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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September 29, 2008

The Deformative Years - Part 1

Sitting in the Tools toolbar after the general Transform tools (Translation, Rotations, and Scaling), the Surface and Render tools, the Camera, and the Lights there are some more exotic tools. There is the Primitive button, which adds simple geometric shapes. Those are helpful, though lately they seem to destroy the savability of a file (saved scenes reload but fail to render). There is also the Null button to create reference points in the scene with which to do some alterations--something for another time. In between the Null and Primitive buttons is a third one that creates something called a D-Former. The D-Former is a useful tool for manipulating objects, deforming them, in set ways. Like everything else, multiple deformations at once give greater power.

A D-Former should be parented to an object or part of an object. The deformations can be limited when enacted upon parts that are permanently parented--the skeleton structure of hand parented to forearm parented to shoulder. They are limited because the joint between parented parts is unmovable even if each part is deformed. This is not a limitation when merging two different objects together such as a snake's neck section and the hips of a human figure. The D-Former itself is made of three parts. First is the Field. It needs to encompass the part to which the D-Former is parented. Next is the Base. The Base needs to be perpendicular to the 'base' of the part to which the D-Former is parented. Last is the most important part, the D-Former itself.

Music: Tear it Loose by Twisted Sister.

September 22, 2008

The Bug!

The bug bit me again, the one that makes me buy stuff, stuff for DazStudio in particular. I hem and I haw, and eventually I give in to it. That's when the other bug sinks its mandibles in, I buy more. I buy things that I didn't intend to buy. There was a sale going on for some items that have been on sale off and on for a while now. It's not like I just saw them once and got bitten. Even then I only bought one, and it was a good price. It was the Natural Gravity Morphs for V4. These morphs solve a serious problem I had... body parts that defy gravity and do not act natural. You'll know what I'm talking about if you look into it at Daz, and of course don't already know it. What I did not buy and maybe should have (perhaps in November) is the magnets to affect clothing on top of these morphs.

That's what I felt necessary to buy on sale. Then, I saw it sitting alone in the cart, and I thought, "Gee, that's a waste of using my credit card, I'd better add something else." Most of my wish list was too expensive or not something I need. What do I keep wishing my scenes had? Asphalt! I popped 'street' into the search box at Daz and out came "City Streets" by Predatron. Not only does it have my asphalt, movable street lines on it, sidewalks, and sewer grates, but also it has lampposts, and other things like garbage cans, dumpsters, fire hydrants, phone booths, and more. Even better it has six buildings with signage, billboards, fire escapes, etc. Let's not forget it has five light sets and twelve camera sets. I've looked it over and wow. One of the best things I've bought yet.

Music: Gridlock by Anthrax.

September 15, 2008

Pattern Recognition

Last week I spoke about my adventures in texture changing. Took me a bit long to get to my point, so I have some more about it now. First let me start with the comment so graciously left by bobatt (thank you). With the program I have for pre and post production work, Paint Shop Pro 6.02, a number of options no long work for me, or were never there in comparison to other programs, and certainly newer programs. Here, in contrast to bobatt's suggestion is what I did. I took a square section of skin texture from my human model. Then I stripped away parts of it from the corners and edges to make an irregular round shape. This was a singe scale. When placed in the blank spot of the snake texture it would make all the scales a certain distance from each other when I went to the next step.

Next I went to the fill tool, which paints an area with a colour, or a gradient, or for this exercise, a pattern. I selected my scale image to be the pattern and painted it into the gap. This gave me a series of scales, some of them disappearing into the other scales that remained of the original snake texture. Then as I said last time I filled in the blanks with a solid colour. What I did not do, any maybe should have, was to vary the scales. I could have varied their colour/tone, and I could have rotated the scales all sorts of different directions. Fortunately I did not need the scales to actually show as separate really. What I did need them to do was to give the skin of the snake varied colouration for the human skin parts of the snake. The area of the snake texture that I left alone forms the underbelly scales. I do not have a render of that yet for here at Artzone.

One thing I have to wonder at yet... bobatt, you mentioned using two layers and blending them. Did you mean to somehow keep the borders of the original snake scales and blend the human colour in between the scale borders?

Music: Face in the Sand by Iron Maiden.

September 8, 2008

Bait and Switch

I like to push the boundaries. Likewise, I want to make what I want to make. Sometimes that makes things hard. This is especially true when I want to do something with parts that I do not have. These kinds of situations are even harder than the ones where I do not know what I am doing. Sometimes it can be quite a bit of trouble even trying to define what I want to do in such a way that I can learn how to do it from whatever source. Those sources can be help files, or tutorials, or sometimes even just seeing where someone else has done it already helps to formulate the search query if not actually learn or intuit how to actually do it. Of course solutions to the problems I find myself facing are not always dealt with in DazStudio itself. Some are found outside of it, both before and after.

Recently when I wanted to make one of my monsters come to life in visual style. To do it I had to make an alteration in to the texture of the Python freebie in an outside program. The creature I wanted isn't your typical half-snake half-woman monster. The snake part is mostly human coloured. Here's what I did to make this happen. First I had to grab some skin colour from the texture for my human half of the creature. After resaving the python's texture file to a new name, I cut out the parts of the snake texture I didn't want. I filled the empty texture part with human coloured scales, and filled in the blank spaces with a flat colour taken from the scales. Et voila! The snakeskin has human skin tones. To see the results of it, one need only look in my gallery for "Content To Laze" (Nudity).

Music: Fright Night by Stratovarius.

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Robert G. Male

Name: Robert G. Male
Location: Ontario, Canada

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