Italian Bucca Dress Textures – now available at DAZ 3D

Before the year is out I have some great news: a texture set Julia and I made last year for DAZ 3D has finally been released after 18 months: the Italian Bucca Dress Textures. I can officially call myself a DAZ PA now – a great honour among 3D artists. This is a great incentive to make …

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There’s Something Fishy about Christmas

This year I’ve learnt two new things about Christmas I didn’t know before. Actually it’s ONE thing I’ve learnt this year, the other I got wind of last year from my barber at Super Cuts before I started “doing my own hair” thanks to a $25 Wahl Clipper Set.   The Christmas Gherkin Allegedly there’s …

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Broadcast Memories: Das Eurosignal

My first radio in the late around 1980 was a Palladium Mono Tape recorder with 4 band radio. It had a big dial on the right, a display with a moving stick, and four buttons to select FM, AM, Shortwave and Longwave bands. Even with its many limitations I loved this thing! The FM band …

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Discovering the NOAA Weather Radio Service

We have something here in the US that most Europeans don’t know about: a nationwide weather radio service called NOAA Weather Radio. The service is broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it has been around since 1953. Transmitting from over 1000 towers across the US, they have 7 frequencies just above the …

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How to group objects in DAZ Studio

Groups are helpful to keep the many items in your scene organised and grouped together. They’re like a “folder”, even though you’re not really moving items to another place. They just appear together with a heading and a disclosure triangle. For example, rather than having a character and five independent clothing items, it’ll be much …

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How to edit 3rd Party Vertex Objects in Carrara

You want to make a quick change to a 3rd party vertex object in Carrara, head over to the Modelling Room, but all your favourite tools are greyed out. What’s going on? Carrara has a feature called Protect Topology, and there’s a good chance it’s switched on for items you bought from a marketplace. It’s …

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Creating a waving flag in Carrara using Soft Body Modifiers

Carrara lets you turn any object in your scene into a Soft Body object with the help of a Soft Body Modifier. To create a waving flag we need to use a combination of two modifiers: one that makes the object a “soft body”, and one that attaches it to something else, such as a …

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How to render DAZ Studio scenes without DAZ Studio

DAZ Studio has one drastic drawback: while you’re rendering a scene you can’t use the app until it’s finished rendering. In fact, DAZ Studio makes use of every available CPU cycle, turning even the fastest computer into something you can’t even check your emails with while you wait for that render to finish.

That’s great for efficiency – but it also sucks because you need a second computer to keep working with, or alternatively use a second computer for rendering while you work with your main machine. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do something akin to Poser’s background rendering, something that lets you setup the next scene in DAZ Studio while it’s rendering at the same time?

I have good news: you can – thanks to something called RIB files. I didn’t know this until recently, and it works a treat. Let me explain how to use this feature.

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How to add effects to a single layer in Photoshop

Photoshop has a feature called Clipping Layers. It’s extremely useful, but doesn’t quite describe what it does. Besides it’s extremely unintuitive if you’ve never used it before. Among other things it can be used to add an effect to a single layer rather than the entire image, as you would if an adjustment layer is …

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The old Empty Smart Content Tab ploy – and how to fix it

One morning I woke up and my entire Smart Content tab in DAZ Studio was empty. Nothing had happened since the day before when it was working perfectly fine. It just stopped working overnight.

What I had done shortly before going to bed was to install the latest service release of Poser Game Dev (SR5). If this was the cause of the problem or not will forever remain a mystery. In this article I’ll explain how I fixed this issue on my Mac.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 15.06.54

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How to rotate around selected objects in Poser

Other 3D apps rotate around the currently selected object by default. Poser does not. By default Poser chooses to rotate around the center of the universe. That’s great for characters but relatively maddening for larger scenes. The secret lies in the Display menu, in an option called Orbit Selected Mode. Select it and Poser will rotate around your …

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How to use Motion Blur in Poser

Motion-Blur-3D

Poser can two two types of Motion Blur effects: 3D Motion Blur as seen above, and 2D Motion Blur. The latter is more of a “preview” mode rather than the real thing. Motion Blur can be used on both still images to convey the idea that something is moving, as well as in animations.

I’ll focus on still images here.

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Rough Guide to Poser Pro Render Settings

A few years ago I bought Prostudio by Synthetic and Blackhearted. It’s a “light preset kit” for Poser that comes with an extensive manual and many presets to start a good render, but as the author explains you really need to know something about lighting to make renders look their best. After reading the manual I took …

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How to use Replicators and Surface Replicators in Carrara

Trees

Replicators and Surface Replicators allow you to duplicate single objects and make it look like you have an armada of “stuff” in your scene. For example, you could replicate trees on a landscape or a group of people, but only load a single object into your scene.

The difference between a Replicator and a Surface Replicator is this: Replicators duplicate (replicate) your objects along all 3 axis and only need a single source object. In fact they can accommodate several source objects, but they don’t replicate along anything.

Surface Replicators on the other hand only replicate along a given surface, like a terrain or another object. Surface Replicators only obey a twi dimensional plane along whose normals your replicated objects will be aligned.

To use them, simply drag an object onto the replicator in the Assemble Room. This can be tricky: make sure the source object turns green rather than yellow – which seems to happen when you drag it too far towards the right. Click and drag it further to the left, as shown below.

As soon as you do, you’ll see your object outlined many times over in the scene as bounding boxes.

replicator

To adjust the replicator, select it and click the Wrench Icon to enter the Modelling Room. Here you can tweak the behaviour of your Replicator: along which axis you’d like to replicate how many objects, if you’d like to add some distance or rotational changes to it, that sort of thing.

You can also add other source objects here if you would like them to have the same behaviour (in case you don’t like the drag and drop action described earlier).

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 01.48.54

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Hexagon Features in Carrara

Many features from Hexagon have been ported over to Carrara, but not all of them are obvious and easy to find for Hexagon users. Here are my favourite features from Hexagon, and how to access them in Carrara:   Tweak / Stretch Tool The one Hexagon tool I was missing most was Vertex Modelling – …

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Mac Mini 2014: If that’s the future, you can keep it!

Over the last few months I was considering buying a Mac Mini. I’m currently using my high-spec MacBook Pro 2.8GHz Dual Core i7 on a 27′ Thunderbolt Display, but it’s awkward to unplug every time I want to use it as a laptop. The Mac Mini would streamline my desk and add some more power to those 3D apps I’m using.

Or so I thought.

When the refreshed 2014 Mac Mini line was introduced this week I couldn’t quite believe my eyes: Appe have made the little guy much slower than his predecessors!

Granted, the graphics card is better, the IO ports are faster – but the Firewire 800 port has been removed – which is not such good news for video editors. And in terms of processing power, all we can get now are Dual Core i5 models which are slower than my current 3yr old laptop. The 2012 models featured Quad Core i7’s at 2.3GHz, something I had really looked forward to.

The Mac Mini 2012 lineup
The Mac Mini 2012 lineup wasn’t bad at all

For many buyers the Mac Mini was a cheaper alternative to the overpriced Mac Pro: get the medium model, increase the RAM, replace the 1TB drive with an SSD, and for about $1000 you’ve got a super small desktop with more processing power than most people know what to do with.

It was a blessing for professionals: You could buy 4 such machines for the same money as a single Mac Pro which is less than twice as fast.

Apple aren’t stupid. They know this too. Notice that the current line-up of Mac Mini’s no longer includes a Server model, probably because nobody ever bought it. Buyers like me would opt instead for the $200 cheaper model with an empty hard drive slot, ready for aftermarket goodies.

Perhaps such a powerful 2012 Mac Mini was hurting Mac Pro and iMac sales, and I guess the decision was made to relegate the Mini to be a cheap “web and email machine”. No professional should ever look at it again.

And to bring this point home with a baseball bat, Apple have removed the ability for users to upgrade the RAM or the hard disk after purchase. Even though there is room for a second hard drive in there – just like before – the Mac Mini is now unopenable for mere mortals.

So NO Tim, not “everything is great”.

This leaves me with the decision to quickly get one of the 2012 models, or rethink the way I do things with my MacBook / Thunderbolt setup.

The new Mac Mini 2014 lineup leaves you wanting more. Or rather less.

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Painting textures with 2D tools using ZAppLink in ZBrush

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.28.24ZAppLink is a ZBrush feature that allows you to use 2D painting tools to paint the texture on a 3D object, as it’s seen in the workspace. Rather than exporting, editing and re-importing textures, drawing on awkwardly layed out UVs, or solely relying on 3D painting tools, you can simply frame your object and draw on it – with anything that supports the PSD file format.

This is different to using GoZ which relies on 3D features of a painting app (such as Photoshop Extended – which I don’t have). ZAppLink allows you to use other 2D tools in your pipeline such as SketchBook Pro, Manga Studio, Corel Painter and many others.

Here’s a quick guide on how to use ZAppLink in ZBrush 4R6.

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How to close a Vertex Object in Carrara

To close a Vertex Object, first select the edges around the opening. In this example it’s a sphere with its top sliced off. Now head over to Model – Fill Polygon. It’s equivalent to the Close function in Hexagon. Empty Polygon on the other hand will remove the polygon, much like pressing the Delete key …

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How to navigate DAZ Studio on your Surface Pro

DAZ Studio Pro 4.6 runs perfectly fine on the Microsoft Surface Pro, however by default the stylus navigation isn’t working well: the pen is so sensitive that it has your scene spinning into al kinds of directions at the slightest touch on the navigation cube at the top right. Other 3D applications are working fine …

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Creating Texture Maps in ZBrush

Import the OBJ file you’d like to create a texture for under Tool – Import. Drag it into the workspace while holding shift, then hit Edit to enter 3D mode. Head over to Tool – Geometry and turn the subdivision level to 1. Texture maps should be created at the lowest subdivision level, even though your ZBrush …

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How to use GoZ in ZBrush

GoZ (pronounced Go-Zeeh) is a bridge between ZBrush and other applications. This allows for easy mesh and texture sharing between ZBrush and Sculptris, Photoshop, Poser, Carrara, DAZ Studio and many others. But how do we use it? Where is that magic button? And how do we select the target app? All will be revealed in this article. Under …

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How to fix “insufficient disk space” error for GoZ in ZBrush

I’ve encountered a problem last year that every time I tried to send something from ZBrush to another application via the GoZ plugin, my Mac gave an error message telling me I had “insufficient disk space”. With over 100GB left on my main drive this is a plain lie. Turns out that there’s a permissions problem …

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Changing the colours of the Popup Help in ZBrush

zbrush-popup

ZBrush doesn’t have a User Manual in PDF form you can download and curl up with. Instead, it has an online version over here.

ZBrush also encourages us to use the integrated help which explains every feature of the app. All we have to do is press CTRL / CMD while hovering over an item in its extensive menu.

Trouble is, when I do this on my Mac, I can barely read anything – if at all. You’d expect that an $800 piece of software would at least WORK out of the box without extensive digging into how to make the friggin help show up. But of course that’s not how it works with ZBrush.

Lucky for us the entire UI is customisable (albeit a tad difficult to understand how), and thanks to MentalFrog’s suggestion I could tweak my ZBrush popup help from “totally irrelevant” to “actually usable”. Let me show you how.

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Navigating 3D Space in ZBrush

Much like a drawing programme, it is more or less required to use a Wacom tablet with ZBrush. Without one it doesn’t really make much sense. Like the rest of this weird piece of software, navigating around an object in 3D is completely different than in any other application. My Wacom Intuos 4 is setup …

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