Create a Customizable Sign for Your Blog

Make a 3-d sign for your blogLast week, in Custom 2D Images for Your Blog for Free with 3D Models, we looked at what you can do with starter 3-d content (available as a free download with DAZ Studio4.6). Turns out it’s a nice way to create some eye-catching images for your blog.

Now I’m going to show you a handy trick can let you customize digital signs to make featured images that fit with your message.

The Eye Candy is Optional…

Remember the beautiful model in the picture? Those of you who do already know and love Genesis 2 Female will be laughing. Yes, it’s true, I didn’t even change her pose, just put her in the scene in her preset ‘barefoot dancer’ pose.

But if you are a blogger who wants no fuss, there’s nothing wrong with using these figures in this way. As you get to know the software you’ll learn to tweak the figures to get the exact results you want.

I’m going to talk about posing figures in another post. Today I promised to show you how to make and customize a sign. Whether or not you pose a digital person next to it is up to you.

Creating Your Signpost

First we have to make the sign. It’s easy peasy.

3-D Male Model with a Sign

You will create 2 primitives. To create a primitive, you click on Create (the menu along the top) and then New Primitive.

You can choose either cube for a post with edges, or cylinder for a smooth pole. I used a cube, set at a 1m.

Using Parameters, use the Scale sliders. X scale will make it narrow, so drag it down to about the right width for your post. Drag Z scale down to do the same for the depth. Try putting both to about 10%.

Now it looks like a post. A little short, but we’ll fix that. Drag Y scale up. If you will be posing a figure next to the sign, have the figure already in the scene. That way you can get your sign to be the right dimensions. 150% on the Y scale will be about shoulder height with a male figure, so adjust accordingly.

OK, that’s the post. Now let’s make the sign.

Add a plane to a scaled cube primitiveAdd a plane primitive. Oops, where did it go? It’s OK, it’s on the ground. Use Y translate to pull it up level with the top of your post.

And voila! Nice birdtable!

OK, we need to rotate it. Type in 90 on the X rotate slider.

It’s big and it’s square. Because you just rotated it, the Z axis of the plane now faces up and down. Use the Z scale to make it more rectangular. Once you like the general proportions, you can use Scale to make it smaller, if you need to.

Use Y translate again to put the bottom of the plane almost level with the top of the post. Now you have a signpost.

It doesn’t have to be white but let’s go with that for now. I’ve put mine on that beach as it’s a set that’s included for free with Starter Essentials, so everyone can get hold of it.

Positioning the Sign

You can move it around, but you’ll find you have to move both pieces separately, which is a pain.

Instead, go back to the Create menu and create a New Null. Think of this as an invisible object.

Rotate your digital sign for realismNow, in the Scene tab, drag the cube (or cylinder) that you used for the post onto the Null (it’s probably called Null 1). That makes the null the parent for it.

Now drag the plane onto the cube (or cylinder) to parent the sign to its post. So now you’ll have a nested list with null, then cube, then plane.

Click on Null in the Scene pane and go to Parameters. Use the translation and rotation tools to move it around the scene. Z rotate is nice for adding a realistic angle to it.

Adding Your Text

Right now you could hit render and then take the finished image into image editing software. This is easy to do if your sign faces front and is perfectly straight. Not such a good idea if you want to be able to use and re-use the signpost at any angle.

Instead, open your image editing application (I use GIMP) and create a new image. It will need to be a rectangle to match your sign. This can be an exact science… or you can eyeball it. If you get it more-or-less, your text might end up slightly stretched or squashed — probably not enough to worry about.

If you want it to be exact, unparent your plane. Now note whether you have a value under Scale for Z or for X. The other one and Y Scale will be 100%. Now re-parent it.

If you had, for example, a value of 60% on Z scale and 100% on X, your rectangle height will need to be 60% of its width in your image software. So it could be 1000 by 600 pixels, or 500 by 300. Don’t make it too small.

Now add whatever text you want to the blank image. Imagine it is on a sign – make it big enough to fill most of the space. Save it as a .jpg or .png.

Back in DAZ Studio 4.6, click on the plane using the surfaces tool. You’ll find it in the icons along the top. It looks like 3 squares of different shades.

Pose Your Digital Signpost with FiguresOpen the Surfaces pane. There are a lot of options here but you just need the top one. Where it says Diffuse Color, click on the box to the left. Now click on Browse, which is the first option in the list. Navigate to wherever you saved your image. Click on it and it will appear on your sign.

Now you can move your sign around (use the null, remember!) and the text will stay on it.

Save your scene so that you can use the signpost in this setting again, or select the sign itself and save as Support Asset > Figure / Prop asset to be able to reuse your sign in other scenes.

Congratulations, you have a custom digital signpost with text that you can change whenever you like!

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About Indigo

As a digital artist on a budget, I'm fascinated by what happens when art and technology meet, and love discovering affordable ways to make that happen.
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