6 Weeks with Daz Studio is a weekly account of my personal adventures with this interesting and powerful 3D program. I’ll share my observations, projects, and ideas about the program along with any tutorials, websites and artists I come across. Be sure to visit Renderosity’s Daz Studio Pro forum and, of course, the Daz 3D website where you can download the program free of charge for Mac and PC.
Last week (week 5) I began a new personal project from scratch. I’d been inspired from old homicide photos found on the Vice Magazine website article: Murder in the City, New York, 1910–1920. I’ll finish the project in this, the final part of the series and I’ll sum up my thoughts on working with Daz Studio for 6 weeks.
Please note that this post includes images of violence. Please use your discretion in viewing these images.
Refining the Murder Scene
After bringing the murder scene render from Daz Studio into Adobe Photoshop CC 2019, I realized something: I needed to re-do the lighting in the scene in order to create better shadows for my murder victim. Also, I decided to do two versions of the scene; one in which I’d just use the murder victim and insert it into an existing vintage crime scene photo, and, two, I’d get good noir shadows in my main scene and do a contemporary black & white homicide scene.
Changing the single light in the scene was easy. I just chose the camera from the scene drop-down menu and moved it into position closer and directly above my crime victim. Then I adjusted the camera properties my giving it a larger lens size and a very slight fish-eye distortion. I wanted to give the impression of someone taking a picture standing above the victim like a crime scene technician.
I also did some slight adjustments in the pose of the murder victim. I narrowed the mouth a bit and closed it a bit more (using actual vintage photos for reference) and I adjusted the right leg so it lay underneath the left leg. And finally, I brought the left arm in closer to the head. It just looked better that way.
I then rendered the scene with the street scene set and I removed the set in order to just render the corpse (for placement in the vintage scene). Now it’s time to move on to Photoshop.
Polishing the Scenes in Photoshop
I’m not an expert in Photoshop, but I’ve been using it for many years and am familiar with most of its functions. Still, I had to view a tutorial on creating a vintage photo look. I also needed to find some free blood brushes, a bullet hole image, and some moody filters. A quick google search got me all of these things. There were many, many free sites featuring just what I was looking for.
The first scene I worked on was the one where I placed my homicide victim in an already existing vintage photograph. Basically, it involved removing the existing victim then clone-stamping the are so that it looks like a blank floor. I imported my Daz Studio character and rotated/sized him into place.
Now, this isn’t a Photoshop tutorial, so I won’t go into detail. I can say I got a lot of help from a great online site - Colin Smith’s photoshopCAFE. Colin has some excellent tuts on vintage photo looks and advanced work with layers and layer properties. After failing with my first version, I re-did it and cut out some filters (too many filters can make a scene look muddy and unfocused). Here’s a comparison pix: on the left side is my original paste into the vintage scene, on the right is the final version of the scene.
The second version of the scene includes the street scene set. I used the render as a base to create a noir look that wasn’t too bloody as I don’t want to shock anyone, but I wanted it to look real. Again, photoshopCAFE was a great help with the Bleach Black look. I added two bullet holes and used several blook brushes at differing opacity to give the scene more realism. I also thought that I should have framed the render a little bit to the right so that the air-conditioning unit wasn’t so prominent. Rather than re-rendering, I simply blurred the a/c a bit to reduce its focus. Here is what I came up with after an hours worth of work:
I think the latter scene is better as I wasn’t too successful in blending the murder victim with the original vintage photo-background. I think it takes more skill that I have with Photoshop to make that idea work. Obviously, the clothing is wrong for the character, but I was determined to use only what was available in the default content for Daz Studio.
Final Thoughts on Daz Studio
I’ve barely touched the surface of what Daz Studio is capable of doing. Even after six weeks, I feel like I’m only just starting to get the hang of the program. It’s not that Daz has a steep learning curve, it’s that the program grows with you. It’s a very deep application (Rendering in particular) and I believe it would take many months, perhaps a year to master everything that Daz is capable of. That being said, I really, really liked working with the program.
Rather than try to work my way through every section of Daz for this series, I decided to jump in with my own project for the last two weeks. I suspect many new users do the same thing. And I found that it was so easy to work with Daz. Posing especially was a load of fun. By just doing something creative with Daz, I find that my imagination is stimulated and I have many ideas for new scenes. That’s what a good program does to the user - it inspires and excites him/her. Daz Studio certainly does that.
Daz Studio is also well-coded. I had a single crash over about 20 hours of use (primarily on my laptop). I’m grateful the developers of Daz have put so much effort into making a good Mac port of the program. I also found the Daz Studio website to be very helpful especially the forums which are informative. Renderosity’s own Daz forum was quite useful as well.
I really found very little I didn’t like about the program although I do wish the default content Daz provides with a download was beefier. I’d even pay for a better default package of content. A wider variety of clothing for male/female would have been useful for the scene I was creating from scratch. I actually wanted to use as much free content as I could and I was very happy to see that there is a lot of good stuff out there. Renderosity’s freestuff selection was very helpful. Moreover, Renderosity vendors who specialize in Daz have the best prices and often the most interesting products.
You Should Try Daz Studio
If you’ve never worked in 3D or you have some experience but don’t have time to deal with a steep learning curve, Daz Studio is the perfect program for you. Not only can you create all kinds of killer scenes with default setups in Daz, but you can create your own figures/scenes from scratch just as easily. Digital, book covers, artworks, fan scenes, and even animated films, these are just a few of the things you can do with Daz Studio even if you don’t have a lot of experience in 3D.
I like Daz Studio a lot and wish I had originally planned on doing 12 weeks with the program. I still have a lot of ideas and learning to do!