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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, 27 November 2013

Scripts - Simplifying The 'Create Your Own Backgrounds And Light Probes' Procedure


For anybody who's tried my 'Make Your Own Environment Maps And Light Probes' procedure' you'll be pleased to know that I've done a couple of Windows scripts to automate the most tedious bits. I've only tried them on Windows 7 so far (I'm afraid that if you use a MAC I can't help as I don't have access to one). They're not perfect yet, but they do work for me. So if you're already familiar with scripts and batch files, and the two below make sense to you, then feel free to use/modify them. But do so at your own risk! (Edit: Passing the render size as a parameter to the batch file was a bad idea! I accidentally used a non-numeric parameterseriously needs some better checking!

First, a Terragen Classic script to create the six cubemap images. Simply cut and paste the following and save it as 'makeCubemap.tgs'

initanim "C:\temp\n", 1
Zoom 1.0
CamOri 0,0,0
initanim "C:\temp\s", 2
CamOri 180,0,0
initanim "C:\temp\e", 3
CamOri 90,0,0
initanim "C:\temp\w", 4
CamOri 270,0,0
initanim "C:\temp\u", 5
CamOri 0,90,0
initanim "C:\temp\d", 6
CamOri 0,-90,0

Once you've got everything set up in Terragen Classic Terragen Classic simply run this script (from the main menu bar 'Terragen > Execute Script' and select the file). It'll create six files - n0001.bmp, s0002.bmp, e0003.bmp, w0004.bmp, u0005.bmp and d0006.bmp in c:\temp\ - that's north, south, east, west, up and down. Check for full (but very brief!) details of the Terragen Script commands.

Second, a Windows batch file incorporating ImageMagick commands to convert these six cubemap images into a vertical cross, and to extend the faces slightly into the unused areas. (I found that just extending by a single pixel was sufficient to avoid spurious lines appearing at the HDRShop panoramic transformation stage). Simply cut-and-paste the text below and save it as 'makeVC.bat'
You need ImageMagick installed on your system obviously for this to work.


:: ImageMagick script to make a vertical cross image

:: Input: Six square cubemap images n, s, e, w, u, d (BMP)
:: Output: A vertical cross image (VCedged.png) with its edges extended by one pixel into the blank areas.
::       Up
:: West North East
::      Down
::      South
:: A 1 pixel column from the left and right of the Up, Down, and South faces is extended into the adjacent unused space.
:: A 1 pixel row from the top and bottom of the West and East faces is extended into the adjacent unused space
:: (This should be sufficient to prevent lines appearing along these edges when doing a panoramic transformation in HDRShop)

echo off

:: (Original passing render size as a parameter removed)

:: Ensure variables are local to this batch file

:: Set render size and dependent numeric parameters
set /a renderSize = 960

:: width/height of the resultant image are for info only (echoed to screen) and are not actually used.
set /a vcWidth = 3 * renderSize
set /a vcHeight = 4 * renderSize
echo Cubemap source images are %renderSize%x%renderSize% pixels, vertical cross will be %vcWidth%x%vcHeight%.

:: Position and offset values for adding the edge rows/colums
set /a rs1 = renderSize
set /a rs1m1 = rs1 - 1
set /a rs2 = renderSize * 2
set /a rs2p1 = rs2 + 1
set /a rs2m1 = rs2 - 1

:: Filenames
set srcImg=~VC.png
set dstImg=VCedged.bmp

:: Create a black square image for use in the 'montage' command for the unused areas of the vertical cross image
convert X.png -resize %renderSize%x%renderSize%! ~Y.png

:: Combine the six cubemap images (north, south, east, west, up and down) into a vertical cross image
echo Rotating the 'South' image through 180 degrees...
convert "s0002.bmp" -rotate "180" ~sRot180.bmp
echo Combining the six images into a single vertical cross image...
montage ~Y.png "u0005.bmp" ~Y.png "w0004.bmp" "n0001.bmp" "e0003.bmp" ~Y.png "d0006.bmp" ~Y.png ~Y.png ~sRot180.bmp ~Y.png -mode Concatenate -tile 3x4 "%srcImg%"

:: Extend the edges into the blank areas to prevent edge lines on lat/long and angular mapped transformations - call 'AddEdges' subroutine
echo Extending the edges of the vertical cross into the blank areas of the image...

:: left edge of 'Up' face
echo ...left edge of 'Up' face
convert "%srcImg%" -crop 1x%rs1%+%rs1%+0 "~edge.png"
composite -geometry +%rs1m1%+0 ~edge.png %srcImg% ~vcEdged.png

:: right edge of 'Up' face
echo ...right edge of 'Up' face
convert %srcImg% +repage -crop 1x%rs1%+%rs2m1%+0 ~edge.png
composite -geometry +%rs2%+0 ~edge.png ~vcEdged.png ~vcEdged.png

:: left edge of 'Down' and 'South' faces
echo ...left edge of 'Down' and 'South' faces
convert %srcImg% +repage -crop 1x%rs2%+%rs1%+%rs2% ~edge.png
composite -geometry +%rs1m1%+%rs2% ~edge.png ~vcEdged.png ~vcEdged.png

:: right edge of 'Down' and 'South' faces
echo ...right edge of 'Down' and 'South' faces
convert %srcImg% +repage -crop 1x%rs2%+%rs2m1%+%rs2% ~edge.png
composite -geometry +%rs2%+%rs2% ~edge.png ~vcEdged.png ~vcEdged.png

:: top edge of 'West' face
echo edge of 'West' face
convert %srcImg% +repage -crop %rs1%x1+0+%rs1% ~edge.png
convert ~edge.png -resize %rs1m1%x1! ~edge.png
composite -geometry +0+%rs1m1% ~edge.png ~vcEdged.png ~vcEdged.png

:: top edge of 'East' face
echo edge of 'East' face
convert %srcImg% +repage -crop %rs1%x1+%rs2%+%rs1% ~edge.png
convert ~edge.png -resize %rs1m1%x1! ~edge.png
composite -geometry +%rs2p1%+%rs1m1% ~edge.png ~vcEdged.png ~vcEdged.png

:: bottom edge of 'West' face
echo ...bottom edge of 'West' face
convert %srcImg% +repage -crop %rs1%x1+0+%rs2m1% ~edge.png
convert ~edge.png -resize %rs1m1%x1! ~edge.png
composite -geometry +0+%rs2% ~edge.png ~vcEdged.png ~vcEdged.png

:: bottom edge of 'East' face
echo ...bottom edge of 'East' face
convert %srcImg% +repage -crop %rs1%x1+%rs2%+%rs2m1% ~edge.png
convert ~edge.png -resize %rs1m1%x1! ~edge.png
composite -geometry +%rs2p1%+%rs2% ~edge.png ~vcEdged.png %dstImg%

echo All done. The edged vertical cross cubemap has been created - "%dstImg%"


:: Restore the environment variables

You need seven input files - the six cubemap images created by the previous Terragen script, plus a plain black square PNG image (X.png - any size should be fine).

EDIT: The render size is hard-coded into the batch file now, so provided your renders are 960x960 you just run it. If your renders are a different size you need to edit the 'renderSize' value in the batch file first.

It takes several seconds to run and outputs a few progress messages aon the way. The output file is 'VCedged.bmp'. There will be several temporary intermediate files beginning with a tilde (~) and you'll have to delete these manually.

The resulting 'VCedged.bmp' file is the input to the final HDRShop v1.0 stage of my procedure.

Good luck!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Freebie - Buddhist Armour

Once again I've been busy testing, packaging and uploading and forgot to post here! So basically, just in case you haven't spotted it already, the sak yant tattoo set I've been on about recently has been completed and uploaded.
(However, I ran into problems with the DAZ Script  and layered images so the released version of that is still a BETA, and doesn't support layered images or non-standard materials.)

There were a couple of mistakes and some figures I missed, so I did a second upload:


And I was asked how I go about mapping the tattoos to all the different figures, so I did a short PDF guide:


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Ongoing - Sak Yant - Just Finalizing The DAZ Studio Script..

Thanks to the help on the DAZ3D forums I've now got the basics of my 'Apply Tattoo' script working with standard DAZ Studio layered images - and you don't need the MLIE/LIE ([Multi-]Layered Image Editor) for it to work, although the MLIE/LIE is necessary to change the tattoo colour.

I've been having some problems with my computer over the past few days, but I think that's resolved now. So I'll be tidying up the UI for the DAZ Script 2 script (hopefully no new surprises there...), doing some final testing, and then it'll be ready for release.

I've also mapped the tattoos to a few additional free figures not in my original list - Kirwyn's KEZ (original), KEZ-WM, KOZ-WM (for Poser ONLY [i.e. NOT DAZ Studio compatible] available from English Bob's Morphography),and PollyGon (from Adam Thwaites Most Digital Creations), Dawn (still free from till 31st October). And since there are still some marvellous Posette-based characters around I've mapped them to Poser 4's Posette and Dork. I've also mapped the tattoo set to fit the FREAK 4 and She Freak 4 morphs for M4/V4, since the standard M4/V4 mappings are too deformed on these figures. For genesis you'll be able to use the M4/V4 mappings with any M4/V4 textures, but I've also done a Genesis Base Figure mapped version of the tattoos, and I might even get round to a Genesis Basic Male/Genesis Basic Female/Genesis 2 Base Female mappings. Anyway, here's how a few of these latest mappings look:

Oh yes, I've got the mappings for all the figures in the original list done as well. If I do the extra Genesis ones I'll redo the Behemoth 2010 and Antonia ones.

For a few of the figures the tattoo crosses two or even three material zones, and for some figures these zones map to different images (e.g. the FREAK 4 tattoo crosses torso/neck/arms, and the arms part of the tattoo needs to be on a separate image). So I need to go through all the figures again and check. That should fit in nicely with the final testing that I'll need to do...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Ongoing - Sak Yant - Scripts

I've got my first set of sak yant mapped to most of the figures in my list (plus a few extra figures). The FREAK 4, P5 Judy and Genesis are the exceptions (the first two aren't installed on my system at the moment, and the last doesn't have a separate OBJ file - no problems, but I just haven't got round to them yet).

I'm currently working on PoserPython and DAZ Script 2 scripts to make it easy to apply tattoos using these masks. I'm starting with a simple script that will use a mask image (selected by the user via a dialogue) to apply a tattoo to the currently selected material zone of the currently selected figure (I've decided not to do the figure auto-detection and application to all required material zones straight away, since I need to do a bit more thinking about the Smart+ datafiles first).

The Poser version is very simple, seems to work fine in Poser 6* and 9, and is more-or-less ready, except for some tidying up and testing. It simply inserts a new Blender node at the Diffuse_Color  (and the Alternate_Diffuse if that's being used) inputs of the Poser_Surface and adds an Image_Map node (using a user-select tattoo mask image) to control the blend(s).

The DAZ Studio version is also very simple and works fine in both DS3 and DS4.5 using my ShaderMixer based material - the preview window shows a totally grey material, but renders fine in both using 3Delight, but not apparently in Luxus/LuxRender. I'm working on LIE support in the script to get round this, and it's now looking promising thanks to Richard and Rob over on the DAZ Developer Discussion forum.

*The preview pane in Poser 6 shows the mask image as the texture but renders fine. The Poser 9 preview pane is correct.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Ongoing - Sak Yant (Nine more figures)

It's progressing well. Nine more figures have received the sacred ink in the traditional manner from the arjan at one of my mythical S.E. Asian wats...

Looking good - maybe Antonia's is too low, and Behemoth 2010's is too small? I may rework those two. But I want to get the main DAZ3D and Poser figures' backs inked before doing any rework.

Ongoing - Sak Yant

The sak yant are progressing nicely now. I've got 16 completed now...

...and that's enough to go on to step two - applying the tattoos to a few figures. I'm starting with a fixed set of tattoos on the back - here's the layout:

I'll be applying these to all the figures in my Smart+ prop list. The procedure's quite easy - I simply need to project that image orthogonally onto the figure's back, and then bake the result onto the figures UV map. (I'm using Blender, and this is just to remind me of the main steps: set up a camera/light directly above the origin looking down; import figure's OBJ; rotate so surface to be tattooed is face up at origin; delete all vertices except the area to be tattooed; F5 material, select correct material, add new texture, orco, Flat, XZZ; load tattoo mask and render; adjust XY offset/size till it's correct; open UV view, create image 2048x2048 or bigger to capture detail; F10 bake, bake textures, save; edit in GIMP to trim off extra bits)

This is my resulting tattoo mask for Apollo...

... and here's how the result looks applied to him in DS4...

I think it's looking rather good now!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Ongoing - Sak Yant

For the past few weeks I've been busy working on some Sak Yant (S.E.Asian tattoos) for my next  freebie. The tattoos are based on genuine designs but are my own versions. The text on the tattoos is written in a Khmer Aksar Mul font and is based on my attempts to decipher the Khom characters on my source images. Note: even if I deciphered the characters correctly, the text is most likely meaningless gobbledigook ! So do NOT take these images to your real-world tattooist ! ;o)

Anyway, here's a few examples of the sort of thing I'm working on...

Monday, 2 September 2013

Ongoing - Time To Fix A Couple Of Old Problems That I've Just Been Reminded Of

It wasn't until I chanced upon FarEastAdventure's 'East By Southeast' image on DeviantArt that I spotted a few old issues that I'd almost forgotten.

1) The texture on the dha (S.E.Asian sword) held by the figure on the right is definitely not how it should look. I'd known there was something wrong almost as soon as I'd released it thanks to Dorseyland's post on my DAZ3D Freepozitory thread, but hadn't figured out what. And I'd then forgotten about it.
2) The shield's using the basic texture, not the shield shader (which produces far superior results). I checked the ZIPs I'd uploaded and realised that I hadn't included any 'notes on use' for the DAZ Studio version (there's notes on use for the Poser version in the readme). I also vaguely recall somebody on the DAZ3D forums commenting that the DS shield shader looked too complicated - it would be if I didn't provide any explanation!
3) The chedi's not right (but then again it was a beta, so no real surprises). Three main things:
i) The black ring around it is actually a gap between individual Chedi Building Blocks. I knew that when I released it, but since it was a beta I didn't bother fixing it.
ii) The edges look too sharp and angular. Again, that's something I knew about, but didn't bother with since it was a beta.
iii) The texture looks very flat. I'd completely forgotten that I'd only released the JPG images for the 'Seen Better Days' add-on texture. I'd intended this texture to be used with a good amount of bump, but I'd never done the mat files.

Anyway, I managed to fix (3)(iii) yesterday... you can get the CBB Seen Better Days Poser/DAZ Studio Mat Files from ShareCG, or CBB Seen Better Days Poser/DAZ Studio Mat Files from Renderosity Freestuff.

I'm currently looking at the dha and shield textures.
- I've now got the dha looking as it was always intended to look in Poser, and I'm almost there with the DAZ Studio material presets. Also discovered that the Poser MC6 file  for the dha, 'Basic.mc6' is completely wrong, and calls up JPG files that don't exist! I'd never spotted that as I'd never used it.
- For the shields I think the simplest, most user-friendly solution will be to provide an additional 'With Shaders' version of each Poser MC6 and DS material preset, plus possibly a short PDF to help anybody who wants to customize the shield shader.

As usual, no ETA...

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Picture Time - A Princess Of Mars

I loved Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales of Barsoom, and my worldball happens to have a Mars environment set. Mere coincidence? I think not...

I've had a fairly vivid picture of Dejah Thoris in my mind ever since I first read the books in my early teens.Project Gutenberg have  'A Princess Of Mars' online and I've started re-reading the stories. The princess is very clearly described at the end of Chapter VIII - 'A Fair Captive From The Sky' (the bottom of page 35),

"And the sight which met my eyes was that of a slender, girlish figure, similar in every detail to the earthly women of my past life... Her face was oval and beautiful in the extreme, her every feature was finely chiseled and exquisite, her eyes large and lustrous and her head surmounted by a mass of coal black, waving hair, caught loosely into a strange yet becoming coiffure. Her skin was of a light reddish copper color, against which the crimson glow of her cheeks and the ruby of her beautifully molded lips shone with a strangely enhancing effect.
She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure."

Here's my first attempt at getting the picture from my head into a format I can actually look at. It's not perfect (either artistically, technically, or in matching my mental image) but it's a great start - I'd say 90% there. And I'm really pleased that even after all these years my mental picture still fits the description in the book.

I'm currently doing a lot of test renders in Poser 9 to try and get the basic characters of John Carter and Dejah Thoris sorted out (mainly skin textures), and trying to find a few good lighting setups.

I intend to keep all my images in line with the original stories, so they'll be posted where artistic nudity is appropriate, i.e. my galleries at ShareCG, Renderosity, and DeviantArt. However, I will be posting the occasional 'suitable for all' pictures here and on my DAZ3D Art Studio thread.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Freebie - Simple Thai Style Bird Cage

A Simple Thai Style Bird Cage for Poser / DAZ Studio (OBJ format also included)

In the South of Thailand keeping caged birds is very popular. By far the most popular bird is the Red-Whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) with its beautiful singing voice. Known locally as 'Nok Krong Hua Juk' (literally 'crested cagebird') their owners regularly get together to show off the birds in singing competitions...

Available for free (login required) from:
(4AUG13 VERSION 2 UPDATE: added the missing wood texture images. Alternatively download the images manually from )

This low resolution (1745 vertices/980 faces) model represents the most basic and simplest style of cage - a dozen or so square-sectioned pieces of wood form the basic frame, shorter pieces of wood are used to make the perch and door, and simple wooden doweling is used for the bars.

You'll probably want a freebie bird model to put in this freebie cage. Two suggestions:
I've included a couple of Poser files to make it easy to use these two birds with this cage. You need to download and install the bird models separately first. I've also incorporated a very simple Red Whiskered Bulbul texture for LiluBird (I was unable to do this for Papasmrfe's bird due to UV mapping issues).

And for those of you who have the basic DAZ3D Songbird (it can be purchased from I've included a couple of Poser files to help with that too. You need to buy, download and install the DAZ Songbird separately to make use of these files. They incorporate a very simplistic Red Whiskered Bulbul texture, crest morph, and bill morph. As in the promo image above.

Happy rendering!
Pete Williams
3rd August 2013

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Freebie - Several More WorldBall Environment Sets

There's now a whole bunch of WorldBall environments available. Here's the full list of all the sets released to date, with links to the ShareCG and Renderosity Freestuff download pages (I'll update missing links some time...)

E00 ‘Test1’ -  included with both the Poser and DAZ Studio verisions of the WorldBall
E01-E05 ‘Snow/Lake/Sand/Scrub/Mars’ -  included with both the Poser and DAZ Studio verisions of the WorldBall
E06 ‘Mountain Lake 01’ - ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff
E07 ‘Above The Clouds’ - ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff
E08 ‘Below The Waves’ - ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff
E09 ‘Swimming Pool’ - ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff
E10 ‘Northern Forest’ - ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff
E11 ‘Misty Mountain’ x 4 (the same scene in dawn, noon, evening and moonrise variants)  - ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff
E12 ‘Basic Toon’ x 4 (the same scene in dawn, noon, sunset and midnight variants) - ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff
E13 ‘Earth Environs’ x 2 (a low earth orbit scene with earth, sun, moon, and stars plus a starfield only variant) -  ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff
E14 ‘Grasslands’ x 2 (the same scene in daytime and evening variants) - ShareCG / Renderosity Freestuff

I also have the original cubemap renders and vertical cross images - if anybody would like those please contact me.

If you can’t see what you’re looking for in that list, I take requests! (but no guarantees...)

Friday, 28 June 2013

Freebie - Simple Low Resolution Water Jar

A simple water jar for Poser and/or DAZ Studio - three separate props (jar, lid and scoop).
Available for download from ShareCG (awaiting approval at Renderosity).

Yes, it's the water jar used in my "Here Miss, Let Me Help You..." cartoon - it's taken me all this time to get round to doing the final tidying up!

There are also Smart+ prop version of the scoop for Poser 6+ and DAZ Studio 3+, which will not only put the scoop in the left/right hand of Aiko 3, David, Hiro 3, Laura 3, Luke 3, Michael 3, Stephanie Petite 3, The FREAK, The Girl, Victoria 3, Michael 4, Victoria 4 (and variants), Genesis (base figure), P5 Don, P5 Judy, P6 James, P6 Jessi, Miki 2, G2 James, G2 Jessi, Behemoth (origginal), PH Female, PH Male, Antonia, Apollo, F202 Dollie, Kirwyn's K, and MayaDoll, but will also apply a basic handgrip pose!

There's a thread in the DAZ Freepozitory forum for more info, feedback, problems etc.

The Smart+ Scoop prop has the supported figure data hard-coded into the script files, just like the dha (Asian sword) and S.E. Asian shields. Moving that data to an external, plain text, user-editable file is one of the many things I'm working on...

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Ongoing - Now Where Was I...

Well that little IBL/environment maps diversion in mid-April has lasted over two months already! But I think the Poser WorldBall, DAZ Studio WorldBall, and various environment sets that have come out of it have been worth it. I've still got a few bug fixes to sort out (thanks for the feedback!),  and I'll get those done asap. I also have several more ideas for the WorldBall in various stages, but I think they'll go on the back-burner for now.

Like I said before, most of my projects are inter-related in ways that aren't necessarily obvious. For example, the WorldBall project (itself triggered by something I was doing on my website) was also  a test-run for putting data for a script in a plain text datafile. It seems to work nicely on a PC (I'm trying to fix a few MAC issues). Once that's done I can get back to updating the Smart+ Prop script to use a datafile, although I'll probably do a test-run with the bowler hat first (and maybe the S.E.Asian helmet too). There's also that dummy hand thing (although a 'dummy head' will probably come first, as part of the bowler hat).

Here's a few of the other things on my list that I need to get back to:
  • My Unreal Imperfect Website is still 'very much under development' - I need to get it sorted.
  • Batch 2 of my low-resolution knots in OBJ format never materialised. Maybe it's about time now?
  • The jezail is something I'm looking forward too - a bit of straightforward modelling and texturing, just for fun. But I can't imagine releasing it without making it a Smart+ Prop...
  • The water jar [uploaded 28th June], birdcage [uploaded 3rd August], Roman shields, and .
  • Other stuff from December and the '/Projects/!STALLED/' folder on my hard drive...
1) S.E.Asian Shield Designs
2) S.E. Asian Shield UV Swapping
3) Displacement/Bump Sarong
4) Dummy Hand and GotoDummyHand Script
5) Roman Scutum (Early Empire)
6) Triple Material Shader (TMS)
7) Simple Claw Hammer
8) More 'Wear' Patterns
9) Sak Yant
10) More Shields
11) Tiling Textures
12) Shields with a handgrip and forearm strap
13) PropGoto+ and Smart+ prop improvements

If anyone wants to remind me of something I said I'd do then now is probably a good time!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Freebie - Simple DAZ Studio WorldBall

Well, it's taken me a lot, lot longer than expected to get the DAZ Script version of the WorldBall working, but I got there in the end! It's available at ShareCG as Simple DAZ Studio WorldBall.

I ended up using the ShaderBuilder Diffuse IBL I was working on back in April's 'Ongoing - DIY DAZ Studio Basic IBL: Shader Mixer, to Shader Builder, to Pulling My Hair Out!' post. It's more-or-less as it was in post #21 on my DAZ forums thread (i.e. 20th April!) - I never really managed to resolve the problems I was mired in there...
The DAZ Script itself is still at the 'held together with sticky tape and string' stage, and needs a fair bit of tidying up. But it already handles a lot of the most likely problems, and I'm quite pleased with the simplicity of the UI (i.e. the dialogues presented to the user).

The whole shebang's far from perfect, but it does actually work quite nicely. And the ability to add your own environment sets by simply editing a text file is a big, big plus from my point of view.

I've also uploaded a couple more environment sets, entitled 'Above The Clouds' and 'Below The Waves'.

To use them with either of the WorldBall's you need to manually edit that WorldBallData.txt file. But once you've done it once...

Happy rendering!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Freebie - Simple Poser WorldBall

I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted!

My investigation of DAZ Studio IBL, and the stuff I was doing on my website about 'Landscape' software got a bit mixed up and whisked me off into the world of equirectangular maps, light probes and HDR.

The first thing to come out of this melting pot is my Simple Poser WorldBall available from Renderosity or ShareCG. Check out the ShareCG page for more info.

It's been up for a week already, but I've been so busy working on related stuff (e.g. DAZ Studio version in the works...) that I forgot to post here...

Better late than never!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Ongoing - DIY DAZ Studio Basic IBL: Shader Mixer, to Shader Builder, to Pulling My Hair Out!

I was progressing nicely with my attempts to get a Shader Mixer based solution thanks to some helpful folks on DAZ3D's DAZ Studio forum - see my Shader Mixer (DS3+4): How to make a very basic diffuse IBL? thread.

Around post #17 to 18 I was beginning to think I needed to use Shader Builder instead, and by post #20 and 21 I thought I was almost there with a Shader Builder solution.

But I've run into some really, really basic problems with Shader Builder due to the lack of any detailed documentation. Same problem as Shader Mixer. The best official documentation I can find is this:

Shader Mixer documentation at the old Artzone wiki

Shader Builder documentation at the old Artzone wiki

Both these old Artzone software guides are marked as being 'in progress' and it's a 99.9%+ certainty that those particular documents won't ever be updated (because the old Artzone wiki was for DAZ Studio 3, and DAZ no longer support that).

Sadly, if you do a Google search for Shader Mixer documentation or Shader Builder Documentation those old Artzone wikis come at (or near) the top of the list). 

So I've started a new Shader Builder Queries - One Problem, One Post thread in the Nuts'n'Bolts forum at DAZ3D site, on the grounds that this is driving me nuts! ;o)

The DAZ 4.5 Shader Builder Tutorial - MK Gooch Shader by LJ Studios (aka DollyGirl) at ShareCG is definitely worth a look. Although I haven't found solution to my specific problems yet...

There's also a  Shader Mixer Tutorial I by ZigGraphix at DAZ3D and I think it's genuinely free - i.e. you don't have to be a PC member, and you don't have to buy something else first

Monday, 15 April 2013

Ongoing - A Little Diversion: Playing With IBL and Environment Maps

Still mainly working on my website, but while I was messing about with the 'specialist software' page I tracked down a download link for HDRShop version 1 (it's on the tools page of HDRLabs site here) which is the original, still free version. (There's no longer any link to it from the actual HDRShop site, just the current version 3).

That sent me off at a tangent and I've been playing with creating my own environment maps and light probes using totally free software:
1) Set up a simple world in Terragen Classic.
2) Render the six views required for a cube map.
3) Using GIMP join the six renders into a single vertical cross cube map
4) Using HDRShop Version 1 convert the cube map to equirectangular and angular maps.
And that's it! Using this approach it should (not yet tested) be possible to create proper HDR light probes - simply repeat step (2) using a few different exposure settings, and add a step (2a) to use HDRShop to combine the multiple exposures into a single .hdr image, before proceeding to step 3. But like I said, I haven't got that far yet.

A DIY skydome's easy, and getting that working nicely with my maps and probes, and Poser's Diffuse IBL didn't take long - here's a sample:

But trying to get it working in DAZ Studio is taking a bit longer - I'm having problems getting to grips with ShaderMixer light shaders. But give it time...

I've posted a few test images on the DAZ Freepozitory forum on the 'Test Images For IBL and Environment Maps (to ease past the confusing terminology) UPDATED' thread.

Monday, 1 April 2013

UI Website - Not Ready, But Coming Along Nicely...

Since releasing the OBJ knot models I've been spending most of my time playing around with my website, and it's coming along nicely now - here's a screenshot of the homepage as it currently stands...

I still haven't managed to explain to friends and family what my 3D stuff is all about and, partly I guess out of a sub-concious desire to succeed in this task, the homepage seems to be mutating into a complete newcomers introduction to the world of hobbyist 3D art. And because of that I've started writing some introductory pages to various 3D software...

But I haven't forgotten that the original aim of this website was to provide extra information about my 3D freebies, including an additional no-login-required download location for the older ones.

Regarding the look of the site, I've decided to do something different in terms of layout. I'm sure that some people will like it, and some won't.

But if there's anything you really don't like about it please let me know - especially things that make it difficult to read or navigate ( I know already that the colour scheme, especially the orange-red links on mid-grey background causes problems for some people.)

It even seems to work nicely on an iPhone if you hold the phone sideways (i.e. in landscape mode).

For the more technically aware I'm trying to stick with the very old-school HTML 4.01 and CSS 2 for 99% of the site. I use a bit of PHP for a couple of pages such as the downloads (not ready yet, just a few test pages at present) and the contact form. And I couldn't resist using the CSS 3 text-shadow. And I use browser-specific image rotation on the homepage only.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Freebie - Low Resolution Knots in OBJ format

First batch of knots done, uploaded, and available for free from *ShareCG or *Renderosity

See this DAZ3D thread or this *Renderosity thread for more information.

*To download from ShareCG you need to be logged in. To view the thread or download from or Renderosity you must be logged. You can create a free account at either site if you don't already have one.

Ongoing - Smart+ Prop Scripts And... A Bowler Hat?

Here's the bowler hat prop mentioned in the last post, loaded positioned and parented via the script to Behemoth 2010, GG3.1, F202 Dollie, and P6 James:

Some tweaking still required (e.g. F202 Dollie's hat is too small), but the fits for most of the 53 figures mentioned in the previous post are about right.

I've had a short break from this project while I got the first batch of lo-res knot OBJs sorted out and released, but I'm back on it now. Hopefully I'll be able to release the new Smart+ Prop scripts within the next few weeks along with a few simple props - including the bowler hat.

(Edit: my apologies if anybody's waiting for this - I've been distracted again, this time it's a concerted effort to get my Unreal Imperfect website as I want it. I don't think I'll be back on this project now till the website's done.)

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ongoing - Smart+ Prop Scripts And The S.E.Asian Helmet

It's been a while since I posted, but that's because I've been busy actually doing stuff.  If you've looked at  Renderosity's PoserPython forum or DAZ's Developer Discussion forum you might have seen a flurry of questions regarding file-handling. That's because I'm making a couple of improvements to the PropGoto+ / Smart+ Prop idea...

1) I'm taking the figure-matching, prop-positioning, and hand-posing parameters out of the scripts and putting them into a simple CSV format datafile.

2) I'm adding a few extra figures to the supported list - the list's up from 28 to 53 figures:

Aiko 3
Apollo Maximus
Behemoth 2010
Don P5
F202 Dollie
G2 James
G2 Jessi
Genesis (basic figure)
Hiro 3
James P6
Jessi P6
Judy P5
Kirwyn's K
Laura 3
Luke 3
Michael 3
Michael 4
Hiro 4
Miki 2
Project Human Female
Project Human Male
Stephanie Petite 3
The Girl
Victoria 3
Victoria 4
Aiko 4
Stephanie 4
She-Freak 4
The Girl 4
Simon P7
Sydney P7
Alyson2 P8
Alyson P8
Ryan2 P8
Ryan P8
Victoria 1-2
Michael 1-2
Matt Maddie 3
Stephanie 1
Aiko 1
Preteen Boy Girl
The Princess
Miki 4

3) I'm extending the Smart+ idea to cover stuff that goes on the head, i.e. hats and helmets.

Status? I'm testing with a simple bowler hat prop I knocked up. All the figure-matching and hat-fitting data is now in the CSV file. I have both a PoserPython script and a DAZ Script that read the data from the file, use it to match the figure, and use the appropriate fitting data for that figure. So I have a bowler hat that (under most circumstances) will smartprop, (more-or-less) correctly fitted to any of 53 different figures with just two clicks (1st click on the Smart+ Bowler icon in the library, 2nd click to confirm the figure match). And it works in Poser 6 & 9 and DAZ Studio 3 & 4.5

Main focus at present is making a generic Smart+ script (Poser and DAZ Studio) with the bulk of the functionality, and separate prop-specific scripts that do any prop-specific stuff (e.g. apply DS materials) and then call the generic script, passing a few parameters so the generic script knows e.g. whether to put the prop in the figure's hand or on its head.

Once that's sorted the hand-held props should be fairly straightforward. I've already released four props - a sword and three shields - that use the hard-coded Smart+ script, and I've already proven the method for getting that data from the CSV file instead. Of course, I still need to create the individual hand poses for the new figures - but I can use one I've already got as a start for each of them.

No ETA yet, and it's not going to be soon if I try to do all this. So maybe I'll do an initial release of just the hat-fitting stuff, with the bowler hat? If I get things right I can then simply release updates to the CSV file, generic Smart+ script (Poser and DAZ Studio), and Smart+ sword and shields.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Ongoing - S.E.Asian Helmet

With the cable/rope shader and the simple knot I've now got a way forward for the chinstrap of the Asian helmet. So I've restarted work on it, firstly getting the general shape right. Then I'll try fitting it to Mike 3's chin, with one 'M3 Jaw Open' morph I think (the 'Mouth Yell' morph seems the best model to do this for). The basic fits to get the helmet to sit comfortably on the other 28 figures' heads are quite simple, but the chinstrap morphs for each figure are going to take some time.

I think I'll do just M3 and maybe one other figure to start with (any preferences anybody?) and release the model with just two fits. Then I can do updates of the PP2 with fits for other figures as and when.

Anyway, here's a Poser 6 render (draft quality) of the helmet with the new chinstrap being worked up...

Once again I'm rather pleased - it's beginning to look like I've been imagining it. I think the knots may need to be tightened up a bit. And of course the dangling ends need to be joined up and fitted snugly to Mike's chin. (I've seen two arrangements for this: an open reef knot with the chin poking through the centre; and a simple double helix, like the twist below each knot in the render, with the chin poking between the two cords. Not sure which I'll do yet...)

Upate 9th Feb 2013: I've got the basic shape of the chinstrap sorted out now - need to fix the UV mapping and tidy up the mesh. The neck and cheek guards are very basic and need rework. Then I'll try doing a couple of fitting morphs, plus maybe some adjustment morphs for the neck/cheekguards. Here's a test render...
(Slightly) larger image on my DAZ3D forum render thread here - Ancient Warrior.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Ideas - a knotty problem

I find myself in need of some polygon mesh knots for one of my many ongoing projects. I've tried mesh-modeling knots before and found it really awkward. I've tried extruding a profile along a curve and converting that to mesh, but the results always seem to have very high polygon counts. Yes, the meshes can be decimated, or selected edge loops can be removed, but I find the results unsatisfactory. So I went back to modeling a knot mesh from scratch. This time I think I've got it right! Here's a simple dual-cord thumb-knot (which is my immediate need, for my S.E. Asian helmet's chinstrap) rendered from different angles in Poser 6...

I used 'Final' quality, 'Smooth Polys' and 'Use Displacement Maps' for the render, but would you believe that the actual model's only 308 vertices/288 faces? The dual cord is just an extruded pair of 8-vertex circles (slightly overlapped). The knot only required 17 extrusions total!

To get a nice rope-like texture I used my steel cable procedural shader (from the Railings02 freebie I just released): I changed the colours, multiplied the cable equation by the output of a procedural 'Mesh' node before applying it to bump, added some displacement, andadjusted the twist/strand parameters of the cable equation. Here's a screenshot of my settings...

As it stands it's not much use on its own, but the OBJ (and similar ones for other knots) could be very handy for anyone modeling cords, ropes, etc that require knots. Model your own rope, merge the end vertices with the corresponding ones on the knot, et voilĂ . I've done a really simple UV map too...

Anybody like the idea?

Thanks to amy_aimei for sparking the thought with her bow-knot ...

Edit: First batch released 8th March 2013 - see this post for details

Yet another new project - a jezail

I've got so many projects in various partially-completed states that I should really knuckle down and get a few of them finished. But so many new things keep catching my attention...

I was recently reading Ben Macintyre's 'Josiah Harlan: The Man Who Would Be King'. If you know the Rudyard Kipling story (and/or the Sean Connery/Michael Caine movie), or have an interest in Asian history it's a fascinating tale. The photos of tribesmen with their long jezail flintlock muskets intrigued me (and reminded me of the tusken raiders - so that's where the idea came from, eh?)

Anyway, here's my roughing out of the overall shape of the thing (just under 600 faces total at present) plus a simple squatting shooting pose. Both model and pose need a lot more work, but not a bad start.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Freebie - Another set of railings

The railings I've been working on, and the steel cable shader, are now available free on ShareCG and Renderosity Freestuff. Don't forget that you need to be a member at those sites to download, and membership is free.

More inforamtion in the DAZ Freepozitory forum here, and the Renderosity Freestuff forum here.

Best example render to date of the steel cable shader (plus some notes on adjusting it) here.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Ongoing - Sorting out the morphs for the new railings

Quick Poser 8 render - I loaded several cube primitives and moved, Y-scaled, and Y-rotated them sort-of randomly. Then placed one of the railing props I'm working on on top of each cube and aligned with it. Then tried to use my morphs to get the rails of each prop to connect to the next prop. As you can see I'm not quite there with the morphs.

You'll also notice the basic steel cable texture (DAZ forum thread link) I'm going to include - that needs some work too, but the basic idea works fine (both in DAZ Studio and Poser).

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sneak Peek - Another Set Of Railings...

I had a lot of fun creating that last set of railings, so I've decided to do one or two more - I'd spotted another nice set of quayside railings, so here's my version (still a WIP) - 880 vertices / 940 faces on this one (compared to 3148 vertices / 3376 faces on the one I've just released).

I added extra smoothing for the renders below (using 'SubD' in DAZ Studio, and 'Smooth Polygons' in Poser). The texture is just plain diffuse/specular colours, plus a procedural 'Clouds' texture for the bump channel...

I'm very pleased with the results (even though the Poser 9 render indicates a smoothing issue I need to look at - without  'Smooth Polygons' P9 renders fine).

I plan to release this as a similar package to the 'Railing01' plus the 'Morphing Railing Add On'. I think it'll work best with simple procedural textures, but I'll UV map it any way.

(the fact that the three rails aren't vertically aligned makes for an interesting challenge with the 'Bend' morphs...)

Friday, 25 January 2013

Freebie - Morphing Railings Add On

An extra Morphing Railing prop that adds some flexibility to the recent Railings01. Available free from ShareCG or Renderosity.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Freebie - Railings01

Final tweaking, testing and packaging completed. Now uploaded to ShareCG and Renderosity FreeStuff  Both sites require login to download (and Renderosity requires login to simply view the page) - you can create an account for free at either site.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

SneakPeek - A Simple Set Of Railings

After getting those shields to the state I wanted them I decided to take a break. But a few days ago I was watching a program about maths on YouTube (it was quite interesting... honest!) when I spotted a rather nice quayside railing in the background. I decided that it would be a good little project, and I've been playing around with it for the past few days. It's more-or-less complete now - here's a sneak peek...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

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

Now available for download from ShareCG or Renderosity Freestuff

DAZ Studio version of the shader, created using DS4.5 Shader Mixer. I've put a fair bit of effort in to ensure that it will work in both DS3 and DS4, with or without access to Shader Mixer. So it should be fine even in DS3 Free.

Also includes generic DMS (Dual Material Shader) and TMS (Triple Material Shader) DAZ Studio shaders that can be applied to any surface.