Further exploring Howler’s capabilities I rendered the very same landscape in Puppy Ray GPU as was shown in the last post, having been rendered in 3D Designer. Oh my! Taiga forest, I lived there.
Click on the image for a full-size view.
I use DAZ Bryce quite a bit to render landscapes. A useful feature is the capability to “stack” terrains. Stacked terrains offer a quick way of adding trees or rocks. Here’s a simple mountain terrain rendered in Bryce.
To add trees I duplicate the terrain then modify it in Bryce’s terrain editor. Generally I first add a bit of height and slope noise so the result will be more interesting. The terrain editor can add “spikes” to a terrain bump map. This can be done at several resolutions. In the screenshot of the terrain editor below you can see spikes added to a terrain map. The size and number of spikes generated vary with the resolution chosen. Here the resolution is very low so that you can see the spikes, they are not just dots. Simple dots would probably render as cylinders, not cones. You can see a rendered view at top right. When rendered in Bryce some of the cones are truncated.
When the two terrains are rendered together the spikes of the “tree” terrain protrude through the original terrain. After selecting a texture for the “trees” there are a number of ways to further modify the terrain. By simply raising or lowering the tree terrain relative to the original you can vary the size and number of visible trees. Areas without trees and treelines can be made my editing the bump map. Such tree layers work best for mid-range or background terrains. With a bit of work you can a quite realistic image.
I wondered if I could do something similar in Howler, so I rendered a terrain bump map with spikes, or trees, in 3d Designer; this is the result. The grass color was set as a reddish hue to resemble soil or conifer needle duff. Snow and rock were set as similar shades of green.
As you can not work simultaneously with multiple bump maps in 3D Designer it would be necessary to edit the bump map to make areas without trees, such as on the peaks and steep, rocky slopes. A better texture map and some method of distorting the trees, so they do not render merely as smooth cones, would improve the results. Post processing might be required to distort them for added realism. I usually have to do the same thing for trees rendered this way in Bryce.
Like most artists working with digital media I use several software applications. Sometimes I may use as many as six or seven programs to produce a single finished image; especially if it involves 3D modeling – whatever works to get the job done. One program I have used for quite a few years now is Project Dogwaffle. I began with the freeware version and was very impressed; it was also a lot of fun. There have been many updates over the years and I upgrade every so often. A few days ago I upgraded to the latest version, known as Howler. No single application does everything, but Howler is a very sophisticated, though generally easy to use program. In addition to the standard painting functions that you would expect you can also make animations. Special settings for “painting” foliage are also included and some time ago the ability to generate 3D terrains was incorporated.
I have been tinkering with my new toy and thought I you might interested in the results. There will be more examples and explanations of how I use Dogwaffle in conjunction with other software posted here in the coming weeks. I am always experimenting and trying to push the envelope of what can be done. My friend Philip Staiger who helped develop various versions of Dogwaffle will also probably be posting some of it and additional material at his website, thebest3d.com. He has also made some very good video tutorials. My thanks to him for his recent assistance.
As I said 3D terrain modeling has been a feature for some time and, like the other capabilities, it gets better with every new version. The ability to work both 2D and 3D in the same software makes some things much quicker and easier.
Here is the first image I worked up in Howler. I probably should not have put my copyright mark on it as I, more or less, slavishly followed the steps outlined in a video tutorial by Dan Ritchie who developed Dogwaffle. I really like how Howler handles fog.
To generate a 3D terrain you need a black and white image where the lighter the shade the higher the elevation; I call this a bump map. Here is a bump map for mountainous terrain. A simple, black and white, overhead image – think topographic map where the lightest shades are the mountain tops and the dark shades are lowlands. These are very easy to make by rendering plasma clouds.
Here is a screenshot of the same bump map inside Howler’s 3D designer filter. Notice the terrain is a light neutral color. On the right you can see a panel with some of the many settings you can adjust.
The next step is to apply an image map, a texture, to the terrain. This is a simple image map made by again rendering plasma clouds, adjusting the color and adding a rock pattern to make it more interesting and realistic. As with rendering plasma clouds this is quick and easy to do. For the sake of brevity I left out a couple of steps required to add the snow.
The same image map applied to the terrain bump map in 3D designer.
By adjusting a multitude of settings – elevation amplitude, illumination, point of view, etc., etc., etc., anyone can make a nice scenic view.
Here is another doodle I made. Except for the Northern Lights, which I made with other software, everything in this image was done with the Howler version of Dogwaffle on the same manner as outlined above. You can also make some very nice Northern Lights in Dogwaffle.
One other thing you might find to be interesting.
Here’s a fractal image I made some time ago.
After running it though the same process as above – I was curious what would happen – this is the resulting image with the illumination set to make the relief more visible.
I definitely recommend Dogwaffle to anyone, from beginners in digital arts, to professionals with many years of experience.
When making images I may use something I draw/paint from scratch, objects and landscape modeled and rendered with 3D software, or photographs I have taken – sometimes I make use of all three in one image – whatever works. I do a lot of experimentation. In this doodle of stark, high mountains I am trying to “automate” the irregular presence of snow rendered in 3D; so that the snow line is not just that, a line. I haven’t perfected the process, but I think I am on the right track.
In this case I applied a terrain image map which I made in the PD Artist version of Project Dogwaffle (which, by the way, has a very useful 3D terrain modeling filter) to mountainous terrain in Daz Bryce. I duplicated the terrain with a snow material. Repeatedly applying a variety of random variations (noise) in the geometry of the two terrains gave the effect I was looking for. A bit of post-processing produced a rather nice result.
Here is more proof that both Amazon and the thieves it allows to sell stolen images in the Amazon Marketplace have nothing but contempt for customers.
Below is a screen shot of an absolutely atrocious copy of my work. Though the image was obviously taken from the Zazzle product page, it looks as if it is the typical degraded copy of a copy of a copy…. You can see the address in the screenshot though I am sure it will be removed by Amazon when I report it. This particular seller offers a large number of stolen images which are just as degraded.
That the seller would offer such poor imagery, that Amazon allows such poor-quality products to be sold. Well, they must think you are idiots.
Compare it with my original image:
Buyer beware! Lawlessness rules the land. The robber barons and thieves only want to separate you from your money and do not care who they harm to do so.
Amazon sux, and, as you will read, Amazon must have agreed with that sentiment.
The war with Amazon continues. A few months ago the company promised that it was going to do something about the proliferating millions of stolen images offered for sale on its web sites. Of course, we have heard nothing further from them about stopping the sale of stolen intellectual property in the Amazon Marketplace. The situation grows worse by the day.
Some time ago, in order to share my feelings about Amazon with the wider world, I posted a few products on Zazzle which expressed my disgust. Gosh darn it, I should have realized, who woulda’ thunk it, that the same Internet thieves who steal my art and sell it on Amazon would also steal and sell images criticizing Amazon on Amazon. No criminal could be that stupid, could they? No criminal would be so stupid as to endanger the legally-sanctioned, international fencing operation where he sells ill-gotten goods. Oh well, them things just happen.
As it happens, Internet thieves are now offering a number of these images for sale. They appear on multiple Amazon web sites. I have chosen one to tell you about; one of the English-language ones.
Here is a screen shot of the stolen image on Amazon’s UK site. I have added a sightly enlarged image of the pillow so you can more easily read the relevant text.
Let me make a short aside here to illustrate something else those contemplating purchasing stolen goods from Amazon’s hordes of Internet thieves should be aware of.
Here is a my original image. A fairly good simulation of a pilot’s leather jacket patch:
And you can view the actual product here. And, if you like the image, without the Amazon comment, a full-size version of it, along with some related imagery, is posted elsewhere on this blog. Look for “Flying Moose Aviation Patch.”
Now compare my original with the crappy image from the Amazon product page:
Products sold by Zazzle all have nice, sharp images. That’s because the company ensures only high-quality printers are used and the artists and designers who work with the company submit high-resolution (lots of dots per inch) images.
The images displayed on product pages are not high resolution. This true for Zazzle, Amazon, and most any other seller. Typically, they have less than one third as many dots as do the originals. So when criminals steal an image they have to enlarge it to be big enough to print on a product. That necessarily distorts the image. So, if you purchase something from an Internet thief, and they actually send you something, in all likelihood it will be a crappy image on a crappy product. Not only do these thieves steal my art, but the crappy images damage my reputation as an artist.
The thieves do not care about quality. They only want to make a fast buck, or renminbi – they are criminals.
Okay, enough of that; back to our main story.
Gee, willikers; what to do about the Amazon sux pillow? I am just a member of the lumpen nobody-ariat who can be safely ignored by the uber-rich. You know, those with enough money to buy politicians, ensure that laws are so written as to let them get away with just about anything, and conquer the stars.
However, I actually mean Amazon no harm, certainly not the employees. So, nice guy that I am, I submitted a copyright infringement report. I am really good at this as I have to do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, ad nauseum. The same stolen images re-appear over and over and over and over and over and over and over again; often offered by the same thieves on Amazon, often with the same ASIN (Amazon’s product identification number). And very often we go through the same long, drawn-out process: Amazon replies claiming they can’t understand how my copyright is being infringed just because some thief, usually operating from China, has stolen the image and is selling it without my permission. Well, you can see how I, and many thousands of other artists, might not feel all nice and fuzzy about Amazon.
Anyway, in spite of my antipathy towards Lord Bezos and company, I submitted the copyright infringement report. Amazon replied and flat out refused to remove the product. That led me to believe that Amazon agreed that Amazon sux.
I then submitted a customer review drawing attention to that fact that the product bore text stating, “Amazon sux.” Amazon approved and posted my comment. That only strengthened my belief that Amazon sux and Amazon agreed.
Again, as a member of the lumpen nobody-ariat, I do not have the money to sue Amazon and force it to tend to its reputation. And, anyway, Amazon defeats just about every lawsuit brought against it. The courts have ruled that Amazon bears no responsibility for the stolen goods sold on its web sites. In effect Amazon is a legally-sanctioned, international fencing operation.
Now whenever I come across one of my land mines while searching through the millions of bootleg products for my stolen images I just chuckle, or even chortle, and move on. I will not be reporting them, or similar images made by others. And, once again, given the ever-proliferating millions of bootleg products on Amazon, it is highly unlikely that I have found them all.
Just as I have to spend many hours a day searching through millions of images, so must Amazon – if it cares about its public image.
Just as Amazon operates in multiple countries and multiple languages, so do I.
Just as Amazon bears no responsibility for the stolen images which appear on its web sites, neither do I.
There are certain other characteristics which will make them more of a challenge to find.
It would be a mistake to assume I am the only artist who is torked off at Amazon.
Even though Zazzle artists and designers have to search through the millions of images we do not have to scrutinize them closely as our own art jumps out at us. Amazon, on the other hand, has no idea what to look for and I ain’t tellin’.
Live by the Internet thief, die by the Internet thief.
I was going to inform Bezos about this, “Seattle control to Lord Bezos. We have a problem,” but decided not to interrupt his conquest of the Universe. In any event Amazon seems to have reconsidered and removed the pillow.
For another interesting tale from the Great Amazon War click here.
Due to ongoing, concerted effort by artists and designers who offer their work on Zazzle.com, along with behind-the-scenes activity by Zazzle itself, Amazon.com now claims to recognize that the sale of stolen intellectual property in the Amazon marketplace, and Amazon’s facilitation of such activity, must be solved.
Amazon has provided a streamlined method for Zazzle artists and designers to submit copyright infringement reports. Thus far Amazon seems to be responding quickly and removing infringing products.
This is a good start, but so far I have not been unable to determine if Amazon continues to retain the stolen images, associating the with the product details of the infringing products which were removed, thus providing the opportunity for them to be reposted.
Permanent removal of these images and instituting procedures to make it much more difficult for thieves to upload stolen images to its servers is a non-negotiable demand of the Zazzle artists and designers.
We continue to submit copyright infringement reports and contact Zazzle artists and designers who are not aware that their images are among those that appear on millions of bootleg products, fakes, which are offered for sale on multiple Amazon domains. We also continue in other actions which I will not further explain here.
I again want express my thanks to Mr. Bezos for reading my email and arranging that an Amazon representative speak to me personally. I do, however to reiterate, as I made clear to the representative, that the army of mad Zazzle storekeepers continues to grow on a daily basis. We will continue in our efforts until the thieves are permanently driven from Amazon.
There need not be an adversarial relationship between Amazon and the many thousands of Zazzle artists and designers. The ball is in Amazon’s court.
It is bad enough that Amazon refuses to remove art when it is proven to have been stolen, but among the stolen works are those intended to support charity in Africa. Zazzle.com, where many artists sell their work, has a program whereby artists can LIFE Line which enables Kenyan mothers to care for their children and provide for their families. Kenyan mothers create handmade products to earn sustainable wages so they can lift their families out of poverty.
Amazon profits from every sale of stolen art, millions of bootleg products are offered for sale on its web sites. Not only artists in North America and Europe, many of whom are in financial straits, but he poorest of the poor. Shame on Amazon! This can not be allowed to continue.
More to consider.
Artists, and the US-based vendors where they sell their art, aren’t the only ones affected by Amazon’s facilitation of Chinese intellectual property thieves. Product manufacturers are also losing sales. the manufacturers hire fewer workers because of the lost sales. Then there is the income tax revenue that would be paid by the designers and all those employees and potential employees to local, state, and federal governments.
And if you buy from artist-authorized vendors, such as Zazzle, consumers receive better products with high-quality graphics.
Do cheap products sold through Amazon and shipped from China meet USA safety standards?
Please write your senators and representatives.