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Making shadows using pictures

Author: Moerse

Tools Needed

* Bryce 5

* Any paint program

Introduction

Ever wanted to make a decent picture in design time but you'really don't have the right figures at hand? This tutorial will show you how you can undergo that problem by using an imported 2D picture to cast shadows, and therefore eliminate the need of some complicated character that you just don't have.

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Step 1: Choose picture

I will be making a scene from Romeo and Juliet (for all of you who wonder why Romeo and Juliet, I still have it form a school project a while ago and it has just been rotting away in its folder'). First let's find a picture that has the right character(s) on it.

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When you choose your picture, you don't really have to look out for anything like quality or colors as long as the outlines of your character(s) are clearly visible.

Step 2: Prepare picture

Open your picture using any paint program (although I suggest using something like Adobe Photoshop because it will save you hours of work. Trust me I did this using Paint'). Draw a black line along your character's outlines and color everything on the inside black. Make sure that this line isn't too thick, otherwise it might mess up your final image.

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Either erase or color the background white.

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Hint: When you draw the line around your character be sure to use a color that sets itself apart from the background, otherwise it might make it hard to see where he/she starts and ends.

Step 3: Import picture

Go and open Bryce. On the ~Create' pallet at the top you will find the Vitruvian man.

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Click on him. A new window opens titled ~Pictures'.

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Click one of the gray squares next to the Vitruvian man's picture. Another window opens asking you to locate the picture you made in steps 1&2. Do so and press open.

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Your picture should appear in two of the top three boxes. Click copy right beneath the fist box and paste beneath the second one. If it asks you whether you are sure that you want to delete this picture, press yes. Next, see the half black and half white circle at the top, click that too.

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Notice how now in the third box only all black parts appear but not the background, which was white. Close this window by pressing the little check sign. Your picture has now been imported into the 3D world (Bryce).

Step 4: Prepare background

Before we do anything else, let's prepare some objects within the scene. Create a cube (found on the create pallet) and enter the information as listed below in the cube's attributions window.

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This will be your wall on which later the shadow is going to fall. You can add some texture to make the scene look more interesting. Also hit the little sun located on the Sky and Fog pallet to make it night.

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Step 5: Position picture

Now here comes the tricky step, positioning your picture and the light (next step). Before we move the picture let's play a little with the camera. Switch to ~From Top' view. Select your camera and enter the following in camera's attribution window. Check the box labeled ~Locked' once you are done.

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Your scene should now look something like this.

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Try selecting your 2D picture. Notice how you can't do it from above? Switch to ~Director's view'. Select the picture and go back to ~From top'. By using the Repositioning tools located on the Edit pallet move it behind the camera. It shouldn't actually touch it though.

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Open the picture's attributes window and enter ~16' in the box label y-position. Hint: In this case, because the picture only contains the heads of R&J, it's important to not place it too high or otherwise in the final render it will be visible that they don't have any feet. Remember this when you choose you picture, it always better to have it larger than necessary.

Switch back to camera view and do a quick render. You shouldn't be able to actually see your picture right now, which is good.

Pretty boring scene so far, let's change that.

Step 6: Add light

Hit the spotlight button on the create pallet.

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Open its attribution window and enter the following.

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Stay in the camera view and try rendering. Not quite the effect you would have thought of. Enter the light lab by pressing the little ~E' that appears when the spotlight is selected. Change the light intensity to 10, the shadow ambience to 100 and the shadow softness to three. Also make sure that in the falloff section linear is selected.

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Go back and try rendering again.

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That's much better. Hint: It might sometimes be that the edges of your shadows look like they are made of squares. That's because the shadow is actually just a magnification of the original picture in black. That means that also all individual pixels were magnified. To change that square like appearance, raise the shadow softness level in the light lab.

Now just add some more obstacles in your scene and you are done.

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Step 7: Final Tip

When you choose your picture that's going to be your shadow, try using ones where the character(s) has a very distinct outline, especially if you want that shadow to be a certain person. For example take the Vitruvian man. Everybody would recognize a shadow form him. But fold his hands across his chest and it might be anybody.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Good luck and happy rendering!!! :-)