DAZ characters often have quite a large polygon count, which may affect viewport speed. This is especially true if you try to animate scenes with several characters on and you use an old computer, as I do. Replacing meshes with low-poly versions helps to some extent, but the viewportcan still be painfully slow. It appears that the main obstacle is deforming meshes with an armature modifier and vertex groups.

This is where mannequins come in. A mannequin is a collection of meshes that don't have armature modifiers, but instead are parented directly to bones. Tests indicate that posing with mannequins is much faster than with normal characters. The suggested workflow is:
  1. Animate your scene with mannequins.
  2. Save the action.
  3. Open a new blend file with the real characters.
  4. Append the action from the mannequin blend.
  5. Render. This is the only step where you will suffer from slow deformation, but you don't have to sit and watch.

  • Add Mannequins. Split the selected meshes into chunks that don't have armature modidiers, but instead are parented directly to bones. The mannequin meshes are added to a separate group together with the rig. This means that you can choose whether to link to the mannequin or to the original meshes in file linking.
  • Head. How to split up the head into chunks. This is most relevant for Genesis 3 and Genesis 8 rigs, where the head has a face rig with many bones.
    • Solid. Keep the entire head as one mesh.
    • Jaw. Split the head into a head and a jaw mesh. Thus is usually the default.
    • Full. Split the head fully. This is usually a bad idea for characters with a face rig.

After Add Mannequins has been pressed, there are many new meshes parented under the rig. These meshes are parented to different bones and named rig-name_bone_name.

Because a mannequin consists of so many meshes, it can be difficult to select them. The following trick makes it easier:
  1. Select all meshes that should go into the mannequin.
  2. Move the selected meshes to layer 2.
  3. Make layer 2 the active layer, hiding the original layer 1.
  4. Make Mannequin.
  5. Move all selected meshes back to layer 1. This works because the same meshes are still selected.
  6. The original meshes are now on layer 1 and the mannequin on layer 2.
Here is the same pose for the original meshes and for the mannequin. Note the behavior when bones are bent at a sharp angle, such as the right hip and knee in this example.

Here we only selected the body and pants before making mannequins. We can make mannequins for all rigs, but the rig must be finished first. So we can convert the rig to MHX or Rigify and make mannequins afterwards, but the opposite order will not work.

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