Aura Lockhaven’s Upgrades for 2019

On one hand, it feels like the first month of 2019 has been totally wasted. On the other hand, it has been remarkably productive. I’ll cover the why it feels like a waste and how it’s been productive in a separate post. For this one, I want to focus on what occupied most of my time.

In preparation for 2019, I totally overhauled my 3D version of Aura Lockhaven.

First, she received totally new clothing textures. The originals dated to 2014. And they showed it. In the process, I gave her a totally new cloak that is actually designed for the Victoria 7 (Genesis 3 Female; such an unlovely term) model. For all of last year, I used the Anagenesis 2 skin shader system. While light on computer resources, it made Aura look gray and covered in metallic powder. I returned to a modified version of Sickleyield’s Beautiful Skin Iray, using all new maps. She looks much more lifelike. For her hair, I switched from Out of Touch’s system to Sloshwerk’s Colorwerks. This new system permits streaking of the hair, giving her hair a much more lifelike look.

The most dramatic change is in Aura’s body. I put Measure Metrics on her, following a change in height morphs. Now, Aura Lockhaven is a 36DD, with 38 inch hips. She overindulges and it goes to her hips and thighs. I discovered her 3D model had a chest circumference of 32 inches, while her bust was 41. That meant she was a 32I. Aura is endowed, but not stupid about it! She’s supposed to be a believable looking 3D model, a woman we could actually meet in a grocery store.

Well, she is now. She is now a true 36DD. In the process, I was able to give Aura’s breasts natural heft. They lay on her chest instead of sticking straight out. And she has a softer overall look. Her strength is from work, not a gym. Her stomach and lower body show her fondness for ale and sweetbreads.

Here is the Enchantress of Hartshorn, ready to face 2019:

 

A closer look at her overhauled body, and considering Aura likes being skyclad, she decided to pose nude:

 

How does she look in action?

The Problem with Practice

Practice, practice makes perfect, perfect is a fault, and faultlines change. — REM, “I Believe”

The concept of practice is problematic for me. I’m classically trained on the piano and violin (although I’ve forgotten most of it). When I was studying, my parents kept harping “Practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect.” I didn’t want to be perfect. Once you’re perfect, there’s no where to go. So, my playing became rote memorization, and mind-numbing repetition, totally devoid of any passion. It sounded good, but my heart wasn’t in it.

I can’t take that into writing and art.

The great jazz masters taught me something, especially Sonny Rollins. Mr. Rollins never practiced. He played! Every time he played a song, he played it better than the last time, even if the last time was ten minutes ago. When asked why it sounded different, he replied, “I already played it that way. Why should I play it the same way again?”

That I can do! I can write this story better than I wrote the last one. I can make this render better than the last one. That’s how I can grow, develop, and continue to push myself, without ever hitting that stale and stagnant point of heartless repetition.

 

Single-Slider Morph Transformation Technique

Transformation Test

To transform Katie Ashe from her petite civilian form into that of the superheroine Valkyria, I used single-slider morphs. It’s an easy technique that permits a wide variety of steps in a transformation process, without having to load multiple Vickis into the scene.

If you don’t know what a single-slider morph is, it’s the same thing a content creator like Fred Winkler uses. If you notice to get his Nadine for V7, you simply turn the sliders for Nadine in a G3F all the way up, and there she is.

This technique works for V4/M4, and any of the four Genesis generations. This assumes, of course, that you have a “normal” version of your character, and a superpowered version.

To create a single-slider morph, start with your character tweaked and ready to go. Remove all clothes, hair, geografts, etc. If you use HD morphs and muscularity, turn them off. It’s easier to turn them on when needed. Now, set your character’s resolution to Base Resolution, Subdivision 1. Export her (or him) as an object (obj) file. Save it to an easy to find folder, and just name it for your character. Use the scale DAZ (1 Unit = 1cm). Now, clear the scene and load a base figure; if your character is a V7, load a base G3F, etc. Set the Resolution to Base, SudDiv 1. Use Morph Loader Pro to load the object file to the base figure as a morph. From there, I follow the steps in this guide. It’s tricky at first, but if you make a mistake, just start over. Now, do the same for the other version.

You now have both a normal, secret identity version of your character and a superpowered heroine version, both set as single-slider morphs in the base figure, ready to go whenever you load the base figure.

Here’s how to use them for the character transformation. Or, how I did it.

Katie Ashe is a V6HD. She has four separate morphs total: two for her body (one for “Little Katie” and one for “Big Katie,” or Valkyria) and two for her face (again, one for “Little Katie” and one for “Big Katie”). The separate morphs for the face were necessitated by originally borrowing another character’s face for “Big Katie,” but it sure turned out to be a major boon to this process. It also allows me to give half her face to her sister permitting a family resemblance. Her hair as “Little Katie” is Elite Ponytail for G2F, and for “Big Katie” is Jazmine Hair for G3F.

The formula for the above transformation was:

Left to right:

1.         Katie Little Body = 100 %

Katie Big Body = 0 %

Katie Little Face = 100 %

Katie Big Face = 0 %

Muscle Volumes = 0 %

Scale = 95 %

Elite Ponytail (Opacity) = 100 %

Jazmine Hair (Opacity) = 0 %

 

2.         Katie Little Body = 75 %

Katie Big Body = 25 %

Katie Little Face = 100 %

Katie Big Face = 0 %

Muscle Volumes = 5 %

Scale = 95 %

Elite Ponytail = 100 %

Jazmine Hair = 0 %

 

3.         Katie Little Body = 50 %

Katie Big Body = 50 %

Katie Little Face = 75 %

Katie Big Face = 25 %

Muscle Volumes = 10 %

Scale = 96 %

Elite Ponytail = 100 %

Jazmine Hair = 10 %

 

4.         Katie Little Body = 25 %

Katie Big Body = 75 %

Katie Little Face = 50 %

Katie Big Face = 50 %

Muscle Volumes = 15 %

Scale = 98 %

Elite Ponytail = 100 %

Jazmine Hair = 50 %

 

5.         Katie Little Face = 0 %

Katie Big Body = 100 %

Katie Little Face = 0 %

Katie Big Face = 100 %

Muscle Volumes = 25 %

Scale = 100 %

Elite Ponytail = 0 %

Jazmine Hair = 100 %

 

There is absolutely no postwork in the above transformation image, other than to paste the five images onto one background. Little Katie just transformed into Big Katie without the need to bring a second V6 into the scene and hassle with multiple layers in postwork. Big Katie can transform back just as easily. I could conceivably have only one Katie model, fitted with both hair props and glasses (Little Katie is still nearsighted). The only trick is to remember the scale and muscle volumes settings.  Shaping presets for the various levels of transformation would take that pressure off. To get really fancy, I can use different makeup for Little and Big forms, switching the diffuse map in step 3.

As a byproduct, I’ve noticed that single-slider morphs of characters reduce the memory load sent to Iray. That’s helpful for those of us with smaller graphics cards.

Valkyria Superheroine Comic Underway!

I have entered the world of superheroine comics! If I’d known it was this much fun, I would have gotten involved years ago.

Meet Katie Ashe, also known as Valkyria.

Katie Ashe Character Card

Here is a turnaround of the Valkyria costume. It was her mother’s old Halloween costume. Katie is broke. The costume originally had a cape, but I discarded it. It was too difficult to make look right in dramatic poses.

Valkyria Costume Upgrade Turnaround

Valkyria will be a superheroine story for mature readers. It will feature nudity, violence, foul language, sexual themes, social commentary, and occasional bloodshed. It will be more along the lines of Budd Root’s Cavewoman and Dynamite’s Red Sonja than anything released by Marvel and DC. Obviously, it will be composed of 3D renders. I can’t draw.

I’m going to play Valkyria straight. As in, serious. That gives me a chance to comment on the world as I see it from my chair. It’s also my natural bent as a storyteller, as it allows me to develop fully-dimensional characters and add emotional poignancy. Already, the first chapter is pretty serious and dark.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be funny. The humor will come from Katie herself, being inept and incompetent as a superheroine, and realizing the real world does not behave, or respond, like it does in a comic book. There are semis on those roads she’s running on! With only one costume, she’s spending half her pay at the laundromat. Meaning, she’s making it up as she goes, often with chaotic results. Those chaotic results will include being stripped naked and tied up. Besides, her superlair is a backstreet hovel and her supervehicle is the city bus. This is one impoverished superheroine! Ralph Kramden is a lot funnier than Bruce Wayne.

It will be the same with the villains. Most were once decent folk who snapped because of the world they live in, and decided to turn against it by going evil – except they aren’t very good at it. Being evil in real life isn’t like it is in comics and movies. Trying to act like a comic book villain, in our world, only makes them look silly. If they succeed at all, it’s out of dumb luck. The one thing they’re good at is luring Katie, stripping her naked, and tying her up. There may be one or two who were rotten to begin with, and they will be the truly dangerous ones. Then, there will also be monsters.

I believe that humor is funnier, and more pointed, in a comic drama, than in a comedy. MASH was a comic drama, and the funny parts were more hilarious because they happened in a devastatingly unfunny situation. There is also great humor in the surreal, as in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. But let’s face it. How much more surreal can you get than being transformed into a metahuman in about two minutes by a being that shouldn’t exist?

Katie will have allies, namely Katie’s mom, her little sister, and her uncle Robert, who is her contact at Parthenon PD. Her step-father is just an asshole! There may be other superpowered allies as the series progresses, but I haven’t though that far ahead yet. Right now, I have seven chapters outlined in my head, up through when Katie takes the name Valkyria. After that, like Aura has, Katie will tell me what happens.

And, of course, Katie doesn’t really know what she’s doing. Except attract cats.

Katie Ashe

Some days, Katie Ashe feels like she has a split personality. Between all the changing into “big” form to practice running, lifting, and jumping, and changing back into “little” form to carry on with her life, she’s starting to see herself.

Katies

“Aw, man!” Big Katie whined. “Do I hafta wear a bra? Like I even need it when I’m you. And I hate glasses! There are benefits to being superpowered, you know.”

“Screw you!” Little Katie snarled. “I have to go to work, and they won’t recognize me if I show up looking like you, Gargantua! Until you … we … I start making some money at this superheroine gig, I’m the only one paying for this dump.”

“You? Me? We? I am you. Oh, crap. I’m talking to myself! That’s it, I’m blowing the tips at the liquor store!”

She should be more careful when she runs on the sidewalk.

Running

She needs to remember to get undressed before changing out of her 5’0” “Little Katie” form into her superpowered “Big Katie” form.

Not Again

I will leave you with a closeup of Katie’s face.

Katie Portrait

Valkyria is going to be fun and exciting! I already have the first seven pages of chapter one completed. Other than DeviantArt, I’m not sure exactly where Valkyria will land for publication. Wherever it is, I’ll let you know.

 

Converting the Dynamic Bikini into Conforming Cloth

Yes, this is backwards from what most 3D artists want. Most want more dynamic clothing! Well, dynamic clothing does look good and drape well with the pose. However, it is impractical for any sort of comic related imagery. It’s a pain in the neck as it is to drape for one fine art image. Imagine draping it over and over again for the forty panels required for a mere four page comic. Well, I found a way to convert some dynamic clothing into conforming clothing so that it bends with the figure’s pose every single time.

Aura Lockhaven wears the Dynamic Bikini for V7 by Optitex. I’ve had some issues with it, primarily that it does not wrinkle and it lacks eyelets for the thongs. But it’s the only corseted bikini available in the 3D market, unless I revert to her original Elven Strapped bikini by AerySoul (No Longer Available). That does have wrinkles and eyelets, but it reveals more skin than I wish. The Dynamic Bikini isn’t too much of a hassle to drape for a fine art render, although I can’t move Aura once it’s draped. If I do, it springs back into zero pose.

I’ve wanted to feature Aura in a series of comics that fill in the gaps of her backstory and between the novels. That bikini kept stopping me. The thoughts of redraping for multiple panels of a comic made me think that perhaps it would be better to reveal more of her skin after all.

Not any more!

I converted the Dynamic Bikini to conforming cloth. It now sticks to Aura and follows her everywhere, regardless of the pose.

Here’s how I did it.

This is for converting the Dynamic Bikini for Genesis 3 Female to fit a Genesis 3 Female. It may or may not work for converting a V4 article to G2F, Genesis to G2F, or G2F to G3F because of the boning and draping differences.

I’m using DAZ Studio 4.9 Pro.

1. Load G3F. Do not morph her in any way. If you use any geografted genitals, load them, too.

2. Load the Dynamic Bra and Dynamic Panty.

3. Drape both to the G3F. Bra just needs to collide with upper abdomen, upper chest, lower chest, and pectorals. Panty just needs to collide with pelvis and the geograft genitals. Now is a good time to refit the bikini the way you want. I lowered the bra to cup under the breasts instead of just draping across them. Draping will happen fast.

DB1

4. Export Bra as an object. Make sure Write Groups and Write Surfaces are selected. Use DAZ Studio (1 Unit = 1 CM) as size under To. Save it somewhere easy to find and under simple a name like, well, Bra.obj. It can be renamed later.

5. Repeat for Panty.

DB2

6. Clear the scene.

7. Load a new G3F, and her lady bits. Do not morph her in any way.

8. Import the Bra and Panty. They will slide right into place.

9. Select Bra. Apply the Morph Transfer to the Bra. This is found under Little Funky Box with Four Lines and an Arrow in Upper Left Hand Corner of Scene Tab. Go to Assets -> Transfer Utility.

DB3

10. Source is G3F.

11. Target is Bra.

DB4

12. Click Accept. All the available G3F morphs now transfer to the Bra, and buddy, I have a slew of G3F morphs. Fit-to is activated, and will automatically see the G3F figure.

13. Repeat for the Panty.

14. Both are now conforming figures, instead of objects.

15. Apply Mesh Smoothing to both, and set it to Smoothing Iterations 2, Collision Iterations 3. This helps with poke through.

DB5

16. Apply Mesh Subdivision to both. Leave it at default. As complex as the mesh is for Dynamic cloth, if this is not done, the geometry will show up under sunlight in both Iray and Reality, giving geometric shadows instead of smooth shadows.

DB6

17. Save Bra as Support Asset -> Figure/Prop Asset.

DB7

18. Repeat for Panty.

19. You’re done.

For the final touches, I applied Aura’s bikini textures to the Bra and Panty, and saved them as Wearables Presets. Then, I simply applied the Wearables to Aura. As her morphs were already loaded into the bikini, it fit her perfectly. She went skipping away as happy as an enchantress in a room full of men.

The Bra laces don’t bridge the breasts. They bend into the cleavage. Zev0’s Fit Control corrects that. Sickleyield’s Universal Breast Helpers should, too.

Does it work? Here’s Aura modeling her new bikini in several different poses. No changes were made to the bikini between the images. I simply put her in a new pose and rendered away.

DB8

DB9

DB10

 

Now, Aura and I can get busy making a few comics.

I would like to get fancy and add eyelets and wrinkle morphs to the conforming once-Dynamic Bikini, but that’s for another day.

I have no idea if this method works for other Dynamic entries, like the Century Nightgown. Try it and see. If it does (or does not) let me know.

The Enchantress and the Warrior

I am pleased and honored to announce a collaboration with Zaki Asakura, known as Akizz on DeviantArt. We have followed each other for over a year, and developed a good working relationship. For some time, we’ve wondered what would happen if his character Viona, the Warrior of Beauty, met Aura Lockhaven.

We decided to find out.

To see what happens when Viona enters Aura’s world of the 11th Century, start here at this page: http://nathanomir.deviantart.com/art/The-Enchantress-and-the-Warrior-01-690670626

To see what happens when Aura enters Viona’s world of the 21st Century, start here at this page: http://nathanomir.deviantart.com/art/Early-days-690510555