One of the changes I made to the 7.1 version was to replace the hostess at the strip club with a new model, because the old hostess just can’t cut it anymore. Now after working with a bunch of new models and creating the sequel, it is becoming more and more obvious that Ariane herself needs to be updated.
I have been using Victoria 3 base for Ariane for the past 7 years, and before that Victoria 2. Yes I know I am late to the party, but Victoria 4 is all kinds of superior to Victoria 3 model. So if Ariane is going to have a future as a virtual character, it is time to update her for the next decade. Its a hard choice I am reluctant to make because everyone is so familiar with her “classic” look, and change is a pain. This is especially true because I have already created 44 pictures for the sequel using the old model.
So I decided to update the looks of Ariane, while keeping her close to the original as possible. I went looking for a skin texture and saw one on sale at DAZ ironically called Ariana. I lightened the skin a touch, and added the usual simple makeup (eye liner, red lipstick) and added a beauty mark that has existed on every version of Ariane just to the right of her nose.
Then came the extremely hard part of playing with the 300 sliders to get the face shape as close as possible. Once I got the close as possible look down, I was a little unsatisfied because she is not the classic beauty I was hoping for. I made an attempt to abandon close as possible and go with a classic beauty, but oddly I preferred the close as possible look, because the face has “character”. It is funny how taking a second look changes perspective sometimes.
Two things concern me, one is that this may seem like a radical change to some of you. The other is that I may be walking on the jagged edge of the Uncanny Valley with this change. Let me know what you think.
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Update: So far the reaction is mixed, which is what I expected. Believe me, I am of two minds on this myself. Just to point this out, here are a couple of renders I did so far. You can compare these to the “classic” Ariane pictures that I posted earlier.
Here is the first one, and comparing the “classic” and the “new”, I do not see a lot of improvement. In fact I’ll admit the “classic” Ariane looks better. Maybe it is the lighting I have in this picture makes her look kind of odd.
Then I redo the second picture and that “wow” factor shows up. The “new” Ariane picture is definitely better. The difference between these two test images is rather dramatic, and if I go forward with the new model, I will have to pay closer attention to lighting and shadow, which means a lot of extra work. “Classic” Ariane looks the same in all lighting conditions, so doing a thousand pictures with her was easy.
There are a couple of other factors I am also considering. One is that later in the story there is a conversation about the last date, this conversation varies depending on the date that you import to the sequel. I illustrate the conversation with flashbacks to scenes from the first date, and having a dramatic difference between the current and flashback pics is likely to be off putting. A second consideration I won’t go into details because it is a spoiler, but in the interplay between Ariane and the new characters, the “classic” Ariane looks inferior and that is what got me thinking about this change in the first place.
Shall we try this again?
Making another attempt, adjusting eyes, nose, mouth and cheeks. The parts that still don’t match up simply are not possible even on V4. And, just to put the finishing touch on, I am using classic Ariane’s eyeballs. If eyes are the windows of the soul, then that is the biggest change of all.