“Dragonspace (Poser props)” added to Freebie downloads, over on the Directory sidebar of this blog. I already recently linked his Logan’s Run fan-art freebies there.
Here’s my revival of a 2010 node-setup for Poser, originally by BagginsBill, and which has seemingly been lost in the 404 mists of the forums. However, it was rescued from oblivion by Infinity10. Infinity had first tried to build his own version in 2010 but, soon after seeing BagginsBill’s better version, built another variant and posted that as a screenshot. This screenshot has survived to 2020, lurking and little-visited in the Renderosity Galleries of all places. Sadly the screenshot lacked vital instructions about how and where to use it.
As you can see, I’ve rebuilt it and tested, and my 2020 screenshot adds guidance. It lets you drop in any square render, and with a few clicks you can mask out the background colour. Not quite as good as iClone, where you just drop a masked .PNG on the stage and it becomes a cutout billboard prop. But what follows is ‘as good as it gets’ in Poser.
1. You first load a “One Sided Square” to the Poser stage (Library | Poser 11 Content | Primitives | “One Sided Square”). Select it.
2. Now switch to the Material Room. Create the setup exactly as seen here. I have not re-named any nodes, except for the one under the loaded image. This is where you pick the background colour from, and as such it has been slightly re-named to serve as a user prompt.
3. The image to be loaded has to be square, whatever the shape of the item within that square. It appears from my tests that Firefly / Superfly do not play nicely with a re-sized “One Sided Square” prop, when it comes to rendering. Although a square image in the “One Sided Square” can be safely scaled up and down as a %, thus…
The two images used for this demo were 1200px and 1800px.
(Some may also want to slightly increase the Value_2 on the Math node connected to the main BUMP input, and also increase the strength of the BUMP, depending on your prop type).
4. The ideal background for a figure with eye whites is probably a green-screen colour, although bright-blue might also work as long as you have no blue on the figure. You can see on the screenshot where you pick the background colour to “knock out”. Click on the colour chip and you get a little eye-dropper tool and then you hover over the mini-image and pick its background colour.
For trees and plants it’s different. White may be best for green trees without white flowers, snow on branches etc. Or black, depending on how dark the tree-bark is. The process doesn’t work with .PNGs rendered by Poser with an alpha, since there’s no colour for the node setup to “grab” onto and knockout.
5. Ok, you got your node setup to work. Save the working setup as a prop to your Primitives folder, for future re-use and for making and saving variants. I suggest the name “Magic Billboard” which is easy to remember. Having such a magic prop means no need for an alpha channel mask. The chain of maths in the nodes is doing the required masking for you.
The path to the image is embedded in the saved prop, so make sure your called images are somewhere stable on your PC — like a dedicated folder down in your runtime. Move or delete the called image, and… the prop will break.
It’s not perfect in terms of rendering. There’s still a touch of green fringing. But it’s quick and such props are anyway likely to be in the far middle-distance or background.
Poser’s SuperFly and Preview render-engines each give a crisp render from this, and the real-time Preview even retains the mask on saving the render to .PNG. Sketch runs fine on such cutouts, interestingly.
The drawback here is that Firefly renders are noticeably fuzzy with this setup, and a green fringing is very noticeable. As yet I’ve been unable to find an additional node chain to add, which might better de-fringe. Possibly this fringing effect was why such a node setup did not catch on in a big way for Firefly users.
But… now we have Poser 11’s SuperFly, which does not have anywhere near the same fringing problem, though a green fringe is still present on some of the finer isolated hair-strands. I’d thus say this sort of prop is going to be most useful for the background of Superfly pictures where you want many people in you scene and they have eye-whites and white teeth etc. Which means you can’t have the node setup knock out white.
On a test of a tree on a white background, a Clamp (see middle node) setting of 1.0 rather than 3.0 removed most of the white fringing. The same trick did not work on bright green. However, there may be a better, fringe-free way for foliage/trees. Read on…
I also found another, somewhat later BagginsBill node setup from 2014. This allows some cool “Hue” tweaks that instantly make standard green trees into Autumn/Fall coloured, Winter coloured, or (by going to 2.25 or 3.00) into “alien planet” foliage. Here’s my 2020 rebuild of that…
We almost lose some definition on fine twigs with this, but also usefully lose the cutout fringing. The “Hue” tweak also opens up subtle effects that might make trees in a forest look a little different to each other, and also seem to fade out in colour as their ranks recede into the distance.
Regrettably this “no-fringe” node setup only works with white, meaning that it can’t be used with people due to their having eye-whites and teeth. Still, if you want to build a super-lightweight library for a forest, cliffscape, cityscape etc relatively quickly, here’s a way to do that. It could allow you to make a picture in one pass, rendering relatively fast.
Theoretically one could also use this “Magic Billboard” to build a re-usable set of comic billboards, done in the same style as the final comic, to provide quick scale-adjustable backgrounds. One might also “double-stack” for comics effects, for instance by precisely placing hand-drawn hatching line-art billboards (with knocked-out white) on top of Poser’s native real-time line-art. I think I’d rather do that by i) drawing new inked textures directly on character skins, or ii) using layers and brushes in graphics software. But you can see how the Magic Billboard could become a possible help for a comics maker — especially those who don’t want to fiddle around with getting and saving out an alpha-mask every time they need a quick billboard made. Because the node setup is giving you the alpha-mask automatically.
If you do want to take masked layers out to composite in Photoshop, there are various methods for getting a PNG render with a transparency mask, as discussed here. The gist of it is:
SuperFly -> Apply “Holdout” node to the main Surface node. GROUND should be visible.
Firefly -> Options -> Render over “Current BG Shader”. GROUND should be hidden.
Preview -> Mask is automatic. GROUND should be hidden.
Sketch -> Not possible, but you can turn off sketching into the background and only sketch into the figure/prop. To mask the sketch render later, also export a Preview render of the same character/prop in the same position, then use a selection of that as a mask in Photoshop etc. Exact registration of the two renders is usually not possible, due to the slight distorting of edges introduced by the Sketch effect.
Extra: A Renderosity forum answer, by hborre in August 2020, was about how to place renders onto 3D primitives. Which seems to relate to putting images on planes. This might be useful to someone in the future…
Prop scale and image resolution: Find out your image’s x- and y- pixel resolution first (i.e. 2000 X 1000). In Poser, set the x- and y- scale for your primitive to the same dimension, in this case, 2000% on the X- scale, 1000% on the Y- Scale. Import your image to the primitive. Then, on your overall scale for the primitive, dial in your desired size.
Here are some links that may possibly useful as a quickstart for the Poser 11 to Poser 12 leap, and the need to tweak PoserPython scripts so they conform with Python version 3.
1. The official 2to3 – Automated Python 2 to 3 code translation.
2. Futurize calls in 2to3 and uses it to do automatic conversion of Poser 2 to Poser 3…
The futurize script passes Python 2 code through all the appropriate fixers to turn it into valid Python 3 code, and then adds __future__ and future package imports to re-enable compatibility with Python 2.
3. Python-Modernize also calls in 2to3 and uses it to make…
a very thin wrapper around lib2to3 to utilize it to make Python 2 code more modern with the intention of eventually porting it over to Python 3.
* It seems that the command print is handled differently in Python 3 scripts. So are strings. The way that iterated lists are done also seem to have changed. There’s a comparison page here.
* Standard library Python ‘packages’ or ‘modules’, of the sort called in by a simple name placed at the top of some scripts, have been moved or renamed. There’s a list on which Tkinter is now tkinter, and SimpleDialog is now tkinter.simpledialog. Tkinter is only relevant for Windows users, as Apple bans it from the Mac. It’s used in PoserPython to make user interfaces for scripts. I don’t recognise any of the others.
* Some ‘packages’ or ‘modules’, of the sort seen being called in at the top of some scripts, have been dropped altogether from Python 3. Canvas and user are the only ones that look vaguely familiar to me from my looking at various PoserPython scripts. I’m not a ‘write it from scratch’ coder, just a code-hacker and tweaker and grafter who can bash something together and test it until it works. Proper coders may have more to add on the practicalities of getting a broken script from Python 2 to 3 — and thus to Poser 12.
There’s a new 70-minute series on YouTube from Tony Vilters, Poser2Blender. It appears to be of use to figure-based content-makers, rather than those wanting to get a scene to Blender for NPR rendering. But there are also some interesting observations on how Poser exports .OBJs files for figures.
The “Poser 11 Pro for $80” offer has been rolled over for a fourth week, and now has six days left to run. Worth it, I would say, even if you only want the mega-bundle of free content. SAK Robokitty alone is worth $35. To be found in the ZLegacyContent_Poser-Cartoons.zip freebies and once installed is found hidden away under “Toys”.
Not finished. Some additional manual inking, to fix bits of broken or missing lineart, would obviously be needed here.
Time for another survey of new content for Poser and DAZ Studio, and also to see if there’s also anything interesting for Vue, Unity, Blender, Cartoon Animator and suchlike. The last such survey here was 15th June, so it’s been nearly eight weeks. What goodies have those weeks brought? Read on…
As usual, freebies are only covered here if they’re commercial use, or are such obvious fan-art (e.g. Star Trek) that no-one would accidentally slip them into a comic or suchlike.
Container Houses Set from 1971s.
Coflek-Gnorg’s free Vac U Bot.
A free Cyberchair.
Landtrak Explorer Transportation for Poser. Verging on the ridiculous, but at the same time believable.
Sci-Fi Industrial Complex for SketchUp.
Nibir Auditorium. I’m fairly sure this is a re-listing. But a good place to observe your herd of Elder Gods from.
GP Elder God HD. Definitely not a Lovecraftian Elder God, but a pretty good monster or alien herd-beast.
A free Prohibition Corner. A 1930s gangster distillery, but also useful “clutter props” for a steampunk mad scientist lab.
MS20F Tower of Time. Also available for Vue.
Mercer 1911 for Poser.
Need strange alien intruders in Ronk’s garden? Alien Toon Plants for Unity. I have no idea if it’s possible to get these out of Unity and into Poser or DAZ, but they’re cute enough to try.
SVs Whimsical Mushrooms, now also for DAZ iRay.
A free Basic Pure Shader Pack for Poser. “Color shades are resourced from searches to make sure they were as pure as I could find.” These look like they might be useful for the Poser Comic Book mode. Open Source, so you can tinker and release your own variants.
EasyPose spring and hand for DAZ Studio.
HiveWire Unicorn for the HiveWire Horse.
Free EA Balloons for G8F.
A photoreal Railway Coaling Stage from DryJack. Also useful for mines, and perhaps for re-fuelling your giant steampunk airship.
Jacobean English Dining Table Set for DAZ Studio.
Victorian and Edwardian Staffordshire-style tile pattern shaders.
The restored Poserworld store has the Anglo Saxon Warrior for Michael 3 back on sale again, and at a mere $5.
Oktoberfest Waitress for G8F, a Bavarian beer-cellar type outfit.
First World War listening platform. Because it was kind of useful to know when there was a fleet of Zeppelin airships on the way.
MS20F Lost City in OBJ by London224.
A prehistoric trilobite set for Unity.
Stylised Ice Age Rhinoceros in OBJ. Said to be “game-ready”, but no mention of being rigged. I guess game-makers want to rig their own way.
Gopher hills for Poser, with detailed spoil heaps.
Cockatoos of the World and there are also three other packs.
A free Ball Joint Doll for G8F.
Skydive M4 V4 poses. Not easy to motion-capture!
Free new face shapes for La Femme and L’Homme, the base figures that ship with Poser 11.
Also loads of Chinese wrestling, and yet more pirates, on the DAZ Store.
Toggle Visibility All Lights for Poser. Instantly make any guide-wires for lights invisible in Preview, without actually turning any lights off.
Poser to Clip Studio – the solution. Send a posed clothed figure from Poser to Clip Studio, with no hassle at all.
The free FreeBass MAT Palette. “A tool to catalog / compare up to 36 individual MATs on a single prop”.
Render Doctor for DAZ Studio. Very confusingly explained, but at its core it appears to be for those times when you have a big scene with 50+ cameras set up all over it. Then you want a script to automatically make a render from each camera in turn. Not for animation, and perhaps most useful for comics makers?
Building Poses To Market, a 30 minute tutorial on making poses that will pass inspection on the stores. For DAZ Studio.
That’s all my picks for now, more in due course. Possibly at the start of September.
Adobe Research has given online demos of a possible new Adobe application called Structure. It’s working now in a basic way and is generative iterative software that works directly on a 3D model. Take a 3D model of a sofa, and randomise it — plumper cushions, more cushions, make it wider, less cushions, curvier arm rests. There is no need to edit the mesh directly. The user selects which of the new random variants they like, then runs the process again. Thus they can more or less work toward generating their “ideal sofa”. Sounds fun, like some of the old generative Kai-type tools but for 3D, though currently it’s still an R&D project from the labs.
They’re also experimenting with rendering from 3D straight to vector graphics, for Adobe Illustrator to then apply a line-stroke to it. But why not just do the lineart in the 3D application, in real-time, like Poser 11 does? I guess the answer is that Illustrator gives you more line-type choices. This would be most interesting to me if I never had to see/learn the Illustrator UI, and instead Illustrator’s line-stroking services were just called in to the 3D software. To be exposed there as a little user-friendly panel — Illustrator as just another possible render-engine.
Line stroke types would be an interesting thing to add to Poser 12, actually — allow the user to make basic changes to the type of line being used by Comic Book Preview mode to “ink” the 3D figure. One can sort of do that already, by using the sketch render on lineart in Poser, and it can get so fast that it is almost real-time. But it would be nice to have a choice of line-types for inking, from within a neat drop-down placed on the Comic Book Preview mini-panel. Perhaps: plain black ink; dotted line; coloured ink (red, blue, rainbow); fat and curvy; basic rough pencil; and basic rough charcoal.
The Poser Pro 11 for $80 offer has been extended another seven days. It currently has six days left to run. A bargain, even if you only want the incredible bundle of free royalty-free content that comes with it.
Here’s a quick demo for Tom, who asked about the automatic hatch-shading of Poser imports in MotionArtist…
This is my new “Captain Bromley” M3 head, and you can see that MotionArtist has added hatching in the right places, but it’s not very convincing. Here is a screenshot of the basic controls you have on import…
Basically, you make a 2048px screenshot from this rather clunky little Poser scene mini-viewer. There appears to be zero control over lighting. The screenshot gets inserted into the timeline, and then you exit the mini-viewer. Fine for making up a quick ‘motion storyboard’ to a deadline, as a guide for filming a scene with human actors, but not for a finished motion-comic. For that you would render in Poser, and import the render, not the raw scene.
I’m quite pleased to have crafted this slightly-stylised and distinctive custom M3 head with the morphs and Brom injected, seen here auto-inked by Poser’s Comic Book mode under a simple two-light preset. The Hair is Neftis’s Mature Mark, with no retexturing, and it’s inking reasonably well — although the comic book inks are actually doing nothing to it and it’s all coming from the display mode. The eyebrows would need to be further inked in manually, and some bits of hair added if it was going in a comic frame.
Could be called “Captain Bromley” perhaps, which is a British placename that also gives the nod to the Brom morphs.
His face also looks good from the sides, which is not always the case. The inking would need to be cleaned up, as there’s some doubling of lines and there are breaks on the nose.
However some of these problems go away in PhotoLine, with a plugin and a 3 second custom filter preset I call “Commando Comic 1974″…
It could, of course, be blended with other Poser renders adding colour, shadow etc.
Regrettably, it appears that the Brom morphs for M3 are no longer sold. Hope you got them when they were $10, recently, and were featured here.
Renderosity is calling for beta testers for Poser 12 and they specify Unity knowledge as one of the skills they’re seeking. Which makes it sound like there will be a Unity bridge in Poser 12. That would make a lot of sense. Unity is one of the two big free game-engines (the other is Unreal), and it’s reasonably well-supported by third-party add-ons. The free Unity Personal Edition allows commercial use, as long as you don’t make more than $100,000 per year in your business from using it.
The ideal would be, at a guess, an integrated three-click “Poser 12 to Unity” workflow that’s as easy as getting a Poser scene into Vue. But which also sends Poser’s current camera and framing to Unity. The other useful thing to get, either in Poser or from Unity itself, would be some form of Matcap. ‘Matcap’ is a process that inspects the existing texture, then automatically tries to replace it with a best-guess toon material. So a red shiny dress becomes a red toon shader with ramping and highlights.
In which case, what is available in Unity-land for tooning? Below is my initial survey of this. Please don’t go buying these yet. Not least because some of them are rather expensive (“‘Cos yur gonna make big bucks on your game, guys…” Yeah, right…). But mainly because a three-click fiddle-free ‘Poser 12 to Unity’ process is just my hope at present, based on very slim evidence.
Shaders in Unity:
Sugiyama Toon Shader, aka SugiyamaToonShader. An early success in 2016, but said not to work with newer Unity versions?
TypeA AnimeShader. Said to work especially well on hair.
VaxKun’s Anime/CelShading Shader. Includes emissive glow and toon-reflective glass. I suspect the demo pictures are being a bit more honest than the other packs, re: what you’re likely to get.
However, you don’t need to go to Unity to get the above looks. With a bit of setup, re-texturing and the right IBL lighting, they can be had now in Poser 11.
There are two competing suites or kits for Unity…
Toony Colors Pro 2 shaders set, with basic lineart.
Flat Kit: Cel / Toon Shading. Also with basic lineart plus a depth-fogging effect. This might be your best starting-point, though Toony Colors Pro seems to have been out longer.
Flexible Cel Shader. Possibly an additional useful set to have, in combination with one of the above two kits.
Nice Water Shader, adjustable and with a toony edge-ripple preset.
And lastly, RealToon shaders set. Seems to be older but is apparently quite flexible, and you might brew up a more unique look?
Jiffycrew Post Process Line. Seems to be outstanding, and thus has left little place for others in the market? The monopoly position has made it rather expensive.
Contour-hugging hatching on 3D models:
ToonSketch Core. A bit too grungy, and may work best on models with big flat surfaces?
NPR Cartoon Effect. Unappealing demo images, but scroll through to the simple hatch-shading demo.
Jiffycrew Hatching. Not very convincing, but with a bit of wrestling I guess it might produce dash-shading that looks cleaner and a bit more Moebius-like?
Obviously hatching still has some way to go in Unity. There are also some rather ikky attempts at manga halftone shaders.
Flockaroo’s full-screen camera effects Aquarelle, Colored Pencils and Sketchy effects filters. It looks like you could cook up a reasonable ‘storybook look’ with these. These are full-camera effects and, by the time Poser 12 is released, Unity should support… “Camera Stacking, enabling users to layer the output of multiple cameras in rendered output.”
Watercolor Painting effect. The first picture seems a bit questionable, re: what you’re likely to get. As all the other demo pictures look very different.
Hand-painted skyboxes, inc. clouds:
Toon Clouds is a dynamic cloudscape generator. Though they’re not as nice as the hand-painted ones seen above.
Amplify Impostors seems likely to be useful here, for quickly duplicating content to fill backgrounds that have large views with skies. There’s also a free SVGimporter which brings in a vector shape as a tessellated mesh.
You can also find packs of other “quickstart” Unity files on Gumroad, although they appear to be just skeleton set-ups and to lack art assets.
Amplify Color seems the best option, enabling in-engine colour grading and saturation. Free.
Exporting big, hi-res, and nicely anti-aliased screenshots:
MadGoat SSAA & Resolution Scale. Because the aim here is not to make games or animations, but to get output for comics frames. A short endorsement of this by an architect is encouraging, re: getting clean hi-res output that’s then usable in graphics editors.
Visual novel engine:
And if you did want to make a game, Naninovel is quite capable. It’s for making a Japanese style ‘visual novel’, where the game elements are nearly all in the story choices. (Though note that the similar Ren’Py Visual Novel Engine standalone is free, and has a much larger user-base).
Having said that many Unity addons are expensive, the starter kit for ‘comics with Unity’ seems more reasonable. I’d start with the TypeA AnimeShader ($10), the Flat Kit ($40), Amplify Color (Free), and MadGoat SSAA & Resolution Scale ($16) for export. Total: $66. Though even then you’re probably not going to get a dramatically different look than you could get inside Poser and with a couple of filters applied to the renders. You’re not going to get realistic sketch pen-hatching or a sophisticated shadow-puppets/silhouette effect with light-leaks. What you might get that’s unavailable from Poser, if you want it, is a sort of pixellated Minecraft or low-poly look.
There you have it. These seem to be options for getting big comic-book frames from Unity in late Summer 2020, and mostly with a look that regular comics readers won’t cringe at.
I’d forgotten that the G’MIC filters have a “Colors: Detect Skin” filter, in my recent quest for a skin-extractor. I’d never saved a preset for it, so I’d rather forgotten about that particular filter among the long list. Here it’s tested using the free Paint.NET, which now runs the G’MIC filters and loads up far more quickly than Krita (which also runs them). Once installed they’re found under “Effects”.
The filter’s method of targeting of the skin is fairly clunky, by sliders than move a green target patch about. There’s no “one click to set”. It’s clumsy at best, but simple and relatively quick.
Once your target is set, you then have three sliders with which to try to capture the mask…
Here’s my first quick preset. If this will work well on other Poser Comic Book renders… I’m not sure. But it’s likely to be a reasonable starting point.
Above we see the mask returned by G’MIC to the Paint.NET canvas. We’d only be using the layer colour-blending mode with this, to bring colour back to a filtered Poser render. Thus the clunkiness of the cut-out is not really all that important. It’s an interesting alternative to know about, but if you’re in Paint.NET then its free Color to Alpha v2.2 plugin is preferable, faster, and a bit neater (less fringing) and seems the overall best solution. It’s also nice that it’s totally free.
That said, it would still be nice to have a native real-time Poser solution, for automation purposes. While you could theoretically plug the skin into an auxiliary render node in Firefly, you would not get the masking of the skin by the hair, etc.
This is for Tom, showing one of my custom Sketch presets at work in Poser’s Sketch Designer, biting into the shadows of the Smooth Shaded display mode. In the comments, Tom asked about what MotionArtist’s 3D auto-hatching looked like, and I said a render from Poser’s Sketch Designer would be more acceptable to regular comics readers.
It was a bit more faint on the actual 6 second Sketch render at 1800px, and here I’ve tweaked contrast for clarity. In Smooth Shaded you don’t get the eyes, but you’d be compositing those in via a line-art render. The problem with this kind of fine hatching is that as soon as you start to reduce it in size, it smushes down into a smudgy haze. For a comic one would have to spend a lot of time fine-tuning it and making it consistent for, say, a 10″ Kindle screen. Still, nice for one-off illustrations, and a bit of smart blur gets you a pencil-smudged effect without damaging the linart.
Here’s an earlier attempt, with a more Bernie Wrightson look. This was on a straightforward figure, so it can also be done on normal display modes.
These are a bit hatched or whorled, but Sketch Designer will also emulate cross-hatching.