Film Noir in DAZ3D Studio

Skill Level: Beginner / Views: 26 / System Requirements: DAZ3D Studio, NVIDIA iRay capable video card

The film noir era of movies created some great head shots of famous actors and actresses. From Bogart and Bacall and Lucile Ball to Vincent Price and many others. The black and white images ranged from provocative to frightening, and the mood was all created with light and shadows. In this tutorial I will walk you through creating a set suitable for film noir style portraits with no purchased assets -- just what comes with DAZ3D studio 4.12.

dbwalton on 1:33PM Fri, 28 February 2020

Step 1- Let's Build a Film Noir Photo Set

I had a successful portrait studio for nearly 20 years.  I started off buying tens of thousands of dollars worth of lights and backdrops only to learn in the long run, it is best to K.I.S.S.  Keep It Simply, Seriously!

So, I want you to open DAZ Studio and in an empty scene, do the following...

  • Create->New Primative
  • Type=Plane
  • Origin= World Center
  • Primary Axis=Y Positive
  • Size= 12 ft
  • Divisions=1
  • [Accept]
  • In the Scene tab select the Plane you just created
  • In the Parameters tab, with the Plane selected, change the X Rotate to 90
  • Change the Y Translate to about 180 (this should place most of the Plane above the X,Z plane.  This is now your backdrop.
  • Because I'm doing this using the Iray render engine, let's set the back drop up with an Iray shader...
  • Select your Plane in the Scene tab if it isn't still selected
  • In the Surfaces Tab, select Plane there too
  • In your Smart Content, go to Shaders->Iray->Uber and open the DAZ Studio Default Resources and double-click Iray Uber Base
  • Now, this might sound funny, but in that same product go to the Rubber Tab and double click Rubber-Matte.  I like this surface because it is a nice, smooth, gray matte for the background.  (Which is how I had my studio walls painted - flat gray.)

For this tutorial, we are not going to worry about the floor.  We're only going to do a head shot, and we only need a backdrop.  This will be it.  You're looking at a white wall.

Let's continue by creating our light....

  • Click on the Lights tab
  • In the Editor tab, from the Select an Item... drop down, select Create New SpotLight
  • Click [Accept]
  • Select the [G] Light parameter and in the Light Geometry, change it from Point to Disc
  • Set the Height (Diameter) to 80
  • Luminous Flux (Lumen) to 300000
  • Temperature (K) to 5600
  • Select the [G] General tab 
  • Change X Translate to -160
  • Z Translate to 80
  • Y Translate to 180
  • X Rotate to -160
  • Y Rotate to -90
  • and Z Rotate to 160

Finally, let set up the render environment...

  • First, make sure your scene has a camera.  I use the default scene which opens with Default Camera.  If you don't have a default camera, create a camera by going to the Cameras tab, Select an Item... and Create new camera.  I have my camera positioned about X=25, Y=290, Z=870, however, that's going to change in step 2.
  • Select the Render Settings tab (or Render->Render Settings from the main menu)
  • In the General settings, we're going to set things up for a decent size 8x10 (which was a popular size for prints of head shots)
  • Turn Constrain Proportions (Global) to On
  • Set the Aspect Ratio (Global) to W=8 and H=10
  • Pixels Size (Global) to W=2000 (and this will set the H to 2500 automatically).   This will render a file that will be equivalent to a 5MP camera, which is more than adequate.
  • Set the Render Type to Still Image (Current Frame)
  • Render Target New Window
  • Give your image a name
  • Select the path where you'd like the new image to be saved
  • Turn Auto Headlamp to Never
  • and Post Processing Script to None
  • Skip down the the [G] Environment section...
  • Environment Mode = Scene Only
  • Environment Intensity = 1
  • Environment lighting Resolution = 512
  • Environment Lighting Blur Off
  • Ground Position Mode Manual
  • Draw Ground On
  • Ground Shadow Intensity = 1
  • Click on the Draw Style options and select the NVIDIA Iray option


You have just built your film noir studio set.  I know it doesn't look like you've done much, but this would be a good time to do a File->Save As->Scene... and  give your scene and name and save all this work.

This is how your screen will look at this point...


See you in the next page...

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