Refining Aura Lockhaven’s 3D Appearance

I’ve been making further refinement in Aura’s 3D incarnation, moving her yet closer to her written description.

aura_closeup by nathan boutwellTons of DAZ Studio/3D technical geeky stuff follows. If that isn’t your cup of coffee, skip seven paragraphs.

Improvements include:

Laticis’ fiber mesh eyebrows. This may be the singlemost dramatic improvement to Victoria 6, eliminating the flat brow look about which so many of us have complained. I made thickness morphs for them in Hexagon (Aura has bushy eyebrows). Textures made to match her hair. The ability to do that may supersede the depth provided by the prop. One of the most common gripes of 3D artists is brunette eyebrows on a blonde character.

AJ’s Blood Vessels maps applied to the skin texture. Finally, human looking skin. Aura is the queen of my fictional universe, and I want her to look as real as possible. No human has perfect skin! Her base skin texture is Belle overlaid with 25% layer of skin from ForbiddenWhispers’ Ultimate Merchant Resource Kit. Those are the blotchiest skins in my runtime (without getting silly about it). The Blood Vessels add to the “not a Photoshopped magazine model” appearance.

New specular settings using Reality 4’s dual specular channel option. A specular map in each channel, with its own setting, simulates the depth of reflectivity of human skin, and adds to the subsurface shader. We naked bipedal primates are not as solid as we believe.

New normal maps made by merging the Belle bump maps with AlFan’s Displacement for V6 maps. This was tricky. Each type of map does something different, and merging them required them to be baked at lower levels in ShaderMap than if applied singly in Reality. Too hot, and Aura became a hag instead of a 22 year old enchantress.

Gregoria hair by Mairy3Dream, with custom textures. Yes, she’s back in this hair again! This hair is the closest to what I see in my mind, looks great, has a much finer mesh, and wonderful action morphs. It also had an annoying curl below her chin that I could not get rid of. Until the morning of July 12 when I found the corresponding slider. The original maps also had a built-in reflection that looked like white streaks in Reality, especially in the reds and browns I combined for Aura’s dark chestnut hair. Hence, the new textures, made by overlaying EmmaandJordi’s Sirea hair textures.

Although it’s appeared before (“Working Late”), this is the first good look at Aura’s seven pointed star necklace (septagram?). It replaces the toric she wore in 2013 and 2014. Magicians in her world recognize seven elements: water, fire, earth, air, spirit, metal, and light. One point for each element. Each point should have a different stone corresponding to the element’s color, so I’ll have to go back into Hexagon and rework the materials maps at some point to allow that. The chain is the Piratess necklace by Ravenhair.

They won’t see this blog post, but I want to thank these DeviantArt 3D artists for their significant contributions. 3dLux did the hard work on specular settings for Reality 4. He also brought AJ’s Blood Vessels to my attention, and walked me through how to apply them. Laticis made the eyebrows, and offers them free. They are easy to apply and texture. It was also easy to make thickness morph for them. The hardest part was erasing the eyebrows from the original diffuse map. Sigstan worked up an awesome tutorial on portrait lighting on the Reality forums. His tips for hair and eyes for R2.5 still work in R4.

Of course, not much can be seen from a portrait render. How about a comparison of before and after?

Below is the original of “Defender of the Faith.” It was rendered in late 2014, using Reality 2.5.

defender_of_the_faith by nathan boutwellAnd now, the same scene, with the changes in skin, hair, and clothes, rendered through Reality 4, using a new light setup.

defenderImages and Aura Lockhaven copyright Nathan Boutwell.

8 thoughts on “Refining Aura Lockhaven’s 3D Appearance

      • They do look pretty, indeed. Larimar is a good stone for Empaths in general. Although, it is only found in the Dominican Republic and the Carribean. If you choose specific stones for her necklace you might want to research their origins to see if it’s something she might have access to in her time and place.

      • The beauty of an alternative reality is I can give her whatever I want, within reason. The name is the barrier. Some stones, such as diamond, emerald, ruby, topaz, etc. seem to be universal across the spectrum of fantasy stories and by their common names. Language specific names, such as lapis lazuli, would be renamed. Empress’ stone would be a good choice. Labradorite and Herkimer diamond would be the signs of a hack! They would have to be renamed. Something like larimar sounds vague enough to be acceptable by that name, although I’m sure I could come up with something a wee bit more esoteric.

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