I started by using DAZ3D to make a character, mainly by adjusting settings to change things like height, weight, facial details, etc. I then used their DAZtoMaya Bridge to transfer the results into Maya 2022. I am now fiddling with Arnold, the included photoreal renderer, as well as learning how to work with Maya's XGen to make hair.
Since my experience with the Arnold GPU render impressed my with its speed and quality, I figured I'd check out one of the other popular GPU renderer, Redshift. They don't have Maya2022 support yet but luckily I have Maya2020 as well. So I took a similar mesh out of DAZ3D and was able to get it into Maya and have all the shaders converted and looking OK in less than 6 hours. A lot faster than my Arnold attempt. Of course, doing the Arnold attempt informed my workflow, so it's not a fair comparison.
Yes, it's a bit on the red side. The difference between how Arnold's skin shader and RS's skin shader work are different enough that it will take some trial and error to dial things in. So far though, I'm very impressed with the render speed, to get a decent and fairly low noise image only takes a minute or so. Compare that to 5 minutes minimum for Arnold. There's no hair here yet though which I'm sure will bump up render times. That will be next.
Yup. Hair definitely cranks up render time. Like, 10x. But that's still not too bad considering the overall quality. And then I discovered their Principled Hair shader. Man, what a difference. It's a physically based hair shader, much closer to Arnold's, and I really like the look I can get with a great deal less fuss.
Trying out a new model (the new 8.1 version of DAZ3D's genesis line) and so far it seems decent in the improvements they've made. Although, with the added morph targets and such they've added to enhance facial expressions and such, it adds a TON of data to the Maya transfer process. And since their maya bridge does not allow you to pick and choose which of those morphs you want to keep vs not, you can easily end up with a 2 GB FBX file. For comparison, one with just the mesh data is less then 5 MB. Non-subtle difference, no? They also changed some of the texture mapping for the head and torso, breaking the neck and back of the head off into it's own texture/UV area. Which means all the textures that worked with their version 8 model get broken. Fun! Luckily copying UVs from a v8 mesh to a v8.1 mesh is fairly straightforward in Maya.
I've been doing some more experimenting with Arnold's subsurface scattering to try and dial in the look of the skin. One of the things that I didn't really focus on before was displacement, as it cranks up the render times significantly. I decided "might as well see if it's worth it" and spent some time poking at it over the last week.
Notice the difference? Me neither. My processor sure did though. I think the level of detail that the displacement is creating is just too small to be worth it when zoomed this far out. Let's test that my getting a bit closer.