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IV - Shaping

Customizing Your Figures

4.1 - Introduction

If you have read Chapter 2 of this User Guide you should be familiar with loading actors, adding clothing and props, as well as environments. Chapter 2 discussed briefly how to manipulate the content you've loaded in the Parameters pane. The discussion focused mostly on transforms. To make your scene unique you are going to want to customize the shape of your figures and objects using morphs.

So what exactly is shaping, and what is a morph? In DAZ Studio, “Shaping” is the term used to describe the process of changing the shape of an object. Shaping is accomplished via morph targets. A “Morph Target” or “Morph” contains information for each of the vertices of a 3D object, and how they should move in relation to each other when that morph is applied. Fortunately for us, DAZ Studio takes care of the complicated calculations and presents morphs to the user as a series of sliders in the Shaping pane. All you have to do to shape your object is adjust a morph slider; it's just that simple.

Note: In this chapter we will be using the Hollywood Blvd layout and the 'Actors, Wardrobe & Props' activity.

4.2 - Your Selection

By now it should be clear that the current scene selection is extremely important when performing any action in DAZ Studio. Shaping is no exception. The current scene selection will determine what properties appear in the various property related panes. When shaping you must have the object selected in the Scene pane. Morphs for each object are categorized by region. Selecting a morph “Region” (discussed below) will determine which morphs are displayed in the Shaping pane.

4.2.1 - The Region Navigator Tool

In order to understand the Region Navigator Tool, and why it is necessary, a bit of background on regions is helpful. In DAZ Studio, morphs on figures are assigned to regions of the body based on what part of the body they affect. This makes finding morphs easier - if you want to find morphs that modify the arms of a figure, you simply look in the 'Arms' region. The same is true for 'Legs', 'Hands', 'Face' etc. Morphs that affect the entire figure are found under the 'Actor' region.

The Region Navigator tool allows you to easily select different regions of a figure within the “Viewport.” To use the Region Navigator tool you must first activate it by clicking its icon in the toolbar. Once the tool is active you can select your figure within the viewport. You will see an outline around your figure. The outline indicates the currently selected region. By default DAZ Studio will automatically select the highest level region when you select a figure. You can then select one of the next lower levels by clicking again within the currently selected region. You can also select sibling regions, or regions at the same level as the currently selected region. If you hover your cursor over a region it will become highlighted and a tooltip will display the name of that region. You can also right click anywhere on a figure and choose a region from the list of regions that include the point you clicked. The DAZ Studio Shaping Video explains more.

Note: The Region Navigator tool only selects regions for figures that have them. If a figure or object does not have regions then the Region Navigator tool will select “Nodes” instead.

4.3 - The Shaping Pane

The Shaping pane is your hub for customizing the look of an object. The Shaping pane allows you to morph objects or figures that have morphs available. You could potentially change your figure from a small child to a fierce warrior, from a giant troll to a petite woman. The Shaping pane is where you can make the vision of your character and objects a reality.

The Shaping pane is located on the left side of the DAZ Studio interface in the Hollywood Blvd layout. The pane is part of the 'Actors, Wardrobe & Props' activity. There are two pages in the Shaping pane - the Editor page and the Presets page.

4.3.1 - The Editor Page

The Editor page of the Shaping pane is organized similarly to the Parameters pane - on the left hand side of the pane is a list of the regions for your selected figure or object if the selection has regions. If the selection does not have regions you will see property groups displayed instead. You can expand or collapse these regions/groups to reveal subregions/groups by clicking the arrow to the left of the region. Selecting a different region/group or subregion/group will change which properties are displayed.

The right hand side of the pane is where you will find the actual shaping properties. These are the sliders that you can adjust to change the shape of your object. All morphs included in a selected region will be displayed on the right. You can dial up any combination of morphs to shape your object. To apply a morph, simply click the handle of the slider and drag it to the value you desire. You can also click the nudge icons on either end of the slider or enter a numeric value by clicking the value for the morph and entering the desired value into the field.

Towards the top of the left hand side of the pane is a drop down menu that will allow you to change your current scene selection. This menu functions just like the Scene pane with the exception that it only lists items with geometry. Cameras and lights are filtered out of the “Scene Selection Menu” on the Shaping pane. This menu allows you to easily change your scene selection without having to leave the Shaping pane.

Below the drop down menu are two useful filters - 'All' and 'Currently Used.' The 'All' filter allows you to see all shaping properties for the currently selected figure or object. The 'Currently Used' filter can be used to display shaping properties that have been changed from their default load state - in other words shaping properties that are currently in use.

4.3.2 - The Presets Page

The Presets page is where you will load Shaping Presets for your figure. A Shaping Preset contains information for the morphs of a figure. Essentially, when you apply a Shaping Preset to your figure your figure will be morphed into whatever shape the preset dictates - assuming the figure has the morphs available. Shaping Presets provide a quick and easy way to shape your figure.

You can switch to the Presets page by clicking the 'Presets' label at the top of the pane. The highlighted label indicates the current page. The Presets page functions like the Smart Content pane. Categories are listed on the left hand side, in the “Category View.” Shaping Presets in the selected category are displayed on the right, in the “Asset View.” To load a Shaping Preset all you need to do is double click the icon for the preset.

DAZ Studio doesn't come with any free Shaping presets for Genesis or Genesis 2. However, both the Genesis figure and the Genesis 2 Female figure come with a few morphs for free. We encourage you to try out the morphs for both. Look at the different regions for each figure to get a feel for what morphs are going to be located where. Play around in the Editor page and adjust some sliders; see what you can come up with. Remember, you can purchase additional morphs for your figure from the DAZ 3D store. The Genesis Evolution: Morph Bundle for Genesis and the Genesis 2 Female(s) Morphs Bundle for Genesis 2 Female provide a wide range of morphs for adjusting the shape of the figure in various ways.

4.4 - Saving a Shaping Preset

Now that you've adjusted a few morphs you may want to save your shape for later. DAZ Studio allows you to do this with a Shaping Preset. A Shaping Preset contains information about the properties that adjust an object's shape. The save filter for this type of preset allows you to choose which properties are included when saving the preset.

To save a Shaping Preset first make sure that the object you want to save the preset for is your current scene selection. Once the object is selected, open the 'File' menu and click on the 'Save As…' submenu. In the 'Save As…' submenu you will see the 'Shaping Preset…' action. Click on the action to save the Shaping Preset.

The 'Shaping Preset…' action will launch the 'Filtered Save' dialog. This dialog allows you to name your Shaping Preset as well as choose the location that it is saved to. Pay attention to where you save the preset so you can find it later. When you have chosen a name and location for your file click the 'Save' button.

Once you click 'Save' the 'Shaping Preset Save Options' dialog will appear. In this dialog you can customize your Shaping Preset. At the top of the dialog you are presented with the option to have your Shaping Preset include information for the current frame, or include information that is animated over several frames.

The main part of the dialog is the “Properties View.” Here you will find your object listed. If you expand your object by clicking on the arrow to the left you will see all of the property groups for the object. You can further expand each group to see subgroups and individual properties. Everything that is selected will be included in the Shaping Preset. If you would like to exclude a property from the preset you can uncheck it.

The 'File Options' section of the dialog allows you to choose whether or not to compress the file. By default this option is checked. Compressing the file will save space on your hard disk, and is generally a good choice. Advanced users may wish to keep the file uncompressed so that it can be edited in a text editor later.

Once you are happy with your settings for the Shaping Preset click on 'Accept.' DAZ Studio will then save the preset and you will be able to access and load it later.

The easiest way to access the preset later is through the Presets page of the Shaping pane. To load a Shaping Preset you must first select the object you want the preset to apply to. You can then load the preset by double clicking icon for the preset or dragging and dropping the icon on to your object.

4.5 - Wrap-Up

So your figure is sculpted and shaped like a Greek god, or close enough anyway. Now it is time to show your friends right? Well it's fairly simple to do with a quick render. We've done these before, and we'll do it again. Just like last time we will use the default render settings. All you need to do is align the camera using the camera controls so that your scene is framed how you want. Once you are ready hit Ctrl+R on a PC or Cmd+R on a Mac to start your render. Once it is finished name the render and save it.

Congratulations on finishing Chapter 4 - Shaping. Coming this far is an impressive feat. However, your journey into 3D is just beginning and there is still lots to learn. In the next chapter we'll cover the process of posing your figure.