Learning Dark Arts

Come learn the art of 3D computer generated art and animation. This blog deals with the lessons learned and the art created by Robert G. Male using DazStudio from Daz3D. Also covered are the ancillary software, tools, techniques, and processes needed both before and after rendering in the 3D software.


Spell casting woman.

R.M.T.P. Co.


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March 31, 2008

The Creeping

I have had a terrible time with things creeping along in Daz Studio. So slow do things happen sometimes that I have to wonder if there has been a crash. It's ridiculous at some points. I'll have nothing open and I will open a folder to get something to load, and it will stop and think before the folder actually opens to reveal subfolders, this without even looking to see what is in them. Then I will scroll down the folder tree and sometimes the scrolling will freeze and then I have to sit and wait for it to go further down, or worse yet I will have to try and scroll again to no avail and keep trying until it will scroll again. Other times yet I will have a scene open and have been working on it. I will go to save. It will take several long seconds to open the save dialogue and longer yet to be able to type in a file name. That is seriously whack.

I tried to alleviate my problem by attacking my operating system. I create a new profile in WinXP that loads only the firewall and the emergency power shutdown. That seemed to alleviate some of the worst waits for a while but then they slowly crept back. There are lots of times I will make a change and then have to wait until the computer does a bunch of processing. Sometimes the changes have to be done in slow stages. One day I also managed to crash the video driver. That was kind of freaky and more than a pain in the butt to sort things out on a freaky distorted screen to save my work and get the computer restarted. Maybe I need to find and dig into those Level of Detail controls that were talked about in the newest version of Daz Studio. Anyone know if changing to wireframes might be of some help for the slowness perhaps?

Music: Ride the Wild Wind by Queen.

March 24, 2008

Help! Save Me From Cluelessness

I was absolutely floored and thrilled with the March Madness sale at Daz3D that resulted in such a massive mark down on Mimic 3.1. I've wanted to tackle talking characters ever since I ran across a company called SitePal. They offer virtual avatars for your website, under the idea they foster business for your company. I like their samples, but of course I know I could do way better using Daz, and Mimic would be a must. So I went ahead and ordered the full version and thanks to the sale, my Platinum discount, and a new monthly voucher I got it for a stunning $35--actually a few cents less than that, even with the exchange to my Canadian funny money. I picked up some other freebie software from here and there to round out the tools I will need for the audio and such.

I read through a good chunk of the manual for Mimic before I even made the purchase and I learned how to make an animation with it. I installed it and put it to use. I brought in an audio file, created a phonetic text file to make things run smoother and then I created a movie. Easy-peasy, except I tried to make a Flash video, but the sound got all messed up. Then I made an AVI. I ran into codec problems. I converted it to Flash with another program. Only half the sound was there, but maybe that's because it's so short of a file. So I exported the file like the tutorial said to a PZ2 file and then I went into Daz Studio. I opened a saved figure, and imported the animation. The figure's head droops. Running the timeline, only the head moves, a bit, and no mouth movement. I did it twice, once focused on the entire figure, the other time on the head. Same results. Same thing with both Victoria 4.0 Full, and with Victoria 4.2 and all dial morphs added. Does anyone know what I have to do to use the PZ2 in Daz Studio?

Thanks to Youtube I do have a little video I'll just refer to as R.M.T.P. Co. Avatar.

Music: Step Beyond by Without Warning.

March 17, 2008

No Longer Just for Lipstick

It's easy to see a complaint for the negativity that it implies. What needs to be done is to look at it as an obstacle to be surmounted, dealt with, and learned from. With this in mind I want to talk about another problem I've had. Sticking with clothes I have to wonder what is with the odd shiny, almost worn-look spots that develop on clothing when it is rendered? They appear in lines and splotches and don't track with idea of these items being cloth. I've tracked down a fix to this problem. These artefacts that only appear in the render are tied to the Glossiness of the surface. At glossiness levels below a certain threshold the problem is seen. Unfortunately to the best of my playing with the surface settings it seems the glossiness needs to be set effectively at 100%.

Clothing items aren't the only rendered items that are affected by this problem. This is something that has come up before in this blog. Just to recap, I had intensely glowing objects in the Haunted Mansion set (harder to fix), and lights shining on the Dies Mortis building without any lights in the scene. I had a similar seemingly unpreventable issue with circles of light in the bedroom scene that I think came with the Daz Studio software when I first downloaded it. I pretty much gave up on that set until I have the time to put all of the appropriate objects like lamps where all of the lights appear on the wall. It's rather constraining to have to do that, not to mention frustrating that there is no preload despite the obvious need of an exact number of objects to be in the exact positions.

Music: All Star by Smash Mouth.

March 10, 2008

Do I Look Fat in This

If a Daz3D character asks this about an outfit, the answer invariably is yes. I seem to have an incredibly difficult time with clothing in Daz. I load up things for the figure they are supposed to belong to and once they are fit to the figures they, well, don't fit. Then there are some that do fit, as long as you don't tweak any body features of the character. I also seem to have no idea how the controls on a lot of these outfits are supposed to work. Let's take an example of a dress for Victoria4. This example item, of which I have more than one for sure, has 5 different dials for "breast size". I slide the values, positive and negative, alone, and in combinations. However the effect is minimal and very confusing when trying to make the item fit the area. Contrary to real world evidence, and to gravity breasts generally go down, not up.

Such sizing problems extend also to the lower body, sometimes with even worse results. I suppose there might be a time when you a want a clothing design where part to all of the buttocks stick out through the clothes, stranger things have happened in the fashion world, but I don't think its right for just every model, pose, or scene. While I'm attacking problems below the belt, the next problem I encounter constantly, is dresses (in particular) that don't move with the legs. Some will stretch to a point when you change appropriate dials, but others won't. Among the ones that do comes the next problem. One you have a leg that's been moved, and the clothing has been adjusted to cover all of the leg that it should, then you have parts of the dress that are way up in the air. So between championing anorexia, and standing still, is it any wonder it's so much easier to pose naked?

Music: Montsegur by Iron Maiden.

March 3, 2008

New and Different Controls

I originally bought Victoria 4.0 Full, I think it was called, not the Pro Bundle anyway, and the figure came with all of the inject channels already loaded. You just loaded the figure and away you went directly injecting other characters or building your own character with its unique body style and face, especially with preset faces set on sliders, including Samantha, Becky, Lisa, etc. Now along came Victoria 4.1 for free but without any injects, but I received a lot of mats so it wasn't a big deal, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Now with Victoria 4.2 I have everything I had with the 4.0 Full, and some more morphs I never had before, especially for the face. What is different and really threw me was the whole Morphs++ idea. The injects have to be loaded after the character. I'm not sure what the real advantage is to only adding specific morph channels. For morph injections grouped together I see "INJ Base V4" and "INJ Morphs++ V4". I have no clue thus far what the INJ Base is for exactly, when everything it seems is included in the INJ Morphs++.

I do like the "Base" morph injections folder, in the Poses, if only to see what some of the sliders look like in action without fiddling with them directly. I also like how they've separated the Visemes out into their own list once I've injected the sliders for them into the figure. Some other things are rearranged that I wish weren't. I keep losing the easy controls for moving both eyes together. The overall fact that every grouping is closed by default is sometimes a real pain in the backside. I also don't know what to make of the default map for Victoria 4.2 with the "fuzzy" purple bikini. It seems to make the map pretty useless since it intrudes on everything with a low décolletage let alone using a morphing bikini or other similar apparel. I tried removing the map from the surface but that removes the skin colour, along with the faux bikini, so is useless to attempt. Similarly I recall the same problem with the hair on that default map. Next time, clothes complaints!

Music: Old Hat by Izzy Stradlin.

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Robert G. Male

Name: Robert G. Male
Location: Ontario, Canada

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