LayLo's Learning Path:

Creating Characters and Morphs for Daz 3D Figures Using ZBrush & GoZ

March 31, 2017 21 comments

ZBrush Dynamic Subdiv Grouped and Masked

In this step by step tutorial I go over the technical aspects of how to create characters and morphs for Daz Studio figures.

I cover:

  • How to properly export meshes out of Daz Studio for morph creation using GoZ.
  • The basics of when to, and when not to, Reverse Deformations.
  • How I like to prepare Genesis 3 figures for sculpting using groups, masks, layers and Dynamic Subdiv.
  • GoZ and Morph Loader Pro settings when sending meshes back to Daz Studio.
  • How to create new morphs, update existing morphs and reverse deformations out of morphs.
  • How to configure morphs inside Daz Studio and change their presentation.
  • And finally, how to save your morphs so they’ll be available every time you open Daz Studio.

The first 3 parts of this learning path are specific to ZBrush. I go over how to use GoZ to handle transferring meshes back and forth between Daz Studio and Zbrush. And, a few tips to hopefully make your sculpting experience easier and more productive.

I also have step by step tutorials on how to export meshes out of Daz Studio as an .obj so you can create morphs in your modeling application of choice, and then how to import the meshes back into Daz Studio with Morph Loader Pro to create morphs out of them.

I would like to point out, you can also use these same techniques to create custom morphs for clothing, hair, and props!

I put a lot of effort into trying to make this tutorial comprehensive, yet concise, with the goal of creating a solid tutorial that’s easy to follow. If you notice anything that doesn’t make sense, is unclear, any typos, or have any suggestions, I would truly appreciate it if you let me know! E-mail me at Landon@LayLo3D.com.

Thanks, and lets get started!

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Part 1: Send Mesh From Daz Studio to ZBrush using GoZ

To start off this tutorial, I recommend and assume you’ll be starting with an empty scene. Now, within Daz Studio, load the Genesis 3 Figure into the empty scene.

Daz Studio to ZBrush via GoZ

If you are having issues with GoZ or prefer to export and import as an .obj, please see my other tutorial: Creating Morphs For Daz Studio Figures – Exporting as .obj.

  1. Configure exported deformations
  2. With the Genesis 3 figure loaded in the scene and selected, open your Parameters tab, click the Currently Used selection bar, and set both the Mouth Realism HD and Navel Morphs to 0.

    This step isn’t necessary if you uncheck “Export with deformations” within the GoZ Export Settings (see below).

  3. Send to ZBrush
  4. Go to File > Send to ZBrush… or click the GoZ button on the UI (it’s location may vary depending on how your UI is configured).

  5. GoZ Export Options
    1. Make sure export at current resolution is unchecked (if you export at a higher resolution, you will not be able to import the morph back in, unless you’re a Daz PA).
    2. Export with or without deformations? Read Below:
    3. *Important*
      If you plan on selling or redistributing the morphs you create in anyway (whether for free, or for profit) you must reverse out any morphs you have dialed in when you export out the figure (I’ll explain how in the ZBrush to Daz Studio section of this tutorial), except for certain merchant resources. Check their individual license agreements (please note, most merchant resources don’t allow redistribution for free, only for profit).

      If you’re planning on using them only for personal projects, you can export any combination of morphs you would like and use as a starting point for your sculpting. Just remember, you won’t be able to sell them or give them away!

  6. Click Accept
  7. Once you decide whether or not to export out Genesis 3 with deformations, click Accept.

  8. Model to Canvas
  9. Once ZBrush loads Genesis 3 will be loaded as the selected tool. Click and drag on the canvas to draw out the model (if ZBrush was already opened before using GoZ, the model may already be drawn out on the canvas).

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Part 2: How I Prepare Genesis 3 for Sculpting Inside ZBrush, Plus a Couple Tips

Preparing the Figure for Sculpting

  1. Draw out Genesis 3 on the canvas, if you haven’t already.
  2. If you need help importing Genesis 3, refer to:

  3. Make sure you’re in Edit mode (hotkey T).
I like to keep my head and body morphs as two separate project files. I find it makes it easier to manage my layers and helps keep me from accidently creating deformations on the body that I don’t want included with the head morph. This is just a personal preference; however, you will want to make sure to keep your body morphs and head morphs separate from each other (either by using two separate project files, or by using separate layers). This will give you more control inside Daz Studio and will create a better product, whether for personal or commercial use (but you can do whatever you want, just don’t say I didn’t warn you).

Preparing to Create Body Morphs

Fortunately, sculpting on the body doesn’t really require any pre-setup. I just want to point out the fingernails and toenails are separate meshes, that way you’re aware and can use the masking techniques described below to assist you when working on the hands and feet, if necessary.

Preparing to Create Head Morphs

Masking Certain Features

I like to be able to easily mask off certain features of the face to avoid distorting those that I didn’t intend on; mainly the eyes and sometimes the teeth. Since eyes are typically always at least mostly round, I like to mask them off while I do most my sculpting on the face and then deal with them when I’m basically done.

Depending on how much you plan on changing the jaw and mouth, you may also want to mask off the teeth and deal with them at the end as well. Sometimes they’ll move appropriately with the jaw when left unmasked.

Here’s my method for masking them off

  1. Turn on Draw Polyframe

    I find it easier to have visual feedback as I go through the steps, so I like to turn on Polyframe (hotkey Shift+F).

  2. Group similar features
    1. ZBrush Polygroups

    2. On the tool palette, Expand the Polygroups Palette.
    3. Click Auto Groups to group individual features of the mesh into separate groups.
    4. Click Merge Similar Groups. This will merge symmetrical features into one group, grouping the eyes together, the top lashes together, the bottom lashes together, etc.
  3. Set up your Masking
    1. CTRL+Shift+Click any part of the main body’s mesh to hide everything except the body.
    2. CTRL+Shift+Click+ drag on the background to invert the visibility.
    3. CTRL+Shift+Click+ drag and draw out a box around the teeth. This will set the teeth as the only visible objects.
    4. Sometimes some of the teeth will get grouped with the eye lashes, so we’ll manually group them together to be on the safe side.

    5. Click Group Visible. This will group all the teeth together as a separate group.
    6. CTRL+Shift+Click the canvas to unhide everything.
    7. CTRL+Shift+Click any part of the main body mesh to hide everything except the body again.
    8. CTRL+Shift+Click+ drag on the background to invert the visibility again.
    9. CTRL+Shift+Click everything you want to leave unmasked (it will toggle visibility by group, meaning both upper lashes will be hidden when you click on one of them). I usually click the upper lashes, lower lashes and the lower lash line.
    10. If you want to mask off the teeth as well as the eyes, leave them visible at this point, otherwise click on one of them.

    11. CTRL+Click the canvas to invert the mask. This will mask off everything that is visible, even though nothing was masked prior to this step.
    12. CTRL+Shift+Click the canvas once again to unhide everything.

At this point you should have something that looks like this (your polygroups may be different colors).

ZBrush - Genesis 3 Grouped and Masked

Congratulations, you now have your masking set up! You can turn off Draw Polyframe now if you want.

Pro Tip, Use Layers!

Now before you start sculpting away, I highly recommend using layers!

I like to create layers as I go for each feature I will be sculpting on. For example, if I want to start sculpting on the nose, I create a new layer and name it Nose 01, and record all the sculpting I plan on doing to the nose, at that point in time, to that layer. I do this for every feature as I go along, then when I get back to the nose, I create a new layer and name it Nose 02. You can also go back to the original nose layer and record more sculpting to it if you prefer, or be more specific with your layers and create layers like Nose Width, Nose Height, Nostrils, etc.

Some people like to create all their layers before they even start sculpting, then select them as they go when they plan on sculpting on each feature. The point is to figure out a system that works well for you.

  1. First create a Base Layer and name it.
  2. Don’t record any sculpting on this layer, save it as is just in case you ever need it.

      ZBrush Layers

    1. Expand the Layers Pallette.
    2. Click the New Layer button.
    3. Click the Name Button and type in Base
  3. Now let’s create our first layer for sculpting
    1. With the Layers Pallette still expanded.
    2. Click the New Layer button.
    3. Click the Name Button and type in Nose 01 (or whatever you want).
    4. Make sure Record is on.
  4. Sculpt away (don’t forget to make sure X symmetry is on, unless you’re going for asymmetry)!
  5. You can also change the strength of each layer

    This may come in handy as you’re fine tuning your sculpts.

    1. Click the 1 that’s directly to the left of the name of the Layer (when you hover you mouse over it) and enter a value between 0 and 1, or use the slider below the name.

Pro Tip, Dynamic Subdivision

Since you’re working off the base mesh inside ZBrush, you’ll probably want to know what your morphs will actually look like once they’re loaded into Daz Studio and subdivided. You can always send the mesh back and forth between ZBrush and Daz Studio to check your progress (which I recommend doing every now and then anyway, to check your progress by seeing what it looks like rendered), but there’s another way. You can also use Dynamic Subdiv to see what the mesh will look like when subdivided without actually subdividing the mesh, that way you get to see the results, but will still be able to send it back to Daz Studio as a morph!

You can also leave it on as you sculpt!

    ZBrush Dynamic Subdiv

  1. Expand the Geometry palette.
  2. Expand the Dynamic Subdiv options.
  3. Turn it on by clicking the Dynamic button.
  4. Set the SmoothSubdiv value between 0 and 2 (there’s not really any point setting it higher than 2).
    1. 1 is the Daz Studio default for the viewport.
    2. 2 is the Daz Studio default for rendering.
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Part 3: Send Mesh Back to Daz Studio From ZBrush using GoZ

Now that you’re done creating your magnificent morph(s), it’s time to make them available inside Daz Studio!

ZBrush to Daz Studio via GoZ

    GoZ Import Options

  1. Click the GoZ button located on the tool Palette
    1. When the GoZ Import Options dialog pops up, toggle “Update an existing object.”
    2. Make sure the proper figure is selected in the drop-down menu (probably Genesis 3).
    3. Click accept.
  2. When the next dialog box pops up
    1. GoZ Morph Loader Pro Basic Settings

    2. Make sure “Update Geometry” is checked.
    3. “Create Morph” is toggled.
    4. Give your morph a name.
    5. Set the group path.
    6. The Group Path determines where the morph will be found within the Genesis Figure’s Parameters hierarchy; it can also be set and/or changed later.

      I usually leave it set to “ZBrush” to make my morphs easy to find, and then change it once I’m happy with them (I explain how in this post).

    7. Overwrite Existing Morph?
      • Leave unchecked – If this is your first time sending the morph to Daz Studio, or you want to create a new, separate morph.
      • Check the box – If you want to update a morph you already sent to Daz Studio.
      • Make sure the name is the same as the morph you want to update.

  3. If you need to Reverse Deformations
  4. GoZ Morph Loader Pro Advanced Settings

    I explained what this means and why it may be necessary in this post:

    Make sure inside Daz Studio that all the morphs you need to reverse out are dialed in at the same values you exported them out at (this will need to be done before using GoZ from ZBrush.

    1. Click Advanced
    2. Expand the ZBrush Morph parameters by double clicking or clicking the arrow to the left.
    3. Right click on the value field next to “Reverse Deformations” and select “Yes.”
  5. Once you have appropriately configured the settings, click Accept.

Your morph should now be loaded into Daz Studio. Find it in the parameters tab, under the Property Group you specified.

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Part 4: Configuring Morph Properties and How to Make the Dials Look Pretty

This is Part 4 of my Learning Paths:
Creating Characters and Morphs for Daz 3D Figures Using ZBrush & GoZ
and
Creating Characters and Morphs for Daz 3D Figures (Software Independent).

Configuring Morph Properties

Once your morph is loaded into Daz Studio, you may want to configure its properties, change where in the parameters hierarchy it is located, etc. This is how:

    Daz Studio Morphs

  1. Locate Your Morph
  2. Your more will appear in the Genesis 3 hierarchy tree where ever you told it to in the previous steps (by setting the Property Group value).

    1. Select the Genesis 3 Figure.
    2. Expand the Parameters Tab.
    3. Navigate to the appropriate Property Group.
    4. For my example, I set the Property Group to “ZBrush” and the name of the morph to “Liz Head 2.0.”

  3. Click the little gear icon to the right of the Morph Name.
  4. Select Parameter Settings.
  5. Here is a breakdown of what the different properties do:
    • Name: This is what the file name will be called when the morph is saved (typically, full head morphs start with FHM, full body morphs start with FBM, and partial body morphs start with PBM).
    • Label: This is the name of the morph that will be shown inside Daz Studio’s parameters pane.
    • Path: This is where you set where in the Parameters hierarchy your morph will be found.
    • Type: This is a field that Daz Studio uses for certain organizational processes and can be ignored by the average user. Modifier/Shape is fine for most scenarios. PAs will sometimes change the type for Joint Corrective morphs, etc.
    • Color A, Color B, and Card: These are all relatively self-explanatory through a little experimentation. Use them to change the presentation of your morph.
    • Icon: To be honest, I’m not sure what this changes, but it’s commonly left at the default of None.
    • Most of the other settings are pretty much self-explanatory.
    • A lot of times for FHMs and FBMs you’ll want to set the Min value to 0.

    • Auto-Follow is best left checked, I can’t think of a scenario where you would want to uncheck it, off the top of my head. It basically tells figure assets, like clothing and hair to follow the morph, so they’ll in most cases fit better.
    • The bottom three tabs: Sub-Components, Controllers, and Keys are advanced settings and usually only messed with during content creation beyond what the average user will usually require for most of their figure customization.
  6. Click Accept, once you have set the settings to your liking.
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Part 5: Saving your Morph(s)

This is Part 5 of my Learning Paths:
Creating Characters and Morphs for Daz 3D Figures Using ZBrush & GoZ
and
Creating Characters and Morphs for Daz 3D Figures (Software Independent).

Now that you have your morph all set up in Daz Studio, you need to save it if you want it to be there next time you fire up Daz Studio.

  1. Make sure the morph is at 0
  2. This will ensure that it won’t be dialed in every time you load in Genesis 3.

  3. Save the Morph Asset
  4. Go to File > Save As > Support Asset > Morph Asset(s).

  5. Select the Morph(s) to be Saved
  6. Daz Studio Morph Asset Save Options

    Following the same hierarchy you set in the previous steps select the morph(s) you created and want to save. It is VERY important you select your morph(s) and only your morph(s). Or, you may accidently overwrite some other morphs and have to re-install a bunch of products to fix the damage (it has happened to a lot of people, including Daz PAs).

  7. Set the Asset Directory
  8. I like to save all my creations in a separate Daz Studio Library than the one I install all my content into using DIM (if you haven’t already, you may have to add the Library using the Content Directory Manager within Daz Studio’s preferences). I feel it’s a little bit safer and helpful with content creation.

  9. Vendor Name & Product Name
  10. These two fields will determine the folder structure that Daz Studio will use when saving your morph. The folder hierarchy will end up like this when saving a G3F morph:

    Your Selected Daz Studio Library\data\DAZ 3D\Genesis 3\Female\Morphs\Vendor Name\Product Name\Name of the Morph.dsf

  11. Click Accept, once you have everything configured the way you want.
  12. Congratulations! You have now officially created your own custom morhp(s) that will still be there next time you open Daz Studio!

    Using the steps outlined in this Learning Path, you can create morphs for clothing, hair and props too!

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Part 6: Editing/Fixing Morph(s) – How to Remove Unwanted Vertices From Morph(s)

In this video I show how to remove vertices from a morphs influence. This can be useful if you want to break a morph in separate individual morphs by body part, accidentally tweak a part of an object you didn’t mean to, or to break a full body morph into separate head and body morphs.

Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced

21 Responses to “Creating Characters and Morphs for Daz 3D Figures Using ZBrush & GoZ”

  1. Hi Landon, I don’t know if you had a lot of feedback already but I just wanted to say thank you for this tut and the work you put into it. As a beginner with custom morphs, I find it all very overwhelming. At present, I try to determine whether I should buy ZBrush or ZBrush Core. I am a hobbyist at this stage. I don’t know if I ever make it to PA, I’m using a lot of dialled up morphs but I know I can’t repackage those for sale or give away. Question- would you happen to know whether I could use ZBrush Core to do basic custom head and body morphs for DAZ Studio? I tried to compare them but I read it is not working to transfer the morph back into DAZ. Any thoughts on this? All the best, Astrid

  2. Shawn Burke says:

    Hi. Got a question. I made a Godzilla figure I use in fanart/fancomics in Daz using Valandar’s Kaiju The Giant Monster, heavily morphed, and would really like to improve the quality of the design I made up. the current morphs used make it look good, but I really want to add details like dinsaur like scales on the hands and feet, resculpt the claws and teeth, and change the overall build and proportions to better match the design I drew that the morphs I used are trying to replicate. So the question is, will this process you lay out work for this Kaiju character just the same, even though it’s an older figure? And is it possible to go too far and screw up the model? Thanks!

    • LayLo says:

      Hi Shawn,

      I personally haven’t worked with any figures that predate Genesis. But, I’m pretty sure the same methods would work.

      Is it possible to go to far? If you change the figure dramatically you may need to repaint some of the weight maps and possibly create some JCMs to get it to bend nicely. Personally, I would just create a backup and go for it, while saving incremental steps along the way.

      I hope that helps! Let me know how it goes or if you have anymore questions.

  3. Shawn Burke says:

    Well, I tried to get the free version to try it since I cannot possibly afford the $795 for the thing, got the serial number ect, on to NOT be able to downlod it! Tried twice. The first time it was 99.9% downloaded and suddenly a warning came up saying it needed authorization. So I tried again, and it was saying it’d take a day and a half to download! I cancelled that, tried again and it said I used up my download privilages and need to contact support. I give up. I will just stick with what I have. Ridiculous.

  4. Lisa Belhage says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this how-to. I have been following it carefully, but I continue to have difficulties. I am starting just by doing experimental adjustments to the face, but when I take the morph into Daz, it is also affecting the entire body slightly. For my uses this in critical.
    I am using Genesis 3 male, Daz3D 4.9 and ZBrush 4R8. I hope you can point me in the right direction so that my morphs have the properly isolated effect.

    • LayLo says:

      I could make a couple guesses, but I wonder if it might be easier to see what’s going on using something like Skype? Do you want to email me, laylo3d@gmail.com, with your Skype ID and I’ll send you a friend request?

      • Lisa Belhage says:

        I figured it out. I can’t divide the geometry and then take the morph back into Daz without the subtle full body effects, even if I go back to lowest res and delete all higher res before exporting the morph. If I keep to dynamic subdivide it seems to work. 😀 😀 Thanks!!!

        • LayLo says:

          Awesome! I’m glad you were able to get it figured out. ZBrush subdivides differently than Daz Studio. Not sure why even when you go back to the base resolution there are still changes to the mesh, but it seems like all software has its quirks. At least there’s good ol’ dynamic subdivide it can help a lot.

          • Lisa Belhage says:

            I wish I could use the subdivisions, but no matter what I try I still get “artifacts” (wish I could post a screenshot here). Dynamic subdivision seems a bit less user friendly when it comes to polygroups. It switches back to the base geometry when I hide a polygroup. But I guess I can live with that. My problem now is that my saved morphs, saved as support asset/morph Asset, have no effect when I apply them and I can’t find the morph in either the shaping or parameters panes. Any guesses? Thanks Again for you help!!

  5. Lisa Belhage says:

    I tried also saving the morph as a shaping properties preset and that didn’t work either. 🙁

    • LayLo says:

      I have noticed bugs with dynamic subdivision as well. Sometimes when turning 3D layers on and off the entire figure will turn black. Not sure what that’s about… But, it can still be nice to use to get an idea of what it will look like instead of sending back to Daz Studio every time.
      I can’t think of a reason why your morphs wouldn’t be working if you saved them as a morph asset. You could try deleting the file it creates, then re-importing the morph with morph loader pro and saving it again.
      Usually when you can’t find a morph in the parameters tab it means it was saved or loaded into an unexpected location in the hierarchy. The usual defaults are “Morphs” and “ZBrush,” but sometimes it will also not get put into a specific category at all and you can find it in the root node. You could also try searching for it using the parameters search box.
      I think to save it as a shaping preset you would need to first save the morph as a morph asset. If I remember correctly, shaping presets essentially just save the values of whatever morphs you have dialed in.
      Again, I’d be willing to Skype or use some other peer to peer communication if you still have problems.
      This weekend I’m going to try to create and upload a YouTube video that will explain how to remove a morphs influence from specific vertices. It might allow you to salvage some of the morphs you created when you subdivided the mesh by removing all the body vertices from the morph.

    • LayLo says:

      I just finished uploading the video on how to remover vertices from morphs. You can check it out here:
      https://youtu.be/XuQwnTd4Fok
      If you’re interested.

  6. Christy Wolfe says:

    I’m having a hard time with the GoZ, everytime I try to send to zbrush thru daz it says file can’t be found. I’ve looked thru preferences and found where the others have links for GoZ but zbrush doesn’t have a place to put the link to it, it just has show options but no location. Is there a way to add zbrush location somewhere else or am I gonna have to use the obj to sculpt?
    Thanks for your time 🙂

    • LayLo says:

      I haven’t had this problem before, so I’m kind of shooting in the dark here, but inside Daz Install Manager I would check ‘Settings > Applications’ and make sure the install paths are correct for both Daz Studio and ZBrush. And then, inside ZBrush try ‘Preferences > GoZ > Update all paths.’ If that doesn’t do the trick, Inside ZBrush I would also try ‘Preferences > GoZ > Clear cache files’ (just make sure there’s nothing in the cache you’re worried about losing first) and then Preferences > GoZ > Force reinstall.’
      I hope that helps.
      Let me know either way and I’ll see if I can think of anything else to try if needed.

  7. Nic says:

    First off, thanks for going to all the time and trouble to share this walkthrough. It was clear and very easy to follow. If you have a chance, I do have one question for you.

    Do you have any idea how I would go about masking the cornea and/or eye moisture in Zbrush so I could work specifically on an iris morph?

    • LayLo says:

      Hi Nic,

      The cornea and eye moisture are two different beasts and the processes differ if you’re working on G3F or G8F. I’ll explain with G8F, since she’s new I’m going to assume your wanting to work on her.

      This is the way I would mask off the cornea or iris. First make sure G8F’s body is the active subtool. In the polygroups palette click ‘Uv Groups’ to group by UVs. That should group the iris and cornea geometry into two separate polygroups, which will make it easier to mask off and hide the cornea or iris to work on one or the other. If you need more of a step by step break down let me know. To tell them apart the iris geometry has an extra edge loop around the iris and more geometry for the pupil.

      To work on the eye moisture for G8F I find it easier to export it out as an OBJ and manually import it into ZBrush. For some reason I can’t get GoZ to work for it… So, un-parent the G8F eyelashes (the eye moisture is part of the lashes figure now) from G8F then delete or hide G8F. Export the lashes and then import them into ZBrush.

      Let me know if that helps or not.

      • Nic says:

        I should have said G8 when I posted. Sorry about that but glad you assumed correctly.
        That did the trick. Thanks so much for taking the time out to explain that to me and pointing out the extra edge loop of the iris.

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