Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth Girls Update 11/12/2020

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Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth Girls Update 11/12/2020

Postby lydia02 » Mon, 19Apr29 02:56

Hi. I'm lydcreations, and I create adult games. My current game is called Earth Girls Are...? Earth Girls is a satire of various genres, such as harem, stat builder, and dating sims. The player is a student who is trying to answer one of life's elusive questions. What should I do with the rest of my life? NASA continues to broadcast messages into space, searching for signs of life. Today, the aliens reply to challenge for control of Earth. The player is chosen to be Earth's champion and convert as many women (harem or otherwise), to his side. Whoever converts the highest number of women wins the contest and gains control of Earth. What might your strategy be for winning the contest? Will you try to save as many women as you can from the aliens? Or do you focus on getting close to just a few women? Perhaps finding love along the way?


Hope you will enjoy Earth girls.

Version 0.12 is now public.
pc https://mega.nz/file/nNsUyTrJ#puCSWHHocHoOdFWou7l8OjpsUfk69OzwHUbn1ld373o

mac https://mega.nz/file/qZsiBLqL#y2-DtxhlkpoeRKWuv8tBcLDiBCbUB-iyLuRJcpHDoYs


New render screenshot
Image

Mods-Please let me know if I need to make any corrections to my post. Thanks
Last edited by lydia02 on Thu, 20Nov12 16:36, edited 13 times in total.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby ttant » Mon, 19Apr29 18:49

Could you post some screenshots ?

Edit:

please avoid stretching picture. If you render your picture in 4:3, keep this ratio. don't stretch them to match 16:9.
Image
The basket ball is not a round ball as it should be.
It can be a huge immersion break for some player.
And try to keep just one ratio in the whole game. Some renderers seems to be in 16:9 but most are not.

Otherwise the image rendering and the story seem interesting.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby lydia02 » Mon, 19Apr29 21:16

Thanks for the suggestions and feedback. I'm still new to rendering in daz. Various sets come with different dimension presets. I was adjusting the width & height to match the screen settings but overlooked the ratio. I believe that I've caught this is my new renders and will keep this in mind going forward. Below is a requested render from my game.
Image
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby MaxCarna » Tue, 19Apr30 01:12

Hi,

Very interesting story, different from what most developers have done, congratulations.

I notice that the images seem distorted even on the filesystem, so it is not an issue from the game engine.

I don't know if is your case, but when I started to work with Daz I let the Render Settings->General->Dimension Preset with the default value that is "Active Viewport". This is a bad setting, because any time you move one of the panes, you change the value of Active Viewport and generate a image with a different size. It is a good idea to create a custom size and save with a meaningful name.

Considering time to render, quality, media type... the best setting for me was: generate a 1280x640 PNG on Daz and then with a simple function in PHP, generate 3 JPG sizes: 768, 1280 and 1920 width.

I'm sorry if I missed that much on this guess.

There is some light issues, but that is a thing we are constantly improving. When we believe that we finally found the best way, a new version of Daz Studio appears and changes all the results :)
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby HeyChief » Tue, 19Apr30 04:47

Okay, now my two cents, for what it is worth. I do like the story concept. And the art is not bad. but the ending I just got left me with no desire to play any more, I am not sure if I did something wrong by studing instead of watching TV. But if it was the end of the game so far a "tp be continued" or or try again would be great. And I did like all the refferences is the story. Let me know if you have any questions that I might help you with.

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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby lydia02 » Tue, 19Apr30 21:20

MaxCarna wrote:Hi,

Very interesting story, different from what most developers have done, congratulations.


Thanks. I'm very much a story girl and have been pleased at its' good reception.

I notice that the images seem distorted even on the filesystem, so it is not an issue from the game engine.

I don't know if is your case, but when I started to work with Daz I let the Render Settings->General->Dimension Preset with the default value that is "Active Viewport". This is a bad setting, because any time you move one of the panes, you change the value of Active Viewport and generate a image with a different size. It is a good idea to create a custom size and save with a meaningful name.


I'm very new to rendering in daz. Perhaps what you mention is what has been changings my rendering settings. Renpy requires that you select an image size when you create a project. So I did make sure the images were the proper size. However the ratios changed from my intended 16:9 and thus stretched the image as noted above. I also change the ratio to view the character faces closely when I'm checking the expressions to see if they are what I'm looking for in a scene. I believe I caught at least many of these changes in later renders. Will be double checking going forward. Thanks for the setting info so I can save my settings going forward.


Considering time to render, quality, media type... the best setting for me was: generate a 1280x640 PNG on Daz and then with a simple function in PHP, generate 3 JPG sizes: 768, 1280 and 1920 width.

I'm sorry if I missed that much on this guess.


I am curious to better understand your system. Currently, I'm rendering at 1920x1080 jpg. Is png better than jpg? I only have gimp for after rendering work. So, if I'm following you, you take your 1280x640 render and scale them to the sizes you mention as jpg? I've used some of my renders for screenshots but mostly end up using the 1920 size.

There is some light issues, but that is a thing we are constantly improving. When we believe that we finally found the best way, a new version of Daz Studio appears and changes all the results :)

I've already redone 5 of my earliest renders from the game to improve the image quality. and the stretching issue. Very much a daz newbie. Reading and watching tutorials as much as I can. Have noticed that I am getting better. Would appreciate any suggestions you have. In particular to the screenshot or game images so I can reference the image to make improvements. Thanks so much for the feedback.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby lydia02 » Tue, 19Apr30 21:37

HeyChief wrote:Okay, now my two cents, for what it is worth. I do like the story concept. And the art is not bad. but the ending I just got left me with no desire to play any more, I am not sure if I did something wrong by studing instead of watching TV. But if it was the end of the game so far a "tp be continued" or or try again would be great. And I did like all the refferences is the story. Let me know if you have any questions that I might help you with.

HeyChief


I'm glad you like the story. I've been a writer for most of my life so always enjoy hearing that people enjoy the writing. I'm currently redoing my earliest renders to improve their appearance and the stretching issues. These are the renders that need the most help and provide good practice for me to learn to get better. I'll likely revisit other renders to improve them as well. I am rather happy with the photography render but I may have a different view of it when I've improved my render skills. Would appreciate any suggestions you have to make the renders or the story better.

As to the ending. I've just replayed both options with Julia. For the study option, Julia asks the player "Did you even try to complete your homework?" Then you should receive the ending "Thanks for playing Earth girls are. This ends the current version of my game. I hope you enjoyed playing." Is this option not working for everyone? It tested correctly in my version. I also downloaded from the link above. The thanks ending play for both of Julia's options. Can anyone confirm whether the endings are playing for them? Thanks.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby Greyelf » Tue, 19Apr30 23:14

lydia02 wrote:Is png better than jpg?

JPG is a lossy compression based file format. Post render edits made (in image editing software) to such a file generally cause the lose of definition each time that file is saved (again) as a JPG.

PNG is a lossless compression file format, which generally means post render edits made to such a file won't incur definition lose due to file format type at save time.

Generally you should not save to a lossy compression file format like JPG until after all your post render edits have been made.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby lydia02 » Wed, 19May01 22:55

Thanks for the information. I will be switching back to png now.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby MaxCarna » Sun, 19May05 10:44

Sorry for the late reply, I forget we don't have a notification system when we are mentioned

lydia02 wrote:I am curious to better understand your system. Currently, I'm rendering at 1920x1080 jpg. Is png better than jpg? I only have gimp for after rendering work. So, if I'm following you, you take your 1280x640 render and scale them to the sizes you mention as jpg? I've used some of my renders for screenshots but mostly end up using the 1920 size.


As Greyelf explained very well, PNG is better during edition, also it has transparencies, sometimes you may use them. I render 1280x640 because of the render time, 1920x increase the time of each individual image, when you have hundreds to do, every minute counts.

I use 3 different jpg sizes to fit the user screen better as my game is responsive. If I use only 1920 and the users play the game on a smartphone, the big reduction can blur the image. Roughly, 720 for smartphones, 1280 for tablets and 1920 for desktops.

lydia02 wrote:I've already redone 5 of my earliest renders from the game to improve the image quality. and the stretching issue. Very much a daz newbie. Reading and watching tutorials as much as I can. Have noticed that I am getting better. Would appreciate any suggestions you have. In particular to the screenshot or game images so I can reference the image to make improvements. Thanks so much for the feedback.

For lights my major tip would be work with the environment and characters at a time, environment first.

For internal environments I use ghost lights, that is a separated product, because I don't want to waste time drawing a nice emitter, like a beautiful lamp on the ceiling. But in general you can work with emissive surfaces, specially in pre-build scenarios. Change the mouse's cursor for surface selection, select something in the scene. Then on the Surface's tab, apply "Iray Emissive" and just adjust the number of lumens, millions sometimes.

Iray is based on real light system, but playing a game is different from looking to a photo (without flash), sometimes you want to see your character standing out. That's why some creatos need extra lights exclusive over the characters. The light that you can control better is the "spot light", you can focus them like a camera. The problem is that the default geometry "point" generates strong shadows from the character. Light size is not applied to "point". You can changed it to "Disc" and increase the diameter to have smooth shadows.

That change creates another complication, however, even you set "Render Emitter" off, it will only be invisible in a direct view from the camera. If the scene have mirrors, glasses, hair... between the camera and the emitter it will be visible. You will see white or black (emitter front or back) circles on those surfaces. You can force your imagination to hide all inside Daz, but sometimes the only way is to use Photoshop stamp to erase them in the post work.

Two examples:
On the corridor scene, with the 4 girls and a stair on the right. The light burst in the background, you almost can't see the stairs. Probably you increased light for the girls, but was too much for the envionment. The solution would be reduce a lot the general light and aim spotlights only to the girls.
On the science class, where the girl is looking to a microscope. It seems, I can be wrong, that the characters were dimly lit after the Daz's rendering, then the bright was increased in a external program. But that affected the image homogeneously, creating an artificial appearance. The same happens in the class scene where the blue shirt girl raise her arm. Here is just aim spotlights to the girls.

You are welcome, forgive me if I missed my hunches and because I don't have a practical solution to upload the images instead of describing them.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby lydia02 » Sun, 19May05 19:58

MaxCarna wrote:Sorry for the late reply, I forget we don't have a notification system when we are mentioned

Thanks again for the detailed responses and your time. I will get the hang of rendering in daz yet.

As Greyelf explained very well, PNG is better during edition, also it has transparencies, sometimes you may use them.

I keep the original renders in a render library but did them as jpg. Would it be helpful to convert them back to png when I'm trying to adjust brightness & contrast in gimp or would I have to render them again to see any benefit?

I render 1280x640 because of the render time, 1920x increase the time of each individual image, when you have hundreds to do, every minute counts.

I use 3 different jpg sizes to fit the user screen better as my game is responsive. If I use only 1920 and the users play the game on a smartphone, the big reduction can blur the image. Roughly, 720 for smartphones, 1280 for tablets and 1920 for desktops.


So, if I'm following correctly, I could render for 1280x640 in png and then use gimp to scale them to 1920x1080 without loss of image quality or am I missing something? Totally with you on saving render time. Thanks for the clarification on the sizes. That makes sense now why you would need multiple sizes.

For lights my major tip would be work with the environment and characters at a time, environment first.

For internal environments I use ghost lights, that is a separated product, because I don't want to waste time drawing a nice emitter, like a beautiful lamp on the ceiling. But in general you can work with emissive surfaces, specially in pre-build scenarios. Change the mouse's cursor for surface selection, select something in the scene. Then on the Surface's tab, apply "Iray Emissive" and just adjust the number of lumens, millions sometimes.


So I loaded an empty set and selected the items in it. Then went into shader presets/iray/ and used emissive shader. Is there a way to determine if this has already been applied to a set or is it just best to apply it anyway? Then adjust the lumens for the various light sources, right?

Iray is based on real light system, but playing a game is different from looking to a photo (without flash), sometimes you want to see your character standing out. That's why some creatos need extra lights exclusive over the characters. The light that you can control better is the "spot light", you can focus them like a camera. The problem is that the default geometry "point" generates strong shadows from the character. Light size is not applied to "point". You can changed it to "Disc" and increase the diameter to have smooth shadows.

That change creates another complication, however, even you set "Render Emitter" off, it will only be invisible in a direct view from the camera. If the scene have mirrors, glasses, hair... between the camera and the emitter it will be visible. You will see white or black (emitter front or back) circles on those surfaces. You can force your imagination to hide all inside Daz, but sometimes the only way is to use Photoshop stamp to erase them in the post work.


I did watch a video that recommended spotlights and to change them to disc. Also to increase the size of the spotlight to make the lighting softer. I did notice that I was getting a lighting reflection off a mirror on one of my renders. I wasn't able to figure out how to remove them in gimp. So I changed the posing of the scene so the mirror wasn't included.

Two examples:
On the corridor scene, with the 4 girls and a stair on the right. The light burst in the background, you almost can't see the stairs. Probably you increased light for the girls, but was too much for the envionment. The solution would be reduce a lot the general light and aim spotlights only to the girls.

I used the light rendering that came with the set. It looked like there was a strong light coming through the stair case. The set is open on the roof but I couldn't find a light source to reduce the settings. I have similar issues with the lighting in this scene. I worked with the environment lighting and the stair materials and rendered it again. I'll post the new version below. If you get a chance, I'd be interested in your take on what I did right with it and what I could do to make it better.


On the science class, where the girl is looking to a microscope. It seems, I can be wrong, that the characters were dimly lit after the Daz's rendering, then the bright was increased in a external program. But that affected the image homogeneously, creating an artificial appearance.

Yes, the render turned out dark so I used gimp to lighten it. Not understanding your comments on the effects this created. Had the impression that I should use gimp after the render process to improve an image. Is this a matter of making a large change and that I should have rendered it again instead?

The same happens in the class scene where the blue shirt girl raise her arm. Here is just aim spotlights to the girls.

I again used the set rendering for this and adjusted the environment. The skin tones,particularly the girl in the blue vest seem off to me. Is this all lighting or lighting & say settings? I spent most of yesterday working with a skin tone tutorial to try and adjust the skin tones from another set. This classroom set seems well lit to me so it wouldn't seem lighting was a major player but I'm probably missing something will also post before and afters for guidance.

You are welcome, forgive me if I missed my hunches and because I don't have a practical solution to upload the images instead of describing them.

Totally appreciate your help and want to get better render results. Have been comparing my renders to the promo shots for the sets and characters. Trying to train my eye. I can tell that I'm not totally happy with a render. Using the comparison to try and zone in on what is different.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby lydia02 » Sun, 19May05 20:34

I've posted 2 renders that I've tried to fix and mention above in the workshop thread for guidance as I'm not sure that people will see them in the game section. 1. The school hallway brightly light stairs mentioned above. 2. A bright set and yet the skin texture don't look much like the promos, also mentioned above.

Would appreciate feedback on what went well with the adjustments and what can be done to improve the renders. Thanks.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby MaxCarna » Mon, 19May06 05:00

lydia02 wrote:I keep the original renders in a render library but did them as jpg. Would it be helpful to convert them back to png when I'm trying to adjust brightness & contrast in gimp or would I have to render them again to see any benefit?


You have to render again on PNG, the first time that Daz saved as JPG you already loose some features, and they don't come back.

lydia02 wrote:So, if I'm following correctly, I could render for 1280x640 in png and then use gimp to scale them to 1920x1080 without loss of image quality or am I missing something? Totally with you on saving render time. Thanks for the clarification on the sizes. That makes sense now why you would need multiple sizes.


Using a PHP code, I create an array as ['1920', '1280','768'] then inside a loop I exec "convert -resize $resolution -quality 80" $file $newFile". It is very simple, worked for me. But if you wanting something more elaborated, Tlaero's Aventure Creator have a program to resize image in the folder.

lydia02 wrote:So I loaded an empty set and selected the items in it. Then went into shader presets/iray/ and used emissive shader. Is there a way to determine if this has already been applied to a set or is it just best to apply it anyway? Then adjust the lumens for the various light sources, right?


The only thing you should be aware of is to select one or more surfaces, expanding the object on the Surfaces tab before you double click on "emissive shader". It doesn't work if you just select the object. You will know if it worked if the emissive properties appears on the surface edition.

lydia02 wrote:I did watch a video that recommended spotlights and to change them to disc. Also to increase the size of the spotlight to make the lighting softer. I did notice that I was getting a lighting reflection off a mirror on one of my renders. I wasn't able to figure out how to remove them in gimp. So I changed the posing of the scene so the mirror wasn't included.


Dreamlight Iray Advanced lighting? :) That's my biggest pain while making internal scenes. I usually try to keep the mirror and make juggles to hide the light.

lydia02 wrote: I used the light rendering that came with the set. It looked like there was a strong light coming through the stair case. The set is open on the roof but I couldn't find a light source to reduce the settings. I have similar issues with the lighting in this scene. I worked with the environment lighting and the stair materials and rendered it again. I'll post the new version below. If you get a chance, I'd be interested in your take on what I did right with it and what I could do to make it better.


I saw the new picture in the other topic, great improvement. If the roof is open you must be carefull with the dome light. Sometimes is better to configure Render Settings->Environment for "Scenes lights only", eliminate the dome. Otherwise, you will need to set the intensity of the dome light in that same panel.

Other thing that I usually don't change is the tone mapping. The default is darker, some creators reduce the tone creating a big boost on the bright of the entire scene.

lydia02 wrote: Yes, the render turned out dark so I used gimp to lighten it. Not understanding your comments on the effects this created. Had the impression that I should use gimp after the render process to improve an image. Is this a matter of making a large change and that I should have rendered it again instead?


Yes, look, every object on the scene reacts in a different way to a light source. If you apply an effect using Photoshop or Gimp, the effect will work uniformly in every object, creating an artificial look. It's not bad, just strange. The better solution would be to render again.

What I usually do, is click on render and wait until the scene start to come out. If the light isn't good, I cancel the process, change the settings and render again. When is good, I considerer it ready to render. I use a batch render script, so basically move to the next scene, and then render all of them while I sleep.

lydia02 wrote: I again used the set rendering for this and adjusted the environment. The skin tones,particularly the girl in the blue vest seem off to me. Is this all lighting or lighting & say settings? I spent most of yesterday working with a skin tone tutorial to try and adjust the skin tones from another set. This classroom set seems well lit to me so it wouldn't seem lighting was a major player but I'm probably missing something will also post before and afters for guidance.


I believe that is just add some spotlights. If the skin tone looks good in another environment, than the problem shouldn't be the skin tone. Is really hard to get a character that the out-of-the-box skin is not good. Here a have an example of how I use 3 spotlights on a set:
Image

lydia02 wrote: Totally appreciate your help and want to get better render results.


I'm very glad about that.

lydia02 wrote: Have been comparing my renders to the promo shots for the sets and characters. Trying to train my eye. I can tell that I'm not totally happy with a render. Using the comparison to try and zone in on what is different.


Promo images are very hard to achieve, once I got a .duf file of a character promo scene, there was about 8 Point Lights of different colors. Someone spent hours on that and make sense, because if the model sells a lot, he will get a lot of money. But for us, with a game of hundreds of images, so many time in just one image would make the project unsustainable,
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby lydia02 » Tue, 19May07 20:55

MaxCarna wrote:You have to render again on PNG, the first time that Daz saved as JPG you already loose some features, and they don't come back.


Thanks. I figured that was the answer but still learning so I wanted to check.

MaxCarna wrote:Using a PHP code, I create an array as ['1920', '1280','768'] then inside a loop I exec "convert -resize $resolution -quality 80" $file $newFile". It is very simple, worked for me. But if you wanting something more elaborated, Tlaero's Aventure Creator have a program to resize image in the folder.


So you provide an image and the code resizes it to what is needed by the device being used to play your game? Sounds like something I will need to look into if I try to offer my games on different formats. Believe the current device my posts are being played to are for pc's so the current 1920 should be good.

The only thing you should be aware of is to select one or more surfaces, expanding the object on the Surfaces tab before you double click on "emissive shader". It doesn't work if you just select the object. You will know if it worked if the emissive properties appears on the surface edition.

I opened a set and selected just one item, Under surfaces editor I's seeing emission option such as: emission color, emission profile, and luminance so it sounds like it worked. The temperature is 6500 but the luminance just has a ?. The object I selected was a classroom wall. So I need to put a value to the luminance of the wall and select the other items in the room/ add to their lumin values. Should the lumens value be the same for each surface or should some surfaces be a different setting? Suggestions for a good starting value? From there, I imagine I'd just increase/decrease based on iray previews. Is it best to combine emission from the materials with added lights such as spotlights? Most of my sets are interiors with the school setting.


I saw the new picture in the other topic, great improvement. If the roof is open you must be carefull with the dome light. Sometimes is better to configure Render Settings->Environment for "Scenes lights only", eliminate the dome. Otherwise, you will need to set the intensity of the dome light in that same panel.

Other thing that I usually don't change is the tone mapping. The default is darker, some creators reduce the tone creating a big boost on the bright of the entire scene.


Thanks. I mostly worked with the materials of the stairs, railing, & walls and it made a large difference. Wasn't able to figure out how to decrease the light hitting the staircase. The set with the bright staircase is in dome & scene mode. I'd like to try and use the pre render settings from the set and just adjust from there if possible. The environment intensity was set to 1. When I changed that to .5 the staircase was no longer flooded with light. There's also resolution setting and dome orientation that sound like they would adjust the lighting as well.

When I try to use the pre render settings that come with a set, when I add a spotlight it kills the pre render lighting. Is there a way to add to the exisiting pre render from the set?

Yes, look, every object on the scene reacts in a different way to a light source. If you apply an effect using Photoshop or Gimp, the effect will work uniformly in every object, creating an artificial look. It's not bad, just strange. The better solution would be to render again.

What I usually do, is click on render and wait until the scene start to come out. If the light isn't good, I cancel the process, change the settings and render again. When is good, I considerer it ready to render. I use a batch render script, so basically move to the next scene, and then render all of them while I sleep.


Thanks for the clarification. I was just under the wrong impression about post render adjustments. Sound like I will get the best results in daz and then just tweek with gimp. Do you have a particular amount of time you wait before deciding if the render looks good? Iray is still in the process of creating the image so don't want to kill a render until it is roughly how it is going to look as the final product.

I believe that is just add some spotlights. If the skin tone looks good in another environment, than the problem shouldn't be the skin tone. Is really hard to get a character that the out-of-the-box skin is not good. Here a have an example of how I use 3 spotlights on a set:
Image


So it sounds like the skin tone issue is a matter of not enough light on the characters. The room is getting good light but the girls aren't. Thanks for this. As mentioned previously, lost a day obsessing over the gray skin tone. The room had lots of lighting so was confused why the girls skin colors looked off. Thanks also for the lighting setup illustration. I'll add this and see if I can't get the girls to look right.

Promo images are very hard to achieve, once I got a .duf file of a character promo scene, there was about 8 Point Lights of different colors. Someone spent hours on that and make sense, because if the model sells a lot, he will get a lot of money. But for us, with a game of hundreds of images, so many time in just one image would make the project unsustainable,


Great point. I'm mostly using the promo comparisons to help me hone in on what it is about a render I made that makes it look off. Hard standard to compare to, but it does allow me to compare my render set or character to the same item.
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Re: Renpy Free/Donation/Patreon Earth girls are Update 4/28/

Postby MaxCarna » Wed, 19May08 02:39

lydia02 wrote:So you provide an image and the code resizes it to what is needed by the device being used to play your game?


Yes, my game is Html and I'm using a framework called Boostrap (https://www.w3schools.com/bootstrap/default.asp) can't say if the URL will be blocked. It provide me variables so I can choose which file I will load.

lydia02 wrote:The object I selected was a classroom wall


See, an emissive surface become a light itself. If you select the whole wall, you will have something like a huge neon panel.

Generally you select the object "bedside lamp" for example, you will have multiple surfaces: metal, glass, filament... The only surface that you will turn emissive would be filament, that's the small metal string inside the lamp that glows on real life. I will give you an example next.

lydia02 wrote:Suggestions for a good starting value? From there, I imagine I'd just increase/decrease based on iray previews. Is it best to combine emission from the materials with added lights such as spotlights? Most of my sets are interiors with the school setting.


This scene is a mixture of emissive surfaces and primitive lights.
The pre-built environment had point lights on the ceiling, in front of globes, they were very warm lights (2900 k). I erased the point light, making the globe emissive and used 5000000.0 lumens on each.
There are strong blue point light in the middle of the air, it don't have lumens, so I configured the intensity to 4500.0%.
There are three spotlights on the couple and 1 on the waitress walking in the back. The lumens goes from 200000.0 to 80000.0
Some yellow point lights on the balcony behind.

Image

lydia02 wrote:When I try to use the pre render settings that come with a set, when I add a spotlight it kills the pre render lighting. Is there a way to add to the exisiting pre render from the set?


There are several types of sets: some come with emissive surfaces, some with primitive lights, others with the renders settings configured to provide light, some with separated lights that you must apply, some of nothing at all. The first you must look carefully if they were pre-made for Iray or 3Delight, they have completely different light systems.

When you add a spotlight, it doesn't kill your previous lights, the thing is that "Preview lights" only recognize primitive lights such as spotlight. If there is no primitive lights you see all the scene illuminated because the system assumes that you have no lights on your set, so it activates a default ilumination over everything just for preview purposes, not related to the render. Now, when you add a single spotlight, the preview will only show that light, everything else become dark. Again, this doesn't affect the render.

You can enable or disable with CTRL+L.

lydia02 wrote:Do you have a particular amount of time you wait before deciding if the render looks good?


It's relative to your hardware and the Daz version. I used to use 2x 1070 and Daz 4.10, in 5 to 10 minutes was enough for me. Now I'm using one 2080ti and Daz 4.11, in 2 minutes I can see. The difference is not related to hardware improvement, the complete render time is almost the same. Looks like 4.11 work in a different way, the image come out faster, but the interactions are slower.

lydia02 wrote:So it sounds like the skin tone issue is a matter of not enough light on the characters.


If you are in doubt about a character's skin, create a new scene, add only the character, leave as "Dome and scene", Daz default dome will be applied, just render. That will give you a glimpse
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