Shader mixer, applied crash course pt.1

AoA Subsurface is a popular shader for DS+3Delight. It has a problem, though: it’s a shader mixer network, and shader mixer is hardwired to output completely unwanted visibility attributes when there is an “image” brick attached to surface opacity anywhere up the line, even when there is no image there, only colour.

Those attributes tell 3Delight to run the whole shader when calculating raytraced shadows and diffuse light transport like ambient occlusion or indirect lighting – yes, even when your object is completely solid!!

This can slow your renders down. Exact amount varies, but still, why put up with those extra calculations?

We can fix it by tinkering with the spaghetti in the shader mixer.

IMPORTANT: unfortunately this is not a one-off fix that will automatically carry over to all the AoA presets you have – because every shader mixer preset actually has the whole network saved in it and not just parameter values. So you will need to remember to fix every preset you may use. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy once you get the gist of it.

Here is how to do it.

Continue reading Shader mixer, applied crash course pt.1

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)

applying LUTs the easy way

LUTs are “look up tables” for colours. They’re useful in many many ways (for instance, a program I use to calibrate displays, QuickGamma, creates a LUT that loads with Windows). But for the sake of image editing, they can be used as “filters”.

Mjc posted links to a few interesting ones here in our 3Delight thread on the DAZ forums.

If you already have compositing software and know how to use it, you may have already tried to apply something of the sort to your renders. But if you aren’t a wannabe compositor, there’s an easier way to make use of them.

3Delight’s dedicated image viewer i-display supports LUTs and will export a JPEG of your image with the LUT applied. Just saving the image out won’t burn the LUT in, so make sure you use export as JPEG (Ctrl+J). The quality is good, but still, it’s lossy so you probably will want to apply LUT as the final stage of your postprocessing.

Choosing a LUT can be done via the menu (see screenshot) or with the Ctrl+U shortcut. Don’t forget to set colour profile to “custom” to see the LUT effect.

LUTload_idisplay

If you don’t have the free 3Delight Studio Pro, get it here. It’s the latest free version, so you can export your DS scenes to RIBs and render them via the standalone to leverage the latest improvements.

cathfreestuffLUTKodak Here’s an example quick render I made with Mec4D (Cath) birthday freebies (yeah that’s true, Cath gave the community several presents for her own birthday! Isn’t she awesome? Go check out her personal store and her DAZ store page).

The “clean” render is posted to Cath’s anniversary thread on the DAZ forums, so you can compare the effect of this particular LUT (the one whose name is shown in the i-display screenshot; I like it a lot).

Using G2F and G2M clothing on original Genesis

If I am not mistaken, there are actual G2F and G2M clone products for Genesis on the market, which are likely to offer better fits and possibly more features, but supposing you just need a G2 item on Genesis in a pinch, your AV software decided all DAZ content shops are phishing sites and the cat got your bank card… you can make do with what DS has to offer internally.

…now that Genesis 3 is out, I haven’t yet checked if G3F makes it as easy to retroclone her shape, but you are free to try, y’know, for educational purposes =)

Here’s a how-to with a few screenshots. I’m using a lived-in City Limits layout with a custom colour scheme, so your DS will likely look a bit different =)

Continue reading Using G2F and G2M clothing on original Genesis

3Delight’s Physical Sun into DAZ Studio: a yet another Shader Builder mini-tutorial

If you have done my lens flare shader tutorial and want something else to play with, here is a how-to for a light that has long become a staple of my renders.

It is a yet another interesting light shader supplied with 3Delight Studio Pro: physicalsun.sl by the Jupiter Jazz group. As you can infer from the name, it simulates sunlight. If you have followed my previous Shader Builder tutorials, you should have no problem getting this sun to shine onto your DAZ Studio scenes.

PhysicalSun can be combined with just about any light shader you have. Here are a few test renders using PhysicalSun at different angles and settings, and omnifreaker’s UberSoftLightKit Master (environment) light set to do a combo of AO-based IBL and indirect lighting (with various “sky” colours); the scene is an old DAZ freebie called Seer’s Fountain with displacement applied (hence the seam issues).

physky_fix_noon_seamphysky_fix_notmorning_seamphysky_fix_sunset_seam

What you need:

– DAZ Studio with a working Shader Builder (the 4.8 beta won’t do; DAZ devs promise that the final release will have the plugin fixed, so let’s hope);
– an installation of 3Delight Studio Pro;
– a good text editor like Notepad++; RSL/RIB syntax highlighter recommended.

Continue reading 3Delight’s Physical Sun into DAZ Studio: a yet another Shader Builder mini-tutorial

Importing Larry Gritz’s lens flare shader into DAZ Studio

Some of you may have read my Shader Builder tutorial that deals with importing 3Delight’s envlight2 shader into DS. Here is a yet another walkthrough for another type of Renderman shader – a surface one.

It’s not going to be as detailed as the big PDF one, though, so I suggest you start with that one first. Test what you have learned; ask away if you get stuck.

In the end, you will have a working shader and a method to use it for getting neat lens flare – a phenomenon that is ubiquitous in real-life cameras, but sorely missing from DAZ Studio. This shader is fast, and often it will give you just the right “glow” around light sources you need, without expensive volumetrics: even in real life, that fuzzy halo you see around lights is often created in your eye, not in the atmosphere.

The lens flare shader was written years ago by Larry Gritz (a big name guy in the world of CG). It is actually a surface shader, so you’ll have to apply it to something mimicking a “lens” – but not in the geometrical sense thereof =) A flat plane will do.

As a teaser, here is a “toon-y” landscape scene I quickly threw together. The “sun” is a regular point light. Of course it’s not that physically correct, so won’t work for anything but a “toy” scene, but! There is a trick: you can place a point light that will not affect the rest of your scene, but will give you the lens flare so as to simulate the sun (or whatever). To do this, you either need to use a light shader that can have a light category assigned and set only the lens flare surface to “see” it, or just put it very close to your lens flare surface and adjust the intensity of the light to make it low enough not to influence the rest of the scene (fairly easy with physically-based square falloff that most point light shaders have – unless they are “linear point lights”, that is). The strength of lens flare effects can also be adjusted. Just remember: put the light “outside the kit” = the lens flare surface should be between the light and the camera.

toystory_lenstest

Click the image, click the links, click the “read on” when you’re ready!

Continue reading Importing Larry Gritz’s lens flare shader into DAZ Studio

Coloured vignettes in Paint.NET

I use this free app called Paint.NET for a frightening majority of whatever image processing tasks I may need to do. The real power of PdN lies in the amazing community, though: there are quite a few talented coders out there who keep on releasing mindblowing plugins.

There are hundreds of them, I believe, but this time I am just going to focus on a specific technique concerning vignettes.

I developed it before BoltBait’s Vignette Plus was released – a plugin that allows to create a coloured vignette with alpha; but I believe this method may still have value because, well, it offers a tad more options.

And, y’know, the whole educational effect.

What you need:

Paint.NET;
Ed Harvey Effects;
KrisVDM’s plugin pack.

// those pages will tell you how to install these plugins //

And an image – I will use one of my test renders, originally posted on the DAZ3D forums.

What I got:

gaia-bright-closeup_vignette_colourburn_146

If you want to learn how to do this, too, then please proceed under the cut for the how-to.

Continue reading Coloured vignettes in Paint.NET

The benefits of re-exporting a PMD-enabled CR2 from DS

If you still work with “oldschool” Poser figures in DAZ Studio (think V4 and older), you might have run into that annoying issue when root-level FBM dials just disappear (particularly with Gen3 content). Then you have to run MCasual’s Select All My Children script and dial the morph in this awkward way.

However, this tends to get fixed after re-exporting the CR2 from DS4.7.

You load your Poser figure into DS, inject its morphs, and then simply do a re-export as a CR2, into the Poser runtime structure (just put it there where the original CR2 was, but give it a descriptive name so you’d know which one’s which), checking the “Save binary morph file” box (this way, you won’t have to worry about “classic” human-readable morph injections being overwritten or something). Uncheck “collect files”, you don’t need it (this new CR2 is for your personal use only, and you already have all the files that are referenced in it).

Then, when you import this new CR2 into DS, all the root morph dials should be there.

Note : if you export a CR2 with some morphs dialed to a non-zero value, this CR2 will load in this state. You may use this to your advantage.

Then… This may be a highly specialised trick that not many people are going to need, but I’m putting it up just in case.

Supposing you have a figure originally made for Poser (a .cr2), but it is saved in an older DS scene file (.daz), and has a lot of morphs loaded that are not part of the “standard” CR2 ( = they do not use the injection channels supplied in the CR2, but have their own named ones ): for example, it is a heavily custom character you have created in DS3 using Morph Loader and/or PMD injections…

Continue reading The benefits of re-exporting a PMD-enabled CR2 from DS

Recently Michele of the RedEyeCat fame…

…made a post about Dusk – the long-awaited male counterpart to Hivewire3D’s Dawn base figure – having so very few morph options as of now, and mentioned trying to copy Dawn’s morphs (of which there is a handful out there, including very nice free ones on ShareCG) to use on him.

Since I have already “ported” a few morphs from G2M to G2F and back, I figured a similar techinique might work for these two (after all, Dawn and Dusk even appear to share the same UV mapping!), And yeah, everything’s coming up roses =) // I finally bought Lyriel’s “Wenn Die Engel Fallen” 2012 single a few days ago, and it includes a live cover of this old song – which I had never heard before, so it’s playing in my head Lyriel-style //

You will obviously not get identical results when applying Dawn’s morphs to Dusk. But morphs like these faces seem to make quite a difference (don’t forget you can dial in negative numbers!). Sorry I don’t have a render right now…

So, here’s the brief how-to (if anyone needs a more detailed explanation, I’ll add clarifications later – just leave a comment to let me know!):

1) In the “data” folder, copy the folder housing the Dawn morph you want to the Dusk morph folder.
2) Open the morph file (the one you just copied into Dusk folder!! not the original Dawn one) in a text editor like Notepad++ and see if it’s compressed (it won’t be human-readable if it is).
3) If it’s not compressed, go to 5.
4) If it’s compressed, simply unzip it in the same folder using any program like 7zip (a file without an extension will be created); delete the original compressed .dsf and rename the new file to have a dsf extension.
5) Open the newly renamed .dsf morph in a text editor and set the editor to replace all occurrences of “Dawn” with “Dusk”. Save.
6) Scroll down. Around line 40 in the new morph, there should be a line like this:
"group" : "/General/Shaping/Morphs/Head/Face",
Above it, add the following line:
"region" : "Actor",
Don’t erase or add anything else, and don’t forget the comma at the end of the line!
7) Save. Open DS and load Dusk. The morph should be there where the “group” variable points.
Bonus tip: if you don’t like the location of the morph, type a new path in the “group” variable! For example, I changed the base path to “Dawn/Face” or “Dawn/Body”, so as to remember these are not Dusk native morphs.