[Tutorial] G1G2G3G8 Clothing in Blender 4

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SickleYield's avatar
By SickleYield
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

In this section we'll talk about applying textures and generating materials in DAZ Studio.

From Parts 1 through 3 you should have:

-A UV-mapped mesh, with materials assigned, at a poly count between 16k and 100k polygons (less is okay, more is not) that is already saved to the library with a basic rig in DAZ Studio.

-A sculpted normal or displacement map created in Part 3 and saved out to .jpg or .tiff format.

-A diffuse and bump map created using layer modes in your image editor.  Having a scanner or a good camera to create your own base textures for clothing is not a bad idea (a scanner that can create 4000x4000 images is available cheap at many thrift stores; a good camera is much more expensive).  You should place these in Runtime/textures/YourName/YourProductName in your main DAZ library, along with your sculpted displacement map.

-The latest version of DAZ Studio.  It's in one of the 4.6's as of this writing in 2014. 


In this tutorial I will be talking about certain methods of creating shaders for your textures in DAZ Studio.  There are other methods, and I do not intend to denigrate the methods of others by having chosen this one.  This is just what I usually do, and is something a person can reasonably do to produce professional results with free tools.  Today we'll be working with the base 3delight and/or Iray shaders.


Start DAZ Studio 4.6 and load the clothing you've created from the library.  It is probably a blank white surface or surfaces at this point.  You don't need the figure under it unless you just want it there; we're just texturing at this point.

Click to your Surfaces tab, or create one.  You can create one using Window--Panes (Tabs)--Surfaces.

In Iray: Add the Uber Base Shader from Shader Presets/Iray first.

This shows a number of bars and lines of text.  Generally what you are looking at is a channel's name, the controls for its strength, any other controls relevant to that specific channel, and a color bar that lets you assign a color to the channel.  The down-pointing arrows let you choose an external texture to assign.

The first channel is the diffuse, labeled "Diffuse Color."  Click on the down-pointing arrow and then click Browse.  Now you can navigate to the diffuse map you saved in Part 3.  It should now appear on your mesh.  Examine it in the viewport to see if it looks the way you want, without excessive UV stretching and with details properly located. 

In Iray:

Below the Diffuse is a bar labeled "Glossiness," and below that, "Specular Color" and "Specular Strength."  Glossiness controls the size of your specular highlights.  A high percentage means a very small highlight (100% meanas basically none) and a low percentage means a BIG highlight (at 0% your diffuse will be hardly visible).  Specular Color controls the color and brightness of your highlights.  White means very white, bright highlights, whereas black highlights will hardly be visible.  When creating glossy metal or plastic, this should always be white. 

In Iray: 
You have glossiness with strength, color, and roughness.  More roughness = larger, dimmer highlights.  There's also dual-lobed specular, which lets you apply two different sizes and types of highlights at once.  You don't need it on every item, but it can sometimes be nice to have.

For most cotton or wool clothing I set Glossiness at around 50 to 60% and specular color to a very dark gray (we don't want it so matte that it has no highlights at all; that makes clothing look like a black hole in our scene).  I leave specular strength at 100%.  You can experiment with turning it up and down to control how much your other specular settings apply to the mesh.  In Iray ALWAYS control shininess with roughness, NEVER WITH GLOSSY STRENGTH.  Turning down glossy strength makes your material les responsive to lights in general and that's almost never a good thing.

It should also be noted that the specular color channel or glossy strength or color channel is where you can also put a specular map.  This is useful if your clothing has details such as zippers or buttons in the diffuse that should be more shiny than the rest of the texture.  In that case, you can create a specular map using the same layered file we used to create the diffuse and bump.  Unless you want an iridescent effect, your specular map should be black and white; the darker an area on the spec map, the less shiny it is, and the brighter an area, the more shiny it is.  So a cotton shirt with a decorative zipper and buttons should have a spec map that is dark for most of the garment, but very light in color on the zipper and buttons.  Make sure you set the Specular Color to white if you are using an external spec map, so that it is not muted beyond what you do deliberately with the map.

Multiply Specular Through Opacity is not relevant on many items; I just leave it on.

The Ambient Color and Ambient Strength control how much an item glows and whether that glow has color.  For the most part, you should leave clothing with the default black ("off") ambient color.  An ambient item does not light up the scene like a light does, but only glows across its own surface.  This can still be very useful for different effects, but for now, we don't need it on regular clothing.  You can create an ambient map on the same black/white spectrum as a spec map (dark = not glowing, white = brightly glowing) and place it here if that is needed.  Colorful ambient can achieve some nice effects, but that is usually more useful in a sci fi or fantasy item.

In Iray: There is no "faked" ambient lighting, there is an actual "Emission" channel that can cause the item to actually emit light.  Setting the color of this channel to something other than black shows those options.  The default temperature is color neutral; low temperatures are more red; high temperatures are slightly more blue.  You have to set the level of luminance very high to get effective lighting here unless you change it to for example kcd/mr squared.

Next we have the Opacity Strength (in Iray, Cutout Opacity).  Leave this at 100%.  In the default shader we are now using there is no Opacity Color; if you made a transparency map for holes or tatters in your clothing, this dropdown is where it would go.  On an opacity map, black is transparent and white is opaque, so bear that in mind if you decide to create them.

Below the Opacity is the Bump Strength, Negative Bump and Positive Bump.  Bump Strength is where you should click to navigate to the bump map you created in Part 3 in order to assign it to your mesh.  You will not see a change in the viewport; bump maps and displacement maps do not show in preview, only in renders. 

How much negative and positive bump you want depends on your fabric.  I tend to leave it at low values for most clothing, just enough to emphasize the fabric grain if it is a fabric where grain should be visible.  Note that some artists also save higher and lower bump presets for different viewing distances.  Do some test renders to get the texture that you want.  Bump that is too high can look odd and interfere with your specularity.  Try to test with an UberEnvironment and/or Advanced Ambient light and a specular light in the scene at the very least.

The Normal Map channel should be near this area, too (in 3Delight it may be further down).  In Iray you can control the level of the normal map's strength, in 3Delight you cannot.  Usually you want a high level of this because you want it to look more like your sculpt.

When you have the bump and normal maps set up to your satisfaction, proceed to the next item on our list, the Displacement settings.  Displacement Strength is where you click to navigate to your generated displacement map.  Now, these settings are very important.  Minimum Displacement controls how far below "zero" the generated results dip, where "zero" is the base surface of your mesh.  You don't want a very low value of this because it will cause your clothing to clip with the body in black areas of the map.  The Maximum displacement value controls how high the "white" parts of the map will push your geometry.  You can examine some different artists' use of displacement to see settings that worked for them on a given mesh; some even go as high as -1 and 1, although usually they will then turn the Displacement Strength below 100%, and usually have a mesh that was built with some clearance from the body with this in mind.

You may need to do some testing to get your displacement settings just as you want them.

In Iray: You need to set render subD below the displacement settings to at least 2 usually, and often higher depending on how high the multires value of your sculpt was.  The higher you set it, the more it lags render because it literally subdivides the mesh.  This is why you should use a normal map as much as possible when rendering with Iray.

Next in 3Delight, the Reflection Color and Reflection Strength.  These are relevant only in an item that needs to be shiny and reflective, such as a clean metal or plastic.  Reflection Strength is set to 0% by default, so if you want reflectivity you will need to dial it up.  White color in the Reflection Color channel gives the maximum reflection possible.  In order to use this you will need to change the "Lighting Model" option at the bottom of the list.  It is set to "plastic" by default, and this is what it should be left on for most items (the skin setting does not actually work well on most skin, for instance).  But when you want a shiny, reflective item, you must change it to "glossy plastic" or "glossy metallic."  I've seen both of those used on both metal and plastic, so experiment to see what you want.

You can add a map to Reflection Color if you do not want the scene to calculate literal reflections.  It should be seamless and contain an abstract design or a picture distorted to resemble a reflection, and it should be seamless as much as possible.  Reflection mapping is a longer subject for elsewhere; just know that it is faster to render but does not literally reflect objects in the scene.

In Iray: In the base settings of the Iray shader, the metallic shader option, there is a Metallicity dial at the very top of the shader that controls how metallic an object is.

Below the Reflection settings are the Refraction settings.  By default, Refraction Strength is 0%.  This is because you will not want to add refraction to any opaque item (or almost any clothing, even that which is transparency mapped).  The main purpose of refraction is to create realistic glass and water.  Refraction is the amount to which the direction of light is changed when it passes through something transparent.

If you use refraction to create glass or water, you should make sure you have a correct Index of Refraction.  You can find a table of real-life indices on Wikipedia.  In many cases this value is the difference between real-looking liquids and ones that look like cloudy plastic.  It adds a lot of time to renders, but there is no other way to make liquid look like liquid when it needs to bend light.

In Iray refraction is generally further up as well.  It works the same in 3Delight, except that you also have an abbe option, which controls how much light is broken into the spectrum as it passes through a refractive object.  If you use refraction don't use a glossy color other than white, or it can interfere with your translucency.  If you want colored refraction use the transmissive color under the SSS settings.  You don't have to turn on SSS to use it, just turn off Thin Walled.

Below the Refraction settings are the Tiles and Offset options.  These are used when creating tiling shaders.  If you have a clothing item with a diffuse, bump, and displacement map based on UV maps, you do not need to use these or change them.  If you want to use a tiling shader on some part of an item, however (I often will on shoelaces or small bits of metal), this is where you control how many times a texture is tiled across a given item's material.  Offset pulls the texture off to one side in a couple of possible directions, which can help make a tiled texture look less uniform (playing with this setting is the best way to see what it does).

The ability to use tiling shaders on some parts of an item but not others is one more reason why it is useful to have different materials assigned to different parts of a garment.  A garment that has no specular map and all one material zone, yet has buttons, lacing, and a zipper, will never look good in a scene.

In 3Delight only, below the tiling and offset settings is the Lighting Model dropdown already discussed.  It will need to remain on Plastic for most items, since that gives the most control over your specularity through other maps; for the most part only change it when using the Glossy presets to create very shiny materials.

Under UV Set, below that, it probably says Default UVs.  This is where multiple UV maps appear if an item has them.  Most clothing will not, although some artists generate separate UVs for larger breasts or the like (laudable but uncommon).

Below that are the Smooth and Angle settings.  I've never done anything with these, but here is the documentation page about them on the DAZ wiki.

Once you have set up your item's surfaces and done enough test renders to determine that it looks the way you want it to, it's time to save to library.  You can re-save your item to library with textures on it using file--save as--scene assets--figure/prop asset again if you would like it to load with textures on.  Some artists prefer an item to load "blank" to ensure that the customer has to at least look at the materials file, and/or to ensure that Poser customers apply their own shaders separately.  That is up to you.  Whether or not you do that, you should save your material to library.

In the Content Library screen to the left, navigate to the folder from which you loaded your rigged clothing item.  Hopefully it is in FigureName/Clothing/YourName/YourProductName.  Now right-click on the name of the folder and choose "Create Sub-Folder."  Name the sub-folder "Materials," and click on it to select it.  Now at the bottom of the bottom Content window for this folder, there should be a plus sign.  Click on it and choose "Material(s) Preset."  A window will pop up asking you to give your new material a name and showing the folder where it will be saved.  When you click "Save," then the "Material(s) Preset Save Options" dialog box pops up.

Now, you can just leave everything here checked and click Accept to create a materials preset.  But there are other options you should be aware of here.  You can click the arrow to the left of any of the material names to expand it, and a list of all of the Surface tab channels will appear.  You can check or uncheck any of them; any that are unchecked will not be saved.  In this way, if you wish you can uncheck all but Displacement, or all but one material.  It is thus possible to save and separately apply different bump, displacement, etc. settings very easily.  This is wonderful if you have created a jacket that fits over a shirt and wish to offer no-displacement options for the shirt so that it will not clip the jacket, or bump settings for different distances.

Click Save to save your material preset when you are finished.


Now your clothing item is "finished."  If the base mesh and texture look good enough in your renders, and if it is simple enough not to need special rigging, you could probably sell it to a broker in its current state.  But there is more that we can do to generate a truly excellent product.  In the next tutorial we will explore how to create custom morphs using Blender and how to create custom icons using DAZ Studio.  Special rigging may be in that or may be saved for another one, since that can be a lengthy topic.

Did this tutorial series help you?  Did you have questions or comments?  Please share them below!  In Part 5 we'll talk about some polishing steps in Daz Studio.
© 2014 - 2021 SickleYield
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spiceycaramel's avatar
The best on the web. :)
Thank you for your effort. This is a great tutorial.
SickleYield's avatar
You're welcome. :)
kittenwylde's avatar
Almost Sunday, which is when my weekend starts... I'm so excited to tackle this tutorial series! Thanks for taking the time to write all this up!
SickleYield's avatar
Very welcome!  I hope it turns out to be of use.
Telperion-Studio's avatar
Thank you , Sickle! :)
SickleYield's avatar
You're welcome. :)
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