Tag Archives: tech noir

Mister Zero

Mister ZeroMy eternal quest for the perfect CGI avatar continues.  I’ve grown tired of my current avatar artwork.  People think it’s a picture of me and I have to explain that it’s CGI.  I need something that doesn’t look human.  Perhaps something creepy…

What to do?

Mannequins and faceless people have always freaked me out ever since I was young.  I attribute that to this scene from Star Trek…

charliexhd487crop…and the Anything People on Sesame Street.

A freaky “no face” avatar would be cool and no one would think it was supposed to be me.  Perfect!

Building a Mannequin

I started with a faceless character model I had and I replaced the skin like surface with a different shader.  I experimented with many, many different surfaces trying to find something cool.

no face shader test 01I tried cloth, wood, metal, rock, plastic, glass, grunge, paint, rubber, wax, anything I could think of.

no face shader test 02I tried to avoid chrome because I had done that several times in the past but in the end I caved, because I really liked this particular dusty anodized aluminum surface.

no face 02 chrome headI posed the figure tipping his hat with a 1960s fedora.  I wanted him to be creepy and friendly at the same time.  A sloppy overcoat and loose necktie seemed to fit so I added that too.

no face 01 test 03 dome and sceneGive that man a hand

The fingers of the alien no-face character were creepy long, which looks OK but I like to make everything difficult so I decided to try and replace the hand with one that was human sized.

To do that I had to add another entire human sized figure and position the hand in the same place, grabbing the hat.  It took awhile but I got it into position.  Then I “turned off” (made invisible) the rest of that human character.  For the no-face character I turned off the hand.  The sleeve of the jacket was just long enough to hide the fact that the arm and hand didn’t meet exactly correctly.  Everything came together when I layered the same aluminum shader on the human hand.

hand shader tile 08 looks goodDramatic Light

The lighting was difficult because of the reflective metal on the face.  I ended up with a lot more spotlights than usual for a simple head shot just to get the reflections right.  There are seven spot lights on the character and one blue spot on the background, which is just a gray wall panel.

no face BTS lights After rendering it out I pumped up the color a little in Lightroom…

Mr Zero cc lightroom BTS…and uploaded the avatar to Facebook.

facebook avatar

Unfortunately I saw almost immediately that you couldn’t tell what the picture was at very small sizes.  It was the high contrast lighting, the same problem I had before on my first CGI avatar.  It looked fine at larger sizes but when it was super tiny the bright shine of the face looked like an unrecognizable white blob on a blue background.

Flat Light

I went back into DAZ Studio and tried to even out the lighting.  The best way was to set up a few more lights to fill in the dark spots.  I didn’t like it as much when I was done but I rendered it out anyway just to test it on facebook.  This is the “flat light” version.Mister Zero (flat light)It worked better at small sizes as you can see but still not as well as other avatars I’ve created.  Humans are programed to recognize faces easily, which is why facebook can make their avatars so small.  I’m asking people to recognize “no face” so I guess that’s more difficult.

facebook flat light avatar 02So it sort of works at the tiny sizes and doesn’t look as good as it could at larger sizes.  I guess that makes this avatar attempt a bit of a failure.  I still like it though, so I’m going to keep it for a time before I try again.  I can also upload the first version to other sites that don’t have such small avatars.  What do you think?

Mister ZeroCreated in DAZ Studio 4.9
Rendered with Iray
Color Correction in Lightroom

Figures used:
The Slim Man for Genesis 3 Male
Mec4d PBS Shaders vol.3 for Iray
Amazing Hat
Eldritch Seeker

Don’t Dream It, Be It

Don't Dream It, Be ItThis piece started out as a test for some new models that I purchased but I liked the way it looked so I finished it into something a bit more than a test.  Unfortunately it ended up as a character just standing there, which I try to avoid.  I like more of a story, more action, but this is what it is.  I do like the curve of the ship in the background.  I suppose that’s something.

Star Slayer in SciFi corridor A 01 cam02 aiko 00This is an early version with different hair and environment.  You can also see that the stomach panal on the suit is a lighter color.  In the final composition I thought it distracted from the face so I darkened the texture map so that it was closer to the rest of the suit.

Star Slayer in SciFi corridor A 01 cam02 aiko 06I eventually decided she was a pilot so I put her in a hanger bay with a shuttle.  I spent a tremendous amount of time going back and forth deciding if the shuttle doors should be open or closed.  I even thought of putting another character inside the ship at one point but I wasn’t able to made that work.

Don't Dream It, Be It BTS wireI don’t have much to say about this wire frame screen shot other than it looks cool!

Don't Dream It, Be It BTS ccI think I left the bottom too dark when I initially did the color correction.  I went back later and brightened it up a bit.  The original render is 8000×8000 and the light on the skin looks fabulous at native resolution.  Very pleased with how the face came out.  (click to embiggen)

Don't Dream It, Be ItCreated in DAZ Studio 4.9
Rendered with Iray
Color Correction in Lightroom

Figures used:
Aiko 7
StarSlayer outfit for G3F
Shuttlestar
Sci-Fi Hanger A