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Creating Yuletide Spirits and Halloween Ghosts in Bryce 5.0

Author: Nightsong

Tools Needed

  • Poser or DAZ Studio
  • Bryce 5.0 or Later

Introduction

This tutorial will show you how to take your models from Poser and DAZ Studio and turn them into spooky Bryce ghosts in just a few simple steps. You will need an image already created in Poser or DAZ Studio to complete this tutorial.

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Step 1 - Importing Your Figure

Create your figure in Poser or DAZ Studio. Feel free to add such effects as making their hair and clothing blow in the wind, look tangled or rumpled, or otherwise appear in the manner that you feel a ghost would. Do not add any textures, since they not only slow down your system, but you shouldn't be needing them for the purposes of this tutorial.

Import your character into a blank document in Bryce. There are tutorials here and here in the DAZ Tutorial Arcana that already explain how to do this, so I will not cover it here.

Step 2 - Setting Up Your Canvas

Make sure that you are in camera view by pressing the first small triangle immediately on the left side of your canvas. Turn, resize, or position your figure in the manner that you wish it to appear in your final scene. Change the sky, if you wish, using the presets from the Sky and Fog pallette. You can access those by pressing the triangle next to Sky and Fog at the top of the screen.

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For this tutorial I used Because the Night to give it a nice, dark background to work with, and changed the material of the ground plane to a simple, flat black.

Step 3 - Setting Up Your Character

Select the group that is your figure. Click on the A in the little square next to it to edit the attributes.

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Give your figure a descriptive name, in order to easily find it in later scenes, and click on the circle next to Locked. This prevents it being accidently moved or deleted if you should happen to press the wrong key or bump your mouse.

Step 4 - Basic Cloud Materials

Press the M in the little square next to your figure to edit the materials it is composed of. Click on the triangle on the right side of the sample window and choose a cloud texture from the Clouds and Fogs menu.

If you have a texture that seems too bright, try turning down the ambience a bit. If you have one that doesn't quite have the transparencies in the places you want, try changing the size or orientation of the texture with the Editor (the top left button found on the textures lined up on the right side of the screen). I would suggest avoiding turning the percentages in the Editor very high, since this will cause you to lose many of your figure's details. I would also suggest making sure that you have World Space instead of Object Space checked on the bottom right of your texture's window, since this allows the textures to more smoothly wrap around the entire surface of your figure, rather than tile amongst the many small meshes that compose it.

It is completely up to you which you choose, but note that if you choose something too transparent, body parts such as eyes and teeth will show through the face, adding a more sinister and macabre appearance to your figure. For this particular picture I used a variation on Summer Clouds, which is third from the left on the top row of the Clouds and Fogs menu. The changes I made to this texture are noted below in red. When you are ready, click the check mark to accept the change.

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Rendering at this point (Ctrl/Command -R) shows that you have achieved a basic, semi-transparent material on your figure:

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Step 5 - Adding A Ghostly Glow

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Create a sphere using the Create pallette.

The sphere should be selected. Shift-Ctrl-right-click on your figure and select it from the drop-down list, so that both it and the sphere are selected. (Ctrl should be Command on a Mac.) On the Edit pallette, click on the sphere in the middle of the triangle, in order to align the two figures on all axis. The fact that your figure is locked will prevent it from being moved.

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Resize your sphere using the resize tool on the Edit pallette so that it covers your figure entirely.

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Step 6 - Adding A Ghostly Glow, Cont.

You should now have a scene that appears somewhat like this:

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Ctrl (or Command) -right-click on the sphere and select the sphere from the drop-down list, so that only it is selected. Click on the M in the square next to your sphere in order to open the Materials menu. Again click on the triangle on the right side of the preview window to open the presets, and select Marley's Ghost from the Complex fx menu. When you have done that, make these additional changes to the material:

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This adds a pale glow with a slight greenish-blue sheen to your figure. If you wish to use another color instead, simply ALT (Or option) -right-click on the color and use the sliders to change it to the hue you wish to use.

Step 7 - Making your Spirit Shine

It has a glow, but what good does that do in areas with little to no light? Go back to the Create pallette and make a radial light.

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Move this light so that it shines on the face of your figure, or else wherever on your figure that you wish to bring attention to. In order to do this accurately, you may wish to switch your view to the Top view by clicking on the top triangle immediately to the left side of your canvas.

Make sure that the radial light is very close to your figure, since it will also serve to shine a ghostly glow on the objects around your figure. You may also want to make it shine from above (or below) for more angelic (or demonic) effects. By turning the ambience down to 50 on the cloud texture earlier, we made it so that any shadows cast by lights we placed would show up more clearly.

After you have positioned your light, click on the E in the square next to your light so you can edit its properties. ALT (Or option) -right-click on the white square in the upper right-hand corner to change the color, and make the following other changes so that it matches the screen shown below.

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If you changed your sphere's material to another color, you'll want to change the color here to a lighter version of that hue.

Step 8 - Adding the Finishing Touches

By rendering now we see that our picture has gained an unearthly glow, but there may still be some finishing touches we wish to add.

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In your picture, you may note that certain parts of it (especially those with finer meshes than the rest of the picture) show up more starkly than you might wish. An example in this picture might be the hem or cuffs of the dress. This is easily fixed.

In Bryce, the meshes are labeled differently than they are in DAZ Studio and Poser, but each should be readily recognizeable by their names. Simply Ctrl (Or command) -right-click on the mesh you wish to change and select it from the drop-down menu. (You can also hold down Shift to select more than one at once.) Remember that if you select any part on accident that you don't want to, simply select it again to de-select it.

When each of the meshes you no longer wish to appear have been selected, click on the M in the square next to them to bring up the material menu and change their transparency to 100. It is important to change their transparency to 100 rather than deleting them. This way you have the option of turning the transparency back to the previous value if you decide you do not like the effect, or else simply toning it down if you wish.

At this point you also have the option of using radial lights to add small 'ghost balls' around your figure, create small spheres full of ghostly fire, or else add additional lights to the scene to heighten the effect of light and shadow playing across your ghost.

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If needed, go back and change the transparency on any more parts of your figure to add to the ghostly effect.

Step 9 - Saving for Later Use

This is all well and good, you might say, but I made this in a blank document! How do I add this to my renders? That is the easy part. Once you have achieved a finished product that you wish to save, select all parts of your figure (the sphere(s), the figure itself, and the light(s)) using Ctrl-right-click and Shift-Ctrl-right-click (using Command instead of Ctrl where appropriate on a Mac). Then click on the small G in the square next to the group. If the G does not appear, it means that you have already grouped part of your figure together, and have selected one of the pieces inside of a pre-existing group. Select the necessary pieces to make a group out of the whole, then click on the G to group them.

Click on the A next to your group and rename it into something that you will be easily able to recognize as this set of ghosts in the future. Don't copy the name you used for the figure itself before – if you do you will then have two things with the same name when you try to select them, and this can get confusing very quickly.

Click on the triangle next to the word Create to bring up the creation menu. You may have to click again, very quickly, to get it to stick around.

Click on the triangle next to Installed at the bottom of the menu and select User from the popup menu.

Click on Add, at the bottom of the menu.

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The name you used for your group should already be showing in the title area, but if you wish you can type in a new title and description to describe just what the figure you created is, and what it ought to be used for. This is for your own library, so feel free to add whatever notes you wish.

You can also change the orientation of the thumbnail, zoom in, or rotate using Shift, Ctrl, ALT, and the spacebar in combination with the mouse, just as you can on the main canvas. When everything looks as you want it to, click the checkmark to accept the preset.

What this does is save the character to your library, making it so that all you need to do to add it to a picture in the future is simply go to the Create menu and select User presets from the bottom of the menu. This saves you from having to create or manipulate the figure from scratch in a pre-existing scene, when you might already have several figures that use up much of your computer's memory. To backup these presets or transfer them to another computer, use the Export option (next to Add on the Create menu) or simply save the Presets folder in your Bryce directory.

With a little practice, you'll be able to create any type of haunted scene, from Halloween ghosts to Yuletide spirits. Happy rendering!