Review: DAZ 3D’s Victoria 8

Victoria 8: an evolution

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Image courtesy of DAZ 3D

Well, I’ve gone and sunk a good number of hours into playing with the Victoria 8 Pro Bundle, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed, not so much with the content of the bundle, as high quality as those products are, but with Genesis 8 Female and Victoria 8 in general. We’ll get to the content later on.

In every way, DAZ has improved Genesis 8 over Genesis 3, which was a huge departure from Genesis 2, though something of a less exciting release. DAZ has stuck with the “General” weight maps, introduced with Genesis 3, which continues DAZ’s direction of making their figures more compatible with third-party applications. Similarly, DAZ has changed the default pose, to be more current. Daz state this is meant to facilitate content creation.

For content creators, the move away from TriAx weight map is a mixed blessing. Instead of having to deal with many, many weight maps, they now have to contend with dealing with many, many JCMs, some of which will run amok and require lots of corrections.

Genesis and Victoria 8 aren’t a revolution over the previous generation, but it is a very nice evolution. The default Iray materials are a significant improvement, and incorporate new additions to DAZ Studio’s Iray Uber Base.

Genesis 8 base mesh

Inspecting the geometry, and comparing Genesis 3 and Genesis 8 side-by-side reveals they are cut from the same mesh. G8 is slightly lighter on the poly count, coming in at roughly 16.6K vertices, vs G3’s 17.4K, which again was less than G2’s 21.5K.

Arguably, and not without merit, Genesis 2’s mesh offered the most physically accurate base of any of DAZ’s figures to date, but along with that mesh comes a very hard, and toned figure. The mesh offered clear muscle boundaries, and deforms very nicely with the TriAx weight maps, but perhaps as a general base, from which to build new characters, the mesh is too specialised. Some areas of the mesh were messy and perhaps, needlessly intricate.

Genesis and Victoria 8 continue the simplification that Genesis 3 introduced, and while the meshes have been getting smaller, DAZ has clearly been working hard to refine a figure that offers a compromise of detail and simplicity. Many areas of the G8 are much improved over the predessors, including G2 (the figure I have primarily worked with up to this point). The shoulders and neck of Victoria 8 are a nice example of these improvements.

Left to right: V8, V7, V6. Victoria 6 wins the cute award, but V7 shows better and finer details, particularly with expression morphs. V7 apparently never learned how to smile.

Left to right: V8, V7, V6. Victoria 6 wins the cute award, but V7 shows better and finer details, particularly with expression morphs. V7 apparently never learned how to smile.

Genesis 8 muscle flex and more realistic joints

For me, this is one of the biggest changes for Genesis 8. With each figure iteration, DAZ has been working on improving the realism of joint deformation, and with the new muscle flex JCMs in G8, the figures are looking better than ever. I did a quick bicep flex comparison between Victoria 8 and G8 and found that the morphs are present in both figures (which logically flows), though V8 has a more nicely defined and significant bicep bulge.

I also tested the bicep flex between Victoria generations and found, unsurprisingly, that V8 does have the best bulge. In the past this was something that DAZ’s Published artists would create products to achieve, and they probably will still do so. There is always room to improve the base figure and morphs.

Below are demonstrations and comparison of bicep bulge, or lack there of. The first image also makes use of the Head and Body Morphs.

Genesis 8 and Victoria 8 backwards compatibility

Texture compatibility

Genesis 8’s UVs are almost identical to Genesis 3’s. Overlapping them in LightWave we see this quite clearly. The biggest deviation is the eyelashes (not shown here). With G8 the eyelashes have been moved to a separate mesh. Seemingly, reversing this direction, the finger and toenails have been welded into the base mesh. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind these design tweaks, and I’m not going to speculate and risk being horribly wrong (that would be embarrassing).

Victoria 7 and 8 UV maps compared and overlayed in LightWaveThe benefits of having such closely matching UVs are obvious: once again, DAZ has given us the option to use the textures of the previous generation figure, something that they were heavily criticised for breaking with Genesis 3. So while we don’t have out-of-the-box texture support for G2, or older figures, at least we can keep our favourites from the previous generation (assuming you adopted G3).

Victoria 8 selfie styled image demonstrating Victoria 7 texture compatibility.

My rather pasty reworking of a Victoria 7 character texture set on V8.

Also on the topic of UVs and texture compatibility, the genital geograft prop that come with the Pro Bundle of Victoria 7 and 8 share identical UVs. I only got to check this out because I got the V7 Pro Bundle included in the purchase of V8 (nice!).

Genesis 8 hair and clothes compatibility

Whereas texture compatibility is limited, hair and wardrobe compatibility is much more extensive, though, as with previous generations, still subject to the limitations of the Autofit Tool. Where Genesis 3 offered us compatibility with G2 content (extended with further scripts), G8 gives us compatibility all the way back to Genesis. There is little doubt this will be expanded (by PA add-ons) to include Generation 4 figures such as Victoria and Michael 4.

Hair

Autofitting hair from previous generations does a nice enough job, and will generally keep most morphs, though additional rigging is lost (a disappointment we have all come to live with). It is a little perplexing to see morphs disappear from the shaping tab, but generally, these morphs can also be found in the parameters tab. Some longer hair props could use some additional work on their weight maps to get them working at their best. There are some work arounds to fit hair, and keep the additional rigging, though this might be a topic for a future tutorial.

Wardrobe

We are all familiar with this process by now, and generally we know what to expect. Items, like panties, tend to get trashed when they are converted from one figure to another, as are details of pants, such as belts, buckles and pockets. Some of these issues can be fixed with a simple smoothing out with the weight brush.

Tau Ceti Overseer native fit on Victoria 6 (right), and Autofitted to Victoria 7 (right).

Tau Ceti Overseer native fit on Victoria 6 (right), and Autofitted to Victoria 8 (right).

Generally, the more extreme a pose the more we will come up against the limitations of Autofit. A pair of pants, for example, might look fine with a walking pose or animation, but when crouching, where the legs are bent up quite far and to the sides, distortion in the crotch is likely to be quite noticeable. Luckily, for those that don’t want to get into weight mapping and morphing, lighting and textures can hide a multitude of sins.

G2 item autofitted to V8 (left). Quick weight painting fix (Right).

G2 item autofitted to V8 (left). Quick weight painting fix (Right).

Long dresses and skirts tend to suffer more than a lot of other items when converting between figures, especially for ones that include additional rigging to control the flow of the longer fabric. Again, there are work arounds for retaining the rigging, but that goes beyond this review.

Poses

Genesis 8 backwards compatibility with poses is limited, but there is some functionality. I found that the arms were the least responsive. At best you have a horribly butchered base to work from, at worst you’ll be rolling on the floor laughing (which is actually good). The key is to have low expectations in this area.

I found that there was actually greater compatibility between G2 to G3 poses then there was from G3 to G8.

testing poses on various generations of Victoria 8

The inverse is also true. G8 pose on V6 (left), V7, V8 (right)

Victoria 8 Pro Content

Victoria 8 posing in red and black custom shader Andromeda outfit. One of my biggest criticisms of DAZ’s Pro Bundles, from G2 through to present, is that other than additional content (which while good quality, is obviously consumer oriented) and genitals, there is nothing to distinguish the starter and Pro Bundles. There is no extended functionality, which one expects from the title “Pro”.

My memory could be faulty, but I seem to remember the original V5 and M5 bundles coming with the Evolution Morph Bundles, which included the head and body morphs. I have gone and looked, and they aren’t included, so it might just be my faulty memory after all… To me, giving the Pro bundle some more flexibility would make it a truly “Pro” bundle, hell let’s get carried away and throw in HD morphs while we are adding stuff to the wish list.

This is not to diminish the value of the Victoria 8 Pro Bundle. The content, as always, is top shelf stuff, and this time we have a great mix of contemporary, sci-fi, and fantasy themes. The included hair is of particular note; both offer a lot of detail and a high realism quality, which is always very welcome. The Voss hair comes with the Starter Bundle, and the Vertigo Ponytail comes with the Pro set (the starter set being included in the Pro set).

Victoria 8 side profile demonstrating subsurface scattering (sss) and translucency of hair.

FW’s Rebekah HD with Vertigo Ponytail.

The content I was particularly interested in added up to over $150, so right off the bat the Victoria 8 Pro Bundle is already worth it, especially if you are getting it at the opening discount price, and more-so if you are a Platinum Club member (which unfortunately I’d let slip). So clearly, my criticism isn’t so much about value, it’s more of a petty (I’m big enough to admit it) disagreement of the definition of “Pro”.

Victoria 8 yay or nay?

And that’s it! That’s my review of Victoria 8. I like her. I think she’s a good and valuable evolution in DAZ’s line of figures. She offers greater physical accuracy with the new muscle flex JCMs. While some are mixed on whether a more general, less detailed base figure is better or worse, or whether moving to a JCM dominated figure is better or worse, DAZ manages to offer an improved figure that offers a good compromise which expands its utility to more users.

PowerPose

…I realised I hadn’t talked about the update to Power pose, and the new template for Genesis 8. It’s a great addition to Genesis 8, and a long overdue update on DAZ’s behalf. It can be a little counter-intuitive and awkward, but it is a worthy tool that is worth persevering with and developing a feel for.

Demonstrating PowerPose in DAZ 3D with Victoria 7

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DAZ 3D’s Victoria 8 Released

I was a bit skeptical about the speculation that a new Victoria was about to drop, and well, I guess history really does repeat. Here we are with Victoria and Genesis 8, almost like clockwork, and with all the new enhancements, I’m a little buzzed. I have my copy of the Victoria 8 Pro Bundle, and I’ll be having a good play with her soon so I can put up a full review.

Key notes on Victoria 8

She is built off a new Genesis 8 figure, which is interesting. Apparently we have gone from Genesis 3 to 8 as DAZ decides to ditch the Genesis versions in favour of sticking with the Victoria/Michael generation. This seems a sensible move as Genesis 4 and Generation 4 (effectively Gen 4 and Gen 4) would have been a little confusing, especially given Victoria 4’s continued popularity.

DAZ boast that Victoria 8 is the most backwards compatible to date, with clones for Genesis 1/2/3 coming included. Given that backwards compatibility has always been in high demand, this is a sensible and benevolent move on DAZ 3D’s part.

Further more, on the topic of backwards compatibility, DAZ have this to say on the figure’s auto-fit capabilities, “With new Autofit technology, Daz 3D’s vast content library for all the Genesis figures is instantly available for use making Victoria unmatched in her versatility as a 3D figure.”.

Enhancements include:

  • Muscle contraction and improved joint bending
  • Some sort of eye updates
  • Eyelashes are now a conforming something or other, which sounds kinda cool. I imagine it is a separate mesh
  • Default pose has been changed – “Improved default pose to allow for the creation of new types of content.”
  • Better skin. DAZ claim their updated uber shader is a vast improvement.
  • Finger and toe nails are now welded into mesh

Power Pose has also been updated (perhaps this should have been a clue as to what was going on over there), and Genesis 8 comes with Power Pose templates, so I’m going to guess our new figure works well with it.

As usual, the head and body morph bundles are separate buys, which is always a bit of a bummer, but I’m feeling more intrigued by this release than the last generation. Anyway, that’s enough out of me, I’m going to go play with the new girl. I’ll be back soon with a full review.

Tutorial: Workflow Overview – Morphing and Fixing JCMs

Companion Information to Esha’s Refined Rigging

Refitting and rigging old DAZ Studio content. Demonstrated with Kallisto Mutant Marrior on Genesis 2 F

Kallisto Mutant Warrior painstakingly morphed and re-rigged to Genesis 2 F. Though Genesis 3 F is used in this tutorial.

This tutorial is a follow up to the review I did of Esha’s Refined Rigging. Though I found the tutorial very helpful, I did find some shortcomings. I have also picked up a few things I thought would be beneficial for other users starting out with creating morphs, such as Joint Control Morphs, to enhance their content, or customise existing DAZ content.

This is not an exhaustive tutorial, though I do go into some detail on the elements that weren’t explored by Esha.

When Esha’s Refined Rigging crossed my path I was working on painstakingly refitting, and rigging ElorOnceDark’s Kallisto Mutant Warrior (Victoria 3) for Genesis 2 Female. As far as I’m concerned, ElorOnceDark’s products are some of the most unique and interesting available in DAZ’s store. Unfortunately, most are for older figures such as V3, A3, and V4, thought there are a couple of very cool more recent products too.

When I started on the project, the generation 3 expansion for Wear Them All hadn’t yet been released, and regardless, I wanted a more complete conversion than auto-fitting generally provides. I knew at some point I would have to get into creating JCMs (joint controlled morphs) to fix up deformation issues, but this was something I knew nothing about and was quite intimidated by. Esha’s Refined Rigging gave me the confidence I needed to get going.

The Difference between Victoria 6 and 7

One thing I noticed about the difference between Victoria 6 and 7, was that V7 makes far greater use of JCMs than V6. If you are an experienced content creator this probably seems obvious, but for me; it was a bit of a revelation. Genesis and Genesis 2 rely on the more extensive TriAx weight maps to deform joints, whereas Genesis 3 relies heavily on JCMs, as general weight maps don’t offer anywhere near the amount of control provided by TriAx.

Skimpy Victoria Clothes Are Easier

To start with, the shorts that come with the Kallisto set are a huge pain to work with when it comes to weight mapping. Although they are quite short, they hang a good distance from the crotch, and the thigh gap is very close. This causes issues when transferring the weight maps from our figure to the item, and requires both extensive re-weight mapping and JCMs to deform realistically.

If you want to save yourself some headaches, create items that are form fitting. This is just one of the reasons why so much content in DAZ’s stores is form-hugging.

Preparing for Morphing: Filling in Some Blanks

Step 1: Fit item using Transfer Utility

This topic is covered in several tutorials, including Esha’s, so it won’t be covered here. Of course you don’t need to worry with this step if you are working with content that is already rigged.

Step 2: Show hidden items

One thing that I got really stuck on during Esha’s tutorial was this fundamental key. If you can’t see JCMs then you are going to have no fun trying to replace them. (See item 1)

DAZ Studio's transfer utility, while useful, often causes issues with items that stray from the templates

Item 2. Click for full

Demonstrating how to show hidden items such as morphs in DAZ Studio

Item 1. Click for full

Step 3: Test weight maps and rigging

Posing Genesis shows us that there are huge problems with our rigging. Spreading the thighs to the sides, or bending them around the X axis, will generally give us some indication of how much work is needed.

Here we can see we have significant issues! (See item 2)

The below image (item 3.) shows the JCM that is applied as Genesis 3’s thigh is posed to the side. This is the morph that we will be replacing.

Showing JCM Genesis 3 morph that would otherwise be hidden without the show hidden option enabled.

Item 3. Click for full

Step 4: Smooth out the weight maps

Many issues with freshly transferred weight maps can be solved by using the weight map brush tool to smooth out problem areas.

Weight map painting getting dirty in DAZ Studio

Item 4

With symmetry enabled, we are running into an issue where our left and right weight maps are cancelling each other out, thus we have a zone that has no weight maps (Item 4.). That’s why we have this huge bulge. I could simply turn off symmetry, but given the density of the mesh in this tricky area, we would end up with more mess.

To deal with this I create left and right selection zones. This way we can paint on one side and then later mirror our maps from one side to the other. Note symmetry, both with morphing and weight maps, only works with completely symmetrical meshes (another huge time saver). At this point I dial out the JCM as it is also distorting the mesh.

Weight map painting in DAZ Studio with JCMs disabled.

Item 5.

Now that we have nice smoothed-out weight maps, we really see just how tricky working with looser fitting garments can be (Item 5). As our mesh is deforming, our pants are stretching out way beyond where they should be. Remember, these are meant to be short shorts. This, however; is not our only issue.

Step 5: JCMs making a mess

 

Prime example of how Genesis 3 JCMs can create unwanted distortion in clothing mesh.

Item 6.

When we turn our JCMs back on, we immediately see they are making a mess of our mesh (Item 6.). Again, with a more form-fitting garment, this would probably be less an issue. In Esha’s video, at this point, she exports the item out for creating corrective morphs. In most cases this is probably the best option, but here we can do something to try to tidy our mesh up before we export it for fixing.

Step 6: Removing vertices from morph

The idea is simple; we remove the worst effected verts from the morph. In many cases, the JCMs Genesis 3 is generating in our garments are not too much of an issue to fix, but here the JCM is creating a lot of extra work.

Step 6.1: Set JCM as favourite

We find our JCM in the parameters tab and set it as a favourite. (Item 7.)

DAZ Studio: Adding morphs to favourites not only makes them easily accessible. but makes certain editing options possible.

Item 7.

Step 6.2: Select the worst effected verts

We switch to our Geometry Editor tool (Item 8.), and choose Vertex Selection. In a lot of cases like this the Marquee or Lasso Selection tool will be most useful (Item 9).

Geometry editor in DAZ Studio

Item 8.

Using the marquee selection with the geometry editor in DAZ Studio

Item 9

Selecting vertices to remove fom our auto generated JCM.

Item 9.

Step 6.3: Remove verts from favourites

 

Removing verts from favourite morph to clean up auto generated JCMs.

Item 10.

Once we have a selection that looks good we right click in our Viewport > Morph Editing > Clear Selected Deltas from Favorites (Item 10.).

DAZ Studio: item ready for export to create JCMs.

Item 11.

It isn’t perfect, but it is much, much better than what we started with. You may have to repeat those last two steps a few times to get a good result. As you can see, we now have a simpler problem to fix (Item 11.).

Step 7: Prepare for export

In all the cases so far, I have had both thighs moved up to the sides, but we need to move one leg back into its default position. We want to replace the pJCMThighSide_85_L, so having other parts of our figure posed will give us the wrong mesh from which to work.

Step 8: Export mesh from DAZ Studio

Step 8 is well covered in many tutorials.

Step 9: Create morph

Step 9 is covered by Esha, and other tutorials.

Notes on creating morphs for DAZ Studio with LightWave

Esha uses Zbrush in her demonstration, but morphs can be created in just about any 3D modelling software. LightWave is my tool of choice, however there is one caveat with using LightWave to create morphs: Do not cut all or any part of your mesh to a new layer. Doing this will wreck your vertex order, and you will end up with a morph that explodes your mesh once imported back into DAZ Studio. Instead of copying and pasting parts to a new layer, instead use the hide tool.

Note that if you imported Genesis or another template figure, on which to create your morph against (which is how I work), it is fine, and probably best, to cut and paste it to a new layer. You will not have to export your template figure back to DAZ Studio.

LightWave tools of note

Magnet was the most frequently used. Combining the magnet tool with the radial falloff option, I was able to do most of the necessary work.

Smooth was another very useful tool. Dragging around points can get a bit messy, so Smooth is great for averaging out the jags.

Hide is a tool I have rarely used up until I started making a lot of morphs. I have usually found it more convenient to simply cut and paste sections/parts of an object to new layers.

Step 10: Importing morph into DAZ Studio with morph loader pro

This is another step that is covered by Esha and others.

Using LightWave to create morphs for use as JCMs in DAZ Studio. Demonstration render: Woman performing splits. Step 11: Manually hooking up JCMs

Replacing the JCM by overwriting it with another of the same name should work automatically, but I have noticed that in some cases that this is not so. DAZ’s documentation on the process is a little outdated (the interface has changed a little), but the information is transferable to the new interface.

I would like to include this information in this tutorial, but I will leave that up to a possible future tutorial. I hope this helps some of you up-and-coming content makers along the way. See you all again soon.

Freebie – Stephanie 6

5423A quick post letting y’all know there is some good content currently up in the freebie section at DAZ 3D. For those, that are still using the Genesis 2 character base a lot (like me), the Stephanie 6 starter bundle is up for grabs. It contains, a hair prop, a couple of outfits, a couple of additional character morphs (with textures), and a pose pack. I only had the base figure, so I’m picking this one up for the extra content.

The Super Suit Sci-Fi content bundle is also up. It has some cool stuff I’ve used in a few renders. Most of that content is fairly old now, but with 4312some material tweaks it all still looks pretty good.

Additionally there’s some cool stuff in the Fast Grabs too. There are some HRD/IBL sets from DimensionTheory, who does a lot of great work with shaders and lights. My other product of choice from the Fast Grabs is Major Cache for M4. It might be for an old model, but it is still one of the coolest pieces of sci-fi armour on the DAZ store.

Anyways, that’s it for now. i have a few tutorials and reviews brewing, so I’ll be back soon.