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 rending in the 3D software.

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July 25, 2011

Shimy-Shimy Shake Blues

I bought a little aniMate2 bundle that has the pro part that expires. Turned out I already had the free aniMate2 from before. It's not an issue. I wanted the aniBlocks more than anything else anyway. By time I'm ready for more advanced work it will likely be aniMate4 or 5--I may kludge things together on my own as usual in the meantime. One of the other items I bought at that time were the Belly Dancing aniBlocks. I applied some pieces from it to a figure and ran off an animation that has some issues. Then I applied some pieces of it to my first Daz render that I showed off last time, with a few modifications. The modifications were to take the motion path into account and walk through walls. I also wanted forward movement toward the camera. Again there were some issues. One of them from this second trial with Genesis is very perplexing and wasn't an issue with the Victoria4.2 test run.

Let me deal with the oddity first since I have no good answer what to do with it. I started with a pose because it looks better than starting at the zero position. I put the first aniBlock in place and looked at the animation. Now, the original pose has Genesis' toes pointed up because her feet are at an angle, which actually makes the toes parallel to the ground. Moving forward through the animation her toes stay at that angle all of the time, or at even more of an angle. Not a big deal, right? Well, I zeroed the toes to start, but they still pop up, never mind the fact that the aniBlock should include different toe positions based on the rest of the foot and how the feet touch the ground plane--and it actually does when using Victoria4.2. Aside from trying to modify them for every frame I do not know what to do.

The other issue I had was the same with both figures. Between the two aniBlocks the figures returns to the zero pose, though it keeps its position in the scene. It looks like some of the blocks include the zero pose at the start, finish or both, though thankfully they seem to be infrequent. I did find a fix for when the figure returns to the zero pose in between the two blocks though. The fix is to place the blocks slightly apart from each other, and from the initial pose in the very first frame. Or at least that seemed to be the fix for moving from the first frame to the first pose in the first frame of the aniBlock. However, when you are not looking the initial pose is lost and becomes the first pose of the aniBlock. The transition between the two blocks seems to keep constant at least.

It all comes back to the change or addition I've wanted in animating ever since I started working with it in Daz. There needs to be an ability to highlight a section of the timeline and clear it. Every time you make a mistake or the software does something unexpected you have to abandon your changes and reload the scene, hoping that you saved it at an appropriate point neither too long ago or too recent. It looked to me like aniMate2 included the ability to do just this, but it doesn't actually delete anything. Well aniMate2 makers and DazStudio techs, this is your mission, please accept it.

Music: All She Wants to do is Dance by Don Henley.

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July 18, 2011

First Daz Studio 4.0 Thoughts

I installed Daz Studio 4.0 finally and the first thing I did was I tried to lock down the render aspect ratio and the pixel dimensions of my renders. I was immediately frustrated. The Render Settings tab has no save button like it used to, instead you have to close it with the x. It would not keep the numbers I gave it. The tab opened randomly as I switched which other tabs were open. I no longer remember if it was the case in Daz3, but I solved it by saving the preset settings I desired with a button that doesn't really stand out. I am testing right now to see if it retains the exact same scene with different tabs open. The answer is "Constrain Proportions" must be off in the render settings to maintain the exact same scene every render. I use this a lot to cut and paste from scene to scene and of course to merge different renders by other means in postproduction. Turning the constraining on and off but not moving cameras seems to have no affect on it, so that's good. It does make the amount of the scene visible change though because it shows what is outside of what will be rendered.

The Render settings box.
The unconstrained window.

Here are some of the things that I learned.

  • For Layout I am using City Limits. I started off with Self-Serve but found it to be hiding some things I wanted.
  • I do not know what I did wrong or how to fix it, but my saved scenes are listed as "Unassigned" below wardrobe in the list of Files under the "My Stuff" tab. On the other hand if I switch to the "Content Library" tab then my scenes are under "Daz Studio Formats" then "My Library". My old saved scenes are under "Daz Studio Formats" then "Studio".
  • One of my previously Victoria 4 set-ups I had made with certain add-ons saved did not open correctly. Just trying it again a moment ago of writing this I crashed Daz4 twice. I won't give it a third try on that particular file. Trying a different pre-set-up Victoria 4 results in the same slew of errors, but at least didn't crash the program. A full scene I saved gives me a bunch of errors too. In all cases where it didn't force a crash it tells me to resave them using "Save As", which I have done with three scenes so far, but will only do on an as needed basis from here on out. Something about the install for Daz4 left Daz3 in place so I will be leaving it on the hard drive in case other issues come up trying to use old files. A most recent old saved file loaded with no issues, so it isn't everything.
  • To get at your old content takes a little bit of digging. I found it all under "Poser Formats" then "Studio" then "Figures" or whatever other category they were originally under.
  • I noticed that the "Surfaces" tab doesn't always give you all of the options the first time you click on an item with a lot of different surfaces, such as say Aiko 3. I had to double click the name under "Currently Used" a couple times before I was given the entire spread of surfaces.
  • In the "Scene" tab, I had one item highlighted and I right-clicked on a different object in the scene to delete it and rather than delete the one I right-clicked on it deleted the highlighted one. Oops.
  • Here are a couple pointers on the new Genesis figure. It loads as a grey generic male. It took some stumbling around, and I actually stopped to watch a tutorial video to figure it out, but once you load this Genesis then you have tabs under "Parameters" such as "Shaping" where you can turn Genesis into men, women, and children among other controls. Back to the "My Stuff" tab there is the "Presets" folder below "Hair", and at the bottom of those items are the character maps.
  • I rendered a scene within about an hour, though admittedly some of that time was messing around with lights trying to create shadows where I wanted them. I apparently moved the camera then saved because I cannot return to the shot that I rendered here...
  • I think I found the lights to work a little differently. I used a set of lights that came with Daz4. Turning some of them off made others appear. In Daz3 only so many lights affect the scene without rendering and new lights do not appear in the working window. Maybe itís just me. In any event this has gone on long enough for today. Once I worked out some of the new ways of doing things Daz4 looks like a good upgrade. There are some bugs, and maybe there are more I havenít found yet. Either way I like it so far. What will be possible with it that wasn't before remains to be seen to me, so we'll see, and I'll tell you as I come across new tricks.
Music: Fire by Bruce Dickinson.

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July 11, 2011

New Name, More Art

I've been sitting on this announcement for about a week now. It's been waiting in the wings for work to be completed for quite a while longer than that. You've heard the name before... The Battered Spleen Productions Grotesquerie. It's kind of cumbersome and sort of formal. Get ready to get even more personal and take a ride with the lights dimmed down even lower. If you dare, enter Macabre Male's Grotesquerie! ( www.macabremale.com ) Not only does it have brand new stylings and a creepy new flair, but it has almost twice as much art, jumping from four pages up to seven! A few images have more than one version; one is even a series of five images; another is a spread of three lined together. Also as usual some of the images are marked as containing nudity. All of them have voting pages in place so that you can rate them.


Duct Tape? wailttree-s.jpg Get Away From Me!

The first picture above, moving from left to right, is one you should expect to see again. "Duct Tape?" is special because the sun and the light rays were done with a new option I have at my disposal in postproduction. The second picture is one you may have seen something similar to if you keep up with the Killing Time - Horror E-Rag™ covers. This special shot was a full-page insert used in one of the issues. The third and last image is another of my West Park Lobby shots. There are actually two light sources. The one is the obvious glowing red ball, but there is also an unseen figure on the upper landing shining a flashlight down on the woman. You can bet there's a story behind that. I don't know what it is fully yet, but it's there. There is more art yet to come. I was just working on a piece last night, when I had other things to do perhaps. Go. Enjoy the macabre thrills.

Music: Rock the House by Quiet Riot.

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Robert G. Male

Name: Robert G. Male
Location: Ontario, Canada

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Suggested Reading:

This scary book

available at Battered Spleen Productions™.


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