Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A step forward with Poser

Although I bought one of the earliest versions of Poser, then produced by Fractal Design, back in the early 1990’s I have not done much with the program until recently. It is now in at least it’s tenth version and along the way has become much more sophisticated.

Figure 1. My earliest Poser Manual cover

With a new Pro and Epson R3000 printer it had become time that I stepped up to the intent of using the program to create some work that would provide enjoyment in creation, and later review. But even having kept up with program purchases, I had to learn how to use the program almost from scratch, since I had largely done technical modeling (using Strata) until now. So there was a lot to learn, before I was able to produce my first Giclee* - “The Artist’s Drawing Room.” Here are some of the things I learned along the way.

Figure 2. The Artist’s Drawing Room

Note: A Clarification has been added at the end of the piece.
I began with “Poser for Dummies”, which got me back into the sense of the program, and I followed this with Sveva’s “Poser for Beginners” and these together started me into simple modeling of scenes and figures. But it wasn’t until I had sat through the excellent Poser Expo’s that Paul Bussey hosted at 3D Art live, and the Reality 3 Webinar by Paolo that I began to get enthusiastic.

One of the more influential talks was by Mary Williams in the second Expo, talking about “the Power of Drama in Story Telling” (as you will see). And the first step was based on one of the comments that came out of the many talks I listened to (and perhaps this was also from Mary, or from Arki’s Backstage Tour of Poser) i.e. to decide what I wanted to do. The suggestion was to begin by building an “Inspiration Collection” of illustrations. Going through back issues of Spectrum bookmarking and copying into a folder the illustrations that qualified. And slowly I realized what my focus was, as only perhaps seven or eight illustrations qualified from the hundreds contained in each annual. Broadening the scope to other artists, while I like Brom and Frank Frazetta’s work, I don’t fancy doing it, but there were a couple of paintings in a book on Polish Painting. In particular it would be challenging to try a version of Alexander Kokular's "Drawing-Room in the Artist's Home, 1830.

Figure 2. Drawing-Room in the Artist’s Home, by Alexander Kokular, 1830.

Just after looking at the original version I came across Rural Chateau on DAZ, and that could easily be modified to give the walls. But now I had to put something on them.

There was a good frame for the pictures in Rural Chateau II although it was for a mirror in the original. These are the steps used to make a picture:
a) Open the jpg file (using the texture file) in Photoshop and find the size of the picture needed to fill the frame (by cropping to the mirror). In this case the image size is 2100 by 1000 pixels (at 72 dpi).
b) Undo that change, and insert a new layer over the background of the mirror. Color that layer yellow (to make the frame look like gold).
b)Select an image for the painting (half were from scanned images the other half were from own earlier renders for testing ideas) and note the relative ratio of the width and height.
c) Open the image in Photoshop and size it to 2100 by 1000 pixels (this requires turning off the Constrain Proportions box).
d) Copy the image and paste it into the mirror image on a new layer. Move it so that it sits exactly over where the reflective glass lies. Save the image.
e) Flatten the image and save it as a texture to the file in a separate render library where I keep my models and images. Here I made a mistake. The titles used for the saved pictures were named by date of origin and title. For example 2013 Officer. But over half of the images were made by me in the last two years so the files all began with 2012 or 2013, Reality really doesn’t like that, as I later found out, as it confuses references back, and I had to go back and rename the pictures after mounting them.
f) Import the mirror into the scene in Poser.
g) In the Material Room change the Image Map reference in the frame Diffuse Color node to the texture just created and saved.
h) In the glass section of the mirror delete all the nodes. Change the diffuse color to white, set the diffuse value at 1 and connect a node to the Diffuse Color that leads through New Node > 2D textures > Image Map.
i) Click on Image Source and Browse to the file containing the cropped and sized image (2013 Officer), and click on the file.
j) Go back to the Pose tab, now use the y-scale to readjust the ratio of the width and height to roughly that of the original picture.
j) Use the x, y and z scroll wheels to move the image to the right place on the wall. Scale the overall painting to the required size. Add a slight tilt to the painting to show it is “hanging” and parallel to the wall. Save this as a new object in your render library. (This is important) And again don’t as I did give it the title such as 2013 officer.

Stepping through this process a total of 24 pictures were hung on the walls. It was going to be dark, and in the original you can barely make out the subjects. Adding a chair (from The Old West Saloon, believe it or not) meant changing the seat cover color in the Material Room to blue from a material file from Renderosity. The only statue that seemed at all appropriate in my collection was an angel so it was scaled and positioned, on a table, and it was time for a quick render. (The pictures leaning on the floor were from the second wall, and this was rendered in Firefly).

Figure 3. Early render of the room, showing the paintings as originally arranged. Those on the floor were from the second wall. (Firefly Render)

But this is where Mary Williams’ comments niggled in the back of my mind. This arrangement told no story. And I couldn’t find one in the original painting – so what to do, and then I realized. If the Merchant picture (top of column 2) was moved to the second wall it might fit better, and if it was replaced by the lady artist (on the floor) this might be her gallery room. But the nun didn’t seem to fit, but if I moved that . . .

And what were the kids to be doing? How about if the second room contained a piano (so that when the pictures were shown there would be background music) and the Nun picture were on an easel, having just been finished. If the younger child were also of African background, then she might be fascinated by the painting, and come over to touch it. The artist is reading through books looking for inspiration for her next work, over by the window. The elder child, who had been looking at the piano, realizes that her charge has wandered off and is about to knock the painting on the floor, so the elder child – too late – starts to dash to stop her. And that is the story to be told.

The easel came from Lost Moments (changing the picture as above to Abeje the Nun), and it was time to create the seated artist.

Given the already complex scene (this should have been done earlier) it seemed better to create the pose and clothing as a separate model and import them as such into the scene. Rhona looked somewhat like the artist but the clothing (a Genesis period dress) would not load as needed, and so a shirt was conformed and an underskirt dynamically molded to the figure as she sat on a chair, using standard dynamic clothing procedures. When the assembly was then exported to the render library the skirt did not follow the rest of the model – oops! Long story short, the model with skirt and shirt was exported as a Wave Object, and then Imported into the Drawing room scene.

The younger child was relatively easy since there are appropriate clothes for the K4 children but the older child (perhaps 10) needed a different model – Lucy Zepp was the right age, but the Sensibility dress would not shrink after conforming, so it was just scaled, and the poke through arms made invisible. Time for a quick render.

Figure 4. First Reality render of the scene under Sun light and using Reality 3)

What happened to the pictures? Some are in the wrong place, and some (columns 6 and 7) are missing. This was where the lesson about naming objects that Reality can’t isolate came in, and the different paintings were re-named (in the Properties tab) to remove the numbers at the beginning of the name, and then in the Materials window of Reality the right image maps were inserted where appropriate. The seat covers were changed in Reality to blue wool, but I had to move the little table by the artist to support the statue, since the night table didn’t show up at all. The artist clothes were also changed in Reality, though I could not get the black silk that I wanted.

A couple more renders and tweaks, but the drapes can’t be seen, and windows look out on something – a tree didn’t work:

Figure 5. Almost done

A photo from a niece of her house (in Canada) seemed as though it might work, so it was added as an image map on a scaled Primitive Hi-Res Square from 2014 Props, and set behind the windows.

The drapes were changed to yellow silk in Reality,and showed up. Reality also allowed a light within the statue to lift the color (and change the material).

The elder child is hidden too much by the shadow, and was moved further into the back room, and the floor material changed, (again in Reality). And so, there it was, coming out of the printer, my first Giclee – so I signed it.

Figure 8. The Artist’s Drawing Room, as printed.

I should mention that, if the period of the piece is around 1830 (the reason for the military gent in the top left) there has been a bit of debate about the subject in one of the paintings, but then that was the whole point of the story. (The location was originally Poland, the chateau is from France, the house from Canada, and the weather USA).

*Not quite sure what to call these works, but decided that for now, if it is original and printed on Art Media then it is a Giclee, rather than a painting or a photo.

Clarification: The reason that it is important to save each picture into the library after it has been scaled and positioned became really clear when the problem with poor referencing came up. I just deleted the original painting and re-inserted the saved one. It appeared in the right position at the right size, and all that was needed was to rename it so that there was no confusion as to which painting was which (i.e. it became Officer 1812). Since about 7 of the paintings were missing or wrongly referenced this speeded up the correction process considerably.


  1. does this title have anything to do with the commit on the previous post? If "I see what you did there" was intended here I would have thought you could have gone a little further with a post title more brutal.
    In any event, thanks for your efforts.

  2. The Poser posts are so infrequent that they generally stand alone, and totally separate from the water jetting and energy ones.