Tutorial: How to combine the Comic Book Preview outlines and the Sketch Designer in Poser 11.
1. Load a new Poser scene. Turn off the GROUND visibility, since we just want the effect applied to the character.
2. Load any suitable toon character. Here’s Rufus, who ships free with Poser 11. His default grey plush material is certainly not suitable, but Poser 11’s new Comic Book Preview mode can now get the toon effect onto even a grungy character.
3. Now think ahead. Those thin white whiskers are highly likely to be a problem later. They need to be turned black. Go into the Material Room, find the character part Whiskers, and turn the Diffuse and Translucence to black instead of white. Or simply apply a generic black material to the whiskers. The eyes and nose are rather a dense black, but leave them be for now, to see how they turn out in test renders.
4. Set up a single flat toon light for the scene — set the light to be IBL, about 52% intensity, set to “Include in OpenGL”, no shadows. Have it point somewhat directly at Rufus. Make sure the light is NOT ticked as “Visible” in the Preview window.
5. It’s not looking promising for tooning… until one loads up the magic of Poser 11’s real-time Comic Book Preview mode.
Rufus has become ink outlines, as a real-time preview. There are two ways to tell Poser’s Sketch Designer to ONLY sketch into these ink outlines. One way is in the Comic Book Mode, where you switch on ‘Black and White’ and turn its Threshold dial up very high, until you see all the character textures ‘burn off’ to white. That’s what you see above. The ink lines are nice and clean, but a little dense.
6. How to make those ink lines look more like a pencil sketch? Go to Render Settings | Sketch Tab | load the Soft Charcoal preset. Run the Sketch render.
7. The Sketch Render has affected only the Comic Book Preview ink lines that have been dialed in.
Not all Sketch presets work well with such toon outlines, but the Sketch Designer can let you design ones that do, while previewing them in real-time. Make sure that you turn the Background tab’s Opacity off when designing such presets, since that will then allow you to experiment with turning Color on in the Comic Book Filter in Comic Book Preview mode…
8. The effect is still not ideal. For a softer and nicer-looking sketch, turn down the line opacity on the Soft Charcoal preset, to maybe 30%, in the Sketch Designer render. Then render out at 2000px and reduce it in size with Photoshop. As you can see, the lines then become much more like natural greasy-pencil outline sketch lines…
9. The outline’s OK, especially on the head. But as a hand-drawn sketch emulation it’s not ideal, partly because of Rufus’s general lack of edges. So you may want to experiment with combining Poser 11’s Comic Book Preview mode with a toon-edge shader (not Poser’s older method of adding toon lines, which is still in Poser 11 but which produces edge lines that are too clean and uniform). For more of a ‘greasy pencil and tracing paper’ look I combined the Comic Book Preview mode with a new and subtly toon-edged skin shader on Rufus. Running the Sketch effect (as per Step 8) then has the effect of subtly bringing out a little of the 3D shape, by elongating and thickening certain lines such as the belly, at the price of loosing subtlety on the head and ears…
10. Then I used Photoshop to finish this up, as a little coloured sketch. I could have made it better by combining the head from the first render with the body from the second…
Not that convincing as hand-made art, but it’s just a little ten minute proof-of-concept on combining two features of Poser 11. Someone willing to put in a day of experimentation with this, and with a toony character with more complex edges (SA Kitty, for instance) could probably take it a lot further. One could add to the final mix a shadows pass from a standard Firefly render, for instance.
In Photoshop you can clean up the white fringe you can see above, where the two layers mis-register. Simply Stroke | Outside | 6px with a similar pink colour, to have Photoshop add a pinkish blending fringe to the layer.
Note that a sketch render can’t be output as a masked PNG of a character, even if you fiddle with background and opacity in Sketch Designer. To get a basic character mask, output a straight Comic Book Preview render of exactly the same scene in PNG — and then use that to make the mask in Photoshop.