(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)
The word morph comes from metamorphosis, which means a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one. Good old Franz Kafka had a field day with metamorphosis when he imagined poor Gregor Samsa waking up and finding himself changed into a giant cockroach.
This concept applies to 3D modeling very well. As we are dealing with polygons, which are defined by groups of vertices, it’s very easy to morph one shape into something different. All that we need to do is to move those vertices around, and the polygons will stretch and squeeze accordingly.
To get a better visualization about this process, let’s bring the Basic Female figure to the scene and show it with the wireframe turned on. To do so, after you have added the Basic Female figure, click on the DrawStyle widget on the top-right portion of the 3D Viewport.
From that menu, select Wire Texture Shaded. This operation changes how Studio draws the objects in the scene during preview. It doesn’t change anything else about the scene. In fact, if you try to render the image at this point, the wireframe will not show up in the render. The wireframe is a great help in working with objects because it gives us a visual representation of the structure of a model. The type of wireframe that I selected in this case is superimposed to the normal texture used with the figure. This is not the only visualization mode available. Feel free to experiment with all the options in the DrawStyle menu; most of them have their use. The most useful, in my opinion, are the Hidden Line, Lit Wireframe, Wire Shaded, and Wire Texture Shaded options. Try the Wire Shaded option as well. It shows the wireframe with a solid gray color. This is, again, just for display purposes. It doesn’t remove the texture from the figure. In fact, you can switch back to Texture Shaded to see Genesis fully textured.
Switching the view to use the simple wireframe or the shaded wireframe is a Great way of speeding up your workflow. When Studio doesn’t have to render the textures, the Viewport becomes more responsive and all operations take less time. If you have a slow computer, using the wireframe mode is a good way of getting a faster response time.
Here are the Wire Texture Shaded and Wire Shaded styles side by side:
Now that we have the wireframe visible, the concept of morphing should be simpler to understand. If we pick any vertex in the geometry and we move it somewhere, the geometry is still the same, same number of polygons and same number of vertices, but the shape has shifted. Here is a practical example that shows Genesis loaded in Blender.
Blender is a free, fully featured, 3D modeling program. It has extremely advanced features that compete with commercial programs sold for thousands of dollars per license. You can find more information about Blender at http://www.blender.org. Be aware that Blender is a very advanced program with a rather difficult UI.
In this image, I have selected a single polygon and pulled it away from the face:
In a similar way we can use programs such as modo or ZBrush to modify the basic geometry and come up with all kinds of different shapes. For example, there are people who are specialized in reproducing the faces of celebrities as morph for DAZ V4 or Genesis.
What is important to understand about morphs is that they cannot add or remove any portion of the geometry. A morph only moves things around, sometimes to extreme degrees.
Morphs for Genesis or Gen4 figures can be purchased from several websites specialized in selling content for Poser and DAZ Studio. In particular, Genesis makes it very easy to apply morphs and even to mix them together.
Combining premade morphs to create new faces
The standard installation of Genesis provides some interesting ways of changing its shape. Let’s start a new Studio scene and add our old friend, the basic Female figure.
Once Genesis is in the scene, double-click on it to select it. Now let’s take a look at a new tool, the Shaping tab. It should be visible in the right-hand side pane. Click on the Shaping tab; it should show a list of shapes available. The list should be something like this:
As we can see, the Basic Female shape is unsurprisingly dialed all the way to the top. The value of each slider goes from zero, no influence, to one, full influence of the morph. Morphs are not exclusive so, for example, you can add a bit of Body Builder (scroll the list to the bottom if you don’t see it) to be used in conjunction with the Basic Female morph. This will give us a muscular woman. This exercise is also giving us an insight about the Basic Female figure that we have used up to this time. The figure is basically the raw Genesis figure with the Basic Female morph applied as a preset.
If we continue exploring the Shaping Editor, we can see that the various shapes are grouped by major body section. We have morphs for the shape of the head, the components of the face, the nose, eyes, mouth, and so on.
Let’s click on the head of Genesis and use the Camera: Frame tool to frame the head in the view. Move the camera a bit so that the face is visible frontally. We will apply a few morphs to the head to see how it can be transformed. Here is the starting point:
Now let’s click on the Head category in the Shaping tab. In there we can see a slider labeled Alien Humanoid. Move the slider until it gets to 0.83.
The difference is dramatic.
Now let’s click on the Eyes category. In there we find two values: Eyes Height and Eyes Width. To create an out-of-this-world creature, we need to break the rules of proportions a little bit, and that means to remove the limits for a couple of parameters. Click on the gear button for the Eyes Height parameter and uncheck the Use Limits checkbox. Confirm by clicking on the Accept button. Once this is done, dial a value of 1.78 for the eyes height. The eyes should move dramatically up, toward the eyebrow.
Lastly, let’s change the neck; it’s much too thick for an alien. Also, in this case, we will need to disable the use of limits. Click on the Neck category and disable the limits for the Neck Size parameter. Once that is done, set the neck size to -1.74. Here is the result, side by side, of the transformation.
This is quite a dramatic change for something that is done with just dials, without using a 3D modeling program. It gets even better, as we will see shortly.
Saving your morphs
If you want to save a morph to re-use it later, you can navigate to File | Save As | Shaping Preset…. To re-use a saved morph, simply select the target figure and navigate to File | Merge… to load the previously saved preset/morph.
Why is Studio using the rather confusing term Merge for loading its own files? Nobody knows for sure; it’s one of those weird decisions that DAZ’s developers made long ago and never changed. You can merge two different Studio scenes, but it is rather confusing to think of loading a morph or a pose preset as a scene merge. Try to mentally replace File | Merge with File | Load. This is the meaning of that menu option.