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Returning to Umblefugley’s Fountain
Posted: 01 December 2012 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]
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One of my first store purchases (after Carrara) was Umblefugley’s Fountain. Alas, I cannot see it in the store any longer…shame, it is quite nice.

I really didn’t have too many clues about putting together a good scene. This  (my Flickr page) was one of my earliest attempts with Fountain and V4. I was proud of it at the time… cool hmm  While I still am not a great artists, I have learned quite a bit since then.

So I loaded Fountain again and started think of how to improve on that scene. Here is the result of that new work.

Still not perfect. I used the cattails and lilypads from Lisa’s Botanical’s “Pond Life.” They are surface replicated but I did not realize that the lilypads had dangling roots…so they are defying gravity at the moment! Ooops! red face

Live and learn!

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- Garstor
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Posted: 02 December 2012 04:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think the pond goes well with the structure smile
The trees are pretty, which ones are they?
The surface of the structure looks a bit flat though.
Have you tried playing with the sliders under the surface tab?
I am afraid I am too noob yet to give you real helpful advice on that :(

Also, your avatar drew my attention, is that the Richard Dawkin’s foundation A?

I am such a fail ><
I just saw that this is the Carrara section, so the surface tab doesn’t apply, I think…

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Estroyer - 02 December 2012 04:16 AM

I think the pond goes well with the structure smile
The trees are pretty, which ones are they?
The surface of the structure looks a bit flat though.
Have you tried playing with the sliders under the surface tab?
I am afraid I am too noob yet to give you real helpful advice on that :(

Also, your avatar drew my attention, is that the Richard Dawkin’s foundation A?

I am such a fail ><
I just saw that this is the Carrara section, so the surface tab doesn’t apply, I think…

This whole thing started off with wanting to do another “romantic” scene with V4/M4. So I worked on the pose at first…using a vertex object cube as a “room” for light to interact with during test renders. Once I was happy with that, I grouped the figures/clothes so that I could save them separately.

Playing around with landscapes and terrain is one of my big thrills with Carrara. I’m nowhere near the level of Howie Farkes obviously. But it is fun. So I came up with the terrain and the distribution shaders in Photoshop.

I’m not entirely happy with the shadows within the Fountain structure. There is only a single “Sunlight” light source for everything; it seems to me that those shadows should look quite different in that case. Being a third-party model, there is not much that I can do with the shaders for the Fountain itself.

Good catch on the avatar…that is exactly where that came from. I had a vision that it would look cool with Anything Glows—it turned out pretty cool here but using the model again in a new scene failed miserably…no glow at all. Weird. I guess I still don’t entirely get Anything Glows… M4 has the Stratton Elite texture here; a nice texture but a little too pre-pubescent…some body hair would be nice (unless Stratton is an Olympic swimmer smile ).

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Posted: 02 December 2012 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I forgot to mention the trees! Two of them are from Merlin (a maple and an ash) and there is an alder in there that came from Predatron.

I cannot find the grass clumps in my library anymore, so I cannot give appropriate credit there. Sorry!

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Posted: 02 December 2012 07:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I just looked up Merlin and there are a lot of awesome trees!
They are going on my wishlist in case of a sale ^^

LOL, let’s make him an olympic swimmer then…one that won gold even wink
About the “A”, I am an Atheist myself so that’s why I spotted it ^^
Now I make it sound like it’s an religion XD

I haven’t tried Bryce so far, but I am planning on it in the near future!
Have taken a first few baby steps in Hexagon though.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Estroyer - 02 December 2012 07:06 AM

I just looked up Merlin and there are a lot of awesome trees!
They are going on my wishlist in case of a sale

Yep, I went a little crazy with purchasing plants and trees. I created a separate runtime called “Nature” for these products. I recommend Lisa’s Botanicals too. Very helpful!

Estroyer - 02 December 2012 07:06 AM

About the “A”, I am an Atheist myself so that’s why I spotted it ^^ Now I make it sound like it’s an religion XD

I figured that I would leave it somewhat subtle, lest I tread too far astray from DAZ’s forum guidelines. wink

Estroyer - 02 December 2012 07:06 AM

I haven’t tried Bryce so far, but I am planning on it in the near future! Have taken a first few baby steps in Hexagon though.

Ditto here. I should get into Hexagon since it is apparently better than Carrara’s native modeler. But I just purchased LightWave 3D this week; which is an atom bomb by comparison.

I am now just teetering on the edge of realizing that I am starting to get good enough to make some simple models to sell (like Fountain). Shading/textures is still my Achilles Heel though.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hello Garstor, for the shadows, you could try raytraced soft shadows under the light’s effects tab. It will slow render times though. One other possibility to get soft shadows is to use a Shadow Buffer, available in the raytraced soft shadows pull down menu. It’s much faster, but there are some limitations with it respecting alpha channels and such. I’m not sure how the trees are constructed so it you’ll have to experiment. Every scene is different as well as every artist. Personally, I prefer the raytraced soft shadows for still images and shadow buffers (depending on scene) for animations.


The other thing to look at is the lighting. Consider your main lighting of course, but also consider secondary sources such as bounced lighting from the sky and the ground. You may want to try a render with the Skylight enabled to get atmospheric light. It slows things down, but not as bad Indirect lighting. When I was practicing trying to fake exterior GI, I would do a smaller render with the Skylight to see how it looked. I would use full GI for interiors to get a better idea how it worked on inside lighting. To speed up my tests I would also hide unnecessary objects and concentrate on my main subject, so with your scene I might hide the trees and pond and just render the terrain, building and people to see how the Skylight looks, then work on my lights using the smaller render as the reference.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 08:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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evilproducer - 02 December 2012 09:39 AM

Hello Garstor, for the shadows, you could try raytraced soft shadows under the light’s effects tab. It will slow render times though. One other possibility to get soft shadows is to use a Shadow Buffer, available in the raytraced soft shadows pull down menu. It’s much faster, but there are some limitations with it respecting alpha channels and such. I’m not sure how the trees are constructed so it you’ll have to experiment. Every scene is different as well as every artist. Personally, I prefer the raytraced soft shadows for still images and shadow buffers (depending on scene) for animations.


The other thing to look at is the lighting. Consider your main lighting of course, but also consider secondary sources such as bounced lighting from the sky and the ground. You may want to try a render with the Skylight enabled to get atmospheric light. It slows things down, but not as bad Indirect lighting. When I was practicing trying to fake exterior GI, I would do a smaller render with the Skylight to see how it looked. I would use full GI for interiors to get a better idea how it worked on inside lighting. To speed up my tests I would also hide unnecessary objects and concentrate on my main subject, so with your scene I might hide the trees and pond and just render the terrain, building and people to see how the Skylight looks, then work on my lights using the smaller render as the reference.


The difference between Skylight, indirect light, GI, photon count, etc. still confuses me. Ditto for shadow buffers—I have read about them but I don’t know how to do them in Carrara (well, any program really wink ).

What irks me about my render is that the shadows of the pillars appear to be cast inward from three directions. As I mentioned, there is only one light source; a “sun light” for the Realistic Sky atmosphere. So those results really don’t make any sense.

I’d like to get better with replicating trees over the terrain; it is hard to get them to behave just right without resorting to manual (tedious!) placement.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 09:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Think of a sundial. When the sun is at an angle to the needle of a sundial, say 4:00 PM, the closer to the needle you look, the sharper the shadow, and the further you look towards the edge of the sundial where the shadow of the needle point falls, the shadow’s edges will be softer. Raytraced soft shadows is the way Carrara calculates this effect. Without it enabled, the shadows are all hard edged no matter how far away from the object they fall.


The shadow buffer fakes the effect.The problem is the shadow edges are uniformly soft. They also don’t like alphas. An example would be if you had a wall with a window. The shadow buffer won’t see the transparency in the window and cast a solid shadow for the whole wall. Using Raytraced soft shadows would make a shadow for the wall but not the glass.


The default Light Radius for the Soft shadows is .08 ft, (if using US measures) but for sunlight and distant lights it should be (depending on the scene and strength of effect) anywhere between 50 ft and several hundred feet. The Shadow buffer defaults to a resolution of 256, but I usually go the max of 2048 without any noticeable slowdown and it looks much better.


I’m not sure where you’re getting the big shadows in the set without seeing the entire set.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 09:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Skylight is what you’d use for simulating atmospheric bounced light. Using the Skylight, which is part of Global illumination, makes Carrara use the color of the Realistic Sky, HDRIs, image map, colors etc. as a light source. The Indirect Light checkbox makes Carrara calculate bounced light between objects in the scene and also to use anything with a glow channel as a light source. For transparencies you need to have the Light through transparency option checked under the standard render settings and under the GI settings.


The photon settings are for the virtual photons. If you have splotchy looking artifacts in the shadowy areas of your render you may need to adjust them upwards or turn on interpolation.


Here’s some samples of using the Skylight and not using it. The images with the very dark shadows just use the standard renderer. The ones with more detail in the shadows use the Skylight.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 09:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I just had a thought about your model and the three shadows. Are you sure they’re shadows and not maybe a screwed up, or missing texture in a shading domain? The images you posted are rather small and hard to see, so I can’t tell for sure, but I’m not entirely convinced they’re shadows.

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Posted: 03 December 2012 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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evilproducer - 02 December 2012 09:39 PM

I just had a thought about your model and the three shadows. Are you sure they’re shadows and not maybe a screwed up, or missing texture in a shading domain? The images you posted are rather small and hard to see, so I can’t tell for sure, but I’m not entirely convinced they’re shadows.

I don’t recall the precise settings that I used to render; but I am pretty sure that I had Skylight off. Reading your advice here suggests that for scenes where Realistic Sky is used in the Atmosphere, I should have Skylight on.

I am pretty sure that I had indirect lighting on but set to Ambient Occlusion only—calculating rays off of the tree leaves was killing even this fire-breathing box. I will setup another render though and see if I can get better results.

Right now, I don’t have any easy way to make screen captures on this machine (I use SnagIt on my other computers…great program).

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Posted: 03 December 2012 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I did another render and still have those weird looking shadows.

AntiAliasing: Good
Object Accuracy: 2 pixels
Shadow Accuracy: 4 pixels

Sky Light: on
Indirect Light: on (Ambient Occlusion only)
Interpolation: on
Light Through Transparency: on

Photon Count: 10000
Photon Map Accuracy: 25%

Lighting Quality: Good
Accuracy: 4 pixels

Irradiance Map: One for all frames (static scenes)

I reviewed all the instances of objects in the scene to be sure that the Sun Light is the only light source. That has been set to Enable Soft Shadows and Best Quality with Raytraced Shadow.

This may just have to go down as one of those mysterious things…  smile

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Posted: 03 December 2012 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Regarding Skylight, Indirect Light and GI in general, it can be faked, which is good for animation as all the extra calculations can be a real time killer. My point in mentioning it, is that I found it helpful to use a lower resolution image as a scene specific reference. Real life observations are also essential. I think I’m okay with faking GI and there are others here that are exceptional at it. It’s a nice skill to learn.


Regarding the three black shadows, the more I look at it, the less convinced I am that it’s a shadow and not some shader issue, or combination of lighting and shaders causing a problem.

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Posted: 06 December 2012 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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evilproducer - 03 December 2012 02:12 PM

Regarding the three black shadows, the more I look at it, the less convinced I am that it’s a shadow and not some shader issue, or combination of lighting and shaders causing a problem.

You started worrying me here.  smile  I figure that I don’t “get” shaders at a deep enough level to debug them. It turns out though that it is a shadow that should be there.

I turned off most of the objects in the scene so it will render faster (the trees in particular are brutal). The first picture is a screen capture of Carrara itself through the Director’s Camera - I started in the render camera position and dollied around clockwise. The red dot was supposed to mark where V4 and M4 are - but I got that wrong; they would actually be barely visible off the right-side of this image. This image does clearly show the Sun Light and its angle.

The second image is from another camera that I added to the scene and viewed The Fountain from the top. The red dot for V4/M4 is accurate here. Now the shadow “problem” is obvious even to me. smile  It isn’t a shadow of the column but rather a shadow of the top arches of The Fountain that are not visible from the render camera. DOH! red face

I am going to make another scene similar to this one; hopefully with better vegetation and distribution maps - and better consideration for shadows!

As always I appreciate the help and advice that I get from the forums.

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