As promised in the first installment we are going to get you going on your first render (composed image) as quickly as we can with some basics. We are also going to concentrate on available free software to download. No use spending anything until you check it out at least a little bit.
To accomplish this, we will pay a visit to Daz3d.com and download the free DAZ Central application. This free tool keeps track of assets, programs, plug-ins, downloads, and installs them. Generally taking care of all things DAZ so you don’t have to.
After you install Daz Central there should be a window on top of the browser with a button to download DAZ Studio which is the tool we are after. You can click past this and the same link will be prominently displayed at the top of the next page. There are multiple ways to get to the download. Click and install DAZ studio next.
DAZ Central - DAZ Studio Downloading and Installation
Barring any catastrophic events, you should be able to open Daz Studio to a blank scene. We are going to jump right in and do a simple beach scene with an available free model the Genesis 8 Female. So, let’s get the model loaded.
In the Content Library tab choose DAZ Studio Formats->My DAZ 3D Library->People->Genesis 8 Female and double click on Genesis 8 or Genesis 8.1. and the base model should load. From here go to DAZ Studio Formats->My DAZ 3D Library->People->Clothing->Basic Wear and load Basic Wear 02 with the character selected. Otherwise, it might not match the character and will not pose properly.
Below clothing, you will find Hair. DAZ Studio Formats->My DAZ 3D Library->People->Hair. There should be a folder with Toulouse Hair, but you can use whatever hair is available or no hair at all if that is your thing.
Now to Poses. DAZ Studio Formats->My DAZ 3D Library->Poses->Base Poses. From here choose Base Pose Laying B or the pose of your choice. You‘ll want to experiment with different poses to get familiar with them.
Now go to the PAN tool in the upper right of the workspace and move the model into the middle area of the viewport. For now, we will ignore basic composition rules like the Rule of Thirds but you need to be aware such rules exist as they exist for a reason. Whether and when you use them is up to you. In this case, we’ll keep it simple.
DAZ Studio has several workspace themes so the theme I’m using might not be what you see but there should be a RENDER button somewhere in front of you. Or you can go to the Render menu on top and select Render. You can also use the Control-R shortcut.
Give the render a name and save it. After all, it’s your first render. A bit underwhelming. OK… a lot underwhelming but we’ll add a little spice to it with an Iray preset. Iray is a renderer… that does renders. It has tools and tweaks to get a great look. Don’t dwell on that right now either. You don’t have to know how an engine works to drive a car but you at least need to know what an engine is.
The rendered image and the DAZ Studio workspace.
The next thing we want to do is go into Render Settings which we get to the same way as getting to Render listed above except the shortcut is Control-Shift-R. From here go into Iray->DAZ Studio Iray HDR Outdoor Environments and click on the DTHDR-MauiA-Background icon.
Render again and you should have her laying on a sandy beach. You can try the other icons to familiarize yourself with what they do.
In my case I want to see more of the background so I’m using the ORBIT tool in the upper right corner of the viewport to rotate the horizon down, exposing more of the beach image. Render again and save the render.
Now let’s back out of your current tab and into the Scene Builder->Lighting tab. Click on the DTHDR-SunsetA icon. Again, experimentation with the other lighting icons is recommended. Render again and save the render which is a bit flat so let’s select DTHDR-MauiA and render again then save.
In comparison, you can see differences in camera angle and lighting. This is just the surface, the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tweaking and tuning an image render for great results or more realistic results than we achieved here.
Before and after camera rotation. Lots of things can be improved but it's a good starting point.
But… be proud. You’ve composed, rendered out, and saved your first 3D image. You are now a 3D artist. Whether or not you become a good 3D artist is up to you. And the great ones never stop learning. Look for tutorials on lighting as that is one of the single most important aspects of a great render. Composition and layout are a close second, but lighting can make or break a render or an animation for that matter.
Go on a search for free stuff to add to your scene. Look for 3D assets like props, accessories, and landscapes. In this case… a secluded beach doesn’t need much if anything else but other scenes will need props. At one point or another, you will have to buy these or learn to make them yourself.
If you like this stuff then get used to fact that there will never be enough characters, props, or accessories in your toolbox. You’ll always be on the hunt for more assets. It’s a fact of digital art life. One incentive to learn how to 3D model is the ability to sell those models on the internet and at least fund some of your passion.
That’s it for now. In the next installment, we’ll take a look a look at other avenues of digital art and other applications including low-end, high-end commercial apps to game engines eventually. So now that you’ve gotten that first render out of the way… save your project file and experiment… with everything.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.