Morphography tutorials
Scale Modelling with the Construction Props
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• Introduction

Let's begin by making the reasonable assumption that you want your Poser scenes to Look Right; and for that to happen, you need to take account of scale. When you're making your own props, it would be useful to have a means of producing a rough outline shape that had the correct scaling, and would be in proportion to the Poser people once it was finished.

The construction props are nothing more than morphing cubes and cylinders. What makes them useful are that their morph dials are calibrated in real world units: inches, feet or metres. The idea is that you "rough out" your proposed model outline using these props within Poser, then export that to your modelling program of choice for detailing.

I've chosen a scale of 1 PNU = 96 inches for these props. If you don't know what a PNU (Poser Native Unit) is, then just take my word for it that this is a reasonable thing to do. This scale is used by Poser 5, DAZ|Studio, and many Poser content makers. It is not the scale used by Poser 6 onwards. I chose it because it is widely used, and because it makes the current crop of Poser figures appear to be of reasonable height. If you want to know more about the background to why I've made the decision I have, you may want to read a more in-depth discussion: Scale of Models in Poser.

The best way to illustrate how the props work is to show them in use, I think; so let's get on with - is it a download, or a tutorial? Let's call it a "down-orial" and move on, as rapidly as possible!

• Download the Construction Props

Construction Props - a morphing cube, and a morphing cylinder. Their dials are calibrated in inches, feet and metres; you can use all three units simultaneously if you really feel you must. Each prop comes in three versions, the only difference being in their initial size: 1 inch, 1 foot, or 1 metre per side. (88KB)

• How to use the props

To illustrate the use of the Construction Props, I'm going to make a rough model of the (particularly uncomfortable) chair that I was sitting in while I wrote this. See how I suffer for my art.

I'll emphasise that this will be a rough model - I'm just going to use the construction cube to make an outline. There won't be any bevels, no fancy curvatures, nothing. As I said, for a serious modelling project this would be imported to a modelling program to be finished off.

I'm going to use inches for this project, but it's worth mentioning that all the props have dials in inches, feet, and metres. Their only difference is in the size at which they load. If you're really eccentric you can set the size of something to be 1 metre, 3 feet and 1.29357 inches. All the dimensions will add up.

Be that as it may, I start by loading the Box - 1in prop.

I measure the seat first. I find that it's 17.5 inches wide, so I set the Xscale_inch dial to 17.5. The seat is 16.5 inches from front to back, so I set the Zscale_inch dial to 16.5. It's 2.5 inches thick, and I set the Yscale_inch dial to - you should have guessed this by now - 2.5.

Finally, I want to know how far up it is. From the underside of the seat to the floor measures 16.25 inches, so I set the Ytrans_inch dial to 16.25. Now you can see the seat, floating grandly in midair. The lurid lighting scheme is only to make the little thumbnail pictures easier to see, by the way. I haven't gone colour blind in my old age.

Now let's make the back legs. These are 1.75 inches square cross-section, and 40.5 inches tall (not including the little finial knob on the top). I set the scale dials appropriately.

The legs don't need Y translation, of course - but they do need X and Z translation to move them into the right place. You can do this by eye, or you can be precise and calculate the values.

The Xtran values are worked out like this:

17.5/2 - (1.75/2) = 7.875

...and the Ztran values like this:

16.5/2 - (1.75/2) = 7.375

That's because the X and Z translation values are taken from the centre of the prop (Y translation is measured from the underside of the prop, as you saw when we raised the seat in the previous step). So 1.75/2 gives me the centre line of the legs. Using this makes sure that the outside face of the legs is flush with the outside face of the seat. Also, since the seat is symmetrical about the origin (zero point), we divide its width (17.5) by 2 also. Hopefully it's obvious that one leg will have an Xtran value of 7.875, and the other will have an Xtran of -7.875. The Ztran will, of course, have to be -7.375.

Or you can do it by eye, as I said. ;-)

Now for the front legs. These are also 1.75 inches cross-section, but are shorter - 18.5 inches high.

Xtran values are worked out as before, and we set the Ztran dials to 7.375 (positive Z this time).

Here's a tip that may be useful when you're making lots of similar copies of things as we are here. Select the prop (or whatever) whose dial settings you want, and select Edit > Copy (or press Ctrl-C). Then select your new prop and do Edit > Paste (or Ctrl-V). Then you only need to edit the value(s) which have changed - for example, make the Xtran dial negative to copy the left leg's settings to the right.

Now for the bars across the back. These are 2.5 by 0.5 inches in cross section, and I've chosen a length of 15 inches - I say "chosen" because this is actually longer than is needed to bridge the gap between the uprights (which as I'm sure you've already worked out in your heads, is 14 inches). Making them longer embeds them in the uprights, which won't make the chair stronger as a mortice and tenon joint would in real life, but it does help to avoid slight inaccuracies which may spoil the appearance when rendered, with light leakage and so on.

The Ztran is -7.375, as it was for the back legs; and I make four copies of the bars, set at Ytran values of 23.5, 28.375, 33.25 and 38 inches.

Getting along fine - now for the side bars. These are 1.25 inches square, and I've chosen to make them 14 inches long, for the reasons I went into above.

Xtran values are +/-7.875 (same as for the legs), and Ytran is 4.25 inches.

And now the last part - the front and back bars which bridge the legs. They have the same cross-section as the side bars (1.25), the same length as the back bars (15), and the same Ztran (+/-7.375). Their Ytran is 6 inches.

The chair is roughed out now. What I would do to finish it off would be to export it in Wavefront OBJ format, and do detailing in my modeller followed by UV mapping and texturing.

But now, I'm tired and I want to sit in the sun for a bit. If I wasn't lumbered with the P4 man's rigging I could enjoy this holiday even more. :-)

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