Did I mention my new book?

Lampstack-SoftcoverOver the last few weeks I’ve written a book. It’s about how to run web applications in the comfort of your own home.

Yesterday it went live on Amazon! I have an author page and everything!

Turns out that writing was the easy part: formatting it so that it looks good on Kindle devices was a bit tougher. It’s a tech book after all, which means there are several screenshots and code snippets which need to be formatted to stand out from the rest of the text.

Before I call myself “best selling author”, let me describe how this book came to be.

 

Continue reading Did I mention my new book?





How to fix “The interface of shader xxx is invalid” in DAZ Studio

Sometimes, the 3Delight render engine in DAZ Studio can throw a hissy-fit and complain with the following error message:

3Delight message #45 (Severity 2): S2069: the interface of shader '/Users/versluis/Library/Application Support/DAZ 3D/Studio4/temp/shaders/brickyard/{407f8e5c-3a9b-4708-b5e5-799ff1fe7c1d}/shader_Surface.sdl' is invalid
3Delight message #45 (Severity 2): S2051: cannot load shader 'brickyard/{407f8e5c-3a9b-4708-b5e5-799ff1fe7c1d}/shader_Surface', will use 'defaultsurface'

3dl2-4This problem occurs frequently on complex shaders, such as human skin. I have no idea what causes it, because it appears to happen randomly and without reason. Here’s an example of how scary such an error can manifest in a render.

Even saving the scene and loading it may not resolve the issue. Which can be extremely annoying.

Lucky for us there’s an easy way to fix this, thanks to a tip from jestmart on the DAZ Forums. All we have to do is remove the temporary folder in which 3Delight compiles shaders to make rendering more efficient (where I guess sometimes an error can occur). So it’s not the scene or the actual shader that has a problem, it’s just the compiled version of the files before the engine can go to work.

Here’s what we can do to fix it: remove the brickyard folder in DAZ Studio’s temp folder. On a Mac it’s located in /Users/you/Library/Application Support/DAZ 3D/Studio4. Here, navigate to the temp/shaders folder and remove the brickyard folder (the error message shows the full path to that folder).

On a Mac, navigating to that folder via Finder only works with a trick, because the Library folder is hidden by default. You an either use the command line to navigate there, or use Finder and hold down ALT while you click on the Go menu item (this will show the Library option).

When the brickyard folder is deleted, simply start that render again. 3Delight will go ahead and re-compile all missing shaders – this time hopefully without adding freaky effects. There’s no need to restart DAZ Studio. Nice!





How to combine several saved selections in Photoshop

Sometimes it’s necessary to select more than one saved selection in Photoshop. And I was often wondering how to do it, thinking there had to be a way – until I discovered it by sheer accident today while pressing seemingly random buttons.

Usually I call up a seed selection by heading over to Select – Load Selection and choose the channel I want. But that way I can only bring up a single selection at a time.

Lucky for us, there is another way: we can display selections using the Channels Tab. Usually it’s next to Layers Tab – but in case it’s not showing up, choose Window – Channels to display it.

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Click on a channel and it will display the corresponding parts in your main window. That’s not what we want, I just thought I’d mention it.

To turn a single channel into a selection, CMD-click / CTRL-click on it. As you hover with your CMD key pressed down, the selector will turn into a little square with a dashed outline, indicating this would become a selection (I guess).

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To select more than one channel, we can simply use SHIFT while clicking (only works on channels other than RGB, Red, Green or Blue – i.e. it only works on saved selection channels). If we combine this with holding down CMD, then we can select multiple selections at once.

Let’s see an example

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In my case, I have two saved selections for a zipper, and I’d like to create a selection that incorporates both of these at the same time. Hence, select the first channel, then hold down SHIFT+CMD (or SHIFT+CTRL on Windows) to select another channel. Note that the cursor turns into a little plus icon (you’re adding to a selection).

Hey presto, both areas are selected in my main view!

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It gets better: you can also subtract from a selection, by holding down ALT in addition to SHIFT and CMD. So if we’d like to remove a channel from our selection, we’ll hold down SHIFT+CMD+ALT, then click on the undesired channel. Note that the cursor turns into a little x icon (indicating that you’re removing something from your selection).

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And that’s how we deal with multiple selections in Photoshop 🙂





My new HP Z600 Workstation

photo-sep-24-16-22-52I’m as excited as a kid in a candy store – because last Monday my new (old) HP Z600 Workstation has arrived! Built and sold to the government in the summer of 2009 for roughly $5000 (give or take a grand), it came to me via an eBay auction for $171 plus postage some seven years later.

Equipped with two Intel Xeon 5560 processors, no hard drive, 4GB of RAM and only a COA sticker for Windows Vista, I had a little bit of work to do to get it all going:

  • get a USB keyboard
  • get a power cord
  • get a graphics card
  • perhaps grab some more RAM
  • find a network cable
  • download a copy of Windows Vista (not easy to find in 2016)

I wanted to use this machine for 3D rendering in both Carrara and DAZ Studio, so for the latter I decided to buy an NVIDIA GTX 970 graphics card. I had to do a few internal modifications to the machine to make it work – but work it does, and it was a lot of fun to get this rig going.

Without further ado, here’s my Z600 story.

Continue reading My new HP Z600 Workstation





How to create a Smart Prop in Poser

Yesterday I’ve written about how to create a Smart Prop in DAZ Studio, and today we’ll learn how to do it in Poser.

The principle is the same: model your 3D object as you wish, then import it – or load and create a primitive in Poser. I’ll do the latter and give Andy some exciting earrings (even though he doesn’t have ears).

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As you’ve guessed it, these are just two sphere primitives. Poser can’t create its own, but you can load a variety from the library under Props – Primitives. I’ve scaled them and moved them into place. Continue reading How to create a Smart Prop in Poser





How to create a Smart Prop in DAZ Studio

Smart Props are little items of geometry that can follow another object without the need to be completely rigged – unlike conforming clothes, which need to have the same skeleton and rigging as the parent figure.

Smart Props are great for things like jewellery and other ancillary items. Let’s see how we can create one in DAZ Studio.

Continue reading How to create a Smart Prop in DAZ Studio





Where are the HDRI images stored in KeyShot

keyshot-logoKeyShot comes with several pre-installed environments, based on HDRI images. We can use them in other applications too, if we know where to look for them.

On a Mac, the KeyShot5 HDRI images are stored here:

  • /Library/Application Support/KeyShot5/Environments

To navigate there, hit the Go option in your Finder, while holding down the OPTION / CMD key. This will bring up the Library option.

You can find your current path to those images, or even change it under Preferences – Folders:

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I don’t have the Windows version, but if you know it, leave it in the comments below.





How to create Poser Companion Files in DAZ Studio

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-16-47-21When the Genesis figure was released in 2011, it was not natively compatible with Poser and only worked in DAZ Studio.

Shortly after its release though, the folks at DAZ came up with a way to make Genesis and related content available in Poser, called the DSON Importer – a script that reads the DAZ Studio files and translates them on-the-fly into something Poser can understand.

It’s not perfect, but it works with both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 figures – as well as related content, provided that so called Poser Companion Files exist. The good news is that DAZ Studio can create those files with minimal effort – if you know how to do it.

Let me show you how in this article, which was inspired by a forum thread over at HiveWire.

Continue reading How to create Poser Companion Files in DAZ Studio





How to suppress the “Incoming Network Connections” Dialogue for DAZ Apps on your Mac

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Mac Users will be familiar with the above dialogue. If you have DAZ Studio, Install Manager and/or Carrara installed, this thing shows up several times during your working day:

  • when you start your computer
  • when you launch Install Manager
  • when you launch DAZ Studio
  • when you launch Carrara

Should this drive you crazy, then read on – because there is indeed a solution to this! It has to do with a bit of command line hacking and location scouting. But if you’re clever enough to figure out such complex 3D applications, the following steps will seem like a walk in the park to you.

The following steps worked for me on OS X El Capitan 10.11.6, DAZ Studio 4.9 and Carrara 8.5 Pro.

Continue reading How to suppress the “Incoming Network Connections” Dialogue for DAZ Apps on your Mac





How to grow grass on a terrain in Carrara

Grass3My first idea of growing grass in Carrara was to make use of the Hair Object. It sounds like an easy workflow too: drag the hair object onto my terrain, adjust its growth behaviour, adjust the colour to resemble grass, and case closed. This approach works fine with primitives and vertex objects.

But sadly, it doesn’t work with terrains. So I thought, perhaps I’ll apply a patch of hairy grass to a plane, and then use a Surface Replicator to replicate the plane all over the terrain. That doesn’t work either: while the plane itself is being replicated, the actual hair (or grass) that’s growing on it is not. Perhaps the Hair Object isn’t such a good idea to be used with growing grass on a huge terrain after all.

A very different approach comes from Phil Wilkes, who has kindly shown how to model a more complex patch of vegetation in this video. I’ve taken the same approach but only modelled a single stalk of grass, replicated it onto a plane, and then replicated that plane onto my terrain.

Here’s how I did it step by step.

Continue reading How to grow grass on a terrain in Carrara





How to animate clouds in Carrara

Carrara’s Realistic Sky produces some pretty decent clouds. I’m particularly fond of the Cirrus clouds. The manual suggests that they can be animated too, but I didn’t really know how to do it. Thanks to a tip from Mark Bremmer I was put on the right track.

Here’s how to do it:

In the Scene tab, setup a realistic sky to your desire. Configure the clouds as you like on one or more of those cloud layers at the bottom. Pay close attention to the little Animation box and give your clouds a particular direction and speed.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 09.14.21

The default is about 3mph, but at that speed cloud movement is hardly noticeable. The maximum we can set here is something like 153mph. Let’s use that. The transformation slider lets us choose how much the clouds will change their appearances. Click OK to leave the sky editor.

Still in the scene tab, notice a box called Cloud Animation. It’s set to 0 seconds by default. Leave it like that and set your first keyframe on the timeline.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 09.13.22

Now move your timeline forward to the end position of your animation, say to 10 seconds. Add the same value into the Clouds Animation box and set another keyframe. That’s more or less it. Move the playhead and see the Clouds Animation value update – that’s an indication that Carrara will now animate your clouds.

Note that even with 150mph, the movement is extremely subtle. In the video above I had to speed up my animation by 500% to get this result.