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Rigging figures in Poser 4

Author: Looniper

Tools Needed

  • Poser 4
  • A text editor

Support Files


You've spent the time modeling the perfect figure, but now how to get it to work in Poser?

This tutorial will step you through rigging a 3D OBJ model to work in Poser, from Importing to fixing the CR2 to use external geometry and the basics of Joint editing.

This tutorial is made to use only the tools available in Poser 4 and a text editor, so figures created this way will function in Poser 4 and 5 (and presumably 6 and higher).


Step 1 - The Import

The included support file contains the OBJ file for R-LoBot, a heavyweight figure of 295 polygons. It also contains text file PartSupport.txt containing additional information on part naming standards.

Unzip it wherever you like and you are ready to procede.

File-Import-Wavefront Object

Oh boy! Look at all those checkboxes!

Poser has a number of options for importing and each one is useful in its own way. For typical figure imports though, only the following will be used very often.


-Positions the import so its Physical center is at 0, 0, 0.

Place on floor.

-This positions the figure so that the lowest point of it is in contact with the ground plane.

Percent of standard figure size.

-100% is the size of the Poser male figure.

Make polygon normals consistent.

-This tells Poser to read the normals(if present) stored in the OBJ and to make them consistent with the vertex normals. This is useful if you have very complex objects to import that were saved with the normals information, but doesn't hurt to leave checked in most cases.

R-LoBot.obj does not need any options checked, since he was modeled specifically for Poser use.

Step 2 - Body Parts

Where step 3 will cover the actual grouping of body parts, it is important that you understand the naming conventions Poser uses for them.

While technically, you can name any body part anything you like, there are 4 very good reasons to use the default naming scheme.

#1 - Your figure will accept Poser's Symetry commands. (straighten torso, swap left-right, etc)

#2 - Your figure will support Poses made for most figures of its body type. (in this case humanoids)

#3 - Your figure will be usable with the Walk Designer's basic functions.

#4 - It will save you an inordinate amount of time in the Hierarchy editor.

For humanoid and most other organic figures, the preliminary body part list is as follows.

head, neck, abdomen, hip

lThigh, lShin, lFoot, rThigh, rShin, rFoot

lCollar, lShldr, lForeArm, lHand, rCollar, rShldr, rForeArm, rHand

and leftEye, rightEye (if your figure has any).

*case matters*

While the naming represents real body parts, some are poorly represented.

Collars in this list represent only the ball socket itself in a real shoulder.

Shoulders in this list are actually the upper arm, from the socket to the elbow.

Shins in this list are the entire leg from the knee to the feet.

The other parts are relatively close to representing real anatomy.

If your figure is to have hands with functional fingers, and you wish to use the Hands poses, it will also need to follow the standard naming lHand, rHand, and the following for finger parts.

rThumb#, rIndex#, rMid#, rRing#, rPinky#

lThumb#, lIndex#, lMid#, lRing#, lPinky#

where # is a number from 1 to 3, 1 being the part that connects to the hand, and 3 being the end of the finger.

All of these names are in reference to a human(oid) of course, but will apply to most biological figures.

In some cases, however, you may need more or fewer parts. A legless creature, or something with a multisegmented body or tail for example.

Poser has accounted for this and supports additional part names as are listed in the included PartSupport.txt file.

Step 3 - Grouping


With the imported OBJ selected, click the grouping tool icon.

The easiest way to begin is to change to the Front camera view, and set the Preview mode to Wireframe.

In wireframe mode, any selections with the grouping tool will pass completely through the object, selecting polygons that both face the camera and those that face away.

In any other viewing mode, only the polygons facing the camera to some extent are selected. This is important to remember when grouping parts where the front and back are not symetrical, or where the front and back are to be separate parts.

To create a body part, click New Group on the grouping tool and name the body part.

Now select all of the polygons that are to be in that body part.

When selecting, there is no need to hold Shift to Add to the selection. Just keep selecting until all of the polygons for the given part are red.

If you make a mistake, you can hold Ctrl and select what you want to de-select, and it will turn black again.

While R-LoBot is very simple, and modeled specifically to be easy to group, there are a couple of instances where you will need to use the other buttons on the grouping tool.

When you select for rFoot, for example, it will also select the rShin polygons.

Because of this, it is a good idea to create the rShin group first. This way when you select the rFoot, and it includes those shin polygons, you can simply press Remove Group and select rShin from the list.

This will occur again between the chest and rCollar/lCollar, so create the chest group first.

If you want to assign material groups, this is the time to do it. If you wait until you have created the figure, you will need to group the materials one part at a time.

If you are in a rush to get past this point, R-LoBot's material groups are set so that they represent the body parts. The 'Hands' material for example, is both the lHand and rHand.

You could create a group, lHand, Include Material Hands, then hold Ctrl and deselect the rHand.

Do this only if you are already familiar with the grouping tool.

There are two checkboxes at the bottom of the grouping tool for testing your group assignments. After you have created all of the body parts, use each in turn to fix any errors.

First, check the Show non-grouped Faces box.

This will show any polygons that belong to no group (as red).

Next, with the previous box unchecked, check the Show Multigrouped Faces box.

This will show any polygons that have been assigned to more than one group. OBJ files can store multigrouped polygons, but Poser doesn't handle them well.

Step 4 - Creating Parts

Now that the body parts are assigned to groups, export the OBJ file.


(you can delete the R-LoBot.mtl it creates)

This step is vitally important for when we edit the CR2. It will need an OBJ that has the parts grouped exactly as we have done in this model.

The R-LoBot.mtl can be deleted.

Now that the grouped OBJ is saved, and all of the parts are correctly assigned, click the Spawn Props button on the grouping tool.

This will create a separate object for each body part, with the names we gave it. This is neecesary for the Hierarchy Window to recognize the parts as such, rather than seeing the model as a single object.

Note: You do not need to spawn props if you are using a PHI creator of some kind. It also lets you skip steps 4 - 6, but requires a basic understanding of the concepts explained in these steps, so you should create at least a few figures manually before learning to use a PHI creator.

Step 5 - The Hierarchy

Now that you have a separate object for each body part, lShin, rCollar, etc., delete the original R-LoBot from the scene. (we don't want him trying to be a body part)

This is a good time to Save As and store the entire scene in case of mistakes.

Window-Hierarchy to open the hierarchy editor.

Each of our body parts must be attached to eachother and their relative rotation order set.

The connection is made by dropping each part into the part 1 step closer to the hip from itself.

As an example..

rHand drops into rForeArm, rForeArm drops into rShldr, rShldr into rCollar, rCollar into chest, chest into abdomen, and abdomen into the hip.

Because we used Default Naming for all of our body parts, we can cheat here by selecting Universe in the list and clicking the Apply Std Hierarchy button.

This will tie all of our parts together in the standard Human(oid) configuration.

It is a good idea to build the hierarchy by hand a few times to get a feel for it, since not all figures will use these exact parts, or will use them in different ways.

Step 6 - Rotation Order


For this part, check the Show Parameters box in the Hierarchy Menu.

The order in which a part's rotations are listed is important to Poser.

It determines the effect the various tools have on the parts and how the joints between objects are connected.

The first axis listed should be the one that you expect to change when the Twist tool is used. (example, twisting a neck around)

The second axis should be the one of the remaining two which is likely to have lowest rotation values applied to it. (example, tilting the neck side to side)

The third axis (obviously) should be the one likely to have the highest rotation values applied. (bending the neck front to back)

Again, since we used Default Naming on all of our body parts, and R-LoBot is of typical human(oid) proportions, we can simply select Universe and click the Apply Std Rot. Order button.

See? All that hassle with naming parts wasn't such a bad deal after all.

Now that everything is in place, select the Hip in the list, and click Create New Figure. Give it a name (R-LoBot) and it creates a CR2 containing all of the information needed to make R-LoBot work.

Unfortunately, the CR2 also contains all of his geometry, so next we cover how to fix that.

Step 7 - External Geometry

When we first imported R-LoBot.OBJ, Poser understood exactly what file we were working with. But the moment we pressed the Spawn Props button, that went out the window.

From that point onward, Poser was handling all of the parts' geometry internally.

Because of this, when we created the figure, all of that geometry was placed inside it.

This is where the OBJ we exported in Step 3 comes into play.

Open the CR2 of the created figure.

(Runtime:libraries:character:New Figures:R-LoBot.CR2)

Near the beginning is the line

actor BODY

Immediately before that line, insert

figureResFile Runtime:Geometries:Looniper:Tutorials:R-LoBot.obj

(point to wherever you exported the grouped OBJ to)

following this are a pair of brackets



then each body part with its geometry information.

To tell it to use the figureResFile's geometry instead, change the


lines to

geomHandlerGeom 13 partname

The partname is the name we gave it when grouping the parts inside Poser, and is case sensitive.

Now delete the geometry definitions including the { } that surrounds them.

The result should be something like this.

Continue replacing the geometry definitions with the pointers until all of the parts are handled by the figureResFile.

After the last of the body parts, you will see another line

actor BODY

Add the

figureResFile Runtime:Geometries:Looniper:Tutorials:R-LoBot.obj

before this line as with the one at the beginning of the CR2.

After saving the CR2, load the figure in Poser to be sure all of the parts loaded. If any parts are not showing, it means you misspelled something in the CR2 for that body part. Simply find and correct that spelling and try again, until all of the figure loads. (remember that Case Counts)

Step 8 - Correcting Joints

Joint editing is seen by most as the most intimidating aspect of figure creation. Since we used the defaults for everything up to this point, the joints are fairly close to where they should be, but some touchup will always be needed.

Load the R-LoBot figure and select one of his collars, then adjust any of its rotation dials. The effect on the chest is far too servere!

Reset the dials to 0 and open the Joint Editor in wireframe viewing mode.

The problems are going to be too much or too little of a body part being included in the joints.

Most joints are represented in Poser's editor in two ways, an I beam or a pair of Vs.

When an I beam is used, everything outside the green end is moved completely, everything beyond the red end is unchanged, and everything in between (along the I beam itself) is the blend area.

When Vs are used, the situation is much the same. Polygons contained by the green V are moved completely, those contained by the red V are unchanged, and those in between are the blend area.

Correcting joints will take some practice, but luckily Poser is friendly in this aspect, as it lets us use the joint dials to test our joints while we edit. Just be sure to set the rotations back to 0 before each change.

Let's start with the left Collar.

When zRotation is applied, the entire left third of the chest moves along with the arm.

Open the Joint editor with wireframe viewing mode (and reset the dials to 0)

The settings on the zRotate joint are probably

0.032, 0.566, -0.027 for the Center Point and

Static A: 135.000

Static B: 45.000

Static C: 315.000

Static D: 225.000

Static A and D are the red arms of the V, Static B and C are the green.

We can fix most of the problem by simply adjusting the red arms, but no matter how much we adjust them, the center is too far into the chest.

Move the center out to 0.052, 0.557.

Using the zRotate dial, you can see this has fixed the problem with the portion of the arm Above the collar, but the portions below still need a lot of work.

Now it is time to start adjusting those Statics.

Static A looks good where it is, but that Static D need moved. Bending the arm shouldn't cause the ribcage to collapse after all. With a little trial and error, the value 265.000 looks like a good one to keep.

Duplicate these changes on the Right Collar (symetry is our friend).

We added .030 to our center on the left collar, so we subtract .030 from our right collar.(-0.052) We added 40 to our Static D on the left collar so we subtract 40 from our static A on the left. (the lines are flipped at the center of the figure, A/D, B/C)

The xRotation uses the I beam. There are only 2 values on an I beam, the(red) Twist Start (0.032) and (green)Twist End (0.081).

Here we simply need to close the red end into the collar a bit. 0.050 and -0.050 are good.

I won't go over all of the joints in the body and what their exact values should be, because the best way to learn is by practice, and better to practice on something simple like R-LoBot than a 60, 000 polygon 12 legged monster with 3 heads. ;)

Step 9 - Finishing Up


The only thing left to do to R-LoBot now is to set the limits on his joints.

This is a much simpler task than much of what we have done, and is going to depend on personal estimation more than anything else. It does take some time, but is much more forgiving of errors than the rest of the process, and can be redone as often as you like for fine tuning.

Pick any joint on the body, and double click one of its dials. Here is where you set the minimum and maximum values for that rotation of that joint, and how sensitive the dial is.

After doing this, simply find that joint rotation in the CR2 and change the line

forceLimits 0


forceLimits 4.

There you have it, from start to finish.

Even without joint editing, the R-LoBot figure you've made can use the walk designer's basic features, and can accept poses-such as Aikiyu Warrior Poses for Aiko 3-that do not make radical adjustments to the feet, or require IK be activated.

But why stop there? Once the joints are corrected, you can add IK, and use the Path editor and have the full use of the walk designer, and a larger selection of poses.

I hope you find this tutorial useful,