To Model or Not To Model

To Model or Not To Model

To Model or Not to Model


To model from scratch or not. This question has caused great debate between modellers and Poser users. On one hand Poser is great for pre-visualization, forensics animation and drawing reference. On the other hand no major motion picture has ever used Poser for the finished product. No major video game has ever used Poser for the finished product. According to some Poser users, Poser is looked down upon by modellers because of jealousy. From JHoagland’s Weblog Why do elitists look down on the use of Poser?:

The most logical reason for the Poser-bashing is probably the simplest: professional jealousy. Some elitists may have spent years to build up their talent to the point where they can make a human figure from scratch. But, along comes John Poser-User who can place a pre-made human into a scene, pose it all kinds of different ways, and make an image in a few minutes.

Where’s the years of study? Where’s the “mastery” of building models?

Obviously Mr. Hoagland has never heard of the Dunning–Kruger effect. From the Dunning–Kruger effect article on Wikipedia:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

  1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill

As a modeller, I do not look down on Poser. I’ve learned about edge flow by taking apart Poser models. I’ve learned about animating 3D characters by solving joint problems in Poser. My reason for modelling is that I see greater value in developing my modelling skills versus continuing to use Poser. Anyone can use Poser, as Hoagland himself admits. It takes time and attention to detail to learn how to model. I find modelling challenging. The greater the challenge, the greater the reward. I find Poser far less challenging. The more I learn about anatomy, the more glaring the anatomical errors in Poser figures appear. Below is an example comparing Poser shoulders to photographs of shoulders from Can you spot the problems?


Figure 1a Figure 1b Figure 2a Figure 2b
femaleShoulder v4Shoulder maleShoulder m4Shoulder


First, I deliberately made the Poser shoulders appear as close to the photographs as possible in terms of color and lighting. Someone trained in anatomy would notice that figure 1a and figure 2a have wrinkles at the armpits making it clear that they are the photographs from Both figure 1b and figure 2b have armpits that are up too high. They should align more with the bottom of the deltoid. Also the Poser shoulders are rounder than the shoulders of real people. There is an obvious plane change at the acromion process that appears in the photos but is absent in the Poser renders. Modellers look for those details to add greater realism to their work. Poser users fail to recongnize these details. Many times I have witnessed “balloon shoulders” on Poser renders which are even more extreme than the ones pictured above.




To get a sense of why modellers are used on major motion pictures instead of Poser, take a look at this YouTube video “Behind the Magic: Creating The Hulk for “The Avengers” (Part 1)”


If you watched the video, I hope you received the same message as my example above: Attention to detail matters. Poser is a good tool for quick sketches. A model that will hold up to review on the big screen has to be better. That is why modellers are used. Its not about jealously. Its about attention to detail. Artists who notice detail will find problems with Poser figures. Artists that are less aware of detail may reinterpret criticism as “jealousy from elitists”. Anyone striving to create humanoid 3D animation on the same level as major motion pictures will have to learn anatomy. Knowledge of anatomy allows the artist to correct obvious anatomical errors and create higher levels of realism.

Modelling is important for me in my growth as an artist. I hope I’ve persuaded some people of the value of modelling. After all if no one modelled anything, there would be no content for Poser.

Fixing Morphs with UVMapper Pro

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Category : 3-D Modeling

In a previous post I mentioned that vertex order was critical for creating successful morphs in Poser. Many 3d programs do not preserve vertex order leading to the garbled mess pictured above. There is a method for correcting errors like this using a program called UVMapper Professional.

In order for this to work you must keep a copy of both the original 3d object and the morphed version of the object. Additionally you cannot add any new vertexes or edges to the morph; it must have exactly the same number of vertexes as the original object.

  1. In UV Mapper Pro load your morphed object.
  2. Select Tools->Vertices->Reorder. In the file manager select the original object. Your morphed object will turn into a garbled mess if you are successful. If you are not successful you will need to create your morph from scratch. Problems are usually caused by having deleted or created vertices in your morph. Even adding back vertices after deleting them may result in a bad outcome. Be very careful when creating your morph.

  3. Save the new morph.
  4. Load the new morph into Poser. Voilà! You have changed your garbled morph into a proper morph.

From Poser to DazStudio: Displacement Maps

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Category : 3-D Modeling

Displacement Maps and Bump Maps add additional detail to a 3d digital object that is too difficult or time-consuming to sculpt. I have constructed a brief tutorial explaining how to get Poser style displacement maps to work with DazStudio 3. The product used in this example is my popular Wondrous Winter collection available under freebies. This tutorial assumes that you know how to load Poser content into DazStudio. If you don’t know how to do that, read this tutorial first.

Step 1: Load the Poser content containing the displacement maps or bump maps then switch to DazStudio’s render pane:

Step 2: On the “Surfaces” tab to the right, select one of the materials from the drop down menu:

Step 3: If you see a name under “Strength” instead of “None”, change the “Negative” value from 0.010 to -1.0:

Step 4: Change the “Positive” value from 0.010 to 1.0:

Step 5: Repeat steps 1 to 4 many times until ALL the materials have been converted.

Plains of Africa

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Category : 3-D Modeling

An image I made recently using Vue 7 Infinite. This image is a bit of stereotype complete with elephants and acacia tree but I was trying to create a calming wildlife poster. Click on the image to see a larger version. The final image is actually 72 in x 14.4 in. Prints available at deviantArt

5 More Tips for Making Poser Clothes

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Category : 3-D Modeling


…Or 5 More Things I wish I knew before wasting many hours doing the wrong things modeling Poser Clothes!

  1. Don’t use triangles in your mesh.
  2. Keep your meshes as straight as possible.
  3. Group your meshes as you model them.
  4. Use Multiple Threads in Poser for your renders.
  5. Be careful of exploding Morphs!

Continuing in the tradition of 10 tips for making poser clothes, here are 5 more helpful tips. There is some math involved but don’t worry, you won’t have to do any calculations!

1. Don’t use triangles in your mesh.

If you plan to use the clothes you have modeled in Poser’s Cloth Room, triangles will kill the simulation process. If you try sub-dividing a  triangle mesh using Nevercenter’s Silo (type ‘C’), the result will be a mesh with huge gaps; some polygons will be smooth while others fly hundreds of units away from your figure. There is  probably a mathematical reason for this; all manipulations in 3D Applications are based upon linear algebra. I suspect division by zero may be the culprit. At any rate, its best to avoid triangle meshes. Better to use meshes composed of quadrilaterals (4-sided shapes. e.g. squares, rectangles, trapezoids, and parallelograms).

2.Keep your meshes as straight as possible.
This tip makes a big difference in UV mapping. the closer to 90 degree (right) angles the mesh is, the easier it is to create a smooth UV Map over-top the mesh. The ideal mesh would consist entirely of rectangles. To create realistic looking folds it sometimes becomes necessary to violate this tip but try as much as possible to follow it.

3.Group your meshes as you model them.
What newbies often do is create clothing as a single object and then create groups for the abdomen, chest, etc. afterward. To save time and to ensure your clothes bend as naturally as possible, it is best to define the groups as you model them. Depending upon your modeler, you may be able to copy the exact locations of the body parts of your target figure (Victoria 4, Apollo Maximus, etc.).

4. Use Multiple Threads in Poser for your renders.
Splitting your render into separate threads will speed up rendering time. I also found it prevented a problem with crashing in Poser 7. The maximum number of threads you can use is 4 in Poser 7. I tried rendering a separate process but I found that actually slows things down. You can find these controls on a Mac under Poser 7 > Preferences > Render. On a PC, Edit > Preferences > Render.

5. Be careful of exploding Morphs!
This tip applies to all figures, not just clothes. When creating morphs, be careful which programs you use to create them. Edge order matters for morphs and some modelers will change the order of your edges resulting in the exploding mess shown at the start of this article. If you create morphs within Poser itself this is usually not an issue but Poser has limited morph creation tools. I use Nevercenter’s Silo for morph creation. This tool is extremely powerful for creating morphs, improving models made in other programs and making models from scratch.

10 Tips for Making Poser Clothes

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Category : 3-D Modeling

…Or 10 Things I wish I knew before wasting many hours doing the wrong things modeling Poser Clothes!

UPDATE February 2013: 
Download My Wondrous Winter Collection for Victoria 4 FOR FREE!


Follow these tips and you will save yourself a great deal of time. Below is a more detailed breakdown of what each of these things mean.

1. Backup Everything you create

Many-a-time I have been saved from destroying weeks-worth of work by retrieving a backup I made earlier. As a Unix Geek using a MAC, I have set up rsync and crontab for this purpose. The new Mac OS v10.5 eliminates the need for this hack. At any rate whatever your operating system, ALWAYS BACKUP!

2.There is an Easy Way to make MAT poses
Material or MAT Poses are convenient method for adding different color materials to clothes. The easiset way to make these files is by creating a material collection (in Poser 6 or 7 extention mc6) or a single material file (in Poser 5, 6 or 7 extention mt5) in Poser’s Material Room. Change one line in these files using a text editor (on my Mac I use XCode). For mt5 “actor $CURRENT” should be changed to “figure”. For mc6 “mtlCollection” should also be “figure”. Close the file and save it with the extension pz2. You’re done.

3. Remove IK (Inverse Kinematics) Chains from your clothes.
This tip will save you hassels when you apply MAT poses. I ran into a situation where every-time I applied a MAT pose it moved the clothing that I had applied it to. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I now know that IK Chains were to blame. IK is only really needed for giving realistic bends to figures. For conforming Clothes this isn’t necessary; the clothes bend with the figure. Read tip #5 to find out how to remove IK Chains.

4. Use Morph Manager.
Try as I might, there is no better tool for adding and removing morphs from poser figures than Morph Manager. On a Mac you can run Morph Manager using VMWare Fusion and a LEGAL copy of Windows.

5. The Hierarchy Editor is your friend.
I found the Hierarchy editor very useful for removing Full Body Morphs (this isn’t done so well by Morph Manager) and renaming parts of figures. At present you are stuck working one part at a time, which makes it less useful if you have to change say 50 morphs but it does work. To use the Hierarchy Editor, first switch to the Set-Up room. Then select Window -> Hierarchy Editor. Here you can delete IK Chains (Tip #3) or bones.

6. Don’t Fear the Set-Up Room.
The Set-Up Room allows you to adjust Joint parameters and re-assign parts of figures to new groups. You can even turn imported wavefront objects (*.OBJ) into figures using the Set-Up room. For anyone making Poser Clothes, this is the MOST useful feature of Poser. Learn to use it well.

7. Joint Parameters are important.
With some 3-D models, the joints are such that modeling clothes for them can be quite tricky. Victoria 4 has an issue regarding bending her legs near the hip (the unfortunately named “crotch issue”). Mastering Joint Parameters will prevent some of these issues.

8. Make your model at actual size.
You will thank yourself when it comes time to import your clothing into Poser. I use Shade 8 Which has a PoserFusion feature for Importing Poser Figures. I model my clothes around a figure in the correct size and location it should appear when it becomes finished Poser Clothing. I can then import it into Poser with all import options turned OFF.

9. UV maps will save you time.
Modeling clothes can be time consuming. Transparency Maps, Bump Maps and Displacement Maps can save time. For example, instead of creating the ribs in an a sweater, a bump map painted in Photoshop can give the impression of ribs in a sweater. UV Maps are basically fltatened out version of a model; like a map of the Globe flattened onto a sheet. UV Mapper is one inexpensive program that can be used to create UV Maps but there are many others (BodyPaint, Blender, ZBrush., etc.).

10. Learn to Use Python.
Without Python, I literally would not have time to sleep when creating 3-D Models. Python allows me to automate the creation of Full Body Morphs and Renders. I can sleep while the computer works. It’s a nice arrangement. Poser comes with a manual on Poser specific Python commands. You can also look at the following sites for ideas on how to use Python with Poser: