Blog Labels

Ongoing (22) Freebie (15) Shields (12) Scripts (7) Ideas (6) SneakPeek (6) Architecture (5) WorldBall (5) Tattoo (4) PictureTime (3) Armour (2) Shader (2) HDRI (1) Hats (1) Poser (1) Sources (1) moan (1) website (1)

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Freebies - Poser Shader For S.E.Asian Shields (Final? Version)

Now available for download from ShareCG or Renderosity Freestuff

Please note: this shader is for Poser ONLY (tested in Poser 6, 8 and 9) and will NOT work in DAZ Studio. I will be doing a DAZ Studio version in the near future.

For more info and screenshots of the shader network see the ShareCG page.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Sources - Where That Whole Shield Thing Started

For anybody who's interested (and to keep my source material in one easily accessible place), these are the photos that started me on this S.E. Asian shield project - nice big, clear images that gave me a great start (composite below)...

They came from a thread somewhere on the VikingSword forum (I'll post the direct link when I track it down - till then I hope it's okay reposting the images here?).

There were also photos of a few other shields (composite below)...

Those images weren't so good (and I had to make up the centre part of the design on the narrow shield).

I started to find a few other images by Googling 'thai shield', 'asian shield', but they were much smaller. Here's the source for the second set of textures:

And the third:

...although halfway through I discovered a much better photo of the rectangular shield...
And the fourth (a much simpler trio!):
And the fifth:

You can now make an informed judgement on how good/bad my attempts at recreating these were.

(All images in this post are 90% quality JPGs exported from GIMP after compositing the original images. Image sizes are as per the originals)

If anybody objects to my posting these images here on copyright grounds please contact me and I'll remove them.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Freebie - Final Batch Of S.E. Asian Shield Textures Released

I've just released the fifth design for each of the three shields. Now available for download as a freebie at ShareCG and Renderosity Freestuff.

One new design for each of the three shields - 'new' and 'worn' versions of each design (Poser/DAZ Studio materials). Includes a greyscale mask for each of the three designs (for use with the previously released shield shader)

Check the image at the bottom of the next post to see the source photos I worked from...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ongoing - Old Water Jar / New Late Empire Roman Shield

Something Old: A Water Jar - Just rediscovered one of the first models I made, an Asian water jar with wooden lid and coconut scoop. It wasn't UV mapped so I started playing with some Poser procedural textures. I was having fun with that, and decided to incorporate them into a little scene - Behemoth preparing to play a little joke on F202 Dollie. Here's a small version (full size cropped version at DeviantArt, DAZ3D and Renderosity)...

Something New: A Late Empire Roman Shield - My first version of a Later Empire Roman shield is modeled - size and shape based on another one of the Duras Europos shields. The metal edging may not be historically inaccurate (rawhide edging was apparently more common - metal was more usual in earlier periods), but I just felt like trying to model it! The blazon design is a simple Chi Ro, based on a picture I vaguely recollect(?) from when I was a kid (so probably historically inaccurate too!). Poser 6 renders (3 separate ones overlaid) below - I'm very pleased with this so far! (But I just realised that in my whole runtime I've got nothing that even approximates to a Roman legionary's clothing...)

These shields were apparently covered with linen or leather and then painted, so I used my simple DMS again (I far prefer the 'worn' look): the 'chi ro' image (red on pale yellow - sort of old paint) is the upper layer, and a linen (just a 'Weave' 3D texture node into the bump channel) is the lower layer; the wear mask is the usual one (the result looks good at some sizes, but is prone to moiré patterns at others). The metal bits are a very simple metal shader I'm playing with (colours, a bit of noise for bump, and a smidgen of reflection).

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Ongoing - Reinstalling My Runtime / Status Of Freebie Projects

I've been spending a lot of time over the past week (and weeks to come, no doubt!) simply reinstalling my whole runtime - a monotonous, mind-numbing process! The default installation subfolder structure in each Poser library (i.e. Pose, Props, etc) was too confusing and inconsistent - I simply couldn't find stuff I knew that I had! So I'm taking this opportunity to rework the subfolder structure, and I now have a logical (to me) and consistent subfolder structure. I'm having much more success finding stuff now! But I'm still only half-way through the reinstall...

(I'm really glad I rezipped the runtime for each DAZ item I bought [well, my alter-ego did the actual buying] individually - it's simply a case of extracting from the zip, i.e. one drag-and-drop. I really hated those DAZ installers - if I had to rerun them all I'd go mad!)
For anybody who's wondering how my freebies are coming along (and as a reminder to myself!) here's a quick status update on the projects I'm actively working on (no particular order):
1) S.E.Asian Shield Designs: Waiting to scan my drawing of the fifth design for the narrow shield. Then I can do the mask/texture images, create the MC6, PZ2 and DSA material, and release.
2) S.E. Asian Shield UV Swapping: (only between the rectangular/narrow shields) Thanks to feedback on the Renderosity forums I've got this working with 'alternateGeom' in the PP2 and an OBJ with an alternate UV map. Works from a parameter dial in Poser 6. In DS3 it works from the UV_Mapping group on the parameters tab, but with the alternate UV mapping selected everything on the Surfaces tab is set to default, i.e. plain grey. Still need to sort that out. Hoping to release this with the textures mentioned above in (1).
3) Displacement/Bump Sarong: Principal proven, it basically works. I plan to do versions for M3, F3 (for my 'Yak' character) and V3 (along with a similar style top) for my basic S.E. Asian characters. The idea is to use my Dual Material Shader (DMS) and do a script (PoserPython and DAZ Script versions of course) so that they can be used with any M3/F3/V3 skin texture. (I'm not quite up to creating my own skin textures yet...)
4) Dummy Hand and GotoDummyHand Script: Principal proven. Working out some x/y/zTranslate/Rotate values to put specific props in the dummy hand to try and come up with some generic values to use in a script (realised of course that the script will be able to tell if the props translations/rotations are zeroed, and can inform the user).
5) Roman Scutum (Early Empire): Looking good! Using bevel and subdivision in Blender works nicely. I think the edging and boss rivets will probably be a morph, or hide/show geometry. Need to think a bit about 'Smart+' versions, since the shield needs to be rotated +45 in Z for a correct right-hand grip, but -45 in Z for a correct left-hand grip when I use my PropGoto+
Just realised why using SubD on my models in DAZ Studio screws everything up: (a) Some of my models are made from separate, unconnected meshes and they split apart when SubD'd; (b) SubD does NOT interpolate between the existing vertices as I thought (don't know where I got that from!), it MOVES the vertices, so that explains why the shield designs are warped after SubDing! (Realized what was going on when I actually paid attention to what was going on when I applied a SubDivision modifier in Blender!) I think I'll do the subdivision in my model in future, rather than assuming the user can do it.
6) Triple Material Shader (TMS): Poser version more-or-less done - looks good with the S.E.Asian shields. DAZ Studio version to do. I'll probably release the Poser TMS separately first, and release the DAZ Studio version later.
7) Simple Claw Hammer: A very basic model I created for testing my DummyHand idea. Maybe worth tidying up, UV mapping, texturing, turning into a Smart+ prop and releasing? Maybe do a range of simple items to prove the PropGoto+ isn't just for swords and shields?
8) More 'Wear' Patterns: I did a single wear mask for my S.E.Asian Shields, and created a blood-spatter mask (courtesy of a used teabag and a sheet of paper!) to do my 'Yak Grot' picture. I want to try and improve on this. Currently playing with ideas.
9) Sak Yant: Started hand drawing my own versions. It's going to take some time! These are intended to be part of my basic S.E.Asian character set in (3).
10) More Shields: There are a nice range of single-handed historical shields, so I plan on doing several different types:
Roman Shields: Both Early Empire (semi-cylindrical rectangular and oval, based on Duras Europos and Kasr el-Harit (Fayum) originals) and Later Empire (flat oval, based on Duras Europos originals).
Celtic Shields:
African parrying sticks:
Egyptian shields: found some nice ones on a LARP forum, need to find the original sources (and check they didn't have an forearm strap!
11) Tiling Textures: I haven't forgotten these - just got side-tracked! I was trying to make a worn goldleaf-on-stone texture for a tiling naga-scale freebie (not yet released). That texturing problem became my DAZ Studio SDMS beta freebie, and developed into my Dual/Triple Material Shaders (DMS/TMS) project. And that brought my S.E.Asian Shields project back off the shelf!
12) Shields with a handgrip and forearm strap: These are more of a problem, simply because I need to make the forearm strap fit my list of 28 figures. But once I get the first one done...
13) PropGoto+ and Smart+ prop improvements: I mentioned 28 figures, but I now have Poser 8 and Poser 9, plus Miki 4 and GND Tyler, so there's a few more to add! Also Behemoth 2010's hands are in a slightly different position.
Also been thinking for a long time that it would make more sense to have the data for the supported figures array, the handgrip pose array, and the prop translate/rotate array in an external file. Need to read up on file parsing in PoserPython and DAZ Script...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Ongoing - Status Of Shields Projects

Got that latest design for the narrow S.E.Asian shield completed on paper - now I need to wait till I can get to a scanner to get it from pen-and-ink to ones-and-zeroes.

In the meantime I've decided to do some other one-handed shields to work with my PropGoto+ script, so I can make Smart+ props for them too. Roman shields, Viking shields, African parrying shields, and Medieval bucklers. Here's my first stab at an early Empire era Roman legionaries shield, based on the Dura Europos - i.e. c.106x86cm, curved to a 66cm chord, 5-6mm thick (source info from , wikipedia , , and ), although I've made the umbo (boss) an elongated hexagon as opposed to a square - don't know why I did that?

Very basic model at present - 412 vertices, 412 faces. Boss needs to be more rounded (only 8 vertices round its circumference - you can see from the handgrip), shield corners need rounding, all edges need beveling, etc. Here's Jimmy doing the old "Hail Caesar!" with it...

Not sure whether to model the rawhide edging and the the rivets on the boss, or to leave that to bump/displacement in the texturing.

P.S. Image Upload Problem: Seems to be a FF issue (clearing cache/cookies, Ctrl-F5, disabling addons/plugins, restarting browser and logging in again doesn't help), since it worked fine from IE.

Note for future - For Republican shields check the Kasr el-Harit shield, e.g. at - 120x64cm, so taller and narrower.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ideas - Upgrade To My PropGoto+ (Part 2)

Continuing from an earlier post, it turns out that a simple solution is a 'DummyHand' prop:

Simply rotate and translate 'any old prop' till it's held correctly in the dummy hand, and then parent the prop to the dummy hand. You can now use the 'PropGoto+' on the dummy hand (not the 'any old prop' itself) and your prop will go with it.

Since the dummy hand is designed to work with the 'PropGoto+' script (i.e. size, orientation, origin, x/y/zOffsetA/B set appropriately) your 'any old prop' should now be more-or-less correctly gripped by whichever of the 28 supported figures you used (the dummy hand would need to be made invisble before rendering - I'm making it bright green so it stands out.)

I sort-of glossed over that "...Simply rotate and translate 'any old prop'..." bit - it isn't too difficult once you get the hang of the rotation order. But why not try to simplify that too?

First step -  I loaded up several props from my runtime and set all the orientation and translation values to zero to find out where they would appear. Needless to say their zeroed positions are all different - here's a few with a ghostly M4:

But that's not too bad actually. There seem to be four basic defaults (there's sure to be more, but it's a good start):
1) Vertically, positioned above the origin with one end at the origin. This seems the most popular (the greatsword is actually at 90° to the others, blade facing front-back, not left-right)
2) In a particular figure's right/left hand (e.g. the mace would fit M4's right hand, the scimitar would fit a G2 male's right hand). This seems popular too.
3) Positioned to fit into/onto another prop (e.g. the knife near Mike's right hip would fit a sheath on a G2 male's armoured hip).
4) Similar to (1), but offset from the origin.

Looking at the picture I can quite easily set the x/y/z/ rotations and translations manually to fit in the dummy hand. Doing it via a script needs some thought.

I think the keywill be to let the user specify how the prop is oriented, and then apply preset x/y/z/ rotations and translations in accordance with this. For these vertical props (criteria 1 and 4) rotations are easy:

Props with the same initial 'alignment' use the same rotation values:
- Handle at the bottom (wand and staff): x=0°, y=90°, z=0°
- Handle at top, blade left-right (two shorter swords): x= -90°, y= -90°, z=0°
- Handle at top, blade front-back (greatsword): x= -90°, y=0°, z=0°

They all need to move down now - I think the Y-value of the 'origin' in the PP2 will tell me how far.

But I can't think of a way to determine how far backward-forward along the Z-axis  they need to move - that depends on the length of the prop and which end is supposed to be gripped, which I don't think a script can determine. I think we'll have to ask for some user interaction - here's a tentative set of three questions the script can ask (for a  prop that meets criterion 1):

a) If somebody grabbed the prop with their right hand, which way would the hand be pointing? Right/Forward
b) How tall is the prop compared to a standard human? Knee-high/Waist-high/Head-high
c) Where should the hand grip it? Top/Middle/Bottom

All very tentative at this stage, and criteria 2 and 3 are more problematic, but this approach has possibilites...

(Mustn't forget that when a user loads a prop it may not have its rotations/translations set to zero...)


Ongoing - DMS/TMS Multi-Material Shaders

Just been playing with some test renders in Poser 6 and Poser 9 to see how my 'ShieldTMS' (Triple Material Shader) is progressing. Also been using my ongoing 'DMS' (Dual Material Shader) on Mike 3 to give him sak yant and a sarong (as per an earlier post), but added some bump and skin colour as well:

I'm rather pleased - it's beginning to look something like what I was hoping for...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

SneakPeak - More Shields!

I'm beginning to run out of steam on these - I've used up most of my source material, and my eyes are going wonky from all the effort!

Anyway, here's a sneak peak at the next design for each shield - round and rectangular one are more-or-less done...

...but the narrow one's stretching my limited artistic abilities!

(I might need some time out before releasing these three)


P.S. I said I'd used up most of my source material, but I've still got a few, mainly round, designs. The problem is that the images (except the middle one) aren't much larger than what you see here on this collage...

Ideas - Upgrade To My PropGoto+

Firstly a bit of background...

Q: What's the problem with a smartprop?
A: A smartprop only works with the figure it was created for, and you have to then go and find the hand pose.

As a user I was fed up with props that only had smartprop versions for a single figure, usually V4. So I decided that every hand-held prop I made would automatically work with a wide range of figures. It wasn't as hard as I thought to get the basics working. A few months back I wrote a small script (both PoserPython and DAZ Script versions) to let me put my first handheld prop (my simple dha, a S.E.Asian sword) into any* figure's left or right, parenting the prop to the correct hand, and applying an appropriate 'Dha Grip' hand pose. I also created individual hand poses for each figure - some were good, most were okayish, a few were bad.

I sneaked this little script out as part of my 'South East Asian Duel' freebie - in both 'Smart+' prop (for loading a new prop into the scene straight into the figure's hand) and 'PropGoto+' (for moving a prop that's already in the scene) variants.

My 'South East Asian Shields' were designed so that when the props are loaded into Poser/DAZ Studio the handgrip is the same size, position, and orientation as the handgrip of the original dha prop, i.e. a cylinder about 1" diameter by 4-6" length, oriented as below (screenshot from Blender, so axes are not like Poser/DS):

(N.B. The 'x/y/zOffsetA/B' and 'origin' values in the PP2 file must also  be set to zero so that all rotations are truly around the origin).

It works beautifully - using the 'Smart+ Shield' props (or the old 'PropGoto+') they load into the hands of any of those 28 figures and the figures hand closes around them beautifully.

So why not expand this idea for use with other props? That's one of the things I'm working on. The problem is that most props don't load into the position I've chosen, and the PP2s of most props have non-zero 'x/y/zOffsetA/B' and 'origin' values.

The answer turns out to be incredibly simple... be continued!

*Well, any of the 28 figures I had at the time...

- DAZ Gen 3: Aiko 3, David, Hiro 3, Laura 3, Luke 3, Michael 3, Stephanie Petite 3, The FREAK, The Girl, Victoria 3.
- DAZ Gen 4: Michael 4, Victoria 4 (should work with all variants, e.g. Aiko 4, etc)
- DAZ Gen 5: Genesis (base figure),
- Poser 5: P5 Don, P5 Judy.
- Poser 6: P6 James, P6 Jessi, Miki 2.
- Poser 7: G2 James, G2 Jessi.
- Sixus 1:  Behemoth, PH Female, PH Male.
- Others: Antonia, Apollo, F202 Dollie, Kirwyn's K, MayaDoll.

Ideas - Swapping Rectangular/Narrow Shield Designs

It's really simple to use an alternate UV set in DAZ Studio 3. Surfaces tab, '>' (top-right), 'Load UV Set...', and select the OBJ that has the alternate UV set. Then find the 'UV Map' group on the Surfaces tab and select the one you just loaded.

Of course you have to have the OBJ files with the alternate UV maps to do this. That was easy to create. So here's the first designs for the narrow/rectangular shields UV swapped:

I'm now trying to remember how to put the alternate UV mapping into the Poser files... cue question on the Renderosity Poser forum.

(P.S. inspiration for this came from a render by luckybears at Renderosity)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

PictureTime - My Year-Old Attempt At A Phi Krasue

Here's a couple of renders my alter-ego was working on for a Halloween 2011 competition, but never finished - a 'Phi Krasue' (ผีกระสือ in Thai, a malevolent female spirit from South East Asia. In appearance a woman's head floating in the air, with internal organs trailing from the neck...)

This first render was when I'd got the composition and lighting about right, although the Phi Krasue herself doesn't look right - too European, and too grey (although I love the blank expression looking straight out at you...

I then started playing with ideas for the Phi Krasue herself, and the next picture is the Krasue I liked best...

Unfortunately I never got round to putting the two together. Simply putting the second Krasue into the first scene just doesn't look right - as you can see from this simple cut-and-paste and minimal edit...

My artistic skills hit a brick wall at that point, and I put the picture to one side.

Freebie - Six New Textures For S.E.Asian Shields Now Released

Those six new shield designs are now released as freebies on ShareCG here...

(not yet uploaded to Renderosity due to site problems...)

Monday, 19 November 2012

SneakPeek - The Next Six Shield Textures

Not quite done yet (I missed bits when I was copying the designs from my source material), but here's an idea of what the worn textures would currently look like:

I also noticed that the studs were missing from some of the earlier mask/texture images - I've got fixed versions of those now.

I've also got updated versions of the Poser DMS(Basic), TMS(Basic) and ShieldTMS(Basic) shaders to match the DAZ Studio versions (i.e. I've added separate controls for the specular).

When I release the six new textures I'll include these fixes/updates.

Ideas - Using 'DMS(Basic)' For Tattoos, Etc

I've been playing around a bit with the generic 'DMS(Basic)' shader I included with those latest shield textures - I was quite pleased with how flexible they are! My 'Yak Grot' (Angry Giant) render, uploaded to DeviantArt, Renderosity and ShareCG, used them to add blood-spatter to the giant's skin.

So why not tattoos? Here's a quick test of M3 with some Sak Yant (Thai Buddhist tattoos) - again applied using the 'DMS(Basic)' shader.

That seems to work nicely too (at least in DAZ Studio 3 - still need to check Poser), so I'll definitely be doing some Sak Yant tattoo freebies in the near future. I'll create the basic tattoos from scratch to practice my drawing (the ones used for the render above were just grabbed from the internet to test the basic idea, so I won't simply use them - copyright and all that!).

By the way, I also did the sarong (gathered at the back, pulled between the legs, and tucked into the waist at the front) using the DMS(Basic) shader - just trying out an idea. It's not brilliant, but proves that the concept might work. The sarong's basically a flat colour, but I used a bump/displacement map. I think it needs some displacement, but not too much or the leg movements make it look really odd. I think just enough displacement to give a visual cue in silhouette will do, with bump doing the rest.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Freebie - First Batch Of Extra Textures For S.E.Asian Shields

First batch of extra textures for my S.E.Asian Shields uploaded to ShareCG and Renderosity. More details on the ShareCG Textures And Shaders For South East Asian Shields page.

I've included very basic Poser and DAZ Studio shaders that allow you to easily change the colours, design, and 'wear' pattern.

I've got more designs on the way (as already mentioned).

I also hope to combine what I learnt from creating my SDMS beta (a DAZ Studio 'Simple Dual Material Shader') with plans I have for these shield textures. The result of that should be a more complete Triple Material Shader for these shields.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

SneakPeek - A Few Additional Shield Designs

About a week ago I released my 'South East Asian Shields' freebie for Poser and DAZ Studio. I've been working on some extra designs for the shields, and they should be ready in the next few days.

In the meantime here are a couple of the sketches that form the basis of the shield designs. They're all based on photos I've found on the internet or taken myself.

Time To Start A Blog

A couple of days ago I created an account on DeviantArt, but I've already started using it more as a blog than for uploading 'art'. What I really need is a blog!

Et voilà! Here I am!