Friday, June 4, 2010

Tattoos for DAZ's M4 ... and Victoria 4.2 in those boots!

Tattoos for DAZ's Michael 4 ... at whim, and designed by you to fit the occasion. Sounds like a dream come true? As I said a little while ago, I've wanted to do this for eons. Finally, I found the time to do it this morning. It's tricky in one way, easy in another way ... here's how!
First thing you need to know is the DAZ Studio 3 hierarchy. You need to be able to find the JPEG files for the skin map you want the tattoos to appear on. Find these images, and copy them to another folder. Caution, Will Robinson!! If you overwrite these original files, you'll be stuck with the tattoos! So copy them out into a holding folder...
Now you need to open these JPEGs in a program that will let you paint right onto them. This is where it gets tricky in two ways, because some of these skinmap files are "rigged" so that you can't copy them to the clipboard, and something like GIMP won't open them properly. You can open them in Irfanview, but the painting tools in Irfanview are very simple. Vestigial. You probably want to get the image into GIMP so you can use the Photoshop brushes, right?
This is where it might get "interesting," because GIMP might refuse to open the JPEG properly, and now what do you do?! I do understand the skinmap designer securing the files to make them harder to work with, because I'm shocked and saddened by piracy of intellectual properties. However, if all you want to do is add a tattoo for your specific scene ... it's not as if you're going to sell the skinmaps! You need to be able to open them and paint on them.
If you get this "mickey mouse" kind of trouble, go back to Irfanview (which will open them) and save the file in another format, under another name. Change the name of the skinmap to something like George.bmp or Alfred.tiff or something. Then ropen the file and save it back as a JPEG with a more deceptive name. Then try opening the new JPEG in GIMP ... it ought to open, because the file has been through a conversion process that leaves behind a lot of support data.

CAVEAT: this is not a set of pointers so that we can go out and rip off someone's work! This is just so that you can use a GIMP brush, or Photoshop brush, to paint on your tattoos.
So now you can open the file in GIMP ... paint on your tattoos, and save the file again, tattoos and all. So far, so good. Now, you just need to be able to apply the skinmap, and you're in business. DAZ figures' skinmaps are created in pieces. They look hideous before they're applied to the 3D bodies. They literally look like flayed human skins. (Shades of that Sean Bean movie where Michelle Yeoh wears the face of a girl she just strangled!) Don't be squeamish, just figure out which swatch of human hide is attached to which body part. Paint on your tattoos, and resave. Then comes the last step: how to apply the new texture...
In the case of these renders, I was painting on the high-rez skinmap for Michael 4's face. So I needed to apply the new texture JPEG to the figure. The magic happens in your Surfaces tab. Open up the Surfaces tab and select 1-SkinFace. Makes sense. Notice that lower in the tab, under Color diffuse, you see a little dialog field that shows a file name. Click the name and a huge list pops up. See right at the top: browse. Click this, and go through to the folder where you saved your JPEG of M4's face complete with tattoos. Double click this. Done!

This has turned into quite a long post, so I'm just going to put up a teaser image of "Victoria 4.2 in those boots" for today ... join me tomorrow for the whole shoot! Here's the teaser:
So join me tomorrow, and Victoria 4.2 can get a little outrageous ... and we'll see if Michael 4 would be good enough to engage his outrageous gene too!

Jade, 5 June
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