I see a lot of people recommending finding proper reference for poses, even taking pictures of yourself in the pose you want to draw, but how about figure posing programs like Poser? I have been thinking a lot about this lately, I have tried the program and I think there are some real benefits to using it. To be able to swing the camera around and look at your character set-up from any angle and in any light can give you a lot of compositional ideas that you might not have thought of if you were just sketching, your ideas, and when you have found a pose and a composition you like, you have a great anatomical reference right there of the exact thing that you want to represent.
But for me, as a beginner, I can also see some potential drawbacks. I want to be able to create figures from my imagination, and technically a figure drawn from a model I have posed in Poser is a figure from my imagination, but it is from reference. If I create images this way it will take me longer to learn how to draw the figure without ref, which is something I can't really do convincingly. I'm a little bit afraid it would act as a crutch as well as a tool if I create images this way at my skill level, but I also feel that I learn a lot from doing it.. any thoughts?
Also, it would be interesting to know if there are any pros you know of who use programs like this in their work flow.
I have used Poser before, but never in the manner which you are describing. As for using it for reference...I think I would get a book, like Peck's Anatomy for the Artist. That way it will give the reference you wish. I'm in a life drawing class now, and the first thing we are doing is drawing the bone and muscle structure for the major body parts, i.e. legs, arms, torso, pelvis, etc. Drawing with the details imaged in the book is a challenge I would recommend to anyone. Plus, I find it fun...I know, I'm really a freak like that. But, after doing that for awhile, I'm not convinced that Poser would give you the correct muscle structures to be called a reference, per say.
I might use it as a pose reference, but I would not consider it life, by any means. Plus, be very careful with the geometry in that program. Those figures can do anything. I've seen some nice images go bad, because the geometry of the program led to an image that would leave a person in traction. LOL
One thing I sometimes like to use Poser for is if I want to check a complex lighting setup I'll pose a model (sometimes export to 3D package) and light it just to check it against how I concieved the lighting would look. Not that I'll slavishly try to match Poser, but a quick glance can give you hints and problems that you may not have considered yourself. And moving around the lights occasionally will give me pause to rethink my lighting setup in the first place, may even alter a pose to test if others might create more of an effect I'm looking for. A digital place to test out ideas before commiting to actual artwork.
I say use whatever tools will help you in the end.
I tried Poser once...didn't care for it.
I prefer to use 3Dstudio Max bipeds because it's a good mixture of getting the basic gist and still having to come up with the musculature myself. It's essentially a digital wooden posing figurine. I use that in combination with (very embarrassing) pictures of myself and that usually makes for pretty good reference.
I downloaded the free Daz3D thing once, thinking maybe it was an easy way to set up poses for reference. It wasn't. Anatomy is all over the place, poses are unnatural and porportions are way off. Couple that with the unusual perspective and it really isn't any help. Now I just pose myself and use that as a base reference for the proportions & position, whilst using my imagination or other references to make me out to be good looking, heroic or even female.
I posted a little tutorial at my studio blog here. On setting up the camera in poser to get that "fore-shortening" 3D effect that you see in Marvel Comics (Making your characters seemingly pop out of their panels).
Poser is a cool tool, you can use it as as computerized wood-doll, or you can use the figures as a starting base in "3D" artwork.
Its also good to get in, manipulate the figures to understand how they work, and save your poses, build up your collection of poses (they are reusable on most other poser characters).
Have they fixed the joint deformations yet?
well, I can think of alot of reasons to not use Poser, but that is not one of them. Though in a way I agree, because you get better at drawing from your head by practicing with accurate reference (be it life or good photos) and not from wonky reference that looks kinda right (Poser).I want to be able to create figures from my imagination, and technically a figure drawn from a model I have posed in Poser is a figure from my imagination, but it is from reference
my feelings on Poser are that, like many other tools, it can be very helpful for certain jobs but it can also work against you if you don't fully understand what you're doing. What Poser gives you is an approximation of a figure in an approximation of a lighting situation. To pose a figure and consider it 100% accurate as reference could easily lead to poor results. In my experience it works well when combined with some actual reference and/or a decent understanding of human proportion and movement.