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'Poser 7 Revealed': Create a Face from Photos

In the latest excerpt of Poser 7 Revealed, Kelly L. Murdock teaches Poser users how to create a face using photographs.

All images from Poser 7 Revealed: The e frontier Official Guide by Kelly L. Murdock.

This is the next in a new series of excerpts from the Thomson Course Technology book Poser 7 Revealed: The e frontier Official Guide. In the next few months, VFXWorld readers will develop the skills needed to create, render and animate scenes and projects using the amazing tools offered by Poser 7. We will offer step-by-step tutorials for each task, followed by projects that allow readers to apply each new skill.

What You'll Do

In this lesson, you learn how to create a custom face from loaded front and side view images.

The Face Room includes the capability to create a custom face from digital photos. The needed photos are a front view and a profile view. You can map these images onto the current head element.

Preparing Face Images for Poser

If you're capturing your own digital photos for use in the Face Room, there are several guidelines that you can follow to make the process easier. Following these tips will result in a cleaner import:

Minimize the amount of hair. The 3D model that the facial images are mapped to are bald; hair can be added using props or the Hair Room. If you can, shoot a subject with a bald head or have the subject pull their hair back so the ears and forehead are exposed.

Avoid smiles. Although a smiling face is a joy, when capturing facial photos, try to have the subject remain expressionless. If the face is in a relaxed state, the match will be better.

Simplify the background. If you capture the images in front of a plain white background, the facial features will stand out and be easier to align. Avoid shooting your facial images with a complex background. If you can't control the background, it can be removed using an image-editing package like Photoshop.

Eliminate shadows. When lighting your subject, make sure the light on the subject's face is sufficient enough to eliminate all shadows cast on the background.

Crop images to the same size. The Photo Lineup wizard assumes that the facial snapshots are roughly the same size and that the images are cropped to show the face in good detail. It helps to make the front and side shots the same size.

Pinch the facial features. If you pull the digital images into an image-editing package, select all the front facial features and scale them down to be tighter. This compensates for the curvature of the head and better aligns the features.

Use a template. Some figures include a template that unwraps the polygons applied to a figure into a template that you can use to help you identify where the seams of the texture map are located.

[Figure 1] Front image placement (left). [Figure 2] Side image placement (right). 

Loading the Front Face Image

To load a front face image, click the Load Image button to the left of the front pane in the Photo Lineup panel. This opens the Load Front Face Image dialog box to help in the alignment of the photo, shown in Figure 1. This panel lets 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. This dialog box also includes a Flip button that you can use to flip the image about its vertical center. After you click to locate the left corner of the lip, the image is placed in the front pane of the Photo Lineup panel. If you make a mistake, use the Delete Image button to remove the loaded image.

Note: Only specific image formats can be loaded into the Face Room. The accepted image formats include .JPG, .PNG, .BMP, .TIF, .GIF and .PCX.

Loading the Side Face Image

To load a side face image, click the Load Image button to the left of the side pane in the Photo Lineup panel. This opens the Load Side Face Image dialog box to help in the alignment of the photo, shown in Figure 2. This panel lets you position the side image 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 center. After you click to locate the front of the chin, the image is placed in the side pane of the Photo Lineup panel.

Aligning the Face to the Images

Once the face images are loaded into the Photo Lineup panel, a red outline of the 3D head element is projected on top of the images with green dots to mark the key features, such as the corners of the eyes, mouth and nose. Using the Zoom and Pan Image tools to the left of the front and side panes, you can resize and move the images, and, using the Rotate, Scale, and Pan Geometry tools, you can change the outlines to match the images. For detailed work, drag the green dots to their correct location. Figure 3 shows the results after matching the outline points to the images.

Note: It is often easier to manipulate the photos in an image editing program than to match the figure in the Face Room.

Applying the Face Shape from Photos

Moving the alignment dots in the Photo Lineup panel not only aligns the image with the current head model, but it also defines the shape of the head model. To see the shape changes, enable the Apply Shape option located between the front and side panes. This updates the Preview window with the new head shape.

[Figure 3] Aligned face images (left). [Figure 4] Custom photo face (right). 

Exporting the Face Map

Once you align the face map to the face model as best you can, you can export the map using the button to the right of Texture Preview. This exported map can be edited further to clean up the mesh even more. The cleaned-up map can then be imported back into the Face Room.

Create a Face from Photos

1. Open the Poser interface with the default figure visible.

2. Click the Face tab to access the Face Room.

3. Click the Load Image button to the left of the front pane in the Photo Lineup panel and select the Chris -- front02.jpg file from the file dialog box. Click Open.

A placement dialog box opens.

4. Click in the photo, as the placement dialog box instructs, on the corner of the right eye and at the corner of the left lips.

5. Click the Load Image button to the left of the side pane in the Photo Lineup panel and select the Chris -- side01.jpg file from the file dialog box. Click Open.

6. Click in the photo, as the placement dialog box instructs, at the top of the ear and at the front of the chin.

The placement dialog box closes automatically, and the photos appear in the Photo Lineup panel with red outlines on top of each.

7. Drag the Zoom Image tool in the front pane to show the details of the eyes and mouth photo up close.

8. Drag the Scale Geometry tool in the side pane until the outline roughly matches the image, and then select the Pan Geometry tool to align the outline with the photo.

9. Drag the green placement points in the front and side panes to align with the photos.

The Preview pane shows the resulting face, as shown in Figure 4.

10. Click the Apply to Figure button, switch back to the Pose Room, select File, Save As and save the file as Custom photo face.pz3.

Find out more about how to put the power of Poser 7 to work as you learn how to use the new Talk Designer to automatically sync facial animations to an audio track, combine the power of Poser 7 with other software packages, create new motions using the new animation layers feature and much more. Check back to VFXWorld frequently to read new excerpts.

Poser 7 Revealed: The e frontier Official Guide by Kelly L. Murdock. Boston, MA: Thomson Course Technology, 2007. 592 pages with illustrations. ISBN 13: 978-1-59863-296-5; ISBN 10: 1-59863-296-5 ($29.99).

Kelly L. Murdock has a background in engineering, specializing in computer graphics. He has worked on several large-scale visualization projects, created 3D models for several blockbuster movies and has worked as a freelance 3D artist and designer. Murdock is the author or co-author of several books, including seven editions of the 3ds Max Bible, two editions of the Illustrator Bible, Adobe Creative Suite Bible, Maya 7 Revealed, LightWave 3D 8 Revealed and Poser 6 Revealed. He works with his brother at his co-founded design company, Logical Paradox Design.

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