Creature Creator Pro ~ Tutorial #1

The following is a very long-winded, step-by-step tutorial on importing Creature Creator Pro characters into Poser 4, and setting them up as poseable, Poser-ready figures. The tutorial assumes you know very little about setting up Poser characters, and specifically the Group Edit and Hierarchy Edit windows. If you are familiar with these, feel free to skim those parts.

If you want to follow along with the step by step instructions in this tutorial, you will need to download the sample model. Unzip it into the main Poser directory with the "create subdirectories" option. It will create a CCPro-dke folder in the Poser runtime\geometries folder for storing the sample models (for this tutorial, CCP-V04a.obj,) and a CCPro-dke folder in the Figures library for storing the completed .cr2 character files. The download contains two completed versions of this character - V04a, which is the final result of completing this section of the tutorial; and V04c, which is the result of completing the folowing .phi and joint setup tutorials, plus some minor texture mapping.

You can also download this tutorial if you would like to go through it off-line, (although you should get the above sample data at the same time.) The tutorial itself can be placed in whatever directory you wish.

Step 1
First, use the File Import Wavefront obj menu to start importing the sample model. In the Open File dialog, start from the main Poser folder, and then go into the Runtime\Geometries\CCPro-dke folder. Double click on the CCP-V04a.obj file to import it. When the Import Options dialog opens, use the following settings.

Centered - This option isn't really needed, since by default CC-Pro figures are centered. However, if your CC-Pro character has non-symmetrical arms, do NOT check this box, or the character will be slightly offset in the direction of the longest arm.

Place on Floor - This option also isn't really needed, since by default CC-Pro figures are placed on the floor. In the future that will not be true for all models though, so it's a good habit to get into.

Percent of standard figure size - CC-Pro figures are larger than the standard Poser figures, so this option can be quite helpful in getting them to the proper size. The 100% setting is generally good, but if you want your creature to be a little smaller or a little larger than the standard figures, then settings between 80% and 120% produce nice results.

Step 2
CC-Pro has additional head groups, since it allows you to mix and match different nose, mouth, eye and ears parts. We need to rename these additional parts so they are part of the full head.

We do this using the Group Edit window, so open it by clicking on the Group Edit button in the toolbar.

  • Make sure "head" is selected in the drop list at the top of the Group Edit window.
  • Click "Include Group" button to start adding these extra parts to the head.
  • You will get a popup dialog box with a second drop list in it. Select "nose" in this list, and then click OK to add it to the main head body part.

Repeat these steps to add the mouth, lEyeSocket and rEyeSocket. We have long, pointy ears in this model, so for now we will keep the ears as separate body parts.

This process creates a copy of the original part, and in effect, we now have two noses, one that is part of the head, plus the original one. We need to remove the original one:

  • in the Group Edit drop list, select nose.
  • This time click the "Remove Group..." button
  • In the popup window, select nose again. In effect, we are removing the nose from the original nose group.

Repeat these steps for the mouth, lEyeSocket and rEyeSocket

As a final step, click the "Create Perspective UVs" button at the bottom of the GroupEdit window. This is a not a particularly useful texture mapping layout, but perhaps better than nothing. There are additional tutorials that cover texture mapping this exact same model, so in the meantime, let's not worry about getting too fancy.

Step 3
Just to be safe, let's export our revised model. We will be using it in later tutorials, plus, if we mess up in the next section, we can use it as a starting place and skip the Group Editing part.

In the Save As dialog, open the "Runtime\Geometries\CCPro-dke" folder, and save the model as CCP-v04b.obj

The name will be important when we get to the tutorial about using .phi files to build the characters, so be sure to check your spelling.

Step 4
Open up the Hierarchy Editor from the Window menu. We will be working with it for awhile, so resize it until you can see most of the parts. We are done with the Group Edit window, so you can close that to free up some extra window space.

The CCP-v04a is the original .obj file we imported. When you clicked the Spawn Props button in the above steps, it made copies of the individual groups contained in that original model. So in effect, we now have two copies of the model. If you are using the ProPak, you can leave the extra copy there.

If you are using standard P4 without PP, remove it. Click on the small circle to the left of the name, press the Delete key, and press the OK button to comfirm you want to remove it. If you leave it, when we create the figure later on it will copy the obj into the New Figure folder, but unfortunately, the next time it tries to read it, Poser will confuse itself between the icon .rsr and the one that should be used for the obj. The end result is that you will end up with a bunch of invisible (and actually missing,) body parts.

You select a part by clicking on either it's name, or preferably the little circle just to the left of the name. When you select using the name, sometimes it thinks you want to rename the part, and so opens up a small text editing box. If you select using the small selector circle instead you can avoid this problem. The squashed circle on the far left is meant to represent an eye, and turns the visibility of that part on and off.

We set up the parenting relationships by selecting a part, and then dragging and dropping it over the desired parent part. When you drag a part over top of another part, a white outline box will appear. If you then release the mouse button, the part you are dragging will be added as a child of the outlined part, and a small plus sign will appear.

You can also drag and drop a part to change it's position in the order. When you are dragging a part and the mouse is between two other parts, then a white line will appear between the two parts. Releasing the mouse will then move the part rather than set the parent-child relationship.

Step 5

So lets try this. Click/select the lEar, hold down the mouse, and drag it over the head until the surrounding white box appears, then let go. Then do the same for the rEar. If you now click the small plus sign beside the head body part, you will see the two ears underneath it. We will carry on in this fashion to set up the rest of the hierarchy.

We've already done the ears, so let's set up the rest of the parts.

Hint - Try to start with the farthest extremity. For example, when connecting the left leg parts, start with the lFoot and drag that to the lShin, then drag the lShin to the lThigh. This makes it easier to drag parts around without having to expand the view every time.

Try dragging and dropping the parts in the following order: (for the first one, this means drag the lFoot "to the" lShin, then drag the lShin "to the" lThigh.)

  • lFoot -> lShin -> lThigh
  • rFoot -> rShin -> rThigh
  • lHand -> lForeArm -> lShldr
  • rHand -> rForeArm -> rShldr
  • head -> neck -> chest
  • lShldr -> chest
  • rShldr -> chest
  • chest -> hip
  • lThigh -> hip
  • rThigh -> hip

If you now expand the parent tree by clicking all the plus signs, you should have something like this. If you don't, you can try moving them around using the same approach.

Step 6
Now we need to set up the joint bending order. By default, Poser sets all the joints to bend in the same order as the hip. This works fine for many parts, but not so well for arms and feet.

In the top section of the Hierarchy window, click the Show Parameters check box. This will expand the displayed items to show the standard transformation parameters, and the ones we are interested in are the yRotate, zRotate, and xRotate.

You change the joint order using the same drag and drop methods as we used above, although this time you want to drop them between other parts rather than on top.

(hint - don't try to collapse the parameter buttons - every time you move something, it un-expands them, and scrolls back to where it thinks you were. which unfortunately is not usually where you really were. Gigantic annoyance, so just leave them expanded and avoid the frustration.)

The ordering we want is: (the "yzx" means that we want yRotate listed first, then zRotate, and finally xRotate. The bold items are the ones you have to change, and the others should be fine as they are.)

  • hip yzx
  • chest yzx
  • neck yzx
  • head yzx
  • lEar xyz
  • rEar xyz
  • lShldr xyz
  • lForeArm* xzy (*note the different bend order from the shoulder and hand)
  • lHand xyz

  • rShldr xyz
  • rForeArm* xzy (*note the different bend order from the shoulder and hand)
  • rHand xyz

  • lThigh yzx
  • lShin yzx
  • lFoot zyx

  • rThigh yzx
  • rShin yzx
  • rFoot zyx

* Check them twice!!! There's no real way to save it where you are!

Step 7
Now we are all set to create the actual poseable figure.
  • First, uncheck the "Show Parameters" box.
  • Make sure the "hip" body part is selected.
  • Click the "Create New Figure" button at the bottom of the Hierarchy window

You will be asked to enter a name, so use CCPro-v04a for now. You can easily change it later. Poser will try to open the "New Figures" folder in the Figures library, so likely you will get a bit of screen flash as the library is opened. If this doesn't, you may have missed a step in setting the joint rotation order. Go back to the Hierarchy window, expand all the body parts and their parameter buttons, and verify you didn't miss any changes. Especially for the ears and feet. (Note: If you need to create the figure a second time, it will not let you use the same name. You will either have to delete the previous copy from the the New Figures folder, or use a different name.)

Don't worry if you get a 'black' picture for the figure icon. This happens a lot when have the Hierarchy Edit window open, (and the Group Edit or Joint Edit windows as well.) Since you can't click the "Create New Figure" button if the Hierarchy Edit window is closed, you're kind of stuck with the problem. Not to fear, as we will be making additional changes to this model and will save it to a different folder. At that time we can get a better looking library pic.

Some final checking before we start using the new figure, so let's not discard our work just yet in case something went wrong.

First, make sure the "hip" is still selected, and using the standard Poser dials, find the "xTran" dial, and slide it off to the left or right. A setting of -1.00 works well to place it off to the left of the scene. Since the rest of our parts are parented to the hip, they will also move off the viewing area of the screen.

Now let's check our new model and see how it works. Open the Libraries tab and in the Figures section, open the New Figures folder. Scroll down to find your new creature, which should be call CCP-V04a unless you used a different name in the above steps.

Select your new character click on it, and then click use the double-check mark button at the bottom of the library tab to add your figure. After a brief pause, you should get something like this.

(If the character isn't visible, then we likely missed some of the joint setup steps and will need to go back to check them.)

So lets test if it bends OK.
  • Rotate the camera slightly so we're looking at the left side a little
  • Select the Left Thigh and set xRotate to -45 degrees
  • Select the Left Shin and set xRotate to +45 degrees

Viola! She bends!

Now turn the camera back to look at the front of the model, and select the Left Thigh again. This time drag/change the zRotate dial. You will likely get the bending problem as shown below. Not very nice, but it just means we haven't set up the joint bending information properly. That's covered in the next tutorial, so in the meantime feel free to bend it around and see what all we will need to fine tune.

You've now created your new character directly from the output of Creature Creator Pro.

The following tutorials provide additional details on setting up the joint bending, as well as several advanced topics such as using .phi files, pointing to an external .obj model, and other related topics.

When you're done playing with the new creature, you can clear out all the remaining parts. I prefer to use the File->New menu item, and that way you're back to a fresh, clean slate.

Copyright 2003 by Bruce Lamming

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