possibly the best lighting-related tutorial out there


Yes it says “Poser”, but whatever software you use, you should read this. Maybe even “must”.

Oh yeah, Iray fans: do ditch the DAZ 0.1 as the “SS multiplier” value. Or you will never understand what “sunny 16” is, even though you do have a phys cam model built in.


when dynamifying various DS content…

…like conforming clothing or your own meshes, you may find that the garment doesn’t want to drape nicely but has some sort of “jaggies” sticking out everywhere.

A lot of the time it’s because the geometry is in quads. A simple triangulation operation in any modeler will solve this. But make sure your modeler doesn’t break UVs while triangulating.

And another suggestion contrary to good practices in making meshes for actual rigging: your dynamic mesh should be crazy dense.

field report (including adventures with Substance Painter)

So I have already written about my discovery of Jeff Vogel’s Spiderweb Software games, and since they are really more text-based than anything, I thought that fanart is in order. And it’s not going to be _that_ perfectionism-triggering as my older fandoms are (since those are either visual-based, have a huge body of established lore, or both).

Before I plunge into a lengthy description, though, let me share a tip.

This is one of the Optitex dynamic clothing items for DS that I took into Substance Painter because Substance Painter is this awesome tool that does a lot of stuff I need (like weathering effects) automagically, via (extremely customisable) “smart materials”.

What you need to do to really optimise your workflow is: before you import the mesh into SP, merge those materials that are on the same UV tile and are logically the same (you can do it in DS via “geometry editor” or in a modeler app). Optitex dynamics have a gazillion cloth panels aka mat zones, and SP will generate a separate texture set for each, even if they all fit on the same UV tile. You don’t want it, really. It slows down the painting; you wind up with a gazillion x 3 (or more, depending on what you paint) textures for each zone that you will need to merge later manually in an image editor if you don’t want to waste disk space; and – the biggest issue – you cannot paint across those sets.

Which makes painting continuous detail kinda moot. Just look at this robe that is supposed to have been burnt in a fight. Apparently it’s been sewn from pre-burnt fabric because there is just no way to make the particle brush transcend the texture set boundaries.

So do not repeat my mistakes =)

Tip over; self-indulgence incoming!

I’m almost through with my first run of Avernum: Escape from the Pit, and I’ve grown fond of my gang of four. This is how far I’ve progressed with Kadwell who is the party’s mage and the only dude.

Continue reading “field report (including adventures with Substance Painter)”

in our 3Delight thread on the DAZ forums…

…Wowie linked to a very cool article by B.Benoit, titled The Photographic Look.

I’m not a strict ‘photorealist’ in the sense of ‘replicating our reality’ – I dream of a VFX career, not an archviz one; these mindsets are somewhat different. VFX, even for non-SF/F movies, generally has to be ‘larger than life’ to truly deliver. Paolo Berto Durante throws the word ‘photosurrealism’ around, and I guess it fits.

But it’s all about ‘learning the rules before you break’em’.

There are two things in this article that come as a sort of consolation to me: first, a clear statement that it’s correct to wind up with overexposed outside landscapes/cityscapes when rendering interiors with windows; and then (the biggest one) the importance of softness. I figured that thing out by myself, just looking at stuff, but it’s nice to see that it’s not just my whacky eyesight and even whackier visual processing playing tricks =) Though it’s kinda funny that Mr Benoit says Catmull-Rom is sharp. Maybe when rendering at 4K, it is. But as compared to sinc at hobbyist resolutions, it’s not.

Either way, I have been told that my recent stuff isn’t ‘sharp enough’, but those were fellow hobbyists speaking, and the perception is a bit skewed in the DS/Poser community, what with years of having to deal with tiny render sizes and way-too-high shading rates in case of REYES-based renderers, or having to apply noise reduction to half-baked MTL (or whatever algos they might be using in ‘unbiased’ raytracers) renders – all that because of hardware limitations. With blurry results. So ‘sharp’ meant ‘more computational resources invested’ = ‘better’.

Fun stuff: Xara Designer comes with that discontinued PhotoLooks plugin bundled now. But it doesn’t support EXR that I render to. I wonder if it will accept a HDR TIFF – because I sure want to have my correct bloom.
Well, the upcoming version of GIMP should support 32bit images, and GIMP has ten thousand plugins, so I guess it can wait.

I also need to watch those HDR painting tutorials for Krita. It would be cool if I could paint arbitrary HDR maps for gels and environment lighting.

converting textures between UVs of the same figure (with a related bonus how-to at the end)

Think Genesis2: there are a few UV sets for these figures, some come with it by default (Base and V5/M5), some need to be purchased separately. And of course with a load of patience you can make your own UV sets, but that’s not my area of expertise at all (I’m one of those who dislike the very process of UV mapping).

So. We have Genesis2 and a set of textures for a Genesis2-specific UV set (like Olympia). And we want to load those textures onto an older figure like Genesis.

There is a converter built-in right inside DAZ Studio. It may not be the world’s best one, but it’s still nice enough for many purposes, and hey, it’s free.

Its only downside is that it will only convert between UVs of the same figure. So we need a Genesis-compatible UV on Genesis2. Out of the free ones, we can use the V5/M5 mapping. Or, if you have any of the commercial “Gen4 for G2” UV sets, you can use that.

Continue reading “converting textures between UVs of the same figure (with a related bonus how-to at the end)”

The holy Grail of tonemapping (and other stuff)

Mjc sent me the link to one of the most useful threads on the DAZ forums ever:

Light Sources in Iray

It’s for everyone who wants their PBS stuff to make sense, and it’s obviously most helpful for Iray users.

Now, if there are people out there wondering why Iray and LuxRender have ‘built-in’ tonemappers, but 3Delight sorta kinda has none, well… First of all, most professional 3Delight users see their renders come to life not in the DS render window but in the i-display utility which actually has exposure controls (check out the “Edit” menu) and of course colour profiles. Moreover: with 3Delight being aimed at the movie industry, its output will generally be composited with live footage, which means that the most important thing is to get quality linear images out of it, and get them fast; then they will be tonemapped and colour-graded by the compositors to match the artistic intent of the movie mastermind. This is undoubtedly a very simplified picture of the process, but you get the drift. On the other hand, Iray and LuxRender appear to be primarily aimed at archviz – where you only need the most realistic final image of something that exists or will exist in our life; an image that will stand on its own. It makes sense to put the most controls in the rendering software, then.

smoothing modifier for fitting clothes to difficult shapes

— this post deals with using older Poser content in DS, but these tips work for Genesis and beyond, too; it’s just that they are needed less often —

Fitting conforming clothing to older Poser figures can be difficult, particularly when we’re dealing with specific morphs that deviate far enough from the standard body. Sometimes the “transfer active morphs” function of DS works well, but not always. For instance, on my machine it never detects that GND2 is injected into V3, and so it’s not much help for GND2-based characters.

Smoothing modifier can help (in the menu: “Edit – Figure – Geometry – Apply smoothing modifier”), and it can be pushed to adjust for smaller-than-standard sizes as well, if you scale the clothing down to create pokethrough on purpose and then increase smoothing/collision iterations to fix it (in the Parameters tab: “General – Mesh smoothing”). Not just the whole clothing item, but individual body parts of it can be selected to scale them down/up (the scale dials are often hidden from the parameters tab, but they will show if you check “show hidden properties” in the tab menu).

Sometimes the “base shape matching” smoothing type works better, sometimes the generic one.

Smoothing modifier works best with SubD (in the menu: “Edit – Figure – Geometry – Convert to SubD”; then you will find controls in the Parameters tab: “General – Mesh resolution”). There are various settings to SubD; it is worth trying them all out. But there is no need to touch the subdivision level unless you are using Iray to render. For 3Delight, SubD is either on or off, and it’s not connected to displacement at all.

Unfortunately, with a lot of older clothing models, particularly free ones, using neither smoothing modifier nor SubD works well: the mesh just breaks, whatever you do. Then you can remove the modifier (the command is in the Geometry menu) and set the mesh resolution to Base (and levels to 0 if you want to see the effect immediately) and resort to manual deforming, sculpting in an external program or maybe using a utility like Morphing Clothes, in case you have it… or using some other clothing.

Actually, even though DS dynamics are kinda limited in selection, they are often the best choice for difficult character morphs. And like anything else, they can take on an endless variety of looks through texturing. Often, it’s not even necessary to lay out or paint textures: a tiling shader preset or the like will often work nice.

gnd2plus_clothing Here is a V3 character based on a mix of GND2, She-Freak, Rianne, DieTrying free morphs and a custom deformer that gives the hips a shape more familiar to my Russian eye. The clothing is the sweater from AP_Clothes, the pants are slacks from V3 Clothing Pack by DAZ3D, the shoes are BatLab BD Shoes. Clothes fit via SubD and smoothing modifier. There are some issues, but overall it’s quite good.
The shoes don’t work well with SubD or smoothing, so they are fit through scale adjustments of individual shoe bones.

For the materials I used textures by Michele (thank you so much once again!) to drive various channels of my RadiumFabric shader (in case of shoes, the primary material adds a layer of new bump to the original textures). Speculars and bumps use different maps on the sweater (it’s subtle, but if you click to zoom in, you’ll see it’s a pretty cool embroidery-like effect); the velvet colour on the pants is a light version of the bump (layer duplicated in MLIE and set to additive mode), and its strength is a different map, with “scratches”. The diffuse is one solid colour, actually the same for the sweater and pants. The main difference is due to the velvet.

BTW, when I bent the feet to account for the high heels, I found out that I needed to remove feet/toe bones from the pants because otherwise they stretched over the foot in a rather silly fashion. It’s not the first time I have to edit rigs in older content, and it started to happen in DS3 already.

an essential article by Jeremy Birn

You ever render? You should read this.

I’m personally guilty of forgetting the other side of the “coder colours” thing (tip No 8): i.e. I will generally try to cap the RGB values at a reasonable high point…but I will often let a channel drop to zero. All out of laziness: to truly prevent this, you need to check your map’s darks. You’d think someone like me who edits at least 50% of all the maps in any given scene would bother… ha. Lazy Fox!

NB: it only applies to _colour_ maps. A control map like opacity strength or any other strength, now this should have a zero when there is no effect (or when it goes max distance into the surface, like bump/displacement). Same for max values: they are there when they are needed.

And the tip No 1… I swear it’s the key point. It did literally change my renders overnight, even before I moved on to custom shaders and full GI.