Asherah the Elf

I think I have come far enough in this still very VERY WIP project to post it.

The basemesh was created using Daz3D using mixtures of Josie6, Girl 6, Victoria 6 and dozens of tweaks to various shaping morphs to make her look like I want. I removed the subdivision surface in Daz3D because I prefer using a lighter basemesh in Blender plus the subdivision surface in Blender works just fine. I then exported to OBJ and also to DAE for the vertex groups and the rig that I use as a reference when working with meta-rig. Expressions are from shape-keys. Lashes are from Daz3d materials, but hair and fur are Blender particles.

TODO: the fuzz in the eye-well and on ears is a little too short and almost looks like a badly applied bump map - will make that a little longer. Make teeth and tongue look a little more wet. I faked SSS - actual SSS won’t render with GPU yet. Not perfect and hard to see with this particular lighting configuration - can’t wait for SSS comes out for GPU rendering. Eyebrows are going away - they’re from the copies of the Daz3D base-material I’m using to give the fur color. And, the fur will get a tabby-cat pattern, so it’s time to break out the Wacom.

This is just a basic reference pose. Once I’ve finished tweaking the texture, fur, etc, I’ll be posing her in actual scenes for a series of books I’m writing.

Hair mesh is from Sintel. For my Elf characters which typically have short, mussed up hair, her basic hair configuration was perfect. It’s been heavily modified since then, of course. I need to work on smoothing the hair though - there are some parts where the line segments are too sharp.

The background is used with permission and just to add context to my test renders.

could you tell us a bit about how you did the eyes? they look really good

Eyes were actually very simple, and largely thanks to Daz3D, but easy to duplicate from scratch. There are two meshes that make up the main part of the eye, plus the iris mesh. The sclera has it’s own texture, giving a decent white. For that I just used the default image texture configuration that Blender starts with - image, diffuse, output, though I did add a texture coordinates node for grins and giggles. The cornea is a simple transparency node setup with a touch of glossy mixed in. I set the glossy to sharp and the fac on the mix is .080 so there’s very little cloudiness in the result. The reflection on the eye is a simple image map on the duplicate mesh object, with transparency. There is another object - the tear - that goes along the bottom of the eye on top of the bottom eyelid, to make the eye look moist. It’s transparency setup is similar to the cornea setup. But as you can see, I’m still dealing with a little glare issue in the right eye - or the left eye as you’re looking at the image - which i touched up before posting the OP image. I also applied a bump-map node to the iris using the texture image, which actually worked out pretty well.

The fur on her face resembles another creature. More like a beast than an elf.

Yep. Terrans have funny ideas of how Elves are supposed to look. Short squat things with pointed fleshy ears, pudgy things with a fetish for cookies or tall things with long hair. Can you imagine an Elf climbing with that long hair? Shudder. In the series of four books that I am writing - one that is in editing, one past the revision stage and one recently roughed in with one more to go - Elves are forest creatures that live primarily in the canopy of the forest. Rather than pointy ears, they have tufts of fur that give the appearance from a distance - which historically was about all of a glimpse that Terrans were able to get of them. Hence the varied and grossly erroneous ideas of what they actually looked like. They have canines and large eyes because their ancient ancestors were nocturnal hunters. Tall, thin, long arms and legs made them ideal hunters in their ancient grass-land romping grounds. But forests gradually became their new homes. Their fur will have a pattern that will make it easier to disappear in the forest when I get around to dusting off the Wacom tablet. :slight_smile:

Okay, one more before pattern painting. Had to fix some nagging issues. Unified eye-socket and face vertex groups and used weight painting to control length and density of fur there to simplify things. Much better look. Tweaked density of fur around the tip of nose and upper lip so it’s a little more gradual from skin to fur. Tweaked ear fur. Fixed glare issues. Teeth and tongue are glossier (wetter) looking now - though not as apparent with tongue in this render. Changed hair particles from lines to curves so it’s smooth, which looks so much nicer, but takes four times longer to render. Flipped background so the glare fits the model’s key-light better. And finally, NO EYEBROWS. Yep, I now have a blank canvas to start painting her tabby-cat patterns.

You’ve created an unconventional but very cute character, MikeV. I really like her living expression and you nailed the eyes!

But the incisor teeth are too evenly. You should perhaps consider to give them - a little bit of - variation. The skin shader could use some enhancements also. It looks too solid in my eyes. Have you tried using SSS on this? Or maybe a fresnel node with a second brighter diffuse for falloff could be worth a try.

The hair set to curves turned out great.

Thanks! The image matches her in the books pretty well too. Playful, impish, passionate personality.

I faked SSS so I could compile with GPU but the lighting angle doesn’t really do much for it and the fur hides it a bit too. Am really hoping SSS comes to GPU rendering soon! Will probably experiment with my simple version and may have to get a little more sophisticated, but was hoping not to have to duplicate efforts if SSS for GPU comes around soon.

Yes, the teeth are very even. I’m waiting for Zev0 to release an updated Dental Plan for Genesis2 so I can go in and tweak a little unevenness into them and give her slight buck-teeth too. I could do it all in Blender, of course, but since I shape-key in my expressions from Daz3D OBJ exports (work smarter, not harder), I’m trying to keep a mesh parity between the Daz3D and my Blender versions. Makes life SO much easier.

Here’s a SSS test sans the fur. The fur will cover up most of this, however. This took an hour and 19 minutes to render at 300 samples on CPU. Had to tweak the color a bit in my SSS setup to make it match the original creamy, light mocha color of her skin. Sclera is not on SSS, though. Still pondering if I should go that far with it. Will post a fur version as soon as I’m done tweaking the fur pattern.

She looks really good! :slight_smile: Great work. I like the way she seems like she is trying to tell something.

I personally prefer it without the fur (but with hair). If you want fur you might want to add even if just a little more randomness, clumping or curling to make the indivual strands occupy more of the surface so it does not look that thin (decreases the amount of strands needed to give a good furry look). I’d personally really skip the long hairs on the ears…

This is for a character in a series of books I’m writing. So I’m trying to match the description and what I see in my head. Other characters will have yet other interesting features too - will post those as well when I get to a good stopping point in developing this one. Of course, her skin is so creamy… Sigh. :slight_smile:

I think that the subsurface scattering is visible at the forehead and at the cheek. But it is very, very subtle in my eyes. Nice to meet her without the fur. The face looks more slender this way. But the fur is something that makes her special.

By the way. Now that you are experimenting with the skin shader - wouldn’t it be possible to experiment with this very opaque teeth shader also :eyebrowlift: ?

Good idea. I have a render going currently with SSS and fur and some subtle fur patterns but that won’t be done until later this evening. I tried SSS on the eyes and it’s not too bad though I may kick up the gloss slightly for next render to make it look wetter. Will try SSS on the teeth next render too, methinks. Thanks for the suggestion.

Subtle is good. Don’t want a slap-in-the-face effect that goes into the other ditch. But I may tweak it a little. Had to darken it to restore that mocha color of her skin. SSS node seems to blow it out. Same with eyes - made them almost glow until I plopped in a hue/saturation node and kicked down the value a bunch. I could darken it a little more then up the FAC on the final mix-shader node and see if that makes it a little less subtle.

Teeth and tongue SSS reduces the shadow of the interior of the mouth a LOT. I dialed back the mix-shader FAC of the SSS and it helped some, but I’m not sure I’m happy with the teeth. It’s still very bright inside the mouth. There is shadow, but SSS seems to subdue it more than I like. I need more examples of using this node, methinks. Will finish the render and post it. Also dialed up the FAC on skin by about .50 for a touch more SSS - hope that helps. I think I can see it on the nose and upper lip now but further input would be helpful. Hope to post image this evening perhaps. Rendering is slow as Christmas on CPU and with SSS and hair.

ROTFLMAO! Minus the long hair I’ve always envisioned elves as being thin and tall (approaching seven foot).

In my science fiction writing (I’ve four books in progress in parallel) there is a race of humans that were “out there” before Terrans ever left Earth that have those physical attributes fueling theories that in ancient times they visited Earth. The “truth” is even more crazy than that.

A type and shadow of leprechauns appear in my stories as well…

Four in parallel. Ouch. I wrote five books last year and am working on the final book of the series currently. I had planned on three books, but split the middle book, then split those two again because the overall story is pretty big. I don’t think I could have done them in parallel, though. However, while Book 1 has been heavily revised and edited, proofed and edited some more, slept on, revised, tweaked and edited, proofed and then edited even more by eyes other than my own, I’m still holding off on publishing until my overall continuity checks out and, of course, my cover art is finished. The benefits of Indie publishing. March, I hope.

I love redesigning Earth lore. It’s been a blast. I think of how humans would react to reclusive creatures that would spawn the myths that we have today - factoring in the fear of the unknown and exaggeration and imaginative filling-in of the holes that follows. Once you peel that away, you end up with very interesting characters that are not nearly as terrifying as they’re made out to be. Mostly. For instance, my Trolls, as scary as they may appear, are extraordinarily intelligent and gentle. But don’t get in their way or interrupt them from their work - they’re very obsessive compulsive and loath distractions. They build and run the terraforming equipment that is used to bring dead worlds to life.

I still need to design clothing for her that is suitable for climbing. My non-Terran characters are not encumbered with the modesty issues we have, but they do dress for practicality, covering sensitive areas, and also for ornamentation and we can’t forget the various pouches and pockets for their gear. She’ll have shin and forearm guards too and maybe modest shoulder protection as well. Which means after making the fur, I’ll end up masking a lot of it back out. :slight_smile:

Books one through four are related timewise with the first one set in 2080-ish and the last in 3100ish. That’s how I ended up writing four at once. I’m trying to keep the timeline in sync.

Okay, rudimentary fur patterns have been applied. Looking to tweak them a bit. They’re supposed to be fairly unobtrusive, so not fully like a tabby-cat.

Tweaked SSS on skin. Will experiment more to perfect that. Experiments after rendering this (which took around 24 hours at 1000 samples) have proven fruitful.

Initial SSS on teeth - definitely LOTS of room for improvement there. Subsequent experiments have seen some improvements. Hope to post results soon. Will likely park a second camera right by her mouth and just tweak the settings until I find what works well.

Am still learning the ins and outs of the SSS node in Blender so I already have experiments lined up.

Another SSS Test sans fur. Radius is set to .6, .05, .03. Scale is .02 and Sharpness is set to 1. Going by examples and experimenting from there since documentation is still a bit weak for this node. Still needing tweaking - seems to be just a bit too much and the skin is lighter than I prefer. Before I pull back on the SSS, I’ll darken the skin slightly and see if that makes a suitable difference. That or tweaking the Radius. May eye-drop parts of the face texture and see what I come up with.

Teeth are still blown out. Their Radius is set to 1, .8, .8 and same Scale as skin. Definitely more work needed. Setting the Scale lower helped reduce the over-blown glow that they had within the mouth, however. Oddly, the lower teeth look better than the upper teeth - may need to make sure I don’t have flipped normals too.

Haven’t reworked sclera SSS yet. May hit them up for next render.