Whether you are new to Daz Studio or an experienced user, chances are there are features you have never tried, or questions you might have about how to make the most out of your free download of Daz Studio. You can find plenty of technical details on our website by visiting the FAQ, following along with our video tutorials, or checking the latest In the Studio webinar.
That said, this blog will be a great starting point to spark your imagination and show you many of the things that are possible with Daz Studio. We want to handle a few topics that don’t necessarily fit easily on a standard FAQ, but are great conversation starters in a setting like our forum. Hopefully, we’ll answer a few of your questions and help you get started.
How Do I Achieve Realism in Daz Studio?
If you’ve spent any time looking through our Gallery, you’ve seen firsthand just how amazing content produced by Daz Studio can be. As a new beginner, it can be discouraging if you aren’t seeing satisfactory results in your own renders. There are a lot of factors that go into creating a realistic render, so while we won’t be able to solve everything with this short answer, we hope it will point you in the right direction as you learn to balance rendering vs. reality!
We can’t stress enough how important lighting is to achieve the best results in your renders. Check out this post: How to Create the Perfect 3D Scene Lighting if you want a deeper understanding of each type of light available for you in Daz Studio. When you first load Daz Studio, every scene is going to contain some light by default. This can be very helpful at first, since you are able to see exactly what you are working on without adding a single light. That said, these default lights most likely won’t be satisfactory, and will need to be removed.
Removing Default Lighting
Removing the default lighting in Daz Studio is simple. If you are rendering with NVIDIA IRAY, there is a default Environment Map that loads, which is a source of light information within the scene. We can start by removing this, so you can add custom lights.
First, select Render Settings from the top menu toolbar. Then select the Editor tab. The Environment option will become available at the bottom of the menu list. Next, select the picture under Environment Map. A drop-down menu will appear. Select “None.” This will remove the default map and lighting information associated with it.
Finally, there is a light in the scene wherever you look, and that is referred to as a Headlamp. Think of it like this: everything you see in Daz Studio is through the lens of a camera, and that camera has a small light strapped to the top of it. It shines everywhere you look. Not only does this light help you see while you are designing, but it will also render into the scene if you don’t remove it. To do that, go back to the Editor tab and select General. Within the Auto Headlamp section, you can select Never to completely remove the scene, or you can experiment with the When No Scene Lights feature, which should only have the headlamp on when you have placed no other lights into the scene.
For Starters, Use a High-Quality HDRI
Now that you have removed the defaults, you can add in your own lights. This will take a lot of practice and experimentation. A great way to start is by using a high-quality HDRI, or High Dynamic Range Imaging. You can find plenty of awesome HDRI images in our shop, or you can import your own. Not only do HDRIs give you a realistic background to work with, they also generally provide very good lighting information that will help your renders look more realistic. You will load the HDRI in the same spot where we removed the default Environment Map. Combined with normal scene lights, you should be able to create breathtaking lighting and realism in your renders.
If you want to improve quality and aren’t worried about longer render times, look for 4K or higher HDRIs. Keep in mind that if you aren’t rendering in 4K, using a 4K HDRI is only going to make it take longer and use more resources on your computer, without actually bringing better results in the end.
Shaders, Materials, and Textures
These are major factors in how something appears when rendered in 3D. When working with materials, limitations you will encounter can arise from how the asset was created by the original artist. Not all assets are created equally, so as a beginner, play it safe and invest in a few premium assets. The Genesis 8 and 8.1 figures are overall excellent. Many of the skin textures are being created carefully from high-quality human reference photos, thus allowing for the highest levels of realism when viewed with the right lighting and render settings.
Make sure that all the materials you are using are configured properly for the render engine you are using, either Iray or 3Delight.
Posing and Placement
All of the previous tips focus on very subtle aspects of realism, aspects that must be present, yet when done right are easily overlooked and taken for granted. Posing and placement is crucial to getting your renders more realistic for more obvious reasons. 3D models have rigs, but those rigs don’t behave the same limitations as your bones do! So, make sure you pose your subjects in natural ways. Spend time getting the facial expressions to look natural, rather than forced, rigid, or empty. Make sure everything is resting on the ground that is supposed to be, such as figures and objects.
Posing is a tedious and difficult process. In most cases, you won’t have any trouble finding realistic poses in our shop. We recently highlighted 30 different poses displaying actions from dozens of different themes and genres, which can be checked out here.
Render Settings and Iterations
Finally, comes the actual rendering. Check out our helpful videos all about rendering here. Finding the right settings is crucial in order to get the best results. The trick with render settings, however, is that one size does not fit all. Every image is going to call for something a little different, and different artists have different tolerances. Sure, you could turn every quality setting to maximum and get amazing results, if you don’t mind letting your computer run for 4 days!
Some settings that can help improve realism are found in the Filtering section of Render Settings Editor. Turn on the Firefly Filter. You can also use the Pixel Filter to help smooth out your final render. These tools can help remove grainy defects or the appearance of fireflies, the small dots of colors that can appear while rendering. Keep in mind that using these can increase render times.
How Do I Manually Install Content in Daz Studio?
There are plenty of amazing premium and free assets available in our shop, but sometimes you may want to use content you created yourself or found elsewhere. If you’re wondering if this is possible within Daz Studio, the answer is yes!
Design with Hexagon
We’ll start here since it won’t solve most instances of this question, but it’s helpful to remember you can use our free 3D modeling tool Hexagon. Anything you create with Hexagon is ready to be imported directly into Daz Studio.
In most instances, this is one of the easiest methods to handle manually installing content in Daz Studio. It can seem difficult at first, but once broken down, you’ll realize it’s easier than getting Blender on Chromebook.
Create a single folder somewhere on your computer where you store all your third-party content for Daz Studio. Then open Daz Studio and navigate to Edit > Preferences > Content > Content Directory Manager. Within the content manager, you will see a hierarchical list of “Content Sets.” Click on Daz Studio Formats, to drop that piece of information down. It will reveal a folder location where your standard Daz 3D library is stored on your computer. With Daz Studio Formats selected, click Add and select the new Third-Party Content Folder you created earlier. Then click Accept > Accept to finalize the new location and close the dialogue box.
Now that Daz Studio knows where to look, you will be able to locate this folder under the Content Library Pane. From here, it is as easy as putting all files associated with your third-party content into your designated folder!
Do I Need an NVIDIA Graphics Card to Render with the NVIDIA Iray Engine?
This is a great question and one that users are likely to ask as they progress in knowledge of Daz Studio. If you have made it this far in your 3D journey, congratulations! Now we get to dive into the nitty-gritty details of the technology that drives rendering in Daz Studio.
Keep in mind that while Daz Studio has incorporated the NVIDIA Iray engine, you technically don’t need an NVIDIA GPU to render with the Iray engine. Iray is optimized for NVIDIA cards since it is NVIDIA’s render engine. If you have another GPU that isn’t a CUDA card from NVIDIA using the Iray render engine is going to be a long, sluggish process.
What you need to know, however, is that having that NVIDIA card is not going to give you better renders. What it will do is give you faster Iray renders. Speeding up render times can be a huge quality of life aspect as a 3D artist. It also means fewer resources used as you leave your PC running at full capacity for long periods of time.
If you use Iray without an NVIDIA card, don’t be surprised if your CPU alone handles the entire bulk of processing while rendering. In some situations, this could be an issue for users, as running the CPU at high temperatures for prolonged periods of time will be taxing on the CPU and could result in the eventual failure of that important PC component.
In short, no you do not need an NVIDIA graphics card to render with the NVIDIA Iray engine, but it will be much faster!
Time to Get to Work!
We hope you found something of value here as we took a deep dive into some common questions users have about Daz Studio. We are thrilled to be a part of your 3D journey and can’t wait to see what you create and share with the community.
If you have any questions or want to know more about anything Daz-related, please reach out to us and we will be happy to offer any help and support.
What are you waiting for? Get started creating with Daz Studio today!
Featured image “The girl in the bubble” by bytescapes in the Daz Gallery.