In this tutorial you will learn how to use a 3-D program (in this case, Ray Dream Studio) to create your own props. For this tutorial, I will be making a Star Trek: The Next Generation™ communicator "object" and converting it into a Poser "smart prop." (Note: you should be somewhat familiar with Ray Dream Studio before proceeding.)
1) First, create the 3-D "object". Actually, we will create 2 objects and "group" them into one.
Start Ray Dream Studio. (You should start with a blank scene.) Note: to make things easier, you may want to maximize the perspective window, turn on the 2 back "walls".
First, we will create the silver, "A" part of the emblem: click on the "Free Form" Tool (the button) and drag it into the Perspective window.
You should get a box that asks for the name of the Free Form object. Let's call it "Emblem" (type that word into the box and click the "OK" button).
Go to "View" > "Preset Position" > "Drawing Plan" to create the object.
Using the "Pen" Tool (the button), click on the grid to create 4 points as shown in the screen shot to the right. Ray Dream Studio will automatically draw lines to connect the points, and clicking (a second time) on the first point will "close" the shape. (For now, don't worry if your shape is "pretty" or a different color, we will change both of these options later.)
Now, use the "Selection" Tool (the button) to move the points. Make the bottom-left and bottom-right points an equal distance from the top-center point. Move the middle-bottom point to be about a grid-square the right of the center.
To make the shape more accurate, we will need to curve the lines. Click on the "Convert Point" Tool (the button). This will allow us to make Bezier curves at each point. Your object should have roughly the same shape as the second screen shot.
When you are satisfied with the shape (feel free to experiment with the line curvature), we will need to color the 'A' shape. To open the color sets, go to "Windows" > "Browser" and click on the "Shaders" tab. Since this part of the communicator is a silver color, click on "Silver" (in the category, "Metals") and click the "Apply" button (in the lower-left side of the "Browser" window). Close the "Browser" window. Note: due to the current lighting, you won't see the silver shading until later.
We are now done designing the face of the 'A' part of the communicator, but we will need to give it some depth. Go to "View" > "Preset Positions" > "Reference" to see the object. Adjust the depth by dragging the purple line on either the right-hand wall or the ground. To make sure the line is straight, hold down the "Shift" key while dragging the line. (For this tutorial, I have made the purple line 2 grid-squares in length, but you can adjust it to suit your taste.)
And when you are satisfied with both the shape and depth of the object, click the "Done" button (in the lower-left side of the window). You will now be back at the "Perspective" Window. The object will probably be off-centered. To make things easier we will center it in the window: go to "Arrange" > "Send To Origin".
Optional: at any time, you could save this object as a Ray Dream Studio file.
Second, we will create the oval part of the communicator. As before, click on the "Free Form" Tool and drag it to the Perspective window.
In the Name box, let's call this object "Oval".
Go to "View" > "Preset Position" > "Drawing Plan" to create the object.
Click on the "Draw Rectangle" Tool (the button) and hold down the mouse to access the "shape" mini-menu. Select the "Draw Oval" Tool (the button).
Draw an oval similar to the one shown in the screen shot to the right.
We will now need to color the oval shape. Again, open the color sets: go to "Windows" > "Browser" and click on the "Shaders" tab. Since this part of the communicator is a gold color, click on "Polished Gold" (in the category, "Metals") and click the "Apply" button (in the lower-left side of the "Browser" window). Note: due to the column size, you may only see the word "Polished..."- this is the correct color. Close the "Browser" window. Again, due to the current lighting, you won't see the shading until later.
We are now done designing the face of the oval part of the communicator, but we will need to give it some depth. Go to "View" > "Preset Positions" > "Reference" to see the object. Adjust the depth by dragging the purple line on either the right-hand wall or the ground. (For this tutorial, I have made the purple line 1 grid-squares in length, but you can adjust it to suit your taste.)
As with the previous object, when you are satisfied with both the shape and depth of the object, click the "Done" button (in the lower-left side of the window). You will now be back at the "Perspective" Window. The object will probably be off-centered also. To make things easier we will center it in the window: go to "Arrange" > "Send To Origin". The two objects should now be looking very close to the final communicator.
To further refine the final shape, we will need to adjust the placement of the oval object. Go to "View" > "Preset Position" > "Front". For the best view, zoom in to a "8:1" viewpoint: click on the ratio at the bottom-left of the window so the mini-menu is displayed and select "8:1".
Select the oval shape by clicking on it (it may already be selected). To move it, drag it anywhere on the screen. To resize it, drag the 4 corners. Move and resize the oval to suit your taste, or make it look like the screen shot to the right. Remember, if you drag it too far (or just don't like its position, you can always select "Send to Origin" again).
To align the objects easily, follow these steps:
To be safe, go ahead and save these objects as a Ray Dream Studio file.
With both objects selected, we will group them into one: go to "Arrange" > "Group". (You will see a big, black "bounding box" instead of two, colored "bounding boxes".)
We can now export this grouped object into a file format that can be read by Poser: go to "File" > "Export". In the Export dialog box, select "WaveFront (.obj)" as the file type. Click the "Options" button and be sure to check the option for "Export Texture Maps" (this will allow you to later edit the different colors). Choose where you want to save the file, type in a name, and click the "OK" button.
For this tutorial, let's change where we save the obj file: go to your Poser folder, then Runtime, then Geometries, then JHoagland. (You can use any folder under the "Geometries" folder, but remember where you save the file.) Save the file with the name "communicator.obj".
Optional: If you like, you can now close Ray Dream Studio.
2) Second, import the ".obj" file into Poser.
Load your favorite character (male or female, it doesn't matter). For this tutorial, Sheri will be showing off the communicator.
We will now bring the communicator into the scene: go to "File" > "Import" > "Wavefront OBJ". Locate the file we just saved and click the "OK" button.
You should now see the "Prop Import Options" box. All of these options should be just fine, except for one: "Percent of standard figure size: 100.00". Whenever you import a 3D object into Poser, you need to experiment with this setting until you find the best size for the imported object. Sometimes you can get lucky and the object will have been created at to import at the correct scale using "100.00%". For this tutorial, you can adjust the scale to suit your taste, but I believe 2% works the best. (This scaling is due to the fact that most 3-D applications use a scale that is much larger than Poser's scale.)
The communicator object will appear on the floor (and may not be easily seen). Don't panic- the Parameter Dials will reflect this new object.
Now comes the second "hard part"- since this is a "clothing prop", you need to move the object to its proper position relative to the body. The absolute best method for moving the object is to adjust the xTran, yTran, and zTran settings until it is in place. (Note: to make it easier to position, when the communicator is approximately where you want it, switch to the "Face Camera" but zoom-out so you can see the shoulders and chest). For the communicator, the proper location would be on the upper-left side of the chest. Feel free to experiment with your own settings, but for this tutorial, I used the following settings:
Note: Since Sheri's chest angles inward, I set the xRotate to -38 degrees.
You have probably noticed that the colors are just not quite right. The silver color may look "flat" and the gold color looks too yellow. To fix this, simply go to "Render" > "Materials".
In the "Materials" box, you will see that all of the "communicator" object's materials are listed in the right-hand pull-down box. Set the "Emblem" colors to silver (there are plenty of metallic-type patterns available on the Internet). Set the "Oval" colors to gold.
With the communicator in place and the colors all set, your character should look like the screen shot at the top of this page.
3) Next, let's make the object into a "smart prop" so we don't have to go through the import process again. Turning an object into a "smart prop" will also cause it to "stick" to the body part whenever you pose your character.
Set the prop's parent: Go to "Object" > "Change Parent". Select "Chest" and click the "OK" button. Don't check the "Inherit bends of parent" option.
Save it back to the Library: Open the "Libraries" Palette and click "Props".
Select a Prop Library, click the "Add to Library" button, and give this new prop a name (like "Communicator"). Poser will ask you if you want to save it as a "smart prop"- click "Yes". You should now see the "preview" thumbnail picture.