Carrara is developed to allow us to load in and work with Poser and Daz Studio formatted props and figures in ways that other 3D software applications simply cannot.
We must try to remember that this does not mean that it is made to work exactly like the applications these products were originally intended for.
While we may have to adopt some work flows to get the content working correctly, the fact that we can get this content into Carrara intact with morphs and rigging working as it should is the magical part that we should all be thankful for.
One of the big differences between any 3D applications are their render engines. This is why material settings made for one application will generally not apply correctly to another. So our biggest hurdle to overcome will be getting our Shaders optimized for Carrara - which Carrara makes very easy to do as you’ll soon see.
Daz3d has taken additional steps to make sure that their Genesis 1 character materials translate over to Carrara on a level that looks fairly decent so we can easily get the wrong impression that all shaders for Daz Studio should work just as well.
In truth, many after-market shaders made for Daz Studio do not apply well in Carrara, nor do the character materials for anything newer than Genesis 1 (generation 5, like V5, M5, etc., for example). In fact, when I try to apply a material preset to Genesis 2 male or female, I don't get any maps at all!
Don’t let this bother you. As we get used to working in Carrara, we learn our own ways to make these procedures very simple to perform.
There are other things besides Material Settings that may not work as expected - or even at all - when brought into Carrara. Keep in mind that what we’re trying to get into Carrara is not a Daz Studio scene, but a rigged figure with working morphs and textures. Everything else in the scene should be set up in Carrara itself.
So it’s good practice to first bring in Genesis alone, and get it set up just right and saved, before bringing in other elements. Then we can continue this same process with everything else as we bring those elements into the scene.
UV Coordinates for Genesis in Carrara
When we bring in the Base Genesis model from the library, it comes in without textures. If we instead load in one of the versions found in the Characters section, they come in with their basic color maps in place, and they load with the UV Mapped Coordinates for that specific shape. This can be important to know if we wish to use a specific set of maps - no matter the shape we want to end up using.
Basic Female comes in with UVs that match Victoria 4 texture maps. Basic Male is the same for Michael 4 maps and Basic Child for Kids 4 maps.
Victoria 4 (Genesis Basic Female) UVs also work for:
The Girl 4
All V4 Elite
Michael4 (Genesis Basic Male) UVs also work for:
The Freak 4
All M4 Elite
Other characters we collect for Genesis 1 and 2 will often have custom UVs which make for more uniform texture mapping of the figure after its shape has changed to that particular shape - a really nice design feature Daz3d has built into their Genesis system.
Knowing this, let’s consider that we want to use (for example) the Troll maps on a shape of a small girl child.
To do this easily, we’d start by loading in the Troll character preset so that the maps line up. Remember, we want to use Troll’s maps. Those maps were made to fit the custom UVs of the Troll shape.
So we begin with the Troll character preset and then change the shape to anything we want. In this case, remove the Troll morph, and add some Female and Child morphs to our liking.
In this same idea, we can use Michael 5 maps on a Troll or Gorilla or on Victoria or whatever shape we want. We just want to begin with the base character that corresponds to the maps we want to use - and then change the shape to whatever we want.
It’s important to do this or we’ll end up seeing map irregularities on the figure, like the outside of the map, etc.,
The figure here shows the Troll maps loaded onto the basic Genesis. Notice how the maps don’t line up with the figure. This is what I’m talking about here. If we want top use the Troll maps, begin by loading the Troll character preset. This will give us the proper UV Mapping for those textures. Now we can change the shape to anything we want, and the mapping will follow.
Daz Studio has a built-in function which allows users to swap UV Mapping directly while working but Carrara does not. So the simple work-around is to just load in the preset character according to which maps we will use.
We have Genesis or one of the Genesis 2 figures loaded into an otherwise empty scene in Carrara. Let’s look at the Shaders tab of the Instances Tray. No matter which character preset we have loaded in, we have a fairly large selection of shaders.
In fact, we have the same number of shaders as we have material zones in Genesis plus one, which is the Default Carrara shader.
As with all Daz3d figures, several of these material zones (also called Shading Domains) will use the exact same shader. Carrara automatically gives every material zone its own shader - every time we load something.
Now go to Edit > Remove Unused Masters > Consolidate Duplicate Shaders
This will calculate which shaders are identical, pick one and delete the rest and automatically set all Shading Domains using these shaders to the one that it picked to keep.
It is important to perform this operation before we make any changes to any of the shaders.
While we can easily copy and paste an entire shader into another, we want to reduce the actual number of shaders we have in our working scene to the lowest number possible. This is not to say that we should feel nervous about adding more shaders. We’ll add a new shader any time we need one. But texture maps for figures can be quite large and we don’t want to multiply those (to our computer’s memory) unnecessarily.
Every time we load in a new piece of content: Edit > Remove Unused Masters > Consolidate Duplicate Shaders
Get used to that. It’s also helpful to remember to select the other two options in that menu when appropriate: Remove Unused Objects and Remove Unused Shaders
Note that Carrara will never purposefully delete it’s own Default shader. There must always be at least one shader in any scene.
Everyone has a different view on what an optimized shader is. Basically, if we’re happy with how the Basic Male looks when he’s loaded in from the library, our journey to optimizing will be quick. This is a very basic, but well performed optimization that the Daz3d Developers have built into their Daz Studio shaders - knowing how they will translate into Carrara.
While I’ll be using Basic Male in my example, the same applies to the Base Daz3d character presets. Quite simply, there are certain aspects of any material setting in Daz Studio or Poser that will never transfer perfectly into Carrara when being loaded in. This cannot be helped.
So the developers looked at how Carrara is converting the materials over, and designed their base Daz Studio shaders to make for a good cross over - which I think is really cool.
For more realism, however, we have at least one more map to add to some of the shaders, and want to set things up to work more like the real thing. We cover that in the More Advanced article.
Let's look at the simple setup and advance in the next article. That way those of us who are happy with the simple setup have less to read, and it also helps to explain where we’re going with the more realistic options later.
By the end of this Basic Shaders discussion, we’ll wrap it up by making a full-figure (Multiple Zone) preset that can add this optimized shader set to any figure of the same base mesh (Genesis, for example) as well as how to create individual shader presets to add these settings to ANY figure period.
It should be said that we’ll need to load a figure for this exercise which comes with texture maps. Genesis base figure does not load with maps. So we need to load Basic Male, Basic Female, Basic Child, Genesis 2 Male or Genesis 2 Female, etc., It can also be Gorilla or Troll or Michael or Victoria, Gianni, Gia, etc.,
For a full understanding, however, please refrain from loading in a third-party character preset. As with Carrara artists, Daz Studio content artists enjoy thinking outside the box to get their shaders to be special, and that sort of thing doesn’t often translate to Carrara, often leaving your figure all black or something odd.
We’ll get to how to load in your third-party characters in the Advanced section. For now, however, it’s best to start with one of the Genesis (1 or 2) standard characters.
After we’ve performed the Edit > Remove Unused Masters > Consolidate Duplicate Shaders, let’s take a look at one of the skin shaders.
Select “Actor” and go to the Texture Room so we can see what’s getting applied to what. When asked if we want to Create a New Shader or Edit the Existing Shader, choose Edit Existing, so that all Shading Domains get updated, not replaced, starting with a new, blank shader.
Genesis Basic Male without any Shader Changes
The top domain (using our Basic Male example) is the skin shader for all of the limbs, so let’s double-click that one to open it up.
The reason that these basic shader conversions work so well is that, as we can see, we’re actually only left with a Texture Map in the Color channel of the Shader setup. Everything else is either set to None, Black (same as None) or, in the case of Shininess, is irrelevant due to another channel being set to None - in this case, None in Highlight makes the Shininess channel ineffective no matter what it might be set to.
Basic Skin Shader
Notice how this shader contains only one texture map - in the Color channel.
We see a Value = 100 in the Alpha channel, but that's actually no different from having "None" for Alpha as well.
Similarly, a Shininess Value of 100 is very much like having no shininess or highlight.
At the most basic level of rendering a human-like figure, this shader will render very well - just flat image color mapped onto mesh according to its UV Coordinates.
So at this point, let’s take a good look at which Shaders are in which Shader Domains.
For now we only want to seek out the three main Skin shaders. One is for the Limbs, probably now called Fingernails, Legs or something similar. One is for the Torso, probably called Nipple or something like that. Finally is a shader for the Face, probably called Lip or nostril or something like that.
I like to take this time to switch back to the Assemble Room, go to the Shaders tab of the Instances Tray, and rename those main skin shaders to “Face”, “Limbs” and “Torso”, but it’s not necessary.
This just makes things easier for me in the long run. Daz3d actually uses a prefix to further organize shaders, keeping all figure shaders together. So I often retain the prefix and name them “1_Face”, “2_Torso” and “3_Limbs” for example.
Select Actor and go back into the Texture Room
I’m looking at Genesis Basic Male, so the next shader from the top that is not one of the three major skin shaders is the Eyelashes. Open it up.
We see a similar thing here, except that the Color is actually just a color and the only Texture Map being used is for the Alpha channel.
Shader Domain Assignment
Eyelashes and Shader Cleanup Notes
Using my example (Basic Male) we see a common thing that we can either ignore or correct.
It’s such a small thing that it really doesn’t hurt anything to leave it the way it is. But I like to clean these things up.
Drag Source 1 (Texture Map) onto the main Alpha Channel
In the Alpha channel, a Texture Map is being Multiplied by a Color of pure white, which is the same thing as multiplying it by a Value of 100, which is redundant and unnecessary. It might add a tiny fraction of a fraction of a second to the render engine to go through this extra calculation.
Let's fix this!
Simply drag the Texture Map onto the main channel to which it belongs - in this case: Alpha. This will eliminate the entire Multiply calculation, leaving only Texture Map in the channel.
To keep things easier to see at a glance, we may also find it beneficial to replace any color of pure black or Value of 0 with “None”. To check to see if a color is pure black, I click the color chip and look at the three values in the color wheel dialog box. Black has only 0 (zero) in each of the three values.
Other times, if I want a bit more control without introducing any color, I might use Value of 0 instead, so that I have a slider at the top level of the shader. Nice and easy to adjust.
If we wish to keep color possibilities readily available, we can leave a black color chip in the channel. To raise the value as if we were sliding up the 1 - 100 slider, open the color chip and enter a value into the middle value setting (L).
Those three values are for Hue (H) Level (L) and Saturation (S) on the HLS scale.
After dragging Source 1 to Alpha, it'll look like this
Hue determines the position around the circle of the HLS wheel. As the Saturation level increases, it is Hue which determines which color the color will be.
Level determines the value between dark (black) and light (white). This sets the overall brightness of the color.
Saturation determines how far away from gray scale the color is to appear. The higher the value, the more colorful (saturated) the color appears.
Eyes - Sclera, Pupil and Iris
Here is a situation where our individual needs might require that we use individual shaders for individual parts of the eye. I’ll cover higher-end Eye shaders in another, more advanced tutorial.
In Basic Male Sclera, Pupil and Iris each have their own individual shader.
For a fine Basic setup, all three of these can use the same shader.
To do this, simply drag the Iris shader onto the slots for Sclera and Pupil in the list of Shader Domains. Here is a situation where we’ll end up with two unused shaders in our Shader list. In the Assemble Room, Edit > Remove Unused Masters > Remove Unused Shaders will clean these up.
Now lets open the Iris shader.
Perfect. We have a Texture Map in the Color channel, everything else is turned off. This is perfect for most situations on the basic level.
It is common for people to add shine to these parts of the eye. Don’t. We’ll add the shine next.
If we scroll down the list of Domains, we’ll see that we’ve also just edited the shader for Lacrimal, which also uses the Iris shader. If it isn’t set to the Iris shader, do so using the drop-down on the right side of the domain’s shader listing.
Eyes - Cornea, Tear and Reflection
Basic Male (Genesis 1) doesn’t have the Eye Reflection domain but I’ve included it here for Genesis 2 users.
In most situations, I treat Cornea and Reflections layer with the same shader, keeping a separate Tear shader to allow for control of the visibility of the Tear separately.
This one is really simple, and is where I’m going to have you switch from a simple shader conversion to using a Carrara shader preset. This particular part of the eye is important enough to dictate that we use Carrara’s render engine to help us out.
Open the Cornea shader. Now go to the browser’s Shaders tab and scroll down to find the Glass presets.
With the Cornea shader open, drag the shader preset called “Clear” in the Glass presets onto the where it says “Top Shader” in the Cornea shader window (as the arrow in the image below instructs).
Here is where we’re using a basic use of Carrara’s more advanced and powerful shaders system.
I say “basic” because it’s a very basic way of setting up a simple substance within Carrara without going into heavy technical accuracies and experiments. “Advanced because we’re adding more of the powerful shader functions, like Reflection and Refraction.
If your figure has an Eye Reflection domain, you can drag this shader onto that domain as well.
Open the Tear shader and drag the same “Clear” shader preset onto its Top Shader. With the shader still open, reduce the Highlight slider to 0 to remove the tear and increase it to 100 to make it very highlighted. This can really help to add emotion to expressions. Even tears of happiness can get nice and glossy - and increasing the Highlight value will increase the shaders glossiness.
If you like, have a look around in the glass shader preset. Notice how Carrara isn’t using the Alpha channel to reduce visibility. Instead, we’re using Transparency to allow light to pass through the material, allowing highlight and shininess to do their thing!
Reducing levels of Alpha makes the whole shader disappear, while increasing intensity of Transparency doesn’t remove our ability to see the shader, it instead allows us to see through it, except when our vision is blocked by highlights or reflections.
The surface is further enhanced with Refraction and Reflection.
It is common for folks to feel a need to increase reflection to make things shinier when, in fact, we use Highlight and Shininess for that. Reflection is a more intensive calculation which can actually hide what we really want to see, if overdone. I often keep Reflection of my Cornea shaders really low: between 2 and 3.
What we’re actually looking for is often just more highlight and/or a tighter (higher value) shininess. We also need to be aware that too high of a value in Shininess can reduce the highlight to such a tight angle that it will not show up in the render. Much over (or even up to, in some cases) a value of 35 can often be too much. But for these eye surfaces, we can even go up to and over 50 for a nice shine on the eyes. It really depends on out lighting and render setting, so adjust this to your own taste and settings.
I love having Refraction on my Cornea shaders for those times when I can catch a view of the eyes from their side, showing off a cornea bulge - a morph I always use. The refraction is what keeps this clear material form being empty. It uses the angles of incoming light against surrounding nearby colors to create an effect very similar to how real eyes look at these rare views - especially when the light flows passed the eyes just right!
Mouth - Gums, Teeth, etc.,
In many cases, especially in Basic situations like this, I like to use the same shader for all inner mouth domains. I usually rename the Gums shader to Mouth, and make sure that all of the inner mouth and teeth domains are using this one shader.
We’ll treat this like shiny skin and, since the teethe are mostly white, their contrast will have an automatic hardness change to their appearance in our basic setup.
To get the right color of shine in the right places, let’s introduce something that I wasn’t going to cover until we get more advanced:
Hold the Ctrl key down and then drag the Texture Map from Color to the Highlight channel
Holding Ctrl while dragging will copy the dragged item and paste it where we release. Now we have the texture map used in the color channel in the highlight channel. Now we’ll set the Shininess channel to a Value of 25, which will make the elements of the inside of the mouth quite shiny.
If it’s too shiny for your liking, try lowering the shininess to something like 15 to 18 and then changing the Brightness slider under the Texture Map in the Highlight channel to 75, lower the brightness by 25% and test render that.
A Fine, Basic Shader Setup
So here we are! We’ve got our basic shader setup, Save your work and try some test renders using different poses and expressions.
Before I call a Character complete, I like to open the mouth and show the teeth, turn the eyes with them open wide and take some test renders close to the face, and some backed off showing more of the whole figure.
Knowing that I’ll be doing this, I duplicate my Camera, which is usually focused on the figure from the thighs up at this point and, while looking through the new camera, select the head of the character and type 0 (number zero) to zoom the camera to the head, then back it off a bit to see the top of the head through the top of the chest - a nice close-up on the face, often at a slight angle.
Then I can switch between the two cameras quickly in the render room.
Again... when we get this just right, Save it so we can always come back to it! ;)
Saving Shader Presets
I like to always test my shaders using lights similar to that which I often use in all of my character scenes. I have another article regarding my Simple Character Lighting Setup if you’d like advice on such a thing.
I find that it really helps with consistency of accurate shaders if they’re all made using a similar lighting and scene setup.
Once I have my shaders how I like them, I’ll often save them to my browser so that I can save time setting up my next character which uses the same base figure.
I also have an article about setting up a custom browser, if you need help with that.
To save shaders, I use two methods: the first being a Multi-Shader Preset, which saves all of the shaders of the figure in all of the domains, exactly as we have it set up.
For this type of preset to work properly, we need to use the same Base Figure. Even if the base figure uses different UV Mapping coordinates, the preset will still work, we’d just need to change the maps if it’s a figure that uses different UVs.
But what if we worked really hard to get a really nice skin shader, and we want to use that on a figure that has entirely different domains?
This is where I use my second method: Saving individual shaders to the browser.
Both methods have their advantages. The Multi-Shader Preset is great if we’re only using one base figure. But let’s say that we have a Multi-Shader preset for a Genesis 1 figure and try to load that onto a Genesis 2 figure - it will place the wrong shaders in the wrong domains, and some domains won’t get anything at all - because the different base figure has an entirely different set of domains, in an entirely different order.
No matter which Base Figure we use, a well made skin shader will work well on any figure, as long as we replace the Texture Maps with maps that are made to fit the UV mapping of the figure we’re using. The rest of the shader remains the same, and works the same as it did on the other figure!
So this is where the individually stored shaders work great!
Both methods are simple:
Multi-Shader Preset - in the Texture Room, drag the big multi-colored ball at the upper right of the screen into the appropriately opened portion of the Shaders tab. (see the Custom Browser article for more info) - Give the Multi-Shader Preset a name, and that’s it!
Individual Shaders - From the Assemble Room, drag a shader from the Shaders tab into the appropriately opened portion of the Shaders tab. (see the Custom Browser article for more info) - Give the Multi-Shader Preset a name, and that’s it!
I hope you’ve found this article to be helpful. Keep in mind that this system will create very fast and simple shaders for your characters to get you up-and-running as quickly as possible.
For much better rendering results of vastly more realistic-looking people, we need to advance into further areas of the Shaders. It’s not hard at all... it just requires a little more time and effort from our part.
The beautiful thing is that the wonderful Artists whom create these character products already give us all of the tools we need to proceed, and Carrara takes all of the guess work out of setting everything up... so what are you waiting for? Head over to the “Setting Up Materials - More Advanced” article and get to work on your next perfect being! ;)
Using Daz 3D content in Carrara Pro has been a passion of mine for over ten years now. My goal is to create a nicely polished movie, fully from CG (computer generated elements), and Carrara 8.5 Pro has been a dream come true for me - being that I'm endeavoring to do this all by myself.
Over the years I've asked a lot of questions, explored, experimented and just gained a lot of experience working with Carrara. Without being able to spend a lot of hours in a day working on this stuff, it became apparent that there's no way that I'd be able to model al of my 3D elements on my own - not for what I want to do.
So Daz 3D and Renderosity have become what I consider to be my Asset Development Teams. Carrara makes it easy for me to create my own models when I want to, but even more, I love that I can tweak purchased content to my needs with the use of tools very similar to what I've practiced using in 3ds Max years ago.
Have a look around and enjoy yourself. I've gathered numerous links and videos, written a bunch of articles and am working on wrapping it all up for you here at Dartanbeck.com
See the full current site map Here, or simply use the navigation menu to explore!
Have a Question? Just Ask!
I love to help others as best I can. This is a rather broad topic: CG Filmmaking, so my articles on any particular topic may not answer your specific question.
Most of the questions directed to me are regarding Carrara or How did I do this?
For these sorts of things, post your question at the Carrara Discussion Forum (or another appropriate category) at Daz 3D.com forums, and if I don't see it right away, someone else might. They are such a friendly and helpful bunch! I've learned so much from that forum over the years!
For a more immediate question directed to me, log into those forums and Send me a PM!