Interview with Poser Creator MollyFootman

Apr 27, 2023 at 09:30 am by nemirc

MollyFootman is a mature woman who has been using/creating with Poser for over a decade. She was recently featured in a Poser 13 Renders gallery video with her work, The vigilante: Nightfall. Her work features striking scenes with unusual viewing angles. I interviewed her recently about her introduction to Poser and her working methods.
Here's what she had to say in her bio.
I'm just Molly. Mrs. Mike was my ID for many years when I modeled for my husband, Mike B. It was Mike that introduced me to Poser.

I have modeled in real life a bit. My introduction to 3d imaging was through making pictures of my adventures in Second Life and over the 10 years I've been learning Poser and making Poser pictures. In real life, I am a near completely retired healthcare professional and a full-time grandma. I'm a budding 3D artist.

Interview with MollyFootman

Can you introduce yourself?

I live in the middle of the United States and have just turned 75.  I am retired from my profession as a health care worker.  I am a spouse, mother, and grandmother.

How and when did you get involved in computer graphics and Poser?

Maybe as part of the “empty nest syndrome,” I started messing with various forms of art on the computer about 20 years ago.  I discovered Second Life, a computer game with no objective except exploration and creativity, and soon found I wanted to use it to tell stories.  My husband had been messing with Poser and I started to learn how to use that as it gave me much more control over my stories.  He lost interest in the tool, but I was hooked.  I found another great tool for mounting comic book-style pages in Plasq software’s “Comic Life”.  I began to mess with Adobe Photoshop and similar software.  As I became less involved in my profession and retired this hobby just got bigger and bigger like a snowball rolling down a hill. 

What are your favorite Poser features and why? What tools do you find yourself using the most?

Hard to say what features I like best as the ones I use most I think are indispensable: Pose Room, Cloth Room, Fitting Room, and Material Room.  I’ve come to really love the morph brush in the Pose room and have been using it much more these days to “tweak” fit and fix “poke through”.

As I’ve been at this with Poser for upwards of 10 years, one of the features I find doesn’t get enough credit is the backward compatibility with legacy material.  I just loaded a scene I did in 2013 with Poser Pro 2014 into Poser 13 and tweaked a few materials and changed some of the content that the characters were wearing, and it rendered beautifully in Superfly even though it was originally set up to render in a much earlier version of Firefly.  I think that all that legacy content that comes with Poser is VERY useful in the hands of someone who’s willing to tweak materials a bit.  Of course, there’s a lot of cutting-edge content included with Poser so that someone who is just starting to work with the software has a library that rivals mine right out of the gate.

One of the features of Poser 13 that I am enjoying the most is the Superfly Cycles X rendering engine.  It handles most legacy material well and it really shines with material that was designed for it.  It’s fast and with progressive refinement, you can really save time by having a quick look at overall lighting and composition without having to wait for a complete rendering.

I’m a fan of Python scripts that automate many of the bits of my workflow.  I recommend the work of the content providers Wolfnom and Ken1171_Designs.  They can be real time-savers.  When Poser moved from version 11.3 to version 12, Python was updated, and a lot of my old scripts wouldn’t work.  These newer scripts have really replaced a lot of what I enjoyed in earlier versions of Poser with similar functionality.

The vigilante: Nightfall by MollyFootman

What workflow do you follow when working on a project? How does the creative process work?

For me, a picture starts with a story.  A lot of my work here is a sequence of pictures with an accompanying story.  I’ve even done a few graphic-novel-style pages to share here.  Even when I am going to do a portrait of a single character, I have the story of that character in mind.

Once I have a story in mind, I construct a setting.  Sometimes I do a rough pencil sketch of what I want to render.  These sketches are very crude as I am not a skillful artist, but it helps me to have a rough idea of the kind of surroundings I want for the story.  Then I cruise through my library of content and select settings and props to build the scene or something close to it in Poser.  When I have all the props for the scene set up, I work on lighting it.  I’ve found that keeping the lighting as simple as possible is a good idea.  With Superfly, the use of HDRI images on “environment spheres” produces some very realistic light.  I credit Afrodite-Ohki’s “Level Up!” content and Blackhearted’s “Superfly Studio” with helping me improve my scene lighting skills.

I then put my setting aside and build the character or characters I want to appear in the scene.  I often mix morphs and textures and have lately been using the morph brush a bit to tweak my characters.  I dress them and then save them to my library.  While I’m making characters, I use a very simple scene, just the factory scene basically.

After all this, I reload the setting and import the characters from my content library and position and pose them to tell the story I started with.  I usually spend a lot of time in this step.  Facial expressions are important to me although I try to keep expressions subtle.

When all this is done, I begin test rendering at a low image size, usually about 1100x825.  After tweaking to get all the lighting, posing, expressions, etc. to my satisfaction I render at very high quality to a larger size for post work, usually at least 4000x3000.  I export the final images to Photoshop using the Open EXR format.  When I am done tweaking, I take the size down to around 2400x1800 for sharing and save as a JPEG for use in Comic Life or posting as a separate picture.

The process sounds long and complicated, but once characters are set and saved, that portion of the process isn’t repeated (unless I want to change their clothing).  Settings are also reusable in a story, and I have an ever-growing library of my own settings as well as those that I have purchased.  Even though I have a lot of other things to do in my life, I can usually produce 1 to 3 pictures a day when I am “in the groove” and feeling creative.

Where do you get your inspiration?

A lot of my inspiration comes from TV, movies (especially Saturday matinee serials) comic books from my youth and other material I’ve read over the years.  I’m a huge fan of science fiction and mysteries and have read a ton of that kind of thing.

Also, I am inspired by the work of other Poser and DAZ Studio artists.  When I see something I like, I begin to think about my own spin on it.

Sadly, I don’t think that anything I do is particularly original.

A pair of rogues on Level 13 by MollyFootman

What other software do you use when working on your Poser renders?

Photoshop is indispensable for me, but I find that the new image editing capabilities of Poser have taken over for some of what I used to do in Photoshop.  I use Comic Life when I want to tell a story using the comic page format (which is way more work than you would think; Comic Life helps make it a bit easier).

I have only messed about with animation using Poser a tiny bit but expect I’d need some video editing software if I got deep into that.

I also feel like I need to expand my ability to create content outside of Poser.  I am currently trying to learn Blender which I find is like Poser in many ways.

Do you have a dream project you would like to make someday?

Dang!  I have so many dreams it’s hard to say.  I guess I’d really like to animate one of my stories and tell it that way rather than with static images which is my current level of endeavor.

Do you have a wish list of things where you would like to see Poser improve?

Nothing is so wonderful that you can’t make it better and Poser is no different in that respect.  Probably my most basic desire is that the editing screens in the Pose Room were not subject to so many artifacts and gave a clearer idea of how a final rendering might look.  The artifacts are particularly annoying when you are using layers with materials.

After that, I wish the import and export modules will be more refined and reliable.  Of course, as so much material is made by DAZ for their posing product, I would love to see some sort of automated script tool to help import their material.  I would mention that Ken1171_Designs already has some good basic scripts moving in that direction.  How about import and export from Blender?

How would you encourage someone new to 3D graphics to try out Poser?

That’s a hard one.  I must overcome the argument that a competitor makes what appears to be a similar product available for free.  I find that if you are new to the whole business of 3D graphics, the layout of Poser has a nice correlation to the real world of photography which should make the learning curve less difficult to ascend.

The Pose editing room has controls that are more intuitive than those in other programs, at least for me.  The separation of tasks into various rooms that each have their own help systems makes sense to my mind.

The vast amount of material included, and the search engine of the runtime library give a new user a lot to play with before investing in more content.

I‘d point out that there is an active community using and supporting Poser.  There are lots of tutorials and forums for learning.  Heck, I’m one of those helpful users that is always happy to be of help.  Buy Poser and I’m your “go-to” girl if you need help!

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