Daz studio might be based on preexisting props, it still has a set of tools to add your own take on the models, be it fixing clothes that don't fit properly, making a unique hairstyle or adding a crazy bodymod! Let's start with what I call the best way:
1- The easy way
You should be familiar with the "Mesh Smoothing" in the general parameters of a prop: it's the often necessary parameter to make clothes fit without "sinking" into the base model. If it's not included by default, you can add it to any prop with edit/object-or-figure/geometry/add smoothing modifier. The "collision Item" is set by default to the figure the prop is fit on, but there's a way to re-purpose it: if you set it to another item, it will act as a basic morph target. See the example below, with a disc primitive set as the collision item on the figure's mesh smoothing. Just be aware that meshes have a side, which is important for the smoothing: the primitive has been flipped on the second picture to show the result!
You might have seen it coming, this workaround has limitations: the faces get squished together, with rather horrifying results. But worry not, there's a workaround for the workaround! Daz Studio has another tool called Mesh offset (edit/object-or-figure/geometry/add push modifier) to "bloat" meshes. Since this modifier is applied AFTER the mesh smoothing, it can be used to make meshes collide without superposing faces. Here's another example, without mesh offset, then with a mesh offset low enough to be unnoticeable (-0.02 on the base figure, and -0.01 on the clothes):
Still not perfect, but close enough to be edited on the render, and not having to resort to...
2- Setting up a D-Formers
D-Formers are a basic sculpting tool. Instead of "painting" a sculpt, you'll set an influence sphere, then move/rotate/scale the selected points around a reference point. First, select the prop you want to morph, then Create/New D-Former. The influence sphere paints the points around the center, from red for 100% influence to yellow for 0% (remember you can scale the sphere in any direction to make an ellipsoid):
This is where it (begins to) get complicated: the influence sphere is applied on the ZERO SHAPE, ZERO POSE mesh, meaning the sphere will never match the points: Here are two figures with the same influence sphere:
They both have the same influence map, even though the left one is taller and posed differently. So always consider the zero figure when setting up the influence sphere.
3- Applying D-Formers
This is where the fun begins! Three items have been created in the previous step: the Field is the influence sphere, the Base is the reference point for rotations and scaling (basically set it up where your morph "moves around", still from the zero figure), and the D-Former is the effector: move/rotate/scale it around to move the influenced points (Army of darkness anyone). Just like the influence sphere, the effector has to be moved according to the zero figure, meaning that no matter what direction the figure is point to, "forward" is always z+:
This isn't a straightforward process, and there are lots of limitations. I hope it was a useful starting point!
3- Controlling D-Formers
D-Formers are scene items, so they can be animated as any other item. But if a D-Former is set right but too "strong", it's possible to tone it down: in the morphed prop parameters/DForms, a slider controls the intensity of D-Formers (it can even be set beyond 100% or below 0%).
D-Formers can also be converted to Daz-style morphs: once a D-Former is set, go to the DForm tab (if it's not in your interface you can add it with Window/Panes/DForm) and hit "spawn morph" to create a morph based on the current D-Former shape (it will appear in the new "Morphs" category in the parameters). Since new morphs are set to 0%, a good workflow is to set a D-Former, spawn a morph, set the D-Former Again, spawn a new morph, and so on, if you need to create multiple morph controls on a prop.
4- Painting influence maps
The main limitation of the D-Former is the influence sphere which quickly becomes too basic, however Daz Studio also has a tool to paint custom influence maps: First set a basic D-Former with the rough shape you aim for, then in the "Tool settings" tab with the influence sphere selected, set the active tool to "Node Weight Map Brush", and hit the "Add Map" button:
the influence sphere has been converted into a map painted on the mesh (the sphere can be deleted at this point) from red for 100% influence to blue for 0%. The brush tool can then be used to raise, lower or smoothen the influence, I won't detail the controls to keep the tutorial short:
Boom, donut head! Of course it's possible to just erase the original map and paint it from scratch.
5- Going beyond
This is it for the Daz Studio part. If you're tinkering with Sculptris or Zbrush (among others), you can also sculpt your own morphs by hand: first export a base figure to .obj (set mesh resolution to base!) then sculpt it to the desired shape (without adding nodes!). The morph can then be applied to the figure with Edit/Object/Morph loader pro.
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