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One of the most difficult tasks in drawing is creating realistic human forms. Making realistic 3D models of human forms can be even harder. Artists traditionally used small wooden models as guides for the human form. Enter Poser from Fractal Design; it's the 3D equivalent of the artist's model.

Poser provides a collection of body shapes than can be adjusted and posed as desired. From the Figure Type menu you choose between a variety of body styles: from Male and Female to Skeleton and Stick. You then adjust the height and proportions of the figure to customize the shape. You can choose between different body parts, but while the major parts of the body (arms and legs) can be manipulated, individual parts of the hands and feet cannot be adjusted.

After the figure is selected, it can be easily twisted and adjusted to the desired pose. Poser uses inverse kinematics to make adjusting the figure into realistic poses very easy.

Lights can be added, and the camera can be moved to view the figure from different angles. There are also some simple static objects that can be added to the scene. A completed body shape and pose can be saved to be used again later, and a saved pose can be applied to another figure.

The program supports Phong shading to render the final image, and adds an alpha mask for use in another program, such as Fractals' Painter or Adobe Photoshop.

While Poser is used primarily to create 2D artwork for use in other illustration programs, it can also export models in RIB (Renderman Interface Bytestream) and DXF format. Unfortunately, when imported into a 3D program, you can’t manipulate the figure; it's exported as a single shape. For those who need realistic looking human figures, whether for 2D or in 3D illustration, Poser could be the answer to you biggest nightmares.