Creating Big City Scenes in DAZ Studio



  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804

    Thanks mindsong and Knittingmommy! glad you're finding it helpful

  • NovicaNovica Posts: 23,857
    edited November 2016
    RGcincy said:

    Testing Grass Shaders for River Front

    2. A quick way I found to reduce (but not eliminate) patterning was to use new images from Grass Collection Merchant Resource - Vol1 (PBR Textures).  It took a bit of time to find them as they are not in the texture folder but are rather installed in My DAZ 3D Library/General/iSource Textures/Grass Collection - Vol1. The images show what it looks like after just replacing the two maps. 


     LOL- you weren't the only one who had looked. A few weeks ago, I manually downloaded them after creating a folder for them, because I had perused around a bit too then went into the files to find them. I recommended all those PBR texture products in my thread, I picked up the hedges a few days ago but haven't tried them yet.

    Post edited by Novica on
  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited November 2016

    Putting in a New Foundation Pit


    What city doesn't have new construction at some point in time? Here's how you can build a new foundation.

    1. Choose a block to modify by clicking on it with the Universal tool or by going to the Scene tab and selecting RiverFront/property/101 Blocks Container and clicking on the desired block.

    2. If you don't want the sidewalks, click on the eye icon in the Scene tab and skip ahead to step 4.

    3. If you want the sidewalks (as I do in this example), you need to create a new surface. Go to the Tool Settings pane and select the Geometry Tool. Left-click on the middle of the grassy area of the desired block and them right-click in the same spot. Choose Geometry Assignment/Create Surface from Selected... and give the new surface a name. Use the Surface Selection tool and click on the same spot. Go to the  Surfaces Tab and turn opacity strength to 0%. You will now see far down through the ground level.



    4, Create a primitive cube. Scale and position it so it fills the empty space between the sidewalks. The sidewall above the sidewalk should be 6-12 feet scale height.


    5. Assign a shader to the entire cube. I used a vertical plank shader.


    6. As you did in step 3, use the Geometry Tool to select the top polygon(s) of the cube and give the new surface a name. Set the opacity strength to 0%. You will now be able to see the inside of the cube:

    7. Repeat step 6 for the bottom of the cube. I then added a gravel shader to this surface. Add in some props and you have a pit for the foundation of a new building.

    River Front hole w new surface.jpg
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    River Front hole cube w wood.jpg
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  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    Novica said:
    I picked up the hedges a few days ago but haven't tried them yet.

    Ohh, that would be a good addition for the home areas.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited November 2016

    Using Other Sets with River Front - 3: Industry


    Large cities have industrial zones and River Front has a large wharf area for that purpose. Here I show two industrial sets I own: Steel Town Refinery and Steel Town Blast Furnace. They load at city center and then you can move them to the wharf area. There's no direct move pose for the wharf, so the easiest way to position them is to set Z Translate to around 38000 to 44000. X Translate can be from -60000 to 60000. I did not need to change Y Translate. The values will be slightly different depending upon the set used. You'll likely also want to change Y Rotation to orient it correctly.

    The refinery comes in 4 blocks. You can set them in a line (as I did) or a square. The furnace comes with a set of high voltage power lines, useful not only with the furnace but for the city in general. I only used one instance with the furnace but you can make an entire line of them as I show in the third image. Click on images for larger versions.

    The wharf area is too pristine looking. At some point I'll add in more industrial props.

    Go to Main Menu

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    River Front full blast furnance.jpg
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  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited November 2016

    Using Other Sets with River Front - 4: More Houses


    This time I tried out FirstBastion's The Neighbour's Yard. This required a few modifications which I did on the set before saving as a Scene Subset and merging into the River Front scene. Neighbour's Yard comes with a ground that has some slope to it. That means some of the buildings, fences and props are at different heights. If directly imported into River Front, parts will be buried. Since River Front has flat blocks, you need to make adjustments. (You could potentially use D-Formers to adjust a surface as I did for the park. I didn't give that a try as it would be a lot of work, but it may be a good option if you want to get away from the totally flat city landscape.)

    1. I first hid the grass textures. 

    2. I then made a primitive plane and left it at Y Translate 0. I used this as a template to adjust buildings and props up and down as needed. 

    3. Some fences need a bit of rotation as one end dips. That would be a problem up close but is acceptable if viewed at a distance.

    4.Save as a Scene Subset and merge into River Front.

    5. There are some billboard trees that come with Neighbour's Yard. I show one on the far right just above the houses. There was a second tree billboard but it as right angle turn in it so is more difficult to use.

    The fences, driveways timbers, electric/telephone poles, antennas, and other assorted props add some nice detail to the scene. Click on the image for a bigger version.

    Go to Main Menu

    River Front Neighbors Yard.jpg
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  • namffuaknamffuak Posts: 4,022

    This has been very helpful - to the extent that I've added Dreamland's entire store to my wishlist. blush

  • Dreamland ModelsDreamland Models Posts: 386
    edited November 2016

    Hi Rich,

    I have been following your thread with great interest. I am especially interested in seeing if you can figure a way to make grass with the files that come with my sets,

    that do not look tiled.

    As an example on my next Poser set, Movie Sets: City Block One has a grass that is mixed with a couple different textures for the color,

    and one huge displacement map that is 3200 x 3200 for the blades.

    Here is a look at what I am talking about in a promo image for the set.

    I am not trying to derail your thread as it is great. I am looking to see if you might be able to get to a resolve for the tiling in Daz Studio.

    Just started with the Substance Designer suite and will see if I can create a huge map in there to get the same result but maybe use a bump to get around the issue of Studio,

    not really handling displacement in IRay very well.

    Here is the image.


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  • Hi Rich,

    Here is what the shader looks like in Poser. Not really that complex, but evidently Daz Studio does not have a way to make this work in IRay.


    Screenshot 2016-11-09 22.18.30.png
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  • KeryaKerya Posts: 10,943

    It would mean stepping into the Shader Mixer of DazStudio ... there is a "Mix" brick that does the same as the Blender in Poser ...

  • The trouble is that Iray displacement needs real or SubD vertices, unlike the standard 3Delight or Poser (Firefly, I'm not sure about Superfly) engines it can't produce displacement from plain polygons. On a huge set like yours I'm not sure what the solution would be - most of my ideas would require extra parts, either planes that could be loaded at the camera position to produce foreground displacement while using only normals for the distance or isntanced grass for the foreground with normals in the distance, both of which are fiddly and require the user to load the right piece of mesh or set of instances. I think duisplacement is probably the biggest culture shock going to Iray.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    namffuak said:

    This has been very helpful - to the extent that I've added Dreamland's entire store to my wishlist. blush

    Tom will be happy to hear that.


    Hi Rich,

    Here is what the shader looks like in Poser. Not really that complex, but evidently Daz Studio does not have a way to make this work in IRay.


    As Kerya said, there should be some combination in Shader Mixer that achieves what you need. I know AoA grass shader (only works for 3DL) does color blending and grass displacement. Richard's comments are good too, displacement in Iray is a big step backwards and it seems vendors are trying to figure out ways around it.  I'll see what I can do. 

    One thought for River Front: each of the grass blocks are part of one big surface. As needed, I've mapped an individual block to its own surface. If you did that for all 101, you'd only add 101 polygons and they could all use the same texture but you could then potentially use a pose to change the ones close to the camera to a more detailed surface (as Richard mentions). That wouldn't help on the hillside slopes though.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited November 2016

    Hi Tom,

    Here's a test 3DL grass shader. It uses screen captures of the textures you had in your mixer post, so the resolution is quite low. It doesn't have the displacement along the edges you have yet and the colors are off. But I think it shows that some tonal variations can be achieved. I'll keep working on it.


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  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited November 2016

    Dock Crane


    I wanted to show you the Warehouse District: Dock Crane. This looks small in the grand scene of River Front but is good up close for industrial scenes along the wharf.

    The crane loads to the central block 046. There is a pose that moves it to the wharf on top of the embedded track rails. The crane sits nicely on top of the embedded rails with no adjustment needed.



    There is a tracks prop (rails with ties) that is the length of the wharf. It loads to city center and the move to wharf pose does not work on it. So set the track's North-South parameter value to 33274 and Down-Up value to -5.31 to get it in position. You'll also need to set the crane's Up-Down position to 13.72 so the wheel hubs sit on top of the track.

    The crane has a number of different material presets. They are easy to use. Just select the crane and click on the preset you want. You can also remove the name plate with a material preset.

    The crane has a number of moving parts you can control from the Parameters tab. Boom Up-Down, Cab Door, Hook Turn and Hook Up-Down all work well. You can individually control the 4 levers and 4 pedals in the cab but you need to expand the hierarchy and select the right bone to get to the parameter dial for that item, as the universal tool will not select them. Drive Reverse-Forward and Turn Crane work but are super sensitive. I adjusted the Drive max min parameters from +/- 1918 to 900 and the Turn Crane max min from +/- 100 to 0.36 (click on the gear icon in the upper right of the parameter dial to get to the settings).

    There's a number of props that come with the crane. Individual barrels, pipes, and shipping containers plus pre-assembled multiples of them. 

    Go to Main Menu

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  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited November 2016

    Using Other Sets with River Front - 5: Dystopia City Blocks


    The first full city scene I showed was composed of multiple instances of Movie Sets: Low Poly Blocks. In this one, I used 15 of the 20 blocks from the free sets Dystopia City Blocks 001-010 (Poser) and Dystopia City Blocks 011-020 (Poser). I scaled them to 3600% and set them on the far side of the river as if urban renewal had taken hold on that side, as Dystopia has a modern look while the Low Poly Blocks are more like 1950-60's vintage. The Poser materials render too bright in 3DL, so as with the Low Poly Blocks, I turned Ambient Strength, Specular Strength and Reflection Strength to 0% and reduced Diffuse Strength to 50%. Click on image for larger view. You could also interperse the new with the old as often happens in cities.

    The following is a view from the other side with the Dystopia Blocks in front. When first loaded, scaled, and moved, you'll see grass beneath them. To remove the grass, use the Geometry Editor tool (follow step 3 in this post) to select the blocks with Dystopia City on them, create a new surface from the selected blocks, copy the sidewalk material and assign it to the new surface. 

    Go to Main Menu


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  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited November 2016

    Using Other Sets with River Front - 6: School's Out and The Prison Yard

    Cities are more than just commercial buildings. They have schools and prisons. Seems right to set them together, since some consider the first like the second. The AntFarm's School's Out and Flipmode's Prison Yard fit right in with the style of Dreamland Model's Low Poly Blocks. To use them, I first cleared two blocks of any buildings. I used the Geometry Editor tool to select the grass surface of those two blocks and convert them to a new surface (follow step 3 in this post). I added the Seaside Shores shader AWSP19 to the new surface as the color was a fairly close match for the grass in School's Out. That set needs to be set to Y Translate value of 39 which puts it just above the ground level of the block. I left Prison Yard at 0 height, otherwise the road interferes with the street grid. Prison Yard loads as four un-parented parts; I parented them together (or you could group them) to make it easy to move as one unit. Click on the images for larger views.


    Go to Main Menu


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  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited December 2016

    Curb Cuts


    The curbs in River Front are a classic square shape. They run the full length of the block with no curb cuts, so a car entering a driveway would have to bump up and over the curb which is not realistic. As a quick way to add curb cuts, I used Bryce's boolean features to add ramps to a replacement block (2 cubes sized to match the sidewalk and grass area of a standard River Front block). I then copied over the River Front sidewalk materials to the replacement. I put in a series of the Collective 3D houses that have a yard, sidewalk and driveways and based the size and placement of the 5 curb cuts to match. These aren't totally realistic as typically there's no sharp edges but a gradual curve to ease walking and avoid tire damage. I might use the same approach and try to create a more complex cut. (Click on image for larger view).

    Go to Main Menu

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  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited December 2016

    Curb Cuts - Part 2


    I couldn't resist so I went back into Bryce to create a better curb cut. In my first attempt, posted above, I did a simple square cutout but it has sharp edges which would trip pedestrians and cut tires. This time I did an apron flare (so it's easier to turn into the driveway) and angled the edges of the cut. Instead of trying to put all the cuts in the right spot along the street, I used Measure Metrics to measure the Collective 3D lot size and then built a sidewalk system to match up to it. The lot comes with its own roadway, apron, grass strip and sidewalk, none of which I wanted as they don't match up to the River Front blocks. I used the Geometry tool to select all the unwanted polygons, made them into a new material named Unwanted, and set the opacity to 0 to hide them. This left a lot that is 50 feet wide and 150.63 feet from the sidewalk to the back lot line. The driveway is 10.1 feet wide and is offset from the edge of the lot by 2 feet. I'll have to check if the other Collective 3D sets use the same lot size.

    I have not given a detailed explanation of how I used Bryce to do this as it's not straightforward if you aren't familiar with Bryce. I basically created an apron stamp that was based on 5 cubes booleaned together, which was itself booleaned to the sidewalk to cut out the curb. I had to do a lot of trial and error to get the angled cuts in the right spots, as you need to rotate two cubes along 3 axis and then translate into position. I used a value of 14.32 Bryce units per foot to make the sidewalk. After getting everything to the right size and in the right place, I used the menu command Convert Boolean to Mesh and then saved it as an .obj file. I tried importing the mesh into Daz Studio using the Bryce unit choice but it comes in way too big. I next tried importing it at 2200% which was almost right (I had to set overall scale to 101.5% to match the lot size). I reused the Riverfront sidewalk materials, I needed to adjust the tiling since the sidewalk segment is not as big as one city block. Horizontal tiling of 2, H offset of -0.058, and vertical tiling of 0.5 did the trick.

    You can see the results in the attached photo.When I get the chance, I'm going to assemble a replacement block that I can save and reuse. If I get that far, I'll put it in Freebies so others can use it as well.

    Here's the result (click image for larger view).

    Go to Main Menu

    River Front smoother curb cut.jpg
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  • NovicaNovica Posts: 23,857

    LOL- I had to laugh Rich- Schools Out and the Prison Yard- what a combination to put in one post! Put the prison in a school zone...

    Before I read the rest of the posts, I did notice the grass- it seemed a bit flat and yeah, repetitive. Grass can be a pain to do when trying to get variation. Have you though about using D-formers too- to get some small variations in the flat plane grounds? I think that would help. Otherwise, you're creating masterpieces and it's fun to keep up with what you're doing.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    Novica said:

    LOL- I had to laugh Rich- Schools Out and the Prison Yard- what a combination to put in one post! Put the prison in a school zone...

    I thought that was an appropriate combination laugh I always liked school but I had buddies who viewed it as more a prison than not.


    Novica said:

    Before I read the rest of the posts, I did notice the grass- it seemed a bit flat and yeah, repetitive. Grass can be a pain to do when trying to get variation. Have you though about using D-formers too- to get some small variations in the flat plane grounds? I think that would help. Otherwise, you're creating masterpieces and it's fun to keep up with what you're doing.

    I agree with the flat grass, especially when you have a full block (or blocks) of it. I'll have to give your suggestion a try. I did a park where I added bigger hills with D-formers, but this would call for smaller variations. Most houses sit up a little higher than the road for drainage, even my grandparents homes in south St. Louis city sat up a foot or two from the sidewalk level. 

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited December 2016

    Replacement Skydome


    River Front comes with it's own skydome which is what I have been using in all of these renders. I picked up a new product the other day, Eternal White Skydome and HDRI, that has both 3DL and Iray versions. This is a test of the 3DL version.

    1. Load the 3DL prop into the scene. Since River Front is so much larger than most sets, the skydome will appear tiny.

    2. Select the original River Front skydome in the scene tab and type Ctrl+C. Select the eternal white skydome and type Ctrl+V. That will pop the new skydome out to the same size and position as the original. You won't see it at this point as the original skydome will still be dominating the scene. Click on the eye of the original dome to turn it off.

    3.  The mountains of the new skydome are hidden until you raise the skydome to a Y-translate of 12,000 to 15,000. Set Y-rotation to -75 to get the sun's hot spot into the scene.

    Here's the result. I wasn't sure how well the mountains would render since the dome is so much larger in this scene than it's original size but I think it looks good. 

    Go to Main Menu

    River Front eternal white skydome load.jpg
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  • For what it's worth there's a welcome back 70% off sale for Dreamland models over on R. through the 27 December..

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804

    For what it's worth there's a welcome back 70% off sale for Dreamland models over on R. through the 27 December..

    I saw that too. Good deal.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited December 2016

    City Block 18


    I've recently shown the use of a number of houses by Collective3D and modifying the curb with cuts for the driveways. An easier approach is to use Dreamland movie sets which are designed to fit right into River Front.They are listed as not tested in Daz Studio but work fine when using the default textures. Here's a few renders using City Block 18, a collection of 14 different houses. A couple of pointers to use them in River Front:

    1. The city block comes with a mini-terrain of 9 vacant blocks in a 3 by 3 grid. If you use this terrain, the set loads in the middle block and the city block has parameters labeled Slide Left-Right and Slide Front-Back which lets you quickly change the location of the loaded set to one of the other grid locations.

    2. When you use the set in River Front, the limits of the Slide controls interfere with the River Front placement pose (e.g., load the city bock into River Front at city center block 46, use the pose to move to block 30. The block will stop at 32 as that is the last block in that direction within the 3 by 3 grid range). To be able to move the block anywhere within River Front, turn OFF the parameter limits (click on the gear parameter in the upper right of the parameter dial, choose Parameter Settings, then uncheck the Use Limit box). 


    3. River Front loads with each block location having a raised grassy field surrounded by sidewalks. City Block 18 comes with the same, except it has curb cuts for the driveways. After loading the city block, it's curbs will be hidden by the original set until you go and turn the original off. Go to scene tab, select RiverFront-Property-101 Blocks Containers and click the eye off on whichever block you are using (e.g., Block030).


    4. Here's a few renders. Click on images for bigger views.



    5. The 14 house are each different. If you load 4 copies of the set, you'll see a lot of variety at the intersection of the 4 copies. Don't forget to turn off the original grass/sidewalk blocks to reveal the curb cuts.


    Go to Main Menu

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  • CathyMCathyM Posts: 261

    Thank you so much for this thread!  I love these models, and really appreciate what you are showing how to do here.  I've purchased many of these models, they really speak to my heart, I think I may have lived and grown up on these streets. Long ago in my childhood I remember alot of joy and hope was alive there. I am really grateful to Dreamland for creating these models - I no longer live in that neighborhood, nor anywhere near that innocence, that alllowed me to see that neighborhood the way I remember it, but I appreciate greatly his work at recreating it, and I also appreciate what you are teaching with this thread in bringing it to Iray.  Thank you.  -Cathy

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    CathyM said:

    Thank you so much for this thread! 

    Glad you are enjoying it! There's a neighborhood just down the hill from us where there's a lot of Victorian-era homes that look like these. Plus still plenty of neighborhood business districts around that look like the low poly blocks I showed earlier in the thread.

    I did want to note that almost all of the renders I've shown so far are 3DL not Iray. I've done a couple in Iray and they work fine but 3DL is so much faster I've been sticking to that for these demonstrations.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited December 2016

    A Stroll Down California Avenue


    I have five of the Movie Set City Blocks (13, 14, 15, 18, and 19). I got these particular ones as they have many different residential houses and a few businesses you'd find in the neighborhood (gas station, grocery store). This series of renders shows all five of them gathered around the park I made previously. I just moved the camera down the street, stopping for a render every half block or so.  I called this a stroll down California Avenue as that is what appears on the street sign for the street we travel down. Remember to hide the original grass and sidewalks so the curb cuts show up plus the trees are billboards and you'll want to rotate them when they are viewed up close. Click on images for bigger views.


    Go to Main Menu


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  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804
    edited January 2017

    Iray Renders - Part 1

    Part 2


    My original intention was to do Iray renders but I found 3DL renders of River Front to be fast and look good. Since Iray was recently mentioned in the thread, I decided it was time to start some testing and here are the results. I'm assuming those reading this know the basics of rendering with Iray.

    River Front comes with a 3DL skydome with several dramatic skies (summer, winter, fall). Doing a render in Iray with these skydome though results in a black render as the light won't make it through (Ivy has mentioned in another thread a way to convert it for use in Iray but I have not successfully duplicated her result yet). You could use the HDR that comes with Daz studio but it's not very good as a sky image so you'll want to use a HDR or skydome from some other product.

    Click on images for larger views.

    1. This first render uses the HDR Iray sky from High Peaks Skydome and HDRI. It shows one of the low-poly blocks of commercial buildings and one of the movie set city blocks of houses put into River Front. The only material conversion was applying the Iray UIber Base shader to all the surfaces. You can let Daz Studio apply this shader automatically or you can do it yourself by selecting the objects in the Scene Tab and then selecting all the surfaces in the Surface Tab then double-clicking the shader in the presets listing. Expand the scene tab hierarchy and be sure all the items are selected; just selecting top levels does not always select the sub-levels. 

    2. You'll see shiny streets in the above render . That's because the Poser materials that come with the Dreamland products have a high specularity when used in Daz Studio. The same is true for the driveways of the houses and to a lesser extent the curbs. Go to the Surfaces tab and set the specularity to zero (or at least a low value) for those items. The result is shown below.

    3. This is a closer view of a commercial building and some of the houses. I purposely did not apply any new Iray shaders beyond the Uber base so you can see how they look with a minimal amount of work.

    4. Here's a similar scene using the HDR sky from Lakeside Folly. You''ll notice a cooler cast when using this sky than the first sky which gave a warm cast. If you've purchased recent building sets, yo should have a collection of Iray HDR and skydomes to try out. Some, like the two HDR's  I've used here, work well without adjustments. Others can take some work to get the right exposure settings.

    5. An even closer view of one of the houses. The first is Iray and the second is 3DL. It's up to you to decide how much modifications of the 3DL textures you want to do. There's quite a few sets with Iray building shaders which could be used.



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    Post edited by RGcincy on
  • NovicaNovica Posts: 23,857

    I almost expect a Twilight Zone appearance of people walking out of one of the doors!

    I like what you did with the lighting.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,804

    I keep thinking I'll get around to filling the streets with vehicles, trash and people but it's a bit daunting (easy enough to create instances but placing them and having enough variety is some work even with the scattering scripts). Right now it's a bit like The Truman Show - too perfect.  Your comment about the Twilight Zone also makes me think about the Walking Dead, need a few zombies around the neighborhood!

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