Poser 7 is a 3D figure manipulation and animation program. My
first exposure to it was as an artist looking for an alternative to
the wooden artist's dummy. It still works great for artists and
illustrators who don't want to deal with human models. Poser figures
don't need to take breaks, and you can save your poses and spread
your work out over time. This review is based on the Mac version. A
Windows version is also available.
Poser 7 has since evolved into a robust application that still
focuses on the human figure, but may be a little overwhelming for
novice users. It is still well worth the effort to learn if you have
any interest in 3D and animation.
The Poser Interface
The Poser Interface was very confusing to me at first. It is a
combination of menus, tabs or “rooms” and icons. But as I moved
around and experimented, I found that nearly every icon included a
mouse-over to tell you the purpose of that particular icon. The tabs
are not the standard type you might be used to, but they are still
functional once you figure out where the commands you are looking
for are located. These tabs are the Pose, Material, Face, Hair,
Cloth, Setup, and Content controls.
One of the confusing interface operations is the hidden palettes or
side window handles found on the right and bottom sides of the
interface. These palettes allow you to access a library of content
and animation controls. Windows are resizable with the bottom corner
Like many current applications, you can move and place the control
panels wherever you like them. Though, a large monitor makes this
easier to do effectively. On a small laptop screen, this feature
loses its value.
While animation is not its strong suit, Poser 7 does have some
interesting new animation features, including the ability to do
automatic lip-synching with your 3D character. This feature makes it
easier for non-animators to get good results and add a little polish
to their work without laboring over the details. It will even
synchronize eye blinking and other facial movements.
OpenGL is a texture detailer that used to be limited to about
1000x1000 pixels. It now supports 4096x4096 pixels, a dramatic
increase. This will of course depend on the capabilities of your
graphics card and system processor(s).
For Mac users, one of the most exciting new features is its support
for the new dual-core multiprocessors available for OS X. This
provides increased speed and complex scenes and rendering. This
allows Poser to offer high-end features that were once available
only in professional animation and rendering applications and
Another interesting new feature is its support for high dynamic
range imaging (HDRI), which allows image-based lighting (IBL) to use
photograph-based images to provide a basis for lighting a scene.
One of my favorite new features is the ability to do character
duplication. Previously, if you wanted to add a similar or duplicate
character, you had to load it from your library. Now it is just a
few mouse clicks away.
Dynamic props such as male and female figures make getting started
easy. There are also various animals, cartoons, and robots, as well
as hair, clothing, lighting, sound, and motion files. While there is
a large amount of content provided, I would have liked to see more
variety, especially in the number of starter adult human figures
that are presently limited to “Simon” and “Sydney.” Hair and
clothing is also somewhat limited.
Additional content is available from Content Paradise, an online
marketplace for additional characters, backgrounds, and other items
created by other users for sale. Once you have become more
experienced, you can sell your content there as well.
Editing and Posing Figures
When you first start Poser, the Pose Room will be the first screen
you will see. This is where much of your work will take place. When
working with Display Styles, you are given the option of working
with Silhouettes, Outlines, Wireframes, Hidden Line, Lit Wireframe,
Flat Shaded, Flat Lined, Cartoon, Cartoon with Line, Smooth Shaded,
Smooth Lined, and Texture Shaded. Each can be controlled with a
control+(number key) combination.
Camera Angles and Scene Lighting
Camera angles are used to zoom in and out, controlling which part of
the figure is displayed in the Poser Room. The camera controls
include a face camera, right hand camera, and left hand camera.
Below this is the animating toggle and fly around views. You can
also move the camera in the YZ and XY planes. Finally, there is the
scale button, roll button, focal length, and rotate camera.
Scene lighting can be saved as part of the scene, or used
temporarily in order to make a scene easier to work with.
Surrounding the scene with lights lets you see the details, while
shadows give you a sense of depth. The light controls are used to
set the lighting effects. These controls include markers to indicate
where the lights are, creating a new light, deleting a light,
lighting properties, color, and intensity.
Poser includes a PDF document that contains extensive documentation
and help files for most questions. It also includes help files for
each room and a Quick Start guide.
To access the documentation, select the Help, Poser Reference Manual
menu. This will open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat ReaderÆ. From
here you can open specific topics or search for keywords.
Tutorials are accessed using the Help, Poser Tutorial menu command.
These tutorials include most of the key tasks you may need help with
and is also accessed via a PDF file and Adobe Acrobat ReaderÆ.
If you need to access help specific to a room, use the Room Help
The Good & The Bad
Very powerful 3D and Character Posing
A broad list of new features that make upgrading worthwhile
Good end-user support and user base
Steep Learning Curve
Limited number of human models
Some inconsistencies in clothing mode
Animation features could be improved
Additional content must be purchased through Content Paradise.
Even though I started using Poser back in the 90's, Poser
7 is such a leap above and beyond the older versions that I had some
difficulties finding my way around. But once you spend some time
with the application, things begin to make sense. I still wouldn't
recommend this to an absolute beginner, which is too bad because
there are many features that would still be great for artists and
those new to 3D character rendering. It would be nice if there were
a way to hide the more advanced features, activating them when
desired, or if the interface could be simplified.
If you already have experience with Poser 6, 3D rendering, or
basic animation, then Poser 7 is for you. It offers a wide range of
functionality and probably a few features that never occurred to you
to use. Overall, I would recommend this application to intermediate
to advanced users, with a caveat for serious new users to prepare
for the learning curve.
|Poser 7 - Using
Digital Photos to Create Characters' Faces
In Poser 7, the 3D figure rendering and animation program, you
have the ability to import digital images of real people and using
their faces in the development of your characters.
You will need digital images of both the front and sides of the head
of your subject. Because the hair can be added in the Hair Room, you
should minimize the amount of hair in the photo. When possible, use
bald subjects, or have them pull their hair back, making sure their
foreheads and ears are clearly visible.
This is one of those rare circumstances where you want your
models to not smile. You want your models to have as relaxed and
simple of an expression as possible.
You want to use photos with very simple backgrounds without
clutter. If possible, use a plain white background such as a white
wall or curtain. This will allow the facial structures to stand out
and make them easier to line up. Be careful not to cause any harsh
shadows on the background.
Because you will need to crop your photos to the same size, you
should use a tripod with the camera and have the subject turn from
front to side as directed. The more precise you can get the facial
characteristics to line up, the better. It also makes sense to take
several photos, including both sides of the head, to ensure that you
have plenty of samples to work from. The compatible image file
formats that you can use include .JPG, .PNG, .BMP, .TIF, .GIF, and .PCX.
Front Image Placement
To work with a frontal face image, click the Load Image button. This
opens the Load Front Face image dialog box to help in the alignment
of the photo. From here you position the front image by clicking
once to locate the corner of the right eye and again to locate the
corner of the left lip. You can also use the Flip button to flip the
image about on its vertical axis. After you click to locate the left
corner of the lip the image is placed in the front pane of the Photo
Side Image Placement
Similar to the Front Image Placement, to load the Side Image, click
the Load Image button to open the Load Side Face image dialog box to
help in the alignment of the side photo by clicking once to locate
the top of the right ear and again to locate the front of the chin.
This dialog box also includes a flip button that you can use to flip
the image about its vertical axis.
Aligning the Images
After the face images are loaded into the Photo Lineup panel, a red
outline of the 3D head is overlaid on top of the images using green
dots to mark the key features, such as the corners of the eyes,
mouth, and nose. Using the Zoom and Pan image tools, you can resize
and move the images around using the Rotate, Scale, and Pan Geometry
tools. Then you can change the outlines to match the images. You can
also move the green dots to alter their features.
Exporting the Face Image
After you align the face map to the face model, you can export the
map using the button to the right of Texture Preview. This exported
map can then be edited further and then be imported back into the
Face Room. Then continue as usual, giving your subject hair,
clothing and a background.
Using digital photos to import a real face into your image can be a
lot of fun, especially when experimenting with different body styles
and clothing while using the photo of a friend or family member.
Once you have gained enough experience, you can use several friends
and family members to illustrate your very own creative endeavor.
|Poser 7 - Finding
Your Way Around the “Rooms”
In Poser 7, the 3D figure rendering and animation program, there
are 7 rooms along the top of the main interface. The Pose Room is
the default, but there are also the Material Room, Face Room, Hair
Room, Cloth Room, Setup Room, and the Content Room.
The Pose Room
When you first start Poser, the Pose Room is the default room that
opens. It is the primary interface for posing your figures and will
be the room where you'll spend most of your time. Some of the things
you can do here are controlling how the figure is displayed based on
camera, light, and display style controls.
The Material Room
The Material Room is used to apply materials to the various body
parts of your character. You apply these materials using an
interface dialog box for diffusing color, highlighting, controlling
ambience, reflection, bump, and transparency. The results are shown
in the Material Preview panel. The Material Room also includes all
the interface controls found in the Pose Room including the Document
The Face Room
The Face Room is where you specify the details included in the
figure's face. It has support for loading front and side view
photos, including photos of real faces you want to use along with
tools to map the images onto the figure's face. The Face Room
interface also includes the Face Shaping tool dialog box, which lets
you change the various attributes of the current face including the
position of the various facial features, its gender, age, and
ethnicity. The Face Sculpting panel allows you to see a preview of
the current facial settings.
The Hair Room
The Hair Room includes all the controls needed to provide and style
hair for the figure. You can grow hair wherever you like and view
the hair using the Texture Shaded style in the Document Window. The
Hair Room also includes the standard Pose Room interface controls.
The Cloth Room
You use the Cloth Room to clothe your figure and to define the way
the clothing fits and moves. These controls can make clothes that
are smooth and flowing or clothes that fit tightly. You can use
kinetic objects to add forces such as wind and gravity for animation
sequences. The results are viewed in the Document Window.
The Setup Room
The Setup Room uses the Document Window with a set of overlaid bones
that are positioned about the figure's joints. Using this room, you
can add new custom bones to the figure as needed. These new bones
are used to animate custom imported objects.
The Content Room
The Content Room provides a convenient way to add new figures,
materials, and props to the Library. It also provides access to
Content Paradise, an online repository of available content often
created and sold by other developers.
Once you understand the concept of “Rooms,” you will gain a better
understanding of how the modeling process works. Spending time
experimenting in these rooms is time well spent.