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This is going to be a long, meandering, and explanative post. It's split into several parts. As always, you can just skip this novel and go straight to downloading at the bottom of the post.
It's been a long time since I've released anything here. It's been about 6 months since the last character release of Miranda & Kasumi, and almost exactly 12 months since the last character release before that of D.Va. And for those of you who don't follow me on Twitter or are not in my Discord, you might think that this is a sign that I have largely moved on from working in SFM, or at least building models for it.
This couldn't be any farther from the truth.
The drought of releases was intentional, as I have purposefully put myself on a modeling freeze while I find the time to finish and generalize my latest character-base standard: DazV5. It's taken me longer than I expected, because my schedule for this year has been all out of whack - what was supposed to be a clean schedule of me taking one month to build a short, and then one month focusing on other things, before returning to building another short for a month; turned into me basically working on shorts non-stop back-to-back for the better part of 7 months straight, with rarely more than half a week of time off between them.
I simply haven't had the time to focus on DazV5, or anything else. So I took the entirety of August and September off, canceling a short in the process, so I can finally get DazV5 done and lift this modeling freeze.
It's taken almost exactly a year (production started the same week as the D.Va release, in September 2018; that is why D.Va was the last character release sans Miranda & Kasumi, since I put the modeling freeze on then), literally 100 3dsMax save files, and over 42GB of hard-drive space; but it is finally ready for a public show. DazV5 isn't quite generalized yet, but it IS technically done now. I have been building it in praxis, meaning that I have been building and testing a specific character, rather than a non-descript and generic form. That character, as you might have guessed, is my Sarah Bryant cosplaying as Metroid's Samus Aran.
The reason why I chose Sarah is simple: my next production, Hiveship, will involve her being in very flexible and acrobatic situations - ones that the current DazV4 standard kills itself even considering. She needs a new body that can, if not take these extreme poses naturally, then at least attempt them with grace. This was the goal for DazV5 from the outset, and I both sincerely believe and completely surprised by the fact that I think I have managed to not achieve this goal, but even surpass it.
Both a lot, and very little. Most of it is stuff that you'll never notice - because it's finally behaving the way you would expect it to. DazV4 was a HUGE step up from DazV2 (we don't talk about the short-lived DazV3), fixing the black-hole hell that was the genital flexes. But there's no denying that DazV4 still had its problems, particularly in the hip-groin region. Which, awkwardly, is possibly the most important region for pornographic focus.
Importantly, the first thing that DazV5 fixes is the hip deformation on the sides. Take any DazV4 model and pose them doing a half-way splits, and you will see the region where their hip meets their thigh become a mangled, jagged mess that a comic-book supervillain would feel at home building their secret lair under. DazV5 fixes this by starting with the foundational original Daz rigging, and then meticulously adjusting it to maximize flexibility while still performing ideally under as many situations as possible. It's not 100% perfect, but I guarantee you it's a damn sight better than anything DazV4 could do - and that, after all, was the goal.
The ass got some MAJOR love as well. Only the very latest of DazV4 releases received what I call the "ass-ridge fix," under the messy technical title of "DazV4.2F". And even then, the ass-ridge solution on DazV4.2F wasn't complete, but it only implemented a rudimentary workaround - the core cause of the problem was still there, and the ridge still existed in some form. DazV5 fixes this properly from the outset, in such a way that there is no ridge that needs the workaround in the first place. The ass deforms smooth as silk right out of the gate.
Beyond the ridge fix, the ass has been upgraded to having 2 bones per cheek, as opposed to 1. This importantly adds a root bone, allowing the entire cheek to be moved, rather than just the ends as in DazV4. This allows for spreading and compressing (for ass cleavage), but more importantly allows the ass bones to serve as twist bones, correcting the awkward deformation that is so painfully common when bending models over - simply rotate the ass root bones down, maybe move them down and out a bit, and the ass's original luster and shape is perfectly retained in virtually any leg position.
The ends of the ass have been similarly refined to allow for a smooth compression, for things like spanking animations having the mesh deform with strikes. Similarly, you can have it trail the main ass motion for exaggerated impacts or things like twerking, if you so choose. In general, I find the ass-tip bones to be far less useful than the root bones, which is a major change from DazV4, where the ass-tip bones (the only ass bones at the time) were more or less essential.
Flipping around to the other side is the groin. This has received work in two ways. First and most relevant to all of you fine, wonderful people, is the (re)addition of a genital bone. This is only one bone that controls both the vagina and the anus, but the amount of refinement and control it gives cannot be understated. If you've ever cocked a DazV4 model's hips to one side, then you've surely come across the oddity of the pussy clipping into the legs. Makes things awkward for sassy stills, and downright impossible for creative penetration. The genital bone cleanly resolves this, by allowing you to simply counter-rotate the entire genital struct to keep the pussy facing down, or whatever angle you deem appropriate.
The genital bone also doubles as a bend-over corrector, where the genitals stick out awkwardly when the legs are bent at an extreme angle. There is still a corrector flex for this, but you can now use the genital bone to directly influence it. I suggest experimenting with them both - they each have their advantages and disadvantages in this arena, as a consequence of how both were built. I find they tend to work well in unison.
Beyond the genitals themselves, the rigging of the groin has also been polished. The amount of awkward texture stretching and weird ridge-lines that form as you bend the legs (especially in the splits) has been massively reduced. They're not 100%, but they are likely at a point where no one will really notice or complain. Again, acrobatic poses were the goal I designed DazV5 for, and it's a target I think I've hit pretty well. The splits are childs' play compared to some of the poses I plan to put her in.
Moving north for the summer, we come to the breasts. These are the only parts of the mesh that have received an actual geometry change. They have had their poly-count notably increased, smoothing out those hard square edges you could cut yourself on with the DazV4 and earlier iterations. The nipples have received a bit more sculpting as well. But the major improvement of the breasts comes in the rigging department.
Like the ass, the breasts have had an up-count of bones, moving from 2 per breast to 3. Following the same design philosophy as the new ass bones, the root breast bones now move the entire breast holistically, allowing for things such as adjusting their height on the chest, or spreading them out cleanly. The unlightable black voids that appeared when you tried to pull DazV4 breasts up have similarly been resolved, allowing for any degree of breast deformation that you want without any unintended artifacts. That isn't to say that they'll look good when you deform them horrifically, but that they will look bad in all the ways you'd expect when you do those terrible, awful things to them.
The middle breast bones are what I refer to as "gravity" bones. They are rigged in such a way that they stretch and squish the tops of the breasts. Pull them down, and the breasts compress; push them up, and the breasts expand. These are also the core bones meant to be worked with in nuanced posing, because they also stretch and squish horizontally as well. If you're doing anything involving breast-play, the general idea is that you use the root bones to position the breasts, and the middle bones to pose them.
Finally, the tip breast bones are designed the same way as the tip butt bones: they are predominantly designed to compress and squish in. This is for things like pressing breasts against glass, and holding them tight against the body. They can compress an incredible amount, and have enough sway that you can slide them around horizontally and vertically to better sell the illusion of them being mounds of fatty tissue, rather than the hard rigid mess of triangles that they really are.
Moving farther up, the shoulders have received their fair of attention as well. Their rigging has been meticulously balanced to provide for clean, smooth deformations in most any circumstance - no more sharp edges or awkward folds. And both of the upperarm twist bones have been polished to allow for almost any arm position that can be naturally done to look, well, natural. That awkward wrung-rope twist of the shoulders is virtually never a necessary evil anymore - simply crank the upperarm-rig twist bone around its axis to undo the twist, maybe also slightly rotating the upperarm-twist bone if the upperarm gets a bit too thin. If you can make the pose with your arms, chances are, DazV5 can too.
Taking a detour to move on down, the feet have received some very special, very technical, and utterly uninteresting-to-you attention. In a nutshell, the way that Source Filmmaker's IK solver works is that it takes the angle between the feet and the toes and considers that the "forward" direction, used to determine how knees and arms bend (knees bend "forward", elbows bend "backward"). Earlier Daz models had the feet rotated slightly out, which caused subtle-but-serious problems with the IK solver, making a lot of seemingly trivial poses extremely difficult to make, as you had to constantly fight the IK solver.
This has been resolved, having the feet now be perfectly flat and pointing precisely forward. The IK solver has never behaved better, and while you'd think it's a really minor thing, and it's not something you immediately notice - spend even an hour with a DazV4 model, then an hour with a DazV5 model, and you can immediately notice just how much nicer posing the DazV5 arms and legs are. All because I simply rotated the feet a few degrees in.
All in all, virtually every part of the Daz body has been modified in some way now, with DazV5. Of the original Daz Genesis 3 rigging, only the knees and the hands remain. Everything else has been adjusted in some way.
To wrap all of this package together, DazV5 models come with their own unique and improved IK rig, aptly named "rig_biped_daz_v5." This sorts of all the new features for you automatically, so that you never need to plunge into the Unknown tap to find the bones or flexes you're looking for. IMPORTANT: The daz_v3 rig WILL NOT WORK with DazV5 models. The models are not backwards-compatible, and neither are their IK rigs. Make sure you load the right rig onto models - if it has DazV5 in the name, it gets the DazV5 rig! DazV4 or DazV3 models get the DazV3 rig, DazV2 gets the DazV2 rig, and so on.
Sarah has received a lot of work since the last public release in 2016 (rip). Entirely new body & face textures, as well skingroups for different levels of makeup (and the stripper makeup, though the stripper outfit isn't ready yet; see the next section for details on that) and eye colors (green and blue). Rebuilt face flexes (though she is likely to receive another round of face flexes before the final release) and entirely new phonemes.
She now comes with her official Smash Bros 4 hair, as opposed to the horribly-colored Sarah Bryant hair that the 2016 iteration of her came with, meticulously rigged for bouncy hair motion and naughty ponytail-pulling. And she comes with suit variants. Oh boy, does she come with suit variants. As of now, there are 5 upper-body and 11 lower-body variants, with a single unique "full-body" variant carefully crafted by the affable (and effable, ladies) Ordagon, for a total of 56 possible combinations of her suit - not counting, of course, just taking it off.
The suit's rigging has been meticulously curated to maximize its ability to deform with the body, and while it's not 100% perfect, I would say it's about 98%, and a far cry closer than virtually any skintight outfit I've put out previously. It has its own unique genital bone, automatically sorted by the daz_v5 IK rig for you, and allowing you to uniquely adjust the groin for more complex poses.
And finally, while this isn't really a feature in the classical sense, I feel it is important to note: she is TALL. According to old Nintendo lore, Samus Aran is 6-foot-3 (190cm), and this measurement is shown in an x-ray of her in the power suit, bare-footed. There is contention on whether to interpret this number as being the height of her power suit, or her natural height. I took it as her natural height. With Sarah being designed to cosplay as Samus, she has this ame height, and with her Zero Suit on, between the high-heel nature of her shoes, and the platforms in them (yes, the 6-foot-3 Amazonian canonically wears platform high-heels...), she towers above most male characters as she approaches nearly 6-foot-10 (208cm). So just be aware of how bloody tall she is when you go to work with her.
There is something important to note, however: this model is being released as a beta, and now it is time for me to explain why:
While all of the technical geometry and rigging work for DazV5 is done, the flex work is NOT. This is because to build the new DazV5 body flexes, I have to finish the generalization process, which has been a lower priority to me than getting the DazV5 Prototype done first. As such, she is still running on legacy DazV4 flexes. This leads naturally into the next section:
When the final version of Sarah releases, which will hopefully be at the end of next month, she will have entirely rebuilt bodymorph flexes. They will largely follow the same conventions of the current bodymorph flexes (genital opening, breast size, butt size, corset pinch, etc), but with a few notable differences:
The belly-bulge morphs will be rebuilt, to hopefully have a clean and more useful deformation. The current "thick" versions will become the new standard, and the current "not thick" will be culled entirely. A new "even thicker" version will become the "thick" variant, hopefully with a lot more distortion in play.
The pregnant flex will be rebuilt, fixing as many of the mesh problems it currently has right now, mostly with flattening and distorting the ass, but also with looking a bit odd under the breasts.
The existing DazV4 genital flexes will (hopefully; this is still under active research) be complemented (not replaced) with more extreme versions. All I'll say for this right now is that, while the DazV4 genital flexes tried to stick to the general rules of anatomy, the DazV5 genital extensions will adhere very strongly to the "internal organs are a myth" philosophy of hentai. That should be interesting.
Two additional breast flexes will be added: "fake" and "natural". They will do as their names suggest, giving the breasts, in turn, a more silicone or more teardrop appearance. This decision was made after YEARS of having people debate whether or not they preferred the bolted-on appearance of the ancient CBBE models, or the natural sagging appearance of the newer Daz models. Rather than forcing people to pick, I simply decided to allow people to choose both. Note that these will not look equally good on all models, as most characters will still be built to respect their canon, EG Miranda Lawson will have a sleek all-natural form to her, whereas Mad Moxxi will have more plastic in her than a spork factory. But they will all be able to exist on a spectrum, regardless.
Beyond that, she will also get more "creative" suit variants (leotards, thigh-highs, and the like), as well as some additional outfits. Notably, I plan to include both her Stripper and her Casual outfits that will be built for Hiveship, as well as a hair-down variant. Normally, I release project-made assets like this after the video is released, in a content-dump, but seeing as Hiveship is going to have a very long production cycle (my conservative estimates put it at 4 years), I don't think it makes sense to hold onto totally usable assets for so long. And so, I will be releasing them pretty much as soon as they're ready, so others can play with them while I toil away at the film.
By the time the final Sarah release above is described, by necessity the DazV5 standard will have been generalized. Once that is done, I intend to give it a test-run by building a new Curvy DazV5 standard, with (of course) Bioshock Infinite's Elizabeth taking the helm. (You didn't think I'd let Curvy Elizabeth fall to the wayside, did you? I'm way too predictable for that!)
Once the Curvy body is built, and the generalized DazV5 has proved its merit, then the standard will be released as a free resource. Yes, the whole DazV5 standard - with the exception of the Daz Genesis 3 shape morphs I use, since those are a purchased asset.
It will come with extensive documentation on how to properly set up models on DazV5, as well as full source files for both 3dsMax and Blender users. It will be entirely open for people to build any models they want on, and I will actively encourage others to use it. Not for any selfish reasons - I won't be making a dime off the work - but because I sincerely believe that we, as a whole, can elevate the quality of SFM work, and elevating the quality of our character models is a big step toward that goal.
I've put a year into this standard, doing all of the heavy lifting and the leg-work, so that others can reap the benefits of it, and together we can see a new wave of high-quality assets. I don't know if anyone will take me up on that offer, but it will be given and remain until antiquity.
Beyond that, I will be adding a second Picarto live-stream to every week, which will focus purely on building DazV5 characters. I will be much more open to what characters I build, and while I haven't figured out the exact way I will take suggestions for new character models while vetting that I am not stepping on the toes of other great artists like ThatSFMNoob, Red Menace, or Stealth211, I will be taking a very community-centric approach to the characters I build.
The reason for this is simple: going nearly a year without building any character models has driven me stir-crazy. I just love building characters, and I haven't been able to. At this point, I sincerely don't care who I build - I just want to build characters again. And I think that making that a regular part of my schedule, as well as taking a more community-focused approach to the decision of what characters to build, will be beneficial to not just me, but to the community as a whole.
Finally, if you haven't yet, I highly recommend you follow my Twitter to keep abreast of everything I am working on. Hopefully, once the DazV5 standard is generalized and finally ready for work, this model drought will end and I will return to releasing a new model every few weeks here on SFMLab.
That's all for now, and I hope you all enjoy this new DazV5 Sarah Bryant! Keep your eyes peeled for the model being taken out of beta, too!
Comes with Outfit Loader files for her hair and legs, as well as a Model Favoriter import. I highly recommend using both tools. If the seam in the knees is an issue for you, then disable the legs bodygroup and attach the separate legs model. The seam is there for technical reasons, and this is the only surefire way I know to solve it. I apologize for the inconvenience.
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