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Grouping Objects in Poser

For use with Poser 7 and previous versions back to Poser 4

People who are new to Poser often ask why it is that they can't group several objects together with the Grouping tool. A valid question, however the Grouping tool is utilized specifically for grouping polygons on props and body parts. Why and how one would do this is covered in other tutorials. Here we are talking about making an actual group of objects! Yes, it is possible to "group" objects in Poser. This group can then be scaled, rotated, and translated as though it were a single object. People who are new to Poser often ask why it is that they can't group several objects together with the Grouping tool. A valid question, however the Grouping tool is utilized specifically for grouping polygons on props and body parts. Why and how one would do this is covered in our Shading Polygon Groups tutorial, as well as in the Creating Conforming Clothing tutorial.

Today however we are talking about making an actual group of objects! Yes, it is possible to "group" objects in Poser. This group can then be scaled, rotated, and translated as though it were a single object.

The process of creating grouped objects is fairly simple, but not readily apparent. We will use Poser's parenting capability to combine objects so that they can behave as a single item.

Let's do an easy example by creating a box out of a number of primitive squares. I first loaded the simple square props and arranged them to form a box.

After renaming each of the squares from the Properties tab of the Parameter Dials palette I opened the Hierarchy Editor (Window menu > Hierarchy Editor) and dragged the LEFT, RIGHT, and BACK squares onto FRONT to make them all child objects. This can also be done square-by-square by using the Set Parent button in the Properties tab of the Parameter Dials palette in Poser 5 or 6.

I then added another square and positioned it to be the top of the box. I named it TOP and, again, set its parent to be the FRONT of the box. Instead of using the Hierarchy Editor, I used the Choose Parent... dialog which can be initiated from either the Object menu>Change Parent... command or by clicking the Set Parent button on the Properties tab of the current object.

One advantage of using the Choose Parent dialog is that you can use it to "unparent" any item by setting the item's parent to the Universe. This can't be done in the Hierarchy Editor.

So once I had my box created I was able to translate, rotate, and scale the entire "group" by selecting the parent object (the FRONT square) and making modifications with both the dials and directly with the tools.

At this point I was able to move and manipulate the entire group as a whole by modifying the parent, however if I clicked on any of the other squares they could be modified independently. This has an advantage that we'll get to, but initially this was somewhat frustrating since accidentally clicking on the wrong square meant pulling the box object apart. The solution to this was to lock each of the squares. I selected each square and chose Object menu>Lock Actor. This completed my box which could then be manipulated as a single object.

Note though, that there already is a box prop in Poser, so I wanted to make a box that could do something the default box couldn't. My box has a lid that can be opened.

I selected the LID square and unlocked it (Object menu>Lock Actor). Once unlocked the child object can be modified relative to the parent, so I was able to open the lid of the box – only to find a secret surprise!

This technique is quite simple, effective, flexible and very powerful. It can be used to create all kinds of things from, phone booths (with moving, animated doors), to entire apartment scenes (animate the parent object shaking and voila, instant earthquake.) The items can have some rudimentary animatable parts without having to go through the process of rigging the item as a figure.

Final Note: You can make a dummy "handle" for very complicated object groups by loading a sphere into the scene positioned some distance from the group. Setting the sphere as the parent will provide an easily accessible handle for manipulating the group. The sphere can then be made invisible prior to rendering.

So there you have it – grouped objects in Poser! Until next time...