Poser 8 review
Poser 8 offers a quick way to create and digitally shape humans, animals and entire scenes in 3D for use in creative software such as Photoshop, or as the basis for animatics for motion projects.
Lately it’s been playing catch-up with rival Daz Studio, and with Daz now offering a professional edition, the heat is on. Both Poser and Daz Studio offer ready-to-pose content, but whereas Daz supplies two highly specified character models, Poser is offering eight new fully textured humans of different ethnicities and body types.
Poser 8 sports an enhanced interface. The workflow tabs – Pose, Material, Setup, Hair and so on – are still available, but the layout is cleaner and more refined. Dockable and floating palettes can be arrayed down the side, offering an interface that’s closer to Photoshop or more traditional 3D packages.
The new interface encompasses a content management system, offering a restructured library that can be searched by keyword. There are buttons to add figures and poses to the library or add items to your favourites list. As a result, workflow is much better in this version – although it hasn’t changed so much that longtime Poser users will be mystified by it.
OpenGL previews have also been enhanced – Poser will create a real-time display of up to eight lights and their accumulated values. Poser will choose the brightest lights, sorted by intensity, or you can select which lights to display. Mip Map support means that performance is now much better when previewing large textures.
Poser replicates the elasticity of human and animal skin at joints, making the bent parts smooth by blending between two bones or body parts with falloff zones. There are two types of falloff zone – Spherical and Capsule – which indicate the gradual areas of blending around the joint. Both work in a similar fashion – for example, a green capsule defines the area that is fully affected by the transformation, while the outer red capsule defines the limit of the transformation’s effect. You can manipulate falloff zones with the normal Poser editing tools, the Direct Manipulation tool, or the Parameters palette.
Tweaking the appearance of the characters in Poser, such as adding body fat or changing expressions, is carried out using controls called morphs. In version 8, the Morphing Tool allows you to create a morph that affects multiple body parts, making it simple to create master parameter-controlled full body morphs. Distinct parameters, such as joints and body morphs, can now be linked and configured as dependant, making it easier to create advanced body controls, such as a muscle-bulge morph that moves when a limb bends.
Poser has consistently introduced strong rendering facilities over the past few versions and this release is no different. Improved Global Illumination now has support for indirect diffuse illumination combined with improved irradiance caching and path tracing. This allows objects rendered in the scene to display more realistic shadow and highlight areas.
The new Tone Mapping tool in the Firefly Render Settings window provides more control for brightness, saturation, and post-render processing to produce better images, especially in scenes with a high dynamic range.
You can choose Exponential mode for film-style sensitivity or the more artificial HSV mode. Once Tone Mapping is selected, you can adjust the new Exposure value in the settings panel, to produce the required effect.
The Lighting properties have also been enhanced, with new attenuation settings for point and spotlights. Choosing between Inverse Linear and Inverse Square, as well as the Constant setting found in Poser 7, lets you control how bright or dark a spotlight or point light gets, based on the distance from the light source. Both new settings make the scene lighting more physically correct, with the Inverse Square option giving a harsher effect.
Introduced in Poser Pro 7, Poser 8 can now handle Normal Maps, a way of faking geometry with bitmap textures. It’s found in the Material Room, and is quickly applied by connecting an Image Node containing a normal map to the Gradient Bump channel on the Poser Surface Node. Daz Studio Advanced 3 offers an equally quick setup within its newly enhanced Shader workflow.
The Poser 8 content library provides more than 2.5GB of human and animal figures as well as a range of accessories including hair, clothing, sets and real-world props and elements such as lights and cameras to produce complete scenes. Poser’s 1GB of new content, with the rest of the bundle made up of legacy content, therefore compares favourably to the smaller Daz offering – though you’re paying more for the privilege.