|Poser users are always looking for ways to make things easier to streamline their workflow. As a matter of fact we all do the same, regardless of what tool we use, and Decal Master is one of those small tools that aim to make your life easier.
Decal Master is aimed at those who mainly want to create decals for their Poser characters, clothing or props. Maybe you have a tattoo you want on your character, or a logo for your character’s shirt. However, Decal Master can also be used to add decals on any model you want, and that makes it useful even if you are not a Poser user.
One of the things that I liked about the software is that it doesn’t require installation. All you have to do is copy the program files to the desired folder, and then you can just run it. When Decal Master runs for the first time, it will ask you where you’ve installed your copy of Poser. There’s also an option to let DM search for your Poser path in case you don’t want to browse through your files yourself.
Once you’re inside Decal Master, the workflow is pretty simple. First, you load your figure from the library (DM will read your Poser library so that you are able to load figures into it), and then you select the mat pose where you want to add the decals. You can add as many decals as you want, and you can also go back to any decal and move it or scale it. Decals are not “flattened” onto your texture until export time, so you don’t need to worry about not being able to move or modify a decal after you’ve placed it.
When you create a decal, you can select from a built-in library already included with the software. However, you can also create decals using your own images. For best results, you should always try to use .PNG files, or any file that supports transparency. On the other hand, if the image doesn’t include a transparency channel, Decal Master will try to create a transparency mask for that image, using the color and value information.
After you’ve created your decals, all you have to do is export the texture back into Poser, and this is the part of Decal Master that I found a little confusing. Basically, the decals are flattened on top of the image by doing some sort of “over sampling” or “pixel subdivision”, and the performed flattening is based on one of the three different methods (hardware, software and “oversampling”). However, the resulting image also relies on the texture size and decal placement.
If you want to place a decal on the back of Victoria 3, for example, you know that the actual surface on the texture is a little small, so the result will be different than if you were placing the decal on the belly or the legs. This means that sometimes you will even need to resize your textures in Photoshop (or the image editor of your choice) before you load them into the software.
During my tests, I found that a texture of 3K or 4K pixels worked just fine. A smaller texture will result in aliased decals, depending on where you put them. The image below shows a Poser render of Victoria 3 wearing that tattoo I made, using a .PNG image from a videogame character. The body texture is 3K by 4K, and the final result is very good.
Along with Decal Master in this bundle, is a tool called Texture Paint Helper. TPH by itself is meant to join images together in order to create decals, just like Decal Master, although it doesn’t let you paint or place decals on top of your models.
What Texture Paint Helper does is render an image you can paint on using your image editor of choice. You then save that image and bring it back into TPH. What it does is read whatever you painted on top of the image and then project it onto the surface, just like the “Projection painting” mode found in BodyPaint, with the obvious difference that you can’t do any sort of 3D paint inside TPH. The image below shows the TPH rendered output with something painted on top of it using Photoshop, and the little box shows part of the resulting body texture, with the text projected by TPH on top of the original texture.
Personally, I do most, if not all of my texturing inside BodyPaint 3D, but I have always had problems figuring out a simple way to place tattoos on my characters (meaning simple as in one-two-three), and Decal Master proved to be a very simple and effective solution. If you’re into character tattooing, or you simply use decals a lot, Decal Master and Texture Paint Helper are a couple of little tools that will make you wonder “how could I ever work without them?” And maybe you will even think of many new characters to see if you can put tattoos on them just because Decal Master will make it too easy for you.
You can also purchase DecalMaster and TexturePaintHelper separately, as well as picking up the Japanese Kanji Decal Library!
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Animation Alley is a regular featured column with Renderosity Staff Columnist Sergio Rosa [nemirc]. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields.
March 3, 2008
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