Pose tool

Generally, when I am starting on a new pose, I will start with drawing or sketching.  This allows me to take a moment to understand the pose composition and proportions before diving in to creating an armature.  Also, since building an armature can be a pretty left-brained activity, it helps me to draw to get into the creative frame of mind before I start worrying about accuracy and potential structural issues.  I have a small 3×5 sketchbook on me at all times for these quick sketches.

For this pose, I tried an additional tool after making these quick sketches: Pose Tool (iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows Phone) by AlienThink.

You set the pose by manipulating natural joints.  I discovered this to be a remarkably insightful tool to figure out ‘how exactly is that arm getting in that position’.  For complex poses, my biggest enemy can be thinking I know what is going on compared to just observation.  And frankly, even with observation, it can be difficult to figure out rotations sometimes.  Short of actually grabbing the live model and flexing their joints to figure out how they work (educational–not recommended), using a tool like this was actually quite helpful.

Pose Tool is not meant to be a 3D modeling program like Modo or 3DSMax.  But it sure did make want to do more 3D modeling in programs such as them though.  When I saw muscular, proportion, or compression differences between the live model and the Pose Tool mesh, I really wanted to get into the nitty gritty and make it all ‘just right’.  For better or worse, Pose Tool gives you just enough control to get the general pose but not so much that you begin to start noodling on eyelashes and finger nails.  For that reason alone, it was invaluable for forcing me to focus on capturing the pose rather than be distracted by surface or muscular details.

There are also some interesting overlays, including showing the inter nature armature wire positioning and a simple box version.  The simple boxes allow you to see the big shapes and their orientation to each other.

Some minor quibbles with Pose Tool

  • I would really appreciate it if there was a highlighted segment mode when posing.  I lost track of how many times I grabbed the wrong segment.
  • Undo.  See previous comment.  Pro tip: Save. Often.  I had to restart several times because I accidentally screwed one thing or another, or accidentally reset the pose.
  • The file management (load and save) user interface is obtuse at best.  I still don’t think I have it figured out.  Are there two sets of saves, one for male and female?
    • I really wish I could save to a cloud service, such as DropBox so I could use the same pose on multiple devices and have peace of mind.
    • Naming save files would be great. ‘female pose 0’ doesn’t really help much.

My favorite feature is  a variety of included textures, including flat white, monotone skin, colored skin, generic proportions model, and anatomy.  This helps with simplifying what you are looking at so you can work on basic posing and then later review anatomical and surface details.

When I first used Pose Tool, I thought it was an interesting novelty.  However, actually including it in my workflow and using it as a way to sketch the pose quickly on my iPad makes it an incredibly useful tool for you to create references from.  And finally, once the pose is created you can manipulate it to see angles that are critical for modeling but are generally impractical when working from a live model.