This is a tutorial about how to download and use polygon mesh models with DAZ Studio, a type of 3D computer graphics software. If you are not familiar with the DAZ Studio software, start at Rendering models of living organisms or Bryce.
This tutorial is built around discussion of how to obtain free polygonal mesh models that can be used in DAZ Studio. There are also many websites that sell 3D models.
The Apollo Maximus character edit
Step 1, download. "Apollo Maximus" is a character created by Anton Kisiel. In addition to the human figure model for the character, there is also clothing and hair. Download the Apollo Maximus: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 from this website.
Step 2, unzip. Pay attention to the instructions for unzipping the downloaded files. In particular, you have to use the password that is provided. If you get stuck, you can ask for help at the discussion forum.
Step 3, Runtime. You should already have the DAZ Studio software on your computer. If not, start at Rendering models of living organisms or Bryce. If you know that you have a functioning copy of DAZ Studio on your computer, the next step is to make sure that DAZ Studio can find the files for "Apollo Maximus".
The instructions indicate that there can be some variations in file names depending on your system. The following information is based on Macintosh OS 10.4.10 results.
You should now have three "Apollo Maximus" folders unzipped from the three files you downloaded:
- ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder
- ApolloMaximusPart2Maps Folder
- ApolloMaximusPart3ClothingMaps Folder
Open the Part 1 folder (it should be called something like "ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder") and note that it contains two folders, "ApolloMaximusReadme" and "Runtime". If you are new to DAZ Studio and rendering 3D models, do not waste much time on the readme: it will be mostly meaningless to you.
Open the Part 2 folder (it should be called something like "ApolloMaximusPart2Maps Folder") and note that it has its own "Runtime" folder. What follows are instructions for combining all of the files from the three (yes, there is one more in the Part 3 folder) "Apollo Maximus" Runtime folders into one. You will then be able to use that one folder with all the combined "Apollo Maximus" files within the DAZ Studio software application.
Step 4, combine files. Open the "Runtime" folder that is inside the "ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder". It should contain six folders:
- reflection maps
Open the "texture" folder and note that it contains the folder "Anton'sApolloMaximus". Also open the "Runtime" folder that is inside the "ApolloMaximusPart2Maps Folder" and then open its "texture" folder and its "Anton'sApolloMaximus" folder. Inside this "Anton'sApolloMaximus" folder there should be four folders:
Select and then drag these four folders into the other "Anton'sApolloMaximus" folder that is nested inside the ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder's "Runtime" and "texture" folders.
Close the "ApolloMaximusPart2Maps Folder". Open "ApolloMaximusPart3ClothingMaps Folder", its "Runtime" folder, its "texture" folder and its "Anton'sApolloMaximus" folder. Inside this "Anton'sApolloMaximus" folder, there should be one folder called "clothing". Drag the "clothing" folder into the the "Anton'sApolloMaximus" folder that is nested inside the ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder's "Runtime" and "texture" folders. You should now have all of your "Apollo Maximus" files inside your "ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder". Take note of how to navigate to "ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder" within the structure of the folder system of your hard drive.
Step 5, help DAZ Studio find the "Apollo Maximus" files. Run the DAZ Studio application. Open "Preferences" in the "File" menu. Click on the "Directories" tab (see page 136 in the DAZ Studio manual PDF file). Click on the drop-down menu that initially says "DAZ|Studio Content Directories" and select "Poser Content Directories". Now click on the "Add..." button and navigate to your "ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder". Click the "Apply" button. You should see "ApolloMaximusPart1core Folder" added to the list of content folders shown on the left side of your screen. Click the "Accept" button to exit the preferences window. You should now have access to the "Apollo Maximus" models within DAZ Studio.
Automating the process edit
It is worth going through the above exercise once so that you have some understanding of the kind of hierarchical folder/file structure used to hold the various files that are used to generate 3D elements in a scene. There are some tricks you can use to automate the process of adding your newly downloaded files to your content folders for use in DAZ Studio. Read the DAZ Studio FAQ item for How do I add new content to DAZ|Studio?. Note the key distinction between DAZ Studio format files and Poser format files. Many 3D models of characters and props are in the form of Poser files and many of those work within the DAZ Studio application. If you already own Poser, you have to decide if you want to add new Poser-format files to to your existing Poser folder or to the DAZ Studio folder. Even if you only use DAZ Studio, you can add Poser content to your DAZ Studio/Content folder. However, you may also have reasons to keep some Poser-format or DAZ Studio-format content outside of the DAZ Studio/Content folder, which you can do.
Since you will almost always be using a combination of Poser-format or DAZ Studio-format content, you need to make sure that your DAZ Studio application "knows" where your content folders are. The way to do this manually is shown in "step 5", above, for the example of creating a new content folder just for the "Apollo Maximus" files.
Note: You may be the kind of person who wants to create and organize a unique folder for every type of 3D content that you have. If you take this approach, you will soon get warnings from DAZ Studio about the large number of content folders you are having the DAZ Studio application keep track of in the DAZ Studio preferences. Even though DAZ Studio allows flexibility so that you can use many different content folders (given any names you like, and residing anywhere on your computer/local network), it is useful to know how to quickly combine content from multiple folders into one folder.
Runtime folders edit
The Poser application organizes 3D files using "Runtime" folders. Even if you do not own Poser, you can make a folder called "Poser" (or any other name you like, as in the step-by-step "Apollo Maximus" example, above) and have a "Runtime" folder inside your "Poser" folder to hold all of your Poser-format files. However, note that when you install DAZ Studio, you automatically have a DAZStudio folder that has a "Content" folder and inside that "DAZStudio/Content" folder is a "Runtime" folder, ready and waiting for Poser-format files. So if you are only using DAZ Studio (and not Poser) you can keep all of your 3D files in your DAZStudio folder and its sub-folders.
Sometimes you will download files for 3D models and be provided with a special installer that can add all of the files into the correct hierarchy of folders. For example, the "Poser/DAZStudio 3D Models Pack 1" that is available from several websites for download contains several installers, one for each character. When you run these content installers, simply point them to the folder where you want the content. For example, you can select your DAZStudio/Content folder and the installer will put the new files into the DAZStudio/Content/Runtime folder. Just make sure that your DAZ Studio application has its preferences set to use your DAZStudio/Content as both a content folder for DAZ Studio-format files and Poser-format files (as shown in "step 5", above). If you do, then when you use the "Content" pane inside the DAZ Studio application, your DAZ Studio-format files will show up in a folder called "DAZ Studio" and your Poser-format files will be in another folder simply called "content".
Unzipping tools edit
Most files for 3D modeling characters/props that you can use in DAZ Studio will download to your computer in the form of a compressed archive and there will not be a special installer included. However, you can use utilities such as Stuffit expander and WinZip to open these archive files and automatically place each included file into the correct folder. For example, in the Stuffit expander "Destination Preferences" you can select the option for "Merging into a Specified Location". With the "Merging into a Specified Location" option selected, you can select the "top level" folder that is your target and then Stuffit expander will look for existing sub-folders inside that target folder that match the names of the folders in the archive you are expanding. When Stuffit expander finds folder name matches, it will merge the new content files into those existing folders. Other similar utilities should have similar options such as "Use folder paths".
possible problems. One way that Stuffit can fail to automatically merge new files into existing folders is if your folder permissions are damaged. This is good reason to occasionally run Disk Utility to repair permissions on your Macintosh. Sometimes you must manually reset preferences using "Get info" for your content folder, make sure it is set so you have "write" permission, and then have it set all enclosed folders to the same permissions. Another problem arises from the fact that there is a correct way to put 3D content into zipped archives in order to make it easy for others to use an unzip utility to store the files into the correct folders. Many zipped archives that you find will work just fine, but others need special attention. In particular, some archives do not unzip to create a "Runtime" folder, rather, they create "Folder Foo" which contains a "Runtime" folder. When this happens, you may try to expand an archive into an existing 3D content folder such as your "Poser" folder and end up with "Folder Foo" in your "Poser" folder, and "Folder Foo" will contain its own "Runtime" folder. If you have the "Poser" folder set for use in the DAZ Studio preferences, you will not be able to access the contents of "Folder Foo" from within the DAZ Studio "Content" pane. You can leave "Folder Foo" as it is and set the DAZ Studio preferences to use that as a content folder. Alternatively, there is a way to get the contents of the "Runtime" folder inside "Folder Foo" to be added into Poser/Runtime with all your other content. To do so, temporarily re-name your "Poser" folder to "Folder Foo" and re-run your archive expanding utility, instructing it to merge new files into "Folder Foo" (what you have temporarily re-named your "Poser" folder). When done expanding the new archive, remember to re-name your folder back to "Poser".
Other useful resources for learning about content management:
- finding and installing Poser content for use in DAZ|Studio
- Content management for Poser owners using DAZ|Studio
Add models to a scene edit
Reading: during this tutorial, make use of Chapter 8 in the DAZ Studio manual, "The Content Tab". Warning: the PDF file that comes with DAZ Studio and functions as the user manual has limitations. It does not always correspond exactly to the current version of the software. Think flexibly and trust you own eyes when your copy of the software differs from the manual. The differences are not too large to deal with. All of the details that follow below are based on Version 1.7 for the Macintosh.
When running DAZ Studio, you should see a "Content" tab on the left side of your screen (see the manual, page 135). Note: this is the default configuration. As described in the manual (Chapter 5: Using and Customizing Your Interface) you can modify the interface and move things around. If you have moved the "window panes" of the interface, you might have the "Content" tab in a different position on your screen, or it might not currently show at all. If you do not see a list of content folders after clicking on the "Content" tab, you may have the list of folders hidden because the content pane is collapsed. If so, there should be a small button near the "Content" tab that can be used to collapse or expand the "Content" pane.
In the "Content" pane's list of folders, click on the small "+" to the left of the folder that contains all your "Apollo Maximus" files. You should see six items in that folder:
Click on the + to the left of "figures" and then double click on "!ApolloMaximus". After loading, the "Apollo Maximus" model should appear in the scene.
Clothing elements edit
To add some clothing, click on the "Scene" tab and make sure that the "!ApolloMaximus" element of the scene is selected. Click on the "Content" tab again, return to the "figures" and double click on some items of clothing to add them to the scene.
Click on the "Scene" tab, and in turn, select (click on) each item of clothing in the list of scene elements. While each clothing element is selected, go to the "Parameters" pane on the right side of your screen and find the "Fit to" drop-down menu in the "Misc" section of the list of parameters. Set each item of clothing to fit to the "!ApolloMaximus" element of the scene.
Note: Unlike the the character models mentioned at Rendering models of living organisms, the "Apollo Maximus" model is "anatomically correct". Unless you are making an anatomy lesson, you probably want to keep the penis from being visible. One way to do this is to click on the "Scene" tab, click on the + to the left of the "!ApolloMaximus" element, click on the + to the left of the "hip" element, and keep click on additional + signs until you find the elements called "genital1" to "genital5". Make sure you have the "Content" pane scrolled to show the check boxes along the right side of the pane. For each element of the scene (such as "hip", just to the left of the column of check boxes (see page 165 in the manual) there is a small oval icon like an eye. You can click on these "eyes" to make each element of the model visible or invisible. Note: the "Apollo Maximus" model comes with a preset pose for hiding the genitals.
Click on the "Scene" tab, and make sure that the "!ApolloMaximus" element is selected in the list of scene elements. Return to the "Content" pane and click on the + to the left of "hair". Add one of the two hair elements to your scene. See if you can fit the hair to the head of the "Apollo Maximus" model.
Posing the character edit
Click on the "Scene" tab, and make sure that the "!ApolloMaximus" element is selected in the list of scene elements. Return to the "Content" pane and click on the + to the left of "poses". Select one of the preset poses in "Apollo_poses". Figure 2 shows an example of what your scene should now look like. In the "Render" menu, select "Render setup...". At the top of the control panel that opens, make sure the "speed" slider is all the way to the right (software render). Close that control panel and select "Render". Figure 3 shows the same scene as Figure 2 using the "software render" setting.
See also edit
- Landscape rendering - 3D computer graphics software that can render digital images that look like landscapes.
- Rendering models of living organisms
- Animation with DAZ Studio
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|See also: Digital media workshop - Related discussion: Free content