Tools of the trade - DAZ Studio

Tools of the trade - DAZ Studio

I know, you just hate the cheap CGI look and prefer old school hand drawn illustrations everywhere. But when you want some for your setting, your characters (PC or NPC) any custom work could cost a fortune. And even if you spend that fortune it can be very different from what you have been imagined. 

If you lack the skills to make some hand drawn art you might need to use some tools. And I remember how friends pointed at The Sims and claimed we can create some character art in there. Of course the game had some customization options, and with mods you even had elven ears. I heard some newer expansions for Sims 3 had that as well. But know what? It didn't went so well. 

I can't blame EA for wanting money for new expansions, but sometimes their support was horribly slow, they had false advertisements so they made sure I won't trust them so much. And even if I would trust them: If you would make character art in Sims you wouldn't own that piece of art. Their EULA isn't so friendly with creative use. But it is just a game after all. And it shows on the quality of the images you can make in The Sims as well.

When I had enough of this I remembered another piece of recommended software: Poser. A friend who spent half of his time with Max recommended it as character design and posing app and explained how many different kinds of people use it for how many different kinds of uses. It sounded so good... But it also sounded like a "complex graphics suite for professionals". And it was and it is still expensive. 

Currently it is around $200 for Poser, and $500 for Poser Pro. And you can come to conclusion: you might need a few pro only features. So lests speak about $500 plus content. For some time I thought it is still a good deal. But then I encountered a bug. And they said I should upgrade to Poser Pro 2014, for $250 more. And in less than 2 years maybe I would have to upgrade again. The lifecycle was short and it was expensive.

But the same time I started to use Poser I found 2 other alternatives: DAZ Studio and Carrara. DAZ Studio is free (now), and Carrara seems to be cheaper. Okay, Carrara 8.5 Pro is $285 if you havent joined the Platinum Club yet. And the 2 epensive content bundles that come with it would be more expensive without buying Carrara 8.5 Pro, and you would probably need them anyway. but even if I would recommend buying Carrara, I wouldn't recommend using it for now.

Yes, it in many areas it is much, much better than the free DAZ Studio. But if it is a cheap but full featured 3D modelling and rendering suite, and most of its features would just serve as distraction now. And Carrara is both used by and recommended by several game developers as a good professional tool.

DAZ Studio on the other hand is pretty newbie friendly and if it would be your first time you work on 3D graphics that is an important difference. With GPU rendering it can be also a bit faster. And to make things more interesting: It also has a newer rendering engine as well. As you see DAZ studio isn't too bad.

It comes with "starter essentials" for the 3 generations of the Genesis platform. If I wouldn't just review DAZ Studio but share a tutorial as well and would share it on Facebook, a few would speak about "nudity" and the report would be accurate. Mostly because the first moment when we add a figure to the scene it would be a "generic nude". Okay, if it is Genesis 1, it is fully gender neutral. If it is Genesis 2 or Genesis 3 its shape speaks about its sex... but it lacks any genital unless you have the proper anatomy package.

Before Social Justice Warriors jump in and claim it is an evil piece of software becuase it is "hard to match a male genital with a female body" I have to tell you one thing: Genesis 1 is gender neutral. And when I recommended buying Carrara for the added content, most of that content is built on top of the Genesis 1 platform. And while SJWs are more interested in designing the "new Conchita Wurst" you can use this gender neutral platfor for another purpose: To share clothes, hair, some neutral morphs between more characters. 

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The very same SciFi uniform can work on many different characters. Okay, I know it can work with AutoFit as well if you use later versions of Genesis, but again: If you are a new user just clicking on a few items is easier than using autofit. And autofit is much-much easier than fitting room in Poser. And in the begining you will want to get the maximum out of what little content you have.

Probably when you start using DAZ Studio the only thing you will have in your content library is the free items and you would probably only have the free morphs, the free shaders and textures. If I would review everything I already have and you would start with only the basic that would lead you to a huge disappointment. Even if you would have 10 times more talent than me, it would be still be more than a bit unfair. But if I would only show the very basic free content, it wouldn't be too tempting either...

And what you get for free doesn't seem much. And when you would compare it to "Hero Machine" you would complain about lack of content at first. Even if a few basic morphs would let you customize your character it wouldn't be much at first. Then you would read a few tutorials. You would learn how to change skin color of characters by adjusting the shader a bit (by touching 2 paramters at most), how could you use the layered image editior to turn a generic white T shirt for kids, into something else.

You would change its colors, add some graphics and text with layered image editor, change a few shader channels and you would have a "company T shirt" for your SciFi campaign. At the very next moment you would learn how to take a texture, modifiy it a bit in photoshop... And soon the T shirt texture would have both textile and metalic parts. You would play with lighting, you would learn which pose can emphasize the breasts of a "seductress" type character...

Of course with some adjustments on opacity part of filter (and some texture there as well) you could add cuts, holes, etc to an existing item. And dwaring straight lines, using copy + paste for logos, adding text to an image doesn't require too much artistic skills. 

And copy + paste to a texture and letting DAZ Studio render an image is much easier than trying to achieve 3D looks when the logo isn't on a flat surface but all you have would be 2D tools. So in less than 2 days it would be much more powerfull that Hero Machine or Character Artist. Soon you would buy morphs. Some basic morphs for Genesis maybe. Then maybe you would buy the Supersuit suite, as it can be turned into very different items. 

For more morphs you would want to buy a few bundles and maybe you would end up getting Carrara 8.5 Pro with a deep discount from Platinum Club Plus. 

It is easy to use a simple sphere primitive and add the maps you made with Fractal Terrains to it as a texture. Hey, you can even turn some shaded maps into "displacement maps" for rendering. You can render custom coins and maybe you can have different ideas.

You would love it. 

And you would end up like me: I just need that set of clothes for $2.99 or that one for $7.99. And soon even when you wouldn't have more than 10 minutes to work on some concept, you would have a nice new PNG file for character art. And probably you would end up recommending DAZ Studio to your friends as well.