Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Modeling Monday 5

Character Packaging

Sometimes a character is used over and over again, when making a graphic novel or animation for instance.  The character needs to be reused in a number of different scenes.

DAZ Studio has a number of related Save as...  Presets. But none do exactly, what is required.

There is a character preset that saves the character and some of the pose, but loses hair, clothing, expression, parts of some poses.

There is a wearables preset that saves hair and clothes.

There is a pose preset that saves all of a pose including expression, but sometimes loses location, so that the character jumps to another place when the pose preset is applied.

All of these are stored together in separate places.  When you have half a dozen or more characters in a story, it can be hard to keep track.

Also these presets leave their related objects around when they are removed from a scene. Removing a wearables leaves a bald naked character behind.  Removing a character leaves floating clothes.

Here is a low overhead.  I mean little or no impact on rendering time and a very small impact on file size.

By using grouping we can organize a character nicely.

In this example I am showing a character named Joan2.  She has hair and clothing.  There are also a couple of very useful null objects.  The first is the Target.  When you want to point something at an object that something points at the center of the object.  For most characters this "center" is not at the geometrical center, but between the feet on the floor.  This is actually a very good choice and is useful for many purposes, but its not so good for aiming lights.  I have seen light sets that aim the lights about 1.5 meters above an object's center to try to light the head.  This can lead to different "light sets" for standing, sitting, or reclining poses...  Of course, these sets are doing you a small favor - you don't have to understand where the center of your object is or add to your character as I am suggesting.  When a character has a target that can be position on or near the character depending on needs, using point at becomes more useful -- for lights, for aligning characters, and so on.

The lighting can point at the characters head for good illumination of expression or talking.  It can broadly point at the middle to light the whole figure making pose and action more clear.  Just moving the Target makes this possible. To also facilitates individual lighting of characters in a scene. I like to include the character's name when I can, so its easier to use than Target(2), Target(3),...

When we followed the Fiery Genesis YouTube tutorial we learned how to point the eyes at a camera.  After doing this a number of times, and even creating false cameras to aim the eyes.  I got a better idea -- add a null object LookAt for each character.  This allows setting each look independent of camera.  When you need for a character or characters to look at a specific camera, just parent the LookAt's to the camera and you have the same thing.  With independent LookAt's the eyes can follow the camera for part of an animation and look away easily.

In this example I show having alternate outfits under clothing. Extreme alternates here.  Here is our Joan in another outfit.  With this grouping you can switch outfits in two clicks

This packaging approach allows for storing and reusing a character design, so that you can have the sizes, shapes, coloring, clothing fits, handheld props, etc.  all worked out in advance.  You can make and many and as varied character design studies as your project will need and be ready to use the characters in scene after scene.