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'Poser 8 Revealed': Editing and Posing Figures - Part 2

Kelly L. Murdock continues his overview of editing and posing figures in Poser 8 in this excerpt from Poser 8 Revealed.

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Each figure is made up of several distinct body parts that you can select independently. Any object that can be selected from the Actor list is an element consisting of body parts, props, lights, and cameras. Selecting specific elements is the key to being able to pose a figure.

[Figure 3-10] Selected element

Actor list

Selecting from the Document Window

When you drag over an element in the Document Window, it becomes highlighted. If you click the element when it is highlighted, the element is selected and its name appears in the Actor list at the top of the Document Window, as shown in Figure 3-10, and in the title bar of the Parameters/Properties palette.

Many times, multiple elements can be positioned in the same place, making it difficult to highlight the exact element you want to select. If you right-click in the Document Window, all elements that are currently under the mouse cursor are listed in the Select menu. They are listed in order from the elements closest to the camera to the ones farther back. The element’s distance from the camera view is stored in memory in an array called the Z-Buffer. This feature is very helpful when selecting individual parts of the fingers.

[Figure 3-11] Selected element list

Selecting from a List

Another way to select figure body parts is by selecting them from the Actor list at the top of the Document Window and in the title bar of the Parameters/Properties palette, as shown for the Chest element in Figure 3-11. Both of these lists are identical and include menu options for selecting Body Parts, Body, Props, Cameras, and Lights. Selecting the Body Parts menu presents a long list of body parts. Only one figure element can be selected at a time.

Selecting the Body option from the Actor list selects the entire figure. For some figures, the body parts list is quite long. You can also move through the Actor list using the up and down arrow keys to cycle through the various elements.

[Figure 3-12] Element Properties

Naming Elements

The default names in the Actor list match the various body parts such as Chest, Right Hand, and Left Forearm, but you can use the Name field in the Properties palette, shown in Figure 3-12, to change the name of any selected element. Once an element has a new name, this name will appear in the Actor list, but Poser also maintains an internal name that it uses to coordinate the body part with its adjacent body parts. This internal name cannot be changed in the Properties panel.

[Figure 3-13] Hidden elements

Hiding and Locking Elements (Actors)

You can hide elements by disabling the Visible option in the Properties palette. This won’t delete the element, but only hide it from view. Figure 3-13 shows a figure with its chest element hidden. To make a hidden element visible again, you’ll need to select the element from the Actor list and enable the Visible option again.

The selected actor can also be locked to its parent to help maintain its current orientation. For example, if you lock the figure’s neck, then the head will maintain its orientation to the body when the rest of the body is moved. The lock command is available in the Object, Lock Actor menu. When locked, a checkmark appears to the left of the menu. Selecting the menu option again will unlock the selected actor.

[Figure 3-14] Different element styles

Setting Other Element Properties

The Visible in Ray Tracing option causes the element’s reflection to be cast to objects in the scene when raytracing is enabled during the rendering phase. Raytracing is covered in Chapter 16, “Rendering Scenes.”

The Bend option lets you specify whether the selected element bends to stay connected to its adjacent parts when moved. Disabling this option can cause gaps to appear in the figure. The Casts Shadows option causes the element to display a shadow in the Document Window when the Shadow toggle is enabled. The other properties are covered in subsequent chapters.

[Figure 3-15] Half a figure shaded using Cartoon style

Setting Element Styles

Just like setting a specific figure style is possible, you can also set the display style for a specific element using the Display, Element Style menu command. The default option is Use Figure Style or you can select one of the 12 display styles. Figure 3-14 shows a figure that uses several element display styles.

When using the Cartoon display style, detailed textured body parts like the eyes lose all their details, but using a different display style for the eyes will bring some details back.

Select and Hide Elements

1.       Open Poser with the default Ryan figure visible.

2.       Click the Left Thigh element in the Document Window to select it.

The element is highlighted and its name appears in the Actor list at the top of the Document Window.

3.       Select Window, Parameter Dials to open the Parameters/Properties palette, if it isn’t already open, and click the Properties tab.

4.       Disable the Visible option.

5.       Repeat steps 2 and 4 for the Right Thigh, Left Shin, and Right Shin elements.

6.       Click the Head element in the Document Window to select it.

7.       Select Display, Element Style, Cartoon with Lines.

8.       Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the other visible body parts.

The visible elements are displayed using the Cartoon with Lines style to look like a Genie, as shown in Figure 3-15.

9.   Select File, Save As and save the file as Half a figure.pz3.

[Figure 3-16] Editing tools

Rotate (R) Twist (W) Translate/Pull (T) Translate In/Out (Z) Scale (S) Taper (P) Chain Break (L) Color (C) Grouping Tool View Magnifier Morphing Tool Direct Manipulation


In order to pose figures, you need to learn how to move, rotate, twist, and scale the different figure elements. The Editing tools in Figure 3-16 can help you accomplish these tasks. You can open this set of tools using Window, Editing Tools. You can select only one editing tool at a time, with the current tool being highlighted in yellow.

The tools covered below are those available in the Pose room. Other tools are available in other rooms and these will be covered in the later chapters.You can use all the Editing tools also on figures and props in addition to body parts.

[Figure 3-17] Translated arms

Moving Figure Elements

One of the first places to start when posing a figure is to move the various elements. A good example of this is dragging the upper arm to raise or lower the entire arm. There are a couple of Editing tools you can use to move figure elements, including the Translate/Pull tool and the Translate In/Out tool.

When translating body parts, the body part highlighted in white moves when you drag in the Document Window. The red highlighted object is the current selection.

The Translate/Pull tool (T) is the one tool that is selected when Poser is first started. It allows you to move figure elements within the XY plane. The Translate In/Out tool (Z) moves the selected element in and out of the Z plane, which is towards or away from the current camera view. Figure 3-17 shows a simple pose accomplished by translating the upper arms using these two tools.

[Figure 3-18] Rotated forearms and twisted waist

Rotating and Twisting Elements

You use the Rotate tool (R) to rotate elements about their joints. For example, if you drag on the selected forearm object with the Rotate tool, it will rotate about the elbow joint. Dragging an element with the Twist tool (W) causes it to rotate about its joint axis. For example, dragging the abdomen element with the Twist tool makes a figure twist about its waist. Figure 3-18 shows a figure whose forearms have been rotated with the Rotate tool and whose waist has been twisted with the Twist tool.

[Figure 3-19] Scaled chest

Scaling and Tapering Elements

The Scale tool (S) changes the size of the element along a single axis, but you can cause the element to be uniformly scaled along all axes at the same time by holding down the Shift key while dragging. The Taper tool (P) is similar to the Scale tool, except it scales only one end of an element leaving the other unchanged. The result of a tapered element is to make the object long and thin or short and fat. Figure 3-19 shows a figure whose chest and collarbones have been scaled.

[Figure 3-20] Pop-up color palette

Open Color Selector

Coloring Elements

Although the real place to apply colors and textures to a figure element is in the Material Room, which is covered in Chapter 8, “Creating and Applying Materials,” you can place basic flat colors to elements using the Color tool (C). Clicking with this tool on an element causes a pop-up color palette, shown in Figure 3-20, to appear. You can select a color from this pop-up color palette by dragging over the color that you want to select. Clicking a color in the palette closes the pop-up color palette. Figure 3-21 shows a figure with a dark color applied to its body.

[Figure 3-21] Figure with colors

The Color tool adds colors to material groups such as Shirt, Pants, Skin Color, and so on, instead of to elements. If you create a new material group, then you can apply color to a specific element. More on material groups is covered in Chapter 8, “Creating and Applying Materials.”

[Figure 3-22] Zoomed figure

Using the View Magnifier Tool The View Magnifier tool allows you to zoom in on an area without changing the parameters of the current camera. To use it, simply click the area that you want to zoom in on. Each successive click zooms further in on an area. Clicking with the Ctrl key (or Command key on the Mac) held down zooms out. You can also zoom in on a region by dragging over the zoom area with the View Magnifier tool. Figure 3-22 shows a zoomed figure that used the View Magnifier tool.

[Figure 3-23] Direct Manipulation Tool controls

Scale controlsRotation controls

Using the Direct Manipulation Tool

The Direct Manipulation tool surrounds the selected element with icons that can be used to move, rotate, and scale the selected element, as shown in Figure 3-23. By dragging these controls, you can change the element’s position, rotation, and scale in the X, Y, and Z axes. The yellow boxes at each axis let you scale the selected object and the red, green, and blue circles let you rotate about a single axis with red for the X-axis, green for the Y-axis, and blue for the Z-axis. These controls have the same effect as dragging the corresponding parameter dial.

The mouse cursor changes to match the corresponding action when moving it over the top of the various controls for the Direct Manipulation tool.

[Figure 3-24] Zombie march pose

Use the Editing Tools

1.       Open Poser with the default Ryan visible.

2.       Select Window, Editing Tools to make the Editing Tools buttons visible if they aren’t already visible.

3.       Click the Translate/Pull tool (or press the T key) and drag on the left shoulder to raise it to be horizontal with the ground. Repeat for the right shoulder so both arms are outstretched.

4.       Click the Translate In/Out tool (or press the Z key) and drag the left shoulder until it is stretched in front of the figure. Repeat for the right shoulder so both arms are stretched out in front of the figure.

The chest of the figure will lean forward as you pull the arms forward.

5.   Select From Left from the Camera Controls pop-up menu.

6.   Click the Rotate tool (or press the R key) and drag the abdomen until the figure’s torso is vertical again.

7.   Click the Translate/Pull tool (or press the T key), select and drag the left foot, and pull it out and up from the figure as if the figure were taking a step.

The side view of the figure shows the figure with both arms outstretched taking a step forward, as shown in Figure 3-24.

8.   Select File, Save As and save the file as Zombie march.pz3.

[Figure 3-25] Figure with black shirt

Color Elements

1.       Open Poser with the Ryan Casual mannequin visible.

2.       Select Window, Editing Tools to make the Editing Tools buttons visible, if necessary.

3.       Click the Color tool (or press the C key) and click the figure’s shirt.

A pop-up color palette appears with the title Diffuse Material: Shirt.

4.       Select a black color.

The shirt area of the figure is colored black and the pop-up color palette is closed, as shown in Figure 3-25.

5.   Select File, Save As and save the file as Black shirt.pz3.

[Figure 3-26] Scaled jaw element

Use the Direct Manipulation Tool

1.       Open Poser with the Ryan figure visible.

2.       Select Window, Editing Tools to make the Editing Tools buttons visible (if necessary).

3.       Select the neck object in the Document Window and use the View Magnifier tool to zoom in on the neck and head region.

4.       Select the Direct Manipulation tool from the Editing tools.

Manipulation controls surround the neck element.

5.       Drag the right scale control icon to the right in the Document Window.

The figure now has a larger belly section, as shown in Figure 3-26.

6.   Select File, Save As and save the file as Scaled jaw.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.