Poser, the excellent 3D figure-creation tool from E Frontier (formerly Curious Labs), has been around for over a decade, developing from a primitive package that allowed users to create rudimentary posed figures for export to other apps, to an indispensable 3D application. And while Poser can’t do many of the things you’d expect from a 3D application such as extruding and rotating splines, for example, it excels at one thing: the creation and animation of realistic 3D figures, once the Holy Grail of 3D modelling.
Poser has come a long way since its early days. Previous versions offered a limited selection of figures to play with but over the years, hundreds of preset figures have been added to its libraries. Indeed, with a little effort it’s now possible to create photorealistic posed figures, animals or any other type of anthropomorphic figure. The program has a room-based interface that users of Carrara Pro or Bryce will find familiar. Simply select a figure from the Figures library, apply a pose from the hundreds of preset poses available, apply lighting and then choose a rendering method and, hey presto, you have created a realistic looking person that can
be output for print or animated. With a little patience, you can create your own figures and poses; in the Face room you can even wrap photographs around models.
Poser 6.0 addresses one of the program’s main weaknesses: rendering. In the past, if you wanted to achieve high-quality results it was necessary to export the model to a high-end 3D package with better rendering facilities. However, the addition of image-based lighting and global illumination, as well as sub-surface scattering now means that users can produce extremely high-quality renders from within the program.
Naturally, rendering is slower than before but the results are very impressive and in terms of output quality represent a quantum leap.
E Frontier has also beefed up the figure libraries. In addition to the 80 or so textured figures, the program also includes James, a new high-resolution figure that can be used as the basis for high-quality figure creation. There are also myriad new poses, props and materials. Poser’s online Content Paradise (for purchasing new figures and props) has also been updated, making it easy to enhance the program’s capabilities.
All in all, it’s impressive stuff. Beware, however: although E Frontier claims that it’s possible to run the program on a G3, you’ll need the most powerful RAM-stacked computer you can afford if you’re to take real advantage of this truly superb piece of software.