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Retouching 3D Images

June 14, 2010

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The other day I talked abut retouching photos with Photoshop. Today I’ll talk a little bit about retouching 3D work. Generally for me, the same rules apply – I try and get the very best image that I can right out of the 3D program, and only after that do I do the retouching. So I’ll take the ballerina from yesterday’s Hiding Body Parts post and go a little further here.

The first area I’ll fix here is the leg transition. It’s marked Number 1 on the accompanying image. In Poser or Daz, this is generally the area of transition from the torso skin map to the leg skin map. In about 90% of cases, everything is perfect, but on the odd occasion, there are problems with this transition area due to certain light setups, and also depending on how careful the skin map artist was. Before releasing a skin map for sale, it ideally should be tested under a variety of light sets to ensure smooth transitions where the image maps split. It’s no big deal. Ill just use the Patch tool in Photoshop and it will be done in about a minute. Why not the Clone tool? Because of the differences in Luminosity above and below that transition area, I’ll likely have a globby mess. The Patch tool will work better here. The Clone tool is better for spot retouch.

Next I’ll take a look at Number 2, that grass transition area. Again, I’ll give it a Patch tool treatment to see if I can get that to look a bit better.

For Number 3, The Hydrangea Bush, I see that a leaf looks odd and is sort of stuck in the blossom head. So I’ll select and feather a few of the blue blossoms and give it a quick cut and paste. When using purchased 3D plants, you need to consider the care the artist used in building them. In some stock 3D plants, you’ll have all kinds of things cutting into one another. These are very nice – I just found the one oddball spot in the front bush that I’m not fond of.

For Number 4, the ballet shoes, I’m going to take a look at the toes of the shoes and make sure I’m happy with them, making sure I don’t see any awkward “space”. In the old Bryce program, there is a Drop command. But here in Daz Studio, sometimes positioning your object can be a bit wonky. So I’m just going to zoom in and take a closer look.

Number 5 is the shoulder. What I’ll do here is ensure I have a totally smooth curve on this body line. If the joints is good here, generally I’ll be safe with all of the rest. When using Victoria 4 as a model, I have very few problems with the poly count and any rough edges on the model. V3 has been a little problematic at times depending on lighting and on the scene. If I make the determination that I’m good, then that’s great. If not and my model is jagged or bumpy, I have two choices – either go back to Daz, subdivide and re-render, or cut a clean curve with the Pen tool in Photoshop and do a little cloning. Gee maybe I should have made this Number 1 😉 Well not to worry, V4 is good here, but I generally check these shoulder curves almost first thing.

For Number 6, looks like I have a floating strap on the dress, so I’m going to fix that. As mentioned in the previous post, sometimes try as you might, the clothes just don’t fit perfectly for absolutely every pose.

Finally, for Number 7, that outside palm edge towards the dress is a bit bizarre, so I’ll get things looking better here. Our ballerina shouldn’t have a Frankenhand.

Last, I’ll take a look at the Histogram for the image, evaluate my tonal range, and see if I want to throw on a Curves adjustment layer mask in Photoshop and tweak some things.

Looks like I’ll have about a whole 5 minutes retouch work here. If you’re spending hours getting things to look right for a basic image, either in photos or 3D, I hate to say it, but you’re doing something wrong.

How far I go in retouch and finishing is mostly determined by the end use of the image. If it’s my own image for promo use of a personal print, I’ll add some more creative flourish and dress things up a bit. If the image is going to a stock collection or direct to a graphic designer, the flaws as numbered in the image are evaluated and fixed, but I’m going to leave all the flourish work up to the buyer or designer and instead give them the cleanest base image possible.

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One Comment
  1. Michael Brown permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:54 am

    Good tips! I don’t thing I have ever done a Poser render which was not improved by adjusting Curves. That’s probably because I am not getting the lighting right in the first place, but Poser renderer always seems to overdo things.

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