Skeleton at the Graveyard

Yesterday I’ve animated this skeleton. The steps involved were rather complex, so I thought I’d better write down how I did it.

In principle, there are four parts to this animation:

  • the animation of the skeleton (using DAZ Studio and aniMate)
  • the cloth draping (using Marvelous Designer)
  • a moving fog layer (using Carrara)
  • a graveyard picture (from Graphic Stock)
  • and finally, blending it all together (in Premiere Pro)

Here’s how I did it step by step.

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How to export garment animations from Marvelous Designer for use in DAZ Studio

In my previous article I’ve explained how to export an animation from DAZ Studio and import it into Marvelous Designer, where we’ve created and animated our garment. In this article I’ll show you the reverse: exporting the garment with animation and import it into DAZ Studio for rendering.

Here’s how this works in principle:

  • export your garment animation from Marvelous Designer as OBJ Sequence
  • import the sequence in DAZ Studio using Morph Loader Pro
  • turn all those morphs into an animation

I’ve explained the whole process step by step in this video:

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How to export animations from DAZ Studio for use in Marvelous Designer

Exporting character animations from DAZ Studio for use in Marvelous Designer is a trifle complicated. In this article I will explain what works for me.

I’m using an animation created in DAZ Studio 4.7 using Michael 6, a Genesis 2 character. I will then create some clothing in Marvelous Designer 4.5, drape and animate it, and eventually export it back to DAZ Studio for rendering.

Here’s how to do it in principle:

  • bake aniMate blocks into DAZ Studio timeline
  • export OBJ file of your first animation frame
  • export the whole animation as MDD cache
  • import OBJ into Marvelous Designer
  • import MDD cache in Marvelous Designer
  • drape and animate cloth

I’ve explained the whole process step by step in this video:

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How to display the camera frame in DAZ Studio

By default DAZ Studio will render everything in the current viewport, whose size depends on now much space the viewport occupies on your computer screen. That’s not necessarily the size or aspect ratio you’d like to render. To frame the camera accurately, we need to be able to see what the camera sees. There are two …

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How to transition from a static pose to aniBlocks in DAZ Studio

The way aniMate works is that we can either animate characters with a traditional keyframe approach, using the standard timeline, or we can use aniBlocks. There’s no easy way to mix and match both approaches. But sometimes it’s necessary to transition from a static pose to an aniBlock to get a smooth transition. The best way to …

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Getting started with the ZModeler in ZBrush

The ZModeler is is a new feature in ZBrush 4R7. With this new gadget we can perform polygonal vertex modelling, something that was not possible before the introduction of this brush. The term “brush” is a tad of an understatement if you ask me: this “minor addition” gives ZBrush abilities that are worth about $1600, which is what …

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Did I mention my new book?

Over 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 …

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How to export a garment from Marvelous Designer

You can export your garment from Marvelous Designer either in OBJ or FBX format. Note that at the time if writing, FBX is highly experimental and appears not to work very well. OBJ on the other hand is doing a fine job. Head over to File – Export and choose OBJ. There’s also an option …

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How to import DAZ characters into Marvelous Designer

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 09.24.00Marvelous Designer comes with 7 default avatars, but it’s very easy to use your own 3D figure and create custom clothing for it.

Simply export your desired character as OBJ, including full body morphs, then import it into Marvellous Designer.

Here’s how to do with with the Genesis 2 Male character from the free essentials pack.


Exporting from DAZ Studio

Load your character into an empty scene and select it in the scene tab. It’s typically located on the right hand side in DAZ Studio.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 09.31.21

Head over to File – Export and pick a location for your files: DAZ Studio will create a .OBJ and a .MTL file. It will also bring up an export dialogue in which you can specify the scale and size for your export. Those need to match the import dialogue of your other app.

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How to create editable blurry text in Photoshop

There is an easy way to create blurry or out-of-focus text in Photoshop using Layer Effects. The text remains therefore perfectly editable. Here’s how to do it: First we’ll create a standard text layer. Pick a font and write something nice, and choose the foreground and background colours as you wish. You should end up …

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Navigating 2D and 3D Space in Marvelous Designer

Sometimes it’s the simple things they don’t to tell you about in the brochure: Zooming Magic Trackpad: move two fingers up or down, much like you would scroll a web page up or down. Intuos Tablet: hold the lower button down (right-click), then drag the pen. Mouse: rotate the wheel. Moving/Panning Hold the ALT/OPT key down, then: Magic Trackpad: drag …

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ARM: Rise of the low-cost CPU

The other day I was looking at Samsung Chromebook laptops. It’s the latest fad in giving laptops something to do in the post-PC era. They’ve largely replaced netbooks for “surfing with something that’s not a tablet”. I’m a fan of open source operating systems, and Parallels Desktop offers to install Chrome OS as VM too. …

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How to install Carrara 8.5 in Mac OS X Yosemite

I’m configuring a new Mac Mini 2012 specifically for all my 3D ventures this year. As such I’m installing all my favourite (and annoying) 3D apps fresh from scratch. Being a futuristic kind of guy I’m using “the best operating system ever” (yeah, right!) OS X Yosemite.

Over the last 7 years I’ve installed Carrara more times than I can count and in every version of OS X and Windows that I can remember, and it’s never given me any trouble – neither when installed manually or via the DAZ Install Manager.

Until today, when I’ve received the following message in OS X Yosemite: “The application cannot get the administrator access right”. Thank you, Yosemite!

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.04.18 PM

What does that even mean? I thought my user account HAS admin privileges.

Turns out they’re just not administrative enough. The solution to this awkward puzzle is to login as root for the initial launch of Carrara. Which leads us to the next adventure:

How do we enable the root user in OS X?

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Hey there, Television! How’s it going?

What’s wrong with this picture: Some organisation decides to broadcast a movie or TV show, at a time that they deem “the best” to maximise their profits. The organisation has commissioned the programme at great expense, and they decide to chop it up into little pieces and place a plethora of annoying adverts in it to make …

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Steel-cut Oats

  I’ve always liked oats for breakfast, and I was intrigued to find something in the US that I hadn’t come across before in my life: steel-cut oats. They’re marketed here along the lines of “the real Scottish oatmeal”, yet it’s not a term used by the Scottish as far as I know. So I …

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Keyboard Navigation in Photoshop

There are a number of super handy keyboard shortcuts for navigating the Photoshop interface. I keep forgetting them so I wrote them down here as a reference. I’m using Photoshop CC 2014 on a Mac which means that magic trackpad gestures work well for the following: zooming (pinch gesture) panning (two finger drag) rotating the …

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What I’d like to see in a potential Apple iPad Pro

Rumours that Apple are working on a larger version of the iPad go back at least a couple of years. In fact I had secretly dreamt up something I felt they should call the iPad Air around 2013, before Apple had actually come out with the “real” iPad Air.

See, my idea was to make an Apple version of what Microsoft did successfully with the Surface Pro:

  • take a MacBook Air
  • take off the keyboard
  • and add a touch screen
  • give us a real Wacom stylus
  • keep the size of 12-13 inches
  • and voila!

That’s precisely what a Surface Pro is – and I love using mine. But there’s room for improvement, and although I’ve not used the latest Surface Pro 3, or a Wacom Intuos Companion, I’d still like to see something along those lines running Apple software.

Specifically for graphic intense tasks, a stylus is a must – Wacom or otherwise. Ultimately I want a portable Apple-powered Intuos Companion, for drawing as well as “real” handwriting. And with rumours of what the media now dub The iPad Pro, we may see such a gadget at some point in 2015.

But here’s the problem: Microsoft have one version of Windows on the Surface Pro. Therefore desktop apps run great out of the box. And Apple don’t have that. iOS and OS X are worlds apart, even if you can use similar code and turn it into two applications. Xcode supports that.

The iPad Pro as I envision it would seriously benefit from running OS X and make use of the full array of desktop applications such as Photoshop, SketchBook Pro and many others. By which I mean existing apps that we know which are ready to go. Not specced-down versions that don’t deliver.

If however Apple were to bring out an iPad Pro type device and instead have it run iOS, then all we’d really have is a large iPad. There would be no benefits to it whatsoever, other than yet another screen size. Granted, over the next few years apps will emerge that will find uses for it, but that’s in the future and not usable from the get go. And sure, we’ll be able to enjoy Procreate on a very large display, but squishy rubber-tip styluses are not the same as using an Intuos pen on a real tablet.

So if the iPad Pro is to come out, what will Apple put on it? Here are four options I’ve dreamt up.

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How to define a Pattern (Material) in Manga Studio 5

Manga Studio has a great feature called Materials. These are akin to Photoshop’s Patterns, but I find they are implemented so much better in Manga Studio. In the olden days, traditional Manga tone artists would cut out small pieces of a pattern out of a larger piece of paper, then stick it to the coat …

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How to define a Pattern in Photoshop

You can define a pattern from any image in Photoshop and use it as Pattern Overlay later. Simply head over to Edit – Define Pattern and give your new pattern a catchy title. That’s it! There are a few things to be aware of though: most patterns are used as tiles and will therefore repeat. Once …

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12 Procreate Brushes: Stitches and Sequins

Over the last few days I’ve been exploring how to create custom brushes for the excellent Procreate on my iPad. To make 3D clothing textures look more realistic we needed some stitch brushes. Plenty are available for Photoshop, but scouring the internet I couldn’t find any for Procreate. Here’s my first attempt at some custom …

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