DISCLAIMER: Images used as illustration in this post are (except for adding a watermark) completely post-production free and do not represent a quality of images available in Digital Seductions members area.
LEAVING THE COMFORT ZONE
While working on Twisted Curiosities gals, I realized two things. First, I’ve been using the same figure as a base for my “models” for the last 7 years. Good old Victoria 4 (with in-between incarnations of weight-mapped V4, Beautiful Bends, Lali’s Bits), reliable and not minding heavy customizations I forced on you during the years we spend together. Yet we grow weary and you started to limit me. You all look the same to me… Yes, I’ve heard that line too many times. So – it’s time to say goodbye. I’m going to finish all “active” projects I started with V4 (MoEP, some picture sets) and move onto newer, more diverse figure for a base of my future females. Expect bigger breasts, more pumped lips and more veiny cocks, with better detail and bigger variation.
Pretty much the same goes for my skin shader – I’ve been using the same one for the last two years. Nothing spectacular about the material itself – it was working just fine (at least for my needs), was predictable (I knew what to expect from it in different light conditions), had acceptable render times and produced decent results. If I was to change it, the new shader should offer the same basic attributes (predictability and reasonable render times) while providing an upgrade of sorts. Be it more detail, better overall look (that one’s highly subjective) – something like that.
The easy part – my models are exaggerated and designed to be totally unrealistic – giant breasts, futanari, clitorises the size of a ripe eggplant. Thanks to that, I don’t need materials THAT realistic for them. I need materials that make them look “cool” and complement such aesthetics. A hint of realism here and there (but without compromising render times) is fine, but I’m not crazy about it. I have different priorities – my skin materials must work for both light and dark skin tones in any given lighting condition (maybe not out of the box, but with as little tweaking as possible) and render with reasonable speed on my machine.
There are a lot of beautiful, ready-made skin shaders out there, both free and commercial. They are, however, of no use to me. Many of them work only in specific lighting conditions. Many of them, while stunning, are intended only for certain skin tones. And since they were made by someone else – there is always lot of guesswork involved with them. Why the creator decided to set one parameter to X and another to Y? Why does it render fine in sunlight, but fails to render well under image-based lighting? Because of that, I always create my materials from scratch. That way I know WHY things happen when I change parameters, set light differently and so on.
In this post you can see some examples of my new shader/skin material. Please note that those aren’t “production” renders – little time was spent posing my “model”. I was simply checking how my new shader behaves under different lighting conditions, tweaking some details etc. To give you some idea about the whole process – this is only a small percentage of all test renders made. I went through three main incarnations of the shader and this is the latest. It still requires some more tweaking, but for now I’m happy with the results. It works with all tested light models, renders with decent speed, can be easily tweaked to wet/matte skin look. I was also able to implement some features that were missing from my renders before (those of you who know what to look for will probably notice, those who don’t – simply believe me when I say this is an upgrade) without extending render times too much. Eventually, I also created a “basic” shader for eyes and teeth/gums/tongue. Until now I wasn’t paying that much attention to them, usually setting those materials “on the go”.
UP: Third incarnation of the shader, testing how it behaves under different lighting conditions. I decided to add some “harsh” IBL lighting (I usually don’t use such light setups) at the last moment, hence the messed-up camera on last render. Overall – works as intended, except maybe for abovementioned harsh lighting that renders skin as slightly too wet-looking to my liking.
Up: My shaders must allow for a hassle-free change of “glossiness” – be it for compensating lights that are too strong or simply to switch between normal to sweaty skin I usually use during sex scenes.
UP: Rendering closeups and hunting for things that needs tweaking.
UP: my basic “mouth” material doesn’t look very realistic (first render; human teeth are much more translucent and so on), but does the job good enough to use on renders when a close-up of a face isn’t needed. For close-ups, with some tweaking, I ended with results visible on 3rd and 4th render. I’m happy with them. And eyes turned out great too.
UP: Will it blend with other skin tones? Quick test – yep, I’m good to go.
I’m aware that for a 3dx site, this is a rather confusing post, but recent comments on our blog made me realize, that when in comes to informing you what occupies us at the moment we fail miserably. So – this is what I was doing recently. Hopefully, I’ll be able to show you how those new materials perform in action soon.