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How do I improve?
Posted: 14 July 2013 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve asked a few questions here before, figured its time to show something, the attached picture is basically as good as I can do with the knowledge I have gained since getting daz 4.6 just over a month ago.

I want to know how to improve the render results I’m getting using what the program can do. I have no knowledge of lighting, render settings (using 3delight) Or what any of the options in the surfaces (colour) menu do, or if they would even help, I have the Subsurface Shader Base, but don’t know what its does.

Basically, educate me, or at least point me in the right direction.

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Posted: 14 July 2013 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The best way to learn is to do. Play with settings so you can figure out how each one works and pull apart existing materials to see how they got the effects. Finding the best way to do a certain type of work is really half the art in itself, and everyone learns at their own pace. However, I will offer a few simple tips.

1) Work with light sources. Lighting can really make or break a scene and will aid greatly in giving your characters a sense of depth. It’s also a requirement for certain types of effects such as subsurface scatter, which really works best in raytraced lighting environments. Getting good lighting for a given scene can be half the battle finished, and is also one of the trickier aspects to master.

2) Learn the basic shaders before branching out to more complex ones. Diffuse maps are your paint, specular maps are your shine and bump and displacement maps are your roughness. If you get confused about a particular option. then feel free to ask. Most people here are friendly enough to lend a paw.

3) UberEnvironment lighting with a single direct light can give you a very nice look with minimal effort. You’ll need to play around with the intensity of both lights however.

4) Practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and unless you’re a prodigy, it will probably take some failures before you get your successes. Learn from them and then build on the knowledge to improve the next one. Advice I should really be taking myself with regards to learning how to make textures, but I digress.

It’s really a very broad question you’re asking, since there’s so much to cover. However, if you’d like me to dissect some of my own renders to show you how I did certain effects or lighting, then by all means ask. My gallery is on DeviantArt. Link in my signature if you’re curious.

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Posted: 14 July 2013 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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You can cruise through my art studio thread (link in signature) and see the ups and downs I had as I explored- I documented everything. I also go through and point you to specific threads in the forums- the tutorials, the best tips (aka, Herald of Fire is frequently featured, lol!) so you can short cut. Also, my very first post, I put a link to my post that is summarizing the thread- it highlights the topics alphabetically. It’s a WIP but I work on it nightly.

Go to YouTube and watch the DAZ Studio videos for a vague overview. Sometimes they skim over things or don’t bother to explain- they just say “here it is” but it will be helpful in some cases.  I have a series that I work on off and on, and I have a lighting tutorial in my Art Studio thread. Below is a sample- one I entered in a contest (got Honorable Mention- I was thrilled!)

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Posted: 14 July 2013 04:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks for the advice, you given me some useful areas in which to start exploring/experimenting.

Let me narrow down my broad question to a more specific focus. For now I’m working exclusively on characters/figures. So advice relevant to how to get the most out of aspects like skin, hair, eyes, lips, nails etc would be the most use. Anything I can do that will make figures look their best is basically what I’m looking for

I would also like to achieve higher levels of realism, but from what little I know thats mostly about buying the right textures etc, but I might be wrong. So for now making the most of what I have is my goal.

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Posted: 14 July 2013 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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So let me explain why this isn’t as simple as plopping a light from one source- I’ll give you some of my “tips.”

1 TIP: Use point lights by cheeks, hands, etc to lightly illuminate (no pun intended)  I dropped a point light down by her cheek
2. TIP: Use dark colors for subtle areas (like her cheek. It was a dark mauve/brown)
3. TIP: Pick a light source, then raise and lower spot lights / point lights using Y translate to make sure your light source is consistent. (You’ll see in my art studio thread where I stacked point lights above each other to make a glowing sword.)
4. TIP: Put distant lights (dimmer) all around your perimeter to slightly light the rest of your scene, leave out the areas you want dark. You can do this with or without the use of other lights
5. TIP: Save your lights as presets periodically- that is helpful if you mess things up and can’t remember what you changed. File>Save As> Light preset.

Headed out the door, hope this helps a bit.

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Posted: 14 July 2013 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Oops, you were posting while I was!
To get the most out of characters (and this sounds like basic common sense) buy up a variety- watch the Fast Grab- and realize you can use men morphs for women morphs, and vice versa. You can also use cartoon characters!

Test out using negative numbers on the model morphs- they do really neat things!

The Surface channel where you play with the Diffuse and change skin tones (and Specular for the shine of the skin, as HOF mentioned) can really change their looks. Remember that taking glossiness DOWN increases the shine. It’s the opposite of what it seems.

Doing geometry shells on hair will thicken it and may speed up your render times, too- look up Scott-Livingston’s hair tutorial.

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Posted: 14 July 2013 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Really quick- then I AM headed out the door- do you know how to use the Surface Selection Tool? It’s the three black sheets of paper up by the Universal tool. You click that, then go to Surfaces tab, then you can change the glossy on whatever you had selected. Try the eyes and lips. Although your figure appears to already have shiny lips!

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Posted: 14 July 2013 05:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks for the tips, don’t worry about morphing information, that character has been extensively morphed and modified, but shes naked which would violate the rules of the forum so I’m only posting face pics.  My render times are less than a minute, but I’d trade that speed for better results.

When you say to pick a light source and make sure they are consistent, I assume you mean that they all point at the same place…but where should I put the lights within the 3 dimension world? Maybe I should try and find some lighting setup diagrams that real world photographers would use?

I haven’t used the surface selection tool before, I’ll check it out tommorrow

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Posted: 14 July 2013 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Lighting has the largest impact of just about anything you can do to improve your renders. You can buy all the photo realistic skins on any of the stores but without proper lighting they’ll look no better that what you currently have.

Start with a simple lighting setup and experiment from there. For a simple light setup see this post (http://www.daz3d.com/forums/viewthread/19877/P30/#302705) by Zigraphix. That will give you a good base to build from.

You can buy light sets but you really should spend some time learning the basics of lighting before spending the money. Even the best light sets will probably need some tweaking for your specific scene.

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Posted: 14 July 2013 07:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Another good resource is the Newcomers Contest forum.

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Posted: 14 July 2013 09:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Another Good Light set to learn is the Three point Lighting set. That can be added to as needed and I have even gone as high as a seven light setup before I ever added a Distant light for anything more than Ambient Fill. There is a old New Users Contest WIP thread all about lighting.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 01:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Lighting is definitely the place to start.

Don’t worry about trying to understand shaders or the surface tab until you understand how to create good light.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Sisca - 14 July 2013 06:35 PM

Lighting has the largest impact of just about anything you can do to improve your renders. You can buy all the photo realistic skins on any of the stores but without proper lighting they’ll look no better that what you currently have.

Start with a simple lighting setup and experiment from there. For a simple light setup see this post (http://www.daz3d.com/forums/viewthread/19877/P30/#302705) by Zigraphix. That will give you a good base to build from.

You can buy light sets but you really should spend some time learning the basics of lighting before spending the money. Even the best light sets will probably need some tweaking for your specific scene.

You raise an interesting point. The pic at the top of the thread is made using this product http://www.renderosity.com/mod/bcs/mrl-adena/98842 and it should be obvious that I’m not getting the most out it when compared to the sample pics on the product webpage

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Posted: 15 July 2013 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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derekmccaughey2010 - 15 July 2013 04:54 AM

....The pic at the top of the thread is made using this product http://www.renderosity.com/mod/bcs/mrl-adena/98842 and it should be obvious that I’m not getting the most out it when compared to the sample pics on the product webpage

Most of the promo renders were done in Poser using SSS materials. The Poser SSS material may load in DAZ Studio, but it will probably produce awful results. This vendor does include DAZ skin materials. Make sure you are using them. 

The last promo render was done in DAZ Studio. With very good lighting you should be able to get results similar to that.

 

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Posted: 15 July 2013 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I’m just using what was “in the box” I didnt know there where separate products

I now have Uber Environment 2 and Core Lighting 2, can someone point me to where I can find out how to use them?

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Posted: 15 July 2013 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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derekmccaughey2010 - 15 July 2013 12:03 PM

I’m just using what was “in the box” I didnt know there where separate products

Most of the vendors at Renderosity are primarily producing content for Poser. For characters like this, the Head and Body injections will work fine in either Poser or DS, but skin material setup is very different between Poser and DS. Some vendors at Renderosity do not support DS at all. If a product description does not mention DAZ Mat files or is says something like “not tested or supported in DAZ Studio”, you should not buy it unless you are an experienced DAZ user that can setup the MAT files for DS yourself.

This vendor does support DAZ Studio. I do not own this character, but I own another character from this same vendor. The character I own has two folders, one labeled PoserDAZ (or something like that) that has the DS skin material (.ds files) in it. There is another named SSS, PoserSSS or something like that. (I’m at work now). That folder contains .pz2 files that may load in DS, but they will not render well in DS.

For the character I own from this vendor, the DS Mats use the default shader. The DAZ default shader is very basic and does not support Sub Surface Scattering (SSS). Most of the Promo renders were done in Poser with the SSS material. Even in the best lighting, you will not get quite as good a result as the Vendor is getting with the Poser SSS materials.  The last one of the Promo renders was done in DAZ Studio with good lighting. It is vastly better than render at the top of this thread. That difference is caused by difference in lighting.

There are a few vendors at Renderosity that include DS materials with SSS. I have changed some characters like yours over to use SSS in DS, but that is a more advanced topic. You need to make sure you are using the vendor material intended for DS and work on lighting now. 

derekmccaughey2010 - 15 July 2013 12:03 PM

I now have Uber Environment 2 and Core Lighting 2, can someone point me to where I can find out how to use them?

I’m not a big fan of Uber Envirnment 2. I seldom use it. Lots of other people seem to like it and get good results with it. There is a tutorial here: http://www.daz3d.com/forums/viewthread/5320/

Uber Envirnment 2 is best when used with some other lights as the main light, with Uber Envirnment 2 only providing the ambient.

I have 3 post in a row starting here: http://www.daz3d.com/forums/viewthread/24312/#359556 explaining how I do lighting, starting from the awful lighting you get with ambient only lights, outdoor like lighting with a single distant light and some fake ambient, standard 3 point portrait lighting with Uber Area lights, and glamor style lighting with Uber Area lights. There is a tutorial on Uber Area lights in this forum near the top right now.

For an example of what I have been able to do (I’m just learning too), I have a portrait of a character I bought that did not have skin material for DS. I used the Sub Surface Shader to create SSS material in DS, used GenX to create a Genesis body shape like the character, then tried to reproduce the promo render in DS using the Genesis version with the SSS mats. You can see the result here: http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/index.php?image_id=2454459

That render was done using gamma correction at gamma 2.2. Gamma correction is a new feature in DAZ 4.6. When you use gamma 2.2, you have to do your lighting differently. If you use the same lighting, things can come out awful, but you need less ambient light with gamma 2.2. This allows you to get more realistic renders and to me it actually makes lighting simpler. I doubt you need anything like Uber Environment with gamma 2.2 or if you do, then you need much lower intensity.

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