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Perfect Portraits: Part One: Poser Setup

Author: serpentis

Tools Needed

  • Poser 4 or Poser Pro Pack and Photoshop (or photo editor) for post production

Support Files


A few people have asked me to share how I create lights, especially portrait lights and images, so I've created these two tutorials, Perfect Portraits: Part One: Poser Setup and Perfect Portraits: Part Two: Postwork to help others create dazzling portrait images with your standard Poser 4/Poser Pro Pack program. Please do not ask about Poser 5 lighting as I do not have Poser 5 and have no clue how similar the lighting setup is.

What You Need:

Poser 4/Poser 4 Pro Pack

This tutorial (well that's just a DUH isn't it!?)

A portrait scene

Used in this tutorial:

Poser 4

Victoria 3 (available at DAZ3D)

Beatrice by serpentis (available at Poser Pros)

Fighter Girl Outfit by BATLAB (available at Renderosity)

Twin Chignon by Studio Maya (available at Studio Maya's website)

Files: (30.8 KB download) (the lighting used in this tutorial) (1.23 MB download) (the tutorial in html format for offline viewing)

I won't discuss how to set up a scene as I'm assuming you already have a scene set up that you're going to use to walk through this tutorial. The point of this isn't to walk you through creating the scene, but it is to get you more familiar with lighting within Poser 4.

Most preview images have been shrunk down to around 500px. Most have larger images that accompany them (@1024×768) Please click on the thumbnail to view the full size image. All images open in a new window. To return to the tutorial at any time, please close the window that opens.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me or contact me at any of the sites I frequent (3D Commune, Renderosity, Poser Pros and DeviantArt), username: serpentis.


Step 1 - Lock and Load

Load the model of your choice, set morphs, skin texture, clothing, hair, props, etc. This is how MY Poser is set up, please don't think your Poser has to look identical to mine. However, I am assuming, from my setup, you will be able to find the similar tools in your own setup.


Step 2 - About Face

Select the face Camera. You can do this one of three ways. The easiest ways are to select the arrow next to the camera controls or click on the top head (between the outstretched hands) or you can select the head camera from the drop down menus at the top of the screen in the Display menu.



Step 3 - Camera Settings

In the Face Camera settings, you will want to get rid of the evil default focal length of 25. If you're not all that new to Poser, I'm sure you've seen the nasty “fisheye” effect that the lower focal numbers cause, but probably weren't sure how exactly to fix it. You'll want to leave the hither set to 0.016 for this tutorial, however; play around with it, you never know what kind of cool effect you might run into.


Now, by changing the focal number, you've, in essence, zoomed in on the figure. So, you will have to pull back on the DollyZ dial until the whole head is back in the frame.


Step 4 - Be Gone...Evil one...

Delete all lights. Poser's default lights are EVIL. Trust me, you're better off without them. ;) (If you don't know how to delete lights, click on the light in the Light Control panel and then click the trash can icon. A box will pop up asking if you'really want to delete the light, click yes.)


Your scene will show the background grey (unless you've already specified a different color or have a background of some type in there) and the foreground will turn black when all of the lights are deleted.


Step 5 - Let there be light

Create a new light (the star looking icon.) The light will load defaulted to a random color (one that's neither useful or tasteful, I assure you) and at a location somewhere on the upper left side of the light sphere. It will also load defaulted to a spot light, which is what we want. :)


Step 6 -


Set the light's parent to the model's head. You can now move the light around and it will always point at the head. This is especially useful if there are more than one figures in a scene or you want to move the model around a background “set.”


This is what your scene will look like with the one, adjusted spotlight. Notice I haven't changed the color just yet.. A few things to play with when working with spot lights are the Angle Start, Angle End, Dist Start and Dist End dials. These can have dramatic influence on how the spotlight hits the model and where the light is directed. The larger the angle end, the wider the beam of light, the closer together the start and end's are, the more direct (smaller) the beam of light.


Step 7 - Let there be...more...light

Now you can only have one light, if you're happy with it. Or you can create a few more spot lights like I did. I created two more and pointed one at the model's right eye and the other at the model's left eye. I also changed the color of the lights to more the colors I was looking for. Remember, the color, angle, start and end values, and position will vary widely with the style or effect you're going for. These are just the settings I used for this tutorial.



Step 8 - Previewing The Light


Step 9 - Shadow Play

Deciding on the shadow and map size isn't always easy. A majority of the deciding factor will be your final image size. Typically speaking, the larger the final image, the larger the map size. However, I've never found a render that a map size between 2500 and 3500 didn't work for. Be careful, thought; larger map sizes increases render time, depending on what speed processor you're running and how much ram you have available on your system.

Here are the light settings and a preview render of the image used for this tutorial.


Step 10 -!

Remember, when you render your final image to check Anti-alias and Cast Shadows.


Step 11 - Render Your Hearts Out

Render your little hearts out…and check out Part Two of Perfect Portraits: Postwork.