How to reset surface materials in DAZ Studio

When texturing an existing model, I find it helpful to start from scratch and apply a simple basic material to an object. The same is true if I’ve been modifying something so much that I forgot where things went awry, and a “reset surfaces” button would be handy.

The good news is that there is something like that built right into DAZ Studio. Here’s how to use it.

First, select your object and all surfaces you’d like to reset. Do this in the Surfaces Tab, or use the Surface Selection Tool.

Next, head over and open the scary Shader Mixer. It’s actually less scary than it looks. The tab is hiding under Window – Panes – Shader Mixer. You’ll see something like this:

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This tab is very similar to the Advanced Material room in Poser. The DAZ Default Material is a light grey and is always there as a sample as soon as you open the Shader Mixer. The “bricks” (or nodes) in the middle of the screen are a different representation of all the options in the Surfaces Tab.

To apply this default material, simply click the green Apply button at the bottom right. Now your object will turn grey, and all those nasty dials you’ve been playing with are reset: all image maps and exotic options are removed.

 

Wait! Where are the Bump and Opacity channels gone? And all the other exotic options I remember?

They are not part of the basic shader, and there’s no easy way to enable those. Here’s a workaround to bring them back:

Create a new primitive and head over to the Surfaces Tab and select everything. Notice that all those missing channels are available here. Don’t ask me why. Now apply a texture to the channels you’d like to use (any image will do). Any channels without a map will not be imported in the next step.

In the Shader Mixer tab, head over to File – Import from scene. This will bring in the shader and create a node for every texture you’ve applied. Don’t worry if the visual representation doesn’t make sense.

Now select the object and surfaces on which you want those channels (i.e. your original object) and hit Apply at the bottom right. Lo and behold: your object will now have those missing channels, including the image you’ve applied.

How to reload image textures in DAZ Studio

When you edit textures outside of DAZ Studio and save them, they won’t show up on your models until you reload them. In DAZ Studio, the command to do this can be found on the Surfaces Tab. Find the context menu at the top right corner of the tab (three lines and a triangle).

ContextMenu

Select it to bring up the context menu and choose Reload Images. Alternatively you can use the keyboard shortcut CMD-I (or CTRL-I).

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DAZ Studio has the option to display Photoshop PSD files on 3D objects, in addition to the usual JPG and PNG formats. The benefit of using PSD files directly is ease of preview during the texture process. It goes something like this:

  • apply the PSD file as texture in DAZ Studio
  • in Photoshop, make a change, even hide and show several layers
  • simply press CTRL-S (or CMD-S) to save
  • back in DAZ Studio, reload this file and see the results immediately

How to subdivide an object in Hexagon

Hexagon doesn’t really have a subdivide function that quadruples the number of faces of an object (like ZBrush for example). But there is a trick we can use to add this functionality.

Take Hexagon’s cube primitive here. All we can do is to specify one without subdivisions. If we need more, we’re stuck.

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There is another cube primitive on the Second Life tab, but it has too many faces, so we won’t worry about it and stick with this guy above for the moment.

To subdivide all faces equally, head over to Face Selection mode (F2), then select all faces of your object. CMD+A (or CTRL+A) will do the trick.

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With all faces selected, choose the Quad Tessellation tool on the Vertex Modelling tab. As soon as you select it, all faces will be divided into quads (when possible). Feel free to choose any of the other subdivision algorithms if you wish.

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To subdivide again, simply select all faces again and choose the tool again. The result is shown on the right. And just to show what’s been hiding on the Second Life tab, the Second Life Cube is shown on the left :-)

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This works with objects other than cubes too of course. The more polygons you’re trying to subdivide at once, the higher a chance you have to crash Hexagon. Therefore it’s a good idea to save your document before attempting to carry out this trick.

And remember: each full subdivision will quadruple the amount of faces on your object. Give Hexagon a moment to calculate this (you won’t receive any feedback while it’s working).

How to reload image textures in Poser

When you edit textures outside of Poser and save them, they won’t show up on your models until you reload them. In Poser, the command to do this can be found under the Render Menu – Reload Textures. I don’t think there’s a keyboard shortcut for this.

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Poser has the option to display Photoshop PSD files on 3D objects, in addition to the usual JPG and PNG formats. The benefit of using PSD files directly is ease of preview during the texture process. It goes something like this:

  • apply the PSD file as texture in Poser
  • in Photoshop, make a change, even hide and show several layers
  • simply press CTRL-S (or CMD-S) to save
  • back in Poser, reload this file and see the results

How to populate the Custom Tools Palette in Hexagon

On the very right hand side of the Hexagon’s toolbar is the Custom section. It sits there unnoticed and unpopulated by default.

We can turn it into a handy modelling companion by populating it with a few select tools that our overworked brains can never remember where to find.

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To add your own tools, simply select one the usual way, from any other tab, and right-click on it. A dialogue box appears asking if you’d like to add said tool to the custom tool palette.Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 17.25.35

Now head over to the custom tool palette and find said tool there. If ever you want to remove one, right-click it. Compile your own tailor made tool collection!

The icon on the far left is an undock option: it will create a floating window of the custom tool palette which will remain visible and always “on top” of Hexagon – even if you close all other tabs. Just in case you enjoy losing yourself in modelling zen.

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To close it again, click the tiny triangle at the top right.

How to use sunlight and moonlight in Carrara

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Carrara can provide realistic sunlight and moonlight as ambient light sources. To use either of them we need to set the scene’s atmosphere for those to come to life. Here’s how to do that.

From a default scene that comes with a distant light, select the scene itself, and under the Atmosphere properties, choose either Sky or Realistic Sky (the default is none, which won’t work with sunlight or moonlight).

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Now select the light in your scene and change it from Distant Light to either Sun Light or Moon Light. Notice the light object in your scene change and display either a sun or moon symbol next to that big arrow. Drag it around to position it.

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To edit its properties, head back to Scene – Atmosphere – Edit. There are a lot of options to play around with here. I’ve explained more about them in this article, including how to show the sun and the moon in your scene.

Slicing and Dicing: Tessellation Tools in Hexagon

Tessellation is a rather abstract term in the 3D world. All it means is to “add more edges” to a polygon. There always seems to be a complex technical term for things, and a more human one (like “polygon” and “face”).

Tessellation can be used to subdivide an object in controlled places. Say you had a standard cube with 8 edges and 6 faces, and you’d like to create more edges somewhere in the middle. That’s where the Tessellation Tools in Hexagon come in handy. You can find them under the Vertex Modelling tab.

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Edge Tessellation Tools

When you click on the icon, you’ll see 6 sub-icons drop down. Similar to the Edge Tools, all Tessellation Tools are mere variations of a single tool.

The first two options are Free Tessellation and Surface Tessellation. I find much of a difference between them: select the tool, then hover over an edge and click to select a point. Hover over another edge and click to create another point. Both will be connected now. Keep going, and press RETURN or click validate when you’re done.

While tessellating, hold SHIFT to snap to existing points when hovering over your object. SHIFT will also help position your cursor right in the middle of an edge so you get an exact split. You can double-click to finish the current tessellation and start on a new edge.

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The third option is Tessellation by Segment: it loop-slices the entire object where you click and cuts where you would expect a loop selection. Each click equals a cut across the entire object. Hover over an edge and click.

You can hold SHIFT to find existing points (indicated in red), or the exact halfway point on a line.

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Surface Tessellation Tools

The last three tools work after you’ve selected one or more faces (polygons) and act as soon as you select them. No need to press validate.

  • Quad Tessellation: divide the selected polygon into polygons with 4 vertices
  • Triangular Tesselation: divide the selected polygon into polygons with 3 vertices
  • Diamond Tesselation: divide the delected polygon into a diamond in the middle, with random results on the outside (not sure why anyone would ever need this option)

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Connect Tool

You can also tesselate polygons using the Connect Tool (it’s to the right of the Tessellation Tools, looks like a simple line). To use it, select two points or edges, and click the tool. Hold down SHIFT to select the second edge or point.

Edges are split right in the middle.

ConnectTool

How to apply Materials across all parts of an object in Poser

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The Material Room in Poser can be a tad intimidating. It actually looks more complicated than it is: knowing what does what is key to success here.

Today I’ve setup some new materials for a dress which had several material zones. Applying my maps to the first zone, it would be very tedious to apply the same maps for each zone. Here’s a quick way to do this in Poser Pro 2014.

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How to apply textures in Blender (Cycles)

Adding textures in Blender depends on which render engine is used. In this article I’ll discuss how to do this for Cycles. I’ll explain how to do this with Blender Render in another article.

First we need to make sure that Cycles is our render engine. Select it at the top of the app. This will change how materials work, so if you’ve got anything interesting setup with Blender Render, you’ll have to rework it all.

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Now select the object you’d like to assign a texture to and find the Materials Tab in the properties palette (it’s the little orange round checkerboard icon). By default the material only has a diffuse colour assigned.

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Under Surface, select Use Nodes. This will require us to work with the Node Editor in another viewport. I understand that there’s a different way to setup materials and textures in Cycles, but I find the Node Editor much easier to grasp.  Continue reading How to apply textures in Blender (Cycles)

Getting started with UV-Unwrapping in Blender

Unwrapping UVs is tough – no matter in which application (apart from ZBrush perhaps, where everything else is really difficult). Here’s how to get started with UV Unwrapping in Blender.

Load an object and make sure you’re in Edit Mode. This is only allowed with a single object selected. Disable any subsurface or smoothing that’s applied on the object so that we have less vertices to work with.

Next switch to the UV Editing workspace (UV View on the left, 3D view on the right). It looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 17.13.19On the right hand side, make sure the Shading/UV tab is showing – it contains some vital tools for this endeavour. Choose edge selection and start marking seams for your unwrap. It’s easy to ALT-RIGHT-CLICK to select edge loops, or use the Select Menu for more funky options.  Continue reading Getting started with UV-Unwrapping in Blender