Luxus For Carrara Hits DAZ 3D

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Eliane CK showing off the power of LuxRender and Luxus with one of her unmistakeable signature images


LuxRender comes to Carrara with GPU unbiased rendering power

For those of you that have been waiting for an easy way to configure and export your Carrara scenes to an unbiased render engine then your day has finally arrived. Not only do you finally have relatively quick and easy access to unbiased rendering, but it comes at just the price of one very affordable plugin. No hundreds of dollars for licensing fees and possible hardware upgrade to CUDA compliant technology, just Luxus for Carrara and LuxRender (free). funnily enough I’ve been working on a beginners guide to Luxus for DAZ Studio (which will be posted here and available as a PDF when done) and was about to set to work on completing it just as I stumbled upon this new Carrara version.

This is great news for Carrara users. I remember when I was just starting to use the software there was talk of Reality for Carrara, and that was very exciting, but whatever the reasons, it didn’t go ahead. I doubt I was the only one that was disappointed by this turn of events. There was a lot of talk about how developing content and plugins just wasn’t financially viable for Carrara, but more than a year later here we are. Recently I’ve been modelling a lot in LightWave and exporting these models to DAZ Studio to use Luxus and then onto LuxRender.

If my experience of Luxus for DS is anything to go by then Luxus for Carrara will be a very flexible and reliable tool indeed. It is very possible that I may even consider changing my workflow. Some grumble at the current speed with which it Lux renders, but with it being rapidly developed (huge speed increases and GPU breakthroughs in just the last year) the future is looking very bright, and then again there is price. At zero dollars you just can’t beat Lux.

Myth Busted

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DP Carrara Master Collection Shaders

And then as if to put paid to the argument that content development for Carrara is not viable, on the very same day another (unrelated) product is released. DP Carrara Master Collection Shaders from well known Carrara vendor, RingoMonfort. This new set of shaders, according to the product’s description “will bring stunning realism to your Carrara scenes using the most powerful texture room features: Anisotropic, sub-surface scattering, transparency absorption, fresnel, translucency and much more. From Faux Finish paints, corrosion, beautiful woods, crystals, metals, paints and much more.” Of course the claim is backed up with simple but effective demonstration images.

Carrara Pro 69% off

Carrara 8 and Pro are once again on heavy discount For Platinum club members the current price for Pro is $171 (69% off), so if you’re not a PC club member it is worth signing up just for the saving, even if you didn’t want to fork out for an annual subscription. Carrara is the perfect tool for the upstart 3D artist that wants a taste of everything – modelling, animation, rigging, special effects, rigid and soft body dynamics, 3D render engine that punches well above its weight, landscapes and foliage, support for DAZ/Poser content and figures, and now access to cheap unbiased rendering – everything! With Carrara 8.5 and 9 just around the corner it is indeed, once again, exciting times to be a Carrara user.

iClone5 Sales and promotions

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iClone still topping DAZ 3D top 30 sales chart.

Also on offer at the store is a bunch of training material for MyClone, currently 100% off with the purchase of iClone Animation Pipeline (3 in 1). Of course the material is free for PC club members – just one of those perks 😉 iClone5 Facial Pipeline Power Bundle is still placed high on the DAZ 3D top 30 chart since it was first released, and currently 50% off. I can’t say I know much about it but it is one of those things that seems to be on the wish list of every small/solo animation teams wish list, and with great integration for Genesis.

New Bryce Freebie by David Brinnen and Horo

…And of course there is a cool new freebie by David Brinnen and Horo, Golden Rules Composition Helpers for Bryce. Anyone who has done any elementary visual arts course has heard all about the golden rules, but with this neat little set of tools you can easily put them into practice. On top of this David and Horo’s stores are on special with handy training material like Bryce Mentoring DVD – Videos, Scenes and Resources currently 40% off. If you happened to miss the DigiSprawl series of Bryce Artist Features then you might be labouring under the false assumption that it is an out-dated and irrelevant program. Now is as good a time as any to find out about the quirky elegance of the program and witness some of the beautiful art being made with it on a daily basis.

Ok, back to work for me 😉 Happy renderings!

DAZ Studio 4.6 Upgrade and Huge Sales


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Upgrade to DAZ Studio 4.5 today

I’ve let writing about the DAZ Studio 4.6 upgrade slip a bit longer than I would have liked. Instead of writing or working on any number of other relatively pressing projects I’ve been spending time getting my blog to play nice with Google and attempting to squeeze a little more speed out of my WordPress configuration while making as few drastic changes as possible (no one likes a slow site), but let me not get distracted with the technicalities of self hosted blogging.

So, back to the matter at hand. DAZ 3D have just launched DAZ Studio 4.6 (still free), and what a beauty of a point release it is. For sometime the team at DAZ has been working on implementing a host of new features into DAZ Studio, with features like Pixar’s game changing OpenSubdiv having kept beta testers entertained for some time now.

DAZ Studio 4.6 features Highlights

  1. Subsurface Shader base by Age of Armour (will take a bit of experimentation to get realistic human SSS)
  2. CMS updated to Valentina 5, apparently fixing crashes (esp for Mac users)
  3. Updated 3Delight render engine to 10.0.125 (not the most current, but lots of goodies since last update)
  4. Support for TriAx to TriAx AutoFit
  5. Support for OpenSubdiv subdivision algorithms; Catmark, Bilinear, Loop; adds support for edge and/or vertex weights/creasing
  6. Support for Ptex (no UV unwrapping/seams!)
  7. Support for independent UV set selection on Geometry Shells
  8. Support for Gamma Correction
  9. Support for Surface Selection Sets
  10. Spot Render to  new window (handy for fixing up those bits you don’t like in an otherwise good render)
  11. Support for Hierarchical Pose Presets
  12. Improvements to various CCT tools/actions.

Undoubtedly these are great advancements for Studio. Just taking a look at Ptex and OpenSubdiv in action, if you don’t already have a good idea of what they are, you can glimpse the huge possibilities for rapid and experimental content creation and customisation. The base for Studio 5 has been put down, and I really can’t wait to see what they have planned. DS has come a long, long way since its first release back in 2005. See the DAZ Studio 4.6 announcement thread for more details and all the gossip.

DAZ Studio 4.6 compatibility and plugins

I’ve heard some anecdotal accounts that 4.6 is having some issues with Windows 8, but is working well on many previous Windows versions, and is even reportedly working well on OSX, which is great news for users that have been having a streak of compatibility issues with DAZ 3D programs.

As there were no changes to the SDK all plugins should be working as normal, and I’ve heard of no major incompatibilities.

Sneak Peek Weekend – Platinum Club For Everyone

To keep the action going DAZ 3D have thrown open the Platinum Club to all who come to grace the store. The Sneak Peek Weekend sale has big savings in the continuing tradition of DAZ 3D’s Store.  So, that means $1.99 items for everyone, access to the value catalogue, 30% off DAZ Originals, and 30% discounts on annual Platinum Club memberships. For those of us that are already PC members the deal is rounded off with a 30% discount on Premier Artist products, on top of 46% off selected items such as:

Luxus

Luxus

Garibaldi Express Hair System For DAZ Studio

Garibaldi Express Hair System

Look At My Hair

Look At My Hair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis Generation X2

 

 


Still don’t have DAZ Studio? Get it now.

Hopefully I’ll have some time to test out some of the new features and have something more substantial on the features specifically, but until then happy renderings.

Daz Studio Sci-fi Content Feature pt. 1

A quick note on Poser compatibility: Most if not all content sold at DAZ 3D has very good Poser compatibility, and often comes with Poser specific configurations.

Looking for part 2?

Affordable 3D Sci-fi content got me to DAZ Studio

Urban Future 4Undoubtedly one of the contributing factors in my decision to jump on into DAZ Studio was the huge and inspiring variety of 3D sci-fi content. Science fiction was one of the major focuses when it came to my short stories and for some time I had been toying with the idea of bringing some of those works into a visual dimension as serial web comics or graphic novels. Anyone who has read much of what I’ve written since finding DAZ Studio probably knows I hold DAZ 3D solely responsible for all but killing my drive to write fiction. Of course I could add a little smiley face there to show there are no hard feelings, but I’m hoping my writing skills haven’t dulled so much that a little light-hearted jest isn’t lost.

Anyway, the recent addition of some great 3D sci-fi content to the DAZ 3D store got me inspired to do a little feature on some of my favourite pieces. Some of these I own, others are on my wishlist (or should be). So, let me start with a name just about every DAZ Studio and card carrying Poserverse member will know.

Stonemason is the name in DAZ Studio and Poser sci-fi content

When you put DAZ and Sci-fi in the same sentence it is likely to conjure many images that incorporate one or more of Stonemason’s masterpieces. His meticulously modelled and textured environments and props have graced thousands – tens of thousands – of still renders and animations made with DAZ Studio, Poser and any number of other render engines. From cyberpunk inspired street environments to retro futuristic art deco spaceship interiors, and on to the post-apocalypse, there is something for every sci-fi genre. And then some.

Cryotube by StonemasonA few months back I wrote a short feature about Stonemason when he posted a time-lapse video to YouTube, showing his process of constructing a cryotube. I remember thinking that it wouldn’t be long before we saw that showing up in the store. Lo and behold… a cryotube! As an upstart modeller, I was very keen to pick it up and have a look over the model in greater detail. Stonemason’s work does not only inspire the production of beautiful art, but also the production of more models. His influence on the hobbyist and emerging/pro levels of 3D will be felt for a long time to come.

And no need to model somewhere to keep your characters in the freezer. Mr Stony has us covered with a place to stash our sleeping beauties and beasties (aptly named CryoEnvironment).With very similar design, undoubtedly intended to be at home alongside the Cryotube and environment,Sci-Fi Consoles 2013, is which come complete with slick screens and “holographic” effects. With these three you could products you could put together an entire short animation or comic.

For a glimpse at the possibilities check out this short test animation.


Mech 2012 Enforcer

Few other mechs released at DAZ 3D are as detailed or formidable, and downright cool as MECH 2012 Enforcer. See here in action saving the developed world from the evils infesting its near future streets.


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One of Stonemason’s most famous collections would have to be his cyberpunk inspired Urban Future street environments, reaching its creative apex with the huge Urban Future 4: Street Level. Straight “out of the box” this place renders like. The package even comes with a custom camera to add a suitably polluted haze to your renders. At $35 – 40 a set they aren’t among the cheapest environment/scene props in the store, but you certainly get what you pay for. And then some.
Pick up the Urban Future bundle (all four sets) and save yourself over $10

Another stunning environment is the gritty decay of “The Ministry”. Sadly this is one of those on my wish list, but the beautiful images (and animations) I’ve seen rendered with this one leave me with no doubt that this is something I want to have in my runtime. I want to play with it, pull it apart, and to an extent emulate.

Planet Lava by StonemasonA recent hit at the DAZ 3D store is Stonemason’s Planet Lava. This baby is an environment in the true sense of the word. It comes complete with modelled terrain and image dome for distant terrain and sky. It also comes packed with lights and camera presets including atmospheric effects.

On the flipside we have Planet Alpine, for those that prefer ice and snow to the heat of a molten hell rock. All this is only a small part of Stonemason’s catalogue at D3D. There are a number of other sci-fi props, robots and environments I haven’t covered here, and then a lot more.

Cyborgs, androids and robots


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As a bit of a posthumanist at heart these guys are one of my favourite sci-fi staples, whether entirely artificial, or a merging of flesh and synthetics. DAZ 3D has a number of great entries into this category. Right at the top of my list is the recent release, Bot Genesis. Before this it was the precursor, Aikobot 2. Bog Genesis is everything that Aikobot 2 was an a lot more. One of my complaints about AB2 was that it didn’t look right when rendered in dark environments. She seemed to be artificially lit due to the way her shaders were set up, particularly in relation to reflections. Thankfully this has been addressed with BG.

A great feature of the newer version is the reconfigured shaders that allow for a mix of raytrace and image mapped shadows. Perhaps best of all is that BG is no longer constrained to female varieties. As the character is designed for Genesis BG seamlessly morphs from male to female and anywhere in between. As far as flexible cyborg/android characters go Bot Genesis is on top of the pile, and cheaper than any of her predecessors (though depending on tastes and needs there might be reason to pick these up too). Win-win-win.

Cyborgs 4.0 by DZFireA good deal less cutesy and with a more utilitarian appeal DZFire’s Cyborgs 4.0 (though I’d suggest they are actually android/gynoids) are designed on the M4&V4 bases, but can and are primarily used as standalone figures. These “cyborgs” are hardy and reliable, at home on the frontlines, in emergency services and in heavy industry. They do come with texture/material options for an appearance acceptable to a wide range of other duties, and the “female” version even comes in a glam variety. They can be purchased as together for a small discount or separately as needed.

TechnoBorg by RawArtThe Technoborg’s origins should be quite apparent to anyone that has even a passing familiarity with Star Trek. Another Gen4 figure, but as the pack is mostly a texture set it can easily be applied to Genesis, and if you have the GenX plugin you should even be able to copy the character morphs to your genesis figures. The technoborg textures are beautifully detailed and come in pasty necrotic style and a more healthy variety (you pick which ones you need). The cyborg robotic details are simulated with displacement maps (not real geometry), so make the conversion to Genesis very nicely.

3D Spacecraft Models

This was where I was going to leave part one of the sci-fi feature, but as the store of a fantastic sci-fi modeller/artist has just gone on sale (40% off everything), I thought I might as well quickly mention DAZ 3D’s premier supplier of space craft models and their interiors for Daz Studio. While there are quite a number of amazing space craft models in the store most are for Bryce and Carrara. Kibarreto has valiantly sought to fix this imbalance with his impeccable designs and texturing, complete with glowing cockpit dashboards. See Kibarreto’s Shuttlestar doing its thing in this gorgeously rendered clip.

Read on to part to of our 3D sci-fi content tour

 

Back In LightWave And Modelling

So after a little break to get some other projects done/underway I’ve been back and modelling in LightWave. I have a few modelling projects to get started, but I thought I’d get back into the swing with something spontaneous. I’ve wanted to try making a fitted prop for a long time and decided to start with something relatively simple like a cyberpunkish VR headset. Somewhere at the start of the project I got distracted and ended up making a retro sci-fi helmet instead.

retro sci-fi helmet modelled with lightwave 11.5

Modelled and rendered in LightWave 11.5. spherical image from HDR Labs/Archive

The character figure is DAZ 3D’s Genesis with a dialled mix’n match morph – obviously the only texture used was for the bump. For a quick project I’m very happy with it. I’m now considering what to do with it next. Maybe I’ll model some additional props and see where that takes me. Or maybe I should get back to the “real work”. Decisions, decisions…

In any case I’m happy I took the gamble and forked out the money for LightWave. I know it isn’t the 3D package, but I’m sure as hell happy with it. The intuitive, no-nonsense interface is so easy to get around, which is a relief after some of the other programs I’ve worked with – certainly makes learning a lot easier. I think the program as a whole has boosted my productivity and creativity when it comes to modelling. Every time I boot it up I feel completely confident to start exploring and experimenting with features I have only the vaguest idea of. I also love the “Layout” component to the package. Well, to call it a component is a serious misattribution as it is an entirely separate and richly featured program – the other half of LW really. The procedural texture system, and node editor is just fantastic. I’m not a texture guy, so it is nice to have something easy to use to get some reasonable textures done quickly. The VPR is also a huge time saver when it comes to setting materials and lighting. Being able to see a high quality image update in realtime is just awesome. Anyway that’s enough LW love.

retro sci-fi helmet model wire frame

Wire frames for anyone interested