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Silhouettes: creating sunset/sundown scenes without postwork

Author: Vilian

Tools Needed

* Poser 4 or higher

Introduction

This came out thanks to gorgeous animal shows on TV. I truly wanted to re-create some of those settings in 3D, and suddenly found out that there is very easy method to achieve the goal - and not only fast and light on resources, but also not requiring any other tool than Poser. It can give pretty stunning results, so I'm sharing the route.

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Step 1 - Preparations and precautions

The most important thing to remember about this whole routine is that it's all about outlines and ambient color.

Every time new figure or prop is loaded you have to be sure that its ambient color is set to pure black (P4/PP) or ambient value is set to 0 (P5 and up). Since textures won't be visible anyway, you can unplug every one of them except of transmaps - transparency maps create outlines of such items as hair or tree leaves.

It's up to you whether you want to delete lights just before final render, or right after creating new scene. If the latter, set document's display mode to either Wireframe (Ctrl+3) or Lit Wireframe (Ctrl+5) - screenshots are done in Wireframe mode, with all lights deleted using Delete All Lights Python script (option available from PP up).

Step 2 - Basic horizon line

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For creating ground it's best to use any of morphing terrain props, but static one will do perfectly fine.

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Terrain was rotated around Z axis and another prop was added, this time a mound, to create varied horizon shape.

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If you find bare ground too crude, some grass props can enliven it. Arrange them without caring too much about floating about ground level - as long as they do not float above the horizon line everything is all right.

Step 3 - The characters

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With base terrain ready, it's time to add the creatures. Again, it doesn't matter if the horse is way above the Poser ground, as long as its outline doesn't make poor thing look like floating above the terrain outline.

Step 4 - Scene fillers

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When scene is looking too empty it may be necessary to add some fillers - plants, stones or whatever fits your type of scenery. When using transmapped plants like the ones coming with DAZ MilEnvironment remember to keep the transparencies intact, otherwise you'll get black squares instead of flowers or leaves.

Step 5 - The background

Now that the foreground shapes are ready, it's time to create a sundown background prop. It's quite easy to obtain breathtaking orange-red sun image - it may come from one of royalty-free photo pages, it may be painted or rendered, it doesn't matter as long as you have the right and idea how to use it.

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Load a backdrop prop of your choice, something like square primitive will do. Rescale it to fit your image dimensions ratio - for example, if you have sunset image of 1200x800px, its ratio is 4:3, so the prop needs to be resized with same ratio to not deform the image. For default square primitive values of 4000% for xScale and 3000% for yScale seem to work best. Place the prop carefully behind the scene.

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In P4 or Pro Pack go into Materials dialog and load sundown image as a texture. Set Ambient color to shade of pale gray or pure white - the brighter the color, the brighter the sky will be.

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In P5 or higher enter the Material Room and plug sundown picture as Image_Map node for Ambient Color. Set the color to white, set the value to 1 or lower - the lower the value, the darker the sky will be.

Step 6 - Final steps and rendering

Final step before rendering is making sure that none of props or figures has non-zeroed (or non-black, in P4 and PP) settings for Ambient Color. If there are still any lights in your scene, it's time to delete them too, either by hand or using Python script.

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These are proper settings for fast and quality render of a silhouette sundown scene. They apply to P4 Render Engine in Poser 5+ as well as in P4/PP. 'Use texture maps' option has to be checked for transmaps to be rendered, so if you need really fast render you have to manually remove textures plugged into Diffuse_Color/Texture Map.

Now hit Render and see what shows up.

Step 7 - The end

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Of course one doesn't have to follow the tutorial word by word. Backdrop can be loaded at the beginning, lights can be deleted in the end, one doesn't have to remove textures at all if only rendering machine can handle them. And obviously the route described is not limited to horses only. Other animals, mythical creatures, faeries, planes, even robots - that all depends on one's creativity. I just hope this step-by-step tutorial helps someone in creating a very special and unique art.