Years ago I looked at a software package called Poser. While intriguing, it just didn’t seem to be something I’d want or use. The other day I trusted software company sent me an email with a discount on Poser 11. I thought I’d check it out again.
After watching their demo reel, I thought I’d take them up on the 50% off offer. I bit the bullet and purchased the package. While there’s a “pro” version, I decided to go with the cheaper version.
Installation of Poser 11 is different than any program I’ve ever installed. Smith Micro (the creators of Poser 11) has their own download/installation tool. Unlike others where you download a file and run it, you download and install the installer, and it installs Poser 11 along with the content support files.
There’s a lot to install. Each content package installs separately. Most other programs would have a screen offering two choices – full install and custom install. With the Smith Micro Download Manager, you click on the download button, and then after it downloads, you click on the install button (which has replaced the download button.)
I ran in to one problem. After all was installed, the update tab in the download manager showed two updates. The update to the program ran fine. The other was an update to content. It kept reporting it couldn’t find Poser 11.
After contacting Smith Micro, I was told the update portion for content for Windows is not yet functional and is expected to be released next week. (It would be nice if they didn’t offer the option if it isn’t ready.)
Running Poser 11
I ran Poser 11 and just started playing around. After about 30 minutes I decided to watch some training videos to learn how to so some specific things. There are a fair number of videos on YouTube. Some are for earlier versions, but much of what they teach still applies.
As a photographer I am mostly interested in posing figures, and lighting. I found the posing portion somewhat intuitive. The “somewhat” part is knowing what portion of the body you should move first. For example, if you want to raise a hand, you simply don’t grab the hand and move it. You first move the upper arm, then the lower arm, and finally the hand.
Lighting is a little more intuitive. You have several lights you can position.
Finally, it is all viewed by the “camera”. What you see on the screen is the view of a camera. (You have a few cameras to choose from: Main, Aux, Dolly, Face, Posing, Left, Right, etc.)
Like real life, the camera lens has an impact. You can change the focal length of the lens. This effects the foreground and background relationship. Once I discovered this it was an “ah ha” moment.
Figures, Props, Hair, Faces, Clothes, Etc.
You can add figures and props, and you can apply hair, clothes, faces, etc. I discovered that adding clothes to your figure isn’t as straight forward as I’d like it to be. Here’s an example…
In the above example, I applied a sweater and jeans specifically made for this figure. As you can see, the sweater looks like it has a hole under the right breast. I’ve noticed similar problems with hair and other props you apply to the body. While there is a conforming feature, I’ve found it doesn’t always conform the clothes to the figure.
Once you’ve applied the clothes, if you modify the body, you can end up with “holes” in the clothes as a result. Here’s an example of this…
If you look at the above picture, you can tell there are multiple lights (look at the shadows). You have enough lights to have main, fill, kickers, etc.
You can also add objects like desks, chairs, additional people, walls, and more. I’m sure there is a way to build these objects, but I haven’t advanced to that point yet. I’m sticking to using the objects that came with the basic Poser 11.
In conclusion, I can see this being a great tool for a photographer. There is a learning curve because it is pretty advanced. You can use it for testing lighting setups, poses, and more.
From a painter standpoint, I’m going to have fun using this to create reference figures for paintings. I’ve already started on my first – Don’t Stand So Close to Me (based on the song by the Police.)