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DAZ 3D & Blender

One of the things we talk about when describing what computers can be used for - and that often comes up as a factor when deciding on the type of hardware to buy is 3D Rendering. The problem is that we talk about the concept without context - our learners never get to experience the software or understand what it does. This blog introduces you to two free apps that can help you solve this problem - and improve your learner's understanding. On top of it, playing with DAZ especially is just plain FUN!!

3D Rendering is when the computer creates a 2D image (like a photo or sketch) from a 3D model.

A 3D model is creating a mesh of points and lines that represents the surface shape of an object - e.g. a cup or car or tree or person. The mesh is most typically made up of connected triangles but can also be other shapes. The size and quality of the model is usually described in terms of polygons with each triangle (or other shape being a polygon). More polygons = a better quality model BUT also means that the model takes up more memory and will take longer to render.

Before a model can be rendered it needs to be textured and lit.

Texturing is assigning a bitmap pattern that will be stretched over a set of polygons. A model can have different textures assigned to different areas of it polygons.

Lighting happens when you put a 'light source' into the 3D scene. This tells the software where the light for the picture is coming from, how strong the light is, what colour the light is, etc. A scene can have multiple lights in it.

When all of the above steps are completed then you are finally ready to render the scene and create a picture.

If all of the above sounds like a lot of intimidating and technically difficult work then don't worry - we've got you covered. Read on...

DAZ 3D

DAZ 3D is free software that takes a lot of the pain technical knowledge requirements and difficulty out of creating 3D art.

DAZ 3D provides you with pre-created human figures, clothes and props that you load, dress pose and render. You don't have to create the 3D model and textures yourself. It is backed up by a very large store that sells all kinds of 3D assets (that's where they make their money and why the software is free) but the assets included in the free download are enough for you to be able to experiment with and to be able to demonstrate 3D rendering to your learners with confidence and ease.

They can even get the software themselves and use it for their own artwork and projects. It might also be an idea to tell your school's art department about it.

Anyway, here's a video introducing the software and showing what it can do.

And here's a getting started tutorial video.

For the more serious about 3D here's a more serious tool:

Blender

Blender is another kettle of fish. It may be free but it is a very capable 3D content creator tool. You use Blender to create 3D models and texture them. It is a very powerful tool but takes a much greater investment of time and effort to learn and to do anything meaningful in.

The idea is that you can demonstrate 3D rendering to your learners easily using DAZ 3D and if any one of them wants to do more (for example, create their own models) you can tell them about Blender.

Here's a Blender show reel, a movie created with Blender and a Blender tutorial. The tutorial is great because it gives an idea of how much work is involved in just creating a donut and coffee!

News:

Hardware

  • SSD cost vs HDD cost vs Time saved - makes you think....
  • But hard drive capacities will continue to increase (20 - 80 Tb HDD anyone?), making them the cheaper option for storage of large amounts of data.
  • If you are thinking about new hardware maybe now is the time to buy before the effects of the corona virus potentially cause a steep rise in price and a shortage in supply later this year.

Social Implications

Free resources

History

  • Larry Tesler. A name you probably don't know but should. He died this week but he has affected your life deeply by being instrumental in developments that made computing easy and user friendly. Find out more from the New York Times.

Spam, Scams, Malware, Etc.

  • A new form of blackmail for web sites. Many web sites depend on money from advertising for their income. Google (and other advertising services) dont want to pay for fake views (i.e. when you click on your own ads or get bots to do this) - and so have algorithms to check for this. So the criminal comes along and says "pay us or we will get our bots to click your ads and get Google to ban you so you will get no ad money at all". More at Krebs on Security.

  • You've been selected for 'like of the day' cash prize. Really???

That's it for now. Have fun playing with 3D!

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