From Daz Studio to Blender 2.5

From Daz Studio to Blender 2.5

There are two methods to send Daz figures from Daz Studio to Blender 2.5. Which method to use depends on the final purpose of the transfer, animation in Blender or static illustration in Blender. These methods work in both Daz Studio 3 and the newer Daz Studio 4. They won’t work in versions of Blender prior to 2.5. I use Blender 2.58 at the time of this writing. Unfortunately, with both methods, you will need to re-assign your materials to the figure in Blender. With both methods you will have to fix the file to show textures in Blender.

Method One: Animation

With this method, none of your poses will be preserved by Blender. You will need to repose your Daz Figure inside Blender.

Step 1)Export your Daz Studio scene in Collada Digital Asset Exchange format (*.dae). This will preserve rigging from Daz to Blender. In Blender, rigging is called an Armature. Make certain you have the following settings:

Standard Collada
Weld geometry
Remove unused vertices
Ignore invisible nodes
Bake scale
Merge skeletons
Collect Maps

Step 2)

Move your Collada file into the same folder as your exported images. It should have the same name asyoput file. e.g. move myfile.dae into the folder myfile.

Step 3)

Edit the Collada file in any text editor by removing the path to your texture maps. e.g. change “./myfile/texture.jpg” into “texture.jpg”. This can be done with a simple Find and Replace.

Step 4)

Open Blender and remove any objects in scene. You can select items in Blender by clicking on the object’s label inside the Outliner panel or by clicking on the object in the 3D view. Tapping ‘x’ for delete and hitting enter will delete the object. Don’t remove the lights or the camera unless you plan to create new ones.

Step 5)

Import the Collada File > Import > COLLADA (*.dae)

After scrolling to zoom out, you should end up with a figure on the ground like this:


Open the Root Node in the Outliner then select the Armature. This is the visual representation of your rigging. You can change it so that it is less obtrusive using the Armature tab in the Properties panel. I selected ‘Stick’ view for my armature.

Step 7)

At this point you can select the Root Node then resize and rotate your imported figure.

Step8 )

To pose parts of the figure, first expand the hierarchy for the armature in the Outliner. Select the part you want to move and use the rotator tool to rotate the limb. As mentioned before you will still need to re-assign materials but all of them should be in a Maps folder created when the Collada file was created. Now start animating!

Method Two: Static Illustration

Step 1)

Export a Wavefront object from Daz Studio at Blender Size (2%) using these settings:

Scale: 2%
Ignore invisible nodes
Use Bone welds
Remove unused vertices
Write Groups > Use Figure Name
Collect Maps

Step 2)

Re-Assign materials. This can be done quickly with obj files by moving your obj and mtl files into the Maps folder created during the export. Next edit the mtl file. Change all references from “/Maps/”  to just the name of the exported image file. For example “/Maps/skin.jpg” becomes “skin.jpg”. Another simple Find and Replace operation.

Step 3) Import the file into Blender. You’re done.

Which is better? the answer obviously depends upon whether you want to animate your figure in Blender or not.




Learning ZBrush 4 – Morphs

UPDATE Feb. 2013: Victoria 4 and Michael 4 are no longer FREE  but DazStudio 4.5 is FREE.

This article will focus on morph creation in ZBrush from an existing model. For my examples I will be using

  1. The free models Victoria 4 and Michael 4 available for download from Daz3D,
  2. DazStudio 3 from,
  3. MorphLoader Pro from
  4. Silo available from Nevercenter and
  5. ZBrush 4 from Pixologic

ZBrush’s sculpting tools are confusingly called “3D brushes”. If no model is present the currently active 3D brush is grayed out. When a model is on the canvas, 3D brushes can be accessed in Edit mode either by pressing the currently active brush button or by typing the letter ‘B’. None of the brushes will add or remove topology. They will only expand or contract parts of the mesh thus making them perfect for morph creation.

Each of the models pictured above were made from Victoria 4 using a combination of the Standard brush, the Move brush, the Clay brush, the Planar Flatten Brush, the Smooth brush, the Transpose Brush and their variants.

Let us now focus on aging the Daz models using ZBrush. I have gotten my best results by exporting an OBJ file from DazStudio. Unlike Poser, DazStudio allows it’s users to export models at different sizes for the different 3D modeling programs. I always select the Silo setting (1 unit = 10 cm) and turn on bone welds so that I get a large model for detailing. The UV settings don’t matter for export to ZBrush since you will need to recreate those later if you plan on texturing your model. The rest of the settings can be left at their defaults.

As I mentioned in part 1 of this series, always set the Z-intensity to a low level and gradually increase it to develop subtle changes in your digital sculpture. Starting with the Standard brush, follow the main muscle groups of the face. Wrinkles tend to follow muscle groupings as pictured in the écorché (flayed) face to the left. The orbicular muscles of the mouth and eyes tend to have rounded wrinkles that follow those contours. Wrinkles on the sides tend to straighten out and follow the Zygomatic process (cheek bone). Make the chin and ears sag using the Move brush. The new Move Topolgical brush is excellent for collapsing the lips. To create crevices hold down the ALT button in combination with your selected brush to push into the model. This is useful for pushing in the cheeks for sunken-in look.  You can also switch from ZAdd to ZSub to get the same pushing-in effect.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the different brushes to see what effect they will have. Try the Slash brush to make lines and the Clay brush to build up form. To make your brush strokes straighter, press L once to turn on lazy mouse. Pressing L again will turn lazy mouse off. Hold down the SHIFT key to go over and smooth your work. As you work, you may find it hard to add more detail into the existing DAZ model. This is good time to subdivide your model by pressing CTRL-D. This can also be changed in the Geometry palette by clicking on the DIVIDE button. Be careful about clicking the DEL Lower button. This will delete your lower subdivision level and make it impossible to import your morph. Once you have subdivided your model you can go down in subdivision levels by typing SHIFT-D and up in level by typing D. Remember you can always undo your strokes by hitting CTRL-Z.

For the final touches, combine Standard brush with one of the Alphas (preferably Alpha 58) to create random crevices in the mesh.

If you are satisfied with your morph, lower it to the lowest subdivision level with SHIFT-D or by moving the SDiv slider to 1 in the Geometry palette, then export it as an OBJ from the Tool palette. You can then use the MorphLoader Pro add-on for Daz Studio to apply your morph to your DAZ figure.

Remember to check “yes” for DazStudio Exported, “yes” for Used Bone Welds and “yes” for Reverse Deformations. Viola you have created your first morph using ZBrush.

Learning ZBrush 4 – Clearing the confusion

When I first used ZBrush, I found many things confusing. ZBrush doesn’t quite operate the same way as other 3D applications. Its a cross between a painting program and a 3D modeling program hence the name ZBrush; “Z” for depth and brush for painting. This series begins with things that might confuse the new user in the hope of clearing the confusion. I’ll try to avoid more advanced terminology until later in the series. Some of these tips will make more sense in my next article when we actually begin sculpting. I still think its important to keep these tips in mind before you begin.

1. Scale vs Zoom

Prior to ZBrush 4r8, ZBrush confused me initially because the button labeled zoom only increased the size of the draw window slightly. I discovered that to do real zooming, I should use the scale feature instead. Scaling is also essential for getting high resolution detail onto a model. Additionally, scaling an imported object file inside ZBrush will not affect the size of the exported object. No other 3D program I’ve used behaves this way. With ZBrush 4r8, Scale has been re-labelled as Zoom 3D.

2. New sculpts are ZTools (*.ZTL).

Once sculpting begins in ZBrush, the object being sculpted becomes a ZTool. Pressing ‘T’ on your keyboard or clicking the Edit button at the top will toggle a ZTool in and out of 3D and 2.5D mode. Switching a tool to 2.5D mode is called “Dropping to canvas”. Switching to 3D mode is referred to as “Picking up from Canvas”.

When a ZTool is in 3D mode it can be painted, rotated in 3 dimensions and sculpted. When it is in 2.5D mode the only change is that rotation is restricted to 2 dimensions. 2.5D mode allows photographic detail to be projected onto a model. ZBrush will retain this detail when the tool goes back to 3D mode. Another advantage is that high polygon models can easily be turned into background images thus lowering the overhead for a 3D render.

ZBrush 4 adds a new file format similar to ZTool called ZProject (*.ZPR) which stores render and material information along with the object.

3. Preserving UVs

If you plan to create textures in ZBrush, make certain that none of the object parts have overlapping UVs. Overlapping UVs result in streaked texture maps with paint from one part of the object ending up on a different part. Various tools can be used to separate the UVs into sections that fit on a single square. Silo would be good choice for this purpose. A free alternative is the UV Master plugin available on Pixologic’s plugin page. A free alternative is the UV Master Plugin now bundled with ZBrush.

4. Always lower brush intensity.

Always turn brush intensity to the lowest level and gradually increase it when sculpting or painting. This provides maximum control over the model being sculpted or painted and allows an artist to create more subtle details. RGB Intensity affects the strength or opacity of color brush strokes and Z Intensity controls the depth of sculptured brush strokes.

5. Paint and sculpt at hi-res; export the model at low-res

Always set the highest possible resolution when painting and sculpting. This will capture the most detail for your model in combination with scaling. Increasing resolution is also called subdivision. If you plan to use your model with programs other than ZBrush, you will have to export it is a low-res OBJ file. Most programs cannot handle the million plus polygons in ZBrush. To preserve your sculptured detail, you can export the detail as a normal map or a displacement map. This has been made easier in ZBrush 4 with the Multi-Map Exporter plugin.

6. Always turn on perspective.

This seems like a no-brainer but new users may miss the perspective button in ZBrush’s dense interface (its on the right-hand side underneath “AAHalf” and above “Floor”) . This tip is especially important when sculpting portraits for use in other 3D programs. Faces will look more rounded and stretched when viewed in perspective.

7. Use a drawing tablet.

ZBrush is designed for tablet use. A Mouse gives far less control over the brushes than a tablet. Wacom has a wide selection of drawing tablets.

8. Focal Shift controls the softness or hardness of a brush.

The cursor on ZBrush looks like two circles. The inner circle represents “focal shift” and the outer circle represents brush size. If the focal shift circle is close to the same size as the brush size circle, sharp edges will define the marks of the brush (hard brush). If the focal shift is small compared to the brush size, the brush will will be smoother and edges will be smudged (soft brush).

9. Use Clipping and Masking for hard surfaces and straight lines.

Masking allows an artist to freeze parts of a ZTool so that it is not affected by the sculpting and painting brushes. Clipping will “squish” the virtual clay of a ZTool to fit a particular shape, much like using a mold or cast with real clay. Masking has been part of ZBrush for some time but clipping is a new feature of ZBrush 4. For best results go to the highest resolution level in ZBrush when making hard surfaces and straight edges. Clipping and Masking can be used to create extremely complex shapes in conjunction with ZBrush’s new Shadow Box feature.

For more information on using the new ZBrush 4, look at Pixologic’s Tutorials and cannedmushrooms’s Tutorials both on YouTube.