Make Your Most Realistic Renders – Ever!

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  • kunterbuntkunterbunt Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Have you tried the included Carrara skin shaders? The ones with GI in the name utilize SSS and can look really nice.


    I tried their settings, but was unsattisfied. The texture gets all washed out. It looks smoother but unrealistic.
  • kunterbuntkunterbunt Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:

    I use a Multiply operator on the color values and set that to maybe 20%, give or take. It is useful to do small scale test renders to get the right value.

    Tried the trick with the Multiply operator. I can get the color darker, but it gets washed out and actually gray. I attached an example.

    london.jpg
    640 x 853 - 53K
  • ringo monfortringo monfort Posts: 945
    edited December 1969

    One of my old Victoria 4 render in Carrara 7.

    Very nice. What light did you use? Are these the Carrara materials, or did you create them? I get this is without SSS? I never got the skin looking realistic with SSS.

    Thanks. I always use SSS on the skin and GI, HDRI lighting.

  • ringo monfortringo monfort Posts: 945
    edited December 1969

    Close up of Teen Josie 6 In Carrara 8.5 Pro. HDRI, GI, SSS.

    TeeJosieM07close_up.jpg
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  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,116
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:

    I use a Multiply operator on the color values and set that to maybe 20%, give or take. It is useful to do small scale test renders to get the right value.

    Tried the trick with the Multiply operator. I can get the color darker, but it gets washed out and actually gray. I attached an example.

    The hair looks rather "single coloured". Try this - use a multiply operator with 20% (as a starter value) in one channel and a gradient of strongish brown tones in the other with a fractal or noise function as the gradient shader. Use a low value for Highlight and a high value for Shininess (only relevant if there are direct lights in the scene, they are useful even at a low level to give some definition to the hair). Make sure that Ambient light is set to zero. I hope this will give you a reasonable result.

    Ringo - nice renders! I still find it frustrating to realise that the gamma correction was in C7 (and I think in C6 too!). I'm guessing that your "Josie" image does not use gamma correction and I'd love to see a version with it set to 2.2?

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 18,109
    edited December 1969

    Close up of Teen Josie 6 In Carrara 8.5 Pro. HDRI, GI, SSS.
    Fine work!
  • ringo monfortringo monfort Posts: 945
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    PhilW said:

    I use a Multiply operator on the color values and set that to maybe 20%, give or take. It is useful to do small scale test renders to get the right value.

    Tried the trick with the Multiply operator. I can get the color darker, but it gets washed out and actually gray. I attached an example.

    The hair looks rather "single coloured". Try this - use a multiply operator with 20% (as a starter value) in one channel and a gradient of strongish brown tones in the other with a fractal or noise function as the gradient shader. Use a low value for Highlight and a high value for Shininess (only relevant if there are direct lights in the scene, they are useful even at a low level to give some definition to the hair). Make sure that Ambient light is set to zero. I hope this will give you a reasonable result.

    Ringo - nice renders! I still find it frustrating to realise that the gamma correction was in C7 (and I think in C6 too!). I'm guessing that your "Josie" image does not use gamma correction and I'd love to see a version with it set to 2.2?

    Hi Phil.

    Here they are TeenJosie using Gamma correction 2.2 its a bit to to bright and so I have also a Gamma correction of 1.1.

    TeeJosieM07close_up11gamma.jpg
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    TeeJosieM07close_up22gamma.jpg
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  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 9,031
    edited October 2013


    Here they are TeenJosie using Gamma correction 2.2 its a bit to to bright and so I have also a Gamma correction of 1.1.

    Hi Ringo,

    I think the 1.1 gamma looks better. I think the one you posted without gamma would have looked great if you had used the HDRI and a light for highlight. I'm not a huge fan of straight HDRIs for scene lighting. They can look nice, but they really need something to generate highlights.

    The following is not directed specifically at Ringo or Phil, just my opinions and observations.

    I'm also not a huge fan of the 2.2 gamma setting. I think if the artist wants to use the gamma setting, the value will depend on the scene. Most, but certainly not all of the renders in this thread look a bit washed out for me when they're at 2.2. Personally, I prefer more contrast. This is just my personal opinion of course, and sometimes a setting of 2.2 works great. Still it's good to know a little of the theory behind it, even if I'm a bit skeptical of it's implementation in Carrara.

    Post edited by evilproducer on
  • RestifRestif Posts: 48
    edited December 1969

    I have a great love for realism (or my attempts at it) for my characters. Fortunately, There are a lot of folks who have really helped point the way for Carrara. Here is my character Adrea. I use Phil W's Crista hair, also his bright eyes for the eye hightlights.

    On this, I did both an HDRI and Indirect lighting. Additionally, I used a shape light, distant, and bulb varying what they each illuminated so to ensure no one thing was overpowered. Also, I adjusted the gamma to 1.2 on this. Sometimes I don't use it at all, sometimes higher, sometimes as low as 1.1.

    Anyway, I love the topic of realism and rendering and am glad there is a discussion about it for Carrara renders.

    Adrea-realism-r2smallfile.jpg
    900 x 675 - 51K
  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,116
    edited October 2013

    PhilW said:
    PhilW said:

    I use a Multiply operator on the color values and set that to maybe 20%, give or take. It is useful to do small scale test renders to get the right value.

    Tried the trick with the Multiply operator. I can get the color darker, but it gets washed out and actually gray. I attached an example.

    The hair looks rather "single coloured". Try this - use a multiply operator with 20% (as a starter value) in one channel and a gradient of strongish brown tones in the other with a fractal or noise function as the gradient shader. Use a low value for Highlight and a high value for Shininess (only relevant if there are direct lights in the scene, they are useful even at a low level to give some definition to the hair). Make sure that Ambient light is set to zero. I hope this will give you a reasonable result.

    Ringo - nice renders! I still find it frustrating to realise that the gamma correction was in C7 (and I think in C6 too!). I'm guessing that your "Josie" image does not use gamma correction and I'd love to see a version with it set to 2.2?

    Hi Phil.

    Here they are TeenJosie using Gamma correction 2.2 its a bit to to bright and so I have also a Gamma correction of 1.1.

    Thanks for sharing this, Ringo. I can see what people think about this looking a little washed out, but I think the skin looks more natural with gamma 2.2. The lightness could be compensated by reducing the lighting a little rather than reducing the gamma. I agree that often the best combination is to have an HDRI plus one or more direct lights, usually at a lowish level of say 30-50%. I'm also getting used to getting speculars by setting a low level of reflection rather than (or as well as) using "traditional" hightlights, and this picks up other elements in the scene as well as just the bright lights. But hey, I'm not trying to dictate what people should be using, just letting people know that this is an option they may want to consider.

    And hey Restif, good to see you over here and making a contribution - gotta love your girls!

    Post edited by PhilW on
  • Chris Fox ArtChris Fox Art Posts: 338
    edited December 1969

    very nice and beautiful renders on here :)
    i also wanted to show you one of my latest renders with Carrara 8.5 Pro and Gamma Correction 2.2 (and this is all the settings from the Portrait Studio for Carraara)

    i have 8 different versions of this picture, one normal and the normal one with some photoshp filters (ambience, glamour and romance) and the same with a makeup version i have made after the render and blurred out background (called bokeh star) and also with ambience, glamour and romance filters for photoshop but i will show you just 3. The original carrara render without any changing from photoshop or so, the one where i have added some makeup and blurred out the background and so and a makeup version with glamour filter as i think it gives some nice/strong colors on the picture.

    I just have reduced the resolution as i think the uploaded image doesnt need 3000x2400px, so 1400x1120 is enough.

    but most realistic i think is the original image and the one with makeup.

    Portrait_002_makeup_glamour_small.jpg
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    Portrait_002_makeup_small.jpg
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    Portrait_002_small.jpg
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  • JonstarkJonstark Posts: 2,566
    edited December 1969

    I have a great love for realism (or my attempts at it) for my characters. Fortunately, There are a lot of folks who have really helped point the way for Carrara. Here is my character Adrea. I use Phil W's Crista hair, also his bright eyes for the eye hightlights.

    On this, I did both an HDRI and Indirect lighting. Additionally, I used a shape light, distant, and bulb varying what they each illuminated so to ensure no one thing was overpowered. Also, I adjusted the gamma to 1.2 on this. Sometimes I don't use it at all, sometimes higher, sometimes as low as 1.1.

    Anyway, I love the topic of realism and rendering and am glad there is a discussion about it for Carrara renders.

    Wow, Restif, I'm always blown away by your realism and this render is no exception. Just excellent! I've always considered you one of the greatest masters of Carrara in human realism in renders. Actually, thinking about it, nearly all of my favorite Carrara Idols have posted in this thread now, which blows my mind a little (I'm a fanboy of great Carrara artists and I'm geeking out lol)

    I generally much prefer the 2.2 setting for gamma (and I don't think it's a coincidence that this is what is set as a default in both Luxrender and Thearender, and probably a lot of other unbiased render engines), however you demonstrate here very nicely that a lower gamma correction number can work very nicely for realism. My theory is that for the greatest detail in Carrara rendering it is important for the gamma correction to be set to something and much less important exactly how high or low the setting actually is.

    Thanks to Philw starting this thread, I now render with gamma 2.2 nearly all the time, but I'm not concerned about washing out with too much light at all, I simply adjust my lights to suit (and I've discovered that with GI enabled in a closed room environment, the 2.2 gamma setting actually darkens, not brightens, the image in comparison to what it looks like without gamma correction enabled, which went contrary to my expectations.

  • ringo monfortringo monfort Posts: 945
    edited December 1969


    Here they are TeenJosie using Gamma correction 2.2 its a bit to to bright and so I have also a Gamma correction of 1.1.

    Hi Ringo,

    I think the 1.1 gamma looks better. I think the one you posted without gamma would have looked great if you had used the HDRI and a light for highlight. I'm not a huge fan of straight HDRIs for scene lighting. They can look nice, but they really need something to generate highlights.

    The following is not directed specifically at Ringo or Phil, just my opinions and observations.

    I'm also not a huge fan of the 2.2 gamma setting. I think if the artist wants to use the gamma setting, the value will depend on the scene. Most, but certainly not all of the renders in this thread look a bit washed out for me when they're at 2.2. Personally, I prefer more contrast. This is just my personal opinion of course, and sometimes a setting of 2.2 works great. Still it's good to know a little of the theory behind it, even if I'm a bit skeptical of it's implementation in Carrara.

    I'm not a big fan of the 2.2 gamma either and I agree with you that scenes are coming out bit washed out. I prefer to use multi-pass render to Photoshop format and if I need to do some fixing of the images I just do it in Photoshop.

  • ringo monfortringo monfort Posts: 945
    edited December 1969

    No gamma correction use on this one.

    NewTeenJosiecloseup102013.jpg
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  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 18,109
    edited December 1969

    No gamma correction use on this one.
    Killer expression, Ringo. I must say that I have a feeling that we'd notice a difference if you turned off SSS. It's cool that you use it Always! I used to, but then I noticed that my action animation footage wasn't needing it. Between the camera being too far away or the action moving too fast... whatever. But your shaders at close range like this look simply marvelous. If I shot faces like this, I'd Always use SSS as well - even if the lights aren't hot enough to make its presence obvious - it still adds to the overall realism of the shader and its resulting render.
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 18,109
    edited December 1969

    I have a great love for realism (or my attempts at it) for my characters. Fortunately, There are a lot of folks who have really helped point the way for Carrara. Here is my character Adrea. I use Phil W's Crista hair, also his bright eyes for the eye hightlights.

    On this, I did both an HDRI and Indirect lighting. Additionally, I used a shape light, distant, and bulb varying what they each illuminated so to ensure no one thing was overpowered. Also, I adjusted the gamma to 1.2 on this. Sometimes I don't use it at all, sometimes higher, sometimes as low as 1.1.

    Anyway, I love the topic of realism and rendering and am glad there is a discussion about it for Carrara renders.

    Wow does she ever look good. Very nice render!
  • ringo monfortringo monfort Posts: 945
    edited December 1969

    No gamma correction use on this one.
    Killer expression, Ringo. I must say that I have a feeling that we'd notice a difference if you turned off SSS. It's cool that you use it Always! I used to, but then I noticed that my action animation footage wasn't needing it. Between the camera being too far away or the action moving too fast... whatever. But your shaders at close range like this look simply marvelous. If I shot faces like this, I'd Always use SSS as well - even if the lights aren't hot enough to make its presence obvious - it still adds to the overall realism of the shader and its resulting render.

    SSS does make a big difference with out it the skin doesn't look as real.

    Thanks!

  • ringo monfortringo monfort Posts: 945
    edited December 1969

    No Sub-Surface-Scattering on this one.

    NewTeenJosiecloseupnoSSS.jpg
    1000 x 1300 - 530K
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 18,109
    edited December 1969

    Darn! It's on the other page! Here. Let's see them side by side:

    Ringo-NewTeenJosiecloseup102013.jpg
    902 x 1188 - 497K
  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 18,109
    edited December 1969

    Those are just some killer shaders whether or not you use SSS! Just gorgeous!

  • Chris Fox ArtChris Fox Art Posts: 338
    edited November 2013

    Just wanted to show you my newest render, still don't have a name for her but it turned out pretty nice

    I just think about to do something with the clothes that they will look more naturally

    image.jpg
    768 x 960 - 103K
    Post edited by Chris Fox Art on
  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,116
    edited December 1969

    This is looking really good - nice eyes and subtle sheen on the skin.

  • Chris Fox ArtChris Fox Art Posts: 338
    edited December 1969

    Thx a lot! :) I wil do some changes and maybe I think about to add a real photo as a background in a full or upper body render, maybe also other clothes with another necklace that fits better and looks more natural :)

    Btw. I made this character on daz studio and with scripted 3Delight it turned out nice too but hair for example looked a bit unnatural, so I am very happy for this result as it was a direct render, nothing was changed on the texture room (maybe genesis is more compatible than V4 on Carrara)

  • KerynaKeryna Posts: 101
    edited December 1969

    chiisuchianu, truly lovely render!

  • AntaraAntara Posts: 444
    edited December 1969

    This is a very useful thread. Thank you, Phil!

    But 34 pages. Wow. I ran through them quickly, but I might have missed things, so I apologize if this has been covered.

    I've tried the method, and I see the difference in the regular render. I think Phil is right both about atmospheric haze being overestimated with GC (gamma correction) and about the textures being compensated under the hood.

    However, I work with multi-passes. Always. It's just loads easier that way. But it appears that GC is completely ignored by them. So what I get is a CG'ed "image" pass, and all the other passes come back to be integrated into a regular Carrara uncorrected image. Here is what I mean: If you've tried multi-pass renders, and if you save them all internally into a Version 7 Photoshop file, you will see that the "Image" layer all the way at the bottom of the layer stack is corrected, while the combined look of all the layers above it is still the way the image looks without CG.

    Applying a photoshop Gamma correction to the whole thing does not result in the same quality of light as is seen in the "image" layer. So my question is this: Is there a way to replicate the Gamma Correction in multi-passes by applying Photoshop's gamma correction to some of the passes (instead of applying it to the entire combined result)?

    Or, alternatively, is there a way to force GC onto the multi-passes?

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 18,109
    edited December 1969

    Interesting.
    I have yet to take advantage of multi-pass. I've looked at the dialog for it, briefly, but only once. Lately I have gone completely away from GC in favor of the higher levels of control that I feel I get without it - but I do agree that this is very cool... and still check the look of GC, once in a while - and so, sometimes I keep it applied. I imagine that it simply gets ignored during individual output, as far as taking a wild guess at your findings. But I'm glad you've brought it up because it's reminding me that I wanted to look into multi-pass more. So, thanks!

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,116
    edited December 1969

    Hi Antara,

    Thanks for your interest and your question - interesting! I just did a little test of saving a multipass image file from a gamma rendered scene. I then went to Photoshop and combined the layers and used the Exposure control to adjust the gamma - in this case applying 0.4545 which is the inverse of 2.2. Tonally the result was pretty much the same as the rendered combined image, but there was some posterization of the image which was not attractive.

    Applying gamma correction in Carrara is a two stage process, the textures and images are de-gamma'ed as the first stage, then the render calculations are done and then the gamma correction is applied to the result. With multi-pass, it looks like the first "de-gamma" stage is still being applied but the final application of gamma is only being made on the combined image and not on the individual layers, presumably so that you can selective do that in Photoshop.

    The issue is that each layer is only 8-bit, ie 256 levels of red, green and blue and effectively by applying gamma you are reduced this by stretching parts of the intensity range and compressing others, and I think this is what is giving the posterization effect. In Carrara, the final gamma correction will be done on the full floating point values, and then converting to 256 levels, giving greater definition of values.

    In theory, the way around this would be to save the Multipass layers with higher definition, using a 16-bit or higher resolution. I say "in theory" because as far as I am aware, you can't actually do that in Carrara.

    If you want to submit a bug report / feature request to DAZ, I would be happy to support it.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,116
    edited December 1969

    By the way, I am just reading my copy of Digital Lighting and Rendering by Jeremy Birn (lighting and technical director at Pixar) which has recently been updated and released in its Third Edition - as you may know, if any book lays claim to be the 3D rendering bible, this is it. The section on Linear Workflow has been added to this edition. I hope I am allowed a couple of brief quotes:

    "One of the most important lessons a 3D artist needs to master in order to light, render and composite images convincingly: You need to understand and correctly use a Linear Workflow."

    "Especially in the 1990s and 2000s, a lot of people were working without a linear workflow; they got into bad habits while they attempted to compensate for the lack of a linear workflow in how they lit and composited scenes."

    "You'll then be able to enjoy all of its benefits without needing any of the old-school workarounds in your lighting".

    There can be no more authoritative endorsement.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,116
    edited December 2013

    By the way, if you don't already have a copy, I can definitely recommend Jeremy Birn's book - here is an image in which I incorporated a couple of recommended techniques for lighting and rendering eyes and skin. And of course it was rendered with Carrara Gamma Correction.

    RavenEyesCloseFinal.jpg
    800 x 600 - 129K
    Post edited by PhilW on
  • GarstorGarstor Posts: 1,411
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    By the way, I am just reading my copy of Digital Lighting and Rendering by Jeremy Birn (lighting and technical director at Pixar) which has recently been updated and released in its Third Edition

    I'll have to check my edition...it is most likely to be older...definitely a worthwhile book to have.

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