How do I improve?

derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
edited December 1969 in New Users

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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Comments

  • Herald of FireHerald of Fire Posts: 3,384
    edited December 1969

    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.

  • NovicaNovica Posts: 9,589
    edited December 1969

    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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  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited December 1969

    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.

  • NovicaNovica Posts: 9,589
    edited July 2013

    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.

    Post edited by Novica on
  • NovicaNovica Posts: 9,589
    edited July 2013

    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.

    Post edited by Novica on
  • NovicaNovica Posts: 9,589
    edited December 1969

    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!

  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited December 1969

    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

  • SiscaSisca Posts: 837
    edited December 1969

    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/discussion/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.

  • atticanneatticanne Posts: 2,658
    edited December 1969

    Another good resource is the Newcomers Contest forum.

  • JaderailJaderail Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    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.

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    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.

  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited December 1969

    Sisca said:
    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/discussion/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

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969


    ....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.

  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited December 1969

    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?

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    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.


    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/discussion/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/discussion/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.

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    I'm just using what was "in the box" I didnt know there where separate products

    The more I look at your render, the more I think this must be the Poser SSS material.

    Does this product come with a single icon that loads the body shapes and the skins? If it does, then it may be loading the Poser SSS skins.

    There should be a subfolder under the folder in the Pose directory for the character that has the DAZ skin material. The icons to load the DAZ skin material will have a orange script icon in the upper left corner. If you hover your mouse over the icon, it should bring up a box showing you that there is both a .ds (dsa, .dsb or .duf) file and a .pz2 file of the same name in this folder. The .ds is the DS material and the .pz2 file is Poser std material (non SSS). DAZ Studio will automatically use .ds material and ignore the .pz2 of the same name. Poser will ignore all DS files, because it does not know what they are, and just use the .pz2 file. This allows vendors to ship both DS and Poser material in a single directory and have it work correctly in both tools.

    Try finding the DAZ skin material and applying it to your character. There should be an icon to apply the complete skin, sometimes called Mat Full or something similar. Even rendered in the DAZ headlight, it should look better than you render above.

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    As I indicated, I don't have the character you indicated, but I do have another character from the same vendor, MRL Elena (http://www.renderosity.com/mod/bcs/mrl-elena/92687/). I have attached a quick comparison render of the that character using the Poser SSS material and the DAZ material. Both are rendered with 3Delight in the DAZ headlight (default lighting). The Poser SSS material is definitely way too shiny, like she is made out of glass or shinny plastic, but it is not as bad as your image. The specular and glossiness being screwed is typical of loading Poser material into DAZ. Your image looks very shinny, which makes me think you are using the Poser material.

    Still this is no where near as bad as the result you got. Is that an actual 3Delight render? Or are you using one of the preview render settings. Only the quality 4 setting is a real render.

    What lighting, if any, did you use?

    Where there any errors or warnings when you loaded the character?

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  • Herald of FireHerald of Fire Posts: 3,384
    edited July 2013

    mark128 said:
    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.
    Allow me to disagree here. While it's true that a lot of the features unique to Poser don't translate too well to Daz Studio, they're not entirely incompatible. If you feel the product itself is good, then materials alone shouldn't be a factor to prevent you making a purchase, exceptions being procedural shader packs which have zero function in Daz Studio.

    Textures such as skins are transferable. You can use an existing skin such as Brea as a base and then replace the textures with the ones of your choice, retaining similar settings. This can often give decent results, even if it's not on par with the promo's. The same goes for any other product which also contains textures or meshes. Most of the stuff on Renderosity with very few exceptions is designed exclusively for Poser users, with no DS materials included. That said, there is still a wealth of content there for the keen and creating Daz materials rarely takes so long that it should exclude you buying.

    mark128 said:
    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.

    Gamma correction may provide some ambience, but it does not serve to add occlusion as UberEnvironment does. Occlusion gives you those lovely subtle shades rather than clear blacks versus whites and in my opinion can really enhance the quality. It's similar to turning up the brightness on your TV or monitor and it can sometimes lead to washed out colouration. Personally I prefer leaving the gamma correction to postwork as I have more control. You can get realism without ever needing to touch the gamma controls.

    Still this is no where near as bad as the result you got. Is that an actual 3Delight render? Or are you using one of the preview render settings. Only the quality 4 setting is a real render.


    It's fairly clear that the first image is a 3DL render, and I don't think it's horrible quality but rather just part of the natural learning curve for this kind of software. Alone it could benefit from some decent lighting which would ramp up the quality immensely, with material tweaks and improvements coming later. After all, using the right materials isn't going to help if your light setup doesn't support them.

    Here's an example image with some subtle differences. Both use UberEnvironment but one is set to use occlusion while the other is using ambient only which is similar to increasing the gamma. I used UE for both because it was easier to keep the amount of gain consistent in both images. Notable areas are the ears, eyes and around the mouth. Note that while the ambient image appears brighter overall it's an unrealistic kind of brightness, since it affects all parts of the image evenly regardless of where they are. The raytraced occlusion on the other hand gives much more subtle shades.

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    Post edited by Herald of Fire on
  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited July 2013

    mark128 said:
    As I indicated, I don't have the character you indicated, but I do have another character from the same vendor, MRL Elena (http://www.renderosity.com/mod/bcs/mrl-elena/92687/). I have attached a quick comparison render of the that character using the Poser SSS material and the DAZ material. Both are rendered with 3Delight in the DAZ headlight (default lighting). The Poser SSS material is definitely way too shiny, like she is made out of glass or shinny plastic, but it is not as bad as your image. The specular and glossiness being screwed is typical of loading Poser material into DAZ. Your image looks very shinny, which makes me think you are using the Poser material.

    Still this is no where near as bad as the result you got. Is that an actual 3Delight render? Or are you using one of the preview render settings. Only the quality 4 setting is a real render.

    What lighting, if any, did you use?

    Where there any errors or warnings when you loaded the character?

    This is what I see in the product folders for that, when I loaded the character onto a v4.2 I recieved no error messages, and yes it was a quality 4 render using 3DL, with no lighting at all. Also I could swear that the closer I zoom to any object the more the view becomes distorted, like looking at your own reflection in the back of a spoon!

    Is it possible to render something bigger than what I can see in the viewport?

    quick edit: When I loaded the character (after injecting the morphs) I loaded both the file in the picture, and the file in the SSS_Mats folder too

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    Post edited by derekmccaughey2010 on
  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969


    This is what I see in the product folders for that, when I loaded the character onto a v4.2 I recieved no error messages, and yes it was a quality 4 render using 3DL, with no lighting at all. Also I could swear that the closer I zoom to any object the more the view becomes distorted, like looking at your own reflection in the back of a spoon!

    Is it possible to render something bigger than what I can see in the viewport?

    quick edit: When I loaded the character (after injecting the morphs) I loaded both the file in the picture, and the file in the SSS_Mats folder too

    The Icon in your picture is the correct icon for applying the skin in DAZ Studio, but you should not load the one from the SSS_Mats folder at all. The one from the SSS_Mats folder is only usable in Poser and it replaces all the surface setting done by the one in your picture.

    This certainly can be somewhat confusing. Both DAZ and Poser support SSS, but the material setup is completely different and not interchangeable. This product only supports SSS in Poser. Near the end of the description it says "Please note SSS shaders require Poser 9 or PoserPro 2012". So don't try to use anything from the SSS_MATS folder in DAZ Studio.

    On rendering you can create a camera. Do to Create -> Camera. Give your camera a name or use the default name. Your camera name should then appear in the viewport drop down menu in the upper right corner of viewport. "Perspective" is selected by default. Select your camera view and the viewport will then show the view from your camera. If you select your camera in the scene tab and go to the parameters pane, you can move the camera around using the X, Y, Z and rotate values. This can give you better control than the cube in the viewport. Also, there is a Camera section to the parameters where you can change the focal length. The default focal length is 65 mm. A focal length between 100-200mm is good for a portraits. It allows you to get a tight shot of the head without having the camera so close to the model that you get distortion.

  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited December 1969

    Ok thanks I'm glad I wasn't imagining that distortion effect!....so how do I "unload" the filefrom the SSS_Mats folder, remove it from my character? Also I might not have explained, my rendering question correctly, let me try again

    say I want to render a full-body shot, can I only render it the at the size of my viewport view? is there a way to render "bigger" images?

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    Ok thanks I'm glad I wasn't imagining that distortion effect!....so how do I "unload" the filefrom the SSS_Mats folder, remove it from my character? Also I might not have explained, my rendering question correctly, let me try again

    say I want to render a full-body shot, can I only render it the at the size of my viewport view? is there a way to render "bigger" images?

    Just apply the Adena -> PoserDazMATS -> Adena_Mat again. That will replace all the surface settings from the one in the SSS_MAT folder.

    In the render pane you can set the size (width and height) of the image you want to render. DAZ supports sizes up to 10,000x10,000 I think, but I would not recommend going that large.

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=113cfjBJcEE

    This is a video tutorial that explains how to control the size and shape of render region. It does not go into cameras or the 3Delight advanced options, but it does show how to change the size and shape of the image being rendered and how to get that frame displayed in your view port.

  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited July 2013

    Does anyone here know why Daz keeps crashing during a render? Its happened the last 6 times I've tried to render something with lighting? are my settings wrong or something?

    Anyway last night I reloaded the correct skin texture, and changed the focal length to 100, added a light preset (sunlight) and came up with this. Any tips to improve the look? I think Its way too bright personally

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    Post edited by derekmccaughey2010 on
  • atticanneatticanne Posts: 2,658
    edited December 1969

    Much better.

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    Much improved image.

    Does anyone here know why Daz keeps crashing during a render? Its happened the last 6 times I've tried to render something with lighting? are my settings wrong or something?

    Anyway last night I reloaded the correct skin texture, and changed the focal length to 100, added a light preset (sunlight) and came up with this. Any tips to improve the look? I think Its way too bright personally

    In my experience, crashes during rendering are usually because DAZ/3Deligh is running out of memory, although it can be caused by other things.

    Are you using the 32 bit or 64 bit version of DAZ? Do you have a 32 bit or 64 bit OS? PC or MAC? How much RAM do you have?

    DAZ needs a lot of memory to render. Probably 4 GB of RAM and a 64 bit OS are about the minimum usable system, 8 GB would be better.

  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited December 1969

    I'm using the 32-bit version with a tiny 2GB of RAM, I'll be adding more in a couple of months

  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    I'm using the 32-bit version with a tiny 2GB of RAM, I'll be adding more in a couple of months

    I started out using DAZ on a 32 bit XP system with 2 GB of ram. I quickly figured out that DAZ was pretty limited on that system.

    Things you can do to:

    1) Don't run any other applications at the same time. Things like browsers and email programs can use up a lot of RAM.

    2) Use the task manager to find out what processes are using memory on your machine. PCs frequently come with a lot of crap wear you don't really need pre-installed on them. Some of these application are running in the background and using up memory.

    3) Use render to file rather than render to window. This reduces the memory needed to render.

    4) If you are going to be using this system a lot, you might look into the stand alone version of 3Delight directly from 3Delight.com. You can then render to RIB (a script file) in DAZ and do the actual render in the standalone 3Delight without the DAZ window running. This will free up all the memory the DAZ window uses during rendering. You can get one free license for the standalone 3Delight here: http://www.3delight.com/en/index.php?page=3DSP_pricing

    The free license is limited to using only two cores on your processor, while the DAZ window linked version will use all the cores. If you only have a 2 core processor though, this is not an issue at all. If you have a 4 core processor, I guess the renders will take twice as long, but that is better than crashing.

  • derekmccaughey2010derekmccaughey2010 Posts: 104
    edited December 1969

    Thanks for those tips, I downloaded and installed the standalone 3delight engine, but I can't find it in my programs list. I see these items?

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  • mark128mark128 Posts: 903
    edited December 1969

    Thanks for those tips, I downloaded and installed the standalone 3delight engine, but I can't find it in my programs list. I see these items?

    I have never tried to use the standalone 3Delight, so I'm not sure. With some searching I found this tutorial:

    http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/19607/

    It is mainly for Mac OS, but it does mention some windows equivalents or guess at them. You run the standalone 3Delight using the windows command prompt window (cmd), There are other people around that use the standalone 3Delight.

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