Sometimes people ask about my technique for
making comic book art using Poser figures. I’ve given short
answers in the past. If you want a more detailed explanation, this
tutorial is for you.
This tutorial will take you from a Poser scene to
medium-quality line art. In comic terms, the end product will be
somewhere between penciled and inked art. My next tutorial will
focus on postwork to clean up and embellish the line art, bringing
it up to inked quality.
What you’ll need to complete this
*Note: Click on the images throughout this
tutorial for a larger view
- Poser 6 (I don’t think earlier versions
have the same rendering options)
first step is to put together your scene in Poser. To keep things
simple, it’s best to start out with a single character and
some conforming or parented items.
Toon with Line Preview
that you have a scene set up the way you normally would, switch the
"Document Display" preview to "Cartoon with
Line" mode. It might not look so great at first, but
you’ll get used to it.
Fixing Element Styles
might have a few elements that don’t display in the toon
style. In this image, I used Aery Soul’s Liltsure
Hair, and it is still displaying with materials and
transparency. When this happens, select the item and click on
Display>Element Style and select "Use Figure
This happens most often with hair, but I have seen it randomly on
other models. Fix all objects until everything is in "Cartoon
with Line" mode.
Turn off Ground Shadows
many cases you will want to keep your character’s cast shadow
separate from the character, or draw it yourself. To do this, click
on the Display menu, and uncheck the "Ground Shadows"
Turn off the ground
reason why we’re fussing so much with the preview window is
because you’re actually going to be rendering from a preview.
So it’s best to make this look as much like the final image
as possible. Click on Display>Guides and uncheck the
"Ground Plane" to hide the ground. The grid disappears,
but the shadow remains.
Set a White Background
Display>Background Color and choose white from the
Set Up Materials
we need to get the materials ready for a line render. The image
above shows one way of setting up toon shaders, but for this
purpose, you don’t need much detail.
For a simple line render, just make sure that:
Diffuse Color is set to pure white
Diffuse Value is set to 1
Do this for every material of every element in your scene. You can
make a basic material and save it to your library for quicker
your preview window should show an image similar to the one above.
Chances are it’s either too light or too
time to plan the lighting for your image. It may not matter for
this render, but I think it’s always easier to avoid colored
lights. So set your lights to white or gray colors before
Now move them around the scene until you get a nice balance of
light and shadow on your character. Think about your specific
image. For example, it it’s a daytime outdoor image,
you’ll want less shadow and a strong overhead light. If
it’s an evil character or a nighttime scene, you want
lots of shadow, with some light areas to show where the character
Make sure your light images still incorporate some shadow and your
dark images still incorporate some light. Try to imagine the light
gray areas as white and the dark gray areas as black. As you play
around, you’ll see that you can create some very dramatic
This example image is a bright daytime scene. You can see how the
main light is overhead and to the right, but there’s still
some shadow to define the body.
Set Render Dimensions
this technique to work well, we need to render at a large size. I
usually use 4000x3000 pixels. If you have a powerful computer, you
might experiment with even larger sizes.
Choose Render Settings
go into the Render Settings. Click on the "Preview" tab.
This will let us render from the preview window.
Check the Antialias box, and enter 12 in the "Toon Edge
Line" text field. Since our render is so large, we need to
increase the thickness of the lines, too.
Now click on "Save Settings."
in the preview window, things are going to look like this image.
Not to worry. This means that you set up the lines
Now click on "Render Settings" again. If your copy of
Poser is like mine, it forgot that you wanted to use the Preview
engine! So choose the preview tab again, and click "Render Now
You won’t see a progress bar like you do with a Firefly
render. All you get is an hourglass. So be patient and
When it’s finished, your render is too large to look at in
Poser. So save a copy. I usually save in PNG format because
it’s compressed and includes an alpha
Examine Your Work
open the render in Photoshop and see what we made. It will probably
look something like this image.
Here’s a possible red flag. Do you see how the lines are
dense and the color is dark in the hair on my render? This is bad,
because this whole area is just going to become a black
I’ve seen this with the hair models that I use from Aery
Soul. But the basic aiko and hiro hair models have many less
shapes, and so their lines aren’t such a
you get dense hair lines in your render, you’ll have to go
back into Poser, hide the hair, and re-render. The bad news is that
you’ll have to draw your hair back in during post. But keep
your first render, because you can use it as a
On the other hand, if your hair lines were clean, you can proceed
Converting to Line Art
far, our images have been grayscale. There were various light and
dark sections throughout. Now it’s time to switch to pure
black and white.
In Photoshop, click on Image>Adjust and choose
"Threshold." Read the next step before clicking
best practice for this part is to move the slider as far to the
right as you can. Stop when the shadows start intruding too far
into your image, and move back to the left until they recede. The
idea is to try to keep your lines relatively thick, while also
making sure your shadows behave. Don’t worry about the jaggy
look of the preview. Click “OK” when you’ve found
the ideal setting.
photoshop will smooth out the preview, and you should have a nice
inked-looking image like this. Zoom in very tight, though, and
you’ll see that Photoshop actually converted all pixels to
one of two colors—black or white.
This is the reason for the large size of our render. We can get
away with jaggy edges when the image is this
Preparing for Postwork or Colors
we’re going to make the final step for this tutorial. Choose
the magic wand tool, and de-select "Anti-aliasing" and
Click on a white patch. The tool will select every white pixel in
your image. Delete them.
You now have a single layer of pure black pixels. And the
quality isn’t too bad. If you’re just practicing, or if
you’re happy with the lines, you can put flat colors
underneath them, and even paint some shading.
The Need for Retouching
will notice some strangeness if you zoom in on your lines.
They’re kind of rough up close, and Poser puts spaces between
them. Plus, you may need to draw your hair back in, or add some
accessories to your scene. Or, you might want to distort your
linework or fix the eyebrows and eyelashes, which don’t
usually render well using this method.
That is why I think of this step as more of a pencil drawing than
an inked drawing. But, it’s a good start and there’s
not far to go to make this a full-fledged inked
All supporting images are copyright, and cannot be
copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written
permission from the artist.
Special thanks to Joe Webster [jwebster45206] for
providing Part One of his renewed tutorials for the Front Page
We invite you to have a look at:Joe's
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