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Getting your Poser figures into the Real World

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Date Added: 24th March 2010
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Poser figures and the Real World....right!...but we're going to try anyway.

Ever want to render a Poser figure in a real photo? Or create a digital painting using a photo reference with a Poser figure? Because that's what you will find below. Hey, I'm no genius, but in the tutorial to follow, you will find one way to do it. Don't take this the only way, by any means... it seems every time I do something, I find myself doing it a little differently every time. Experiment; have fun with it. Like someone said sometime, "If you can't dance...."
So here we go...

On the right you find a picture of a nice waterfall. I found it on one of those collections of royalty-free photo cds... you know, the ones that have 300 gajillion pictures on 25 cds? I browse the cds every now and then for ideas... this time, I saw the picture and thought it would be cool to insert a Poser figure into this picture.

You understand, of course, this has been done before, by others much brighter than I... but here's the way I worked out this one...

The original was small... something like 700 pixels high. But I knew I was going to use Painter, so I wasn't worried at this point.

So.... I imagined this woman standing in the waterfall, got a good clear picture in my head of the pose, and moved to....

...Poser. Here is a small copy of the rendered pose. I know I'm going to take this to Photoshop next, so I chose a high contrast background. This way, it makes a cleaner selection when I cut the figure out using the alpha channel that Poser creates whenever you export as a .psd file.

To back up a second, I created the pose using the waterfall picture as a background. I created two lights to simulate the lighting in the waterfall picture. I wasn't too worried about getting things exact....remember, I'm going to manipulate this quite a bit later on. BUT... I was careful to get the color right. Skin color in Poser has so much to do with lights. If you use the program, you know that well. 'Nuff said.

I had my main camera set up with the figure in the place I wanted in the waterfall (making her legs below the knees invisible), and used the pose camera to bring her in close for fine tuning. When I was finished, I zoomed in the main camera for a larger render, exported a .psd file, and opened up....

Photoshop. On the right you see a composite of the waterfall picture and the Poser figure. I enlarged the waterfall pic to 1500 pixels high. Sure, there was some pixelation, but we'll take care of that later (in Painter, remember?)

I opened both pictures, then cut the figure out of the Poser render and put her into the waterfall pic on a separate layer.

Sure, she's much too large, but we'll fix that.

Now the fun begins.

hope I don't lose anyone on this step, but you can see that quite a bit has occured between the last picture and this one.
We're still in Photoshop. Here's just a few of the things I did before I scaled the figure down:

- painted her hair
- fixed a couple Poser figure 'artifacts' (elbows, breasts, etc.)
- painted some water splashing over her
- cut and pasted part of the waterfall over her in a separate layer, and painted in a layer mask and toyed with the opacity until it looked somewhat right.

I painted over the pool of water on a separate layer (set to colorize), then adjusted the hue until I was happy with the greenish color (actually, I lie (!) I did that in the step previous. Just scroll back to the top if you want to see the original brown water).
- added the ripple to the water in the foreground

After all this was done, I saved a flattened copy, and then opened the picture up in....


Painter. The picture to the right shows all the work I did in Painter, and is almost the complete version (sorry, I didn't save any halfway-done pics...besides, you want me to give away all the trade secrets? I only have a couple...).
To get there, I first cloned the Photoshop image, and using a large square chalk (because it's fast), roughed i in the entire image using clone colors. Then, using a couple different oil brushes, at high, and then low saturation, got the brushstrokes where I wanted them.
After the major cloning work was done, I unchecked the clone-color box, and color-picked my way around.

I used a custom brush (a kind of oil brush I came up with that manages to pick up paper grain) to brush in textures to the rock and trees behind. I know the rock doesn't show well, as it's dark, but I'm going for the subtle look... anyway, is anyone looking at the rocks?

I used the same brush to color-pick and paint the water pool, mostly using a very low saturation at low opacity to gradually work the strokes in.

If I ever got too far away from what I had in my head, I would re-clone paint a section and start over.

After I'm done in Painter, it's back to

Photoshop. Notice how the picture in Painter doesn't have a richness to the colors? If you've ever seen my work before, you know I can't handle undersaturated colors :) I always use Photoshop for color correction. Nothing beats it.

So... I created two adjustment layers. One for levels, which increased the contrast, and one for hue/saturation, which I used to bump up the sat' and change the overall hue just a tad.

Playing with the layer opacity sliders a bit, I went back and adjusted a few things, until I was happy with the result.
attention!! hot tip! Use those adjustment layers... paint in them. Don't forget they are masks. Whip out that airbrush and
you can remove parts of the mask you don't want to show. I use them quite often, painting in them or using gradient fills to
help draw the viewer's eyes to the parts of the picture I want them to see (or the parts I don't want them to notice).

One more layer for the signature, and it's done! Sure, perhaps there are some things I could have done better, but my goal here was to have fun. In that, I can assure you that (take my word for it) I succeeded. :)

For all of you who strained your eyes looking at the incredible detail in the rocks and water, you will find in the next pane below...

....the woman, cropped from a full-size version of the photo-render-painting. Here you can see the working size.

Normally, I work on a size much larger, but in this case, I was just having fun (like we're supposed to, right?) and wasn't concerned with all the Giclee and Iris print terminology... this one is for the screen only.

Now get back to work on your own pictures!

And have fun... 'cause I said so.


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