Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

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Nathanomir
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Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby Nathanomir » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:11 pm

Let's face it. These Iray skins for Victoria 7 and Michael 7 are pale. I mean, pale. The maps look good in an image editor, and probably excellent when rendered via Iray. But when rendered via Reality, the poor guy and gal look like they lived in a cave for three years. The Topcoat technique (soon to be presented by Banditcameraman and myself) does darken the skin on the Genesis 3 line, but not as much as I like for the barbarian fantasy genre I depict.

That can be changed. During my V6/M6 days, I mildly darkened the skin diffuse maps using the Curve Tool in GIMP. That was just to give the folks a nice outdoorsy tan. Now that I'm working with V7 and M7 and their accompanying Iray skins, it's mandatory, unless I'm rendering ghosts. A nice tan with Curve darkens the diffuse skin map just enough to make my folks look healthy.

Today, I'll show you how to use Curve, and what it can do to enhance your Genesis 3 dynasty. I'll be using GIMP, but Photoshop also has Curve.
The thing to remember about using Curve with a V7 or M7 skin, is to darken it much darker than you think is necessary. Iray skins render lighter than they look, so a ridiculous radical race change surgery in GIMP or PS will result in only a nice tan when rendered.

Curve Tool can be found in GIMP under Colors. It should be in a similar spot in Photoshop.

Image

It looks like this.

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That doesn't tell you anything, does it?
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Nathanomir
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Re: Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby Nathanomir » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:17 pm

Directions for the tool:

I ain't got no scientific background, Lt. Dan. So, my terminology is just blue jeans language. It probably isn't accurate, but you'll get the idea how to use the tool.

Curve Tool works on an X, Y axis. Center Point is 127, 127. The anchors are diagonal, and connected to lower left, or 0, 0, and upper right, or 255, 255. Lower left is absolute black. Upper right is absolute white. The X axis (left, right) controls blue, from light to dark. The Y axis (up, down) controls red, from light to dark.

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1 = Pale, Red

2 = Dark, Red

3 = Pale, Blue

4 = Dark, Blue

5 = Absolute Black (0, 0)

6 = Absolute White (255, 255)

To adjust the map for a tan, click on the center point. Drag it to move it toward the right, and down, toward 2 and 4. It will move toward both, simultaneously, darkening both red and blue in a nice mixture. Aim for the X. As you drag the center point, you can see how Curve Tool got its name. It changes the colors on a curve, resulting in adjustments to the entire spectrum from 0,0 to 255, 255.

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Curve defaults to Smooth. Leave it there. The other option (at least in GIMP) is Freehand. Smooth alters the line in a "smooth" arc from the anchor points to the center point. Hence, the name. Freehand is drawn by you, and can result in some trippy Andy Warhol effects, or a surreal disaster.
Last edited by Nathanomir on Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Nathanomir
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Re: Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby Nathanomir » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:28 pm

To make sense of this, let's look at practical examples. I'll be using Brooke for V7 by Fred Winkler.

Here is the basic diffuse map for the face, with the curve center point at the default position of 127, 127.

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Here is the same map, with the curve center point set at 160, 110, which is the ballpark zone where I usually set skin maps. Remember, these Iray maps render much lighter than they look, so all I gave her is a tan.

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Do you want a vampire?

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How about an African?

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Yes, that is still the Brooke map. Again, this will render lighter than it looks here.

How about a molten planet alien from outer space?

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This is the result of the Freehand option. Really, it would make a great alien, if you can align the seams between the material maps.

My default zone of 160, 110 is simply that. A zone. Aim for that area, and watch how the skin map responds. Move the point around until it looks like you want it to look. Sometimes, 150, 90 is all that is necessary. Vyktohria's skin maps don't require as dramatic a curve as Fred Winkler's or Silver's.

Curve Tool does much more than this, but this is all we need for the technique of improving Iray skin diffuse maps.
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Nathanomir
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Re: Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby Nathanomir » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:29 pm

Workflow:

Once you've found the skin diffuse maps you want to use, open them all at once. You will need all four (or three for the previous generations) open at the same time to adjust the colors simultaneously and ensure that they match. Or, you could be smarter than me and write down the X,Y settings you use.

First, copy the skin map, and paste it as a new layer. Work on the new layer. That way, you always have the original to work with again, without having to dig through the runtime to find it.

Save the skin as a GIMP or Photoshop file so you can change it later if it doesn't render the way you want.

Export these modified skins under a new name. Definitely keep the original maps untouched and under their original names so you can reuse them later. Mine go into separate folders marked for the character (like Ella V7), and under the character's name (such as Ella Arms), but that's my workflow for customized characters. Just put them where you can easily find them in Reality.

Obviously, Curve Tool will alter any makeup, sometimes to overly dramatic levels. That is especially true of lipstick. I recommend that you don't use face maps with built in makeup. Instead, use the base face maps, and invest in a makeup overlay kit, such as Extreme Closeup by Forbidden Whispers. Build up your own makeup in layers, since you're saving the face map as a GIMP or PS file anyway. That will keep the makeup colors consistent.
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Nathanomir
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Re: Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby Nathanomir » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:38 pm

So, let's see it in action.

The only differences between the examples are in the diffuse maps. Lighting is one of Lee's IBL spots and a single mesh. All lights, camera, and Reality settings are identical. All skin settings remained the same, except where noted.

This is Ivan. His skin is right out of the box, adjusted in Reality for the render. He hasn't seen the sun in decades.

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Here he is again, after receiving the upcoming Topcoat technique. Better, but let's give him the Curve Tool treatment.

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Ivan again, after receiving a diffuse map tan in GIMP using Curve tool. Now, he's a seasoned man of action. You may not want him so sunkissed, but he's perfect for my Generic Barbarian Dude. Under full outdoor light, he will not look as dark.

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This is Jenara. She wears the diffuse map as purchased from DeviousDolls. She needs SPF 65 sunblock in that bikini. Jenara is a classic case of pale Iray skin.

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Now, after a reworking with Curve Tool in GIMP. She looks happier.

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Using Curve Tool will also enable you to reuse the same skin diffuse set over and over, in the same scene even, and still have unique characters. How about twin brothers, but one is a nightshift bartender and the other is a lifeguard?

I'm not sure how Curve Tool affects skins for Olympia, Gia, Karen, Gianni, Kimo, Lee, etc. My G3 characters are various V7s, M7s, and Ivan. It should work the same. If you have the other guys and gals, try it out and let's see your results.
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banditcameraman
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Re: Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby banditcameraman » Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:02 pm

Dude! :o :worship:

Thank you so much for the tut :D Now I can get my head around the curve tool :oops: You da man! 8-)

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Marcel2586
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Re: Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby Marcel2586 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:45 pm

Great info.
this would be funny if it weren't happening to me :shock:

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Fram1963
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Re: Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby Fram1963 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:15 pm

Thanks Nathanomir!
Lyne
:D

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Nathanomir
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Re: Using Curve Tool to Enhance Genesis 3 Skin

Postby Nathanomir » Mon Sep 26, 2016 4:01 pm

All y'all are quite welcome. It's an honor to be able to share a technique.

Ivan wouldn't look as dark if he wasn't also wearing the Topcoat. With that in place, I can back off the intensity of the tan.
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