I was first introduced to Poser way back in 1998 when MetaCreations took it over from its original developer, Fractal Design. As a user of MetaCreations' Bryce 3D rendering application, I was excited to have the ability to add 3D rendered figures into my scenes. The fact that MetaCreations reworked the interface for Poser so that it worked similarly to Bryce was a bonus. Fast forward to 2017 and you'll find a lot of familiarity in the Poser interface (why fix what isn't broken?), but the similarities stop there. This is not your father's Poser!
There are plenty of reasons why you might want to upgrade your copy of Poser to Poser Pro 11 (assuming you are already a Poser user), but perhaps the greatest of these is the new SuperFly renderer. The SuperFly renderer was built on the Cycles render engine in Blender, and it provides for much more accurate rendering of lighting and shading. If you have an NVIDIA GPU, you can take advantage of NVIDIA CUDA for dramatic increases in rendering speed with SuperFly.
The image below shows a FireFly render on the left and a SuperFly render on the right. You can clearly see the benefit of the new SuperFly renderer. The new SuperFly renderer not only renders lighting much more realistically, but it deals with caustics and subsurface scattering in a way that Poser users have never seen before, producing truly stunning results.
Another incredibly convenient new feature is the addition of custom parameter pallettes. Suppose you are posing characters in a scene like the one shown above. In order for it to be realistic, Pauline's right hand has to be carefully posed so that it appears to be realistically resting on the back of the chair. However, you also need to pose her arm so that it appears natural as well. In previous versions of Poser, that meant selecting the hand, using parameter dials to tweak the pose, then selecting the arm parts and posing them. Because available parameter dials are based on the body part that's selected, getting the right result involved switching back and forth between the hand and various arm parts.
"The new SuperFly renderer not only renders lighting much more realistically, but it deals with caustics and subsurface scattering in a way that Poser users have never seen before, producing truly stunning results."
Custom parameter pallettes make this kind of thing much easier. Once you create a custom parameter pallette, you simply drag and drop parameter dials onto that custom pallette. The dials you drag onto the pallette will be available no matter which body part is selected. When you save your scene, your custom parameter pallette saves with it. To make it even more flexible, Poser also allows you to save it with a particular figure.
In the image below, you can see that I've added a custom parameter pallette to make it easier for me to pose Pauline's arm and hand, all within a single pallette, and without having to select individual body parts. Note that adding a dial to a custom parameter pallette doesn't remove that dial from its original pallette. It simply creates a copy of the dial in your custom parameter pallette.
Poser 11 includes so many other new features that I can't possibly talk about all of them. There are cool new features for comic book figures, including geometrically-based ink lines that are easily configurable in their own pane. Smooth translation of joins allows for weight-mapped linear translation of body parts making it easier than ever to adjust figure rigging. Morph-dependent joint centers relieve a lot of the frustration associated with creating morph targets because Poser will automatically adjust rotation centers for joints so that they accommodate the morphed shape.
Speaking of morphing, this is an area where Smith Micro gave a lot of love in Poser 11. You can easily create a morph injection file from the Export menu. You can also now control full body morphs from any affected body part, and parameters can be individually controlled by unlinking parameter dials. You can even create morph targets on the subdivided geometry of a figure and export them to share with other users. (Some features are available only in the Pro version of Poser 11.)
Lighting is also improved in Poser 11, not only because the SuperFly renderer is phenomenal at rendering it realistically, but also because of the addition of area lights. Unlike most lights that emanate from a single point, area lights act like real-world light sources. They allow you to easily create believable light sources with soft shadows. Couple that with the dramatic improvements of the SuperFly renderer and add in some volumetric atmosphere and you can create renders that have been difficult or impossible in Poser until now.
As impressive as all of this is, the improvements don't stop there! Head over to the Smith Micro website to check out the entire list of improvements that span just about every feature area of Poser.
Poser 11 takes Poser to an entire new level, and I was impressed at almost every point while testing it out. The only disappointment I discovered is that on my Mac running with an i7 processor, a dedicated graphics card with 2GB of video memory, and 16GB of memory, I would occasionally experience a "beach ball" wait, even when doing things as seemingly innocuous as canceling an operation. These delays would last for up to 15 seconds. I chalked them up to not having a high-end workstation, and it's something I can definitely live with, but it just seemed to happen at odd times when I would not have expected it.
Overall, I am comfortable highly recommending that all Poser users look at upgrading to Poser 11. Even if all of the other new features make you yawn (and I doubt they do), you should upgrade for the SuperFly rendering engine alone. Users of Poser 6 and higher can upgrade for as little as $79.99. I reviewed the Pro version, and that upgrade will run you anywhere from $175 to $245, depending on what you're upgrading from. New users will pay $130 for Poser 11 and $350 for Poser Pro 11.