The above image was created in Daz and exported to Blender using the mcjTeleblender2 script. Creating this piece was a lot less painful than it would have been if I hadn’t had it (See the “Link Roundup List” below for a little more info on how the Power Girl image was created).
If you’ve ever created a Daz Studio render that just didn’t quite live up to the image in your head, you know what it’s like to travel down the rabbit-hole and try to figure out exactly what’s wrong with the image so you can work on fixing it.
In my opinion, some of those problems in Daz Studio have to do with the 3Delight renderer, combined with the default surface settings on the models and props. Left as they are, those settings are a recipe for some pretty bland renders. If you don’t feel like spending money on Luxus or Reality renderers (which provide an interface for the LuxRender engine), this could be right up your alley.
The fix for at least these problems is…a Daz Studio script, and another program. Blender, to be exact.
This tutorial is going to walk you through how to set up your Daz Studio scene for export into the free Blender 3D program on the Mac, where you can render it using the (now default) Cycles render engine.
The Script – mcjTeleblender2
mcjTeleblender2 is a free script that runs in Daz Studio. It was created by a user who goes by the name of Casual on the Daz Studio Forums.
This script is primarily built for Windows users, but I found it works great on the Mac (and apparently on Linux, as well). I decided to write this up because of a few minor hurdles I had to jump through to get it working correctly. This should help my fellow Mac users get in on the fun.
And now, back to the script. Essentially it consists of two parts:
- The mcjTeleblender2 script that exports your entire scene
- The mcjBlenderBot2 script that opens it up in Blender, converts the materials, etc. and begins to render it for you.
That sounds very simple, but there’s a little setup to be done. Also, I know some people are thinking “Can’t I just export the .obj and import that into Blender myself?”
Well yes, you could, but then you’ll spend the next several hours setting up new Cycles materials for every last surface in your scene (depending on your scene’s complexity, of course).
In more detail, the script converts your Daz Studio surfaces into the closest Cycles equivalent materials. Not only that, but it exports out your camera and lights as well, so you don’t have to struggle to find that perfect angle all over again once you get into Blender.
This is the second iteration of this script, and it works with Blender 2.66.3 and up. If you prefer an earlier version of Blender, you should get the original mcjTeleblender script at the link. I’m using Daz 4.5, but the script works in Daz 3 and up.
Installing The mcjTeleblender2 Script
mcjTeleblender2 is responsible for exporting your scene out from Daz to a format that Blender can recognize.
First, you’ll need to grab the script from the mcjTeleblender2 script page. Install instructions from the site are as follows:
This package contains the Daz Studio script mcjTeleBlender,
there’s a version for Daz Studio 1 & 2 and a version for Daz Studio 3 & 4
Unzip this file in your Daz Studio content folder
On a typical Windows PC that’s C:\program Files\Daz\Studio\Content
But you might have a script folder anywhere. As long as Daz can find the script (it’s one of Daz’s “Known Directories”) you can just do a search for it in the “Content Library” tab when it’s time to run it (Make sure you run the “Scan Known Directories for files” command from the Content Library tab flyout menu so Daz knows the script is there).
Installing The mcjBlenderBot2 Script
From the same link as above, you’ll also need the mcjBlenderBot2 script, which you can get from the mcjTeleblender2 link above. If you haven’t installed Blender yet, download it from the Blender link above, install it and then get right back here.
The install instructions from the mcjTeleblender2 site are:
Unzip this file in your Blender modules folder
On a typical Windows PC that’s C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.60\scripts\modules
So that’s for Windows. If you’re on a Mac like me, you’ll put the 10 unzipped files into this folder:
You can just click your Home folder in your sidebar from any finder window and then head right into “Application Support” and drill down to the correct folder.
If you’ve just now installed Blender, the correct folder (Blender 2.68 as of this writing) may not be there yet. You may have to open Blender, then save a quick file and quit the program so that the folder is generated for you as it writes back to its’ preferences when it quits.
Once it’s there, create any folder that is missing. For example, you may have to create the “scripts” and “addons” folder. You can see in the below screenshot how the folder structure should look on the Mac:
Running the script
After you set up your scene as normal (just do everything you would normally do in Daz), you’ll need to run the script in order to export the scene to Blender.
As mentioned above, when I’m ready to run the script, I just type “teleblend” into the search field (doesn’t matter if it’s set on “File” or “Database”), and the script pops up into the pane at the bottom. Just double-click and you’ll get the mcjTeleblender export window, like so:
The official (original) mcjTeleblender page has some great documentation on this export window. Do a quick search for the heading “Transfering a Daz Studio scene in blender” and you’ll jump right to it.
There are some things to consider for the Mac, though. So I’ll go over those here:
- Location of Blender.exe. Of course, if you’re on a Mac, you won’t have any .exe files. Not to worry. All you need to do here, is click the “Browse” button there, then choose your Blender app (which will likely be in /Applications/Blender/blender.app). That will satisfy the export program.
- At the bottom, in the “Location and type of rendered images” section, you can uncheck this box. It really doesn’t matter on the Mac. On Windows, the export will “hand off” your file to Blender, which will then open and start rendering.
This doesn’t happen on the Mac, so you’ll need to open the program yourself and set your render settings in Blender itself.
Actually, both of these settings may be irrelevant either way when using the Mac. I haven’t found any difference whether those settings were correct or not. Although once you fill in the “Location and type of rendered images” section, it seems stuck that way forever.
I know the author was not specifically thinking of the Mac when he made this program, so these little issues are to be expected.
At this point, you can click the “Export/open current frame” button at the bottom, or the “Export Animation” button if you’re creating an animation. This will start the process of exporting the entire scene into an .obj file. The time it takes to do so can vary depending on the size and complexity of your scene and the power of your computer.
Importing Into Blender – Special Mac Instructions
So again, if you’re on Windows, when you hit the “Export/open current frame” button, it will export to the .obj file AND open up that file in Blender, convert the materials and begin to render it for you.
On the Mac, it will export the file, then stop. You’re on your own from here. Personally I’m just fine with this. I would just stop the render anyway, since I want to tinker with all the materials before I’m done.
So the question then becomes, how do I import this into Blender?
Well, you could simply open the .obj file, but this will then leave you in the familiar position of having to convert all the materials yourself. What we’re going to do is manually invoke the mcjBlenderBot2 script from within Blender.
To do this, first open up Blender. You can delete anything that’s in the default scene, like the cube, light and even the camera (you don’t need the cube, and you’ll likely have your own lights and of course the camera from Daz).
Also, make sure your Rendering Engine is set to “Cycles Render”. It will likely default to “Blender Render” at first, which is the now deprecated former Blender rendering engine. See the green square at the top center of the screenshot for its location.
Once that’s done, follow these steps (as seen in below screenshot):
- Grab the split window handle at the top right of the window. Just click and drag to the left. This should split your window in two horizontally as in the screenshot.
- In the left window, click the Editor Type Chooser Button and change it to “Text Editor”.
- Click the “Text” menu heading and choose “Open Text Block”. Browse to the location of the exported .obj file from Daz. There should be a Python script file ending in “.py” there. In my case it was “PGTeleblend.py”. Select this file and then click “Open Text Block” at the top right.
- You’ll then see the contents of the scrip in the Text Editor. All you have to do now is click the “Run Script” button on the bottom. That’s it.
Now you’ll just sit back and relax as the script imports the .obj, imports the lights, positions the camera and converts the materials to Cycles nodes. Very cool.
Technically, you don’t have to split your windows, but I just like to know the script is done when I see all the stuff pop into the window on the right. Instead, you could leave the window as-is, but just change the Editor Type to “Text Editor”, run the script, then switch it back to “3D View” when done.
Now your Daz scene should be successfully imported into Blender and ready to be rendered using Cycles.
Blender Quick Render Settings
Check this image for an example:
The Cycles image was rendered at 100 samples, that’s why it’s so “noisy” or grainy. Even so, there’s a lot more life in those skin tones and shadows. So just to start you’ve made a pretty big leap over what the 3Delight renderer offers.
For the most part, even a basic default Cycles render from Blender looks better than a Daz 3Delight render, but getting top notch renders out of Blender is a whole area of study all to itself.
But in case you’ve never used Blender at all and just want to get something out quick, there are a few settings you’ll likely want to tweak in the Render pane (see screenshot below list). They are:
- Render Pane: Click this Camera button to bring up all the render options in Blender.
- Render Display: There are four choices here, but I usually pick “New Window”. They are:
- Full Screen: Takes over the entire screen (split or not) to render your image.
- Image Editor: Switches from 3D View and renders the image into the UV/IMage Editor screen found in the Editor Type chooser.
- New Window: Pops up a new window. I choose this one because it doesn’t disturb anything else, and I can simply close the window when done, or even keep working as it renders.
- Keep UI: Essentially this starts rendering in the background. You see a small progress bar at the top of the screen to indicate render progress.
- Resolution: This will probably already be set by the script, but if you wanted to change it, this is the spot.
- Output Format: Blender outputs to a myriad of formats, including BMP, PNG, JPG, TARGA and TIFF. You’ll likely have it set to PNG. If you want a transparent background you must select the “RGBA” button to use Alpha transparency. You also MUST check the “Transparency” box in #6 for this to work.
- Samples: Essentially, the higher the value, the higher the quality of the render, but the longer the render will take. 100 is pretty low, but will give you a quick idea of how the image is looking. Generally I set final Samples value to at least 1000, depending on the purpose of the image. The value in the “Preview” field only pertains to the view inside Blender if you set your Viewport Shading Mode to “Rendered” by clicking the Viewport Shading button (green square at bottom).
- Transparent Background: As mentioned in #4, this “Transparent” box in the Film section needs to be checked in order for the RGBA setting to render a transparent background.
For more help on the script, there’s a long and informative thread on some of the intricacies of mcjTeleBlender on the Daz forums here: DAZ Discussion Forum | mcjTeleBlender – render Daz Strudio scene
Here’s a video walkthrough I made to accompany this written piece. Hopefully between this and the write-up you can get some tips and a quick jump-start into incorporating the script into your workflow.
More Blender Cycles Study
For those of you looking to learn more about what Cycles has to offer, here’s some great tutorials to help out:
Ok, that should about wrap it up on this one. By now, you should be able to export your scene from Daz, import it into Blender and produce a pretty good looking render. If you have anything you want to show, just leave a link in the comments, I’d love to see it.
On that note, I’m outta here, until next time!