When I look in the mirror I can plainly see the impact that life has had upon me. I’m a little flabby and worn around the edges. A few more wrinkles, especially around the eyes and forehead. Signs of bags under the eyes.
No, no – don’t take that vision of perfection at the top of this post as gospel. I am not as gorgeous in reality as that picture would suggest.
Jokes aside, when I look at DAZ Studio models I always feel that they look a little too… untouched by life. I’m not talking about big scars or anything, but just the normal “shabification” that wears away at so many of us. (n.b. I claim IP over the word “shabbification” if no one else has used it. LOL). I vaguely recall a term that I first heard when the original Star Wars was made: “used world”. The term may predate George Lucas, but that is when I first heard it. It means a science fiction world that isn’t all sparkly and new, but one that has been clearly occupied. So surely our characters in such worlds should also look a little worn.
Despite being an amateur at DAZ Studio, I am still very, very curious about how it works. I have a little knowledge about bump mapping that I gained over the years, so I wondered whether I could use it to subtly modify a character to add wear and tear. Here is the result:
So not a major change, just a host of small ones. So how did I do this?
Well, the first thing that I did was find the folder where the surface textures are kept and make a copy of the entire folder under a different name. Just like any graphics person would tell you, we don’t want to change the original. If you don’t know how to find the folder, then here is the easy way.
Once your model is on the screen, go to the “Actors, Wardrobe and Props” tab, find the “Surfaces” tab and then search through the list of items on the left to find your model’s face.
Once you click on that then all the details of textures etc. will appear on the right of it. If you hover the mouse over the icon next to Diffuse Color then your location will appear. You will also see an image of the texture that you are seeking.
So go ahead and go to the folder and copy it. In the new folder, use a paint program like Photoshop, Gimp or Paint.NET to open up the texture of the face that you will be using. Add a layer and start applying colours. Actually, I went to YouTube and watched a few videos on using makeup to add age to actors. This gave me a sense of the colors that I would be seeking to add. Here is the before and after.
Sorry about the small size of the pictures, but I’ve labelled the changes. Next is the bump map. So to find it do the same trick.
Because you already have a copy of the bump map in your new copied folder, just use that. So open it up in your paint program and start making changes that work well with the “makeup” you’ve added to the surface texture. Lighter shades are bumps. Darker shades are depressions. Here is mine:
As you can see I’ve added some bumps under the eyes (bags). Between the eyes I’ve added two bumps and a crevice to show that this character probably frowns to much. I’ve emphasised this with a brow wrinkle. I’ve also made a few more pronounced areas around the cheeks. I’ve also added a little to the nose.
You cannot see them clearly here, but I’ve put a few two-pixel dark lines as crows-feet and as lines immediately under the eyes. So here is how the eyes originally looked:
Here is how the eyes render with my changes:
Once you have made these changes to the surface texture and the bump map, you need to go back to the respective icons (the ones where you hovered to find the file location) and click on them. A menu will appear and you should click Browse.
Then go to your new copied directory with the now modified files and for both the Diffuse Color and the Bump Strength replace the existing pictures with the ones that you modified.
Voila! Render and see your results.
One thing that I did note, however, is that if you edit a file while it is being used by DAZ Studio then you need to exit DAZ and re-enter it to see any changes.
Now I know that this is all small stuff. But think of it as a starting point. Using techniques such as this it is easy to add personality to a character, to make your images different from everyone else’s images. Perhaps make your own tattoos or add a birth mark. Define a nose better. Anything.
But just remember the key point: do not overwrite your original textures. Make copies.
Anyway, this is how a DAZ Studio amateur sees it. I hope that some of you take something useful from this.
Thanks for reading :)