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The Wave tool with Magic Magnets ...

This tutorial is for the Nerd3D Wave Tool included with the Waves on the Beach set. This is the Poser specific version of the tutorial if you are using DAZ Studio please use see the Studio version of the Tutorial

The wave tool allows you to create realistic waves in any high resolution plane. The set comes with a large water disk that the magnets for the wave tool will lock on to.

Actually any prop or body part named “Water” will do. That's the Wave Tool's magic word. Just select that prop and load up the tool. The magnets will lock onto that prop.

Requirements ...

  • A Nerd 3D Water Surface Such as the included Water Disk or Beach Set
  • Poser 5 or newer, Poser 6 for ray traced water
  • Sun Screen

Important: The Poser and Studio Versions of the Wave tool are not compatible. Even if you have both a scene created in Poser will not work in Studio. The way the two programs handle deformers (magnets) is different. However, poses created in Poser will work in Studio with some minor adjustments.

Let's make some waves ...

First load the set with the water prop. This can be the Water Disk included with the Wave Tool, the Nerd3D Beach Set, or any other set that needs waves. Select the water and load a Wave Tool from the Library. In Poser that's all you need to do. If you are using a surface that wasn't designed to work with the wave tool you will need to manually connect the magnets in the wave tool to the water surface. Select the CurlMag and open it's properties ([Crtl]+[Shift]+N) then click the [Add Element to Deform] button. Choose your water prop from the list and click OK.

Once you have the wave tool loaded select it's control handle. You will see a triangle pointing at the center of the wave area, that's the handle. All of the wave's controls are grouped here for easy setup. Pick the Curl dial from the list and set it to about 100. Look! your first wave.

You've probably already noticed the sluggish posing. That could be a problem. The water has to be very high polygon to accept the distortions from the magnets. For posing there is a special low poly object in the scene. The Wave Tool effects it also so for now hide the Water part by taking the check off of Visible in the Properties tab. The WaveSetup part should be visible. Make sure the Visible box is checked for it's properties. It will show as a long rectangle running the length of the scene.

Wave Setup ...

If you look at the scene from the side with one of the isometric cameras the wave form will be quite obvious. You may also want to switch the scene to Outlined View (Ctrl-2) so you can really see the shape of the wave.

Now lets go for a more sophisticated wave shape. There's a lot more to it than just a curl. Ahead of the wave there is a trough and behind there is a swell. The curl is basically when the swell catches up top the trough as it hits the beach. I've tried to give you these actions with the wave tool.

Select the Handle of the Wave tool and look at it's parameters. There are four groups of dials.

Dials, dials dials ...

The wave control group of dial are for positioning and scaling the size of the wave. The top section, Wave Control is for setting the over all size and orientation of the wave. If you are doing an animation of the wave the Wave In-Out dial is your friend. It move the whole wave effect along the surface of the water. The side to side and angle dials move the wave relative to the “beach”. Width and Size work like basic scales. The width sets how wide the wave effect will be. There is no length setting, as in the distance between two waves, cause there's only one wave per tool. The distance between waves is controlled by where the tools are placed.

Swell and Trough Settings. Most of these are the same, they just work in opposite directions. The Pitch dials control the angle of the water in the effect area. (See the diagram below.) The height and depth dials effect the water level in those areas. The pull dials pull the water away from the “shore”. The size of the swell and trough areas are controlled by their Length dials. These dials allow you to spread out the effect to accommodate any wave spacing.

The curl dials are pretty simple. The curl, curls up the curl. You can use the pull and raise dials to move the tip of the wave and fine tune the curl shape.

TIP: In the beginning it may be easier to work with the wave tool if you use the Show all deformers option from the Display menu. Try not to move the magnets and zones manually. The way they interact with each other is what makes the wave form. If you accidentally move a magnet or zone you can use the restore element option from the Edit menu.

Let's make some waves ...

There are a bunch of preset wave shapes and you can use them for an example if you like. But you can build you own waves and even animate them if you want. Let's make a wave and move it around a bit. If you don't already have it loaded you need a Water surface and a wave tool. Select the handle of the wave tool and open the Parameters palette.

Now it's tempting to grab the curl dial, give it a spin and call it good. But we can make a more realistic wave. First lets give it some swell the numbers on the swell dial are more or less feet. ( 30cm ). Set it to about 2. Not much of a swell is it? Now set the Swell pull to about -5. Hey! that's starting to look like a real swell. Now let's focus on the swells forgotten sibling, the trough. Set it's depth to about 1 and the pull to -7. Now that's a nice wave.

Ok now for the cherry on top, the curl of the wave. Grab the curve and give it a spin. Wait, it hardly does anything now! Remember this is all about the interaction of the magnets. The curl is getting buried in the swell. Set the Curl Pull to about -2 and the curl rise to about 1.5 then dial in about 70 on the curl.

There you go a little bitty wave. Just for fun move the wave with the In-Out dial. Take a break here and play with the way the swell pull and Trough Pull effect the shape of the wave. The Pitch and Length dials can also effect the shape of the curl.

Adding ripples to the water ...

Now that you have a nice wave set the water to be visible again. Open it's properties and put a check on visible. The water is too smooth isn't it? Select the Wave Setup part of the water. Oh boy, a bunch more dials! Really, this is easy. There are several sizes of ripples and 3 variation of each size. You'll find some of the ripple sizes have an “ALL” after then name. Most of the ripple morphs fade out as they get closer to the edge. The “ALL” versions apply the same scale to the whole water surface.

The reason for scaling the size of the ripples down towards the edge it to create a forced perspective and make the set look bigger than it is. Of course if you have the camera right at the edge this may work backwards making the set seem smaller. That's why you have the “ALL” version of the morphs too.

You can simulate the ripples on the surface by dialing a little bit of each size. There are 3 of each scale so that in animations you can rotate through the three and create a very convincing water simulation. This can be tedious to set up so a 300 frame animated pose is included to get you started making ripples.

So you want to surf those waves ...

If you want to animate the waves it's actually pretty easy. There is an included 300 frame wave animation that will roll the wave in and have it break on the beach. You can create your own animations too. If you don't have a good grasp of Poser animation you will probably want to use the included animation as a starting point.

Turn the water back off so you only have the Water Setup showing. Waves don't start out as a curl, they begin as a little swell and grow as they approach the beach. First set the pace for your wave. At frame 1 move the wave way out to the edge of the water. Then go to the end frame 300, maybe 600 and set the wave to be past the end of the water. Now someplace in the middle of the animation setup a nice wave. Play that back an forth a few times, watch the wave grow. As the wave reaches the beach it will break you can do this by twisting the curl until the tip touches the water again. Then as the wave rolls out pull the curl up the beach and unroll the curl at the same time. this lets the wave seem to wash up the beach.

Of course if you are working with the simple water disk this is much easier. Sea waves don't normally break unless you're doing a Hollywood disaster flic. You can just let the wave fade back to nothing as it exits the other side of the set.

Rendering ...

Water is probably the hardest material to get right. I've included several choices. If you use one of the ray traced materials you will need to enable ray tracing in render options. The ray traced materials will give the most realistic results. That doesn't mean the mapped water is a bad choice, in fact if you don't have something in the water to be refracted it's the better choice. The ray traced water will take a very long time to render. If you are doing a scene with a figure in the water then you may want the added realism the ray tracing adds. If you use these materials the Ray Trace bounces needs to set to at least 4 in render options. The Poser 4 renderer will not work, these materials require Fire Fly.


Can the water splash? No, this is not a real particle based water simulation. Splashes are, for now, post work for poser.

How can I change the speed of the included Animations? Poser has a built in function to speed or slow animated sequences. Select the figure that you want of change and choose Animation > Retime Animation …

How can I add atmosphere to my scene? The render below uses the Fog Tool to create a distant haze effect at the vanishing point of the horizon.

Poser Crashes When I Move the Mouse Over the Water! (Poser 7 and Pro only) There is a bug in the current release of Poser 7 and Poser Pro ( As far as I know this only happens with ATI video cards fortunately there is an easy fix that may also improve performance. There is a line that needs to be changed in the Poser.ini file.

  • With Windows Explorer go to this folder:
    • In Vista go to: C:\Users\[User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Poser[7 / Pro].
    • In Windows XP it's: C:\Documents and Setting\[User Name]\Application Data\Poser[7 / Pro]
    • Note: You may have to enable showing hidden files to view this folder in Windows XP.
  • Open Poser.ini with a text editor and find this value: “PREVIEW_OGL_OBJECT_BBOXPICKING 0”
  • Change the zero on the end to a one (1).
  • Save the file and restart Poser.

As a side benefit, you may see improved performance when selecting objects in the Posing window.