Make Your Most Realistic Renders – Ever!

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  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,055
    edited August 2013

    Just sharing my latest render (of course with Gamma 2.2, no ambient, full indirect light, rendered in 30 mins, minor postwork), this time of G2F, with some Gia morph mixed with a couple of other things. This uses the Window Right preset from my Carrara Portrait Studio, which has now reached the final sign-off stage in Daz's QA process so I hope it will be launched in the coming week.

    WindowRightGiaFinal.jpg
    1600 x 2000 - 307K
    Post edited by PhilW on
  • JonstarkJonstark Posts: 2,402
    edited December 1969

    Wow Philw, that's a great render! You've accomplished the not-inconsiderable achievement of even making Gia actually look not-ugly too :)

    I am *dying* to get my hands on Carrara Portrait Studio (if ever there was a product made for me, this sounds like the one). When it's finally released, it's going straight into my cart and then onto my machine so I can play :)

    Also do you give tips on texturing your daz people as part of the product? I've purchased every major Carrara vendor's character sets just so I can get a glimpse of the different approaches to SSS (very different approaches from each other).

    I'm glad to hear that the Portrait Studio is moving through QA (glacially slowly to my perception, since I'm wanting this so badly) at least there's forward progress on it. Did they give you any clue about what a final ETA might be?

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,055
    edited August 2013

    As soon as it gets final sign off, it could be any day, so I'm certainly hoping it will be released later this week. I have included a PDF on how to use it with hopefully some useful hints and tips. I know this is sacrilege to some people, but I'm not generally a huge fan of SSS and none of the promos or the above image have SSS applied. I have been working on an SSS setting which I think looks good, I might try re-rendering this one to see how it looks. You are right that the approach to SSS seems to vary greatly. If you think the above image looks like it has SSS applied, this "glow" is actually the indirect light reflecting off one part of her body onto another.

    Post edited by PhilW on
  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    Great job with the lighting and texture Phil. I thought there might be some SSS as well, and was going to make a comment along those lines, similar to Jonstark.

  • JonstarkJonstark Posts: 2,402
    edited August 2013

    The nose color and the inside of the crook of the left arm and the underarm were what looked like subtle SSS to me. May have something to do with the red background adding some nice accents too. Just a very crisp realistic render, with fantastic lighting to help really sell it.

    Post edited by Jonstark on
  • scottidog2scottidog2 Posts: 314
    edited December 1969

    Fantastic render Phil. Carrara Portrait Studio looks very interesting. Excellent lighting.

  • JonstarkJonstark Posts: 2,402
    edited December 1969

    Someone mentioned earlier in the thread that they noticed Lux is set at default of 2.2 gamma correction, and I just checked Thea render and sure enough, I can confirm it's also set at 2.2 gamma by default. Any Octane or Vray users want to check to see if they are also set to 2.2 gamma by default? I'm guessing they probably are...

  • kakmankakman Posts: 225
    edited December 1969

    PhilW,

    Another absolutely gorgeous render – but hey, what else would we expect from you!

    Although I doubt that I would ever do portrait renders, I am anxiously waiting for your new product to be released so I can purchase it immediately and begin using it as a “learning tool”.

    I have already learned so much from you via this forum – and look forward to continuing to learn more from your gracious and generous posts as well as this upcoming, and any future products.

    Thank you, so very much!

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    So I finally have time to try this gamma thing.


    The thing is, I don't like full GI because of my older machine and the render times. So I concocted a light dome to simulate GI. I also used a background picture taken a few years ago with a crappy little camera. I must admit I'm impressed with the gamma setting, but not at 2.2. Even rendering out with an alpha channel so that I could composite the render with the background in Photoshop, I didn't like the effect on the figure. The background was blown out by the gamma setting as expected. Hence the composite.

    Obviously, the settings will depend on the scene and 2.2 is just a seemingly standard starting point. For my scene, I liked a setting of 1.6. It actually had a noticeable effect on the figure without blowing out the background image. For the 1.6 version I didn't render an alpha channel, but I did render a depth pass for post production in Photoshop.

    The first render should be the straight-up Carrara render with no postwork other than a conversion to .jpg.


    The second render is a postworked version where I used the depth pass to fake DOF and also to add noise to the figure to better blend it into the photograph. I purposely did not do any color correction or levels adjustments.

    I meant to save a 2.2 version, bet aborted the render. I can post one tomorrow for comparison.

    waterfall-1.6-gamma-postwor_.jpg
    2000 x 1500 - 1M
    waterfall-1.6-gamma-no-post_.jpg
    2000 x 1500 - 2M
  • bighbigh Posts: 8,147
    edited December 1969

    yes the post does make it better .
    great water snap .

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,055
    edited December 1969

    kakman said:
    PhilW,

    Another absolutely gorgeous render – but hey, what else would we expect from you!

    Although I doubt that I would ever do portrait renders, I am anxiously waiting for your new product to be released so I can purchase it immediately and begin using it as a “learning tool”.

    I have already learned so much from you via this forum – and look forward to continuing to learn more from your gracious and generous posts as well as this upcoming, and any future products.

    Thank you, so very much!

    You are very kind, thank you.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,055
    edited December 1969

    Evil - yes, I sometimes lower the gamma if I want a little more contrast, probably 1.6 is as low as you'd want to go, if you set it to 1.0 you are back to Carrara's default rendering of applying no correction. I tried Luxrender at 1.0 and got a similar looking result! Nice image, although the hair looks too modelled for me (but then you probably know I'm obsessed with hair!).

    There are a few exceptions where Carrara doesn't make the initial gamma adjustment, but applies the final adjustment and so washes things out. These are backgrounds/backdrops and Carrara dynamic hair. If anyone else has spotted anything else, we can add it to the list.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    Evil - yes, I sometimes lower the gamma if I want a little more contrast, probably 1.6 is as low as you'd want to go, if you set it to 1.0 you are back to Carrara's default rendering of applying no correction. I tried Luxrender at 1.0 and got a similar looking result! Nice image, although the hair looks too modelled for me (but then you probably know I'm obsessed with hair!).

    There are a few exceptions where Carrara doesn't make the initial gamma adjustment, but applies the final adjustment and so washes things out. These are backgrounds/backdrops and Carrara dynamic hair. If anyone else has spotted anything else, we can add it to the list.

    I agree about the hair. It's supposed to be wet hair, but looks more like a wet helmet! :lol: I've been playing around with trying to get a wet hair look using Dynamic hair from time to time. Nothing to share yet though.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    Here's the version using the 2.2 gamma setting. Again, no GI, just a light dome and a light for highlight. The figure was composited against the background in Photoshop. When I rendered I forgot to adjust the AA filter sharpeness from the default settings, so I have a bit of halo around the figure that I did some work to get rid of, but short of re-rendering I went about as far with it as I cared to. I added some noise and blur effects to try and blend the figure into the background photo.

    waterfall-2.2-gamma-postwor_.jpg
    2000 x 1500 - 1M
  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,055
    edited December 1969

    EP - she looks nice, the skin tones look better to me, altogether more natural and more "real" - thanks for sharing your experiments!

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 16,235
    edited December 1969

    Oh... Ahhhh... darn. Made a mess - I'll be back in a bit.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,055
    edited December 1969

    Oh... Ahhhh... darn. Made a mess - I'll be back in a bit.

    Yeah, thanks for that....!

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited August 2013

    I take it I have Dart's seal of approval then? ;-)

    Post edited by evilproducer on
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 16,235
    edited December 1969

    Man, what a mess! Yeah... approval seal should be in your mailbox by mid-week ;)

    I'd still like to come up with some special remedy for hair - including that excellent "Wet Hair" your fox, here, is sporting. It's just so difficult when the whole render is super sweet, but then the hair highlights become nigh-impossible to dial in. I think I have an answer, but I just haven't gotten into 3D Painting in Carrara yet - though it's on my list of arts to master. I'm even going to try setting up my Wacom tablet to Carrara just for that task - and displacement painting. Not sure... I've heard bad reports on Carrara and tablets - but I still want to see for myself.

    I'm certainly not knocking your image - heck, it made me leave the room! That hair isn't alone - nearly all polygonal ribbon based hair has issues of some form or another - and acquiring decent highlights seems to be where those problems occur.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    I think a lot of the issue in all geometry based hair is the highlights baked into the image maps.

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 16,235
    edited December 1969

    Absolutely. That's why I was looking into SSS as a possible solution - since hair seems like a conductor of light - but can get good and dense when there's a thick mass. Well, you know how that type of hair looks like ribbons - you know where I'm getting 'that' word... long, flat and wide... It's a very cool way to shape and morph and rig hair. I'm just wondering if special maps can be made to add to, perhaps, the translucency channel. Of course, that would seriously prolong render times... but it's a channel that's entirely controlled by how the light hits its settings. If most of each 'ribbon' was blocked from translucency due to the map, but outer layers could allow light to let them begin to glow... I think it might help. Darn... I've traveled that path before... PITA. But it might be near a right track.

  • Chris Fox ArtChris Fox Art Posts: 330
    edited August 2013

    just to compare both together in one picture.

    left is normal and right gamma correction 2.2

    i think both looks good in one way but without gamma correction i think the colors are just a bit too strong what always let pictures looks like a render, right one could need a bit more of the strong colors but gots a bit more realism in some way and depth in my opinion

    compare.jpg
    2000 x 1125 - 3M
    Post edited by Chris Fox Art on
  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,055
    edited August 2013

    chiisuchianu - thanks for sharing this comparison - as you say, both versions have their merits but I think the gamma 2.2 version looks more realistic. I'd almost be inclined in this case to use a lower gamma but still have it on, just to give a little more contrast without losing the benefits of having gamma on (say 1.8?). Of course you can always increase the contrast a bit in postwork too! (and that saves having to re-render).

    Post edited by PhilW on
  • Chris Fox ArtChris Fox Art Posts: 330
    edited December 1969

    yes, a big mix bitween both would be the best, thatswhy i think i make two versions, one with gamma correction and one without and i will put both layers together and will play a bit with the layer options to get a nice mix out of both images.

    but as the picture goes i think with gamma correction is also more realistic as the picture without gamma correction have too hard shadows and edges, gamma correction have a more realistic lightning.

  • JonstarkJonstark Posts: 2,402
    edited August 2013

    Nice shot, Evil. I've got to admit I like the 2.2 version best, and you've made me want to break out the wet maps and try a 'soaked vicky' render :) I have the same problem with the wet hair myself. Have you considered trying Adamthwaites wet hair from Rendo? I don't have it yet, but it's not too pricey and at least in the promo renders it looks less helmet-like

    And, as Jane would say (Firefly)... "I'll be in my bunk." ;)

    Post edited by Jonstark on
  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,021
    edited December 1969

    Jonstark said:
    Nice shot, Evil. I've got to admit I like the 2.2 version best, and you've made me want to break out the wet maps and try a 'soaked vicky' render :) I have the same problem with the wet hair myself. Have you considered trying Adamthwaites wet hair from Rendo? I don't have it yet, but it's not too pricey and at least in the promo renders it looks less helmet-like

    And, as Jane would say (Firefly)... "I'll be in my bunk." ;)

    Thanks for the comments. I haven't actually bought anything from Rendo. I'll have to take a peak.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,055
    edited December 1969

    Shouldn't be too difficult to do something with Carrara hair?

  • ChoholeChohole Posts: 32,787
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    Shouldn't be too difficult to do something with Carrara hair?

    The problem with the hair is that it isn't slicked flat enough to the scalp. Even thick hair, when wet is flat against the scalp.

    AdamThwaites hair is a much better look http://www.most-digital-creations.com/wet_hair_v4_poser_daz_studio.htm

  • Rashad CarterRashad Carter Posts: 1,772
    edited December 1969

    just to compare both together in one picture.

    left is normal and right gamma correction 2.2

    i think both looks good in one way but without gamma correction i think the colors are just a bit too strong what always let pictures looks like a render, right one could need a bit more of the strong colors but gots a bit more realism in some way and depth in my opinion

    I agree and I disagree. I will explain.

    Let's look at little more closely at the sky and the atmosphere in general. Look at the way the sky is reflected by the water under the bridge. Without Gamma correction we get a really nice deep blue sky, very natural and very plausible as a low moisture day. We've all seen such blue skies in our lives so we know they are common. However, the Gamma corrected side shows a sky that is much whiter, hardly still blue at all. In real life this would indicate a good deal of moisture in the air, like a partly cloudy sort of day with low hanging clouds we'd call thick haze. Honestly the gamma switch seems to change the weather toward the increased moisture, so it sort of violates the logical sense of this particular scenario. This is no small consideration, this is a major issue to solve. How do we avoid over blowing the backdrop and atmospheric haze while working with gamma correction?

    If it is possible to get a nice deep blue sky while having gamma correction enabled then I will be interested to see it. I think one might need to play around with the hackdrop, especially if it is an hdri, to see if it will work.

    In Bryce, gamma correction will always spoil an hdri because it becomes over-processed, too much of the lower dynamics are removed by the corrected gamma.

    Realism is tricky. I think some of it comes down to the way we train our eyes to look at images. For me, too often artists are afraid of shadows so they try to bake them away with ambience glow and the like. The result is a render that is flattened, less 3 dimensional. For example, for my tastes the one without gamma has much more depth, much more variation between the lightest and the darkest pixels. Real life has unlimited dynamics, not everything is made to fall safely into comfortable ranges. Real life doesnt apologize for bright sunlight over-exposures nor for deep shadows and vibrant colors. More muted doesn't mean more realistic. The gamma corrected version looks to almost have a sheet over it, or maybe like a filter has been applied. The effect has been to lower contrast and saturation in a way that almost looks like boosted atmospheric haze. Gamma correction and Haze might need to be carefully looked at because they do seem to relate to each other when rendering with Gamma correction enabled.

    I'd say the non corrected version is probably about how Howie envisioned it. At this point I'd say Howie's scenes do not benefit from a mere single setting change. Ideally, as observed by others, the entire workflow needs to be different when working with Gamma correction enabled. One needs to decide from the start if they are going to use gamma correction or not and tailor all other lights levels with gamma correction in mind. Adding it it as an after -effect will simply over expose the frame as it did above.

    The problem with Howie's scene isn't the amount of green-ness, it is the blue shifted nature of many of his greens. Slightly yellow shifted and things look much more natural even with the same high saturation levels.

    Flatness of render is a problem in many situations. I'd say that the overly strong saturation you fely you were seeing probably isnt as far from nature as we'd like to believe. Often wehn we see photos we dont realize that there are lensing effects like blooms and other artifacts that come from the camera, not the nature being photographed. Blooms can tend to lighten areas of an image. In fact, often to make an image look real on needs to add errors, not remove them. But that is a different discussion altogether. A photo might look washed out but if you were standing there in real life the scene would not seem washed out but instead all colors would be as expected. I'd say, any choice that lowers contrast needs to be carefully considered. If Gamma correction is adding a sort of "bloom" or at least what looks like a bit of a bloom, then that will appear as realistic to some people because it is a camera artifact we've all seen a million times even if we didnt realize it.

    I'm not saying gamma is a bloom, I;m just saying that in some sitatuins it comes off looking a lot like one.

    Now, off to find out how backdrops are affected by gamma correction. Does this setting spoil backdrops? Does this setting cause haze to over-scatter?

  • araneldonaraneldon Posts: 709
    edited August 2013

    I did a few quick tests with a JPEG:
    - backdrops and backgrounds: failed, reverse gamma is not applied so it needs to be done elsewhere
    - Texture Maps in Color: passed (well, it appeared to be almost correct, there was only a slight difference in brightness)
    - Texture Maps in Glow: failed, no reverse gamma applied (although there may be some technical reason for this...?)

    Testing was done with ambient light at 100 and no other lights, no ambient when testing Glow.

    All texture inputs should have reverse gamma as an option. I may or may not have posted a feature request, the bug tracker is gone so can't check.

    Edited to add that I'm not an expert and none of this is guaranteed to be correct.

    Post edited by araneldon on
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