Praeclarusa: The Gates of Hell Surcote and Dress
- how to get started and some special tricks

This product is the third in our new series of medieval clothing that we started with the "Hennin and Torque" and continuedwith the Burgundian Robe.
This dress is a reproduction of the typical female dress of the 13th to 15th century with classic underdress (cotehardie) and the noble outer wear (surcote).

This little tutorial will guide you through the use of this product and gives you some tips on how to alter settings and tweak them to your needs.

If you are new to dynamics in Poser, we highly recommend you look into the Poser Help and check out the tutorials Smith Micro offers on it's site.
You will find a tutorial called "Cloth Parameters and Their Effects" there that will explain all the settings you can use with dynamic cloth.
There will be some situations where the skirt and/or sleeves looks brittle, have sharp edges or even break
- no tutorial is able to cover every scene your imagination is able to create.
Being able to alter the cloth parameters will help you to get a smooth result without altering the scene too much.

Before we start with the tutorial it is necessary to mention dynamic cloth and DAZ Studio!
Unfortunatly the dynamic dresses do not work in DAZ Studio, regardless of the version you own.
While in Poser all you have to do is load an object-file, clothify it and choose the objects it collides with, this method does not work in DS.
Dynamic clothes for DS require a third party software that is (at the moment) not available for developers.
In other words:
If you want to purchase dynamic items for DAZ Studio you are, at the moment, bound to what DAZ offers in it's store!

...and now it's time to

Set up your scene

It's as easy as this:

  1) Load your figure.
As V4 is the most used figure at the moment, all items will fit her by default.
But with little effort, you will be able to fit everything to other figures as well.
Uncheck Inverse Kinematics, but otherwise leave your figure as it was loaded from the runtime.

2) If you want to use additional conforming clothes (shoes for instance) or hair it's time to load and conform them now.

3) Add hair, jewelry, scenery items and what else you may desire for your scene.

4) If you want to use the cotehardie and the surcote together load the cotehardie (underdress) first and maybe already decide for one of the material sets.
Son't be puzzled about how the dress may look in your preview. The cotehardie-materials use a very slight transparence to achieve a more convincing linen-look. For our screenshot the materials are set to opaque to give you a better idea of what's happening.
You can change the material any time later or create your own look with the single materials or any other material you already own.
Both dresses are smart propped to V4, they will automatically follow any rotation and translation if you move her.

   5) All the way down in your Poser Window you'll see the Animation Controls. Go to frame 20!

6) If you want to use morphs on V4 you can add them now - the morphs will "grow" from 0 to the desired value from frame 1 to 20 and the veil will react on it (as far as it touches the affected bodyparts).

This way the dress will fit all add-on-characters for V4 and of course Aiko 4, Stephanie 4 and The Girl 4!

If you use conforming clothes:
Don't forget to check if there are morphs/fixes you need to set.
If you use dynamic clothes (the included belt for instance):
Simulate the dress first and then use another simulation for the second clothing (add at least Victoria and the dress to the collision objects).

7) Add your pose on frame 20 as well.

And what are these last 10 frames after frame 20 for? I hear you ask.
The last 10 frames will give the cloth time to relax. While V4 has already stopped her movement, the dress will continue to follow the gravity! The result is a smoothly flowing dress that looks very realistic and soft.

   8) If you used conforming clothes for your V4 you should make adjustments to them now so that you do not find any pokethroughs when everything is done.
If you want to use clothes underneath the dress, shoes for instance, you may encounter pokethroughs in the first frame.
In the best case this looks ugly - but in almost every case your dynamic cloth will look crappy and broken.
If this happens you can do the following:

Go to frame one and add the conforming clothes .

Move your camera around to see where the conforming clothes poke through the dynamic clothes.

On frame 1 alter the size of your dynamic cloth until no part of the conforming one pokes through it.
In most cases is it enough to alter the x- and z- scale.

If desired you can now run your calculation as described below.

The more elegant solution:
Go to frame 20 where you added your pose and set back all scaling values you altered on frame one back to 100%.
This way the dynamic cloth will shrink around the conforming one and behave like a real clothing item with a little amount of elasticity.
Please note that this method doesn't work with every kind of clothing.
If you still encounter pokethroughs after running the calculation you should leave the "oversized" dynamic cloth as is.

9) If the hand touches the face, the body or something else you will have to do a bit of thinking work:
May it happen that the sleeve crushes and crumples between the hand and the touched surface?
If so, you should make sure that there is a small amount of space between hand and touched surface.
This way the sleeve will flow smoothly down between hand and surface without crushing too much.
If you want the hand to be closer in the final render you can add one frame (frame 31 in our example)
and move the hand to the desired position in that last frame.
That last "extra frame" is not part of the simulation as we told Poser before to render over 30 frames.

If you've followed the tutorial until here, you are done with setting up the scene...

So far your dynamic item looks pretty stiff if not to say: It's a total mess as it will, depending on your pose, cling to Victoria's hip but fit no other part of her body!
Nothing even close to what you saw in the promotional images and in this tutorial.
And so it's time to visit the

The Cloth Room

   1) Select the "New Simulation" button by clicking on it.

2) By default your beginning frame is 1 and the last frame is 30.
All our promotional images are made with these 30 frames so you may want to leave the settings as they are.
Once you have some experience with dynamic cloth you can play with more frames and with changing the pose during the simulation.
But for now 30 frames should do the trick!

3) Check the box "Cloth Self Collision".

4) Drape frames... you may want to use them or not - this depends on your pose and what you want to create.
If the Pose is rather static and if you do not use a windforce you can add as many drapeframes as you desire. 5-10 are a good starting point for your own experiments.

BUT - and this is an important "but" - you can only have one drape-simulation in your scene. If you use both, the cotehardie and the surcote you can only drape one of them! We already considered this limitation and created our dynamic settings in a way that should make draping redundant.

5) You can now press the "Clothify" buton. A dialog will appear where you are able to select the dress you've loaded.
Find it in the list of items (where for instance the hair or other props will be as well) and click "Clothify".

6) Now the "Collide against" button is active. Click on it and you'll see everything that's in your scene.
If you are unsure what bodyparts of V4 will be touched during the simulation you should choose the whole V4.
You may want to uncheck the hair you've used, as having it in your simulation can be very time consuming.
Howeer you MAY find that you will have to check it as well when you run the simulation and find that the hair pokes through the cloth. But before you run a new simulation it may give your more satisfying to use the hair's morphs to fit it to the dress as this is what happens in real life too: Hair is softer than cloth and will be pushed away.
In most cases the dress will touch the ground or a background prop, so you will have to check it as well.
Same goes for every piece of clothing you have in your scene and props (like chairs).

7) When you are done with the collision dialog, you have to set the collision depth and offset for every item that's in your list
(V4 and, depending on your scene, ground, clothes, props).
Collision depth and offset tell the cloth how close to the surfaces you've just chosen it shall get.
We recommend 0.5 for the cotehardie for your first try for the collision with V4 and 0.6 for everything else (the ground props etc.).
You will find some checkboxes where you can uncheck the collision with V4's head, feet and hands.
V4's head will only collide with the dress if you posed her hands close to it. So it's your decision if you want to uncheck it or not. Hands and feet will collide with the dress in most situations so it's better to leave them in your list of collision objects.
As already mentioned you can leave hair out in almost any case.
Now you set at least a hook into the "Start draping from Zero Pose" box, and you're done with this part.

8) After you finished the Collide dialog, you can see the parameters for the dress.
You can leave these settings alone so far, and run your simulation by hitting the "calculate simulation" button
- but:
You may want to save your work before you do this, so that in case that something happens (Poser crashes, your computer refuses to work, power blackout, your cat wants to play with your computer mouse...) you can simply load your scene and hit the calculate button.

9) Get yourself a drink or fix some coffee, lean back and watch the magic happen...
(and hide your keyboard and mouse from the cat and other nosy roommates).

10) As soon as the calculation is done you should save again.
The results of the calculataion will be saved together with your scene so you will not have to go through the whole process if you want to reload the scene later.

11) Now choose the best render settings your computer is able to handle and render a small version of your image.

12) In the material room you can pick several alternative materials and textures and of course you can add every material set you have to the surfaces.

The dresses contain as few distortions as possible and will render beautifully with any kind of material shader.
But of course you'll have to keep in mind that the more you "stress" the mesh of a dynamic item, the more distortion you will get.
In other words:
If you wrap the cloth around the figure, add a massive windforce or such, a simple material like the included sets will give you a far more realistic result as a patterned one.

13) If you are satisfied with your scene you should now run your large final render, decide on more drapes and scenes while the render engine does it's work, and then admire what you have created.

As you may have seen from this tutorial you now have a highly creative and inspiring set of items in runtime. Most of all your medieval lady now finally has the dress that fits her elegant pose with ease and your fairytale witch can dress up in a robe that will follow her movements even when she flies on her broom!
The Praeclarusa products are the clothing solution for all your scenes that require perfect folds, natural movement and the elegance of historic garment.

Following our setup-example above the result, after adding some good light and altering the camera, we get this:

The Surcote

Now that you're done with the cotehardie you may want to add the surcote.

1) Adding the surcote or how it was called as well, the "Gates of Hell surcote" is not as tricky as it seems.
Follow the steps you find above for the cotehardie but do NOT add a new pose on frame 20 (of course...).

Here's a little revision of the necessary steps:
1) Go to step one
2)Add the dress, maybe decide for materials
3) Go to the clothroom
4) And here's the big trick! Create a new simulation (Sim_2)!
5) Clothify the surcote

6) Choose the following collision objects:
  a) V4's neck, collar, hands with fingers, shins, feet, toes
  b) the cotehardie
  c) any conforming clothes and/or any props the surcote may collide with
  d) the ground (if your figure does not fly or float)

We recommend the following collision offset and collision depth settings:

0,6 for V4
0,5 for the Ground
0,5 for the cotehardie

Now calculate your scene again (be sure to calculate Sim_2!!) and do a test render. In short the procedure will look look like this:

But you can do more!

Tweaking and experimenting - here's where the fun starts!!
The same scene - another pose!!

So you've created the perfect scene.
Light, textures, the character you've chosen:
Everything looks lovely together and you begin to think of a little series.
You're lucky, you do not have to start from zero again!

   1) Load the scene you've created before and save it under a new name (just to be sure not to overwrite the perfect one you've done before).

2) Delete all frames except the first 20 ones by typing a "20" in the right "counter" of the animation window.
By default there should be a 30. Poser will ask you if you are sure, just prompt this by clicking the "OK" button.
Now you've got rid of the "relaxing frames".

3) Go to frame 20 and alter your scene to your desire: Pose, postion and so on.

4) Type a number for the last frames into the right counter. By default this will be a 30.

6) Calculate your scene and render the second issue of your series!

7)   Depending on the complexity of your scene one or both of the dresses may behave strange when you follow this technique and using the cotehardie and the surcote. If you encounter any problems with creating a new scene from a previous one you should delete the surcote, simulate the cotehardie, add the surcote from the props library again, clothify it in Sim_2 (all your collisions will appear again!) and calculate it as well.

The cloth parameters
As said above, the internet holds many tutorials and overviews regarding the cloth parameters, you should even be able to find sample images that show the effect of higher and lower values.
On the surcote we have used values that simulate the behaviour of heavy velvet, for the cotehardie we used settings that behave like linen.

To make your life easy we've added more dynamic settings for you to the material room
In fact these "materials" are just shortcuts that run python skripts to alter your dynamic settings.
You will find the dynamic presets in your material library in the folder DL Praeclarusa-->!Cloth Presets.
Just click the desired preset and enter the name of the simulation you want to alter.
In most cases (if you use both dresses) this will be Sim_1 for the cotehardie and Sim_2 for the surcote.

Do not hesitate to experiment with these values and create new, exciting fabrics.
You can even save a dress with a new name to the props library and it will load with your new settings!

Cracks, edges, distortions and other nasty things
Such things can happen - don't panic, your cloth is not destroyed. You can always alter things and recreate the simulation.
First you should check out your render settings. Sometimes a hole or crack is nothing but an artifact caused by your render- and/or material settings.
If this is not the case you can do the following:
  • Use more frames - using more frames for the same pose helps the cloth to relax and stretch while it follows the pose.
  • Explore your frames - not always it's the last frame that shows the nicest result. You can use all frames from the one where you've applied the pose to the last for your render. So it's always a good idea to look at each of them before deciding which one to render! If you add more frames (by typing a higher number in the field that holds the "30") you have to alter your Simulation Settings as well! Just type the new number of frames into the "End Frame" field.

  • Alter the pose - sometimes the pose is too extreme or your figure is rotated too much so that the cloth cracks when following the movement.

  • Alter the parameters - play around with the cloth parameters and see what you get.

  • Some postwork - While heavily postworking dynamic cloth is counterproductive cleaning out some sharp edges or a little pokethrough can be a better solution than deciding for another pose.

If you find the texture you've applied is being heavily distorted you can do two things:
  • decide for another scene where the cloth is not stretched and twisted in such a massive way.

  • decide for a material without a pattern... what is definitely the better way to go, as you will like the dynamic result better than you would like any pattern on your cloth.

What's this collision friction checkbox?
This checkbox tells the cloth engine to ignore the Static and Dynamic friction settings specified by the dial,
and instead use the settings from the Cloth Collision Objects dialog.
While working and experimenting with this set we found that the cotehardie likes to be used with collison friction unchecked (to cling as close as possible to the figure) while the surcote works better with collison friction checked. Well... at least in most cases...
Feel free to experiment with it, simulate and render a small scene with the default settings, unckeck it and calculate again, render and see what works best - with your specific scene.

There is not THE way to go when you work with dynamic cloth - and that's what makes it so fun!!

Working with more dynamic cloths at once

...well, not literally at once - but of course you can use more than this dynamic set in a scene.
You just have to take care that they do not intersect on the first frame. Now how does this work?

Let's take the scene we've just created and the torque from the Praeclarusa 1-set.

Set up pose, camera and so on like you've learned and run the calculation.

After you've finished your simulation load the Torque, clothify it and add the dynamic dress(es) to the objects it has to collide with (beside your figure, clothes and so on).

If you find that the veil intersects with the dress on the first frame you have to alter it's position like described *here*.
Run your calculation and enjoy the result.

Step by Step
  • Step 1: The cotehardie represents the dynamic object that has the slightest distance to the character. So we add and calculate it first.

  • Step 2: The surcote has a higher distance to the character. So we load and calculate it after the cotehardie but before we add the Torque.

  • Step 3: The veil of the Torque has the highest distance to the character. So we load and calculate it with a third simulation.

When you decide which item to load first and what item will follow, it is only important how the dynamic object fits when you load it!
Poser will take care of any kind of deforming/widening/distortion during the calculation if you took care about the collision settings.

  • You can add more dynamic items to your simulation. Just keep in mind:
  • Create a new simulation for each item
  • Don't let them intersect on frame one
  • The item that is the closest to the character has to be calculated first
  • The item that comes next MAY collide with the first item, the third item may collide with the second and first and so on.

Sitting Down

Both dresses used together are pretty bulky and so we have to do a bit thinking-work before we create a scene with Victoria sitting on a chair or the ground.
If you want your figure to sit down on a prop (a chair, a box) set up your scene and simulation as usual.
But you should move the prop you want to use as a seat away from the figure on frame one, and have it in place on frame 20.
During the simulation the prop will "slide" under your figure and either push the cloth away, or squeeze it between figure and seat.

You can see the setup in the simulation below. But before you start there are some things to keep in mind:

  • The direction from where you "push" the seat towards V4 is very important for how the result will look. So plan the movement of your seat carefully.
  • More clothes mean more space between V4 and the seat. Be sure to lift V4 a bit to allow the dresses to slip between her and the seat.
  • Make sure that no part of your figure intersects with the seat. The resulting cloth simulation would be a total mess.

Used settings for this scene:

40 frames for each of both simualtions.
Cotehardie: Collison to V4 0.5, collison to bench 0.65 (to create some space for the surcote)
Surcote: Collison to V4 0.65 (only chest, neck, collar, hands with fingers, shins, feet and toes), collision to cotehardie 0.6, collison to bench 0.5, collison to ground 0.7
Collison-friction was checked for both simulations If even refined collison settings give you trouble the Cloth PSresets in the material library hold modified cloth parameters for sitting poses.

If you want your figure to lay down or sit on the floor you should use a different technique:
Apply your pose on frame 20 as you are used to.
Make sure that the figure does not stick in the floor or any other surface to allow a little bit of space between dress and ground. As long as the dress is not set to transparent a little more amount of space between the figure's body and the ground will not be visible in the resulting render.
Copy or write down the position of V4's hip.
Now go back to frame 1, paste the values to V4's hip and move her slightly upwards if needed until the dress does not touch the ground.
Move the animation slider forwards and check if the movement of your figure is half-way smooth.
Now go to your collision settings and UNCHECK "start draping from zero pose".
You are done with the first setup. Run the simulation and see what you get.

If you are satisfied with the result add the surcote, create a second simulation and run it.

This little trick keeps the dresses from floating in the air while the figure sits or lays on the ground.

An important last hint!
  • Move the slider through your animation with the clothes set to invisible before simulating. There may be poses that make a bodypart go through another. When doing a laying pose you will for instance often see an arm crossing through the torso. These poses need to be cleaned up as this would mess up the dynamic clothes.
  • Move the camera around before you start your simulation. It's not only important that the body doesn't intersect with the ground or any other prop, there should as well be not bodypart intersection with another. If you find such an intersection correct your pose and explore all frames of your animation to make sure that there are no other intersections anymore.

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