Some highlights from 2021.
Poser 12 Early Access added many improvements and ended the year with its new Manual completed. Now available not only in HTML, but also in a free PDF. Ghostship shipped his Poser 12 Materials, which those who used them on Poser 11 will know are a key enhancement for Poser SuperFly users. Various useful scripts, including those by Snarlygribbly continued to be updated for Poser 12. Also, Poser 12 can now be snail-mailed to you if you live out in the wilds.
NeoWin Deals continued with their great offer of Poser Pro 11 for $80, and this can co-exist alongside Poser 12. Mac Poser users now have an equivalent of the must-have ‘Snap To’ mover script, working on both Poser 11 and 12. There were many other new Poser 11 scripts, including an automated Blender to Poser conversion script for free Blender assets.
DAZ ended the year by announcing a new integrated iRay render-farm service in the Cloud, Infinite-Compute’s “Boost for DAZ”.
Of course the year saw lots of great new Poser/DAZ content and freebies released, with the picks being covered here in my monthly round-ups. 300 game-ready DAZ figure conversions were officially added by Tafi to the Unity Store.
Redeye Cat retired in May and kindly gave away her stuff for free — now safely archived as a 500Mb mega-bundle archive on Archive.org. Cage’s Loop and Chain-making Poser scripts were likewise saved. Wootha also retired and kindly gave away his brushes, concept art etc as public domain (he’s not to be confused with the Wolthera who works on Krita).
Another year of free magazines from Digital Art Live, and the Digital Art Live STUDIO forum is also working well.
Renderosity finally made it possible to paste nicely formatted and coloured code in the Python Scripting forums, though only from proper editors such as the free Microsoft Visual Studio Code and PyCharm.
The ArtStation Marketplace grew and thrived, and though very crowded becomes a useful place once you start to build a judicious wishlist.
The new G’MIC 3.0 for Photoshop version added AI-powered de-noising. This does not need NVIDIA, and can even be done on CPUs.
XP-Pen produced and shipped even better budget ‘draw on the screen’ pen-monitors.
On the DAZ Store all the old Poser .ZIPs have been re-labelled as “DAZ Studio”. But it’s pretty easy to tell the difference, once you know how. Just download all the .ZIPs, and if there’s a ‘data’ folder inside then it’s for DAZ.
The Poser-friendly Hivewire store closed down. But on the bright side, they eventually moved most items to Renderosity. The lively and friendly Hivewire forums remain.
We lost the excellent third-party Poser library PzDB (still working, but can no longer be purchased); Topaz Clean (but I showed how to use G’MIC as a very close if slower replacement); and the tooning plugin pwToon for DAZ Studio (no longer for sale).
The enforced removal of the Flash Player from PCs caused a bit of confusion, as ancient Poser Library systems stopped working for a few. But people found workarounds.
Several big VR painting tools were killed off.
The venerable free audio-editor Audacity was bjorked. Audacity 2.4 became ‘the last good version’, but there is now a safer fork called Audacium 1.0.
Adobe completely killed 3D in Photoshop, for rather murky reasons.
The graphics-card drought / price-gouging continued, and though availability of cards eased a little bit the prices did not. There were also other tech shortages.
The latest OS upgrades and patches became a very dangerous game of Russian Roulette for both Mac and Windows, likely to cause the sudden death of much-loved and mission-critical software. Some people sensibly told the OS makers to stuff it, and went back to good old Windows 7.
NFTs. Evil incarnate.
PD Howler 2020 was given away free in the summer then heavily-discounted at the end of the year, and as a consequence was positively reviewed in Digital Art Live. I worked out how to remove white (white to transparency) in PD Howler. Since that’s not a thing it can do ‘one click’, like you can in Rebelle or Clip Studio or Photoshop (with an Action).
In other painting software, someone invented a great free Lasso colour-autofill script for Photoshop (like Clip Studio has) but sadly no-one noticed. The free Krita 5 went through five betas and is due for final release in a few days. The excellent $20 Realistic Paint Studio had a new version 2.0, and the free Paint.NET also had a substantial release. Escape Motions released Rebelle 5, but effectively put the price up. Corel Painter 2022 was apparently (according to Boro) an outstanding move forward for the venerable software.
The free G’MIC for Photoshop plugin added useful support for recording G’MIC in Photoshop Actions, among other new features.
In 3D painting software we had the excellent 3DCoat 2021, and the budget 3DCoatTextura. The budget-priced ArmorPaint 0.8 appeared, and has made good progress as a Substance Designer competitor.
Blender 3.0 stable landed in December, with many Freestyle and Grease Pencil improvements. BEER for Blender is due in final in early 2022, offering even better NPR and lineart. Blender also now has a basic Assets Browser, at long last. Blender’s main Cycles renderer had big speed boosts, which should filter through to Poser 12 in due course (Poser’s SuperFly renderer is a slightly tweaked Cycles).
Software we nearly lost included DAZ on a Mac, totally bjorked by the OS Big Sur update for many months… until it was fixed by a huge effort in September. Vue was also fixed for Big Sur. Scatter for Poser 11 was lost for a while in the Hivewire-Renderosity transfer. But it’s also back now. The free abandonware Microsoft ICE 2.0 seemed to vanish, but popped up again on Archive.org.
Software we ‘might have lost, but kept’ included Moho (aka Smith Micro’s Anime Studio), now back with its original developers and with new features in a new release (20% off for Xmas and New Year, with code: HOLIDAYS). The subscription VUE R6 (not to be confused with the old Vue 2016 R6) has so far kept easy import of Poser scenes, thus offering a way to port Poser to big-beast 3D software like Maya, Lightwave etc. Effectively Vue now replaces the PoserFusion plugins for studio pipeline work, although of course it is not free like the plugins were.
Various bits of software updated as usual, including KeyShot 10.2 which apparently fixed the ‘butterfly-wing eyelashes’ problem on DAZ figure imports. In unusual or niche software VRoid Studio 1.0 came out of beta; Clavicula superseded Neobarok; and Movmi pointed the way to AI-powered mo-cap from video clips.
The bleeding edge:
A slick Metahuman demo caused a moment’s “DAZ is doooommed!” panic in April, then everyone forgot about it.
Worthy AI designers Deep AI are training their new Zendo AI to locate and mask the edges of multiple objects in images. Auto-masking that works perfectly and precisely every time would certainly be something worth having. I mean here the accurate object-aware segmentation of an entire complex picture with lost-edges, not just ‘mask that easy-to-isolate shape there’.
Several interesting technical papers appeared on auto-inking, promising much for the future. Autocomplete for inking artists, i.e. ‘making several short curves to form a longer one’. And an AI that can autotrace your rough sketch in inks.
I discovered a basic de-grunging Matcap-like method for Poser 11 materials, useful for making comics flats. Also a new way to remove the speckles from Poser’s Firefly lineart renders (Vextractor 7.x). I realised in tests that the 25 year-old default bucket sizes, used when rendering, may now be out-of-date on many fast PCs. I discovered an interesting way to consistently get a partial silhouette in Poser. My on-off work on several Poser scripts continued, and I learned a good deal more about Python and automation on a PC.
My blog’s Poser/DAZ Technical Search engine is now exponentially more useful than when first launched. It now also covers Vue, motion capture, and a few other useful topics. I undertook the annual overhaul of the blog in the summer, doing things like checking and fixing all the sidebar links by hand.
Elsewhere, there was further taming of my YouTube and DeviantArt experiences by use of UserScripts and other addons. Both are now somewhat bearable. Likewise fixed are the Google Doodle and many other small annoyances scattered around the Web.