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7/96 Reviews SW: Fractal Design Poser

Listing of July 1996 Reviews

Application for Body Builders

By James Bell

Remember the jointed, wooden mannequin that every artist's studio seemed to have? Fractal Design Poser, its electronic equivalent, lets you create 3-D human figures on screen.

Once created and rendered, Poser models can be exported to other programs, where they can be positioned and embellished as needed. The program supports file formats for Adobe Photoshop, Fractal Design Painter and other popular image editors, as well as DXF, RIB, BMP and TIFF. TIFF files include an alpha mask, making compositing especially easy.

Poser starts off with a single window containing a male outline. You can swap to a female form, artist's mannequin, skeleton or stick figure; adjust the model's proportions to those of a slender fashion model, small child or muscle-bound hero; and shed or add a few pounds at will (if only it were this easy in real life!).

I enjoyed Poser's intuitive, minimalist interface, which even graphics novices should have little trouble using. You control figure placement, up to three lights, the camera and body components using a 12-tool floating palette.

You can bend, turn, twist, rotate and scale a model's body parts manually or numerically. Poser understands how body parts naturally move; if you move an arm, the shoulder and torso will twist appropriately. You can restrict impossible contortions, place a Poser "prop" within a model's hands, and add TIFF or BMP backgrounds for added realism. The program ships with several libraries of predefined models, poses, lights and camera settings, and you can build your own custom libraries.

Emphasizing fast performance, Poser models are relatively low resolution, lacking articulated hands or feet, facial features, or loose hair or clothing. You can add your own custom bump and texture maps for simulating muscles, skin textures and even skin-tight clothing.

Most of Poser's features are obvious, which is a good thing since its printed and online documentation aren't helpful. While you can export models as DXF or RIB files, intelligent linkages between body parts are lost in translation, limiting your editing control outside of Poser. And Poser is something of a one-trick pony; it can't import 3-D files and doesn't provide animation tools.

Poser's 3-D models won't appeal to everyone, but they're well suited for artists who need accurate reference models and designers who need to quickly add figures to storyboards, illustrations or 3-D scenes.

--Info File--
Fractal Design Poser
Pros: Ease of use
Cons: Limited details in renderings; can't import 3-D files
Platforms: Windows 95
Disk Space: 14MB
Fractal Design Corp.
800-297-2665, 408-688-5300
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

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