Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Poser Resources: Victoria 4 Weight-Mapped

One of the coolest modifications to this level of 3D technology is the addition of Weight Mapping to figures. Here's the short version of what Weight Mapping is: It is a technology that helps create more realistic bends in 3D figures.

For example:

  • Hold your arm out and bend your elbow; you should see that bending your elbow adds a small flex to you bicep. 
  • This happens automatically because, in order to bend your elbow, the biceps muscles must contract and this makes them look bigger.
  • The same thing happens to your calf muscles when you bend your knee or foot. 
  • This happens to a lot of muscles and in a living creature it's automatic.
  • This is NOT automatic in 3D figures because they're not alive and they don't have muscles; they're just mathematics and geometry inside a computer. 

Most high-end 3D software (Maya, Lightwave, Z-Brush) has supported weight mapping for a while, and even some of the consumer-end stuff (Daz Studio & Poser) has had limited support for it in the newer figure ranges, particularly Daz3D's Genesis 3 & 8.

Unfortunately, Poser (which is the backbone of my 3D illustration process) does not easily support the Genesis figures. This means that, essentially, I'm "stuck" with using Victoria 4 and Michael 4 (and earlier) figures in my work.

Now, although Victoria 4 and Michael 4 are fantastic figures that are still full of life (especially for my comics work that doesn't require animation or 100% photo realism), they do feel a bit "long in the tooth" when it comes to things like weight mapping. Instead of having smart rigs that know how to flex muscles automatically when bending leg or arm, you have to do those modifications manually.

Fortunately, some really smart people created the scripts and info needed to apply weight mapping to Victoria 4 (hopefully Michael 4 will be soon behind, but I doubt it as the guys just don't get the love that the women do).

The V4 WM resources can be downloaded at this location:

Sunday, January 6, 2019

When the 'Big Brother' gets it so wrong but is still right (sort of)

I hope I can relate this amusing anecdote without "triggering" anyone to go on and on about online privacy and how they always use a TOR browser behind a VPN routed through the Netherlands. I am fully aware of how online privacy works and have a VPN and don't need or want any advice about improving my online security. I'm quite comfortable with my online presence and I found this so funny that I actually laughed out loud so hard my wife came over to find out what I found so amusing.

I am not a musical person. It's not that I couldn't learn to play an instrument (I played Cornet in junior high band and didn't suck more than anyone else did at that age), it's just that I would rather draw and write. So Saturday afternoon I was puzzled to see a bunch of ads from Amazon pop up in my Facebook feed for things like Guitar amps, mixing boards, custom guitar picks and a plethora of things like that. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why I was seeing these things, and then it hit me.

It seems that the Great Data Analytics in the Cloud decided that I suddenly had developed an interest in learning guitar because of something I did on Friday night.

Friday night I started work on an illustration of Conan the Barbarian (I'll share it when I get it done). I didn't like the poses and props I had on hand, so I went to Renderosity and found several products that were on sale, so I bought about four or five sets for under $25. And yup, I bought a few guitars and multiple poses so I can show the Cimmerian shredding it on an "axe."

And that's when I started to laugh and laugh and laugh!

I just had to shake my head because all that technology got it so wrong while still getting it right (sort of).

Friday, December 14, 2018

Poser: A discussion to give me some ideas

I'm currently working on knocking out some comic pages for Days Gone, and I'm about to dive into my next project with some character designs for Princess of the Trees 2: Heart of the Forest. As such, I'm really struggling to get clothing to work with highly morphed/stylized figures.

Based on advice from the Daz3D forums, I'm checking out some discussions over at the Smith Micro Forums, and I'm finding some interesting discussions about the Fitting Room (a reasonably new feature in Poser) and doing some other rather extreme approaches like merging clothes and figure meshes.

The base discussion is here:

Here are some tips from the article (copied in case the link goes dead):

There are Fitting Room Helpers for Dawn and Pauline (I believe they allow those figures to use V4 clothing):


  • Mesh Combination Method (from sgbryan):

    • Definitely agree about the copy morphs from command. It is even more powerful after you use the Dials to Single Morph command.
    • That is how I put my characters together - Load base mesh (will ALL morphs); load character; fiddle about with dials; Dials to Single Morph; load clothing; Copy Morphs From; then either reduce the polys, or merge figure & clothing into 1 mesh; delete unused morphs; reload expressions.
    • End result - lightweight, clothed figure ready to go to work.
    • (someone else observed that sometimes this messes with hair, so perhaps it's best to add the hair after combining the clothes and base figure?)
    • (it looks like Dials to Single Morph is very important)

    Another possible tool (from morkonan)?

    • I suppose that would be nice. But, there are some third-party tools out there that are perfect for many things a vendor would want in regards to conversion capability. I like Autogroup Editor, helps immensely with grouping and preserves the UV (is somewhat difficult to fine tune individual polys in groups by hand,though), Quick Conform, for basic quick rigging transfers and editing out bones (tweaking necessary, though, using the Joint Editor), and Morcloth, for morph transfers. (Though, it takes a bit of fine-tuning, but it yields serviceable results that can be manually tweaked).
    • If SM could make the Fitting Room more powerful and could exceed the results already available using third-party apps, without significantly increasing their costs or ours, I'm all for adding super-powers to the Fitting Room! :)

    A note about copying morphs from figure to clothes (from viters):

    • My normal practice for "Copy Morphs from" is as follows:
    • Select the Morphs to copy to the clothing on the figure. We all know by now that this works but sometimes is pretty rough.
    • Then go to the clothing.
      • Click on the little arrow behind one of the morphs and select "Edit morph"=> This opens the morph brush.
      • Fine tune the morph to your liking.
      • Mostly that is some smoothing, or some "fitting" to get the correct "offset" between clothing and figure.
      • (Select by vertex group or by material zone, and you have even more control).
      • => Done.
    • Rarely this takes over a minute per morph, and I like the manual control to fine tune things.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    I made the "Poser Staff Pick of the Week" list again!

    I got another virtual pat on the back yesterday!

    Once again one of my illustrations was selected as a "Poser Staff Pick of the Week" at the Renderosity online community. Considering there are thousands of Poser-based illustrations posted there each week, this is a pretty big honor (and the second time it's happened, the first being in June 2017 with a Ms. Marvel illustration).

    This time it happened for a simpler illustration that is a character design for the the up-coming comics project, "Princess of the Trees 2: Heart of the Forest." Read other posts for more about this project with writer Roger Keel.

    Here's this week's pick: Arton + Bow 3

    Arton + Bow 3
    © 2018 Mike Mitchell

    You can see the entire list of illustrations selected here:

    You'll probably need a Renderosity log-in to see the whole list, but trust me, I'm in some pretty amazing company (in fact, if I'm being completely honest, although I think this is an interesting illustration with a good expression and some decent lighting, this isn't the best thing I've done lately).

    And before anyone asks, no: there is not a prize or award. It's just an honor to be recognized by my peers.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2018

    Poser Tip: Copy Body Morphs to Clothing

    I'm working on a new character design and I'm having the usual problems getting the clothes to fit my figure's body. I knew there was a way to do it, so a quick search yielded this cool video.

    Short Summary:

    1. Load figure and clothing in Poser.
    2. Conform the clothing item to the figure ( Menu: Figure > Conform To... ).
    3. Select the clothing.
    4. Select Menu: Figure > Copy Morphs From...
    5. From the pop-up window, select only the morphs you need copied (you can usually ignore body parts you don't use, like head, hands, feet).
    6. The morphs associated with the body parts will then be available when working with the clothing.

    Friday, October 12, 2018

    Days Gone 19: Poser Tip – Cloth Room Settings

    I'm doing some experimentation with a dynamic version of the hero's chest harness, and in doing so I came across these useful settings for the Poser Cloth Room:

    I found this online at a discussion group. You can find it here:

    My first attempt at using a dynamic harness.
    Not bad, but it looks too thin to be leather.
    Definitely needs some more work.

    For those of you unfamiliar with this feature, Poser has the ability to simulate dynamic cloth. That is, it creates an animation wherein the cloth folds and flows across the body in an attempt to create realistic folds and flow with the body. It's a neat feature (and there is now a plug-in for Daz Studio that does the same thing), but it's very tricky to get it looking just right.

    NEXT TIME: More about the dynamic harness experiments

    Friday, October 5, 2018

    Days Gone 18 - Panel Set-up, part 1 (Fitting the Frame)

    Now that I've got my first render complete, it's time to see how it fits into the panel shape I have already defined in Manga Studio (Clip Studio Paint). As you can see, the slight oversize render makes it fit darned near perfectly in the frame.

    Render pasted into the frame in Manga Studio 5 EX
    (aka Clip Studio Paint Pro).

    I'm more or less happy with the size and shape, but his neck looks a little weird at this angle and I think I need to make him either bigger or smaller. Or, I might start small and then progressively make him bigger in each of the four panels.

    I'm going to have to play around with this a bit more to decide what I want it to do in terms of composition and emotional progression.

    Next Up: More about panels