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The hardest prop type to place and attach to a figure is the hand-held object. While never easy, it can be simplified. Here's how.
Begin by setting your figure to the default pose – straight up body with outstretched arms.
If you start with an unclothed figure there will not be a lot of other props and textures to slow down the process.
Tweak the arms pose some by setting all bends, twists, and side-to-side to zero. That way the hands are in sync with the studio window X-Y-Z orientation, as will be the props.
Save this as a Default Prop Pose to your Library for later use.
For this example I used the DAZ Scimitar from the Costume Pack CD.
Check to see if the prop is, or has been, saved as a smart prop. If so, set the new parent to Universe for now, even if it has previously been a smart prop for a hand. Then set all X-Y-Z positions, and rotations to zero.
Scale the prop to an approximate size if it appears too large or small. Poser PP2 prop files are most often to scale. Some imported 3D prop files may come in as oversized. See Illustration 1. with figure and prop set to these defaults.
Be sure that the ground is visible in your scene and that the default (un-rendered) overhead shadows are seen. Overhead cast shadows make prop positioning much easier in a 3D space.
Begin to position the prop using the Parameter Dials. I prefer the dials to tools, as the dials are faster and ultimately, more accurate. Notice the shadow of the prop as it moves. It is much easier to see where the prop is by the shadow it casts than is seen when body/prop objects are foreshortened or overlapping. See the Illustrations showing this shadow tracking. Notice how the small shadow of the Scimitar directly in front of the figure moves from center towards the right hand.
At this point the prop is touching the hand, and is in the approximate position and rotations. There are two ways to go from here. You can move the prop until it is about right in relation to the default pose of the hand, and pose the hand around the prop.
Or, you can apply a preset hand pose from your Library and move the prop into position. You may end up tweaking the hand a little to better fit the prop. Whichever method you use, always save that new hand to your Library for reapplication. Illustration 4 shows the right hand camera view of the previous image. A hand pose I made was applied to the open hand and the Scimitar moved up and over a little.
The last step is to attach the prop to the hand. Be sure IK is turned off for the hand in which you want to place the prop. If IK is on, the hand will not appear in the list of possible parents. Set the hand as Parent to the prop.
Notice that the Parameter Dials settings for positions and rotations change when a prop is attached to a hand or other body part. Originally the prop shared X-Y-Z coordinates with the studio window settings. Once the prop is a 'Child' it adopts the X-Y-Z orientation of the body part. Those orientations are different for hands and other body parts. Thus, child props will move and rotate differently than before being attached. Experiment to learn the differences.
Save the attached prop to your Library with a modified name. In this case, 'Scimitar-sp' (for smart prop). Likewise you can save for different figure types. I use -msp for Michael smart prop, -vsp for Victoria smart prop, -psp for Posette smart prop, and so on.
Now you can pose your figure and the prop will stay put. Often when you apply a new, preset pose, the hand will change. When it does, simply reapply the hand pose (hd2 file) for that hand.
Now after applying any body pose, you can add the hand pose and the smart prop (in either order) and it will snap to as it should be. The last image shows the original figure and prop with several items from the costume pack added and scaled to fit. Textures and colors were applied and the result is… Mikel, the Moorish Pirate.