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This tutorial is aimed at the 3D artist and is designed to show how Photoshop and the principals of post-production can help enhance a 3D render. The notion behind this tutorial is to demonstrate how certain aspects within a scene can be achieved via a 2D approach and yet still work in harmony with the 3D components. In fact this method can prove far more economical in terms of time and effort, and can often yield results that are just as effective in the context of a still. During this tutorial we will look at a few ways to add some particle effects that could prove difficult and time consuming in a 3D environment. We will begin with a base 3D render, which in this case is a scene created by Christopher Tackett for the Pixologic challenge. We will transform the scene by adding some fire and smoke into the background and then apply some heat haze to the foreground.
Fig.01 shows the base render by Christopher, which portrays a warrior amid a barren wasteland. The color scheme and environment are perfect for a transformation into a heat-ravaged landscape of fire and smoke. I decided to have some fire emerging from behind him on the left of the picture and so the first port of call was to create this effect. As this is to be a still we can add the fire in 2D, which can work really well and save time adjusting parameters and doing intensive render tests.
Adding any visual effect does involve an artistic eye to some degree, but hopefully these techniques will be useful to artists who are not proficient in painting and permit them to apply the methods on offer and enhance their own workflow and post work.
In order to avoid a purely manual approach I have opted to use existing maps and images to build the components. With regard to the fire I have chosen to utilise a dirt map, which can be seen in Fig.02.
I searched through a library until I found a pattern that most resembled flames. This particular map shows peeling paint, but the areas in black bore a resemblance to flame shapes. I selected these areas (Select > Color Range) and then copied and pasted these into the render. It is far easier in any post-production if your render is divided into separate layers so that you can quickly paste selections into different regions and still have the freedom to move things around. In this case the character was also supplied as an alpha channel and so I could paste the dirt map in behind him with ease. I selected the area behind him and then pasted the dirt map into this selection area (Shift + Ctrl + V). I then moved the different areas around to create the pattern visible in Fig.03.
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