Challenge Accepted

Challenge Accepted by Nathan Boutwell

“Challenge Accepted.” Art by Nathan Boutwell. Aura Lockhaven copyright Nathan Boutwell

“Challenge Accepted” is the name of this particular Aura Lockhaven image. Aura is somewhat naive, so she gets knocked down more than she would like. But she always comes up fighting.

“Challenge Accepted” also what I said last Friday, when I decided to take the plunge and upgrade to the new Reality 4 texturing system. Until then, I’ve used Reality 2.5. “Challenge Accepted” is the first R4 render I’ve performed.

Technically, R4 isn’t exactly new. It was released in early December, 2014, a lifetime ago in the lineage of software. Why did I wait almost four months? I just didn’t think the additional complexity of R4 was worth it. R2.5 did what I wanted it to do. After watching what others did with R4, however, I began to think “I may be wrong.”

I was!

This scene isn’t new. I first ran it in December on R2.5 for my computer wallpaper. The differences are subtle, but stunning. In the original render, Aura’s skin was pale. I had to run a second render to fully develop the special effects. This time, they are all present in the original render; nothing added in postwork. Most importantly, R4 is so damn picky that it highlighted all the flaws in the textures. So, Aura received a new cloak, and major modifications to her hair pose, while the set required a major overhaul. I’m perfectionist enough to appreciate that.

The biggest factor pushing me off the fence is the upcoming Luxrender 1.5 rendering engine. Reality 4 will interface with it perfectly. Luxrender 1.5 has already been tested with R4 and is proven to have a 600% speed increase. No more waiting a full day for one image to finish. The above image took 12 hours to reach this point. Using R4 and Lux1.5, it could have taken an hour and a half. This speed increase means an Aura Lockhaven graphic novel, or even short video, is feasible.

Obviously, all the renders in the queue are now postponed. They require upgrading in Reality 4, and that means a total retexturing. One of them features 14 (yes, fourteen) individual people, complete with clothes, swords, and pistols. It’s pirates!

I’ll be busy.

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