Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Closer to Normal

Yesterday was a GOOD day.  I've been having more of those lately.  It is strange, both exciting and scary.  I've been dealing with some sort of Chronic Fatigue -- or a lingering upper respiratory tract infection -- for several years, and at the start of this year it was very bad.  Then I woke up one morning feeling full of strength.

I don't know what happened.  I didn't try a new drug, or change my diet, or make any other lifestyle change.  But suddenly I felt...well, normal.  Able to face a day without wincing at the joint pain and shortness of breath that had been hounding me for months.  And this is now the third week of being mostly free of those lingering pains.

And I felt up to facing new work situations.  Brushed off my resume and sent off a bundle of emails.  A pity that this is also a period where I committed to finishing some 3d art -- that means that even with all my energy, and the lovely days outside, I'm mostly inside sitting at the computer.  Well, except for running out to the gym almost once a day!

Yesterday I was feeling very sleepy and ended up going to bed early, but I still did everything I had hoped to do that day.  Which doesn't sound like much, but I'm way ambitious.  I rarely finish a day having done everything I intended!  But I finished the textures on one prop, worked on the robot with my niece for a few hours, got to the gym, and cooked a meal that used some of the veggies I'd purchased before they all went bad (I got to the red bell just in time).

And yes, I may have found a little work.  It isn't signed yet, so I'm being cagey, but, yes, there is another pun in the title of this post.

The other pun in the title is surface normals.  Which is one of the concepts of 3d rendering.  One day, if I get a bunch of feedback and discover people are actually reading any of my rambling talk about 3d, I might draw up a bunch of diagrams as part of a lesson on the basics of 3d rendering.  But anyhow. 

Here's the sanity check on the first prop in the set:

Added a default figure (Poser 9's Allyson) in a default pose (I think it is Guitar Player, which has been around since Poser 3!)  The purpose is not to make art.  The purpose is to check your texturing work to see if it fits within the Poser universe.  It is very hard, squinting at a monitor, to really know if you are working too saturated or not enough, if your details are cartoony or so subtle they don't read, if all your textures are dark and murky or bright and washed out.

Humans are very, very good at setting their own white-balance, though.  So drop in something with skin, and the eye will adjust expectations.  And this one set-up told me that I was working a little too subtle and not quite as saturated as needed -- which I fixed before the render above.

I'm trying to keep this set simple, but there are ten individual texture maps on that wrench ...not including the reflection map!  I could combine some maps and collapse some of the materials zones, but there is a fair amount of work involved in doing that and it makes more sense to move on to the next.

And, yes, that's the default size.  But the details are designed so you can scale it down to a size an average person could actually lift...as well as leaving it in Cloud Strife sword-scale.

Oh, yeah -- and a tiny rant.  I recently commented on Reginald Pikedevant's "Just Glue Some Gears On It and Call It Steampunk" (a funny YouTube rant).  When I started this set, I knew I would have to bow to market expectations and at least put some gears and brass tubing around.  But I really, really had to try to make it look like it had reason to be there.  I think I succeeded in the wrench (although why you'd need all that fragile excess stuff just to close the jaws!) but, yes, realism shies a bit on expecting either the user to be able to grip the thing comfortably with all the excess bits, or all those tiny gears working for more than a few minutes exposed to dirt and metal chips from the work environment as they are...

But my real rant is tubes.  Sorry, the cathode ray tube is post-Victorian.  And not only that...who would ever stick an exposed glass envelope on the side of their sidearm!  You'd shatter the mechanism before you'd even cleared the holster.  For all sorts of reasons, tubes glued randomly around the outside of a prop bugs me even more than seeing random unconnected gears.

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