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An Lei | Digital art overload | Page 2

Quick and not representative sharpness test with and without UV filter

Had this little argument with my friend Tilo who claimed that using a UV filter on your lens will make the images less sharp and generally be bad. So I made a little comparison shot. Left is with UV filter and right is without. Looks pretty identical to me. So if the UV filter is affecting image quality it is under some other circumstances, which are probably pretty rare. If anyone has some suggestions on how the influence of the filter can be made visible, please comment!

Left: UV filter attached, right: no UV filter attached

Full resolution images can be seen here and here.

UPDATE: Used some Google-Fu to see if there are other people wondering about the same thing. Some interesting results came up. The overall statement seems to be: UV filter is theoretically affecting the image quality, but in 99% of the cases this is not noticeable. In very extreme light conditions the effects can be visible though.

Now for some finer points:

Apparently this is a topic that is often discussed, and as always in these cases many people just repeat what they have heard from “someone” without really having the facts to back it up. Personally I will do some more comparison tests to better know in which situations the filter could affect my images in what ways, so I can decide when it will probably be better taking it off. The main reason why I prefer a UV filter for lens protection is space constraints in my camera bag.
Posted in Photography.

DIY lightbox


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Ever wondered why those product shots look that much better than the pictures you take of your grand-granddad’s heirloom watch? Most probably because of the light. As we all know, lighting is everything in photography. A lightbox is a neat little gadget that helps you light stuff you want to take a picture of. Well, it’s not suited for everything because of spacial restrictions, so people will most likely not fit in there. But everything else does, like watches, food or that amazing shell you found on the shore last vacation. This little article shows how I built myself a cheap lightbox, so maybe you can take inspiration from this. There’s of course countless other build instructions on the web on how to do this, so feel free to fire up Google and get creative!

Here are the first results I got from my lightbox. Not great, but ok I think. I need another flash light…

Posted in Photography, Tutorials.

Blenderella or the modeling of great characters

This is my personal short review of the Blender Institute training DVD  6:  Blenderella, Character Modeling in Blender 2.5.

Summary

What is it all about? Obviously character modeling. More specifically the DVD focuses on polygonal quad-based modeling using the latest Blender version. There are a lot of different ways one can go about character modeling, for example using a sculpting program like ZBrush or Scultpris and then at some point switching to a modeling application. This not the approach presented here, rather the other popular way is characterized, which is starting from reference images inside the modeler and then using polygonal modeling techniques like extruding and subdividing to form the mesh. While this approach is less intuitive it generates really nice geometry which is very suitable for animation later on. The DVD covers the complete workflow from adjusting and setting up the reference images to finishing up the model with intricate detail. Not covered are rigging, animation, texturing and rendering. Read More »

Posted in Blender Modeling, Tutorials Tagged , , , .

Cool new gadget from Wacom

The Inkling is a nice piece of technology as it seems. It is essentially a set of pen and capture device where the capture device tracks the movements of the pen. You simply attach the capture device to a regular sheet of paper (up to A4) and use the pen to draw normally on it. Then later you can download the tracked pen strokes to your computer and get a vector graphic out of your sketch. The trailer video unfortunately doesn’t show any real footage of the device in action, so I don’t know how well this really works. Depending on the final price though, it might be something nice for people that sketch a lot when on the move.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , .

Interesting software for Android

Just thought this app looks pretty interesting. Essentially it’s a remote control for your Canon DSLR for Android devices. It is still in beta and only a very limited selection of devices is supported (meaning only the Galaxy S2 – good I own one – and some Gingerbread tablets). The idea is acutally pretty cool though, I could imagine this to be pretty useful in some situations. Guess I’ll check it out when it’s out of beta :)

Posted in Photography Tagged , .

Blender tips

Just stumbled upon this great collection of Blender tips from some of the best Blender artists. Some things I already knew, but others are really cool to know. Check them all out here!

Posted in Blender Modeling, Tutorials Tagged , , .

Flickr is good!

As you may have probably noticed, I have moved my digital photography efforts to Flickr. It’s just way more convenient to host and organize the pictures there, plus they get more exposure :) I found some nice plugins though for WordPress to link my Flickr account into the site. On the right you can see the latest pictures of my photo stream and on the photography page here there’s an up to date list of all my Flickr collections.

If you’re into digital photography you should definitely consider creating a Flickr account. For me, the switch was good as it motivates me more to post process my images and put them online. Otherwise they catch virtual dust on the hard drive and no one ever gets to see them.

Posted in Internal, Photography.

Modelling training tip

For every beginner in character modeling, getting the shape is hard enough but getting a good poly flow for animation is even harder. Recently, I found a nice way to train your poly flow and getting good results at the same time. First of all you use MakeHuman to generate your training model. After adjusting the sliders in MakeHuman to your liking, export the result als .obj. Now you can import that into Blender and start making a lower poly version on top of it. Create a new cube/sphere/whatever and set the snapping tool like this:

This makes sure that when you drag vertices around it will get projected onto the nearest surface and in the end is similar to the old retopo tool in 2.49. You can play around with the settings and see what the different ones do. Maybe you’ll find something that suits your needs better. Now you can happily extrude edges or vertices and try to get the perfect edge flow with quads only without having to worry about the shape since that will be done by the projection.

In the above image you can see my first try on this. I did not use the MakeHuman model directly but imported it into Sculptris for some refinement. I really learned a lot on this and will definitely be doing this again.

Posted in Blender Modeling, Refs, Tutorials Tagged , , .

Hand modeling

Sometimes, it’s just cool to have access to expensive toys! Okay, let’s start at the beginning. My colleague Rainer is working in the field of programming by demonstration and therefore uses data gloves to monitor human hand movement. Unfortunately these gloves need a very good calibration to give good results and the mapping of the glove data to a model is useless if the hand model is not accurate. The problem now was to get an accurate model of a human hand, ideally from Rainer’s hand. Since we do have a 40,000 € 3D digitizer in our lab we obviously thought about scanning his hand. It turned out to be tricky because you need several scans from different viewpoints and a human can’t hold his fingers in the exact same position for that so results are not that great. Usually, if you want to scan a hand, you make a clay model of the hand and scan that. And that is pretty much what we did. We got ourselves some Creaform and Artestone and went to work. Surprisingly, the first try succeeded so well that we got this:

The finished hand model with a stand.

Now all left to do was take this and put it into the modeling center to process. Several minutes later (thanks to Rapidform!) the finished 3D model turned out to be really great. Below is a render of the high resolution scan version (right side, ~200,000 faces) and a automatically reduced version (left side, ~5000 faces).

Left: auto reduced version (5k tris) Right: scan version (200k tris)

Every once in a while things just go smooth and easy!

UPDATE: Spent some more time with the render settings :)

Spent some more time with the render and material settings

Posted in Blender Modeling, Sculpting.

Dustin Diaz shooting and Flickr

Last Friday my old colleague Tilo paid me a visit and since he’s an ambitioned hobbyist when it comes to photography (check out his Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/galllo) we decided to do a little bit of that. We decided to do a tribute to the great Dustin Diaz and recreate his night shot portrait style as best as we could. Here’s one of the results:

Recreating the Dustin Diaz style

You can see Tilo’s efforts in his photostream. The light setup consisted of three speedlights, one to the left through an umbrella using an orange gel, one from the right behind bare white and one behind the subject with a green gel. The last one is barley visible as it just pointed on the floor. Funny thing was, this was shot right in the middle of Karlsruhe with a lot of people passing by. I wonder how many of them were thinking we were doing some sort of professional shooting there …

When I found out that I could  use my Google account to login in to Flickr I made an account there as well. I’m yet undecided where I will post pictures from now. I just know that I don’t want to keep two places up to date. We’ll see how Flickr does.

Posted in Photography Tagged , , , .