There’s a new free motion-capture Python script for Blender. It uses Blender to… “re-target motion-capture data from Mixamo, BVH or iClone to Rigify, DAZ or custom rigs”.
Excellent news. The main 3DCoat 2021 lands on 12th July with its long-awaited new user interface and many other improvements. It also includes ZBrush-like sculpting, but without the mad interface and torturous workflows of ZBrush. However there will also be a cheaper cut-down 3DCoatTextura version of 2021, which will include…
“only the 3D painting, texturing and rendering tools. … It is designed especially for people who create 3D models in other software and need a professional tool for painting and texturing at a very sweet price”.
Sounds good, and even better it appears this version will be a one-time purchase albeit at $110 without discounts. Definitely one to put on your Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping-list, if it can then go down to a must-have and truly hobbyist-friendly $50.
ArmorPaint (aka Armor Paint or Armour Paint) is an open-source standalone for painting on 3D models, including with PBR. Very like Substance Painter, but free and with no subscription shackle. Or… sort-of-free. It’s 16 Euros on GumRoad, where your $20 also gets you the latest builds dropped into your GumRoad Library. Or you can compile an .EXE yourself for free from the source-code — if you have a few hours to spare, a copy of Microsoft Visual Studio (free, when last heard of) and a YouTube tutorial handy.
ArmorPaint has had a couple of big updates, and the latest is now 0.8 (19th January 2021). There was another big update you may have missed hearing about, this time last year. There’s a YouTube video for ArmorPaint: Four key new features, January 2021…
“Added Viewport cel-shader plugin”.
Nice. It’s ‘two-clicks’ instant too, and it appears there’s no need to fiddle about with setting up special toon materials. No lineart on the edges, though you might paint along the seams. For the huge list of fixes and changes, including new .SVG import, see the Changelog.
There’s a Blender bridge, but as yet not ones for Poser or DAZ.
Apparently the freeware Materialize, from Bounding Box Software, is said to work well with ArmorPaint as a flanking ‘assistant’ software. Materialize can “create an entire material from a single image”…
I found another handy bit of simple old-school Windows freeware, Height Map to OBJ. Note that it needs a square height-map, not an oblong one, or it will give “out of memory” errors.
It does smoothing as it exports to a mesh, effectively removing the unwanted “terraces” which can be so difficult to remove from the greyscale heightmap itself. At the cost of smushing away fine details. But these could potentially be added back with software which can add erosion and other “re-detailing” to an OBJ terrain.
The resulting OBJ loads into Poser fine and fast at 20%, and then needs a 700% scale-up on the Y axis. Once in Poser it’s quite biddable. Here a 10-mile wide white terrain is being ‘textured’ purely by four lights in the Poser OpenGL viewport, with Comic Book mode providing the ink lines. On its own it won’t impress, but it would provide a good starting point for a hand-drawn tourist map, etc.
So far as I know there’s no Vue-like “show different texture types at different height elevations” material for Poser, aka a ‘distribution shader’. Possibly with Poser 12 such a thing will be enabled? Or could a script build such a thing on the fly, by inspecting the mesh?
With far more of a learning-curve, TerreSculptor is now wholly free and will also import a height map and export an OBJ mesh. The OBJ is far less biddable, though.
There was an important release that I overlooked, back in the summer. The free DAZ-Blender bridge plugin by Diffeomorphic, Thomas Larsson,was released as v1.5. This is in active development and at November 2020 is now at version 1.5.1. Apparently it does a good job, and is quicker and in some ways better than the free official DAZ 2.0 script. Since it doesn’t need to convert via an .FBX or Collada conversion and instead reads the DAZ files directly. Said to support polyline hair, but not strand hair. Worth a look, if you’re getting into Blender and its real-time Eevee engine.
Interestingly, I recently noticed that Eevee is actually OpenGL + PBR materials. I hadn’t known that before. It explains why my OpenGL upgrade fixed Blender. It just shows how far OpenGL can be pushed.
Update December 2020: diffeomorphic.blogspot.com totally dead. Fixed links by sending to WayBack and I’ve directly linked the repository.
The development of the $10 FlowScape landscape-creation software is back on track, now that Australia is recovering from lockdown and the kids are back in the schools again. There’s a preview video of the next version of this real-time tool. Lots of new stuff for makers of isometric dungeons (think all those Diablo-like dungeon-crawler videogames) which though fun is presumably mostly for RPG makers. But also, later in the video, we see ‘flocking’ fish shoals underwater, fast auto-growing grass and ground-cover plants that automatically follow the terrain without any ‘painting’ being needed, while auto-culling happens on terrain slopes and hollows. Plus there’ll be a configurable “stick it where you want it” user interface.
Ah, so the $15 Japanese DAZtoBlender8 plugin is the new official DAZ Blender plugin.
It’s been taken off sale at Gumroad, and the maker states there that… “DazToBlender is now available for free in DAZ 3D.” He also reports that there’s been a slight change due to the swop-over and name-change, and… “Props from Renderotica cannot be [used with] the version published on the DAZ 3D site.” The trade-off is that in DAZ’s hands the plugin appears to have been quickly extended to supporting transfer of Genesis 3 as well as 8.
The last non-DAZ developer version was 2020-07-01 | Version 188.8.131.52, then newly supporting Blender 2.83.
Another interesting item to note is that, now this is with DAZ… “This project is open source.” That’s from the DAZ Store page.
DAZ now has a new open-source DAZ to Cinema 4D Bridge, and it’s free. It transfers “Genesis 8 and 3 content” from DAZ 4.10 onwards, into seemingly any version of Cinema 4D from R15 onwards. It will also “Transfer Figures/Props/Environments”, but judging by the description it sounds like the poses don’t get sent. Facial morphs do, though. With the Poser equivalent, the whole scene is sent to C4D, poses and all.
Scrolling down the page a bit reveals a family of such plugins, also free. Maya, Blender, 3DS Max.
The Blender one is interesting, potentially making a DAZ figure real-time in Eevee? Yes, it seems so…
“Supported Blender Render Engines: Eevee …”
There’s no manual download of these new Bridge plugins, and the install has to be done through the DAZ Install Manager. Once installed they’re then found under: Scripts > Bridges. YouTube has new tutorials on their use.
Decimation of a model is done as follows: Top Menu / Filter / Remeshing > Simplification: Quadric Edge Collapse decimation. Set target poly count, tick ‘Preserve Normal’. Save.
Reallusion has a generous 50% off “all Software Store Packages” until 30th June 2020. The coupon code is either: “COVID19STAYSAFE” or COVID19STAYSAFE — it’s one or the other.
Theoretically this should drop the price on the excellent Cartoon Animator 4.2 to $49.50 for the standard (‘Pro’) version. However the real Pro version is the ‘Pipeline’ — it can load .SWF files by drag-and-drop, and has round-trip .PSD editing of props and characters. Which means Photoshop but also Krita, Clip Studio, and presumably Rebelle and much else that can open/save .PSD files. Assuming the checkout code ‘takes’ I’d be looking at around $89 for Pipeline, with a site member discount.
Looking at the Marketplace after a while away, I like Anton Bakhmat‘s latest scenes for Cartoon Animator.
3D users may also be interested in 3DXchange with a 50% discount, which can wrangle a 3D Warehouse .SKP model to a clean OBJ.
TurboVNC, “high-speed, 3D-friendly, TightVNC-compatible remote desktop software”, including mouse and keyboard control of the remote PC. Free, open-source, mature but also in active development. “3D friendly” here means things like Poser, Cinema 4D, Vue etc, not videogames.
Those who’ve used the business-friendly Team Viewer will be familiar with the basic principle of the ‘Remote Desktop’, aka ‘Virtual Desktop’. You install some software on both PCs, then with the aid of a ‘crossover’ Ethernet cable and a Local Network set up in Windows, you can seamlessly view and operate a remote PC from the comfort of your main PC. A use-case might be that you want to run Vue 2016 directly on your 12-core dual-Xeon render-farm ‘beast’ PC, rather than just sending its rendering work to that PC. But you don’t want to have to swop seats, cables etc to do so. Windows also has a similar feature built-in, which may be enough for those not doing advanced modelling with real-time rendering.
I also looked at the similarly free TigerVNC, also 3D-friendly, but TurboVNC seems the best choice for such things as it has high throughput and also ‘visual glitch’ error correction designed for 3D software work. Though it has a User’s Guide that only a techie could love, and badly needs a focused and user-friendly 6-minute YouTube video offering a quickstart on its setup and use.
Still, making a .BAT file should relive you of the need to type in a half dozen tedious commands, which are needed before you start up the Viewer component…
Note that, to download TurboVNC you may also want to know how to get direct downloads from SourceForge, if the EU’s cookies-crap stops your download from starting.
Need snow in your Poser scene for Christmas? Snarlygribbly’s free Snow Machine 2.3 works in Firefly and Preview. Also in Sketch, though it tends to get rather ‘lost in the shuffle’. The snow is really easy to apply, just choose your settings (depth, colour, reflectivity etc) and watch the snow appear on your prop or even all across your scene…
The new P3DO Pro 2.7 was released a few days ago. One of several third-party indexers and content-managers for for Poser, P3DO Pro now has a DUF parser, for a partial indexing of the newer type of DAZ Studio files. P3DO Pro costs $25 for a two-year licence.
Update: The licence is a little confusing, but the maker clarifies it in a comment to this blog…
“P3DO keys don’t expire. Once you have acquired a key you will be able to use that version without duration limit. It is the ability to upgrade to a newer version which is not possible after a given time. Those two years you are referring to is the minimal time with free upgrades [to the user].”
P3DO Pro’s main rival PzDB 1.3 had partial DAZ indexing some years ago, along with iClone and Vue items. The PzDB licence never expires and 1.3 is currently on a discount at $56. However, if you only need a vast Poser runtime indexing then I’d suggest 1.2 is the better and perfectly good option, and it’s also significantly cheaper at $32.
If you can’t afford either, take a look at the free Everything.
Google has released the free BodyPix 2.0. This offers automatic identification of people against a relatively noisy background, and then spots and tracks each person’s twenty-four body parts. It then segments, ID’s and colours each body-part. It can do this even while being fed around 20-25 frames per second, on fairly standard hardware such as an iPhone.
Version 2.0 adds “multi-person support and improved accuracy”.
They also offer the sister-software PoseNet, enabling a basic emulation of what a Kinect does but via standard Webcams…
both BodyPix and PoseNet can be used without installation and just a few lines of code. You don’t need any specialized lenses to use these models — they work with any basic webcam or mobile camera. And finally users can access these applications by just opening a url. Since all computing is done on device, the data stays private. For all these reasons, we think BodyPix is easily accessible as a tool for artists, creative coders, and those new to programming.
So… how to plug this stuff into a nice little DAZ/Poser-friendly Webcam utility? One that, at the flick of a drop-down menu, will happily real-time puppet and animate any stock figure from an Aiko 3 up to a G8 or La Femme?