Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

Poser 1.0

by Stuart Bonwit

Washington Apple Pi Journal, May/June 1996, p. 27, reprint information

Broad Brush

The opening sentence in the Poser User Guide is, "Poser is an easy-to-use figure creation tool." It is! With practically no effort one can place many figure types in any imaginable pose, or one can choose many poses from a library. Screen Shot 1 shows four of the many poses available.

My big disappointment is that animation of these figures is not possible when they are exported to a 3D animation program. See Sidebar 1.

During installation the user is asked whether the full product is desired to work on both 680x0s and Power Macs or the limited product for either one separately. The hard disk requirements vary accordingly. The 680x0 only installation requires 5.6 MB; the 680x0/Power Mac installation requires 7.1 MB.

Poser recommends working in 8-bit, 256 colors (for better performance) and rendering in 24-bit, millions of colors. On my Quadra 660AV, my screen size must be reduced to 640x400 pixels in order to get 24-bit color. A 2 MB video RAM (VRAM) is required for full screen 24-bit color.


One of the first things you see when you are opening Poser is the cute icon indicating that the wheels are turning. Instead of the usual wrist watch, hour glass, turning wheel, etc., there is a little stick figure is side profile tapping one foot!

The opening screen is seen in Screen Shot 2. We are presented with an adult male figure. Also available are an adult female figure and both sexes in the forms of: baby, juvenile, adolescent, fashion model, and heroic model.

The major tools in the upper right corner of Screen Shot 2 are: "Pose" to move and modify individual body parts; "Body" to move and modify the entire body; "Camera" to provide orthographic (flat) views from the front, top, and left sides plus "Main Camera" to provide complete control of camera motion, zoom, and focal length (see Sidebar 2); and "Light" to provide control of position, color, and intensity of each of three lights for complete mood control.

The secondary tools in the group of eight below the major tools are: Rotate, Translate, Scale, Lock, Twist, zTranslate (in and out of the screen), Taper (body part shaping), Focal Length (of the Main Camera). An extension of the Tools panel provides "thumb wheels" for very fine control of all translation, rotation, and scaling.

The tutorial is very clear. Every detail step is spelled out and profusely illustrated. To pose a figure one picks "Pose" from the major tools, Rotate from the secondary tools, and a body part. A gentle mouse move puts the body part right where you want it. It’s as simple as that!

Screen Shot 2 shows the male figure in Outline; Screen Shot 1 shows two male and two female figures in Smooth rendering; and Screen Shot 3 shows the figures in Muscle rendering. In Screen Shots 1 and 3 a pale blue background was imported. Any PICT file may be inported as a background. Screen Shot 4 is an example.

I had a question to ask of Poser’s publisher, Fractal Design. I sent an e-mail to the support mail box. Within one minute I got a canned answer apologizing for delaying an answer for up to a week because of the flood of requests. However, the next day I got a long answer. Good service, I’d say.

The Negative (for me):

The big negative for me is that the wonderful figures available from Poser cannot be animated. I spent considerable time on the TCS (the Washington Apple Pi Users Group BBS) and the Internet trying to find a way of animating the figures. After much difficulty in bringing a figure into my modeling/animation program I was unable to change the pose in order to animate it. I subsequently discovered on nearly the last page of the User Guide a sidebar that said, "Remember that the DXF format [for exchanging 3D images] includes only the posed body shape...Once in a 3D modeling program, you won't be able to change the pose. The figure is frozen in that regard."

One can, of course, create an animation by creating successive poses for each frame, exporting the separate frames as PICT files, and assembling them into a movie. This misses the main labor saving advantage of the animation program, namely the automatic creation of "tween" frames between the main key frames.


Poser is a great program for artists who need human figures in their graphics. The variety of figures available are very easy to put into any pose imaginable. Control of camera angle, lighting, and background round out the usefulness of this application.

Photographic Purists Note:

Zoom and focal length are separated in the review for function, namely: size and perspective, although change in zoom is really a change in focal length. Zoom is to control the size of all the objects in the scene from a fixed camera position. If the zoom (focal length) and camera-to-object distance are varied together such that the object size on the screen remains constant, the scene perspective changes. Short focal length and short distance give forced or steep perspective; long focal length and long distance give flat perspective.

System requirements:

Apple Macintosh with FPU (math coprocessor) or Power Macintosh
System 7 or better
Color display system, 24 bit recommended
A hard disk
6 MB of available RAM; 8 MB recommended

Poser is a product of:

Fractal Design Corp.
335 Spreckels Drive
Aptos CA 95003
Technical support: 408-688-8800
Internet: mac_support@fractal.com
CompuServe: GO FRACTAL
P.O. Box 2380, Aptos CA 95001-2380

More info:
WWW: http://www.fractal.com
AOL: Keyword "Fractal"
CompuServe: GO GUGPRA
Catalog price: approx. $130.


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Revised Saturday, August 12, 1998 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi
URL: http://www.wap.org/journal/