A talk to a dragon

Started by Hannes, November 25, 2014, 04:39:29 am

Previous topic - Next topic


I started this image with the rockface. First I loaded a .ter file and added some horizontally and some vertically stretched PF for displacement. Somewhere in the forum I found a trick by Matt to create those steep rock walls with nice vertical displacement and that's tilting the surface to the camera's direction by a twist and shear shader. As long as you don't see the rest of the terrain it works perfectly.
Then I wanted to have this blocky, cubic, rectangular rock structure a lot of people were talking about here recently. I tried to implement some of the files that some of the members shared, but it didn't look the way I wanted. So I chose the easy (lazy?) way:   I used an image map shader with a nice photographed rock structure, which first didn't work either, because no matter what I did (or forgot to do?) the image map was distorted or warped by the terrain. I'm sure there's a solution for this, probably placing a compute terrain or normal somewhere but I didn't want to waiste too much time, so I simply used camera projection.
This may be quite obvious most of the time, so I duplicated the render camera, which is slightly pointing upwards, lifted it up a few meters and tilted the copied projection cam slightly downwards, so that it projected the image perpendicularly onto the rock surface.
I then broke up this image map shader by a power fractal. The green, mossy stuff is procedural.
Zoulik shrub by Aymenk2003 (search for "Zoulik" in the file sharing section).
The dragon model is from this site: http://tf3dm.com/3d-model/alduin-dragon-rigged--76875.html
I loaded it into Max, detached the eyes, the inner mouth, the tongue and each single tooth, mapped and textured these and attached them back to the body. Then I posed the head, the tail and the legs just by bending some vertices using soft selection, refined the body diffuse texture map and added a complete new bump map.
The translucency of the wings is faked by adding a (Photoshop-painted) mask for luminosity.
And last but not least: the poor guy is Xoio's Arnaud.
Originally rendered in 4000 X 2250 px (Detail 0.8, AA 9 - about 8h rendertime). Resized to Full HD, slightly increased contrast and saturation, added a bit of chromatic aberration and sharpened just a little bit.


Hannes i love the background.It looks great.
But the composition doesn't work quite for me.
Maybe as an animation it would be different.
Do you want to animate it?
Because that could have a quite different result probably.


This is probably one of the best rockfaces I've seen on here. Maybe you could even do a render and play with the pov a bit, add some detail and what not. I think I would look very good with a crisp, high detail/resolution look.


That cliff face in the background is stunning. Just the right amount of sediment, rockface, colour variation, displacement and vegetation. :D


Really nice, Hannes. The rock is a bit of a cheat (not meaning to offend of course), but works very fine nonetheless. What I like most however is the depth you create in the dragon by the dust. Arnaud is a bit untouched by it all  ;)


Dell T5500 with Dual Hexa Xeon CPU 3Ghz, 32Gb ram, GTX 1080
Amiga 1200 8Mb ram, 8Gb ssd


Wow! It's a good trick isn't it :) I've used it myself but not so effectively.


Oh man those rocks are good. Dragon looks great too. Not sure about this comp as far as the dragon goes though.
but there is something about the awkwardness of the placement that makes it appealing. Kinda bizarre.
It has been eaten.


Thanks a lot, guys! I know the POV may seem strange, but I like it.


Agreed, it's an excellent rock face overall, although the smoothness of how the dark patches blend looks a bit odd. Perhaps it's soot from the dragon? That would actually be more plausible to me than something geological...

The dragon actually looks quite good, aside from a little low resolution texture issue on the closest part of the wing. The "translucency" effect is well done and clever. Subtle smoke around its mouth is also a nice touch.

I agree however that the composition is a bit imbalanced, with this great, eye-catching rock face taking a majority of the image, and the two theoretical focuses of the image just occupying a sort of sliver down at the bottom. I assume it's supposed to be comical, but I also think that particular human model and just how out of place it seems kind of goes past humor to me and just becomes ridiculous. I think perhaps it's something to do in his "lifeless" pose, as if he's just not interacting with the scene at all. Having a man in a suit in the desert with a dragon? Yes, quite possibly funny, especially if he's fleeing in terror (don't we all want to see "the suit" get burned, really? :D ). Having a man in a suit looking bored (or dead?) in front of a dragon in the desert just seems like a disconnect, and if you know it's CG, you just assume it's a lazy thing, like you didn't bother to pose him, or couldn't figure out how. Knowing the work that went into the dragon I suspect that's not true and this approach was intentional, I'm just saying it doesn't necessarily come across the way you intended (though I'm not certain what your intent was).

All that being said I think the technical aspects of the scene are excellent and it should not be hard to adjust the composition, if you so choose. Although of course another 8hr render, heh. But maybe here's a little incentive for that: we have a gallery update coming up for our main website and if you can make the interaction between dragon and man a bit more compelling and dynamic, and adjust the imbalance of the composition, it's a sure thing for inclusion in the gallery...

- Oshyan


Thanks for your comment, Oshyan!
When you work on an image for some time you may get blind for some aspects, so you I guess you're right about what you said. When I was adding the dragon and the guy, I liked the imbalance of the rockface compared to the dragon and the guy, but looking at it with fresh eyes makes me seriously think about it once again.
The same thing with the guy in the suit. I had the impression that he was submissively talking to the dragon without daring to look in his eyes, but maybe there was more happening in my imagination than in the image. I liked the idea of using the guy in the suit, but this may also only work for me.
Maybe I'll take a step back and do another one.


great stuff Hannes... agree with others about the composition, the guy in the suit, I half expect to burst into flames, like the cover of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here!!
Fresh eyes work wonders!


Yes, Pink Floyd came into my mind too, when I was thinking about what this guy was doing in this bloody image. ;)


re: image maps on cliffs. Some time ago I figured out that if you location click in the middle of any rock facce and use those coords to place your image map and then add a Transform shader in the chain and rotate it between 60 and 90 degrees in the X you can get a nice undistorted image on the rock face...I dug the image and got the joke btw...hee hee hee, sublimely ridiculous humour is my speciality.
something borrowed,
something Blue.
Ring out the Old.
Bring in the New
Bobby Stahr, Paracosmologist


I think having the guy standing there calmly on fire would add to the surreal quality implied by the suit, and make it more clear that it's intentional. It's not the only way to resolve the issue, but an interesting one (and possibly easier, if done in post).

- Oshyan