images must be new works created for this challenge that have not been posted anywhere else. Votes will be on a per image basis and will not be a combined vote for both images (should two be entered). Final images must be posted in the Entry thread to be considered. If you can’t enter them in the entry thread due to extenuating circumstances, PM me so that we can work something out. Voting is open to anyone with a DAZ 3D account. Anonymous voting is allowed only with exceptional circumstances. PM me to find out if I’ll allow it.

Dates To Remember: (Sorry for the slightly odd schedule, but my Sept. is insanely busy, and there are a few days where I may not have Internet access)
WIP Thread open, August 26, 2014 and closes when voting begins.
Submission Thread Open on Sept. 9, 2014.
Submissions close and thread is changed to voting thread on Sept. 21, 2014, at around 8:00 PM U.S. Mountain Time.
Voting ends Sept. 29, 2014, at around 11:59 PM U.S. Mountain Time.

Thanks again to our fine sponsors for providing the wonderful incentives this challenge!

Thanks EvilProducer for letting me blatantly plagiarize the August Challenge rules, etc. (and for the great September challenge).

Post edited by DustRider on
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Comments

  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited August 2014

    If you’re new to Carrara, have Cararra and haven’t really used it, or maybe your planning on picking up Carrara on the 50% off sale that started today, this is the perfect challenge for you. The main focus of the challenge is to go back to the basics, and create an image with the best lighting and complimentary materials/shaders to get the best 3D render you can.

    The real bonus for the new user with this challenge is that Infinite Skills Inc. is one of our sponsors. They are the publishers of the outstanding Carrara training videos by PhilW. This Is an excellent opportunity for you to learn more about shaders, lighting, and rendering by participating in the challenge. Plus if you place in the challenge you will be able to get some fantastic Carrara training materials (the participant that gets first place will receive all three videos, including the training video that was just released here today, Carrara - Realism Rendering Training Video (http://www.daz3d.com/new-releases/carrara-realism-rendering-training-video).

    Of course this challenge is great for long time Carrara users too. It will give you a opportunity to explore lighting and shader techniques you've been interested in trying, but never had a reason to. Or, you could use it to perfect a technique that you really like.

    Please join the challenge and “Just say NO to flat 3D”

    Quick Tip

    If you've always wanted to use HRDI for lighting and/or backgrounds, but have found it difficult to figure out just where the light is coming from in your HDRI, Just put a sphere in your scene, put a reflective shader on it (Aluminum with the color value modified to 0/black works quite well), then do a quick render. You will be able to see your HDRI reflected on your sphere (see attached).

    If your interested in using HDRI for your challenge entry, this thread will give you a bit of additional information about using them in Carrara: http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/45614/

    HDRI_Reflection.jpg
    800 x 600 - 132K
    Post edited by DustRider on
  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    Looks very interesting! My September and half of October is looking busy for me as well. I'm in a community theatre group and have been cast for a role in the fall show.

  • sukyLsukyL Posts: 251
    edited December 1969

    This challenge is going to be really good. Lighting and materials are so important. I hope a lot of people participate, because there will be so much to learn from everyone. I think I can do this one. I've got a setup in mind that I've been wanting to do and this will force me to get it done.

  • DiomedeDiomede Posts: 10,498
    edited December 1969

    Now I can already hear grumbling in the background – “I’m not doing any Vicky in a Temple/Tomb with a Sword renders!!!” HA! You aren’t supposed to, you get to make your own spin on the theme! Think of it this way, your render will be of ________ in/on _________ with a ________.

    I'm thinking Stephanie in a chapel with an axe. ;-P

    Materials and lighting are among my weakest skills. Can't wait to learn more from everyone's WIPs. It gives me an excuse to look through some old resources that I've kept around and look for items that could be improved. Good idea.

  • StezzaStezza Posts: 5,322
    edited December 1969

    sounds interesting... I have an idea about this but requires a s#it load of material changes... will take a while to do this I reckon

    then to get the lighting half decent is the other problem..... good challenge ;-)

  • Philemo_CarraraPhilemo_Carrara Posts: 1,055
    edited December 1969

    Great theme indeed. All my congratulations Dustrider.

    I've always wanted to go a "Vickie in a temple" render ;-)

    Seriously, I'm not much of a modeller and I've always preferred lighting and especially shading. So, I believe I'll have fun with this challenge.

  • chickenmanchickenman Posts: 1,167
    edited December 1969

    As I just purchased Carrara while it was on sale I will see if I can get something together after playing with it a little.
    look forward to the Challenge and critiqueing of the work.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited August 2014

    Carrara also allows a great amount of freedom with how lights are used. You can put lights in replicators or in particle emitters for cool and unusual effects for instance. You can stick them in the middle of volumetric clouds to create explosions or "real" light cones. If you use a realistic sky and a Sunlight or moonlight (which is basically a distance light tied to the RSE's sun disk or moon disk) along with an appropriate lens flare, it will look like the flare originates with the sun disk in the Realistic Sky.

    You can use an image, not just an HDRI in the scene's Background slot and if Skylight is enabled in the render room it will be treated like an HDRI (though a bit less accurate). You can also use a color or color gradient in that slot and it will be treated the same way. If you have a realistic sky, it also will be treated like an HDRI.

    I haven't even touched on shape lights or Anything Glows.

    Carrara really provides a lot of different lighting options and is very flexible. All of that equals creative freedom!

    Post edited by evilproducer on
  • StezzaStezza Posts: 5,322
    edited December 1969

    We're having terrible rainy weather here at the moment which in a way is a good thing as I've been able to put some work into my idea for the challenge...

    I won't post anything yet although it is the 26th here at 1.30pm I think the WiPs thread is in DazLand time..

    So I'll go do some more work on the lighting of the idea... and watch the rain come tumbling down :-)

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    This isn't a WIP or anything. I just wanted to offer a little inspiration about what can be done with lights, shaders and replicators.

    This image uses a string of holiday lights for quite a bit of the illumination. The string of lights is a vertex cord with a male and female plug at each end. I created a shading domain for the cord, one for the plug housings and one for the plug prongs. I rigged it in Carrara to bend it.

    The lights are actually vertex light sockets with bulb lights grouped inside. The sockets have two shading domains. One for the socket and wires and one for the "bulb." I actually duplicated the sockets a few times and colored the bulb parts with different colored shaders. I used translucency as it allows light to pass through without being able to really see inside. The carrara bulb lights are all white, it is the colored shader that changes the color of the light.

    I used a surface replicator confined to the cord shading domain to drive the placement of the light sockets.

    I also used some fill lights and rim light, but I wanted to make sure the holiday lights were the lights that stood out.
    No GI was used. It rendered really fast except for the hair. I did some stuff to the hair shader based on suggestions from Holly Wetcircuit that I'll detail in an actual WIP.


    You can DL the Holiday Lights here to see how it is put together.
    http://www.sharecg.com/v/73481/view/5/3D-Model/Carrara-rigged-Holiday-Light-String

    X-Mas_2013_Pinup02.jpg
    2000 x 1500 - 939K
  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    This isn't a WIP or anything. I just wanted to offer a little inspiration about what can be done with lights, shaders and replicators.

    This image uses a string of holiday lights for quite a bit of the illumination. The string of lights is a vertex cord with a male and female plug at each end. I created a shading domain for the cord, one for the plug housings and one for the plug prongs. I rigged it in Carrara to bend it.

    The lights are actually vertex light sockets with bulb lights grouped inside. The sockets have two shading domains. One for the socket and wires and one for the "bulb." I actually duplicated the sockets a few times and colored the bulb parts with different colored shaders. I used translucency as it allows light to pass through without being able to really see inside. The carrara bulb lights are all white, it is the colored shader that changes the color of the light.

    I used a surface replicator confined to the cord shading domain to drive the placement of the light sockets.

    I also used some fill lights and rim light, but I wanted to make sure the holiday lights were the lights that stood out.
    No GI was used. It rendered really fast except for the hair. I did some stuff to the hair shader based on suggestions from Holly Wetcircuit that I'll detail in an actual WIP.


    You can DL the Holiday Lights here to see how it is put together.
    http://www.sharecg.com/v/73481/view/5/3D-Model/Carrara-rigged-Holiday-Light-String

    Show off!! Beautiful render, thanks for sharing!

  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    Sorry for "ignoring" the thread. Just to many irons in the fire with the release of Octane Render for Carrara.

  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    Looks very interesting! My September and half of October is looking busy for me as well. I'm in a community theatre group and have been cast for a role in the fall show.

    Congrats on your new role! Hope you can find the time to participate.
  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    sukyL said:
    This challenge is going to be really good. Lighting and materials are so important. I hope a lot of people participate, because there will be so much to learn from everyone. I think I can do this one. I've got a setup in mind that I've been wanting to do and this will force me to get it done.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with sukyL. I hope this turns out to be a fun challenge for everyone (and showcases what a great render engine Carrara has).
  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited August 2014

    diomede64 said:
    Now I can already hear grumbling in the background – “I’m not doing any Vicky in a Temple/Tomb with a Sword renders!!!” HA! You aren’t supposed to, you get to make your own spin on the theme! Think of it this way, your render will be of ________ in/on _________ with a ________.

    I'm thinking Stephanie in a chapel with an axe. ;-P

    Materials and lighting are among my weakest skills. Can't wait to learn more from everyone's WIPs. It gives me an excuse to look through some old resources that I've kept around and look for items that could be improved. Good idea.


    Stphanie in a chapel with an axe ...... um ....... sounds .... um ..... scary! Looking forward to another of your great creations.

    Post edited by DustRider on
  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    Stezza said:
    sounds interesting... I have an idea about this but requires a s#it load of material changes... will take a while to do this I reckon

    then to get the lighting half decent is the other problem..... good challenge ;-)


    Sounds like a ....... painful learning experience (but often the renders I put the most shader work into are the ones I like the best).
  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    Philemo said:
    Great theme indeed. All my congratulations Dustrider.

    I've always wanted to go a "Vickie in a temple" render ;-)

    Seriously, I'm not much of a modeller and I've always preferred lighting and especially shading. So, I believe I'll have fun with this challenge.


    I can model, but I really prefer to set up lighting, materials, and render too. Besides, you just can't go wrong with the old Vicky in a Temple theme :roll:
  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited August 2014

    dustrider said:
    Looks very interesting! My September and half of October is looking busy for me as well. I'm in a community theatre group and have been cast for a role in the fall show.

    Congrats on your new role! Hope you can find the time to participate.

    Well of course I'll give it a try. How else am I supposed to put off learning my lines until the last minute!

    You should have seen my director five years ago when I had a leading role, a bout of the swine flu that was going around at the time, plus an impending plant closure. I didn't have my lines nailed until the dress rehearsals. She had no finger nails or hair left. Ironically, I didn't have any real screw ups, but a couple other cast members did. I felt bad them, but relieved that it wasn't me. Did I mention it was the first part I had tried out for in twenty+ years?

    Post edited by evilproducer on
  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    As I just purchased Carrara while it was on sale I will see if I can get something together after playing with it a little.
    look forward to the Challenge and critiqueing of the work.

    Hey dougcoutts_1! Welcome aboard! It's always great when someone new gets involved. Just remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers (something I'm probably too good at .... stupid answers).
  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    How about, VOAASWAM?

    That would be an acronym for, Vicky On An Air Ship With A Muppet.

    Nobody steal my idea! I call dibs! :lol:

  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    Stezza said:
    We're having terrible rainy weather here at the moment which in a way is a good thing as I've been able to put some work into my idea for the challenge...

    I won't post anything yet although it is the 26th here at 1.30pm I think the WiPs thread is in DazLand time..

    So I'll go do some more work on the lighting of the idea... and watch the rain come tumbling down :-)


    Why wait - it seems like there are no questions about the challenge, so to accommodate everyone elsewhere in the world who can't wait to get going on their WIP's - I declare the WIP threat officially OPEN (somebody told me I was now the Challenge dictator - so I may as well act like it, at least once :coolgrin: )
  • DiomedeDiomede Posts: 10,498
    edited August 2014

    woohoo - I am submitting the 1st screenshot. This is simply my before screenshot of the object I plan to improve. This is an old obj file of a candlestick that came as additional content with Poser 4. This will challenge me to do some light editing of the model's mesh, make a new uvmap, and come up with a good variety of shaders, including wax, string, and flame. The flame will also give me a challenge for its light.

    How will I use it?

    I'm sure I will change my mind about a half dozen times on exactly how I will use it, but right now I am thinking.... Clue -

    Professor Plumb in the library with a candlestick.

    candlestick_before.JPG
    1172 x 779 - 101K
    Post edited by Diomede on
  • StezzaStezza Posts: 5,322
    edited August 2014

    Ok.. here we go...

    I will be using Genesis and the Pirate clothing for Genesis for this challenge..

    My idea is to retexture some of the pirate clothes that I will be using and morph Genesis to a shorter chubbier fella...

    Here is my concept work to start off to show the Pirate gear which is in the Daz Store

    Hopefully it will be a bit different when I retexture it l!!

    genesis_pirate.jpg
    800 x 800 - 566K
    Post edited by Stezza on
  • DustRiderDustRider Posts: 2,226
    edited December 1969

    WOW!! You guys are FAST. Things are already getting interesting.

  • StezzaStezza Posts: 5,322
    edited December 1969

    lol.. things you do when it's raining!!

    We will be using transmaps as well on the pirate clothing to give it some visual effect..

    Here is ( we will call him Johnny ) showing the transmap that was made to cut off the sleeve around the wrist area...

    The transmap was made in PSE11 using layers and fur brushes to get the effect.

    WiP_idea3.jpg
    953 x 712 - 364K
  • StezzaStezza Posts: 5,322
    edited December 1969

    Transmap was also made for the pirate trousers as shown here by Johnny ;-)

    Made in PSE11 with layers and calligraphy brushes

    WiP_idea4.jpg
    622 x 921 - 213K
  • StezzaStezza Posts: 5,322
    edited December 1969

    at least I should remember what page my WiPs are on lol

    The hardest part of this challenge is getting the lights in the right place with some good settings...

    WiP_idea5.jpg
    805 x 622 - 278K
  • StezzaStezza Posts: 5,322
    edited August 2014

    We'll also be using one of Dimension Theory's pre-sets in this challenge

    with a clue to the title :-)

    WiP_idea6.jpg
    894 x 963 - 267K
    Post edited by Stezza on
  • JonstarkJonstark Posts: 2,396
    edited December 1969

    Really cool render, Evil, loving the glowy colored lights :)

    Lol at Stezza's pirate showing how to really get into the Carrara interface

  • StezzaStezza Posts: 5,322
    edited December 1969

    Then it's into the modeling room to create two items....!!

    For this challenge we have made a pot and a bag

    The bag will be textured so as to hopefully give a mesh look about it
    the textures will be created in PSE11

    WiP_idea7.jpg
    477 x 743 - 163K
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