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2012
May
07
5:34 pm

 Exporting DAZ Studio 4 figures to Blender
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Information on this is a bit scattered, so here are my findings.

There are two reliable ways to export Daz figures to Blender (and other programs).  One is to export the mesh as a wavefront object (*.obj), the other is to export as a COLLADA file (*.dae).

After experimenting with both, I found that exporting as a collada file was quicker and more reliable because:

  • Textures  are automatically mapped and assigned to materials correctly
  • The model is automatically rigged to an armature (skeleton) which means you can animate and pose it in Blender.
  • I encountered geometry errors using obj.

On the downside:

  • Daz Studio operates in Y-up whereas Blender works in Z-up, everything has to be rotated on the X axis by 90 degrees.  This adds an unnecessary layer of complication to your workflow (particularly if you're unfamilar with blenders UI).
  • The figure's pose / animation is lost in the process.

Fortunately you can restore this by exporting the pose separately as a BVH mocap file.  It's a bit of a hassle to correct the rigging, but if you prefer to pose your figure in Daz Studio (or Poser), or have hundreds of stock poser poses saved over the years, this is the way to go.

Workflow

In Daz Studio:

  • Hide everything in your scene except the figure you want to export.
  • (optional) I recommend posing your figure into a standard T-pose to reduce the likelihood of rigging errors in blender (Parameters tab -> Zero -> Zero Figure Pose).
  • Export the scene as *.dae using custom options (standard COLLADA without daz enhancements), and tick all of the settings.  Be sure to combine the alpha and diffuse maps into a png file (more on this later).
  • If you want to keep the figure's pose, export the scene as a bvh file, using the default settings.

In your operating system, navigate to the directory where you exported the files.  Move the *.dae file into the newly created folder with your exported textures,  open it in notepad and then search for references of "./filename/" and delete them.  (where /filename/ is the name of the *.dae file;  e.g. "./myVicky/texture.jpg" becomes "texture.jpg")

For more help on exporting, please read this excellent article.

In Blender:

  • Open Blender and import your bvh as an armature.
  • If you select the armature and go to edit mode, you'll see that some of the child bones (fingers, eyeballs, toes, etc) will not have imported correctly.   Either delete or fix these bones (I would just delete them).
  • Import your *.dae file

Now you have your model with it's own armature (in a t-pose), and a standalone armature imported as bvh with the pose or animation you want to use. The final process is to use the constrain bone tool to link the two armatures together.  I know it's not the most elegant solution, but if you know of a better way, by all means let me know. :)

So, under your model's armature pose node, go through every major bone, and add Copy Rotation and Copy Location constraints.  These should link to the bvh armature's pose as the target.  This process is fairly tedious and the biggest drawback of using a collada file; however were you to export as an obj, you would now be messing about trying to reassign materials and figure out how to fix or hide geometry errors.

Finally, you might find that some bones (hip, abs, chest) appear twisted out of recognition.  On the rotation option, choose 'offset', and then rotate the bone 90 degrees on the X axis to correct the error.  Offset basically combines the values of the source bone with the target bone, which simply means you can make corrections without losing the original pose.

Hair and alpha maps

Daz models use alphas for details like hair and eyelashes.  Alpha maps in Blender are something of a headache for new users like myself, so here's a quick note on them.

When exporting from Daz, it's important to select the option that combines the alpha map with the diffuse map - this will give you a png file, with automatic transparency, which is a lot easier to work with in Blender.  One thing to bear in mind though is that if the material doesn't have a diffuse map (e.g. eyelashes), it won't create the png, so in this case it might be best to set the alpha map on both the opacity (alpha) channel and the diffuse one before exporting your model.  In fact, this might be the best practise anyway, as you can then set the material's colour using a shader, rather than a diffuse texture.

With your model and materials loaded, you need to quickly adjust the material and texture settings to enable the alpha to work correctly.  To do so:

  • Enable transparency (Z-transparency) on your material.
  • On the material's texture, under image, enable premultiply
  • Under influence, enable alpha and set it to -1.0, set Dvar to 0.

That's it -- apparently 'use alpha' under image sampling is not necessary.  You might also consider turning 'traceable' off, under material options, to reduce render times.  For simplicity, I also recommend exporting hair style objects/figures as a separate *.dae file; that way you can use them for other models.  You can then fit them to your model using the Copy Rotation and Location bone constraints as before.

Thanks for reading, I hope this helps a bit.

Further reading:

Exporting from Daz to Blender 2.5: http://www.4colorgrafix.net/2011/06/dazstudio-blender2-5/

Exporting bvh files:  http://www.ipisoft.com/en/wiki/index.php?title=Animation_export_and_motion_transfer#COLLADA

Alpha maps in Blender: http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.4/Tutorials/Textures/Use_Alpha_for_Object_Transparency







2011
Dec
14
6:36 pm

 2011
 0 comment(s)


Something of an artistic lull this year, as I've been in a state of perpetual transistion - I started a new job, moved from my comfortable world in Scotland to the busy, expensive, and completly alien to me city of London.  I've made countless new friends, but hurt and lost my closest.  I fell in love, and I'm now on my knees, slowly picking up the shattered pieces of a broken heart.   

On the CG front, I haven't been as productive as I'd have liked.  I overcame my misgivings and finally made the transistion to DS4; I don't really like it, but I don't have much choice -- I either upgrade or risk losing everything I've worked on for the last eight years. :/  However, what little time I've had to render, has mostly been spent trying to update scenes / characters to make them compatible with DS4.  The greatest loss has been Pendragon's shader -- it looks like he never updated it, and hasn't posted in years.  There are alternatives, but it feels like one step forward, several steps back.

Looking forward, I think this is the time to move on to something more flexible and powerful - at least for the lighting and rendering part of my pipeline. It's annoying, because I was *just* starting to get somewhere interesting with DS2.  The problem I face now is cleanly exporting my figures into other applications...








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