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Shading Polygon Groups In Poser

For use with Poser 7 as well as Posers 5 or 6

In this tutorial we will use Poser's Grouping Tool to apply textures to specific parts of an imported 3D model.One of Poser's useful features is its ability to import a wide variety of props created in other applications. However, many factors, including file format and the amount of detail created by the original modeler, can affect the look of the prop once it gets into Poser. In this tutorial we'll go through the steps needed to create polygon groups within a prop and then apply individual textures to just those groups in the Material Room.

We'll start by importing a fairly large complex prop- in this example a bulldozer model. After importing we can colorize it with the Paint Bucket tool, to give it that authentic yellow color.

Now, this prop is pretty detailed, but there's a problem here- Poser treats all the polygons as one single surface for purposes of texturing. That's what made it so easy to colorize the whole prop- applying the color to any area applies it to the entire item. In some cases, even if the creator of the prop exports the polygons in groups, Poser may treat the entire item as one single surface for purposes of texturing. If we bring the bulldozer into the Material Room we see that it has just one material associated with it-

So what can we do about this? To create polygon groups that are associated with materials in the Material Room, we will need to use the Grouping Tool; it's the one with the small round dot surrounded by the rectangular dotted line. If the creator of the prop has built it with polygon groups included, we can select these groups using the Grouping Tool as shown here-

Once the group has been selected we can assign it to a material group by clicking the Assign Material... button on the Grouping Tool palette. Name the material, then go to the Material Room and verify that yes, there is now a material with that name containing those polygons.

Well and good, but what if the model comes in without any existing groups at all? Well, that does make things more difficult, but we can still use the Grouping Tool to make new groups and assign materials to them. Start by clicking the New Group button on the Grouping Tool palette, and name the new group. Then click the button with the plus sign surrounded by the dashed rectangle to activate the Add tool; you can click on individual polygons or click and drag to select an area of polygons to add to the group. Selected polygons appear in red and are added to the group automatically as you select them; if you need to remove some polygons from the group you can do so with the Subtract tool (clicking the minus sign surrounded by a dashed rectangle activates this one.)

In most cases you will want to select only the polygons on the surface of the prop, as that's all you'll be seeing; sometimes however it becomes necessary to select polygons that are either invisible (hidden by other polygons) or difficult to select; in cases like this, you can switch to wireframe mode (not hidden-line) to see and access the geometry of the whole prop. For example, if I want to make the windows of the bulldozer transparent, I'll have to select not only the polygons of the windows' outside surfaces, but the polys of the windows' inside surfaces as well (otherwise you get a one-way glass effect where you can see into the cab but not out the other side.) Switching the document display mode from Smooth Surface to Wireframe gives me this highly detailed view of the geometry of the bulldozer's cab (notice that there is considerable interior detail that was hidden in the other views.)

In the wireframe view if one clicks and drags to select polygons, one will select polygons all the way through the object, so one has to be pretty careful to use the camera controls to line up one's view just right before selecting, or it'll be necessary to go back and deselect a lot of extraneous polygons. Once we have just the right polygons selected (use the camera controls to pan around and make sure that we have selected all the polygons that we want- and only those polygons) we can click the Assign Material button and name our new material.

Now, once we have created the new material group, we can go to the Material Room and apply a texture to it- from our example, we can apply transparency to the glass windows of the bulldozer, so we can see into the cab.

To add additional materials (steel treads, rusted bulldozer blade, etc.) we can just repeat this process, creating new polygon groups, carefully adding polygons to them, then assigning them to named materials so we can give them surface textures.