IRAY or the high way

I’ve been putting off posting because I wanted to have some test art to show, but it’s really slow going and I don’t want anyone to think I stopped updating. After working with IRAY for while, I’ve realized it won’t do what I need to do for my art. So I’m going back to an older technology called 3Delight, which should hopefully give me the flexibility I need.

Here’s why Iray doesn’t work for me. I prefer to make my images in chunks, basically foreground-midground-background, which allows me to do all kinds of special effects at various depths. So if someone gets shot in the background, I can add blood sprays without having to worry about where the foreground overlaps them. Or, more often, I can add differing levels of distance blur to different objects.

Theoretically you can do that with Iray but it doesn’t work very well. The problem is, when you render a background image, it cuts out anything that the foreground overlaps. Like this:


See the weird cutout on the right wing, and the line through the propeller/nose and left wing? If you stack these images on top of each other, those cutouts would match the outline of the foreground image. But it isn’t a perfect match, because of pixel size. So when I try to stack them and blur the background, I get this:

You can see the blurring around the line in the foreground, and if you look closely you can see some of the background sky showing through certain parts. This is really the best case scenario, with only hard edges and very little transparency (it’s hard to see but the bit of wing visible through the cockpit glass isn’t distance blurred).

The “proper” way to use Iray is to do everything in the camera. So you let the rendering engine handle distance blur, you put in all your blood squibs and effects right there in the scene, you get your lighting just right so that the background is dim and the foreground is bright and visible, all that.

I’m not going to do that, that would take me forever! I’d have to spend a full day or more on every single frame of every single comic. I’d be lucky to put out two full pages per month.

So I’m looking at other options, currently 3delight seems the most promising.

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