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The original reference picture.The final, superhero pose.

Using Poser 4 and a reference picture, be able to successfully recreate the pose on a figure.

Approx. Time: 45 min.
Level: Beginner

The goal of this tutorial is not just to teach you how to move a model around, but to explain some of the basic theories of how to approach this type of project.

This tutorial uses standard Poser tools and settings. We have chosen to use nude models so you can better understand the physics of movement. Clothing hinders this process and makes it hard to select body segments.

The best superhero poses are at the extremes of the action. Normal people have normal movements and heroes are always seen at the peak of their motion. For examples of what I am describing, take a look at Spider-Man, X-Men, or other Marvel Characters. (links open in a new window)


Use the default P4 Nude Male figure. Open the Library Palette, go to the Figures section, then go to the People sub-section.

Select the P4 Male, click for larger image.

Click the double checkmark to add the model to the document window. Do not double-click the picture of the figure. This would create a new model, which can be bad if you are adding multiple items to a scene. The model should appear in the main window with its arms outstretched and ready for posing.


When posing a figure, it is best to work from the middle outward (hips to arms to fingers). Because of this, you should turn inverse kinematics off.

Inverse Kinematics (IK) - Poser's Inverse Kinematics (IK) features help you achieve realistic poses and natural motion in animations. The effects of IK are most apparent when using the Editing Tools. Translate the hip- the legs bend to accommodate the new hip position without changing the foot position. Translate a foot- the hips and other leg stay fixed in position. The behavior of the arms under IK is similar. If you place a figure's hands against an imaginary wall, moving the hip toward the wall causes the arms to bend.

The arms bend while the hands remain fixed in position. If you enable IK on a pose created with IK turned off, the rules of IK can force the pose to change. IK determines how the objects joined to it (closer to the root) must respond to support the new placement. For example, if someone was to grab your hand and push, your arm would automatically bend at the elbow, while your shoulder would stay fixed in position.


To turn off IK, select Figure > Use Inverse Kinematics and make sure the submenus do not have a checkmark next to them.

Turn off IK, click for larger image.


Once you have done this, it is always a good idea to "zero the pose". This means confirming that all settings are at their default positions and that all parameter dials are set to zero (0).

Click on the hip. You cannot perform the next function if you do not have something selected.


Select Window > Joint Editor. The Joint Parameters dialog box appears. Click Zero Figure.

Click the "x" (in the right-hand corner) to close the Joint Parameters dialog box.

Joint Editor, click for larger image.

We have found that it is easiest to pose your figure if you have the image readily accessible. This sounds reasonable enough, but it is hard to get Poser and your reference photo on the screen at the same time. We found the best solution was to import the reference photo and use it as a background.


Select File > Import > Background Picture. Then, find your photo and select it. As you can see in our example, it was smaller than the figure. Because of the nature of what we are creating, we can work with that, though.

Import background image, click for larger image.

Poser provides you with multiple cameras. We suggest you use them to look at your figure from multiple angles. You can find them under the Camera Controls pull-down list.

Camera controls, click for larger image.

Now it is time to start posing! Earlier, we said we were going to start on the hips and work our way outward. Click on the figure's Hip. Looking at the Parameter Dials, find Side to Side. The default value is 0 degrees. This refers to straight up and down. A negative number tilts the figure to the left and a positive number tilts it to the right. Click on the number and enter "-24" to tilt the figure like the character, Beast, in the background.

  • All camera directional references will be assumed to be "Left" or "Right". In other words, you are looking at it from the front.

  • All body part references are the opposite. This is how Poser labels the figure parts.

  • Right and left, click for larger image.

    Click on the abdomen. Notice that the character, Beast, is hunched over... we need to match this by using the Bend dial. A positive number bends the model forward. Enter "23".


    Increase the hunch by selecting the chest. Set its Bend dial to "50".

    Hunched over, click for larger image.

    Our pose looks a little goofy with the guy looking down, so now we need to adjust the neck and head. Since it is hard to select the neck in this position, I suggest you change to the Left Camera using the Camera Controls. The figure rotates, but the background does not.

    Head looking up, click for larger image.

    Click on the neck. Since you are bending it back, you need to use a negative number. I suggest setting the Bend dial to "-25".


    The head also needs to look up, so click on the head and set the Bend dial to "-33". This is an extremely awkward looking pose and a normal person may not physically do this, but remember - superheroes are at the extremes of their motion.


    Change back to the Main Camera using the Camera Controls to see the results of your changes.


    Next, work on the left arm. Start by clicking on the left shoulder. Remember, if you are looking at the figure from the front, it is opposite. You are trying to match the arm that is pulled back. To do this, use the Front-Back dial. A negative number pulls the arm back. Enter "-22". To bend it backwards, use the Bend dial and enter "-49".

    Adjusting the left arm, click for larger image.

    To move the left forearm into position, select it. Set the Bend dial to "-26". Pivot the arm slightly by setting the Side to Side dial to "1".


    Not too bad. Now for the right arm. Just like the left arm, start by selecting the right shoulder. Roll the arm (thumb towards us) using a negative number for the Twist dial. Enter "-30". Set the Front to Back dial to "19" and the Bend dial to "-2".

    Adjusting the right arm, click for larger image.

    Select the right forearm. Set the Twist dial to "-2", the Side to Side dial to "-7", and the Bend dial to "29".


    To match the hand to the arm, select the right hand and enter a Side to Side value of "10" and a Bend value of "-16".


    Moving on to the legs... Start by selecting the right thigh. You need to bring it forward. To do this, use the Bend dial and set it to "-97". A negative number swings the leg forward, rather than backwards, like the arms. Your model should look very strange at this point, with his foot straight out at you.

    Adjusting the right leg, click for larger image.

    Select the right shin. Use a Bend setting of "153" to bring the foot back down.


    Tweak the right foot by selecting it and setting the Bend dial to "30".


    You need to shape the left leg to finish the body portion of the pose. Select the left thigh. Use the Bend dial and set it to "19" to pull it back a little.

    Adjusting the left leg, click for larger image.

    Select the left shin and set the Bend dial to "104". This will move the leg out of view, as it is in the reference photo.


    For easier selection, use the Left Camera by selecting it in the Camera Controls. Select the left foot. Set the Bend dial to "30" to add a touch of realism.


    Essentially, the pose is finished, but because we want a little emotion, we'll want to adjust his facial expression. Select the Face Camera using the Camera Controls. This zooms in very close to the face so you can see what you are doing. The head has a decent selection of dials, which allows for a variety of expressions.

    Adjusting the face, click for larger image.

    Select the head. Use the Worry Left and Worry Right to make his eyebrows look evil. A negative setting will do this. I used "-1.61" and "-1.41" for an extreme look. Try not make the left and right symmetrical. Perfectly symmetrical features are not found in real life and can be a dead-giveaway that your pose (or final image) is computer-generated.


    To articulate the mouth, use several dials. Set Mouth O to "0.616", set Open Lips to "0.692", and Smile to "1.689" to complete the evil grin.


    To see the final pose, select the Main Camera from the Camera Controls.

    You now have a posed figure!

    The final pose.

    If you want to do some touch-up, you can select the hands and use the Grasp dial.

    There is a lot of information regarding the hands, so we are leaving that for another tutorial.

    Something else you can work with are the reality limits. When you create a superhero-type pose, you may not want limits on, but for a real person, this will lock the body parts into a normal range of motion. To turn these limits on, select Figure > Use Limits.

    The final pose is available to download by clicking here. Please note that this file is for the P4 Male figure. It will not work on any other figure, such as Mike, Mike 2, Mike 3, or the other Poser 4 or 5 figures.


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