A healthy 40% off all the 3D Universe (aka 3DU) characters and animals in the Cartoon Universe section over at the DAZ Store. Sale ends Friday.
Steampunkers and some types of webcomic-makers might like to note the rather nice toon steampunk-friendly sofa that’s in the (currently) $4.77 “Staci – Couch Potato” pack…
Another good deal has cropped up, in the current DAZ sale. A healthy 60% off the cost of video training DVD Learning Carrara 8 (10.5 hours), and also 60% off the more advanced video tutorials set
DAZ’s “Black Friday” offer is open early, and on now at the DAZ Store. In fact, it stretches right through to the end of November. Currently it’s divided into…
* “Door Busters”: a “first 100 customers only” Door Busters bundle that didn’t appeal to me. Mixed bundles rarely do, personally, especially at $27. Now if they had a “pick and mix” at that price, where you could get any $100 of content at $27, I’d probably go for that.
* “Shocker”: nice, if you don’t already have the content. The format seems to be one content developer doing a 30% discount. Currently it’s 30% off a lot of April YSH’s hair — but I already purchased the Lenore hair, when it first appeared, along with all the Lenore items.
* “Fast Grab”: a good range of eight items at very nice sub $5 prices, but nothing that really appeals to me at present.
* “Freebies”: ah, not quite. You have to spend $30 on DAZ originals first, then you get to choose a $14.95 pack as your freebie. From a limited range.
All in all… interesting, but it’s the Wish List where the action happens for me these days. I can only see one item there discounted, and that by only $5.
Here’s my partial step-by-step tutorial for Visual Style Shaders toon shaders pack, sold for DAZ 4 or higher. I ultimately failed to get the effect, but here’s the tutorial anyway, as far as I got in the far-too-convoluted process.
Sadly no tutorial of any kind was included in the package by its developer, leading to massive frustration for many purchasers who have never tried to wrestle with using DAZ shaders before.
Anyway, what follows took me about two days to figure out and painfully piece together, and yet I still failed to actually get the toon effect to render… but this partial tutorial might be useful as a base for someone else:
1. First, you will (of course) need to have installed a copy of DAZ Studio Pro, at version 4 (patched) or 4.5. Thankfully, DAZ 3D Studio is currently free.
2. Find the installer that you downloaded for the Visual Style Shaders package. Install this to your usual DAZ content folder/directory. For me as a DAZ Studio 3 user this is always:
… / My Documents / DAZ 3D / Studio3 / Content.
The Shader files should then be installed in: …
… / Content / Shaders / Visual Style Shaders
3. Now launch DAZ Studio 4.x. If you normally run DAZ Studio 3, and are running DAZ Studio 4.x simply to try to use Visual Style Shaders, then you may need to wrestle with the first-time nightmare of showing DAZ Studio where your usual content folders are — I have a tutorial for that in Version 4 which shows you how to do that.
4. Once DAZ Studio 4 is told where you keep all your runtime content, then (over in the left-hand content library folders in DAZ) you can then navigate to:
/ DAZ Studio Formats / Studio[x] / Shaders / Visual Style Shaders
(Note that if you use the PzDB third-party library system, as I do with DS3, that the new shaders will not show up in PzDB on re-indexing your content database. You must use the native DAZ 4 Content Library system to locate the icons that activate/place the Visual Style Shaders).
5. If you can successfully navigate to the Visual Style Shaders library folder, then you should see two large icons that look like this…
There are also two further folders, a little deeper into the folder structure, named “Noir Presets” and “Visual Presets”. We’ll get to those later.
6. OK, so now we know where those pesky shaders have actually been placed, we can back out and go find some suitable content to load onto the DAZ Studio stage. Choose something that you think may look good with a toon look. It needs to be something that has various materials mapped to it, rather than something that uses a single texture-map. Characters are best. Here I’m using a toonish ‘Jane Frost’ character…
7. Now look near the top part of your Content Library interface. Switch to the “Scene” tab. Ensure your Character and all their clothes and accessories are highlighted there…
8. Now switch over to the “Surfaces|Rendering” tab, then use the Content Library to find your Visual Style Shaders folder again. Then on the other side of the screen, expand the Texture Editor list for your character or prop, then Select (Shift + click) all materials…
9. Now hold down the Crtl button on your keyboard, while double-clicking on the “Visual Style Base” icon in the Content Library. After a moment a small dialogue window will pop up. Keep Ctrl pressed down, and in this window you switch the Map Settings drop-down choice to “Ignore”…
Then click “Accept”. The pop-up window will vanish, and the Visual Style Shaders ‘base’ should be applied. Exactly why this shader base layer is needed, I have no idea. But apparently it does need to be applied first.
10. OK, now in the DAZ Studio Viewport it looks like all our textures got stripped off. This seems to be usual. The “Ctrl” keyboard press was meant to tell DAZ Studio not to replace the textures. But that trick doesn’t (often?) work with these particular kind of shaders in DS 4.x. /Sigh…/
So we now need to re-apply the original textures by hand. Hurrah!
11. Here you can see that I’ve:
* Selected a texture (the fingernails).
* Located the two Diffuse texture channels for it.
* Found the drop-down arrows which sit at the end of each diffuse channel slot.
* And then from these arrows I’ve selected the correct original texture from the pre-filled list.
You can usually figure out the texture name required. although it may be abbreviated (for the nails here, “…frstBDY” meaning the BODY texture).
You need to do this texture replacement process for both Diffuse channels, and for each and every texture, in order to place the original textures back on the prop or character. Just go down the list, and replace. Note that the texture replacement may not show on the preview until you click down to the next texture.
Note that some fabric positioning magnets (as with the skirt, in the picture above) are meant to be invisible, and may have been made visible. Simply select them and turn their opacity down until they vanish.
Once you’ve complete all this, and the OpenGL preview viewport looks satisfactory, it’s probably useful to “save as…” the scene with a filename that includes “retex-complete” or something meaningful like that.
12. Ok, now what? You’ve applied the shader base. You’ve corrected all the diffuse channels, retexturing the character. So where is that long-desired toon effect? If you do a test render now, it’s not there.
13. Before we attempt try to get a toon shader effect, first let’s set up some simple lighting and get away from the default lighting. It will apparently improve the toon effect in a major way. One simple direct (‘Distant’) light will work best with toon shaders. So go into the Lighting/Cameras tab. Select “Distant light” and click it to drop a new light into the scene. Zoom out a bit, and you should see your new light sitting on the stage floor…
To move a light in DS you have to (un-intuitively) switch to the “Posing|Shading” tab, where you can position and tilt the lights…
Do a test render to check if the light is too harsh or not. Here’s mine using 3Delight, at this stage…
14. Now we need get back to the place where you can find and change those Visual Shader control sliders. Ensure you are in the “Surfaces|Rendering” tab, Then, over on the far right of the screen, you’ll see Surfaces / Editor. The words “Shader: Visual Shader” should be showing just under the selected “Editor” tab button. Here I’ve selected the Skin Body, and then I have access to the shader control sliders over on the far right…
15. Now you’re finally at the point where you can look at the technical specs documentation PDF that came with Visual Style Shaders, and you might make some sense of those specs. Load up the PDF (online here, if you can’t find it on your PC) which gives you some idea how to adjust the Shader’s effects.
The sliders and settings the PDF is talking about are the ones now on the far right of your screen.
16. OK, now there are apparently some presets, which save us from having to fiddle with the sliders. With the character’s SkinBody texture selected, go back to the Content Library and find the “Visual Skin – Texture” preset. Double-click it.
Oh joy, the textures vanished again! You need to re-apply them again, and this time in all of these channels:
Having done this, now might be a good time to save another version of your file.
Apply the same preset to the head skin texture, then re-apply the original textures. Then try a test render.
17. Still not getting that pesky toon effect on the render? Me neither. At this point I experimented for another hour, trying various settings, various methods including new lights, to get anything like the advertised toon effect. But eventually I just had to give up. No doubt the Shader Gods know how to do this stuff. I obviously just don’t know how to do it…
But anyway… here’s the basic tutorial, if someone wants to finish it for me… and to actually show the world how these shaders can be made to work as advertised.
Renderosity has a 15% off coupon for sales of $25 or more, from now through Friday 9th November 2012. Valid on Sale and Clearance items only.