Purple Cow

When I was very young, my mother’s parents had a farm about 3 miles from our home. I can’t remember how we got there, but since my mom didn’t drive, I presume that we sometimes walked over to the farm. She grew up there and had some friends that still lived in the area. So on occasion, while we were visiting my grandpa and grandma, we would ride one of Grandpa’s horses over to visit these friends.

The horse was called “Old Blue,” which I never understood since he was a brown horse. But Old Blue was so broad that you could almost have had a picnic on his back. We never used a saddle. My mom would ride him over to her friends’ homes and my brother, Dan, and I would ride along on that expansive back while my mom sang songs, told stories, or recited funny poetry.

One of the poems that I recall hearing as we road along was called “Purple Cow.” It went something like this:

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!

According to Wikipedia, “Purple Cow” was written by Gelett Burgess in 1895. My grandfathers’ herd had only white-faced Herefords, so I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a purple cow. I’ve been wondering why Burgess wrote the poem (I do the same about some that I’ve written.)

Why should anyone ever expect that cattle should be purple? I created a Poser image to give a hint to the answer.

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I loaded TerraDome 2 into the Poser Pro 2014 scene and injected the Circle Of Hills morph into the AZone. Moorland-11 was used to texture this with grass, but since the grass seems a bit dead, I changed its Diffuse Color to a more pleasing green. The Circle of Hills dial was adjusted to 0.5 to provide a hill in the distance.

A Noggin’s Cow and a Calf were loaded and placed in a nursing pose in the foreground. Another Cow, a couple Calves, and a Bull were loaded and placed grazing back on the hillside. I gave the bull long horns.

HiveWire’s Long Haired version of their Quarter Hose was placed at the left of the foreground and equipped with their Western Tack Bridle and Saddle.

Michael 4 was loaded, dressed in M4 Cowboy Clothes, and placed in a crouching pose just to the right of his horse.

Poser’s Pet Dog in a playful pose was placed in front of Michael. I used a tree bark texture (no pun intended) to rough up the dog’s coat.

One of Crooked Trees’ Large Leaf trees was placed in the foreground, behind the horse. Two more were placed on the hill behind the grazing cattle.

Three instances of Barbed Wire Fence were linked together and placed to separate Michael and his horse from the tree and the cattle.

Now the plot thickens. I changed the Diffuse Color for the horse’s coat, Michael’s skin, and the dog’s pelt to purple.

Would a purple cowboy with a purple horse and a purple dog be surprised to see a purple cow? Considering the fate of a beef cow, I suppose that this cowboy would still rather see than be one.

Keep reading/keep writing – Jack

Heads Up

The Scottish National Gallery 2 broadcast of Antiques Roadshow-UK was on recently. During the opening sequence, we got a glimpse of what looked like a sculpture of a head resting on a hand at the end of an upturned arm. This seemed a bit surreal to me and I thought it might make an interesting Poser image. So I fired up Poser Pro 2014 and went to work.
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DAZ’s Victoria 4.2 figure was loaded first and Addy’s Danielle face was injected. The Visible property was unchecked for all of Victoria’s body parts except the head and the name was changed from “Victoria” to “Head.”

3Dream’s Master Skull Cap prop and their Dinasty Hair pose was loaded to give the head a sort of Boy Cut hairstyle. The Diffuse Maps were set to 0% (turned off) and the color was set to White for everything except her eyes to give the appearance of marble.

A few stone textures were tried for the head, but they didn’t look as good as just leaving the head white.

A second instance of Victoria was loaded and the Visible property was unchecked for all body parts except the right arm. I renamed this “Arm.” B9999’s Everyday Hands “V4 BalLg-1” was loaded to pose the hand so that, when the arm was rotated 90 degrees, the head could be placed in the palm. A little adjustment of the fingers was needed, but with the Diffuse Maps turned off, the skin appeared black in the Preview Window. This made manipulations difficult, so I temporary turned the Maps back on until I was finished posing the head in the hand. The arm was Parented to the Head.

Neftis’ White Marble Base from their Antoinette Bust model was loaded, moved under the upturned arm, and parented to the arm.

When rendered, the white of the arm and head was too bright, so I set the Diffuse Color of the arm, head, and skull cap to a light gray. I set the Diffuse of the lips to a darker gray to give some separation.

The combination was saved to my Figures Statue Library as “Heads Up,” in case I wanted to use it in some other image.

To continue with my Poser image, I loaded three rock formations from ShaaraMuse’s “The High Coast” scene. Two rocks were placed in the background and the third in the foreground with the Heads Up sculpture between them.

To provide a better visual separation between the foreground and background rocks, I adjusted the camera focus and f/ stop to slightly blur the foreground rock.

The rendered image is shown above. It still looks a bit surreal to me, but I like it.

Keep reading/keep writing – Jack

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid ferrotypeSome time back, I ran across a Wikipedia article on Billy the Kid. Because of my interest in photography, I read about one of the few authentic pictures of the Kid, a ferrotype taken by an unknown photographer. The picture has been published many times, and seems to show his pistol on his left hip. However, scholars have pointed out that the method of producing ferrotypes reverses the image and that the pistol is really on his right side. The photo here is a “flipped” image to show Billy in the correct orientation.

Billy was called “The Kid” because of his age. I thought it would be fun to create a Poser image of Billy as an actual kid – a goat.

I obtained a set of goats from Lyne’s Creations and decided to use the Billy Goat Gray model. However, I only had clothes for humans, not goats, so I loaded Michael 4 and dressed him with some cowboy clothes and a hat, and gave him a Remington 700 rifle.

I posed Michael 4 to resemble the pose in the picture of Billy the Kid, then made him invisible. I loaded three instances of the Billy Goat Gray model. I posed one so that his right “hand” and forearm extended from Billy’s right sleeve, one so that it’s left “hand” and arm extended from the left sleeve and held the rifle, and one so that its head and neck extended from the shirt. I made superfluous parts of each goat invisible, so that it would look like a single goat was posed as Billy the Kid.

Billy the KidI loaded Audry Pestrayakof’s Nature-Canyon around Billy and used one of my photos as the background.

Another instance of theĀ  Billy the Kid ferrotype was photoshopped to create a WANTED poster and placed on a dead tree at the left of the scene.

You can find more of the Poser images that I did just for fun at http://stellareco.com/Poser/Poser Fun.html

Keep reading/keep writing – Jack

Reboot

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In Chapter 13, Departure, of my novel, “Silver Threads,” Tom meets Tahiti and she decides to leave Adondus with him onboard the Marco Pollo. Tahiti helps Tom bring his Uncle Juan on board. When he takes the unconscious Juan to a passenger cabin, he is startled as Juan reboots into his Plastidroid form. He orders the ship to secure Uncle Juan in a Level 5 Containment field and Tahiti rushes from the bridge to see what is going on. I decided to create this moment as a Poser scene.

I loaded the Hall and Crew Quarters 2 figures that I described in my Marco Pollo Crew Cabin post. I moved the Hall so that its walls and door coincided with those of the Crew Quarters and made the door into the room “open” by setting it to invisible. When I placed the Dolly Camera into the hall so that it could look into the room toward the bed, I found that I had to make the wall behind the camera invisible, too, so that it could be placed far enough from the doorway for a good view.

I loaded my Plastidroid figure into the scene, gave him a reclining pose, and placed him on the bed. Then I placed two instances of Valender’s Laser Fence from DAZ3D into the scene, one above the other, and changed their scales so that they went from one wall to the other and floor to ceiling in front of the bed to represent the visible part of the ship’s Level 5 Containment Field.

I placed my Tom figure in the Crew Quarters and Tahiti in the Hall. Tahiti was posed running down the Hall to the door and peering in. Tom was posed, surprised and looking back toward Tahiti.

When I find a publisher for “Silver Threads,” you can – as they say in the newspaper business – read all about it.

Keep reading/keep writing – Jack

Marco Pollo Crew Cabin

Bidido-300Most books on writing fiction mention the importance of knowing everything that you can about your characters and their environment. Not all of that information makes its way into your story or novel, but it helps you to know how your characters will react in any circumstances, and what will bring about those circumstances.

This information may seem of little importance if you write flash fiction, but the longer your story, the more important the information is. If you write a novel, this information can be very important. If you write short stories or novels set in the same “universe” (as I do), then the information can be even more important. Bidido wears an eye patch. Now I need to mention which eye it covers. Is it the left or the right? Was it mentioned earlier in the story or in a previous story? I wouldn’t want to say it’s over the right eye on page 5 of my first novel and over the left on page 280 of my second.

How this information is recorded and made available varies from writer to writer. My stellareco.com web site is my way of doing this for myself. It also lets my readers in on this same info. My interest in the 3D graphics program, Poser, is part of my desire to know my characters and their environments. Now I can know what Tom, Tahiti, or Trittcha look like (and which eye Bidido’s patch covers.)

As I was writing my novel, “Silver Threads,” I found that I needed to know where the bathroom (the “head”) was relative to the bridge of the Marco Pollo starship. Elsewhere, I need to know that the bridge was too small to be used by the saurians of the planet New Home. So I got out a sheet of graph paper and drew a scale model of the Crew Cabin of the Marco Pollo. The bridge at the “north” end was connected to a lounge at the “south” end by a hall. Along the hall was, first, the head and the galley, followed by the two crew quarters. The overall dimensions of the Crew Cabin was 19 feet wide by 34 feet long. If needed, extra passenger quarters could be constructed beyond the lounge in a multipurpose/cargo area whose size is not defined.

Now, when I write about events on the Marco Pollo, I know where everything is and I can be consistent from chapter to chapter or from one short story to another. To provide an even better view of the rooms and furnishings of the Crew Cabin, I fired up my Poser Pro 2014.

MP Crew Quarters 1 main 20mmI used Poser primitives to create the walls, floor, ceiling and doors. I populated the rooms with lights and props appropriate to each. For example, the head has a shower and bathtub, a commode and toilet paper dispenser, a vanity cabinet with sink, and a tile floor. In the Captain’s Quarters, I put a quilt that Janet made onto Tom’s bed.

Eventually, I had a Poser file of the Crew Cabin (all 7 rooms) and its contents that I could look at or utilize if I wanted to create an image onboard the Marco Pollo. Unfortunately, Poser has to consider all the “stuff” in the file even if only a single room is to be in the final render. This makes operations like moving the camera very slow.

I decided to create seven separate Poser files–one for each room. I deleted everything but the desired room, its lights, and its contents and saved the result as a separate file. Now all I had to do was to load CrewQuarters1.PZ3 if I wanted a scene in the Captain’s Quarters.

If necessary, I could make walls and doors invisible to get good views of the interior of a room. Unfortunately, if I wanted a shot from behind someone standing in a doorway looking into the Captain’s Quarters (or from the inside looking out), then the hallway around the character was missing. I could have the hallway in the scene, or the room, but not both unless I used my large Crew Cabin file. I’m not aware of a way to combine two different Poser files into one. What I needed were Library files for each room that could be loaded just like characters and props.

Here’s what I did:

First, I loaded the file of the room that I wanted to work with.

Next, I added a Poser Pro Left Hand Figure (any figure would do) to the scene to be my “Main Parent“. I posed the hand under the floor, out of sight. I changed the name from “Left Hand” to the name of the room. For instance, “Left Hand” >>> “Galley”. Then I “parented” every other figure in the room to the Main Parent (Galley) via the Figure drop-down menu and every prop in the scene to the Main Parent via the Object drop-down menu. I checked that I hadn’t missed anything by selecting the Main Parent and increasing or decreasing the scale. If everything rescaled, then I’d parented everything correctly. Now if I need to move the room to make the doorway fit the hall’s doorway, I select the Main Parent and change its x, y, and z coordinates. Other items in the scene can be selected and moved within the scene as desired.

Once everything had been correctly parented, I created a folder in the Library (in this case, Figures\Spacecraft\Marco Pollo Crew Cabin) with the Create New Folder button at the bottom of the Library window.

Next, I made sure that this folder and the Main Parent-Body were selected. Then I clicked the Add to Library button at the bottom of the Library window. I named the room (Galley, etc.) and clicked OK, then clicked select the Whole Group (if asked). The scene was saved, ready to use, into the Library.

Now maybe I can make some scenes to represent life on the Marco Pollo.

Keep reading/keep writing – Jack