Critique and Tips Please!

BlackbirdwakeBlackbirdwake Posts: 0
edited May 2012 in Art Studio

Okay, so I'm new to Daz, just started working in it this month, and I've been pouring over tutorials. Today I finally tried to make the most realistic face I could. I'm posting here in hopes that you all may be willing to take a look and give me some tips and critiques. (Please ignore the neck, I know it doesn't match the face...)

Credits: Okay, so this is Vicky 4.2 with the Priscilla MAT by PDesign combined Priscilla's Bump map as the Displacement Map and with a custom Bump map. The hair is Flexy Hair by Bice & Outoftouch. The expression is from freeposes.net. The light is a slightly modified version of Arey Soul's Hanyma Skin Light. Rendered in Daz with the standard 3Delight.

I appreciate any help you all have to offer.


Image removed by a moderator till resized...please see this thread for info: http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/510_98/

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Post edited by Blackbirdwake on

Comments

  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    Couple of thoughts..First is that I suspect you did not make any adjustment to the focal length of the camera for such a close up render. Try changing it to around 120 and see if that gives you a better shape on her face. Second ..and I could be wrong because I don't have those lights, but AS works mostly in poser. Poser lights can be iffy in studio. They tend to be overly bright for a scene. Try looking for some free lights for studio in the freepository. Different lighting can help a good deal with her skin color being a bit too pinky orange. You may need to adjust some of the specularity settings once you change the lighting. Perhaps a bit more on the lips for example. All that said for a beginner render it is a really good start. In fact, you missed quite a few of the pitfalls that new users generally end up in when they start so good job!

  • BlackbirdwakeBlackbirdwake Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    ...oh, camera...right. Funny how that didn't even enter into my mind *facepalm* I honestly didn't even have one in the scene...Thank you so much! I can't wait to give your advice a try! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    Don't feel bad about forgetting the camera. It took me a month to figure out that there were textures for over the people...

  • BlackbirdwakeBlackbirdwake Posts: 0
    edited May 2012

    Okay so following Khory's tips here's the most recent version.

    All the credits are the same, except for the following:

    I added a camera with a focal length of 120, a focal distance of 74.96, and an F/stop of 8.

    Instead of AS's lighting I made my own after a bit of tutorial reading. I used three distant lights, one in brown (to the left and below the camera), one in blue (the the right and above the camera), and one in white as a back light . I used one spot light in white above the other lights and to the left. Then I added UberEnviroment.

    I also changed the eyes, they were just too dark. The new ones are are the eyes from mcafee2000's V4 Firegirl.

    Only other thing I did was to play with the settings on the skin and eyes a bit to adjust to the new lights.


    So, again, any tips, critiques, or otherwise useful tidbits would be greatly appreciated.

    (and yeah, still didn't do anything to the neck, so please continue to ignore it.)

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    Post edited by Blackbirdwake on
  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    I think next you need to look at the bump and specularity. Her forehead and chin look a bit bumpy and her skin should have a bit of specularity where the skin is reflecting the light a bit. Think of the bump maps job as breaking up that specularity so that the shine won't be even and look plastic. The closer you are with the camera the more that roughness shows by the way. For a camera further away you may find that bump level perfect.

    Your clearly on the right track and I think some time spent experimenting and general experience and your going to really have the hang of it. Your obviously a quick learner.

  • BlackbirdwakeBlackbirdwake Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Bump map as a way to breakup the specularity...okay so that's gold. Good to know.
    Okay. Trying again. I adjusted the the specular levels, the bump map, and the displacement map. I think the specularity is better now (I keep going back and forth with myself on whether it's too much or not), but I'm still feeling a little unsure about the bump/displacement.. I think it may still be a bit too much.
    I also adjusted the neck this time...it was just bugging me.
    Things I notice about this render are the hair and the lips, but I'm not really sure what exactly is wrong with them, much less what to do to fix them.
    Also, how much does messing with the render settings affect things?
    Any help is appreciated.
    P.S. Thank You SOOOOOOO much Khory. I am very grateful for your taking the time to nudge me in the right directions. I'm eager to play around with the settings in some new renders soon. Just your tips about the camera and lighting are making me think a little differently about how to do some things.

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  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    It looks to me like the specularity is not carrying over to her lips from the rest of her face. It sort of stops in a line. And there is something else about the lips but to be honest I can't tell if it is the texture or the maps used for bump/displacement. I think the lighting on the right side of her face (facing us) looks really good. Its giving her a nice skin tone and a good level of specularity. The other side..not so much. It is blowing out the spec and giving her that pink glow. Possibly because it is a warm light or because the light level is too high.

    Her hair is looking flat because it doesn't have any specularity or bump. My suggestion is that you select a specular color somewhat lighter than the hair texture. Add the bump map for the hair into specular strength to help break it up (if there isn't one use one of the lighter hair colors). Try starting the gloss and strength about 50 and adjust up and down with both till it looks more realistic. Also check the bump and displacement for the hair and see if there is any. Adding that will help break up the gloss more realistically.

    Render settings will make a difference in a final render but they won't solve problems like lighting or funky surface settings.

    Not to sound like a sales person, but I suggest the next time there is a good price on an elite skin texture that you get it. Not just because they are good textures but because they can teach you a bucket load about good surface settings. Bree for v5 and Ariana for V4 are both exceptional.

    I want to reinforce though that your making massive strides with this though. A willingness to learn and experiment will get you a long way toward really great images.

  • kylumikylumi Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    From first to last image, you have made super improvements. Follow khory and you won't go wrong. Well done my friend. :coolsmile:

  • MegarigMegarig Posts: 88
    edited December 1969

    I'm no expert by any means, but it looks like you've done something to the skin texture in the last image. Is that the light?, the camera? Speaking of cameras - and this is more to Khory (if they see this), what is the benefit of using a camera in a still image like this?


    Anyway, I haven't even done a face closeup like this, so I'm just gonna say good work! :coolsmile:

  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    Speaking of cameras - and this is more to Khory (if they see this), what is the benefit of using a camera in a still image like this?

    In close up images the face is actually distorted if you don't adjust the focal length. Depending on where the camera is actually placed it can go from hardly noticeable to "my what a big nose" or really ugly.

  • MegarigMegarig Posts: 88
    edited June 2012

    Khory said:
    Speaking of cameras - and this is more to Khory (if they see this), what is the benefit of using a camera in a still image like this?

    In close up images the face is actually distorted if you don't adjust the focal length. Depending on where the camera is actually placed it can go from hardly noticeable to "my what a big nose" or really ugly.

    I'm actually messing around with camera settings right now on a close up of Genesis. I was messing around with individual settings like F-stop, and noticed that, by itself (without adjusting anything else) the lower the number, the blurrier the image gets, higher the number, the clearer it gets. However, I tried what Blackbirdwake set his camera at, and got a nice image.


    I was actually going to ask if it made any difference where the camera is placed, or if just adjusting the settings is enough. And to my original question, what is the difference in realism if I use a camera as opposed to not using one?

    Post edited by Megarig on
  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    You mean just using the perspective preset rather than adding a camer? I think it really depends on the render and where the "camera" is placed.

    One thing you might want to do is add 2 new cameras. Go to the camera tab and then select one of the camera. Now use the other camera to look around the scene. You should see some guide lines that will show you where focal distance and focal length are. BTW, I freely admit I am not a camera guru by any stretch. I am still pretty dependent on the basics myself.

  • MegarigMegarig Posts: 88
    edited December 1969

    Khory said:
    You mean just using the perspective preset rather than adding a camer? I think it really depends on the render and where the "camera" is placed.

    One thing you might want to do is add 2 new cameras. Go to the camera tab and then select one of the camera. Now use the other camera to look around the scene. You should see some guide lines that will show you where focal distance and focal length are. BTW, I freely admit I am not a camera guru by any stretch. I am still pretty dependent on the basics myself.

    Well, sort of...So far in all the renders that I've done, I have not used any cameras at all. I have a thread up showing some of my stuff, and you can see what I've done with no cameras. I've never been sure whether using them was really necessary or not.


    Also, I tried the light settings that Blackbirdwake set up, and man - did I end up with a mess! The girl was mostly purple, and this is after I cranked down the intensity on all the lights, intensity and intensity scale in Uberenvironment2. I had to, Gen looked like she was under interrogation lights, LOL! But then, I have no idea how he oriented his distant lights. I guess I'll have to play with it.

  • scorpioscorpio Posts: 3,835
    edited December 1969

    How have you been rendering if you haven't been using cameras?

  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    Studio will let you render from any of the views I think. If I recall correctly they are a bit flat unless you use the perspective view.

  • MegarigMegarig Posts: 88
    edited December 1969

    How have you been rendering if you haven't been using cameras?


    Khory mentioned the perspective view. I rarely, if ever, change the view when working on a scene. I just always leave it on perspective, and I've been able to render every scene I've done in either .jpg or .png with no problem. But to answer your question, I just hit "Render", and it works.

  • Mustakettu85Mustakettu85 Posts: 887
    edited December 1969

    Perspective view is a great thing to use when you're setting up your scene - it's basically a "director's camera" as in its movements won't get recorded into an undo list.

    But as for using it as a render cam - apart from being AFAIK unable to set the focal length which is, to me, essential - it's most useful for people who do their setting up and rendering in a single step, i.e. do not close the program/reload the scene, for the very same reason - when a scene is reloaded, the perspective view always goes back to default position (at least, in the versions of Studio I'm using)

    While the cameras' position will get saved within the scene. You can have several different cameras, and they all will get saved. Very handy for looking for that elusive perfect angle...

    Let alone the shader mixer cameras that will allow for some extra cool effects like indirect lighting etc.

    As for the OP's render, it certainly is beginning to look good! I'd wonder, though, if s/he's forgotten to include the "Lips" surface in the latest round of adjustments...

    Here's a nice tutorial on skin settings by Toadz: http://toadz.deviantart.com/gallery/?catpath=/resources/tutorials/


    There's some points I disagree with, though:

    - first of all, if you use subsurface scattering, please use SSS scale 0.1 and a SSS shading rate of 2, 1 or lower (2 and 1 are generally fine for closeups, the farther you move away, the lower the value needs to be; on the other hand, the farther away you move, the less chances you do need the SSS =) ) A SSS shading rate of 1 will not slow you down that much even on an older computer, and this combination of scale and shading rate is the way to get the SSS to be calculated right, as it gives 3Delight the correct dimensions, and SSS is dependent on the size of object.

    - then, I haven't ever seen any effect of translucency on meshes that aren't zero-thickness. Vickie is not zero-thickness =) So, for most "normal" circumstances, you won't really need translucency for skin... but sometimes it's really good for the hair!

    - displacement is generally only better than bump mapping if you want the outline of your mesh altered - like when you're rendering strong veins (or warts...) Or if you want two relief "layers" (think tooled leather) Otherwise it's perfectly possible to do without it and shave off some render time.

    - as Khory (from whose awesome products I've learnt a lot!) has rightfully mentioned, the easiest way to make specular look better on skin is to use a bump map for specular strength. The "no spec maps" method doesn't really produce "natural" looking highlights - at least, I have yet to meet a person whose forearm and hand skin would shine as much as in the images done with that "no spec maps" approach. Generally the shiniest (=oiliest) areas of the human skin are the face and neck/chest/upper back/shoulders (at least on people from Russia and Finland, i.e. those I see around me). Sometimes palms/soles. //note: I don't render or view full nudity, so maybe there are other areas too... but just not the arms, OK?//

    When using shaders like HSS or UberSurface, I also like using blurred lower strength reflection on skin instead of specular. It's fast with a reflection map, but finding a suitable one can get tricky. The Kitchen from the UE can work really well, especially if you use it to light the scene from UE. I'd add that then, to match the reflection and the lighting when you need the light rotated, it's best to go the old way and rotate the whole scene but not the UE. There may be a way to rotate surface reflection maps through shader mixer, but I haven't found it yet...


    And here's also a very cool tutorial for great skin using the basic Studio shaders: http://afina79.deviantart.com/art/Sugar-Skin-In-Daz-Studio-159087559?q=favby:mustakettu85/43351052&qo=21

    This is where you should disregard the reflection bit, though - the default shader doesn't seem to catch any reflection when set to "skin" lighting mode.


    Sorry if that's too much!! I'm just trying to help.

  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    - then, I haven’t ever seen any effect of translucency on meshes that aren’t zero-thickness. Vickie is not zero-thickness =) So, for most “normal” circumstances, you won’t really need translucency for skin… but sometimes it’s really good for the hair!

    I suspect that the translucence stuff comes more from reality than rendering reality (sometimes there is a huge difference between the two). Even things we would never think of as translucent (letting light through) have translucence in "nature". If you pound a piece of gold thin enough it becomes translucent and eventually somewhat transparent. Stone has some translucence as well. We just never see them sliced thinly enough. Humans have a fair bit of translucence but it only shows around the thinner parts of the body. In a really perfect 3d world there would be strength maps that controlled where the translucence was used on the figure and how strongly. I suspect that the use of translucence on characters is partly to lower the amount of sss that needs to be used.

    - displacement is generally only better than bump mapping if you want the outline of your mesh altered - like when you’re rendering strong veins (or warts…) Or if you want two relief “layers” (think tooled leather) Otherwise it’s perfectly possible to do without it and shave off some render time.

    In another "perfect" scenario displacement would only be used on figures for places like the lips, warts/moles, and veining. Things that when viewed from an angle actually bump up off our skin.

    - as Khory (from whose awesome products I’ve learnt a lot!) has rightfully mentioned, the easiest way to make specular look better on skin is to use a bump map for specular strength. The “no spec maps” method doesn’t really produce “natural” looking highlights - at least, I have yet to meet a person whose forearm and hand skin would shine as much as in the images done with that “no spec maps” approach. Generally the shiniest (=oiliest) areas of the human skin are the face and neck/chest/upper back/shoulders (at least on people from Russia and Finland, i.e. those I see around me). Sometimes palms/soles. //note: I don’t render or view full nudity, so maybe there are other areas too… but just not the arms, OK?//

    Specularity maps for characters is another place where we often lack a "best case" scenario. Ideally specularity maps would only highlight were we tend to be most oily/glossy. The "t zone" on the face, lips with lipstick, a rather light amount on shoulders and arms etc. Then those highlights would be broken up by a good bump map so they didn't come across as slick.


    When using shaders like HSS or UberSurface, I also like using blurred lower strength reflection on skin instead of specular.

    In theory that is what Fresnel does or should do..

    I've always had sort of conceptual issue with reflection maps/IBL maps. The idea is that we and everything reflect a small percentage of the colors/reflected light/what ever it is and hence the colored maps. But I've always wondered if its really ideal unless they actually match the scene that is being rendered. Other wise the colors would be sort of random right? Not really relevant I know but its something my mind wanders to when I try and pick out an image to use for an IBL.

  • Mustakettu85Mustakettu85 Posts: 887
    edited December 1969

    Khory said:

    I suspect that the translucence stuff comes more from reality than rendering reality (sometimes there is a huge difference between the two). Even things we would never think of as translucent (letting light through) have translucence in "nature". If you pound a piece of gold thin enough it becomes translucent and eventually somewhat transparent.


    You just gave me an idea... I'm going to make a "coin" (heavily flattened cylinder), put a light behind it and see if I could get the translucency to show through a solid mesh...


    In another "perfect" scenario displacement would only be used on figures for places like the lips, warts/moles, and veining. Things that when viewed from an angle actually bump up off our skin.

    One thing I've never really managed to do (not enough trying, I guess) was create a "perfect" displacement map to use on lips, to make the transition between "skin" and "lip" regions more organic...


    Specularity maps for characters is another place where we often lack a "best case" scenario. Ideally specularity maps would only highlight were we tend to be most oily/glossy. The "t zone" on the face, lips with lipstick, a rather light amount on shoulders and arms etc. Then those highlights would be broken up by a good bump map so they didn't come across as slick.

    Absolutely! Yet this is where bump maps that only stay in the bump channel don't really seem to work. Probably because of resolution - the actual relief texture on hand/arm skin is so minute in scale IRL, yet so important for the scattering of light. A procedural fractal pattern seems to be the way to go, but I haven't yet managed to recreate a suitable pattern with the shader mixer noises...

    Most often I get nicer results when plugging the bump into spec strength, yet sometimes into spec colour or both... A lot depends on the map. Actually a lot of maps that get passed around for "bump" or "spec" aren't really suitable for either.

    I also found that in shader mixer, when you use a map to drive a parameter, moving its percentage slider has no effect, unlike in default and uber shaders. I wonder if there's a way to work around this? Maybe a math node?


    In theory that is what Fresnel does or should do..

    Fresnel is one of those areas I can't seem to grasp. It should "make the reflection at glancing angles stronger than direct" (to quote Omnifreaker's wiki from memory), but what exactly are glancing angles? Are they "glancing" relative to the light source rays or the camera rays? What materials would need the Fresnel law to be described properly? Does skin need it?


    I've always had sort of conceptual issue with reflection maps/IBL maps. The idea is that we and everything reflect a small percentage of the colors/reflected light/what ever it is and hence the colored maps. But I've always wondered if its really ideal unless they actually match the scene that is being rendered. Other wise the colors would be sort of random right? Not really relevant I know but its something my mind wanders to when I try and pick out an image to use for an IBL.

    Yeah, I agree maps are those "sort of random" colours. So it's always a sort of a compromise. I try to match the colour scheme of the scene when I choose my images.

    I tried blurred raytraced reflections once, and it looked very cool, but took quite a while to render. Plus, raytraced reflections, like indirect lighting, need a fully 360 degree setup scene for rays/photons to hit something (otherwise they just return the colour of the void, black). I guess it's awesome for interiors, but for an outdoor scene you'd need a lot of memory for all the props unless you're using a skydome... and then it's easier and faster to use a light/reflection map that matches it.

  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    One thing I’ve never really managed to do (not enough trying, I guess) was create a “perfect” displacement map to use on lips, to make the transition between “skin” and “lip” regions more organic…

    For younger lips most of the displacement would be near the opening of the mouth. That tends to be where the majority of difference is hight wise. Older lips would be trickier because peoples lips tend to narrow and loose thickness causing almost a rut near the inside of the lips. I've made special displacement maps a couple of times in the past and only highlighted to raise the parts that were clearly higher on the texture.

    Are they “glancing” relative to the light source rays or the camera rays?

    That I don't know. But body shine really only shows up when we are angular to the surface. Lest you look down at your fore arm and say "but I am looking right at it", keep in mind that it is a curved surface and that cause at least some angularity on the surface itself. That angularity should in theory trigger the fresnel reflection in a render. With quite a few things I have started upping fresnel and lowering specularity (since specularity is really just easy/time saving way to get an element of reflection).

  • MegarigMegarig Posts: 88
    edited December 1969

    You know, I read this stuff and my head spins. But I suppose with some time and practice, I can get this stuff too.

  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    Sounds like we are talking some crazy alter language right? I felt exactly like that when I first started. Then one day a light bulb goes off and it starts to click. Some of it you will see know and a year or two from now you will go "oh I know what that was now!". And some of it may be stuff you never really develop an interest in. Not every one geeks out over surfaces like I do for example.

  • Mustakettu85Mustakettu85 Posts: 887
    edited December 1969

    Khory said:

    For younger lips most of the displacement would be near the opening of the mouth. That tends to be where the majority of difference is hight wise. Older lips would be trickier because peoples lips tend to narrow and loose thickness causing almost a rut near the inside of the lips. I've made special displacement maps a couple of times in the past and only highlighted to raise the parts that were clearly higher on the texture.


    Yes, when the "body" isn't there, the correct shape is tricky to get. Moreover, even younger but thinner lips I found hard to make believable when using our favourite figures. They all tend to have fuller lips, and whenever I tried to morph them, I wound up with polygons creasing and forming sharper edges alongside the outline of lips. I should try some more custom morphing, and probably not with sculpting brushes but with precision moving of vertices, but I used to think a displacement map could help me even out the problem areas and create the more subtle relief when needed.

    I guess I just pick wrong subjects to recreate in 3D and should stick with whatever cute faces are popular to render LOL

    Khory said:

    Are they “glancing” relative to the light source rays or the camera rays?

    That I don't know. But body shine really only shows up when we are angular to the surface. Lest you look down at your fore arm and say "but I am looking right at it", keep in mind that it is a curved surface and that cause at least some angularity on the surface itself. That angularity should in theory trigger the fresnel reflection in a render. With quite a few things I have started upping fresnel and lowering specularity (since specularity is really just easy/time saving way to get an element of reflection).

    Thanks! Actually this is when I get conceptually stuck because when I look at my arm with its complex shape I have no idea which "facets" are normal to my line of sight - and what's worse, it changes shape when I turn my hand LOL

    I guess I should ask a friend to pose for reference pics in an environment with controllable lighting, so that I'd be able to get an idea of what really happens with regards to ray angles. Now if only I could find such an environment without paying for a studio =)


    And some of it may be stuff you never really develop an interest in. Not every one geeks out over surfaces like I do for example.

    You know, surfaces is what got me into the whole 3D affair! =) And not just "skin", this came last...


    Anyway, I'd like to wish good luck and much inspiration to Blackbirdwake, Megarig, and everyone else who might be reading! =)

  • Mustakettu85Mustakettu85 Posts: 887
    edited December 1969

    Quick update on using Translucency with solid meshes (UberSurface, translucency strength 100%, colour fuchsia):

    A cylinder 31 cm in diameter, a single spotlight with a raytraced shadow pointing from behind (25 cm from the cylinder's surface).

    I was changing the height of the cylinder: 1 cm tall, 0.99 cm tall and 0.89 cm tall, and here are the results... so, for human ears it may be useful, but for general skin - no

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  • Mustakettu85Mustakettu85 Posts: 887
    edited December 1969

    And here's an explanation of Fresnel that made sense to me...

    http://filmicgames.com/archives/557

  • KhoryKhory Posts: 2,567
    edited December 1969

    Thank you for the Fresnel information. I don't think the stuff I had looked at before had had images.

  • Mustakettu85Mustakettu85 Posts: 887
    edited December 1969

    Khory said:
    Thank you for the Fresnel information. I don't think the stuff I had looked at before had had images.

    You're most welcome!

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