Dizona Body (texture) creation

If you don't want to read this very long & heavy article, my recommendation would be to watch this YouTube video above. The video contains all screenshots you can find here in the article (minus very obvious nudity, because Youtube) and more info than I am able to put in text without it getting boring quickly.

Until the beginning of 2015, nothing was known about DB, although the development was underway. On 31 March 2015 Kris†a™ posted this screenshot:​

And on 11 April 2015 she added a new screenshot:

I was unaware when or how the body was going to be released at this point. However, around July 2015 I was invited to draw textures for Dizona Body. I had never drawn in 3D-editors before, and I used Photoshop and even Paint Tool SAI to draw textures, so it was a new experience for me.

Now, to clear things out a little. Dizona Body was the first-ever-3D-project for Dizona, so he used DAZ3D as a reference model. DB is not a copy of DAZ body, but it was (intentionally) made following the example of DAZ3D male bodies. When I joined the project, the body was meant to copy Skyrim's vanilla body UV template to be used with SkySight Skins. I outright said this was a bad idea, and his second idea was to replicate DAZ, for multiple reasons.

Dizona offered me to make any UV template I wanted. And you can make any template you want, even change skyrim’s vanilla body template, even the DAZ rip-off people accuse DB being. You can make it heart shaped for all one cares. It shouldn’t be an indicator of a “stolen property”.

I worked with a lot of different templates. And the DAZ template is the most convenient and comfortable for me to work with. There’s enough space for anything, there’s no weird features you can find on vanilla Skyrim template like shoulders taking more space than legs, feet & hips combined, squashed butt, but needlessly bloated chest (and that's just the tip of the iceberg)!

I could’ve said “please replicate the Robert’s Male Body template, the one from Oblivion days”, which I also find comfortable to work with, and it would have saved us trouble with “skins” in Creation Kit, because then the body would use only one texture for the whole body. The vanilla male body uses two (body & hands), and current DB uses three (torso, limbs, genitails).

The problem is, if I had gone for “Robert’s type” I would have to scale the body texture up (and it would be like 8K for ALL users by default or no quality) and do 4-6 times more work than I did for Dizona. Also it would be incompatible with everything else regardless. It’s quality ~ quantity balance. And yes, this is my perspective and my opinion shouldn’t be regarded as incontrovertible truth.

The second argument for this decision was that DAZ-compatible UV meant little to no problems for an advanced user to buy (or download) any texture set from DAZ store and use it for themselves with as little adaptation required as possible. I supported that idea and we promoted it on the forums, because I have seen a lot of people (and I still do) who don’t like my textures (even hate them). “Characters look like pigs” was and is one of the most popular opinions regarding my textures. People want grey leather bags instead of human skin, which is, again, my explanation and opinion on the matter. So, giving people the opportunity to choose their own texture set with minimal skills required seemed like a good idea.

That’s how it was on paper. Nowadays I treat this decision as my mistake, because it gave inexperienced people, who literally know nothing about 3D, reason to call Dizona a "thief" and my work "property of DAZ3D".

So, with this out of the way...

The first (alpha) version of the body used textures from DAZ3d as a placeholder, and those textures had poor quality. The body I was given, however, was a placeholder itself (it only had _1 weight and it was, in fact, unplayable):

I immediately began to draw textures for Dizona. Given that this was my first 3D drawing experience, there was a lot of errors and problems. At first I drew body textures (head is a much smaller object, you see).

I think posting screenshots with the issues of my import / export problems isn't interesting. I think it would be more interesting to show the process of texture drawing itself.

I've drawn Dizona Body textures using multiple references:​

And these are for the face, which I (safe for the "base") used much later:

It's not all the references I used, but a big part of them. You may recognize some details.

The first launch left me disappointed, because my textures looked even worse than DAZ textures. On the screenshots below you can see textures of torso, genitails, left hand and left leg (withour nails). The lack of experience caused me trouble, including a underarm seam problem that existed long enough to be seen on first alpha-test of Dizona Body.

In the end I was able to get rid of the seam. I also changed a bunch of things in the texture: for example, I had to completely redraw the hand textures.

And at end of August 2015 the base textures were ready:

Then I changed the texture color and loaded the game. In-game I got this:

For the first launch I thought it was a good result. I had planned that default set would use this texture by players because of its.. neutrality. As you can see now - this did not happen (which is for best).

The basic set was drawn pretty quickly, although it wasn't pretty. Textures had to be changed and updated more than once because of my inexperience.

September 2015: I drew the DIS maps, where small skin detalization wasn't so important, but small details did.

It turned out that the texture of the head (the default head texture at the moment was "Imperial" type and still is) was orange in contrast with the body. At first Dizona and I thought it was a normal map or SSS problem (which we turned off for the sake of correct testing of diffuses and normals), or lighting and Skyrim engine... but it was a diffuse problem, i.e. another problem on my part.

I had to correct this mistake on several textures at once, but I could eventually get rid of the color issue. Next were the specular maps (October 2015):

~November 2015: because the diffuse, specular and DIS maps were more or less complete, it was time to think about the options. Dirt and hair were obvious, so I decided to make those first. I had problems with the references: it turns out, very little men were hairy enough. Those tiny dirt speckles you can see below were hair:

I fixed textures again and again along the way as new issues came up. As you can see in the screenshots above, the nipples were were not in place. And until a certain point, the body had no elbows at all. Later I added them, but higher on UV than necessary, and so up to the release date male characters walked around with their elbows placed way too high.

November-December 2015: I polished my textures and DIS maps (now full set), the latter ones finally being used to be bake normalmaps. But first, take a look at first results:

The in-game test:

~ December 2015: by this point, the DIS maps were more of less final, and new normal maps were created with them. I had to go back making different texture options. I created all sorts of little things like veins, freckles, scars, bruises, but I still needed to draw natural-looking hair.

I found a few suitable references for chest and legs hair. On this screenshot there's no hair on character's hands though:

I had to find other references for arm hair. So, here's my father's hand:

I also didn't like how dirt was typically drawn in games, particularly Skyrim. I wanted to see the dirt clogged in the pores of the skin, not the brushstrokes on top as it was typically done. The following question was about seams, so I had to find a solution. I succeed and I still use this method for creating realistic-looking dirt.

I liked the result, but it still wasn't enough dirt. So I decided add dirt on elbows and feet, but using brushes and photos. For some reason, there's a lot of people who come to photoshoots with dirty feet...

People walking barefoot much know that the "main" foot collects more dirt than the other. Since most people are right-handed, and start pushing with their right foot, I added more dirt to the right foot than to the left.

Later I've put even more dirt on body, knees and elbows... More tests:​

~ end of December 2015, having all the textures almost finished, I made new specular maps the new way and the textures finally started to look good:

I didn't forget about DIS either. There was an idea to create a specific DIS map for each race to express racial differences more clearly. In case the idea didn't work out (and it didn't), I also created a universal old-young DIS:

And here's racial (abandoned) DIS maps:

~July 2016. After we released an open beta test, fixed a few flaws, got rest from the work and then got back to the mod, I created SSS maps, which, of course, pointed out even more flaws in my textures.

This is a "Nord" face type and originally it had freckles, which in game looked like weird reds and yellows. I had to remove it, and so Nord freckles were no more. Body textures, too, had a weird yellow-green coloration in the torso I had to do something about.

And so the last element of the required texture set was ready.

In ~ August 2016 I had to update & draw some face textures.

After all a ton of fixes, we prepared for the release of Dizona and took some screenshots:​

I also had to draw eyebrows masks in a hurry. By the time of release textures became overall lighter and less saturated.

14 October 2016 was a release date. From that point on you can view the update logs and version history to see the changes.​

At the end of the development I had this mess on my computer: