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The Wave tool for DAZ Studio ...

The Nerd3D Wave Tool allows you to create realistic waves in any high resolution plane. The set comes with a large water disk and the beach set that the magnets for the wave tool will lock on to.

This is the DAZ Studio specific tutorial. Poser user should use the Poser version.

Requirements ...

  • A Nerd 3D Water Surface Such as the included Water Disk or Beach Set
  • DAZ Studio 2.1 or newer
  • Sun Screen

Important: The Poser and Studio Versions of the Wave tool are not compatible. Even if you have both a scene created in Poser will not work in Studio. The way the two programs handle deformers (magnets) is different. However, poses created in Poser will work in Studio with some minor adjustments.

Let's make some waves ...

setmags.jpgFirst load the set with the water prop. This can be the Water Disk included with the Wave Tool, the Nerd3D Beach Set, or any other set that needs waves. Select the water and load a Wave Tool from the Library. Now you will need to tell Studio where to attach the wave deformation. Select the D-Form tab. If it is not visible you can open it from the View > Tabs menu.

First select the “Water” part of the Water Disk or Beach Set. Then Click the [Add Nodes … ] button on the D-Form tab. Choose the Curl, Trough and Swell deformers from the list and click OK. Now select the WaveSetup part of the water disks and add the deformers to it as well.

Once you have the wave attached to the water surface, select it's control handle. Select it from the Scene tab. All of the wave's controls are grouped here for easy setup. Pick the Curl dial from the list and set it to about 100. Look! your first wave.

You've probably already noticed the sluggish posing. That could be a problem. The water has to be very high polygon to accept the distortions from the magnets. For posing there is a special low poly object in the scene. The Wave Tool effects it also so for now hide the Water part by clicking the little eye on the Scene tab. The WaveSetup part should be visible. The WaveSetup may not be visible. It's materials are set to be invisible in a render. Select it and the Invisible material from the Surface tab and apply the white out material to it.

This long strip will allow you to quickly setup the shape of your wave. The WaveSetup part can be moved about so you can easily see the shape of the wave in different parts of the scene.

Wave Setup ...

handle.jpgIf you look at the scene from the side with one of the isometric cameras the wave form will be quite obvious. You may also want to switch the scene to wire frame view so you can really see the shape of the wave.

Now lets go for a more sophisticated wave shape. There's a lot more to it than just a curl. Ahead of the wave there is a trough and behind there is a swell. The curl is basically when the swell catches up top the trough as it hits the beach. I've tried to give you these actions with the wave tool.

Select the Handle of the Wave tool and look at it's parameters. There are four groups of dials.

Dials, dials dials ...

The wave control group of dial are for positioning and scaling the size of the wave. The top section, Wave Control is for setting the over all size and orientation of the wave. If you are doing an animation of the wave the Wave In-Out dial is your friend. It move the whole wave effect along the surface of the water. The side to side and angle dials move the wave relative to the “beach”. Width and Size work like basic scales. The width sets how wide the wave effect will be. There is no length setting, as in the distance between two waves, cause there's only one wave per tool. The distance between waves is controlled by where the tools are placed.

Swell and Trough Settings. Most of these are the same, they just work in opposite directions. The Pitch dials control the angle of the water in the effect area. (See the diagram below.) The height and depth dials effect the water level in those areas. The pull dials pull the water away from the “shore”. The size of the swell and trough areas are controlled by their Length dials. These dials allow you to spread out the effect to accommodate any wave spacing.

The curl dials are pretty simple. The curl, curls up the curl. You can use the pull and raise dials to move the tip of the wave and fine tune the curl shape.

TIP: In the beginning it may be easier to work with the wave tool if you unhide all the deformer zones. You can unhide them by clicking the closed eye icon on the Scene tab. Be careful not to directly move the zones. If you do accidentally move something you can use the restore option from the top of the Properties tab.

Let's make some waves ...

There are a bunch of preset wave shapes and you can use them for an example if you like. But you can build you own waves and even animate them if you want. Let's make a wave and move it around a bit. If you don't already have it loaded you need a Water surface and a wave tool. Select the handle of the wave tool and open the Parameters tab.

Now it's tempting to grab the curl dial, give it a spin and call it good. But we can make a more realistic wave. First lets give it some swell the numbers on the swell dial are more or less feet. ( 30cm ). Set it to about 2. Not much of a swell is it? Now set the Swell pull to about -5. Hey! that's starting to look like a real swell. Now let's focus on the swells forgotten sibling, the trough. Set it's depth to about 1 and the pull to -7. Now that's a nice wave.

Ok now for the cherry on top, the curl of the wave. Grab the curve and give it a spin. Wait, it hardly does anything now! Remember this is all about the interaction of the magnets. The curl is getting buried in the swell. Set the Curl Pull to about -2 and the curl rise to about 1.5 then dial in about 70 on the curl.

There you go a little bitty wave. Just for fun move the wave with the In-Out dial. Take a break here and play with the way the swell pull and Trough Pull effect the shape of the wave. The Pitch and Length dials can also effect the shape of the curl.

Adding ripples to the water ...

Now that you have a nice wave set the water to be visible again. Open it's properties and put a check on visible. The water is too smooth isn't it? Select the Wave Setup part of the water. Oh boy, a bunch more dials! Really, this is easy. There are several sizes of ripples and 3 variation of each size. You'll find some of the ripple sizes have an “ALL” after then name. Most of the ripple morphs fade out as they get closer to the edge. The “ALL” versions apply the same scale to the whole water surface.

The reason for scaling the size of the ripples down towards the edge it to create a forced perspective and make the set look bigger than it is. Of course if you have the camera right at the edge this may work backwards making the set seem smaller. That's why you have the “ALL” version of the morphs too.

You can simulate the ripples on the surface by dialing a little bit of each size. There are 3 of each scale so that in animations you can rotate through the three and create a very convincing water simulation. This can be tedious to set up so a 300 frame animated pose is included to get you started making ripples.

So you want to surf those waves ...

If you want to animate the waves it's actually pretty easy. There is an included 300 frame wave animation that will roll the wave in and have it break on the beach. You can create your own animations too. If you don't have a good grasp of animation you will probably want to use the included animation as a starting point.

Turn the water back off so you only have the Water Setup showing. Waves don't start out as a curl, they begin as a little swell and grow as they approach the beach. First set the pace for your wave. At frame 1 move the wave way out to the edge of the water. Then go to the end frame 300, maybe 600 and set the wave to be past the end of the water. Now someplace in the middle of the animation setup a nice wave. Play that back an forth a few times, watch the wave grow. As the wave reaches the beach it will break you can do this by twisting the curl until the tip touches the water again. Then as the wave rolls out pull the curl up the beach and unroll the curl at the same time. this lets the wave seem to wash up the beach.

Of course if you are working with the simple water disk this is much easier. Sea waves don't normally break unless you're doing a Hollywood disaster flic. You can just let the wave fade back to nothing as it exits the other side of the set.

Rendering ...

Water is probably the hardest material to get right. I've included several choices. If you use one of the ray traced materials you will need to enable ray tracing in render options. The ray traced materials will give the most realistic results. That doesn't mean the mapped water is a bad choice, in fact if you don't have something in the water to be refracted it's the better choice. The ray traced water will take a very long time to render. If you are doing a scene with a figure in the water then you may want the added realism the ray tracing adds. If you use these materials the Ray Trace bounces needs to set to at least 4 in render options. The OpenGL, hardware render will not work for ray traced materials. You have to use the 3Delight render engine.

TIP: Don't forget to hide the handles for the wave tool and the WaveSetup strip before you click “Render”.


Can the water splash? No, this is not a real particle based water simulation. Splashes are, for now, post work.

How can I add atmosphere to my scene? The render below uses the Fog Tool to create a distant haze effect at the vanishing point of the horizon.

How can I speed up renders? The ray traced materials take a long time to render. If there isn't something in or above the water to be reflected or refracted use the mapped water. It will save you lots of render time.