The Best Choice for 3d Modeling, Rendering and Animation - Based the the idea that it treats Daz/Poser figures, props and poses like native content, it has an incredible assortment of tools for modeling, animating, and shading all under one roof with an incredibly comfortable interface.
See the Daz3d Carrara 8 Promo Reel
Technical Specifications and Features Comparison
See for yourself, a list of the named features of Carrara 8. Add your intuition and imagination and the sky is no longer a limit!
Carrara has a vast collection of features built in to make our lives easier, no matter what we use it for. Some examples include (but are not limited to):
* Volumetric Primitives such as Fire, Fog, Clouds* along with the impressive Ocean Primitive
These powerful features are not to be underestimated. Simply drag one into your scene and you have an object that can give you a variety of effects. Each of them contains automatic animation controls and several options for changing their appearance and/or behaviors entirely.
Cripeman gives a quick look at a few of these in his Volumetrics & FX Tutorial.
*There are other clouds in addition to the Volumetric Clouds - Author clarification by request
- Fire -
Drop in the Fire primitive and enter the model room to set all sorts of parameters to create the look you want. If your rendering a still image, your fire is done… render away! If your filming an animation, cruise the timeline and set the completion percentage how you’d like your fire to behave. You can animate any of the parameters as well. The Fire primitive can take you far beyond making fire, however, with a little imagination. Change the shape and color, how it looks and behaves and you can create things like animated wave caps for ship wakes or waves hitting the rocks or beach, Magical effects for your spell-casting characters, make eerie visual effects for the sky or haunting camera effects… and that’s just the Fire primitive. There are many others!
Evil Producer did a great job with his Torch Fire demonstration and Fire Test
Cripeman helps you make a single flame for use on candles and such in his Playing with Fire tutorial.
- Ocean -
Drop an Ocean Primitive into your scene and you have a beautiful representation of water with waves that can be set in motion to follow the wind. Great for stills and animations alike. Carrara Native Content also contains a variety of intensely excellent water shaders. If you have a model with a water plane, a river, or any sort of water at all, you can replace it with this to get it to animate - which really adds a new level of believability to your animation. Like the Fire, your imagination is allowed to take control, through away what others might say, and create something all your own - with really great controls for automated animations. TIP: For large bodies of water, making a super-large, high resolution Ocean can take up a LOT of resources. Instead, use the replicator to make as many seamless replicas as you need, and they all match up perfectly! I do this all the time!
Here, Cripeman tutors you on making Lake Michigan (I live right along Lake Michigan, but much further north) using the Ocean Primitive
- Fog -
This one can really take an otherwise dull outdoors scene and make it look quite real. It has plenty of options to create a huge variety of fog appearances or blurry special effects. Like the others above, it contains automated animation controls saving you the time that you’d normally go through to get objects to go through these processes. Evil Producer prefers to use Volumetric Clouds wherever we would normally place fog - so there’s that option as well. I use fog in nearly every outdoors scene I ever create. Even in Space. A little distant, colored fog and I have a nice nebula or distant galaxy. Unlike Volumetric Clouds, Fog has swirl and chaos functions. You can really get creative with fog for a multitude of still and animated effects.
- Volumetric Clouds -
I’ve been telling you about versatility throughout my quick tour of the volumetric primitives. These beauties can’t disappoint in that respect. With Volumetric Clouds in your scene, you have a lot of power. These primitives can interact with lights in your scene in different ways. For instance: If you place a few of these between a sunlight and your render camera, you can create rays! Set them to be affected only by your sunlight and, depending upon placement, you can create a really stormy effect. Place a check in the ‘Use All Lights’ box, and that same scene might just brighten up and turn into a cloudy, but beautiful day. Volumetric Clouds can be used in many ways. They can become a solid block of cotton-like haze; A soft patch of many shapes of puffs - all from a single instance - or add a bunch of them to really get people looking for different shapes as if they were seeing a real sky. Again, like everything else in Carrara, there’s little to no limit on what an vivid imagination can do with these things.
Evil Producer, another Wisconsinite, lol shows them as real clouds in Dragon Flight
More real clouds in PhilW’s Cloud Flight
Dimension Theory demonstrates them in motion in his Carrara Clouds Test and expands the users horizons with his Cloud Nine product sold here at Daz3d.
Take a closer look at the Volumetric Clouds Editor with Cripeman
- Dynamic Hair -
Getting a bit off the beaten path, Carrara also has a very powerful Hair editor. Many people use this to grow field grass all over the ground. Grow it on small spheres to create yet another effect - like a weed top, or funky new type of planet. You can select between long-style hair or short fur. Cover animals, grow hair anywhere on any thing. It creates absolutely gorgeous hair for people, too!
Our own Holly Wetcircuit’s Site has some cool tutorials on Hair and Fur, as well as a nice pile of other informative tutorials, links, and freebies.
Here Cripeman teaches how to create and edit hair stubble, with a good explanation of painting hair domains
* Terrain Primitive, Shaders and Presets
Right out of the box, you can use one of many presets from the Native Content collection to get great results from a sample setup of the Terrain Primitive. Open it in the model room and you’ll discover the vast and amazing flexibility that you have with this wonderful object. Change out the shape generator or add another one. Each of these generators have their own set of adjustments to tweak how they affect the terrain. Add a filter or blend in another generator and even try your hand at the advanced generators. Mix and match as much as you like to help make your own imagination come to life!
Enter the shader room and you’ll be introduced to a shader that sets up the appearance of the various aspects of the Terrain primitive. It is fun and easy, yet infinitely diverse, to change any one or more of these appearances to create your own, custom terrain.
One of our incredible Daz3d Published Artists, Mec4d, made this as her first test in animating in Carrara: The Land of the Dragon - Carrara 8 Pro
* Plant Primitive, Shaders and Presets
Like the Terrain Primitive, Carrara plants presets come with a complex shader applied that determines how the plant looks throughout its various aspects. These shaders are really powerful and easy to see, organize, and change in more ways that I could explain briefly here. The Primitive itself is set up within the model room, where you have complete control over the growing habits of your plant. Carrara 8 has made vast improvements enabling easier shaping and the addition of multiple leaf types on the same plant. Berries and Cones, etc., can now be an entirely separate model and added here. Very cool!
If you have the time, you should definitely check out Cripeman’s Tree Tour tutorial.
* Particle Emitters, Physics, and Forces
In Carrara, the 3d space into which you create your scene is yours to control. Physics and flying particles behave however you direct your environment to behave - and it can be as simple as dropping an emitter into your work space and setting a few parameters. It can also become an incredibly complex system of flowing forces and spawning particles - like a flowing river, swift moving steam or fog, lava erupting from a volcano and flowing menacingly down the side onto the landscape below. Set objects in motion and let your physics settings control the result of the animation. Age of Armor had great fun smashing a GT 40 race car into a giant ball bearing! Dimension Theory can relax you into a trance with his dancing lights in Light as Substance!
While I’m providing links, here’s a great Intro to Physics in Carrara by our very own super hero, Cripeman. I really like PhilW’s Bullet Physics Test and Bruce Hoins, from Daz3d, made this excellent Introduction to the new Bullet Physics library integration for Carrara 8 Pro.
* Powerful Shader Tools
I feel more at home with shaders in Carrara than with any other software I’ve ever tried. I will go into some good detail on this in articles to come in the near future. When you first bring in an object set up for use in Poser or Daz Studio, it is quite common that it will come in with shader settings that make it look plastic. This is only due to a difference in how Carrara handles shader properties. Although this means that you’ll need to make some subtle changes in order to achieve adequate renders, you’ll quickly learn to appreciate the power that you now have with your render quality by owning Carrara!
Cripeman has made a wonderful tutorial of tips for Displacement Mapping in the Carrara Shader Room and he ends up saving you a LOT of time with his insight. He has more tutorials that visit the shader room, but here are some that are more dedicated to the subject of shaders:
Making Windows Shader for a Distant Skyline
SSS vs Glow
Seeing Through Transparency
How to Make a Fake Planet
Thanks, Cripeman, for being so awesome and showing us glimpses of your knowledge of Carrara!
You can see my compiled index of his infamous teachings right here:
Cripeman’s Video Tutorial Index
* Poser and Daz Studio compatibility
One of the things that makes Carrara entirely unique from anything else on the market is the fact that it treats Poser style figures, props, poses and scenes, even scenes containing dynamic clothing simulations, as if they were native Carrara content. No other modeler on the market can do this so flawlessly! It was this functionality that I was looking for when I found Carrara. I needed to use Daz3d content - as my ambitions to animate were too heavy for me to try to model all of my assets myself. So I’ve taken on the attitude that I am the director, producer, and lead animator and that Daz3d and their Published Artists are my assets team. They work for cheap, too! Imagine how much it would cost me to have someone with Stonemason’s talent and experience to build any one of his products in house. Now go look at how affordable it is for my project. Amazing, huh! I used Stefan as an example, but the same holds true for everyone at Daz3d. And if I should ever feel otherwise, there’s no loss due to their unconditional 30 day money back guarantee! Sounds like a sales pitch, perhaps. But it isn’t. If I had to build my entire collection of Daz3d products myself, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.
Some items might need a plugin to work, like aniMate’s aniBlocks require the aniBlock Importer for Carrara, which has been an amazing feature for me - as all I ever do is animate - for the most part. aniMate has saved me a lot of time and, since I purchased all of their Martial Arts aniBlock sets, Rosie can fend off all of those Evil Orcs and other assorted nasties with ease, in style, and with the precision of a real black belt. Thanks GoFigure! If you’re interested in such a thing, but don’t already have a collection of aniBlocks, there are two bundles with the Importer to help build a quick collection at a great deal: aniBlock Importer Starter Bundle and aniBlock Importer Pro Bundle. Again, I apologize if this looks like a pitch. Just trying to help you you need a little direction.
Also, I mentioned above how flawlessly Carrara reads Poser files. There are some things that all Carrara artists have to get used to. One of the major ones is that many Poser figures, such as Victoria 4, load in with blue highlights. This is not a bug - as it makes her look great in Poser - her designated purpose softy (I often refer to software as softy, softies being the plural - just in case you see me talk that way later on! ). It is quite easy to get used to changing the highlight color. Most people I’ve talked to just hit the little triangle at the bottom of the color box, which loads ‘black’ into that color box - which eliminates the highlight - and remove that ‘plastic look’ that you see in so many renders. Indigone has created a fantastic freebie shader kit for V4, but I’ve been using it for all of my characters as a base. The included tutorial taught me a lot about Carrara Shaders, and how to really get a great look on people within Carrara. There are two: V4 Skin Shader and Lights Kit and Endless Eye Kit for V4 for Carrara
* 3d Modeling
The fact that Carrara can model at all sets it apart from most every Poser-compatible softy on the market today. But Carrara has a great collection of tools for Spline modeling and Vertex modeling. This is huge, as it initially enabled me to make the morphs I’ve always wished I had on my existing Poser style figures’ clothing and hair. Now I find myself constantly building stuff in there. Like everything else in Carrara, the modeling rooms have a very friendly interface taking much of the confusion of learning to model out of the equation. Starting with a specific initial shape at specific dimensions is super simple. Then you have a great assortment of user-friendly, yet sophisticated and professional tools to maneuver those vertices into your dream model. Dynamic extrusion rocks, as with all of the other functions and features. We’ll get into that more later.
For now, if you’d like to see some basic modeling fun, with a pleasant mix of shading in the texture room, etc., check out this series on making a cityscape by Cripeman:
How to Model a Cityscape Pt 1
How to Model a Cityscape Pt 2
How to Model a Cityscape Pt 3
How to Model a Cityscape Pt 4
Pete Gregorio has a wonderful online video tutorial that demonstrates some
wonderful features within Carrara’s Vertex Modeler: Carrara 8 Gears Tutorial
* Superior Rendering through Global Illumination Features
You hear a lot of members discussing was to “Get around” using one of Carrara’s very powerful rendering facilities, Global Illumination. So much, even, that you may go for years without ever trying it out. The fact is, if you own Carrara, you own some really powerful tools towards making some of the most spectacular renders anywhere. Before you dismiss the idea of using it, See what Cripeman has to say about it. He’ll show you how it’s really nothing to be afraid of. It’s something to work into your work flow to produce nicer, smoother, more accurate shadows and reflections. For complex scenes that require a lot of placed lights, perhaps global illumination would add too much to the render times, so other methods should be looked at. But all I ask, is that you watch the tutorial and try it for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
One of our really great render artists, Koutsuko, can melt you into a pile of goo with some of her renders of Aiko, and she’s almost (if not always) always using ambient occlusion, which is a feature of the global illumination rendering system.
Work in Progress
This is something I intend to work on as I wait for long-term renders with the intention of creating a “Living Manual” for Carrara