Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Throwing good work away

One of the things I’m gradually getting used to as an artist is having to throw away good work. As a writer I’m familiar with this feeling - you must “murder your darlings,” Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch said, meaning that sometimes you have to kill your favorite bit for the good of the work. 
Today’s murder is this beautiful pleated petticoat that I have spent god-knows-how-many hours on. It started life in Marvelous Designer, and has a whoooole lot of historically-accurate pleats, each pointing in the correct direction, that I painstakingly worked out. 
Then I moved it to Cinema 4D and retopo’d it using Quad Remesher 1.1 (absolutely fantastic plugin; works in R20) so it has beautiful square topology - look how pretty those pleats look with a couple of levels of subdivision.
Then I UV mapped it so fabric textures will lay nice and flat, and made a couple of shape morphs. 
Finally I imported it into Daz studio and after a preliminary dforce test, I set up some hand-painted weight maps and then started tweaking the dforce simulation. Which is when I got stuck. I needed to finish dforce weight maps and move on to texturing, but I was just...stuck. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out what my subconscious was telling me.
See, when I make something for Daz Studio, it can’t just work for me - it has to work for every customer, from every camera angle, with every animation or pose. And - pleats are a BAD IDEA. Pleats involve sticking two facets on top of each other and asking them to NOT intersect, even when they share two edges (side and top) where they connect to the waistband. It’s not that it CAN’T work, it’s just that it’s asking a lot of an algorithm to make sure that it DOES work. And when a mesh has stepped through two or three applications on its way to the renderer, there are a lot of opportunities for things that worked well in the first application to explode in the third. My subconscious was telling me that there is no way this petticoat will clear QA.
SIGH. The rest of the outfit is coming along well but...this petticoat has to die. Instead of modeled-in pleats, I need to figure out how to make pleats with displacement/normal mapping. Which is a whole lot of new texturing skill that I need to develop. AND I need to entirely re-model the top quarter of the skirt, which means all of the UV mapping and shape morphs will also have to be redone. Ugh. But for the good of the project, that’s what has to happen, so this is my goodbye to this nice skirt that just isn’t cut out for life in Daz Studio. 
xpost: http://canary3d.tumblr.com

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