Hoooo boy! It’s been a while since I’ve touched DAZ Studio. Conveniently about the same amount of time since I last touched this blog, actually. My last post was a render for Chinese New Year made in DAZ Studio, so… yeah. Heh. 😛
In the time I’ve been gone, I’ve been hard at work doing work so I can pay for a place to live and donating the rest to the government. 😛 My finances are going up now, though, which is nice. It’d’ve been highly depressing if it was some generic office job or something, but I’m doing what I’ve trained to do for years – programming games. 😀 Sure, it’s not a huge company, and I’m only doing mobile games, but I much prefer working in a smaller team, and the challenges aren’t much different from programming anything else. So it’s great! 🙂 I wish I liked the game that I was working on a bit more than I do, though. 😛
Anyhoo, yes, back to the original topic of my post, DAZ Studio. It’s been nearly 7 months since I last opened it. I’ve never really thought about it at all since then. I would’ve probably gotten close to February next year, remembered that I needed to do the next image in my Chinese Zodiac series and opened it then. 😛 But yeah, there hasn’t really been any particular urge to open it for a while. Besides, my focus is developing ULSG V14 in whatever spare time I can pull together.
However, a couple of days ago, I stumbled across a render of a dragon in a pretty basic pose. It looked like it’d been done in Poser or DAZ Studio. The quality was pretty dire, so I was halfway to the back button until I did a double take. I realised that I didn’t really recognise this dragon, and I have nigh on every dragon available for DAZ Studio. At first glance, I thought it was the SubDragon, but his face looked just a little bit different. Then it was like a chain reaction of HOLY SHITness. I noticed that he had no horns. He had horns on his nose, but they were flat and looked like they hadn’t been morphed. His scales looked different, too. Then I noticed his claws and feet. He had four fingers and a thumb on each hand, and four toes and a dewclaw on each foot. The SubDragon has one less. That was probably the biggest giveaway, and made me say “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS DRAGON?!”
Not long after this, I found out it was the latest in the series of DAZ’s dragon models – the DAZ Dragon 3! Yes, yes, it’s not the most imaginative of names. And it’s actually very inaccurate, since there are now FOUR main entries in the DAZ Dragons series: the Dragon, the MilDragon, the SubDragon and the Dragon 3. 😛 But meh, whatever. After finding this out, my urge to render increased massively, and naturally, I jumped on it immediately. 😛
The one thing that bugged me, though? Well, the DAZ Dragon 3 is actually a “Genesis” figure, DAZ’s most recent “technology”. I don’t know a great deal about it, just that it’s a model that can be morphed into something hugely different from the base figure. Oh, and it’s ONLY supported in DAZ Studio 4. Apparently.
Nowww… it’s somewhere in this blog… ah, here. Back in this post I tried out DAZ Studio 4, when it first came out. It was wank. The entire UI was redesigned, so your layout from DAZ Studio 3 was chucked away, and you were given a choice of preset layouts instead. I nicknamed them Noob Mode, Annoying Mode, “Expert” Mode and Shouldn’t Even Be Using This Program Mode. The best mode was Noob Mode, but that’s like awarding it first place in a leper competition. Annoying Mode had about 6000 different sections that weren’t easily configurable. “Expert” Mode was for people who thought they were experts but were actually just stupid. It had ONE section containing nigh-on EVERY POSSIBLE TOOL (including pointless ones), ONE viewport to work in, and a NON-COMPACT UI, making it pretty much bat-shit insane. Shouldn’t Even Be Using This Program Mode is still in “beta” even after five years, and is for frightened people with no desire to pose things themselves who would probably uninstall the program within 30 minutes.
As far as I recall, the UI design also brought along some gay slidey animations whenever you selected a docked tab. They weren’t smooth, or fast, or interesting. They just slowed me down and irritated me. The tab names were also written VERTICALLY, so you had to tilt your head to read them easily. This, hilariously, took up MORE space than the old UI. Basically, it was an absolutely terrible upgrade that had no advantages whatsoever. It used more resources, added more useless bloat, and the render engine was just as fast as DS3.
But if I wanted to use the DAZ Dragon 3, I had no choice but to use DS4. Gurrrrgh. Well, it’s been 5 years since then. I thought that they’d’ve made it better within that time, right?
Well… yes, actually.
But it took HOURS. 😛
The default layouts are still there and haven’t changed. However, joy of friggin’ joys, you can choose an alternate skin. There’s a choice of three – Main Street, Highway and Darkside. Anyone who uses Main Street is a spaz, unless you have sight issues or something. Seriously, the tabs are idiotically large and spacing between icons is larger. Do you WANT space to work? Then you must at LEAST choose Highway. This basically removes pointless padding, and isn’t too bad. But real men choose Darkside, because it looks like DS3 (which looked fairly cool) and uses about the same amount of space that Highway does. 😛
The difficult part is modifying one of the preset layouts. It literally took me two hours to modify Annoying Mode into a layout that worked for me.
Four workflow modes: one for loading, one for constructing the scene, one for adding lights and cameras, and one for rendering. All modes except for Load have Parameters and Surfaces tabs, so you can tweak objects or materials without needing to switch modes. There’re no animation things because I think proper animation in DAZ Studio is absolutely impossible. Puppeteer is gone OF COURSE. Almost all camera cubes and pose tools are fucked off because they’re annoying, especially the camera cubes. And tabs are along the TOP rather than up the side, thank GOD. 😛
I call it “The DJ Max” because I have brain cells that are connected incorrectly. 😛
I’ve dumped the preset on Dropbox HERE, if anyone would like to use it. 🙂
UPDATE: I dumped Dropbox because I got a nice e-mail from them saying they were about to drop 23GB of my 31GB because it was part of a promotional offer. I think they were hoping that I subscribed to Dropbox Pro but then I realised I actually have a 30GB limit on OneDrive. And if you subscribe to Office 365, you get 1TB of space. And Microsoft Office, of course. And 60 Skype minutes a month. All for less than Dropbox Pro. GG Dropbox! But enough of that. Here’s a new link to the preset. Just let me know if it breaks again. 🙂
Anyway, yes. DAZ Studio 4.6 is actually pretty good now. It works about as well as DAZ Studio 3, and that’s all I can really ask for. Now, back to the Dragon 3.
…actually, is there another name I could use? D3? Oh shit no that reminded me of Diablo 3 and nearly made me vomit. I’ll just use Dragon 3 for now. 😛
Anyway, my experience with Dragon 3. Simply put? He is flat out awesome. I don’t really know what to criticise. He has the same kind of build as the SubDragon, so he is ultra-flexible and can probably do anything. But there are so many improvements. There are at least 100 morphs and a full set of expressions. He even has visemes, and might actually work with lip-sync if… er… if lip-sync still existed, seriously they got rid of that?! Or I can’t find it. Eh, whatever. He’s missing B, C, T, R and probably loads of other visemes anyway. 😛
The morphs that blew my mind were the horns. He has five sets of horns you can morph, and four of them are pretty standard. However, his main horns? Hhhhhohhh. There are 13 types. And they are all combinable.
Of course, most combinations just end up as a total mess, but it’s awesome you can do that. 😀
He comes with some poses, of course. They’re good to let you take him out for a test render more quickly, but I don’t really use them for anything other than that. 😛 They do show off his flexibility, though. And just like the SubDragon, he’s got such a great range of personality.
And goddamnit. It’s gotta be said – he’s a gorgeous-looking dragon. Every part of him is beautiful. 😀 The model is so detailed, and the textures are ultra-high resolution, too. And the morphs don’t seem to affect the texture quality like they do on the SubDragon.
As I said, it’s been a while since I touched DAZ Studio, and even longer since using DS4, so I’m a little rusty. I’ve spent a few hours getting back to grips with everything, including my old friend, UberEnvironment2. 😀 Here’s what I cooked up:
I love him – he’s just awesome. 😀 This render needs a bit more work, though – the quality needs to cranked up a bit more. I’ll probably do a proper render with him at some point. Maybe with the SubDragon? We’ll see. 🙂