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Sketch Design Rendering

Author: 3Don


An amazing variety of styles of fine art and cyber media simulations can be achieved using the Sketch Design (SD) feature in Poser. Perhaps an overlooked and under appreciated feature of Poser, the Sketch Design tools can do more than most users realize.

Here is how to get started using and creating Sketch Design Render Presets and maximize the print and electronic illustration potential of this wonderful tool.

Sketch Design Presets (SDP) are PZS files, located in: Poser/Runtime/Prefs/Presets.

Note: The images here do not exhibit specific steps for this tutorial. They are examples of Sketch Render variations to the same image.

  1. 1-Sketch Design Window: detail of Sketch Design work interface
  2. Studio Render: normal render of Millennium family image
  3. Hard Pastel: preset style “Hard pastel” render
  4. Hard Pastel: preset style “Hard pastel” render with different light
  5. Hard Pastel: preset style “Hard pastel” render over Cartoon Line studio style
  6. Hard Pastel rendered over photo
  7. Paint Stroke rendered over same photo


Step 1 - Scene Composition


Compose your scene. For best results with the SD feature, use dramatic lighting, colors, and textures. The more in the Foreground your models are placed, the more style definition you will see. Smaller models and those farther in the background will have less style definition, as with any type of media. The SDR does not cast shadows as does a regular render. Shadows are the overhead light, under-the-figure type. Set your main, bright light, above the scene to coordinate definition shading with cast shadows. See Rendering for a different way to cast shadows.

Step 2 - Render Options


Set Render Options before opening the Sketch Design Window (SDW). Set to render in a new window, at 2 or 3 times the size of your Studio Window (SW), at a minimum of 216 or higher resolution. Check the selection boxes for anti-alias, textures, and any other settings you want for your image. Also select to render in a new window. Save, but do not render from this window. By setting these specifications you can achieve high resolution images at large image area sizes.

Step 3 - Preset Performance


Not all scenes will appear the same with the same Preset, due to different colors, lighting, and so forth. If you like the look of a Preset, but it does not enhance your image as you want it to, try the following easy, one-step methods for modifying the look of a Preset before modifying other settings and sliders. It's easy then to go one step back if you need to.

  1. Change the colors and/or directions of the lighting in your studio scene.
  2. Change the Background and Ground colors in your studio scene.
  3. Change the document Display Style (DDS) overall, or selectively within a scene. The SDR will render over different DDSs (such as Texture Shaded, Cartoon, and Wireframe) all at the same time in the same scene! You can get some really interesting effects this way.
  4. Change from color- to black and white- render, or vice versa. Try Render Over Black.Be careful with the Auto Density setting. It can often cause very long render times in your SD preview window. To cancel a preview of a building style, click in the display window.
  5. SD will also render over the Paper Textures settings (under Display menu) and over Background Pictures. You can apply the SDR over a Background picture with no models or ground in the scene. This is like using Poser as you would Photoshop filters.
  6. Try these things before adjusting sliders.

Step 4 - Dialing and Styling


Open the SDW and apply a Preset. Examine the Preview of the SDR.The selected Preset will not be changed or recorded as a new Preset unless you Create and Name a new Preset. If you experiment and get lost, reselect the Preset you started from to go back. All changes to that Preset will be lost.

When it is desirable to change the other settings to alter a Preset, first try the Density, Line Length, Stroke Width, Line Random, and Opacity sliders. Try other settings in the top 14 sliders next. These top 14 sliders only affect the specific area you have selected, Object, Background, or Edges.

Also the Brush Styles affect Object, Background, and Edges areas, one at a time. The bottom 6 sliders affect all three areas simultaneously. Be sure you have the area you want to modify selected. Check which light is No. 1 in your studio and adjust that light as the highest and the others lower for the Light(s) 1, 2, and 3 sliders.

There are over 70 possible settings in the SDW which define a Preset. Some settings and sliders work together, some independently. A one-click setting or a small slide can affect the entire Preset dramatically.

After each adjustment you will need to re-render the preview to see the results.

Step 5 - Rendering and Exporting


Once you have a Preset previewed with which you are satisfied, just close the SDW and go back to the Studio. From the Render menu, select Sketch Style Render. The Studio Window render takes less time than the SDW preview render.

Go to File, and Save the image. You are given a choice of file types to save as, which will open in your image editing program, such as Adobe Photoshop'.

You will need an image editing program to format your images This simplifies exporting images, setting resolutions, resizing, adding text, retouching, manipulating colors, and saving to the file format, such as EPS or JPG, that best suits your end needs for Print or the web. Even without image editing, such a program is needed for file conversions.

Step 6 - Shadows and Other Tricks


To achieve cast shadows with the Sketch Render feature, render your image as a normal render with cast shadows. Export the image and bring it back in as a background image in a new studio window. Hide the ground and turn off shadows. Select a Sketch Render style preset and render as a sketch render. The style will be applied to the background image and the cast shadows.

The disadvantage to this is that the SD style is applied from the Background settings, not the Foreground, as with the 3D models in place. Foreground, Background, and Edges settings can all be different, or set the same. If you have a SD style you like as a Foreground setting, copy those settings exactly to the Background settings before saving it as a new style and rendering a background picture with it.

Likewise you can import any digital photograph, even of a live model, as a background image and sketch render over it in the same way. The style will be applied to the photo, which then can be exported as a new image.

The advantage of the Poser Sketch Design feature for 3D imaging over other features like Photoshop filters, is this, Poser surface textures are set in a 3 dimensional space and applied along all XYZ coordinates simultaneously. Also the foreground objects, background and edges (the relation between foreground and background) can be set independently of one another, for infinitely more control and variation.

You can achieve Superior results in simulating traditional media with Poser alone. With Poser you have the option of using one program to achieve most of your desired artistic effects without the use of additional software. That saves Time, Money, and Space!

' Don Albert 2/2003

Go to: to see several galleries of sketch rendered images.

Go to: to see published Poser illustrations.