Sunday, December 07, 2008

CSS wasted me 4 hours this morning

It all started when I tried to add an item at the upper corner of my web site. And then it turned into a 3+ hours of diagnostic session.

The problem is the fact that while to page looks OK on Internet Explorer, the page was messed up in Firefox in the way that the rollover button were all behavior incorrectly. After some diagnostic I found out that the margin-top value was messed up on Firefox. After tracking eventually I found out that the way how the float and position (absolute, relative) didn't work out as I expected. On the top of that mess, I employed the trick that allows me to keep the text I styled with image on the page. It's such a mess.

Eventually I got it fixed by using span instead of using div to host the entry. It actually makes more sense for semantic point of view. I think the lesson I learned is that instead of just trial and error and hope that things look correct on the page, I should spend more time to actually understand every single CSS keywords and make sure I understand the implication of using every single one of them.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Remove ruler from Manga Studio EX3

I spent a little while trying to figure out how to remove ruler as I accidentally drew some rectangle rulers. As it turns out all I need is use Object Selectors to select the items and then hit delete button.

Re-branda web site

I was helping out my friend to re-brand her web site. The biggest challenge to me is to untangle all the style that was embedded within the pages in form of online style, layout done using HTML tables, HTML tags that was not closed properly and so on. That is a boring and tedious work, but it has to be done before I can do any real design work .

At that almost took me a whole day of time.

Friday, November 07, 2008

For my friend who tries to repackage other's content and resell it

I don't think reselling web page/site template is that easy. People have higher expectation on sites, and dynamic contents require setting at the server site. If you don't have that kind of knowledge, the user may return your design and ask for refund because they have problem putting them at their site and you can't have resolving the problem. It's less than just pretty static web page these days.

So instead of aim for reselling something for cheap, you really should package it as a total end to end service. In this economic downturn, people are looking for solution that yield revenue directly instead of just a pretty face. Try leverage some existing service like Blogger and FaceBook, telling you client that you can help designing sites that give them a unified message among all these dynamic sites and at the same time providing services to costume (like, for instance, using Twitter to provide service or product delivery status).

That, of course, it much more than just grab some freebie templates and then reselling them. But hey, if it's easy, everyone should have done it already.

Another thing: you may be violating copyright if you just garb stuff online and then resell them, even when those content are free. There are different kind of licensing governing so called free content, like Creative Common or GPL. Make sure you know your right and obligation before you repackage others creation online. You can actually get sued.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Making of photo composition

Last time I create some photoshop work for a poster I worked without writting down what I did. The result: I totally forgot what I did and couldn't replicate the result.

This time I won't make the same mistake.

So here's my challenge, my client gave me a bunch of JPEG files as the source of a photoshop composition being used in a poster. The problem? Most of the files are very poor in quality when using for print. Also the are all in different color tone.

So my plan was trying to "normalize them" by applying a water color filter. I also bumped up the resolution of the composition to 300 dpi so that when the filter got applied, the bitmap will look smooth on the printerd poster.

But then my client told me that all he cared was seeing those photo clear. Damn, so mcuh for doing experiment for him. Well, actually that could be a good thing for me, because the loading, saving and rendering time of applying the filter is so freaking time consuming even on my fast machine. So no filter means much faster load time. Great for me.

But I still need to resolve the color tone problem. Luckily I found a YouTube video with title "Photoshop Tip - Combining Photos & correcting color" (basically it's about using "Curve..." to add color to the photo). I followed the instruction and got some good result. However, there were some photos that I still need to twist a bit. I use Color Balance to twist the color to make it more yellow. And then I use "Brightness/Contrast" to future adjust. The result looks OK from my persepctive. I know I still need to do more exercise to get better on the whole color correction thing, but this is at least a start.

Oh, Adobe Illustrator CS3 crashed on me once today, which totally pissed me off. And it seems like I was not the only one who complain about CS3's stability problem when I serach around the Net.

Importance of documentation

I was disappointed by myself that I couldn't replicate something that I did 2 weeks ago because I forgot to document it down. I better do more documentation.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So that's how I change layer name in Manga Studio Ex

Sometimes to answer of a problem is so obvious that you almost want to chock yourself.

So I was trying to figure out how to change layer name in Manga Studio EX 3. I right clicked on the layer in Layers windows and couldn't find an entry called property. Fustrated, I went to the Net, and eventually find out that there's always a Properties window available. All you need to do is bring it up by pressing [F7]. There you are change the layer name is whatever way to want.

Personally I think 2 things need to be changed in Manga Studio regarding to this issue:
  • Add a property menu in right click menu on layer in Layer window.
  • Renew Property to "Layer Property"
But then at least I found the answer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Common mistake when using Toon Boon Studio 4

During my re-learning process, I found out that I made some mistakes here and there when trying to create a cut out animation. So I think I better write down those tidbits cause I may probably make the same mistake next time I pick it up several months later.

  • When animating your cut out animation, make sure that either "Tranform" or "Rotate" button are selected. Otherwise the movement you made will be just on the first key-frame.
  • Check the preference and make sure that "Create Constant Keyframes" checkbox is OFF, unless you totally don't want the in-between automatically generated for you. After all, you can always set and reset the in-between nature by first selecting the in between area, and then right click to select the segment nature (constant or non-constant)
  • Animation only happeneds on the peg. So make sure you set the hirechachy so that everything you want to animate is sitting inside a peg.
  • You may wonder why all the parts do not show up on the screen after you have the hireahacy set up. Mostly that's because you are at the "Drawing View". Switch to Camear view and you will see all the parts.
  • Save frequently. My Toon Boom Studio 4 still crashes very once in a while.
Here's a typical work flow of creating a cut out animation using Toon Boom Studio 4:

  • Create a new document. I use 800x 600 camera size
  • Go to Exposure Sheet. For each part of your cut out, create a new "drawing" at Frame 1. Remember to name your drawing properly. That makes organizing hireachy much easier.
  • Create Peg, put drawing into the peg, with right hireachy. I name peg with "P-" prefix
  • With "Rotate" selected, select each Peg, and move the pivot to the proper location (make sure indicators are all green.
  • Save, before animate anything (that way you have a base to go back to)
  • Collpase all hireachy. On the very top Peg, drag the first frame all the way to the final frame. Now the timeline should fill up by a blueline, with all the cutout part.
  • Go ahead and animate. But make sure that (1) you select the peg instead of the drawing (easier to be done on the timeline), (2) Make sure either "Rotate" or "Transform" tools are selected (3) Use the solid black square handle to move the rotation.
Finally, try create a static drawing to layout the route of the motion to make sure that it's smooth.

Relearning Toon Boom Studio 4

I opened Toon Boom Studio 4 and tried to do some simple animation, and found out that I already forgot a lot of basica concept of how Toon Boom Studio works. Fortunately I downloaded some tutorial video back then. And those video really helps me to pick up what I left off all over again.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Manga Studio 3 EX blue, and then a happy ending

I haven't been using Manga Studio 3 EX for a while. The last time I used it was way before I got the ATI HD 4850 graphic card and the DELL 24 inch UltraShape display as my second displace. So when I found out that Manga Studio went nuts when I tried to use my Wacom Graphite 4 8" x 6" tablet with it. I wan't too surprise. What surprised me was the solution.

The moment I encountered the problem, I went ahead and downloaded the driver to update the Wacom driver to 5.0.8.6. Well, does NOT solve the problem.

Then I went to Smith Mirco's site and found that there's NO UPDATE on Manga Studio 3 EX... great.

Finally I found my rescure in CP Forums. Someone found out that by removing Wacom Tablet Perference, reboot, and set the preference again, it will resolve the problem. But how do I remove the preference?

Well, Wacom provided instruction to remove the Wacom tablet perference. I basically followed it, but went 1 step future by removing both Tablet.dat and Pen_Tablet.dat. After removing all these perference files, reboot, and then set the Tablet setting, Manga Studio works again. In fact, I am continue using my dual screen setting with no problem.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Poser vs Daz Studio

Comparing with Daz Studio, Poser (and Poser Pro to that respect) is like a lousy elder-brother who has talent but horrible people skill, while Daz Studio is an aggressive younger one who only inherited a few talent from the heritage but does those several things very well.

May be that's not a particularly good analogy, but the relationship between Poser and DazStudio is just too strange. And to fully take advantage of all the Poser format content, you need to have a good grip on both environment.

Ironically. while Daz Studio takes Poser scenes files in most case, you can't do the other way around opening Daz Studio file in Poser. So there's an incentive to do most of the work on Poser, until you found out that the posing environment in Poser is so much inferior comparing with Daz Studio. Daz Studio is definite so much easier to work with.

And then there's an issue of organizing material. Daz Studio has it's own little database in SQLite format which to me greatly enhance the workflow. Unfortunately Poser, even when pointing to the same runtime folder. Thus I am struggling about whether I should reorganize my Poser content physical folder structure so that both DazStudio and Poser can benefit the content structure. I am afraid that this procss would that me several days to complete, and even then I probably won't know for sure that I have all the content at the right place. ,

I already spent/wasted most of my time yesterday trying to get myself used to Poser Pro. I am not srue if I am willing to spent another day to just doing mechanical stuff today ... sigh ...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Wait and wait

I feel like I spent a lot of time in my life to wait for stuff. Especially waiting for Daz Studio to load up. Hopefully the graphic card that coming will ease that part of the pain in my life.

Crossdresser 3.0.1 has it's limit

I was overjoy figured out how to use Crossdresser 3.0.1, but then there are quite some limitation that I am to live with:

- Crossdresser doesn't do well on converting shoes or any sort of footwear.
- Crossdresser may not always convert clothing perfectly even when I do all the right setting. The Mongolian gown virtual cloth I brought is one of the example.

In fact I need to check around and see if there's others who have the same problem as I do.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Finally really figure out the power of CrossDresser 3.0.1

I finally figure out how to use CrossDresser 3.0.1 effectively. The sad part (about me) is that the application is supposed to be pretty easy to use, but because of my stubbornness of not reading the manual in the first place, and then made some wrong assumptions, as the result it took me almost a day to get the convention going to way I want to go.

My biggest mistake was that I forgot to set the "From" drop down. Thus the converted address were always not conformed properly. And I kept banging my head wondering why result was so different from what I expected.

Second, I didn't realized the Vicky 2, Vicky 3, Vicky 4 actually means Victoria 2, Victoria 3 and Victoria 4. Thus I was kept puzzling about how I could set the target or source to Victoria, since the drop down only has Vicky 4.

Let me continue my conversion journey. This is great. Now Miki 2 and Gina (Preteen Girl) has more costumes to wear.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Daz Studio 2.2.2.20

2.3.3.15 is just too darn crappy! It crashes time after time when I try to do something as simply as reorganizaing the catalog. I really couldn't stand it any more. So I am rolling back to the 2.2.2.20 and see if it's any better.

Used 2.2.2.20 for several hours. No crashing ... good ...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big mistake with Daz Studio 2

I found out, today, that I made a big mistake regarding to organizing my Daz Studio resources. Instead of putting all my content files in Daz Studio's main content directory (under Program Files), I put them in the Q drive of my desktop machine. My rational was that it will give me flexibility of detaching the content from the main application, in case I need to rebuild the OS partition.

The problem is that by doing so, it makes backing up the whole Daz Studio environment difficult. After I installed the application, I started to use the Daz Studio database to organized my content. So now some reference in the database pointed to C: drive while others are pointing to Q: drive. That means if something goes wrong, and I need to replicate the environment, I have to put some content in C:, and then some content in Q:.

I also realize that it's impossible to consolidate folders. If you move the folder, Daz will lose track of your content, and all the work you did on organizing the content will be lose.

So now I kind of have a mess on hand, which is really not the end of the world, but I definitely will do it differently if I can do it again.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Taking back my words :-<

After trying it a bit more, a realized that Metasequoia 2.4.8 really isn't as Tablet PC friendly as I expected. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Metasequoia 2.4.8 ,,,, Tablet friendly!

Most of the 3D modeling application I used so far has some serious problem with Tablet PC. Navigation on the screen (like move, scroll) usually goes crazy when I use stylus. That's why I was slightly surprised to find out that Metasequoia 2.4.8 does not have that kind of problem. Sure I need to play a bit more, but it seems very promising.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Metasequoia + Texture mapping = knocked me out for 10 hours

I fell into sleep because was the struggle with a 3D application called Metasequoia. Getting it to do basic modeling it's OK. In fact it's almost fun. However, I have major hardtime using it to do Image mapping. After struggling with it for more than half a day yesterday, I decided to roll back from the current version (2.4) to a much older version (2.1 beta). At least there are some tutorials online that I can follow for the older one.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Rendering

Here's I am testing various way of casting shadow.





Finding clothes for Gina

It all started when I found a 3D model that looks very much like my friend. So I wanted to pose some scene using that model called Gina. That's when I realized that the model is derived from Daz Milliumn PreTeen model, and that model does NOT have a lot of ready made hair, clothing and props to use with.

I resolved them problem by using Aiko 3's hair, and then decide NOT to apply "Fit To". That allows me to free to adjust the positioning of the hair. All I need to do, at the end, is move the hair to the head level of hireachy of the model and then all becomes fine.

Next, I need to make some clothes for Gina. Luckily, there's a software called CrossDresser 2.5.1. So I can use the tool to convert clothing form "Aiko 3" to "Preteen Girl". The conversion is not perfect, and it's a bit like trial and error. But at least there is a way. Each conversion takes from 15 seconds to 4 minutes.

After some twisting here and there, I got a ballet scene setup. But after I rendered, I found that there's no shadow casted on the floor, which makes the scene looks very strange. That's when I realized that I need to adjust the "Shadow" setting of my distantlight source. I picked "Raytraced(Software Only)" as Shodow Type and found that it takes A LONG TIME to render a scene. In fact, it took 20+ minutes to render the scene, and it doesn't look particular better than the "Deep Shadow Map version", which takes much shorter time to render.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Still couldn't find a converter to convert .bip to .bvh

I spent almost 2 hours and still couldn't find a way to convert .bip (motion capture file format for 3D Studio Max Character Studio) to .bvh (something Daz Studio can use, sort of). Some mentioned a way, but I don't have that motion builder application. What a bummer.

Faceshop, wow

I accidentally came across this Daz Studio plug in called FaceShop. The Basic version is now free, but it only works with version 2.2.2.17, which is still in beta right now. So I better wait for the release of 2.2.2.17 before I mess with it.

Finally, Aiko 4's eyes are not messed up

I was struggling for 2 hours (how many times did I write an introduction of my blog like this) with Daz Studio 2.2 trying to figure out why Aiko 4's morph was not working. Result: Aiko 4 got a very tiny eyes, and when I tried to slide the Aiko morph parameter nothing changed except the size of the model's head. That's a very creepy look.

I finally got my answer by reading the Daz 3D forum. Solution: Reinstall Aiko 4, and eveyrthing will be working fine.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

3D Bridge for Photoshop is no longer free

I didn't really dig into 3D Bridge for Photoshop from Daz (for better integration between Photoshop and Daz Studio). To me, all I really care is find a way to export rendering image to a format that support layering, so that I can integration the scene rendered in Daz Studio into my photoshop work. And during the beta period, this is the only thing I used it for.

Guess work, the beta period for 3D Bridge is over. The final version has been released, and Daz started charging US$199 for it. I definitely don't have that much money, but I found a solution: .PNG file format. As long as I set up Daz Studio so that it render stuffs using .PNG, I can reopen the files in Photoshop, and integrate the rendering on my drawing. That's kind of my poor man version of 3D Bridge.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Found a clumsy way to import Lightwave 3D 8.5 models into Daz Studio

I enjoy using Lightwave 3D 8.5 since it works well in a "portable application" setting. However, I have hard time exporting or important anything to and from Lightwave to other format besides ".lwo". I tried making sure that all the plugins are being installed by:
  • Opening Lightwave 3D 8.5
  • Click [Utilities] tab
  • Click button "Edit Plugins"
  • Click [Scan Directory] button
  • Point to the plugin folder
Still, when I check [Import ...] I got nothing.

So then I need to find a way to convert .lwo to .obj . Eventaully I found this solution:
  • Open Shade 8
  • Import .lwo file
  • Export .obj file.
Once in .obj, I can open it in both 3D studio Max or Daz Studio.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Finally done with the costume

I spent several nights to prepare the costume texture for the girl on the left. It looks OK I guess.


[3D Studio Max] Show map in viewport

After you set image map in 3D Studio Max, don't forget to set "Show Map in Viewport" so that you can see your texture in viewport.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Get back missing toolbar icons in 3D Studio Max

Somehow when I open 3D Studio Max today, I found all the icons on the main Toolbar DISAPPEARED! Eventually I used the following way to restore the toolbar back:

- Select menu [Customize][Costume UI and Default Switcher...]
- Select "Max", "Default UI", click [Set] button.
- Restart the application.

Daz Studio 2.2 "Optimizing Images..." problem irritates people!

I was stuck with the notorious Daz Studio "Optimizing Images..." hanging problem this morning. It was very fustrating as even the newest version of Daz Studio (2.2.2.15) doesn't resolve the problem. I looked into the forum, and found this post and this post that might help resolving my problem. It's really irritating indeed.

Oh Stupid me about Daz Studio

Just found out that to refresh the bitmap, all I need to do is select [Refresh Images] from the menu. No need to reload the software.

More about Daz Studio

Daz Studio, being in version 2.1.1.13, is still not too stable. In fact, just a while ago, I had to reboot my machine to get Daz Studio up and running again. Still, this is the best I can get for have a virtual stage.

While I was working on preparing texture for 3D model, I found that the wrap Transformation tool is such a powerful tool. It's like of like the Mesh transformation in Illustrator, but not as fine grain. Still it's such a powerful tool that makes me wonder why I didn't use it before.

I also found out a while ago that I need to reopened the file again in order to get all texture loaded properly even after a texture JPEG file got updated.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

[Adobe Illustrator CS3] Check Transparency before converting image to mesh object

Last night I made a mistake and turned an hour plus work into something not so useful.

Basically I try to put some real world clothing pattern on a texture mapping template I created on Adobe Illustrator CS3. Everything went well. But before I convert a texture (JPEG image) into mesh object so that I can wrap it on a texture mapping template, I changed the image's transparency BEFORE converting to mesh object. That's NO NO because after the convertion. The low transparency became 100%! That means I can never get back to the original transprency.

So next time I should remember to FIRST convert a bitmap into mesh object BEFORE I change the transparency value.

Monday, June 16, 2008

No Tiling on Daz Studio

Just found out that Daz Studio does not support Tiling Texture. Everything has to be done in UV Mapping style.

Mesh

Long time ago I wrote an article about how to turn JPEG into mesh object in Adobe Illustrator by selecting "[Object]->[Envelop Distort]->[Make With Mesh...]" command. I just found out that on CS3, I need to click the [Embed] button to embed the drag-and-dropped JPEG file first before I can access the "Make With Mesh" menu.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Found a solution to get rid of reflecting eyes

Thanks for all the reply!

The solution is selecting the "5_Cornea" surface, and then set the "Specular, Glossiness" to 90%, and boom the ultra reflective eyes are gone. Awesome.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Found out how to save expression in Daz Studio

I have to say that I am pretty piss right now as I wasted 1.5 hours trying to figure out how to save Expression in Daz Studio 2.1. Eventually I found it. but damn it for lossing my 1.5 hours.

Basically I am following the instruction at Daz web site, but since that article was written for older version, some minor stuffs was changed.

Before saving, you should create a folder to store your own setting. I have a habit of putting my own Daz Studio content in place other than the application installed directory. However, make sure that the content directory you used to store your custom expression is under "Daz Studio Content Directories" instead of "Poser Content Directories". I made that mistake and thus my saved expression was never show up.

If everything done right, you should see the folder name you created to store expression showing up at "Uncategorized" group.

If you don't see your expression showing up, check the following:

  • Make sure the your content path is in the preference. For some stupid reasons sometimes the path will disappear. And you have to add again, so do check.
  • Do "Search for Content" so that the UI can be refreshed. That should load your expression.
More tidbit on saving expression:

  • Setting up your active screen in a way that you want the icon to look like. I perfer using "Front View", and how the head zoomed in so that I can clearly see the expression.
  • When saving, simply:
    • Navigate to your Daz Content Folder.
    • If it's a new category, create a new folder and save your file in it.
    • On "Save Pose Preset Options", take the default, which is "Current Frame Only" and "Record Custom".
    • MAKE SURE you check the check box for the character (like Victoria 4), otherwise all your effort will NOT be saved even though the icon looks good.
    • Also MAKE SURE that you check the right sub-hierarchy. Otherwise the pose you save may affect the whole body. For instance, if you just want to save the facial expression. You see check the "head" check-box in the hierarchy ONLY.

Finally figured out how to move multiple objects in Daz Studio 2.2

The method is much simpler than I thought. Simply create a null object as a place holder as your group. When you need to move something as a group, move those item into the null object. That way, when select the null object (from scene hierarchy) you move the whole group of object around. Simple as that.

Now if I know how to save facial expression .....

Monday, May 26, 2008

crashy Poser 7

I just updated Poser 7 from 7.0.0.63 to 7.0.2.132 by applying Service Pack 2. Hopefully it will crash less often.

Continuous struggle with Poser 7 (to make costume for Daz Studio characters)

After weeks, I am stupid struggling with making costumes for characters in Daz Studio. Neverthesless, there' some slight progress, and that's why I am trying to jot down some notes for myself.

  • Definitely check out the Creating Conforming Clothing For Poser Figures article at Smith Micro web site. I will definitely stuck for long long time without that article.

  • Definitely need to save constantly. Poser 7 seems very fragile when dealing situation it didn't expected. While I was still in learning mode, I had to constantly start Poser 7 again after doing something not in the "right way".

  • When creating bones, make sure that you know what is the "base" of the new one that you are about to create. Haven't said that it's actually no big deal for making mistake since you can always manipulate the hierachy by bringing up the hierarchy window, and the drag and drop the bone structures.

  • Sometimes you make create more bone than you need. Delete them first before naming, or otherwise some funky thing may happen.

  • AT first I found out that it's much easier to name the bones right inside the Hierarchy window than using the property window since the property window shows both the name and the internal name, and I was like "why the hell should I care about the Internal name"? And then later I realized that the Name is the display name, and it's the internal name that has to match the group name. Very critical a step.

  • Remember the click the "Auto Group" button at the end of the rigging process, otherwise the costume will act like it's breaking apart.

  • Make you study the corresponding joints you try to conform with before doing rigging. All parts have to match, or otherwise you will get strange result. You can do it by loading the figure in Poser 7 and then go to [Setup] area. For example, for me, I load Aiko from the library at "[From Original - DAZ Aiko 3]".

I still haven't done with my model yet, but at least I stepped enough mines to learn my way. Enough pain for one day, and I need to move on to do something else.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Poser 7 not portable

Well, just found out that Poser 7 is not portable friendly. But I have to install it in order to creating clothing for Daz Studio.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Question about making clothing

Here's where I posted my question:

------------------------------
Information about making costume for Daz Studio using 3D Studio Max

I have problem finding the props and costume for scenes that I want to create in Daz Studio, and decided that I should start creating props and costume using 3D Studio Max. I have no problem creating props, but I don't know how to create costume.

I found some instruction about creating basic clothing with 3D Studio Max, but it seems to rely on Poser to do the fitting with Cloth simulation. Is it a must to have Poser in order to create clothing for Daz Studio? Any information about creating clothing on 3DSMax (I am using version 9) for Daz Studio?

Honestly I am a lazy person so if I could buy it I would. But I could find any Mongolian gown and other Chinese minority costume (like Xinjiang) for sale. Plus I love to contribute my work in open source just to show my appreciate for all the free stuff and help I got so far. And I love pretty costumes :->

Thanks!

Deecay

Sunday, May 11, 2008

3D Studio Max 9 with BodyPaint 3D 3.111

My previous BodyPaint 3D experience was pretty bad. In fact, it was almost horrible. So I wasn't too thrilled when I started trying BodyPaint 3D version 3.111 with 3D Studio Max 9. It turns out that it was a much more positive experience then I expected.

Just like the older version, BodyPaint 3D 3.111 is a portable friendly app, as long as you have the valid serial number. But the magic comes when you installed the BodyPaint 3D plug in for 3D Studio Max 9 by copying the 2 plug in files into the folder (...\Autodesk\3ds Max 9\plugins). And then start 3D Studio Max 9, go to the [Utilities] menu, and click [more ...]. You will see 3DBodyPaint in the list. Click it to start the "utility". In fact, 3D Studio Max even picked up the BodyPaint 3D Path before I clicked the "Set BodyPaint 3D Path..." button.

To bring a model from 3DS max to BodyPaint, simply select the object, and then click [Export Selected]. BodyPaint 3D will be launched and your model will be loaded. To get back to 3DS from Bodypaint, just click the button at the left column.... (you will see the 3DS icon there).

The trick is that once you are in 3DS, you need to first create the material to paint on by click ...something ... at the lower right corner ... kind of like adding new layer in Photoshop. Once done, you can directly paint on the object. Pressure sensitive also works, but you have to explicitly check some checkbox at the upper right side of the screen.

So far I enjoy it. I just need to know more about how adjust the UV mapping map ... and ... a lot more. Hey at least I got some texture on my model.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

There's lighting addon for Daz Studio?

I didn't realize that there's lighting plug in for Daz Studio, like Light Dome Pro and UberEnvironment . They could come in handy as I spent more time doing scenes.

Oh, also some very BASIC information about lighting in Daz Studio. I should spent sometime on this before spending any money on third party solution.

And then, more Daz Studio tutorial.

Oh, I also didn't realized that Blogger blog editing is totally functional in a pure text mode (with no bitmap on the page).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Importing old Poser 4 files to Daz Studio 2.1

I tried importing some old Poser 4 files to Daz Studio 2.1. It worked, but since the original model rely on a lot of parts from the Poser 4 application, so I took a look at Poser 7 and see if there's any same parts that I can use. It turns out that most of the Poser 4 files are available on Poser 7, but they are all zipped in .obz format. To turn them into regular .obj file:

  • Rename the file extension to .zip.
  • Unzip it, and a obj file will be automatically expanded as the result
That's it. Very simple. There were still a few texture files missing, but they affect my model, so I wasn't care about them at all.

Easily opening multiple catalogs in Portfolio 8.5

I just found out that I can open multiple Portfolio catalog files in Portfolio 8.5 by drag the actually .fdb catalog file into the Catalogs windows. However, no other kind of files, including shortcuts, are allowed in the batch you drop in, or else the multiple open won't happen.

This is very handy to me. Now I can search all my photos all the way from 1997 til now.

Daz Studio and Shadow

I realized one huge problem with the work I did on Daz Studio so far: the characters didn't cast any shadow. Even for the one that cast shadow, it doesn't look realistic enough. I guess I need to spend sometime to figure out the trick of casting better shadow.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Powerful skin feature

Ever since someone on the forum pointed me to the skin feature of Daz Studio, I found myself addicted to it, and realized how much possibility it opens up.

Not only I can specify the surface type (skin, plastic ....), I can also replace the primary color of the service. So a white gown can be turned into a pink gown with just a specify the surface color. Of course it's definitely not as natural as changing the texture file of the the selected surface.

That brings to something even more exciting: I can even replace the image map file associated with the surface. That opens up tons of possibility of totally changing the look of a model.

My next step will be trying out the shadow casting ability.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

BodyPaint3D

I kept trying to learning BodyPaint3D to do texturing. But every time I try to pick up, the steep learning always put me down. In fact, I recently get back to 3DStudio Max 9, and hopefully the new version will be more texturing friendly.

Glossy Glove



This is how to make the glove glossy in Daz Studio.

Procedure:
- Select menu [Tools][Surfaec Selection]. Move your cursor around to figure out what area is in what name. In my case, it's 3_SkinforeArm and 3_skinHand.
- Opend the "Surfaces" tab. Within it select advanced tab, change the Lighting Model for the above two items to "Glossy (Plastic)".
- Render using software rendering.
- Done.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Lame hat

I think I finally have to admit that while SketchUp Pro 6 is easy to learn and easy to approach, it just doesn't have all the modeling capability I need. For instance, to create a 3D XinJiang hat with SketchUp, I ended up with this. Pathetic isn't it. So I am starting to mess with 3D Studio Max starting today. Wish me luck.

PVC Glove

I just posted a question about my straight PVC Glove problem at the forum:

So let me get this straight: to get the best rendering result, I need to use Software Render. But since software rendering doesn't use GPU on the graphic card, the only way to improve rendering performance is by getting a machine with faster CPU (or more CPUs)? Oh well, I am glad that I went for a QudaCore Processor when I got a new Dell 6 months ago.

Actually, I didn't know that use Hardware render (OpenGL on my graphic card) doesn't give me all the effect Daz3D provided until recently. But even then I couldn't seen to get everything right. For instance, I used PVCGear dress in this picture: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_-2QVKA4sf6w/SBuEDpqv_0I/AAAAAAAAAe8/fJRSWB_d6qw/s1600-h/saveme.jpg

The dress was fine, all glossy. But the glove doesn't seen look as glossy. I tried both hardware and software rendering and seems to get the same result. What did I do wrong?

Opening Daz Studio database

It's so fun to use Firefox with SQLite plug in to view data in my Daz Studio 2.1 database! Just open the file "C:\Program Files\DAZ\Studio\resources\Content" and boom I see all the mapping. And great that now I know where to backup the database.

Database of Daz Studio 2.1

Thanks to the people on the Internet, not only I now know that the Daz Studio 2.1 Content Management database is storing at ..../Studio/Resources/Content , I also know that it's in SQLite format, and I can access it using a Firefox extension.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More on Daz Studio 2.0

I spent almost a whole day to mess with Daz Studio 2.1.1.13. Although I won't say now I am an expert, at least I can curse around the application and get some work done. Here's some of my finding.
  • Most of the old Aiko 3 clothing doesn't work with Aiko 4 anymore.

  • To import another Daz3D library, you need to add an entry in [Peferences][Directories], and remember to select "Poser Content Directories". I found out that if I use "DAZ Studio Content Directories", it won't work.

  • But even after putting the right path, I still experienced problem as I could find the contents I newly installed. Turns out I have to click on the side way triangle located at the upper right corner of the Content panel, then select "Search For Content ...". Now you got a chance to refresh the content database. Once refreshed, you should be able to find your content.

  • The search feature and organization feature provided by DAZ Studio 2.1 is simply awesome. Now finding content to use is so much easier, and I don't to remember where to find what in the application. I just go to the catagory I defined and boom there they are. Major break thru I would say.

  • You definitely need to save frequently. The application tends to crazy once in a while for no good reason. The app is not unusable, but definitely can't be called stable. So save frequently.

  • I didn't realized until late yesterday that (at least on my machine) only the software rendering will be able to render all the fancy effects and such properly. Maybe I just don't have a capable graphic card to do fast hardware rendering? Cause software rendering is, while not dog slow, takes about 30 seconds to a minute to render a scene.
  • When you add hair (works like a wig to me) to your character, sometimes you need put it under the head node in the Scene hierarchy tree. This is particularly tree to those pre-Aiko 4 days hair. Merely doing Fit-to doesn't do the job (well at least that was what happened to some of the hair I tried.

  • I successfully imported an object I created from SketchUp 6 into Daz Studio with all the texture mapping. This makes is much easier for me to create my own content.
On the other hand, there are some mysteries and things I need to learn:

  • Somehow the glove I created using PVC-Gear didn't look as shiny as the sample rendering looks like. I wonder what I missed.

  • I need to learn how to use light to create better effect.

  • I need to learn how to use camera and animation to do some nice short animation short.

  • I need to know where the compiled database of Daz Studio is being stored so that I can back it up and won't waste all the time I spent on organizing the content because of a harddisk crash.

  • I need to figure out how to create my own dress.

  • And finally, I need to create the XinJiang hat that I promised myself to create for days.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

OBJ seems to be a much better format

I used Sketchup to create a XinJiang knief and think of using it with PaperVision3D, but I tried and tried and still couldn't get it load up properly. Meantime, if I export the model as .obj, then I can easily use it in DazStudio. Seems like .obj is a much better to use with. I am also glad that all the texture mapping I did on Sketchup got reserved in DazStudio.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Use Flash Player Standalone to debug Actionscript 3.0 Application

By default Flex Builder 3 will create a html for your Actionscript project, and then use it to debug your Actionscript application. I much rather use Flash Player Standalone instead, so I made the following changes in my project.

  • Select [Run][Debug][Others...]
  • In the "Create, Manage, and run configurations" window, uncheck the "Use defaults" checkbox. Now manually changes all entries to reference to ......swf instead of .... html . This will launch your default swf file player. If necessary, set the default application of .swf to the Flash Player Standalone application.
  • Important: make sure that the standalone player you use is a Debug version. You will find it when you download the Flash Player 9 package form Adobe. Unzip the .zip and you will find the Debug version.

Using Flex Builder 3 to develop Papervision3D 2.0 (Actionscript 3) application

Here's the steps I used:

Prerequisite:
  • Install "Install Flash Player 9 Plugin.msi" (from the Flash Player 9 Update package). That way, when Flex tries to language the application for Actionscript, it will launch your feault browser, and Flash Player 9 will be loaded properly for your 3D fun.
Steps:
  • Launch Flex Builder 3.
  • Create a new Actionscript Project
  • In your project property, selecPublish Postt [Actionscript Build Path], then under [Source path] tab, select the folder of your 2.0 alpha source folder. In my case: "Q:/Apps/Development/Papervision3D/2.0 alpha/src"
  • Write code.
  • Compile

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Papervision3D 1.5 (instead of 1.7 Beta)

Yesterday I directly grabbed the 1.7 beta from the subversion server. It was working fine with most of the examples found at this site, but there were some that didn't work out, so I thought maybe I should try the stable 1.5 version. So I downloaded it, explain it, put it my ...\Development\Papervision3D\1.5\src folder, and point the ClassPath to it. Well, those projects that failed .... still failed. But at least the successed ones still work fine, with slightly different behavior. For instance, in the 1.7 beta the system was not complained about the missing texture jpeg when needed, while 1.5 do complain about it.

I also need some offline documentation, so I downloaded the source with docs here.

My next stop will be spending some times with these examples, play with them, and see if I can made something useful out of them. That includes:

  • Try loading the 3D models I created in SketchUp 6 Pro
  • Try loading textures that are not JPEG (or check to see if it support transparency on PNG)
By the way, with my first attempt, I found out that when it loads JPEG, it doesn't do smart scaling (that preserves proportion), or maybe that I haven't found the proper API. Well investigation continue.

Flash CS3, crashed

Stupid Flash CS3 Pro Portable suddenly crashed while I was in the middle of messing the PaperVision3D Tutorials. Gee, what the heck is going on?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Papervision 3D

The new bizz in Flash town is Papervision 3D, a open source free engine that allows you to create 3D content for your Flash animation.

A few things to mention when I try out the engine:
  • It WORKS with the portable version of Flash CS3 professional (Yeah, I can code 3D everywhere I go!)
  • The most critical thing is to make sure that the "...as3\truck\src" is in the Classpath under Actionscript 3.0 Setting. To check it, go to [Edit][Preferences...][ActionScript Tab][Actionscript 3.0 Setting button...]. If the path is not there, add it. It should save with the application. I mean, even the portable version I have works.
  • On a Flash document (.fla) page, you can associate a class to it. In fact, a lot of demonstration on PaperVision3D put code in saperate .as class file, so you shall get familiar with the approach. It's actually pretty simple:
    • In your hosting .fla file, enter the document class name in the Properties tab.
    • Save the .fla file if it's not been saved.
    • In the SAME directory of your .fla file. create a text file with .as extension with the SAME name of your class.
    • Click the pencil button next to Document class textbox, and it should bring you the an editor with your .as class file loaded.
    • Put your code in there.
    • Compile, test movie.
  • The Flash CS3, by default, won't save the files you modified before compile your movie. So make sure you save your files before testing any movie.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Toon Boom Animation done in one day

I really didn't anticipate that it takes me almost one day (actually it's from 5 pm to 12 midnight) to finish a simple Toon Boom animation, but it did.

Most of the time I spent was on figure out the best way to vectorized a few photos into vector art that is in manageable complexity for Toon Boom. The problem is that Toon Boom cannot handle graphics that are too complicate. 1000 vector lines seem to be the limit. Too much and the application may crash. There's always a temptation to try to preserver as much detail of the original picture as possible, but in reality I may need with lower color palette range, even though it means that I may need to alter the palette manually later.

I also found that .PNG jacks up the file size dramatically. Unfortunately there's no other option as only PNG support clean transparency. It jacks up the result movie size from 120K to 500+K .

Also, I cannot animate transparency of image like JPEG and PNG. So there's an incentive to convert graphic into vector.

Toon Boom cannot directly important Flash animation. So if I have graphic work done on Flash and need to move to Toon Boom, I have to export those art work into Adobe Illustrator format first. And even then Toon Boom may complain because the latest version of .ai exported by Flash CS3 is still too old for Toon Boom. My solution was importing the exported file into Adobe Illustrator CS3 first, and then export the graphic again into .ai (CS3) format. Now Toon Boom will be able to recognize the file and import accordingly.

It is very important to realize the difference between select and then rest of the transformation tools. Also pay close attention about whether you are animating the PEG or the artwork itself.

The color palette of the graphic imported into Toon Boom seems much shaper than the original palette while it is in Flash or Illustrator format. This is strange and may affect my final art.

On the plus side, I learned even more about Toon Boom and have a better understanding about it's limitation. It would be interesting if there's simply way to move Flash animation generated by ToonBoom into high end effect application, like After Effect or FinalCutPro Motion.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More Toon Boom Studio 4 notes

  • To use Cutout characters, drag the item from library always to way to the LABEL of the time line.
  • To remove a keyframe from the timeline, first collapse the animation, then rightclick on the timeline right on the top of the cell, and select "Remove Key Frame"
  • When selection tool is selection, holding ALT key will turn the selection arrow into lasso, which makes it very handy to select items.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Daz 2.0 released

I just realized that Daz 2.0 has been released. So I downloaded and installed it on the top of my previous Daz 2.0 installation. YOu can't do portable for Daz since it only recognize the full installed version on the host OS. But at least it's nice enough to remove the older version while keeping all the previous setting. I also download some tutorial videos in order to learn Daz 2.0.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Strange things about Toom Boom 4

  • Sometime the checker board will show up in camera will when I switch to different drawing elelment.
  • When you adjust to pivot point for rotation, you should select the Peg of the element to adjust the rotation.
  • those tutorial and exercise at the site are very critical. make sure you finish ALL of them.

Torturing my Toon Boom Studio 4

It took me a whole night and then I finally realized what the heck is going wrong with the pressure sensitve stylus support in Toon Boom Studio 4. It seems like that Toom Boom Studio 4 does NOT like the multiple monitor setting, and whenever I have multiple monitor setup, the pressure senstive stop work. Switch back to single monitor mode resolves the problem.

Great, now I can really get rid of Toon Boom 3, since the gradient color fill doesn't work when there's more than 2 colors.

But I am still struggle with how the peg think works with toon boom studio, and how the whole camera thing works. Maybe I just need more time to soak myself into it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Frustrated by illustrators' Gradient feature

After reading this article about Gradient feature comparison between Photoshop, Flash and Illustrator, I am getting pretty pissed knowing that the Gradient transformation feature I need is not available in Illustrator. This really sucks, because everytime I need to do some art work with serious gradient manipulation, I have to use Flash CS3, and then re-import the items in Illustrator CS3. Sure I can use some tricks, but that's one more hurdle between my idea and my artwork.

Fustrated by illustrator

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Learning Manga Studio EX

I was very much enjoying using Manga Studio EX 3, but I am sure that I there's still a lot of stuff that I need to learn. For instance, I tried to get rid of the blue border around the Word Bubble and Panel Ruler, and it took me almost half an hour to figure out that I can get rid of them by unchecking [View][Show Panel Layer Area] and [View][Show Text Layer Area].

But bottomline is that it's a great tool, and I'll continue invest my time to learn and use it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tablet PC as a art pad: not as great as I expected

The more I use my Tablet PC as an art pad, the more I realize that it's far from a great tool. Applications that specifically wrote for Tablet PC, like Alias Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage, works great with Tablet PC. But other tools like Manga Studio or Photoshop has serious delay problem. At least I thought it was just my machine, but after reading some forum posts, like this, and this, and also this. On my Tablet with Wacom Graphite 4, I have zero lagging problem. So I guess I should with using Tablet PC mainly just for sketching.