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'Poser 8 Revealed': Editing and Posing Figures - Part 1

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

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Posing figures is surprisingly easy; you just grab a body part and move it into position. All attached body parts will move along with the selected part in the same way they move in real life, unlike when you’re on the dance floor. In other words, if you raise the upper arm of a model, the lower arm, wrist, and hand will move with it.

Once you have loaded a figure in the Document Window, you can select and move it into position within the scene before starting to pose the figure. Moving a figure moves the entire figure as one unit and lets you separate multiple figures within a single scene.

Several commands are available for working with figures, including changing its height, locking a figure in place, and hiding a figure to speed the update within the Document Window. Most of these commands are located within the Figure menu, but you can also change a figure’s parameters and properties using the Parameter/Properties palette.

Parameter dial

The first step in posing a character is being able to select the individual figure elements such as the upper arm or the lower leg. You can select figure elements directly in the Document Window using the mouse or by using the Actor drop-down list at the top of the Document Window.

To help with the task of positioning figure body parts, you can use the Editing tools. Within the Editing tools are tools to translate, rotate, twist, scale, taper, and even color the various elements. Understanding how to effectively use the edit tools will enable you to create good poses. Another way to position elements is to alter their parameter values using the parameter dials that appear in the Parameters/Properties palette.

Poser includes several menu options that you can use to help you pose figures in the scene. The Figure, Symmetry menu includes options for copying the element poses on the left side of the object to the right side and vice versa. You can also copy arm and leg poses between opposite sides, swap poses on either side, and straighten the torso. The Figure, Use Limits option restricts the movement of elements to be within designated values, and the Figure, Auto Balance option automatically moves figure elements to maintain the figure’s center of gravity.

The Figure, Use Inverse Kinematics options enable you to move all the elements in a pre-set chain by positioning the last (or goal) element in the chain. This is particularly convenient for positioning hands and feet and having the arms and legs follow naturally. This chapter concludes by looking at the Hierarchy Editor, which is an interface listing all the elements in the entire scene. It provides an interface for parenting elements.

Position Figures Within The Scene Loaded figures appear in the center of the Document Window at a point known as the origin. The origin is the point in 3D space where the X, Y, and Z coordinate values are all 0. But you can move the scene figures as needed using the Document Window controls.

Selecting Figures If the scene includes multiple figures, you can select an individual figure using the Figure Selection list located in the upper-left corner of the Document Window. Each figure is given a name when first loaded from the Library. The default names are “Figure” and a number such as Figure 1, Figure 2, and so on, but you can change a figure’s name using the Properties palette.

The default mannequin’s name is Andy.

Even though a figure is selected in the Figure list, a separate body part may still be selected. This makes the parameters for the selected body part visible in the Parameters palette. To make the parameters for the entire figure visible in the Parameters palette, select the Body option in the Actor list or you could click on the Figure Circle in the Document Window. The Actor list is located to the right of the Figure Selection list. When the Body option is selected, the Figure’s name is displayed at the top of the Parameters palette.

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

Using the Figure Circle Control

Dragging over a figure in the Document Window highlights the various body parts, but if you move the mouse cursor towards the edges of the figure, a large circle appears that surrounds the figure, as shown in Figure 3-1. This circle is the Figure Circle control and it enables the entire figure to be translated. If the Figure Circle control isn’t visible, select the Display, Figure Circle menu command to make it visible. Clicking and dragging on this control lets you edit the entire figure using the various Editing tools, including translating, rotating, and scaling the entire figure. A complete description of the various Editing tools appears later in this chapter.

You can also make the Figure Circle control appear by selecting the Body option in the Actor list.

[Figure 3-1] Figure Circle control

Changing Figure Parameters In addition to the Figure Circle control and the Editing tools, you can also change a figure’s position and orientation using the Parameter values found in the Parameters palette. You change these parameter values by dragging on the dial controls or by entering a new value. Doing so updates the figure in the Document Window.

Dropping a Figure to the Floor As figures are moved, you can position them above or below the ground plane, which can make it look like they are walking on air or in the ground. The figure shadow is a good indication if the figure is above the ground plane, but there is a feature that can return the figure to the ground plane. The Figure, Drop to Floor (Ctrl/Command+D) menu command moves the selected figure downward or upward until it contacts the ground plane. The Drop to Floor command also works if part of the figure is positioned below the ground plane.

The Drop to Floor command simply moves the figure until the lowest body part is touching the floor. This could be a finger or a toe; the command doesn’t compensate for body weight.

Locking Figures

Once you have a figure positioned exactly where you want it, you can lock it so it won’t be moved by accident. To lock the selected figure, select Figure, Lock Figure. Body parts of a locked figure also cannot be moved. A check mark appears in the Figure menu next to the Lock Figure menu when it is enabled. To unlock a figure, simply select Figure, Lock Figure again.

The Figure menu also includes a command to Lock Hands Parts. Locking the hands is helpful. Because the hands include so many different parts, it is easy to select the wrong part accidentally.

Memorizing and Restoring a Figure If you make a mistake while positioning a figure, you can use Edit, Undo to undo the previous edits or you can restore the figure to its last saved, loaded, or memorized position using the Edit, Restore, Figure (Ctrl+Shift+F) (or Command+Shift+F on the Mac) menu command. To memorize a figure's current position so you can restore it, use Edit, Memorize, Figure (Alt+Ctrl+F) (Mac: Option+Command+F).

In addition to figures, you can also use the Memorize and Restore commands on Elements, Lights, Cameras, and All items.

[Figure 3-2]

Pose Dots.

Set Dot.

Empty Dot.

Using the Pose Dots Another useful way to save a current pose without using the menus is to use the Pose Dots. The Pose Dots, shown in Figure 3-2, can be selected from the Memory Dots by selecting them from a drop-down list at the top of the palette. To remember the current pose for the selected figure, simply click on one of the empty Pose Dots. You can recall set poses at any time by clicking on the appropriate Pose Dot. Clicking on a Pose Dot with the Alt key held down (the Option key on the Mac) causes the dot to be reset.

Duplicating a Figure To duplicate an entire figure including its expression, hair, pose, and animation keys, use the Edit, Duplicate menu command. This command always lists the figure name that you will be duplicating to help ensure that you are duplicating the correct figure. The duplicated figure appears directly on top of the original figure and one will need to be moved to reveal the other.

Position a Figure within a Scene 1.       Open Poser with the default figure visible.

2.       Open the Library palette and select the Poses category. Then open the Universal Poses, Business, Standing folder and locate and apply the Bsns Stand 06 pose.

3.       Select the Edit, Duplicate Andy menu to create a clone of the current figure.

The duplicate figure is positioned in the same location as its original.

4.       Choose the Andy 1 figure from the Figure Selection list at the top of the Document Window. Then drag the circle surrounding the figure to the right, away from its original.

5.       Select the Figure, Drop to Floor menu to align the figure with the floor.

The figures are now positioned apart from one another and aligned with the ground plane, as shown in Figure 3-3.

6.       Select File, Save As and save the file as Two positioned figures.pz3.

[Figure 3-3] Two positioned figures

Memorize and Restore Figure Positions

1.       Select File, Open and open the Two positioned figures.pz3 file.

This file includes two separate figures positioned side by side.

2.       From the Figure Selection drop-down list at the upper-left of the Document Window, select the Andy 1 option.

3.       Select Edit, Memorize, Figure.

4.       In the Document Window, click and drag on the circle surrounding the figure and move the figure to the right. Then select and drag one of the figure’s arms.

5.       Select Edit, Restore, Figure.

The default figure is returned to its memorized position.

Set Figure Properties And Style When a figure is selected, you can use the Properties panel of the Parameters/Properties palette, shown in Figure 3-4, to change several properties that are unique to the selected figure, such as its name and whether it is visible.

The Properties that are displayed in the Properties palette depend on the element that is selected. The figure properties will only be visible when the figure is selected.

[Figure 3-4] Figure Properties palette

[Figure 3-4] Figure Properties palette

Naming Figures The default names of Figure 1 and Figure 2 can get confusing if you have several figures in the scene, so you should try to name your figures something descriptive like “Scary dude with a bad attitude who likes to kick dogs that cross his path.” Accessing the Properties palette lets you type a new name for the selected figure. Once a figure has a new name, this name will appear in the Figure Selection list.

Hiding Figures With several figures in a scene, the redraw time can slow down, but you can speed up the redraw time by hiding the figures that you aren’t working with. To hide the selected figure, simply disable the Visible option in the Properties palette. This won’t delete the figure, but only hides it from view. Enabling the Visible option will make the figure visible in the Document Window again. You can also hide the current figure using Figure, Hide Figure (Ctrl/Command+H). The Figure, Show All Figures menu command makes all hidden figures visible.

If you’re worried about the redraw time in the Document Window, you can also look into using the Tracking option at the bottom of the Document Window or changing the Display Style.

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

The Displacement Bounds value is used to set the maximum depth that a displacement map can indent an object. Displacement maps are discussed in more detail in Chapter 8, “Creating and Applying Materials.”

[Figure 3-5] Various figure heights

Setting a Figure’s Height The default figure appears using a standard adult height, but you can change the selected figure’s height using the Figure, Figure Height menu command. The height of each option is measured relative to the size of the head. The height options include Baby, Toddler, Child, Juvenile, Adolescent, Ideal Adult, Fashion Model, and Heroic Model.

Figure 3-5 shows each of the various figure heights for the Ryan figure. Notice how the body’s proportion is changed along with its height.

Some of the default figures don’t change height very well. For example, the default SimonG2 cannot change into most of the smaller heights.

Adding Genitalia Most of the older Poser models without clothes are anatomically correct, but you can enable and disable whether the genitalia is visible using the Figure, Genitalia menu. Enabling this option enables it for all models in the scene, as shown for the Ryan and Alyson figures in Figure 3-6. Many of the newer models, including Ryan, include genitalia as a separate figure that can be conformed to the figure just like clothing. The genitalia for Ryan can be found in a Genitals folder in the Figures category in the Library.

[Figure 3-6] Anatomically correct figures

Not all figures include genitalia. Enabling this option for figures that don’t have modeled genitalia will have no effect. It also has no effect for figures that are covered with clothes.

During installation there is a Custom install option labeled General Audience. If this installation option is selected, no nude figures are installed.

Setting Figure Style The Display Style control sets the display style for all items in the scene, but you can also set the display style for just the selected figure using Display, Figure Style or by clicking the Display Style pop-up menu. The default option is Use Document Style or you can select one of the 12 display styles. Figure 3-7 shows three figure display styles applied to the same figure.

[Figure 3-7] Figure display styles

Using Display Guides The Display, Guides menu command includes several useful display guides that can help to keep the relative size of the different figures consistent. The Display, Guides, Head Lengths guide divides the figure into seven evenly sized head lengths shown as simple rectangular boxes, as shown in Figure 3-8. Because all adult humans are about seven head lengths in size, you can use these guides to determine if the figure’s size has the correct proportions.

Another useful display guide is the Hip-Shoulder Relationship guide. This guide shows the width of the hip and the shoulders as two boxes. You can access it from the Display, Guides menu command.

[Figure 3-8] Head lengths guide

Deleting Figures You can delete selected figures from the scene using Figure, Delete Figure or by pressing the Delete key. When you select this command, a warning dialog box appears asking if you want to delete the figure. Clicking Yes permanently deletes the figure from the scene.

The Delete key will only delete figures and not elements. If an element is selected and you press the Delete key, Poser will attempt to delete the entire figure. You can delete individual elements using the Object, Delete Object menu.

Name Figures 1.       Select File, Open and open the Two positioned figures.pz3 file.

2.       From the Figure Selection drop-down list at the upper-left of the Document Window, select the Ryan 1 option.

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

4.       Click the Properties tab in the Parameters/Properties palette.

5.       In Name field, type the name, Ryan Clone.

Each of the figures now has a unique name.

6.       From the Figure Selection drop-down list at the upper-left of the Document Window, select the Ryan option.

7.       Select Figure, Figure Height, Heroic Model.

8.       Select Display, Figure Style, Flat Shaded.

[Figure 3-9] Cartoon style figures of different heights

9.       From the Figure Selection drop-down list at the upper-left of the Document Window, select the Ryan Clone option.

10.       Select Figure, Figure Height, Adolescent.

11.       Select Display, Figure Style, Cartoon with Lines.

Each of the figures is displayed using a different height and style, as shown in Figure 3-9.

12.       Select File, Save As and save the file as Unique figures.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.