Transmedia, 3D Modelling, and Still Photography Techniques – Part 2

I’ve been looking at ways to develop transmedia stories quickly and inexpensively, while still maintaining high production values. After all, we don’t all have multi-million dollar productions budgets. Part of that exploration has involved playing with a new (and free) 3D graphics rendering engine for a couple of months now and am totally amazed at the final images that it produces. They are in my opinion far better than the images rendered using the standard rendering engine in DAZ3D Studio 4.6. The first few renders of off-the-shelf 3D models looked great. The problem is that most of these models are of young people who typically appear to be in their late teens or into their 20s. There are very few good models that appear to be older.

This render is one of several done as a character study for a character I'm considering for a transmedia story.
This render is one of several done as a character study for a character I’m considering for a transmedia story.

I’ve discovered that creating aged characters is much more challenging than creating younger ones. The wrinkles, moles, sagging skin, and other things that appear as we age are a major challenge. There are a couple of plugins that help but using them is a matter of trial and error.

Creating a realistic character requires subtlety.  Cranking the dials to 100% generally creates a character that is more of a caricature. Dialing things back makes a huge difference in creating a character who looks much more realistic.

As any experienced photographer knows, lighting also makes a difference. Lighting that is too bright, too diffuse, or at too small an angle from the position of the camera tends to flatten the image and wash out the wrinkles, veins, and other features. While that may be exactly what is intended in commercial portrait photography, it reduces the dramatic impact of the image. Side and/or back lighting, harsh light rather than diffused light, and high contrast lighting makes for much more dramatic images.

What I was trying to capture in the development of the character shown in this post is a strong, experienced, competent woman who has aged gracefully, is comfortable with who she is, and who retains the beauty that comes with living life fully.

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