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W.i.p. March 2023

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I need scene, which is a follow up to the 'Mariko' image. Some people where surprised how 'normal' it looked, no direct sci-fi links, but as I explained (and how it works in my head) this is an old part of Amsterdam which never fully was renovated, so some "old" architectural buildings and interiors survived the passing of times.

ceo.thumb.jpg.71f3edd66ff6114be8b7a199ae526470.jpgThe scene is of a woman, down on and out her luck. Once a Thriving CEO, now living off her last money, lots of booze and whenever she can, desperate sex. She's been given a challenge and this is on her third day of that challenge and she's on her way to her challenger, and she hopes, her date. With her last money she managed to buy some second-hand clothing, she knows will appease her date and now makes her way toward, hopefully, an interesting evening.

So where do we situate that? I've been trying for a several month's now to visualize this scene but nothing 'clicked'. At first I was going to place the woman outside the glass doors of a fancy high-rise building. Then inside at the elevators, then inside the elevator self. Lastly the idea was to put her in the hallway near the apartment of her date.

^This worked for the comic but not for this new image.

All these environments fell flat, to me, as non-interesting and boring. I realize what the main 'attraction' is but having that in a nice surrounding counts for a lot too. I feel it just elevates the main star(s) on to another level.

So as long as I had no background to put an out-of-her-luck girl in, this image remained largely in my head. I tried a few things but as mentioned earlier, it turned out to be all non-interesting and boring.

After last upload (AIT-comic page 4) my mind wandered back to this 'problem', as an option for me next to spend my time on. One of the things I look out onto from the 16th floor here is far in the back the above ground part of Rotterdam's subway system. Hmmm, subway... Can that be something? Someone moving from A to B, enhanced by giving the hint/idea of traveling in the back. As in, -> having travelled a long way (growing up, business, failing at that) being at crossroads in life, maybe still having a long way to go?

Searching Google I found this image of a Dutch subway I liked:

The concrete construction, the subway floating in the air, not too old fashioned, this could be a start. Or not. I never really know until 2-3 days before I upload the final image...

Before I continue, there is a reason why most of my scenes are indoors. That way I have only to worry about (roughly) 4 walls, a ceiling and a floor. I have done outdoor scenes but I found myself in a lot of trouble filling them properly up.

For example I've got this very much a work in progress idea now for several years floating around my HD's:

A (Valerian) Laureline image with their 'Aeronef' just landed at an space dock. I need to fill the background with buildings. In my head I can see it but in reality it's going to be a truckload of work, which will consume weeks if not month's of time if done properly. (I still need to ask permission from this model but I forgot who she is).

But ok, this time there is a big chunk of the background occupied by the subway, so let's try and see how far I can come with this. I did search a bit around to see how others tackle something like this and landed here: https://3dtotal.com/tutorials/t/create-an-atmospheric-sci-fi-city-part-1-inspiration-and-blocking-out .
But uhh, 2 month's for blocking things out? I cannot afford that time, I need to cut corners where I can and hammer things out 1-2-3 for the background as I still need to work on the foreground too, which isn't going to be easy either. Can't have her run around in a corset with stockings on high-heels just like that so out in the open. I know some will say 'yes why not' but in this case she would get instantly arrested. :bigsmile:

But that's something to figure out and solve a bit later down the road. First the subway background.

I started last sunday late and managed to create this:

I already 'blapped' some textures on it to get the feel for it and as a 'shopping list' of textures to be found/bought/modified/made.

Then I worked on the station part, added a floor, a sky and a bit of a stationhallway.

And this was how it looked yesterday morning:
...and a few hours later:

There is still a ton to be done and writting this all down while collecting images took more time then I had thought so I keep it at this for now. I'll try to include new progress images when I have them.


Last thursday I didn't get very far with this. I hoped to do a shortcut by buying some 3D models saving me time but the creator of these models was a nice modeller and a good texturer, yet a crappy unexperienced exporter. Meaning I once again had to re-adjust the texture paths and in this case some textures where no there so I had to reinvent those too.

All a bit frustrating so end of the working day I had only this:
I did added more trash, redid the concrete texture, fixed a lot of floating weed bushes and added a bunch of dead leaves.


This is from yesterday (Friday). Here we near the end of the background building before it goes into the renderer and I can continue working on the lone ex-CEO on her way to her date.

I've added a bit of fog, removed all the billboards from the backbuildings (too distracting) bought some stuff to speed things up (streetlights, fences,benches etc. this time properly textured), Top left corner is not ok at the moment, maybe size the buildings there down and put it further in the back may help here. And I created a "shutterstock" account for 1 hour to get me some high res. images of lit windows in the night, which I put into the buildings in the back.

Rendertime for the 1280 x 720 px image is now 24-28 minutes. :blush2: This is with DOF applied. Will have to do 2 big final renders and see what works best but I think DOF (depth of field) will be best here. The 'Queen' should not be the background after all.:blush3:


Last Monday (13.03.23) I finished the background and began working on the main character in the foreground.
I let the background rest for a few days, not looking at it during that day so before I would start to render the big version out I had a kind off 'fresh' look at it so I could spot stuff missing or needing more work. 

I was going to leave the "stationhall" alone for time sake but in the end I just couldn't. I just felt leaving it empty with a big dark block where strairs would/could be was going to be noticed in the big render. So I added a few soda/coffee machines in there, placed a few posters on the walls and even added an escalator. Which later on, in the final image got totally blocked out.:angel:

Prefinal render:


Wednesday (15.03.23) it's time to render the big background out.

Before starting the big render over 2 machines (client 1 and client 2), I decided to do one small test render over these 2 machines. I hit render and client 1, the main machine, instantly crashed. 

I tried it a few times, it kept crashing if the render was assigned to 2 machines, not if it was only one, the main machine.

So what to do. One reason things crash might be a small item (a tag) on an object in the scene. One for example, amongst others, is used by a plug-in to subtract objects from each other, then leaves this tag behind after the plug-in did it's work.  If it's not present on the other machine as reference plug-in, things refuse to render or simply crash.This scene has hundreds of objects, finding the problem, finding the possible problem, in an asset-tree which spans several meters takes time.

After an hour or so I found 2 redundant tags. Removed them and hit render over 2 machines. Again I was welcomed with an instant crash. Fun, so that was not it, or maybe part of it. 🤷‍♂️ So next thing to do is copy - paste selected models with their textures over to a new file, and hit render with these selected models over 2 machines. At some point things will crash and I know, roughly, where the problem is. And then I can fine-tune my search until I know what 3D object makes things crash if I want to render over 2 machines.

So I thought. Problem was even pinpointed to a block of models the main machine kept crashing. And then, almost 3 hours later after the crashing started it hit me, it wasn't a model, it wasn't a plug-in, or an object tag, it was a texture that crashed the render process! Adding or removing 3D models did nothing to their textures. Once loaded they remained in the scene. 

This specific scene has 268 different textures. And yes some have redundant parts like the sodamacine buttons have totally unneeded text-textures but these machines where just quickly copy pasted over from an other project, I didn't bother at the time with what would show/not show in the big final render.


So it took again a bunch of trial and elimination error(s) but at some point I found the sole texture that had (probably) outdated/faulty reflection and specularity settings. Once those where deleted, no more crashes! :bigsmile2:Just annoying this took me hours to figure out and I still had to do my last test-render. 

So I did my last test render. Over my 2 Mac's (client 1, main machine and client 2 other machine). After some 30-40 minutes of rendering the main machine crashed hard again (straight to my login screen all open apps force quited). More fun.🤪 After a while (several attempts with new renders that crashed after 30-40 minutes too) I had to realize it was a memory thingy, lack off and the main machine kept crashing trying to render this scene but simply ran out of memory.

The only solution I had was to downsize as much as I could the current models and textures of this scene and hope that was enough so the crashes would stop.

sample-texture.thumb.jpg.c3db71af676519fd5e15a24cdb71a306.jpgThat meant I had to move everything from this scene 1 by 1 over to a new scene and analyze the 3D model and its textures (color, normal map, height map, reflection map, roughness map etc.).
If the texture was found to be too large (and several did got near 100Mb), I had to resize the texture down, save it as a new version and re-link that back to the model.

If it was a 3D model with more polygons then really where needed I had to remodel it or try a polygon resizing option. Last thing usually creates terrible 3D models that barely can be used so that was not a real option. 

In the end I had to resize over 80 textures and rework a bunch of 3D models, but after a full day of extra work I ended up with no more crashes and I could finally do the last test render(s) and then start with the big final version of the background.

By then it was already Friday. 

Saturdays here are laundry- and grocery shopping days and that hampers quit a lot that can be done on the illustration side of things. 

Sunday I was happy at work when my dad (85) fell on/over my mother (also 85) which landed my mother in the hospital with spine damage. By the end of the evening she luckily was send home with morfine and more meds amongst others against osteoporosis. Monday seemed like things went smooth sailing again but then my father fell again. This time in a shopping mall. Help arrived quickly and he's still in hospital where they are currently monitoring his irregular hearth condition and possible anemia.

Tuesday I managed to finish this work in progress...

As so often once finished I start to doubt the final outcome. I tried to give this a sense of 'normalcy', just your every-day, rubber dressed girl, just passing by on her way to... who knows what. Beginning to 'glow' from effects of her choice of wardrobe.

Hhhhmmm, lets figure out what's next, hopefully with a little bit less 'bumps in the road'. :blush3:



Edited by Rick 4F
Finished write up to this wip 21/03/23.
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It's takes a lot of effort for recreating the environment in 3D for a 2D comic..
My hats off to you Good Sir.

but perhaps it will be easier for future scenes in the comic.. with all the environment assets archive is available.
I wonder how do you get the character in various angles/ posed and expression?

your fan,

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On 3/9/2023 at 11:08 AM, dmfo said:

It's takes a lot of effort for recreating the environment in 3D for a 2D comic..
My hats off to you Good Sir.

but perhaps it will be easier for future scenes in the comic.. with all the environment assets archive is available.
I wonder how do you get the character in various angles/ posed and expression?

your fan,

I do my best to have a sort of archive for all of my 3D stuff. :drop:

Most textures for example reside in 1 folder which currently is 70GB large containing 5681 files. But textures sometimes fly around with several projects and get 'forgotten'.

I've started last year to collect most 3D models into one folder as well, and named them by type and item for easier searching. That's now (133,8 GB on disk) for 16.320 items. So even named and archived it's quite a library to go through. And... I still have more 3D stuff outside that folder not yet categorized.
I've been trying to clean up my HD's a bit but everytime I do, new things seem to get added and I run into (old) things that make me pauze and see if they cannot be used for a next new image.

Current 'work in progress' is not for the comic btw, :bigsmile:.
I only could start this comic because it's an entire (bondage) series that was shot by the photographer of this model. In various poses, not just tied on the floor but also standing and posing. If it had been only BD-stuff I wouldn't have been able to wrap a (short) story around it. Something like 150 photo's, just enough to make a choice out of them, so we don't fall into a repetitive situation. 


Hope that explains things a bit. :blush3:

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I regularly comment on the quality of your environments, and this will not be an exception. It looks great so far! A little slice of concrete jungle with nature trying to claim back its place. I can see why filling the background doesn't sound appealing considering the amount of work required. Yet, it is something that has to be done because viewers will notice it, at least subconsciously. On the other hand, latex-clad ladies look much more at home inside futuristic buildings IMO, so generally focusing on such backgrounds seems sensible and plausible :smile:

I just hope the former CEO does not hide everything under a trenchcoat, that'd be rather disappointing :wink2:

Edited by XJ220
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" On the other hand, latex-clad ladies look much more at home inside futuristic buildings..."


Sometimes I like to change the ingredients, just to keep things fresh. :bigsmile2: It's also a challenge for me to come out of my 'comfort-zone'. 

I hope her wardrobe didn't dissapoint though. 

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Oof! First things first, I hope your parents are doing better!

The amount of effort you put into the environment is crazy. Both the visual design and the technical setup... kind of a shame it will most likely be used for one rendering with one angle only. So much work went into it, and now, quite some portions of that get blocked by the pretty lady :smile:

Oh no, her wardrobe does not disappoint, quite the contrary! Did not expect her to wear an outfit like that, and the background makes it even more striking. Very nice jewellery, gloves, and the creases on her skirt... :love:

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Agree with the others; extraordinary effort to get the details of the environment right, and it pays off.  I hope you are able to reuse some of it in other images in future.  Thanks for this one; both background and foreground...:nice:

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