Thursday March 23 , 2017

iClone 6 Showcase & Demoreel using old and new projects to test the new engine.


Cast of Thousands Tutorial

Cast of Thousands - Creating Diffuse and Opacity Maps to Change Grass into Soldiers/Extras

There have been requests for how to use the "Cast of Thousands" tip at the CoolClones forum. This tutorial is made with Photoshop CS3 but the techniques can be carried over into other image editor programs that have the same tools. There are also free image editors like GIMP and that are free, open source image editors.
Swordsmen Screenshot
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Swordsmen Final Render
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To get started you will need to setup some characters in iClone 3 that represent your "Cast of Thousands". In this case I am using swordsmen. You add even more variation your your army by using different characters with different weapons or stances but for this tutorial I have just duplicated the same character 5 times over. Space the characters according to your wishs but maintain open space between each character for the image editor tools to work with later.

Pick a background color that will work well with your editor and the still image you are about to render in iClone. For this tutorial I have used green to make the characters stand out more for the tutorial but I would recommend using a background color that is several shades lighter or darker than the predominate color of the soldiers and their weapons. This allows for two things:

1. It makes a cleaner selection with the image editor tools
2. It doesn't leave such a notable aura or haze of color around each character in the final result

Once you are satisfied with your character layout then save the project file and render it to a still image. In this case I chose a jpg at 800 X 600.


Open your image editor and load the image you just rendered. This image will be used to create both the diffuse and opacity maps to change the iClone 3 grass into soldiers.

Click on the wand or your editors similar tool then click on the green area of the soldier picture. (SEE TOOLBAR PIC AT LEFT)

Set the tolerance to high (from 32 to 64 on scale of 100) so the wand will pick out most of the background color.

This is why the background color is so important as it needs to be enough for the wand to pick it out of the image but not too much so it doesn't pick up any of the soldiers or too little so it doesn't leave any of the background color around the soldiers producing the aura effect mentioned earlier.

Now you have created a marquee mask that when used with the layers will allow you to color the background black and foreground white.

Select INVERSE from the SELECT Menu. This inverts the marquee mask to allow us to paint the background black using a new layer. So create a NEW LAYER with the mask still visible in the inverted mode then select your Paint Bucket from the toolbar (make sure you have black selected) and click to paint the inverted area of the marquee mask black in the NEW LAYER you just created.

Now select INVERSE again to revert the marquee mask back to the original and CREATE ANOTHER NEW LAYER. On the New Layer you just created with the PAINT BUCKET tool selected to WHITE click to paint the foreground of the picture white. Save the image for use as an opacity map.

{rokzoom title=|White Black Opacity Map|} images/stories/other1/swordsmenpic?opacity.jpg {/rokzoom}
Swordsmen Opacity Map
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Image Editor Screenshot
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Wand Tolerance


Wand Mask
Wand Marquee Mask
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Inverse Select Command

Black Background with Inverse Marquee
Black Background
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Save the Black Background Image with the Soldiers visible or the rendered image as your Diffuse Map. In this case we will use the green background original iClone rendered image so you will see the aura effect in the final version. 


Swordsman Pic From iClone Render
Swordsmen Picture for Diffuse Map
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To iClone for the Final Effect.

In iClone select a terrain and a sky then select the Grass tool.  Set the GRASS TOOL SIZE to 1000 and DENSITY to 50 (play around with these numbers to change the size and density of the army). Set the GRASS WIDTH AND HEIGHT to 100 VARIATION TO 20 then click on the terrain to add the grass.

iClone Screen After Adding Grass
iClone AFTER Adding Grass
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Click the GRASS DIFFUSE IMAGE to hightlight it and CLICK the FOLDER below the GRASS DIFFUSE IMAGE to load the picture of the swordsman with the Green or Black backgrounds. In this case we will load the picture with the green background.

Then do the same for the OPACITY IMAGE by clicking the OPACITY IMAGE to highlight it then CLICK the FOLDER below the OPACITY IMAGE to load the black and white image for the opacity map and you should now have an army that sways with the breeze!

Cast of Thousands
Cast of Thousands
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iClone Screen Before Adding Grass
iClone BEFORE Adding Grass
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Grass Diffuse Map Button

If you used the green background image you will notice a green aura around each soldier and their weapon. This aura is set by the Marquee preference mentioned above of between 64 and 32 on a scale of 100. The black background image will hide the aura better. If you want to enhance the aura then use the lower end of the scale like 32 instead of 64 when creating the Marquee Mask.


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