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Winging Your Angel

Step 1 - Getting Started

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Poser Arcana was recently asked to do a tutorial on “Parenting” angel wings on a figure. Hokusai's wings were requested for the example. I will be using both Jeff Howarth's and Phil Hokusai's wings in this tutorial.

If the set-up below looks slightly different than yours, it is because I use Curious Labs' Poser Pro Pack. One of the features I love in this program is the ability to set up more than one camera view. It really aids in posing and lighting. This is Digital Art Zone's', Victoria model with various morphs to adjust her to the look I wanted for my angel. I get my morphs from many places (DAZ and Morphworld are probably the places I frequent most often).

From my figure directory, I have selected and set up my Victoria with a 3-way view using the Face, Main and Top cameras. I have completed my pose with lighting and am ready to render her to see if I like it.

I like the effect and am ready to continue. But wait, you say, a bald angel? Some of you are even saying, and no clothes? Well, I like to paint my hair and clothing, so that's for the next part of this tutorial which goes on to post-production options. Stay tuned. If you have them, and so desire, by all means use hair models and clothing props from Poser's libraries or ones you can purchase or download from the generous Poser community. Check Poser Arcana's resource section for listings.

Please note: I am not fond of redoing work, so at this point I save my figure as “angelewings.pz3”. This allows me to reload her with all her morphs, lighting…everything in place.

Step 2 - Adding the Wings

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As you can see, I have a few sets of wings in my Figure Directory. Look, there's Robin Wood's amazing Dragonfly Wings and Thorne's Rag Wings. There's Phil Hokusai's Wings, which we use later in the tutorial, and the ones I want right now by Jeff Howarth.

I select Jeff's wings and using the double arrow, I add them to my figure. If you do not use the double arrow, you will end up replacing your figure and will have lost your pose if you have not saved it as a PZ3 that you can reload.

Notice that my wings have come in dead center to my stage. Now, my figure is already occupying that area.

Below your window, you will see two arrows. On the left side is the list of figures you have in your stage. You can change the names of your figures to keep them straight by going to the Object menu and selecting “Properties”. I have re-named my “Figure 1” (if you look at the first illustration) to “angel”. Unfortunately, my angelwings would not allow me to rename it for some reason. To make matters more confusing, the name wouldn't even show up. Well, you work with what you have and the lack of name became the way I actually identified when I had the wings selected. The arrow on the right, gives you a pull-down menu which shows you the various parts of your figures that can be selected and posed, as well as cameras, and props.

Using the two-camera set up, I select the main body of Jeff's wings which allows me to move both wings as a single unit. Now, it is important to take a look at your models when you first get them and become familiar with what your modeler has given you in the way of parts to move. In the case of Jeff's wings, he has given you a left and a right wing, but no mobility within the wings themselves. On the other hand, Hokusai's wings provide, in addition, three separate sections within the wings themselves which can be posed. Jeff's wings are a diamond shape and Hokusai's are of a longer variety. The look of the wings, the pose you desire, and perhaps the texture maps you have, will determine which wings you eventually use.

I began to move Jeff's wings to try to position them the way I wanted. You can see how nice it is to be able to view from the Main and Top cameras simultaneously.

Closer, but still need to get them right.

I decided, as I got close, that an additional view with the back camera, would assist me for the final placement. Voila!

Step 3 - Parenting the Wings

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With the wings in position, I now want to “parent” my wings to my angel figure. By “parenting”, I let Poser know that I want the wings to move with the figure from now on. Now you can do this step earlier, but I find that “parenting, after I have everything in place works fine for me. Select the wings' Main body part and under the Figure menu, choose “Set Figure Parent”.

A dialog box will appear with the body parts of your figures. Select the chest on your angel figure and click on it once to select it (the lettering will go into white letters). You have now parented your wings to your angel.

Now you can move your angel and the wings will dutifully stay tied to your figure's apron…er…shoulder strings.

With the wings in place, I save my file to preserve all the settings, and do a test render. Were you wondering what all those dots were in the wings? Jeff's wings had “transparency” already set up and you can see it is wonderfully effective in the render.

Step 4 - Changing the Wings

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I'm going to change out Jeff's Wings with Hokusai's Wings. Make sure you select the Wing's main body and use the single arrow to “change figure”.

One of the differences between Jeff and Hokusai's Wings is that Hokusai's has a Center block. You can make it invisible right away or, as in this tutorial, use it to aid you in placement. I used the 3-way view and moved my wings into place; the center block visibly moving through the angel's body.

Of course, unless you think it makes for some exotic adornment, we can make the block invisible by selecting Hierarchy from the Window menu. Find the center on the AngelWingS model and close the eye to make it invisible. It's as simple as that.

For the final render, I selected the outermost part of the angel's left wing (remember, Hokusai provided three movable sections on his wings) and moved and rotated the wing tips up a bit to brake the tangent that had been created where the fingertips were touching the wings. It just didn't make a good silhouette, but it is purely subjective.

The other thing to note is that Hokusai supplied his wings with just a neutral grey for the wing color. I decided to go into the Materials palette under the Render Menu. I changed the materials of both upper and lower(the feather fringe) parts to white. Just to see how it would look, I set the transparency on the lower part to a setting similar to what Jeff Howarth had on his wings. And here is my test render with Hokusai's wings.

Step 5 - Wrap Up

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Parenting has many purposes. It is what allows a rider to sit on a horse and move with the horse by parenting the figure's hips to the horse's abdomen. Taking it a step further, it also does the same if you decide to make the rider and horse one, as in a centaur. In that instance, you parent the hip of the human figure to the horse's chest having made the human invisible from the hip down and the horse invisible from the neck up (probably make upper neck invisible and not the lower neck). Experiment. It's what makes it fun.