Another new Poser-aided comic, Apocalypse Girl from Poser and DAZ content-creator Sixus 1.
I’ve never seen this one before: Setup a Real Time Black and White Preview Window in Photoshop. Very useful for digital painters. Sadly the setup process can’t be recorded and then run as an Action (I tried), but you’ll probably memorise it once you’ve done it a few times.
Cisco reveals Multiple Unpatched Security Vulnerabilities in Blender.
Blender’s response, after a lot of blather, seems to be boil down to: we’re not going to fix them, even though this huge list of vulnerabilities is now public and exploitable by hackers.
The Poser sale is still on. Upgrade even a very old Poser version to the latest Poser Pro, for $49.95. Looks like Smith Micro can also ship you a physical disc in the mail, which could be rather handy if you’re in a remote place with weak or no broadband.
Here’s another way to quickly change the entire colour and/or line style of Poser’s Comic Book Preview or Toon Outlines lineart. It’s not the same as hand colouring with a soft brush, to partly match the colour flats layer beneath – but it’s a quick way to get the ink line colour away from black. It uses Photoshop’s Layer blending mode.
1. Open Poser’s render of your ink lines, in this case a simple toon outlines render.
2. Run a Photoshop Action on the layer that knocks out the white, leaving only the black lines.
3. Add a new white layer under the lines, so you can keep on seeing your lineart properly.
4. Top menu | Layer | Layer Style | Blending Options | tick Colour Overlay | click on Colour Overlay to open its controls.
5. Adjust the colour and settings of Colour Overlay, to taste. In this example I’ve had the ink lines become red…
You can also simultaneously apply the next Layer blending mode, Gradient Overlay…
The stacked blending mode can be saved as a preset to the Styles palette, from where it can be easily applied to other lineart.
A new free 90-minute webinar on using Poser for comics production, “How to Create Graphic Novels and Anime Art Using Poser Pro”, from Digital Art Live and Smith Micro. It’s on YouTube in 720p. This is the second of two versions of the same webinar, presented by Tasos Anastasiades. The first run-through had some glitches, but this second one is excellent.
There’s also an in-depth interview with Tasos, to be found in the latest (Dec 2017) free monthly magazine from Digital Art Live.
Poser’s Sketch Designer module probably doesn’t get as much love as it should do. It’s been around and unchanged forever, which means that most Poser users last took a serious look at it a long time ago, when running on underpowered PCs and a crash-prone Poser version. Sketching took forever, could easily crash your PC, and the render size was insufficient to do much with. Most people seem to have forgotten the Sketch Designer is even there.
But there’s a whole lot that can be done with it, once you break free of the presets and work out what the sliders do. Learning how to turn off background sketching is the biggest time-saver (Background tab | Opacity 0% and just-in-case bring all the other sliders down to 0% too).
There’s also the fact that Sketch Designer results can now be quickly improved with some fairly recent additions to Photoshop’s features. For instance, here’s how to quickly fix the output from the plain vanilla “Sketch” preset, using Photoshop CS6 and higher. Here I’m using a flat IBL light, and I’m in Comic Book Preview mode in Colour with lines turned on. Basically, the scene is about as flat as it can get, though admittedly we’re still getting some indication of shading from the character’s materials. Then we run Sketch Designer’s standard “Sketch” preset on it, after turning off the preset background and turning the sketch lines’ Opacity down to maybe 40%. This is the result in a 2400 by 1800px render size in .PNG format…
You could also experiment here with turning Depth Cueing on, to see if you get fainter pencil lines further away from the camera.
Then load the PNG render in Photoshop, apply Smart Blur followed by Surface Blur, then finish with a little bit of Noise. Sketch Designer’s strange swirly-whorly Sketch patterns now look like graphite pencil shading and some artistic smudgery, but we’ve kept the linework un-blurred…
The addition of Noise is a quick and clunky emulation of paper texture, but you could omit that and blend onto a real paper texture. In that case, you might not want to lower the Sketch preset’s opacity quite as much as I have in this example.
You might also add the original Poser Sketch layer back on top as a 50% blending Photoshop layer, then go over it with a big soft Eraser to remove the knots in the whorls and just leave what looks like ‘a trace of pencil strokings, here and there’.
The only problem with Sketch renders is that when you save the render to .PNG it is not masked. But there are multiple other ways to get the mask from Poser.
Following my recent Poser lineart colour tutorial, many thanks to Mike Mitchell for pointing out his “Noir Style Tutorial, Pt. 8 – Step 3: Edit Materials” blog post. Mike’s post usefully points out that Geometric Edge line colour can be easily edited, in Poser’s Materials Room.
This works, but on its own it is not all that useful for my suggested Photoshop-oriented workflow of “colour flats + shading + linework” as layers. Because it can’t be applied in the Comic Book Preview mode’s B&W setting, only in its Colour or None setting. Here it is with Colour on…
And with B&W on…
As you can see, the bright green line just isn’t being picked up when B&W is turned on. Nor does it help to switch Poser’s overall Display to one of the Cartoon Display modes, or to render in Firefly with Toon Lines on. Nor does it help to use a shade of grey for the green line.
Mike’s tip would be most handy if you’re tweaking textures directly on the character, in the hope of quickly pumping out a set of single finished/usable comics renders from Poser. I haven’t yet got as far as doing the whole ‘total character materials makeover for comics’ thing — which obviously has huge potential — and currently I’m still slowly exploring the best options for getting multipass renders stacked up in Photoshop. That’s mostly because I want to find a relatively quick-and-automatable way to create consistent comic frames that look like they’re hand-drawn (aka ‘the mythical Northwest Passage to the fabled Land of the “Make Art” Buttons’). “Consistent” is the key word here, so as to avoid two hours per page of colour adjusting and tweaking shadows to get them to look alike in each comic panel and from page-to-page.
However, prompted by Mike’s note I’ve found that there’s an exception and a workaround. Simply switch Poser’s overall Display to “Cartoon w/lines” (three tones) and we get a grey-filled duplicate of the previous B&W mode. No extra ink lines are being added when compared to the B&W Comic Book Preview mode, but we do retain the green outline, albeit initially with a hair-thin black line either side of the green ink line. (I can’t see any way to colour-ramp the line with a gradient, as it has no ‘node connector hole’ in the Material Room. So it appears to me that the Geometric Edge line can only ever be a solid colour).
However, fiddle with the Comic Book Preview dials a bit and the unwanted hair-thin black lines vanish. This makes for a solid colour edge-line which is useful, for instance when used as a Colour blend layer in Photoshop. When we export this as a masked .PNG, then everything else in the render will be grey or black. Therefore it should be possible to either Colour blend or to select-extract just the coloured line. If you just want a solid colour fill on your linework, and don’t want to fiddle with fiddly adjustments layer or blending modes in Photoshop, then is seems this is a quick way to do that. Here’s Darkseal’s Nyla in a nice dark pink line…
There’s no need to make multiple renders for multiple line colours, because Photoshop can ‘Replace Colour’ with ease, or change colour of a layer using Layer Blending modes and Colour Overlay.
How to change Poser’s Comic Book ink lines from hard black to… any colour you like. You can’t yet do it natively in Poser 11, although perhaps the forthcoming Poser 12 will add a feature to make that happen.
I’m assuming here that you make several quick real-time render passes from Poser. These being, for this tutorial:
i) The Comic Book ink lines from a flat IBL light-lit scene.
ii) The colour flats, with the same light, made by just turning off the same Comic Book mode’s ink lines.
iii) A 3D grey/shadows layer. In this instance, from a simple switch to the old default Poser light preset + set Display as Cartoon w/Lines. (If you’ve swung the camera before starting, make sure there’s a fairly even illumination by having your main light ‘dead-centre’, as you can see happening on my light preset icon). This layer is just used later to subtly add detail to the colour flats. Any good lots-of-shadows layer, suitable to become a greyscale, should work. It doesn’t need to be pretty, so don’t waste time tweaking it.
iv) Then you make an alternative linework render. This is made very simply by switching scene iii) from Colour to B&W in the Comic Book controls, and tweak the B&W dial slightly to get a layer with different lines and more of a 2D manga-like subtle shading to it. The horrible posterision of the shading edges doesn’t matter, as that’s easily fixed in Photoshop.
Once the two ink line layers are loaded into Photoshop with “Paste in Place”, you can knock out white, blend the two line layers and clean any stray lines and ink in missing lines. Here I’ve knocked out the white from both layers (there’s an automated Photoshop action for that), then used the eraser to clean the mouth ink lines and a couple of unwanted weird lines that were lurking below the helmet edge. I could have done much more to tidy up the linework, but this is just a demo. I then softened the posterised edges on the subtle shadowing ink-lines layer, by applying Surface Blur to the whole layer at 7 | 42.
Under the ink lines is the 3D grey/shadows layer, but converted to greyscale (with a simple Desaturate), and then set to Screen blend at 30%. That makes it blend into the Colour Flats layer below it, softening down the colour layer while also adding a bit of subtle shaping to the colours, but not so much as to provoke an “Ugh, that’s so 3D!” reaction. No watercolour shaders required.
The problem then is that when you turn the two ink line layers back on, over the colour, then the inking looks way too heavy and crudely black. To beautify we need to make the black ink lines change colour. Here’s how…
Firstly, in the Layers Pallette, turn off all but the topmost of your ink lines layers. Then click on that layer’s tweeny-weeny little checkerboard icon…
Then select a big soft brush at 100% opacity in Normal blend mode, pick a colour and simply paint over your chosen layer’s black line work. Only the ink lines should be colorised, because we turned on the little checkerboard icon.
Repeat for the next ink line layer.
Here’s the result, with the ink lines coloured up a bit so as to better match the colour flats layers below, and all layers turned on.
In the comic book colouring trade, this is known as a “colour hold” on the line.
The ink line edges are a bit jaggy here because I’m only doing a demo here so have been working with 800px 72dpi renders. Ideally you’d be working with 5000px and above. Even at that size they render quickly, because all the renders come from the real-time Preview render setting.
The flattened final frame can also be art-ified by being run through a Photoshop filter. Note how what was a clunkily-inked nose and mouth now look very nice indeed.
Here’s another and less garish version, with the same filter just run on the base layers and then with the colour layer blended. Still not ideal, as again we’ve lost some of the ‘sci-fi look’ on what was a white jumpsuit, and our carefully coloured ink lines are now shades of dark grey and white. But at least they’re not a jarringly hard black, and you get the general idea.
If you have an additional Poser Sketch Designer sketch-lines render layer, you could blend that back onto filtered versions, for a charcoal line look. That charcoal linework could also be coloured using the technique above. You can also colourise in Photoshop using the Replace Colour option (though not from a hard black) and can use the Sponge to desaturate small areas when a filter causes them to “pop” too much.
Updated my recent “Survey: 3D to 2D tooned, the software options in 2018” post with a DAZ Studio section re: the potential and difficulties of the Manga Style Shaders and Visual Style Shaders packs. If anyone knows of simple (scripted?) ways to make these two easier to apply and control, then I’ll happily mention that.
Vital Kinect accessories are officially discontinued by Microsoft, and the technology downplayed. If you rely on Kinect for your body-tracking / motion-capture workflow, now might be the time to hop on eBay and grab a couple of replacements for some vital components.
Dark Ops Ready to Render Bundle, currently free on DAZ. Includes V4.2 Base, M4 Base + Michael Skin Maps (High Res) and M4 Creature Creator MorphsCreature Morphs.
Most people will have V4 and M4, but if you’re new to Poser or DAZ this Christmas then it should be a welcome freebie for core figures.
Just released today and available now, LightWave 2018. Free 30-day demo. New basic cel-shading engine, built-in. I’m guessing that Poser integration will be coming, at some point, via a new version of the PoserFusion plugin for Lightwave.
Here’s the gist of an amusing recent academic paper which claimed to be a ‘critique’ of Poser and DAZ Studio. I’ll spare these clueless academics the exposure by name. In plain English, they were claiming that Poser and DAZ can’t do more than standard body shapes…
“each piece of [such] software shares similar gaps in the ability to create avatars outside of normative anatomical frameworks. Acknowledging the limitations of [these] current software models, our research aims to create software that expands the affordances and usability of human avatar software for creative purposes.”
Have these idiots ever even heard of morphs, have they ever seen the Renderotica store? They obviously have no clue about what Poser and DAZ can do with a figure. The actual ‘critique’ is fleeting so my guess is that they looked at the software for all of seven microseconds, before condemning it out of hand as insufficient — and claiming they need to make their own software. Right… good luck with that one. Apparently their paper was presented at DiGRA. I’m surprised they weren’t laughed out of the hall. They’re located at Goldsmiths, of course. The place really does seem to deserve its dismal reputation for producing unemployable jargon-spouting posers.