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'Poser 8 Revealed': Dealing with Props - Part 1

Kelly L. Murdock starts his discussion of props from Poser 8 Revealed.

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Although posing figures is the main purpose behind Poser, you aren’t limited only to populating scenes with figures. Poser also supports objects known as props that can be placed anywhere within the scene. Props can be used to enhance the scene such as the ground plane, a tree, or a light post; interact with a figure, such as a chair, a weapon, or a basketball; or enhance the figure directly, such as a hairdo, clothing, or jewelry.

Props can be loaded into a scene from the Library palette or created in another 3D package and imported into Poser. Once in Poser, props can be selected and edited using the same Editing Tools that are used to edit figures. You also can alter props by changing their parameters and properties. Props can also be grouped and given materials.

By parenting props to figure elements, you can make the prop move along with a figure element, such as a briefcase or a weapon. You can also replace figure body parts with props to create some interesting characters, such as a pirate by replacing a hand with a hook and the lower leg with a wood leg.

New props can be created using the Group Editor dialog box. Any selection of polygons can be converted into a prop using the Create Prop button. This lets you quickly create props, such as breastplate armor or a facemask, based on the existing figure.

Of all the available types of props, two specific types are unique[md]prop hair and prop clothes. These two categories are identified as prop objects to distinguish them from their dynamic versions. Dynamic hair and cloth can realistically react to forces in the scene, but there are times when the older prop-based versions of hair and cloth are sufficient.

Tools You’ll Use


Although the Library palette contains some great props, it doesn’t include all the props you may want to use. Any 3D object can be used as a prop, including objects created in external 3D packages. You simply import the object into Poser.

The imported objects must be in one of the 3D formats that Poser supports in order to be imported. Also, Poser can only import polygon models.

Preparing Prop Models for Importing into Poser

When building external models to be imported into Poser, keep the following in mind:

•         The coordinate origin for the external 3D package corresponds the center of the floor in Poser. To have your props correctly positioned above the floor when imported, move them so they are above the origin along the Y-axis.

•         Eliminate any duplicate polygons from the 3D model. Most external 3D packages include tools for automatically identifying and eliminating duplicate polygons.

•         Avoid any internal polygons within the model. For example, creating a cylinder object that intersects with a sphere object leaves several polygons embedded within the sphere object. Using Boolean commands can eliminate these internal polygons. If left, the polygons will appear in their original place when bones are applied and the object is posed.

•         Convert the model to polygons before saving. Poser’s import features cannot handle NURBS, patches, or splines.

•         Include enough resolution for the object if it needs to be posed. If an imported figure has an arm made from an extended cube, the object will not have enough polygons to bend.

•         If you import a prop with groups, make sure each polygons is only included in a single group. If you’re unsure whether polygons are in isolated groups, eliminate the groups and use Poser’s grouping functions.

•         Material definitions aren’t imported along with the model, but material groups are recognized and imported.

[Figure 5-1] Import Options dialog box

Loading External Props

To load an external 3D object as a prop, select File, Import and choose the 3D format that matches your 3D object. The available 3D formats that Poser can import include QuickDraw 3DMF, 3D Studio 3DS, DXF, LightWave LWO, and Wavefront OBJ. After you select an import format, the Import Options dialog box, shown in Figure 5-1, is displayed. After setting the import options and clicking OK, a File dialog box appears where you can locate the specific file to open. Select the file and click the Open button. To learn more about these import options, see Chapter 4, “Working with Files and Accessing Content Paradise.”

Deleting Props

Selected props can be deleted using the Object, Delete Object menu command. This command is different from the Delete Figure command found in the Figure menu.

[Figure 5-2] Imported table prop

Import Props 1.         Open Poser with the default mannequin visible.

2.         Select File, Import, Wavefront OBJ.

The Import Options dialog box appears.

3.         In the Import Options dialog box, enable the Centered, Place on Floor, and Offset options. Set the Z-Axis Offset values to [ms]0.5 and click OK.

A file dialog box appears.

4.         Locate and import the Table.obj file and click Open.

The imported table object is displayed behind the figure, as shown in Figure 5-2.

5.         Select File, Save As and save the file as Imported table prop.pz3.


You can select props by using the Props submenu of the Actor list located at the top of the Document Window and at the top of the Parameters/Properties palette. You can also select props from the Hierarchy Editor, which is opened using the Window, Hierarchy Editor menu command.

[Figure 5-3] Prop parameters

Using the Editing Tools

Once selected, props can be edited using all the standard buttons found in the Editing Tools. The Rotate (R) and Twist (W) tools are used to spin the prop about its view axis or about its center vertical axis. The Translate/Pull (T) and Translate In/Out (Z) tools can position the prop within the scene. The Scale (S) tool changes the size of the prop and the Taper (P) tool scales one end of the prop. Finally, the Color (C) tool can change the color of the prop. After selecting a tool, drag within the Document Window when the prop is highlighted in white. All of the Editing Tools are covered in more detail in Chapter 3, “Editing and Posing Figures.”

Using the Parameter Dials

The position, orientation, and scale of the selected prop can also be controlled using the various parameter dials found in the Parameter palette, shown in Figure 5-3.

Dropping to the Floor

Selected props can also be moved vertically until their lowest point is in contact with the ground floor using the Figure, Drop to Floor (Ctrl+D) menu command. This command can also be used to raise a prop that is positioned below the ground plane.

Locking Props

When the prop is positioned exactly where you want it to be, you can lock its position and orientation using the Object, Lock Actor menu command. This prevents the prop from being accidentally moved. To unlock a locked prop, just select Object, Lock Actor again to disable the toggle.

[Figure 5-4] Prop properties

Naming Props

Imported props carry the name assigned to them in the external 3D program, but you can change this name in the Name field found in the Properties palette, shown in Figure 5-4. You can open the Properties palette by selecting the Object, Properties menu command or by simply clicking on the Properties tab in the Parameters/Properties palette. The other properties are the same as those for figures, which are covered in Chapter 3, “Editing and Posing Figures.”

Select and Position Props 1.         Select File, Open and open the Imported table prop.pz3 file.

2.         Select File, Import, Wavefront OBJ and import the chair.obj file into the current scene.

3.         With the chair prop selected, click the Scale tool in the Editing Tools control. Hold down the Shift key and drag within the prop circle to uniformly reduce the size of the chair prop.

4.         Select Figure, Drop to Floor (or press Ctrl+D).

The chair prop should now be aligned with the floor like the table.

5.         Select the Translate In/Out tool from the Editing Tools and drag the chair prop behind until it is positioned behind the table.

6.         Select the From Left camera from the Camera Controls to see the scene from a side view.

[Figure 5-5] Figure sitting at table and chair props

7.         Click the Translate/Pull tool in the Editing Tools, select the figure’s hip element, and drag backwards until the figure is in a sitting position. Then, drag on the figure circle to move the entire figure backward until it is sitting in the chair.

8.         Select the Main Camera from the Camera Controls and rotate and move the camera until the figure is zoomed in to the figure.

The figure is positioned about the table and chair props, as shown in Figure 5-5.

9.         Select File, Save As and save the file as Figure sitting.pz3.


If you look through the types of props that are included in the Library, you’ll find many figure accessories such as clothing items, jewelry, watches, hats, and ties. These props won’t help you much if you need to reposition them every time you change a figure’s pose. Luckily, you can attach and conform these props to the figure, so that when the figure is posed, the prop moves with it.

[Figure 5-6] The Object Parent dialog box

Attaching a Prop to a Figure Element

You attach a prop to a figure element by making the figure element the prop’s parent with the Object, Change Parent menu command or by clicking the Set Parent button in the Properties panel. Both of these commands cause the Object Parent dialog box, shown in Figure 5-6, to appear.

[Figure 5-7] Microphone prop attached to the figure’s


Once parented to a figure element, the prop will move with the element as it is posed. Figure 5-7 shows a figure with a microphone prop attached to its left hand element. As the hand element is posed, the prop is moved with it.

Be sure to position and orient the prop before selecting an element as its parent. It is more difficult to orient it once it attached to an element.

Making an Attached Prop Bend with its Parent

Enabling the Inherit Bends of Parent option in the Object Parent dialog box causes the attached prop to bend along with the parent. This is correct behavior for props that are attached to the body parts like a shirt or a necklace, but can distort the prop incorrectly for objects that don’t move with the body like a hat or a sword.

Changing the Prop’s Parent

Once a prop is made a child object of another object, the assignment isn’t permanent. You can change a prop’s parent at any time using the Object, Change Parent menu command or the Set Parent button in the Properties palette. To remove a prop from its parent, simply make the root Universe object the new parent. Since objects can only have a single parent, the set parent is dropped and the root becomes the new parent.

[Figure 5-8] Parents can be set using the Hierarchy


Setting a Prop’s Parent in the Hierarchy Editor

The Hierarchy Editor shows the parent-child relationships of all scene objects using an indented list. The Hierarchy Editor can also be used to reassign parents. To assign a new parent for a prop in the Hierarchy Editor, simply select the prop in the Hierarchy Editor and drag and drop it on the object that you want to be the new parent. Once dropped, the new child appears as a sub-object under its parent, as shown in Figure 5-8.

Saving Smart Props

When a prop that is being saved to the Library is parented to another scene object, a dialog box appears asking if you want to save the prop as a Smart Prop. A Smart Prop is a prop that maintains a link to its parent. By maintaining its parent, the prop will continue to move with its parent as the parent is moved.

If you select more than one object using the Select Subset button, then you will not be given the option to make the saved object a Smart Prop.

[Figure 5-9] Figure elements can be set to point at a prop

Pointing an Element at a Prop

Another way to link a prop to an element is with the Object, Point At menu command. This creates a link between the two objects that only affects the object’s orientation. In some situations, this is very helpful. For example, you could use this command to have a figure’s eyes follow an object around the room or you could cause a figure’s head to rotate back and forth as if watching a tennis game. Figure 5-9 shows a figure’s neck set to follow a ball about the scene, so the ball can be used to rock the figure’s head back and forth.

The Point At command can be used between any two types of objects, so you could have figure elements follow a prop or you could have a prop rotate to follow a figure element. Props and figure elements can also be set to follow lights or camera objects. Once you have identified the Point At object, a new parameter dial, called Point At, appears in the Parameters palette. Using this dial, you can set the amount of exaggeration the object experiences in following the object.

Deleting a Point At Link

If you ever need to remove a Point At link between two objects, select the object that moves and choose the Object, Point At menu command again. In the Object Parent dialog box, choose the None button and the link is removed.

[Figure 5-10] Attached rolling pin

Attach a Prop to a Figure Element 1.         Open Poser with the default figure visible.

2.         Select File, Import, Wavefront OBJ and import the Rolling pin.obj file into the current scene.

3.         With the rolling pin item selected, click the Scale tool in the Editing Tools control. Hold down the Shift key and drag within the prop circle to uniformly reduce the size of the rolling pin prop.

4.         Select the Rotate tool from the Editing Tools and rotate the rolling pin prop until it is parallel to the figure’s right hand. Select the Translate/Pull tool to move the rolling pin prop close to the right hand.

5.         Select the right hand element and drag the Grasp and Thumb Grasp dials in the Parameters palette to close the hand’s fingers.

6.         Position and orient the rolling pin prop within the right hand. Select the right hand camera from the Camera Controls to see it up close.

7.         Select the rolling pin prop and select Object, Change Parent.

8.         Select the Right Hand element in the Change Parent dialog box that appears and click OK.

The prop will now move with the attached element, as shown in Figure 5-10.

9.         Select File, Save As and save the file as Attached rolling pin.pz3.

Make a Figure Element Point at a Prop 1.         Open Poser with the default figure visible.

2.         Select File, Import, Wavefront OBJ and import the Striped ball.obj file into the current scene.

3.         With the ball item selected, open the Parameters palette and change the Scale value to 12 to reduce the size of the ball. Then drag the xTran, yTran, and zTran dials until the ball object is in front and to the right about eye level of the figure.

4.         Select the left eyeball element and choose the Object, Point At menu command.

[Figure 5-11] Eyes following ball

The Object Parent dialog box opens.

5.         In the Object Parent dialog box, scroll to the bottom of the dialog box and select the Striped ball object. Then click the OK button.

The eyeball immediately rotates so the pupil faces the ball object.

6.         Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the right eyeball element.

7.         Select and drag the ball object in front of the figure.

The eyes both rotate towards the ball object as it moves, as shown in Figure 5-11.

8.         Select File, Save As and save the file as Eyes following ball.pz3.

Kelly L. Murdock has more than 15 years experience in the computer graphics arena, especially in the area of 3D graphics. Included in the experience is a variety of tasks from high-end CAD product design and architectural pre-visualization to virtual reality and games. Kelly is best known for his international best-selling books on graphics including the 3ds max Bible, Illustrator Bible and Naked Maya. He also is the author of Poser 6 Revealed and Poser 7 Revealed as well as Edgeloop Character Modeling for 3D Professionals. Kelly currently works as a freelance designer for Logical Paradox Design, a company that he founded with his brother.