There are quite a few plugins available for Carrara. Which ones do you need? Which will add major features, and which are the most useful? This is not an in-depth review of individual plugins (that will come later), but this overview might get you started.
Modeling and Assembly Room PluginsArchiTools allows you to create multi-story buildings with gabled roofs and curved walls. Cut doorways and windows. Create interior walls, cubicles, stairways, crenels and towers for castles too! Architecture remains editable inside a separate modeling room.
ArchiTools from Inagoni
Carrara Enhanced Remote Control (ERC) is easily Carrara’s most powerful plugin. It allows you to link any function to another with an ERC modifier and a property inspector. Link a shader to a light, link a morph to a bone. Use remote control proxies to control movement on multiple objects, or define an ERC Chain with Delay and Decay to animate ropes, tentacles, and tails. Additional features include a Pin Modifier, and Keyframe Actions to delete all, remove duplicates, and jitter the timing of keyframes across an object or its children.
Carrara Enhanced Remote Control at DAZ3D
Ground Control is terrains on steroids. Import U.S. Geological Survey DEMs or Space Shuttle Radar Topography data to create real world terrains. Use Terragen and World Machine 32bit RAW with Carrara. Elevation data can be applied to a mesh, an AnythingGrooves object, to a Carrara terrain model, or it’s own Ground Control primitive. You can even import an animated image sequence for ocean waves or a boat’s wake!
Ground Control from Digital Carver’s Guild
Shader UtilitiesShader Ops is a must-have toolkit for the shader room which adds crucial functions to the shader tree: Fake Fresnel adds fall-off where geometry curves away from the camera to create stunning glass and velvet effects. Invert, Clip, Compress, Stretch, and Brightness control color values. Shaders can be limited with Minimum/Maximum values and Threshholds. Scale and Translate manipulate 3D shaders in local or global space. Three UV tools are essential for scaling and positioning images as tileable textures. In all Shader Ops adds 19 new functions, including Note for when your shaders become so complex you need to remind yourself what they are doing!
Shader Ops from Digital Carver’s Guild
Shaders Plus is a grab bag of “lighting-models” which are added to the top of a shader tree, and change how they render under Carrara’s lights. Bevel smooths the appearance of sharp edges, Anisotropic and Alternative Luster are used to simulate brushed metal and silk. Several shaders are provided to exclude individual lights or just certain aspects of lighting, or can remove the shader from the light interactions altogether. GI Shadow Catcher is easier to set up than Carrara’s built-in shadow catcher for compositing in post, while Shadow Glow creates a dynamic glow channel that dims with light/shade sensitivity. GI Brightness controls how much light is emitted under global illumination. Procedural Lock allows procedural shaders to be used on Carrara-rigged figures without “shader crawl”.
Shaders Plus by Digital Carver’s Guild
Baker allows texture baking of Carrara’s procedural shaders. Lighting and shadows can also be baked onto textures, even global illumination. Baker exports image maps in a variety of sizes and file types to be doctored in a paint program or used in other 3D renderers and game engines, and can replace complex procedural and geometry-aware shaders in your scene that are slow to calculate. Baker added normal maps to Carrara before C8, and it offers a render option to create basic normal maps that can be used on a low-poly plane or tiled as a surface texture.
Baker from Inagoni
2D/3D Procedural ShadersVelouté 2 adds 3D (global) procedural shaders for truly seamless patterns, cell and vein structures, grids and tiles, gradients and noise. 3D shaders are not distorted when UV maps are stretched or bent. They float in space, invisible without a surface to reveal their pattern. Velouté can drive volumetric fog and smoke effects like Primivol clouds. For each 3D pattern and gradient there is a corresponding 2D shader with UV controls for positioning and scaling. Velouté specializes in architectural patterns with a top-level shader tree for bricks and tiles that contains a second complete texture for grout, and provides color variation across individual bricks and tiles. A Roof shader has options for clay tiles or shingles, and a Weave shader makes cloth easy. Velouté has an elegant graphic interface and introduces a handy control for Brightness/Contrast/Limits that should be the standard across Carrara.
Velouté 2 from inagoni
Enhance:C tops all other Carrara plugins with a staggering 200+ shader functions. Everything from fish scales to riveted panels, cloth, wood, and water. Organic noise options include dirt, concrete, and stucco as will as “Minky” and “Bozo”. Frog, Dino, and Monster are ready to create your most complicated alien lizard skins. Tile alone features 39 different patterns, but a dropdown menu and obscure names can leave you scratching your head. Oddly-specific shaders include CD Gradient to get the rainbow on 5″ discs, and digital counters that use binary, octal, and hexadecimal numbering systems. Enhance:C specializes in sci-fi with a suite of 3D shaders for planetary bodies and 2D shaders for ship hulls, windows, and pipes. Fractal and Geometric shaders complete this exhaustive collection.
Enhance:C from Digital Carver’s Guild
more on the next page…
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