Will's Tips

124

Comments

  • PetercatPetercat Posts: 2,201

    Will, with your expertise on shaders and other tools, have you considered searching your past threads and comments and combining your tips into one thread? I don't know if the Mods would let you lock it to keep it on track, but it would make a handy reference.

    Or post them as downloads on DA, or as a paid PDF even. I'd mail you a $10.00 MO for the collection.

    Probably too much work, there have been sooooo many...

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    The problem is how terrible the search is. But from now on whenever I make what seems to be a helpful comment in other threads, I'm going to make a point of copying the point to this thread. ;)

     

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Oh hey, this might be a good place to describe my process for generating art-style renders.

     

    Ok, first, I like using PWToon. I also have ToonyCam... I find ToonyCam is better at getting a more consistent, smoother line, but PWToon seems to pick up on fine lines and detail better.

    PWToon has two settings: Diffuse Upper Bound, Diffuse Lower Bound. This essentially determines the shading between the diffuse color and shadow color. If the two values are equal, shading will tend to be all or nothing. I find it useful to set Diffuse Upper Bound to 0%.

    If you REALLY want a simpler illustrated look, my recommendation is to shut down specular (specular strength 0%). Possibly also erase the diffuse color maps and replace them with simple colors (this can be a bit time intensive). For black and white lineart, erase all the diffuse color and set to white.

    Turn on draw outline and draw interior line. If you want you can do some funky things with the colors of these lines, but I generally leave them black. Increase Outline Width as much as you can before stuff starts looking black; the program uses normals to draw lines where the surface is perpendicular to the camera, but if the entire surface is angled mostly away from the camera, it will fill all black. You see this a lot with floors and roofs, where half of it will turn black; it will likely require less line width.

    Also, line width is absolute. You should test this with test renders at the size you will be using. If you test at, say, 1080x1080, and then increase to 2160x2160 for actual rendering, all the lines will look half as wide.

     

    Now... lighting. I suggest some combination of distant and ambient light. Distant light angled from the side can be great for lineart, making very distinct shadows and bringing out details. Ambient light can create more tones -- you have the black lines, then somewhat dark shadows (only somewhat because ambient is lighting the shadows a little), and then bright main figures. If you want a very hard black and white, don't use distant light with shadow softness, and don't use ambient at all. For a medium 'black lines but otherwise simple colors, remember to shut off ambient occlusion from the ambient light (set it to 0).

    Another approach is not to use distant light at and just use ambient light. With ambient occlusion, you get a nice shading effect without true shadows... this can look pretty cool.
     

     

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Oh, addendum:

    The outline is highly sensitive to bump and displacement. If surfaces look too 'blank' to you, try upping either/both. If surfaces look too 'busy' or dark with fiddly details, drop the values.

    Most of the work to get the render right involves tweaking outline widths and bump/displacement until you get the look you want.

    Thankfully, PWToon is pretty darn fast. Ambient occlusion slows things down a little, but hey.

    I also find that, with hair, you probably want to shut off lines and rely on ambient occlusion or shadows to bring out details.

     

  • pdspds Posts: 569

    Oh hey, this might be a good place to describe my process for generating art-style renders.

     

    Ok, first, I like using PWToon. I also have ToonyCam... I find ToonyCam is better at getting a more consistent, smoother line, but PWToon seems to pick up on fine lines and detail better.

    PWToon has two settings: Diffuse Upper Bound, Diffuse Lower Bound. This essentially determines the shading between the diffuse color and shadow color. If the two values are equal, shading will tend to be all or nothing. I find it useful to set Diffuse Upper Bound to 0%.

    If you REALLY want a simpler illustrated look, my recommendation is to shut down specular (specular strength 0%). Possibly also erase the diffuse color maps and replace them with simple colors (this can be a bit time intensive). For black and white lineart, erase all the diffuse color and set to white.

    Turn on draw outline and draw interior line. If you want you can do some funky things with the colors of these lines, but I generally leave them black. Increase Outline Width as much as you can before stuff starts looking black; the program uses normals to draw lines where the surface is perpendicular to the camera, but if the entire surface is angled mostly away from the camera, it will fill all black. You see this a lot with floors and roofs, where half of it will turn black; it will likely require less line width.

    Also, line width is absolute. You should test this with test renders at the size you will be using. If you test at, say, 1080x1080, and then increase to 2160x2160 for actual rendering, all the lines will look half as wide.

     

    Now... lighting. I suggest some combination of distant and ambient light. Distant light angled from the side can be great for lineart, making very distinct shadows and bringing out details. Ambient light can create more tones -- you have the black lines, then somewhat dark shadows (only somewhat because ambient is lighting the shadows a little), and then bright main figures. If you want a very hard black and white, don't use distant light with shadow softness, and don't use ambient at all. For a medium 'black lines but otherwise simple colors, remember to shut off ambient occlusion from the ambient light (set it to 0).

    Another approach is not to use distant light at and just use ambient light. With ambient occlusion, you get a nice shading effect without true shadows... this can look pretty cool.
     

     

    Excellent, thanks! I've only recently discovered the NPR thread and this is a great primer to help get started. 

  • dracorndracorn Posts: 2,303
    edited September 2016

    Hey, Will.

    Thought I would pop over here and pick your brain for Iray to 3DL conversion.  I picked up the Blind Demon and have been trying to convert him to 3DL.

    Straight conversion to UberSurface Base - yuck! 

    I played around with the surfaces and it just went from bad to worse.  So I started applying presets from the Subsurface Toolbox and had better luck.  However, I just can't get the same level of detail as the Iray renders on the Blind Demon thread. 

    http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/115596/blind-demon-josh-crockett-sixus1-media/p2

    Any suggestions?

    BlindDemon 02 Spec.jpg
    600 x 600 - 47K
    BlindDemon 3DL 04.jpg
    600 x 600 - 106K
    Post edited by dracorn on
  • dracorndracorn Posts: 2,303

    I've been playing around more with the Blind Demon, and you know, he really looks pretty good in 3DL.  I think perhaps lighting will be most important to making him look good. 

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Yeah, I was about to say that lighting is going to have a big impact.

    I'd go with 50% direct light, 50% ambient light (something with occlusion, I like AoA lights).

    Good SSS would be, well, good, but I'm a bit confounded by 3DL SSS and rely heavily on throwing US2 presets at it and hoping for the best.

    Remember shiny stuff is, oh, light gray specular color, high glossiness and specular strength. More dull surfaces should be darker, low gloss/specular strength.

    You might also want to experiment with applying various existing 3DL skin shaders and seeing if they create a look you like.

     

  • dracorndracorn Posts: 2,303
    edited September 2016

    Yeah, I was about to say that lighting is going to have a big impact.

    I'd go with 50% direct light, 50% ambient light (something with occlusion, I like AoA lights).

    Good SSS would be, well, good, but I'm a bit confounded by 3DL SSS and rely heavily on throwing US2 presets at it and hoping for the best.

    Remember shiny stuff is, oh, light gray specular color, high glossiness and specular strength. More dull surfaces should be darker, low gloss/specular strength.

    You might also want to experiment with applying various existing 3DL skin shaders and seeing if they create a look you like.

     

    Yeah, thanks Will.  I'll keep playing around with it. 

    I am using AoA's lighting, but these are just tests.  I had some really good luck with the Subsurface Toolbox.  I also found that if I added a color to the diffuse, it would calm down the shiny look in addition to the specular adjustments.

    The additional texture was less a mystery than the first one, but I like the results:

    Blind Demon SubTer 08 Final.jpg
    600 x 900 - 146K
    Post edited by dracorn on
  • dracorndracorn Posts: 2,303
    edited September 2016

    Oops, double posted.

    Post edited by dracorn on
  • Just copying and pasting a tip that Will posted over on a discussion I started about pwToon. Heres the link. http://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/113521/instructions-for-pw-toon/p1

    "Ah, time for Unca Will's tips! Wrinkles and internal details, if that's what you mean, are driven heavily by a combination of Outline Width and Bump/Displacement. Increasing Outline Width will thicken lines and make more details come out, but you then increase how much glancing surfaces will 'bleed' together into solid black.

    The best method, IMO, is to get outline width up to a point where it looks good without big blocks of black, and then fine-tune Bump and/or Displacement. I've found different items might have to be tweaked differently until you get either a consistent look or an inconcistent look you like".

    Will, have you ever considered compiling your K,nowledge into .pdf format? You might even be able to do some tutorial work and sell them$$$. Of course, its cool that you like to share what you know. Very appreciated. Its just difficult to poor through all the comments trying to look for information.

    You dig?yesdevil

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Kind of why I started this thread. I'm too disorganized, and frankly selling stuff is a huge amount of work for little gain. (My freebie shaders have so far netted almost nothing, get a big void of even response about selling stuff, so enh)

     

  • Hmmm, yah I got you. Just a thought though.

    It would still  be really cool if I had a document I could reference.

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Oh, tip with AoA lights (and probably most 3DL lights) -- I recommend 200-400% 'shadow softness' for nice, soft lighting, or even lighting outside. You still get pretty good shadows, but the softness helps very roughly capture the scattering that light often has in most scenes.

    Once you get a good light saturation, you can then sort of shift it between direct/spot and ambient. Sometimes I want very little direct light and a lot of ambient, but sometimes I want really dark shadows and bright lighting.

    Oh, also, if you get weird bright lines and other weirdness with a distant or spot light, check Shadow Bias. It defaults to 1 cm, but if you are seeing odd things, try .1. (This basically is how 'accurate' light is around objects with shadows)

     

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    UberAreaLight AKA Meshlights

    'Will, I'd love to use 3DL, but Iray emissive surfaces are just too cool to do without.'

    Ah ha, 3DL totally has that! And it's included (at least after 4.somethingmumble, but definitely 4.8 on) for free.

    It's called !UberAreaLight, and easiest way to find it is just do a search in Content Library. (I sometimes just search for uberarea or arealight or just area)

    There are some preset shapes, but !UberAreaLight Base can be applied to any surface of any object, and it becomes a light emitter.

    Keep in mind that, like Iray emission, the complexity of the surface will increase the time to render, because the engine has to calculate each polygon as a separate lightsource. Also keep in mind that, in 3DL, much of the time you'd be better served by making, say, a candle flame ambient (so it stays bright even in shadow), Cast Shadows: Off, and put a regular point light where the tip of the flame is. You should generally start with that unless you REALLY need some weird, soft, localized lighting.

    Parameters:

    Intensity. Duh. How bright the light is. Note that this is a simple %ile. Also, from experience, I've often found strong lighting needs to be set at 800% or higher. Heck, for fireplaces, I've sometimes ramped it up to 3200%.

    Color. Also duh. This takes an image map, which can be a good way to handle surfaces with varied light levels, like a fire.

    Opacity can also be helpful to define flames or other varied things.

    Note that, unlike Iray, the surface doesn't change in appearance based on light. You can have a black sphere that emits blue light that's only obvious on the objects around it. Which is neat... but if you want the sphere to actually look bright, use Ambient. You might want to set Ambient above 100%.

    Samples. This is an import quality -- it defines how many light samples are taken per IHaveNoIdea. But if the result looks very speckly, you probably want to increase samples. 64 or 128 aren't unreasonable values.

    Falloff. This governs whether the light acts realistically or not. If you are setting up, say, a skydome to emit light, you might leave this off. Falloff Start and End define the range at which light ramps down. There are probably good reasons to set various values, but I generally leave Start at 0 and fiddle with End until it looks right. Leave decay alone (I think '2' default means 'square', which is realistic.)

     

    And... there you go.

     

    Here's an example. The candles and fire in the fireplace use UberAreaLight. It took about an hour and 20 minutes to render at double size.

    http://willbear.deviantart.com/art/Scriptorium-3DL-2-635058741

    (I like to render at double size then halve the size, so it's a higher quality image)

     

     

  • dracorndracorn Posts: 2,303
    Dude!!! You totally rock!

    I've been looking for a way to emit light in 3DL. I'm definitely going to save your instructions.

    Interest in to note that I rarely go over 100% for lighting, because I use a combination of AoA's Distant and Ambient lights as my base lighting, and have to tone them down to avoid over saturation. I'll play around with your settings to see what I can get.

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    I normally use AoA Distant + AoA ambient for base lighting, though I usually add it up to 125%. Comfort thing. ;)

     

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Now that I'm keeping all my tips in one place, maybe I'll get around to making summaries for people to more easily keep track. Mmm.

    PWToon tip:

    I've finally figured out how to simply and reliably handle things like hair, maille, and similar -- simply shut off interior lines. Before I had been fixated on trying to adjust outline width, but... no, easy peasy. Just turn off interior line for anything that's too 'busy' or has an existing pattern that's getting too filled in.

    I've found this helps enormously for hair, chain armors, ferns, moss, and similar.

     

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Revisiting this... another tip for 3DL emitting light which I totally missed (DUH) is UE2! I had assumed it was only/mainly for bounce light. Nooo.

    Use UE2 with Indirect lighting, and everything ambient becomes an emitter. Whoa.

    Now, mind you, when you ramp up the samples enough to look good, you are rendering a lot like Iray in CPU mode, and it can be just as slow (because as samples go up you are essentially recreating PBR system). Pay attention to max path in render settings, and if you are rendering interiors consider Scripted 3DL with Point Occlusion (which basically speeds up a lot of calculations by looking at the geometry).

    Now, if you can't run Iray off GPU and you really want to make use of 3DL shaders and whatnot (grass, ghosts, etc), then this is a great option.

     

    As for Iray, one tip I have is, when using an elaborate environment, go through and viciously cull all unnecessary textures. Seriously, most of them can be replaced with simple colors, or use one noise pattern over and over to provide visual roughness, or similar. The realistic look of Iray can carry a lot, and you are much better off using really good surface textures that have few/no maps. This will run way faster.

     

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    I mean, I'm going through a living quarters right now and there are multiple textures on EVERYTHING, and in almost every case they are unnecessary.

     

  • dracorndracorn Posts: 2,303

    Revisiting this... another tip for 3DL emitting light which I totally missed (DUH) is UE2! I had assumed it was only/mainly for bounce light. Nooo.

    Use UE2 with Indirect lighting, and everything ambient becomes an emitter. Whoa.

    Now, mind you, when you ramp up the samples enough to look good, you are rendering a lot like Iray in CPU mode, and it can be just as slow (because as samples go up you are essentially recreating PBR system). Pay attention to max path in render settings, and if you are rendering interiors consider Scripted 3DL with Point Occlusion (which basically speeds up a lot of calculations by looking at the geometry).

    Now, if you can't run Iray off GPU and you really want to make use of 3DL shaders and whatnot (grass, ghosts, etc), then this is a great option.

     

    As for Iray, one tip I have is, when using an elaborate environment, go through and viciously cull all unnecessary textures. Seriously, most of them can be replaced with simple colors, or use one noise pattern over and over to provide visual roughness, or similar. The realistic look of Iray can carry a lot, and you are much better off using really good surface textures that have few/no maps. This will run way faster.

     

    Wow.  I have to try that.  Thanks Will, this sounds like a really cool option.

    I saw Marshian's Body of Light - great effects... but for Iray (bummer).  I am also a G2 fan and most of those effects are G3.  I'll have to use your UE2 emitter trick, plus I also have Black Lights and Wire Frame Shaders for 3DL.  I really like that glow from within effect... that looks really cool. 

    I've got some notes for mesh lights for 3DL (probably from you).  So without manually parenting a whole bunch of point lights on the figure, is there a way to create a mesh light (like a torus) and have it emit light without the torus itself being visible?

  • dracorndracorn Posts: 2,303

    I just picked up AoA's Rock Shader - do you think that will work well with Taradome in 3DL?

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Absolutely. I've done it. It's great. :)

    If you look in my freebies, I have a 3DL 'snowcaps' shader that, with geometry shells, let's you create additional layers of shaders. Note that with a rock shader you have to be careful or the bottom layer will poke up through your geometry shell, and also you may run into issues with geometry load -- 3DL can groan with too much geometry.

    Another approach you can do with TD3 is combine with grass shader (if you have it). Again, make a geometry shell, but this time lower it and reduce Y scale a little. That way, you have a geometry that's flattened a little bit, and the grass will poke through most toward the bottom, then shorten and 'disappear' at higher elevations.

     

  • pdspds Posts: 569

    I mean, I'm going through a living quarters right now and there are multiple textures on EVERYTHING, and in almost every case they are unnecessary.

     

     

    I mean, I'm going through a living quarters right now and there are multiple textures on EVERYTHING, and in almost every case they are unnecessary.

     

    Hey Will, I think it would be quite interesting to see how much your render time decreased in this case. Every situation is different, but some rough approximations would be handy, particularly given the trade off in time spent swapping/deleting textures. For your above scene, are you batch swapping/deleting textures or are you handling each surface one at a time?

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    I've been going object group by object group, mainly because I've been concerned that I might accidentally delete textures I actually want.

    As it turns out, I should have saved myself time and just selected everything and deleted all base color, glossy color, and normal maps. None of them added much to the scene, at least how I have things arranged.

    Once I get things sorted out, I'll let you know.

  • pdspds Posts: 569

    I've been going object group by object group, mainly because I've been concerned that I might accidentally delete textures I actually want.

    As it turns out, I should have saved myself time and just selected everything and deleted all base color, glossy color, and normal maps. None of them added much to the scene, at least how I have things arranged.

    Once I get things sorted out, I'll let you know.

    Once you remove all those maps, what's left, just the diffuse color?

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Diffuse color, translucence, specular aspects. I'm rendering using a scifi living quarters, so a bit of sterile/homogeneity is to be expected. I've tossed in textures for very specific things, and some of the glowy holo displays do make use of cutouts.

    If I needed some random grunge/dust/etc I'd probably use my procedural stuff. Also, I have a human figure with NGS Anagenessis applied, which makes use of a noise map that I could then use on surfaces if I needed to rough them a little.

    Also thankfully, this environment has seperate surfaces for most things rather than maps to break stuff up.

     

    I've often run into this problem with Tomalin's architectures, which often make use of LOADS of surface maps. But, then, you have the issue of large sweeps of stonework with intricate details and variation. I have some hazy notions how one might get around that.

    Hmm. Really wish I could figure out how to do Stonemason's grunge corners effect in Iray, because that would help a LOT.

     

    Anyway, preliminary tests suggest that by carefully pruning a bunch of stuff, it's now running 50% faster. Also, the OTHER nice aspect to avoiding maps wherever possible is that you don't hit issues like 'oh poo, this looks terribly pixelated this close to the camera. But it's built in. Argh.'

     

  • dracorn said:

    I just picked up AoA's Rock Shader - do you think that will work well with Taradome in 3DL?

    I like this set but they make it really hard to get the darn thing installed.  The grass/rock bundle which I bought that includes everything will install through Connect.  But it won't install the actual shaders.  Those you still have to install through the separate packages through DIM!  There aren't any Connect files.  It took me forever to figure out how to get the things installed so I could use them.  Connect makes the appropriate folders for them but just doesn't install the shaders in the Connect Library just all of the props and sets so when you load them up DS gives out errors that it can't find shaders and all of the rocks and grass are completely devoid of any textures.  The shaders themselves need to be installed in the Public My DAZ Library.  It's very frustrating.

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Things like rock shader and grass shader are some of my favorite things about 3DL -- weird procedural stuff that Iray doesn't (generally) have... although I've been debating expanding my procedural stuff into displacement.

     

  • Oso3DOso3D Posts: 14,376

    Another tip/technique:

    For eyebrows, if you have Skin Builder (I LOVE Skin Builder), it includes an eyebrow designer.

    But I suggest using it in a different way!

    Create a geoshell on your figure. Go into Visibility and shut off everything except face. Apply your favorite hair shader to the geoshell face (something that doesn't use maps, or just make something appropriate)

    Select Browse for Opacity/Cutout Opacity map

    Go to WhereverYourDazIs\Publicuser Public Documents\My DAZ 3D Library\Runtime\Textures\DSZV\SkinBuilder\Brows

    Select one of the Bump maps (black and white) with something you like.

    There. You have eyebrows of your choice, and can easily switch designs.

    It will also help putting the same map into Bump.

    (With Iray, I like to convert the map into a Normal map with Photoshop, but you might not need to, particularly if you are using 3DL)

    You may want to adjust Offset to move the eyebrows closer to skin surface, depending. Also, if your skin has a lot of displacement (most don't), there's the possibility of the skin poking through the geoshell if it gets too close.

     

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