If you are a DAZ Studio user (to be specific, 4.5 and above), I have a question to ask you. Have you met Dawn?
If your answer is anything but “who?” you no doubt have an opinion about this new alternative to your regular Genesis and Generation 4 figures. Forum visitors will have seen some pretty heated discussion about her pros and cons, and on a more positive note there have been some eye-catching renders of her creeping into the DAZ Gallery, as well as other places where people share 3D art.
I wonder if, like me, you were curious enough to download Dawn from Hivewire3D*? While most of us feel we’ve already invested heavily in Genesis and then had to do so over again with Genesis 2, happily there’s no financial barrier to trying out a free figure like Dawn. You’ll even get reward points that you can later use in the Hivewire3D store. *[This review is unbiased but the referral code could earn me reward points if you become a paying Hivewire3D customer.]
Several artists went much further than simply installing her and have been creating imaginative and appealing art with this new girl. As her creators have high standards for how she’s shown on their own site, the collected artworks over on Hivewire3D create a good impression.
But Do We Need Another 3-D Woman?
If you’re anything like I was, you’ll be thinking, “Well, good for them, but I’m doing just fine with all the other figures I’ve spent my time and money on, thank-you-very-much!”
I was in any case still fairly new to working with 3D figures when I downloaded her last summer. I liked her looks well enough, that wasn’t the issue. It was just that when I couldn’t use any of my other content with her, it was easier to go back to the old, familiar things. 3d female characters aren’t in short supply, after all.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Things change. I’ve come along since then… and so has Dawn who is now on a new edition and with a growing library of content available to buy for her. There’s a male version in the works, plus a horse that previews suggest can morph into a whole menagerie of hoofed animals.
But back to Dawn herself. I’ve seen a lot of new female characters introduced over the last few months. More than ever, I appreciate the way her face adds something new. Some days I think if I see one more virtually chinless, saucer-eyed woman in the CG world I’ll scream. And let’s not even get started on noses… Dawn looks like a real woman. While some people have morphed her into faeries, and lovely they are too, I’m relieved that’s not her default state.
In a Bikini…
I wasn’t so keen on having nothing but a string bikini to dress her in. I do understand it wouldn’t make business sense to give away a full outfit with her, and I’m glad for any bundled item, it was more the beauty pageant impression it created that wasn’t to my taste.
On the other hand, the updated Dawn does have 20 or so bikini texture MATs, from newsprint and zebra stripes to modern florals and even a nice sparkly one. There might not be much there, but what there is is nicely done. Whether I’ll render her in something so skimpy is doubtful; that said, many of you will so you’ll be glad to know you have options.
What Else Do You Get with Dawn?
You might know that the free Dawn download includes several standing, sitting, walking and running poses. (Prefer to pose her yourself? Have no fear, it’s virtually identical to posing a Genesis-based figure, and there are shortcut sliders such as ‘arms up-down’ or ‘right grasp’ too.)
You might also know that she has a hairstyle which has 10 different shades. I’ve just noticed I haven’t used the long ponytail that comes with Dawn in these images. However, as you can see here, it’s not that difficult to use your other figures’ hair on her. It’s not quite drag and drop, in fact you’ll want to select Cancel when Auto-Fit kicks in, but you can position the hair manually and then simply parent to Dawn’s head.
What you might not know, if you only gave Dawn a quick glance, is that even without the morph package you can change her chest size to create a range upper body shapes from naturally slender to ‘enhanced’. While not a fan of the cannon-ball chest look, I love having the A and B-cup sliders for a less busty Dawn.
But Baby, It’s Cold Outside…
So, how about clothing? If you just went with the free download (and let’s face it, many of us do until we’ve made up our minds that it’s worth investing in a new figure) the girl needs something to wear…. other than her 21 bikinis, I mean. If you’re willing to try your hand at clothing creation, Dawn is a perfect place to start. There’s even a clothing creation starter mesh bundled with her. In fact, she’s been a real inspiration for me to get back into creating clothes because it’s not a case of feeling like it’s all been done before.
I’m pleased that some vendors are making a real effort to support DS users, but when Poser support is the default and sometimes only option, well let’s just say that’s an incentive to use my time rather than my money to kit Dawn out. (With MEC4D’s stunning DS-friendly outfits, I do predict that some money will be changing hands too…)
If you too want to create clothes for Dawn, don’t make my mistake and try it with the original 2013 Dawn download. Your lovely outfit might look just fine when you import it, but if you are not confident about rigging and weight-mapping you will have yourself a problem. Luckily, new Dawn (SR1) has auto-fit technology that works in DAZ Studio for Dawn, in the same way that it works for your Genesis-based figures. So it’s only one step to get clothes to conform and follow Dawn’s movements.
Need proof? I have proof! Here’s the skirt I created for her. Just a first attempt and I know the waist is too large. However, it was just a click or two to go from a static skirt to something that moves with Dawn.
Dawn of a New Era? Could Well Be!
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m excited now about the possibilities with this Hivewire3D girl. While she may need a little more nurturing from me than my Genesis crowd, she also opens up creative options. I didn’t come into this just to dress up dolls and make pretty pictures, I want to get my hands dirty and be a creator. Dawn is ideal for someone like me… I just didn’t know that before now.
I also see now that she can co-exist happily with the Genesis 1 and 2 characters, without me needing to play favourites, switch sides or indulge in playground bickering. I can be a Dawn — and Hivewire3D — fan and still enjoy all that DAZ3D has to offer (without them, I wouldn’t have discovered my enthusiasm for this medium). I think Olympia, Stephanie and Aiko might even enjoy having someone new around.
In case you are wondering, giving Dawn a go was my own choice and nothing to do with the recent contest I participated in which was hosted for the first time by Hivewire3D (after all, that was all about Ken’s amazing birds). I just felt it was time to give her another look, having spent some time in the forums and seeing how passionate the regular posters have become about her.
I hope you enjoy her as much as I think I’m going to. Or at least make up your own mind by downloading her and trying her out in DAZ Studio. What have you got to lose?
About the images: This is Dawn more or less ‘out the box’. I haven’t yet purchased anything for her, though have used shaders on her clothing resource suit, plus hairstyles already in my library. You see here her two make-up options and two eye colours (brown and blue). I created the green eyes by changing the diffuse. From sci-fi vixen to the sweet girl next door or even a glamorous femme fatale, Dawn is a versatile canvas on which to work.
Quick link: Hivewire3D