I’ve had the idea for a while to create a render of a teenage Lenely in her SCA gear. That’s the Society for Creative Anachronism for those who aren’t familiar with it: an American group that get together to play out “the middle ages as it should have been.” I’ve never been a part of the group in real life, but it’s an important part of Lenely’s backstory. Today I finally got around to making that render. Just for the hell of it, I thought I’d share its creation process just a little bit.
When I set out to create the image, I had a composition already in mind: young Lenely in armor taking a knee, arms relaxed on her sword. I started by loading up my base Lenely file and changing her to a more teenaged look. I reduced her muscle tone (teenage Len was fit, but not in the same league as adult Secret World Lenely), although since she’s in armor that probably didn’t matter too much. I also softened her features and changed her default expression. Adult Lenely always looks a bit angry, even when she’s not, but this is a Lenely from a happier time. And of course I changed her hair: before she ate a bee, Lenely was a natural blonde. Just changing her hair color didn’t seem right, however, so I also changed her style to the same one Ameli uses now, only a fair bit longer. Last I changed her eyes. With all that set up I put her in armor and posed her. I had to adjust some of the armor plates so they didn’t clip through one another. Then I set up some environmental sunlight and let the render run. It took about an hour for this to come out:
The shadows came out stronger and in a slightly different direction than I’d planned, but that wasn’t necessarily a problem. What turned out to be a big problem was that I couldn’t find an image for the background. I wanted Lenely in a grassy field, preferably with a bit to look at in the background. But searching the internet for a suitable image, I discovered that while there are bajillions of images of fields, most of them, for some reason, are shot from a considerable height, as if the photographers were standing on hills or raising their cameras over their heads. My render, however, is from quite a low height. Mix the two and you get a Lenely who looks like a giant. The few images I found with suitable angles just looked bad. So, back to the drawing board. Time to render an environment.
Fortunately I already had a set which more or less matched what I wanted. It wasn’t perfect, being busier than I desired, and the ground itself looks terribly flat and unrealistic, but it worked well enough. With a ton of extra stuff, the render took quite a lot longer. I let it run for about three hours before declaring it good enough. This was the result:
After that, post-work in Gimp (I don’t have Photoshop). Added sky. Adjust contrast. Brightened the eyes a little:
For Twitter I decided to crop the image down a bit. I also de-saturated it a bit and added a faint brown border in order to make it look like an old photograph. That doesn’t make too much sense for a photograph that’s not even ten years old, but I wanted a bit of a nostalgic feel. Here’s the final image as posted on Twitter: