Saturday, July 10, 2010

Creating water in DAZ Studio 3, Part 2

As promised, I'm back to share creating water in DAZ Studio 3. In Bryce and Vue, creating water planes is something the program just does, because these are dedicated landscape creators. But DAZ is very different ... you can do much more in DAZ in some ways, but DAZ has its limitations too. Creating water and mist and fog are a bit more complex. Mind you, only a bit! Here's how you do it...

NOTE: all the images in this post were unploaded at full size, 1000 pixels wide, so tha you can see every detail. Please click on an image to view at large size ... you're not going to see much of the magic in the thumbnails pasted to the page here!


Step One: put together the area that’s going to hold the water. In this case, it’s a small pool. But you could also build something using rocks and logs; you could also plan to flood the low lying areas of a terrain; and you can make a terrain have low lying areas by skewing the x,y,z coordinates and telling one side, or corner, of it to be low.


Step Two: you want to create a plane – in DAZ Studio 3 you’ll find this in CREATE > New Primitive >Plane. In Bryce it’s an icon to click, and you Can choose “create water plane.” In Vue, it’s either an icon or a menu item, CREATE > water. Bryce and Vue create the water for you, but in DAZ you need to go through one more step. In fact, the extra step gives you more control over what’s being created. In the picture above, I’ve created a plane, dropped it into place and sized it. It’s created as a flat surface in the default gray plastic. You can see I’ve already added a displacement map to ruck the surface a little bit, so it looks like liquid.


Step Three: The next thing you want to do is apply a diffuse texture (image) to the plane. You could also tell it to be blue, or green or gray, but it’s much more realistic and believable if you actually slap a JPEG onto it. This one, above, is a snapshot of the surface of the sea, looking more or less straight down ... It was captured by hanging over the side of a jetty at high tide! Just apply the JPEG to the plane primitive as you would apply a JPEG to any object, using the Surfaces tab, and you get this effect. Not too bad ... But the water is too turbulent and you can't see down into/though it yet.


Step Four: reduce the opacity – or increase the transparency! – of the plane. And suddenly it looks like clear, fresh water with a realistic surface ripple and all. You can also tell the plane to be blue or green, and then apply a transparency map, but by experimenting I discovered that the most realistic effects are wrangled by applying an image, not a color, and an overall transparency.


The same technique can be used to create atmospheric effects, like mist or fog. In the image above, I’ve made a plane primitive ... told it to be blue-gray, told it to be about almost transparent ... Told it to stand on its edge, and then jogged it backwards in the shot so it’s between the foreground trees and the big dead tree in the background. For comparison,I'm also included the same shot with the atmospheric plane OFF. This technique is dead easy, and it works for water, mist and fog, at least for static shots (stills). You could use it to put a cloudbank in front of
a mountainside, or smoke rising from a chimney, or even shafts of sunlight striking through dust. It’s a quick, cheap, easy solution for stills.



I do know, though, that there are atmospheric plugins for DAZ that will do this stuff and make it animatable...! I haven’t yet gotten into the Wonderful World of Animation. Soon, though...! The plugin to do atmospheric effects in true 3D is on my wishlist at DAZ. Of course, Vue does this all on its own ... but Vue had all its own limitations. It's a 100% landscape maker. It needs to work in cooperation with another prog like DAZ, to be able to actually build worlds ... and it works with DAZ beautifully!

Jade, 10 July
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