Monday, March 22, 2021

Easy Import

After we have imported a DAZ character into Blender, we usually need to perform a number of operations on it before it is suitable for animation. The philosophy behind this is that the add-on can not foresee the need of every user, so the best thing is to import the scene as faithfully as possible, and then provide tools to turn the raw import into something useful. However, this flexibility can make it difficult to choose which tools to use and in which order. The new tool "Easy Import DAZ" is provided to facilitate import in the most common case, a single human character in rest pose.

We emphasize that flexibility is traded for simplicity, and there are limits to what can be done with the new tool.
  • Easy Import DAZ is mainly intended for importing a single human character in rest pose. There are no guarantees if the scene contains something else, e.g. multiple characters, characters not in rest pose, animals, environments, props. Things may work, or they may not.
  • The tool can import standard morphs (face morphs, body morphs, JCMs) but not custom morphs. Adding custom morphs to the character or its geografts must be done in a separate step afterwards.
  • The tool has options for merging geografts and eyelashes to the main character. However, if those have been merged, it is not possible to add further morphs because vertex numbers have changed. If you plan on adding custom morphs after import, you must the disable the Merge Geografts and Merge Lashes options.
  • Easy Import DAZ has an option to convert the native DAZ rig to the more animator-friendly MHX and Rigify rigs. However, again it is not possible to add more morphs after the rig has been converted.
  • Easy Import does not work with nested geografts. E.g., Roasty is a geograft for Futalicious, which in turn is a geograft for female characters. In this situation you must uncheck the Merge Geografts option, and instead merge the geografts in a two-stage process afterwards.

When we invoke the Easy Import DAZ tool, a file selector with many options appear. This lets us decide how the character is treated during and after it is imported into Blender.

  • Mesh Fitting: This option is the same as for the Import DAZ button, see this.
  • Viewport Color: This option is the same as for the Import DAZ button, see this.
  • Rig Type:
    •   DAZ: Leave the native DAZ rig unchanged.
    •   Custom Shapes: Add custom shapes to the native DAZ rig.
    •   MHX: Convert the rig to MHX.
    •   Rigify: Convert the rig to Rigify.
  • Mannequin:
    •   None: Don't add a mannequin.
    •   Nude: Add a mannequin for the body mesh only.
    •   All: Add a mannequin for all meshes.
  • Merge Materials: Merge identical materials into a single material.
  • Merge Rigs: Merge clothes rigs with the main character rig. 
  • Merge Toes: Merge the individual toe bones into a single toe bones which moves all bones.
  • Merge Geografts: Merge geografts to the main character. Body shapekeys (JCMs and flexions) are transferred to the geografts first.
  • Merge Lashes: Merge eyelashes to the main character. Face shapekeys are transferred to the eyelashes first.
  • Extra Face Bones: Add an extra layer of face bones, which remain posable after face morphs have been loaded. This is done before morphs are loaded.
  • Make All Bones Poseable: Add an extra layer of poseable bones for bones that are driven. This is done after morphs have been loaded.
  • Convert Hair: Convert strand-based hair (SBH) into particle hair in Blender.
  • Face Units: Import face unit morphs.
  • Expressions: Import expression morphs.
  • Visemes: Import viseme morphs.
  • FACS: Import FACS units morphs.
  • FACS Expressions: Import FACS expression morphs.
  • Body: Import body morphs.
  • JCMs: Import JCMS (joint corrective morphs).
  • Flexions: Import flexion morphs.
  • Transfer Shapekeys (only visible if JCMs or Flexions is selected): Transfer JCMs and flexions to all clothes. Shapekeys are always transferred to geografts and eyelashes before merging irrespective of this setting.

After a little wait, a fully rigged character appears which can be posed with a few clicks. This character was imported in 212 seconds, complete with face units, expressions, visemes and JCMs, and converted to the MHX rig.

Tip: It can take quite a while to import a scene with the Easy Import DAZ tool. You can follow the progress in the system console. This is normally not visible unless you start Blender from a command prompt, but it can be made visible from the Window > Toggle System Console menu.