Things The Ray Dream Manual Doesn't Tell You


This will be a quick one.

The Detailer manual as currently shipped applies to RD4 and mentions a number of files that need to be copied to various locations within Ray Dream. If you are using RD5 you can ignore all that verbiage—the requisite files are already included.

I found the sections in the manual dealing with transferring data between the two programs to be confusing and fragmented. Messages to MetaCreations tech support helped clear up some of the confusion. Buried within some FAQ’s on the old Fractal site—one titled "How can I take a Poser figure into Detailer and then into Studio?"--was the information needed to use Detailer and RD5 together.

What follows is a step-by-step tutorial on mapping your RD5 model within Detailer, and then using the resulting texture maps within RD5:

  1. Create the model within RD5. If you need to map one object out of a complex model, I’ve discovered it’s easier to copy that object into a separate file; i.e.: while leaving the existing model Perspective and Hierarchy windows open, File/New/Create Empty Scene, then drag-and-drop the object from the original hierarchy into the new.
  2. File/Save As… the object as both an .rds and a .vdu file. Before saving the .vdu version, click on the Options… button in the bottom right corner of the Save As… window. In the Export box, select the Geometry/As Separate Faces radio buttons. In the Surface Fidelity box, adjust the slider (I always use the maximum Better (more triangles) position). Click on OK, and save the file.

    Update: In the Ray Dream Handbook, 2nd edition, there is a new section on Working with Detailer (pp. 301-310). This section suggests exporting with the As Single Object option and the lowest possible surface fidelity.

    It has been my experience that this may work well for organic objects, such as the snake head used in that section. However, the geometry of many real-world models (e.g.: the B17) may consist of a number of discrete surfaces. The As Separate Faces option allows creating maps of an appropriate size and aspect ratio for each individual face of such a model, enhancing detail.

    In addition, if using the As Single Object option you will find that there are times when Detailer will, in fact, not permit you to draw effectively on the entire surface of the object without abrupt changes in resolution or unpredictable line wrap-arounds.

    You should experiment with both options and find the most effective method for each application.

Now you are ready to use Detailer to create texture maps for your model.

  1. Start Detailer.
  2. In Detailer, select File/Open, select the Model radio button, press OK, and select the file of the .vdu model you saved in Step 2 (above).

    NOTE: If, at this point, you get only a blank model window, or a click, a flash and an error message, it probably means that your model is too small.

    Go back into RD5 and open your .rds file. Click on the object when it appears in the perspective window. Then, select Windows/Properties/Transform/Size & Scaling. In the "% Overall" window, type in a value anywhere from 500 to 2000 and press Apply.

    Repeat Step 2 (above). Then proceed from Step 3 (above).

  3. Do your mapping (Map/Load…texture or bump or whatever), paying due attention to the size and aspect ratios of the image maps you create (see Designing Maps, below). One suggestion: Always select Implicit mapping mode for your Detailer maps when the end application is to export them to RD5.
  4. When you are finished creating your maps, Save As… each of them as a .tiff file, not the default .riff format. (Update: Thanks to Garry Salibury for pointing out that RD5 will accept .riff files. RD4 needed the conversion to .tiff format. I do a lot of editing of the maps and my image editor does not recognize the .riff format, but will accept .tiff. For these reasons, I'm presenting both options.)
  5. Save the mapped model.

    Now you are done mapping your model and ready to import the information back into RD5:

  6. In RD5, File/Open the original .rds model.
  7. File/Import… and from the Files of type… drop-down box select Detailer (*.vdu). Then Open the .vdu model you just finished saving in Detailer.
  8. When the Detailer Import box appears, select Import Shading Only/OK.

    Your RD5 model in the Perspective window will now be mapped with the texture maps you created in Detailer.

    You can access these maps with the Eyedropper tool, using the Current Shader Editor window. You can modify the original maps in your drawing program and Insert/Texture Map them into appropriate shader channels. (Note: Details on this procedure can be found in Editing and Applying Detailer Maps).

    There are other methods of using the two programs together. Garry Salisbury did a good write-up on an alternate method which may be more useful in a number of applications, and has posted it on his site. I recommend reading it for another perspective.

    The virtues of the technique I've outlined above are that it appears to work reliably in a number of different situations. It is especially useful in modelling real world objects, which often have several discrete faces. I'd be interested in hearing of any other methods.

    Designing Maps

    A couple things to keep in mind when using Detailer:

    Don't routinely use the default 200 by 200 image map. The dimensions of your maps should be appropriate for the size and aspect ratios of the object or the individual faces in which you'll be working. (The Detailer manual (pp. 273-6) has an excellent discussion of how to design maps depending upon the object's size and shape.)

    To determine the aspect ratio of an object, look at its profiles (top, left, front, etc.) in the RD5 Free Form Modeler. Adjusting the grid and counting grid units will give you a very accurate set of dimensions.

    Increasing the size of the image map will produce finer details on the model's surface. If the image is being spread all over the surface of the object in the Model Window or not giving you the level of detail you need (even using the one-pixel brushes) then your image map is too small.


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