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Fill Your Pool or Water Surfaces in DAZ Studio

Author: mcvdaz

Tools Needed

  • DAZ Studio
  • Optional DAZ Studio Primitives plug-in

Support Files


DAZ Studio comes with all the Tools Needed to make realistic water.

Setting opacity is not enough, so here are some basic steps to creating good water surfaces. This tutorial is centered on DAZ Studio, but you may be able to adjust and use these methods and tips in Bryce and other 3D programs.

A 2400×1600 water surface bump ( and displacement ) map image of 1.6MB and a small zip file containing a water prop in DAZ Studio scene format along with an obj and mat file for other programs are provided as Support Files.


Step 1 - Obtain water surface image map and water prop


Download the provided water surface bump map image or obtain your own.

Your map should look something like the image above, which is a small portion of provided image map.

Download the provides simple cylinder prop for use in DAZ Studio for the water object.

Simple cylinder prop created in Wings3D:


You may also use a cylinder, box, or other simple prop you already have or create one with the free DAZ Studio Primitives plug-in.

You can just open the water prop scene to follow along with this tutorial. or use merge to add the prop to an existing DAZ Studio scene.


Step 2 - Set water surface values


Open the Surfaces menu as shown above.

Select the default surface for the cylinder for water pool prop as shown below.


You should now see the following:


Select your water props surface and set the following surface values:

Select your water props surface and set the following surface values:

Diffuse Color : Light Blue, RGB value 124, 246, 255 to start

Experiment with turquoise or other water colors

Map : Not recommended nor needed for this water effect

Strength : 95% to 100% recommended

Glossiness 100% Most water has a very glossy shine.

Specular Color : Light Blue to simulate sky reflection, RGB value 9, 211, 238

Adjust for outdoor sky or surrounding indoor environment,

or use the technically correct White/Gray.

Strength : 85% to start

Multiple Specular Through Opacity The default value ON works fine.

Ambient Color : Black

Strength : 15% default is fine

Opacity Strength : Start with 15% to 20% for shallow water.

Lower for deeper water to see further into it.

Too low value for shallow water may make it look invisible.

Bump Map : BW_water_surfaceJPG or your own

Strength : 100% to 120%

Bump Negative : -.1 to start

Decrease (increase absolute value) for rougher water surface at risk of black render errors.

Use 0 to get rid of black render spots.

Bump Positive : +.1 to start

Increase for rougher water surface.

Displacement More accurate than bump, but the 3DLight render engine

can be likely to give small black render spots in any concave areas when displacement and refraction used.

Since displacement will make your water's edge vary where it meets another

surface and bump will not, use displacement in place of bump in scenes where this is important to get the realism you want.

It is recommended you use the settings show on bump above for

displacement when needed. Do not use bump also, that is set bump strength to 0% if you use displacement on materials with refraction also set.

Reflection Color : Medium Blue, RGB 127, 162, 195 to start

Strength : 40% to start, but suggest trying the 40% to 99% range

Map : None needed, but you may experiment using the map above if you wish.

Refraction Color : Light Blue, RGB 169, 222, 255 to start.

Adjust for desired water color.

Strength : 100% to start. You may experiment with lower values.

IOR : 1.33 for water's “Index of Refraction”

You can use higher vales to simulate glass or honey.

Map : None

Lighting Model Glossy Plastic

Step 3 - Fixing Water Render Problems

There is a downside to rendering clear materials like water and glass in DAZ Studio. DAZ slows down a bit when you lower opacity to make things seem semi-transparent. DAZ really slows down by a huge factor, however, when you use reflection and refraction settings. You may see multi-hour renders

Thus it is suggested you do test renders smaller size or leave the water effects until late in the scene design process to save yourself time.

You may find adding items like boats, swimmers, pool floats, and docks actually lowers your render time because less of the total scene is water.

If your bump or displacement map is applied too strong it can warp the effected model surface such that things called UV coordinated get distorted. If this happens you can get small black squares in your render output when you also use refraction.


Sometimes setting DAZ ray bounce number higher can help.

Other times using a map that does not create concave model areas when applied to the model can fix things. Avoiding any negative values in bump or displacement and lowering the bump or displacement percentage and strength can also help.

Other times just a camera angle change can help. If nothing works you may have to do post work fix ups.

However, most likely you will do fine and be rewarded with a render something like this:


Step 4 - Final Tips

The opacity, refraction, and color are your keys to clear or murky water.

The surface bump or displacement map and settings are your key to water surface eddies and waves.

Setting a “sun” light at an equal angle to your render cameras to the water surface will give nice surface glare effects.

As shown in step 3's last image, blue water can end up looking green if you use a yellow sand bottom. If this is not what you want, you will need to adjust your underwater surface colors to closely match your desired water color and render again.

Now get out there and fill your pool!