Originally designed as a quick-reference aid, in the past ten years Poser has become an essential tool for digital artists at all levels. In fact, you’re likely to see Poser’s distinctive characters anywhere the human figure is needed in video, print or on the web.
Poser’s overall performance has been improved with support for multiple-processor systems and native support for Intel Macs. Productivity is enhanced by better-organised assets, such as lights, cameras, scripts, and content. Notably entire light sets can now be swapped and cameras quickly added to the scene with the Create New Camera command. Also well overdue are the multiple Undo and Redo and Duplicate commands.
Animation tools in Poser 7 continue to be improved with Animation Layers and Talk Designer. Animation layers facilitate the animation process by allowing animation to be organised into separate components that can be edited individually. In other words, animation in Poser is now non-linear.
Talk Designer, one of our favourite new features, syncs a character’s lip, jaw, and tongue motions to recorded speech and automates facial expressions and head motions. The automated lip-syncing is meant as a starting point that must be refined. By default Talk Designer works with Poser’s new characters, though it’s possible to create custom visemes for additional characters.
Editing characters in Poser has become much easier with an improved Morphing tool. In sculpting mode any part of a character may be directly ‘sculpted’ to create custom morph targets. And existing morph targets may be edited by directly moving vertices on the model. These new features are genuine improvements over past iterations of the Morphing tool.
Poser’s improved Hair features strand-based hair that, with a little effort, can produce just about any hairstyle and realistic results. In Poser 7 hair is no longer limited to characters but can be made to grow on any surface. The hair shader can simulate any hair type but may also be used to simulate non-hair objects like grass. And Poser’s Hair Dynamic control allows hair to interact with environmental forces such as wind.
Poser’s materials made a quantum leap in Poser 5, but not much has changed since. The Simple materials tab allows straightforward access to top-level material channels, such as Diffuse Colour, Highlight, and Bump, while the Advanced tab features a node-based approach to materials that takes some getting used to.
Noteworthy is Poser’s new Universal Poses, which, in theory, means that a single pose could be applied to multiple characters. We found that as long as we worked with Poser characters it worked well, but as soon as we started to work with third-party characters the Universal Poses were not so universal.
One of the great things about Poser is that it ships with a plethora of ready-to-use human and animal characters, props and entire scenes. Every Poser release has featured new primary male and female characters and with Poser 7 they’re Simon and Sidney. Third-party partners such as RuntimeDNA provide dozens of additional characters and props. However, the new muscle and skeleton characters are a disappointment as they are of little use for scientific or medical illustration. If you need anatomy models stick with DAZ content, which can be imported into Poser.
In an effort to significantly reduce the amount of time needed to render, the Firefly render engine has been optimised to take advantage of multiple processors. Other optimisations include improved texture management and options for better memory management during rendering. Firefly now supports HDRI lighting and Occlusion Culling, and offers improved Depth of Field and Motion Blur. It also features advanced options for Subsurface Scattering and Ambient Occlusion.
Poser is an indispensable tool for professional and amateur CG artists. Poser features similar tools to those found in professional applications but at a fraction of the cost and at a shallower learning curve.