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Skin and Wire: a winning combination

Author: Beady

Tools Needed

  • Any layer and mask supporting paint program

Introduction

Follow this tutorial and you'll be able to make those cool combined images where the underlying wire and polygon model blend smoothly into a fully textured render. Any painting program that supports layers and masks will enable you to blend the two versions of the model. I'll be using Macromedia Fireworks as that is the program that I use most.

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Step 1 - Setting Up

Load your model into Poser. This can be any model that you like, I'll be using Stephanie Petite.

Pose the model and apply a texture if required then light it as you want. You might find for this sort of image that the more simple the set-up the better, but that's a matter for you. The important thing is that you get everything in position at the beginning.

Step 2 - Render

400-02fb1.jpg

Do the render. Get the best quality that you can, with anti-alias and shadows on.

Here's my simple example

Step 3 - Save the Image

Make sure you save the image! I find it helps if I include the words 'skin' in the filename so I can identify which version I've produced. You can save the image as either jpg or tiff, but again go for the best quality that you can get.

Step 4 - Get wired

This is the simplest step. Do nothing to the image. Don't move it, don't change the camera angle. I'd be reluctant to even move a light. The only thing that you should do at this point is select the Hidden Line display (Ctrl+ 4) on a PC. This will give you the image with the polygons facing the camera visible.

Step 5 - Move It

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Now we're going to make a (very) short movie. So short that you'll not notice any movement. Select Animation - Make Movie from the menu.

In the dialogue box that appears make the settings as shown in this image.

There are a few important things to notice here:

  • The Sequence Type is 'Image Files'
  • The Resolution is 'Full',
  • The next bit is most important, Quality is 'Current Display Settings'.
  • I would always use Antialiase to improve the image quality.
  • Notice the Time Span on the right of the box:
  • This is set to have zeroes in ALL of the boxes. As the first frame of the movie is numbered as zero, what this means is
  • that the movie will start and end on the first frame.

Click OK to make the movie and when asked save the image, preferably as the same type as your earlier render and in the same location.

If you save as type PNG the background will be completely transparent, this might be useful in some circumstances.

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Notice that the image file will be called whatever you named it, plus a number _0001 will be added to the filename - if you forgot to set the number of frames to be zero, you'll get a lot of identical images, each with a sequential number added to the filename.

Step 6 - Post work it

We've now finished in Poser, so you can save and close. I'm working in

Fireworks as that gives me the better control over the next bit, Paint Shop Pro is also pretty good but not quite as easy in this area. I know Photoshop does this as well, but I've not got a copy.

Load your painting program and then load the skin image. Then load the wireframe image.

With both images visible, use the Selection arrow, that's the default arrow in Fireworks, and drag the wireframe image from its own window and drop it on top of the skin image. It should line up exactly as it did in its original window. If it didn't then make sure that it is as accurately placed as you can make it.

You will now have two objects in the same layer section of your layer palette, the wireframe image should be above the skin image. Make sure that the wireframe section is selected and click on the 'Add Mask' button in the layers palette .

400-02fe1.jpg

A small mask symbol will appear alongside the image in the layers palette.

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The yellow box around this indicates that it is selected.

Step 7 - Merge Them

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Now select the Gradient Tool, this is the same tool as the fill tool or paint bucket in Fireworks, but if you click and hold on the button you can then select the Gradient version.

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In the Properties palette choose 'Linear' from the available List and then click on the colour picker and from the pre-sets choose 'Black, White'.

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What we are going to do now is to flood the mask area with a gradient that runs from full black to full white. The effect of these two colours is that black will be completely transparent and white will be completely opaque.

In Fireworks you can decide by clicking and dragging in a particular direction which end will be black and therefore transparent. Remember that Ctrl+Z will allow you to undo the flood if you didn't get it quite right so you can change the start and end points.

Step 8 - Final step

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All that now remains is to save the image in PNG for Fireworks and to export the image in JPG for the web, or wherever.