Posemaking: The hard stuff

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In part 2 of the series we learned how to make a basic pose. We went from an idle pose to the custom pose we envisioned in a few simple steps. With that out of the way, it’s time to put together a more difficult pose and dive into the harder side of making poses.

Want to go back to part 1 to go over the prep again? Or maybe you want to check out part 2 again to refresh on the basics of making a pose?

Let’s get started on a new pose

This time around we’ll do something more dynamic. The pose we see here on the left is going to be a little less lenient to create. The arms will be a bit more restricted due to the presence of the weapon, she’s titled forward meaning I have to alter the way her body is rotating and she’s all in all a lot more expressive.

This pose will really just serve as a base for me to talk about the more common issues people run into when making poses.

Let’s get started!

Posing with a weapon

I already briefly talked about posing with a weapon in part 1 of the guide. The way your character holds a weapon in their natural animations will affect how they are holding it in your custom pose. I won’t rehash all of that, but if you are interested you can head on back to part 1 and look under the header “Your starting point”.

Loading weapons in (non-standard ways)

Rather that a spear, I feel like this pose would look really nice with a scythe. If I were to load in the scythe normally through the main hand in the equipment tab, I’d run into the issue you can see above. For the scythe to not come up short in the pose I will need it to be loaded in on the off-hand.

We’re going to do this by going into the off-hand slot like we would with the main hand.

At the top you’ll see the option “Force main hand model” We’re going to enable this in order to see the weapons we’d normally only be able to use in our main-hand.

You can also use this to have your character hold a second weapon. This way you can even mix weapons like a WHM staff and a SCH/SMN book.

Moving weapons

Something many people don’t know is that you can freely move weapons around. You do this by enabling the position slider checkmark. I’ve made an in depth separate guide on this. You can find this guide here.

Other than moving a weapon in the character’s hands, you’re also able to move weapons on their backs and hips. Really works the same way. These are generally the bones that I go into matrix view for since I can never find them on the GUI view myself.

You can rotate weapons located on your back with scabbard left & right
You can rotate weapons located on your hip with sheathe left & right

Tilting your character

Going back to our reference, we can see that the character is titled forward. Our first instinct might be to just tilt the whole character. This is something I personally like to avoid doing. To explain exactly why I do this, we’re going to talk about character rotation a bit more.

Default position

There’s the straightforward approach of rotating your character with either the Gizmo or the XYZ sliders. You could use the flat lying green line on the Gizmo or the Y slider. In their default states they will do the same thing.

Now you might ask “Ok, so why don’t we? What’s the problem?” Technically, there isn’t really a problem. If you are creating this pose just for yourself then this won’t matter too much. Rather, this is something I feel is more of an issue when it comes to poses that you’re creating to be shared with others.

To explain this better let’s intentionally “mess it up”. To achieve this “messed up version” I’ll be moving the X and Z lines on the Gizmo.

Looking at the demonstration on the right, you can see that the green line doesn’t lay perfectly flat anymore. Rotating the character with the Gizmo now causes the character to detach from the ground in a weird way. There’s two easy enough solutions to this, but the problem is that the person who downloaded your pose might not know this.

The first fix would be using the Y slider underneath the Gizmo. The second fix is to click the (L) to the right of the Gizmo, turning it into a (W). This changes the rotation mode. When you click it you’ll see that the green line will once again lay flat.

As I said before, these fixes are easy enough to apply. It’s a matter of knowing that you can do this. When creating something to be shared with others, I like to think from the perspective of a novice user of the relevant software.

Let’s say you’re designing a website for the local library. You understand the website just fine. If you want to put a book on hold you’d know exactly where to click. But now try and put yourself in the shoes of your 80 year old neighbor. Would they be able to find the required page with the same ease?

Tilting from the waist

Of course when creating poses in FFXIV it’s not all that serious. For me this is about being accommodating. I don’t want people to be frustrated that what I offered them doesn’t work well even if that’s due to a fault of their own. Which in the end is my personal preference. I wouldn’t be able to tell you if others do this. If you feel it’s worth the effort, keep on going.

To deal with this “issue” we’re going to edit starting from the waist and adjust the rest of the body accordingly. In the video you can see me tiling not the character, but the waist bone. From there I move up to the lumbar and thoracic bones. I inch everything into a tilted position without losing the ability to rotate my character with the Gizmo.

Elbows and other major joints

If you’re more experienced making poses you will most likely have some pretty horrible experiences with elbows and the other major joints. That’s OK, we all go through it at some point.

The way I go about pose making leads me to rarely have these issues anymore. By applying these techniques from the get go you prevent the joints from messing up to begin with, which saves you the effort of having to fix them.

Move surrounding bones and work gradually

If possible, stretch your arm out in real life. Now, while keeping it stretched, lift it into the air. As you’re doing this, try to pin point exactly what is moving in your body. Rather than just your shoulder, you’ll find that muscles connected to your shoulder will also be moving. This brings us to the question, if in real life moving our arms takes multiple muscles, wouldn’t that be applicable to our character too?

On the left here I lifted the arm only using the arm bone. You can clearly see how this mangled the shoulder. On the picture to the right, I adjusted three different bones. Rather than just moving the arm, I moved the shoulder, clavicle and arm together in small steps, bit by bit until it reached about the same height as the previous pose.

Same idea for the legs. If I want to bend the knees I don’t push just the calves or the knees up by themselves. I push both to where I want them to get a natural finish.

Let’s put this into practice. Here you can see how I gradually move multiple bones. I inch stuff into the direction I want it slowly and move to another bone. I do this little by little until I am satisfied with the result it gives me. At no point did you see the bones go into an awkward position and thus I was able to avoid issues with the joints all together.

Another something I’d like to point out is that when I rotate the hand rather than using the wrist bone, I use the hand bone instead. The wrist bone (and elbow bone) are two bones I leave alone most of the time. But I’ll explain that a little bit further in a bit.

For now let’s do it all wrong on purpose.

Instead of gradually pushing it into the right direction with the surrounding bones, you can see how by trying to force just one bone to turn around I start breaking it.

Like I already mentioned a little bit before, there’s two more bones we need to talk about when it comes to moving the arm. These being the wrist bone and the elbow bone. When moving an entire arm, you don’t tend to use these bones too much. The elbow bone tends to cause frustration more than anything and when I move the wrist bone it feels like there’s no actual bone present in the forearm.

Either way, they’re still useful. Sometimes you need a tiny little push into the right direction that you just won’t get from any of the other bones. That’s when these bones come into play.

Use “clipping” to your advantage

I’ll be pretty short and to the point about this. At certain thresholds some joints just tend to look weird. Instead of trying to force it into submission, I’m better off just pushing it a little further to hide the problem area a little. You can see in the above pictures that there’s a weird gap in the elbow, while by pushing it in a bit more that gap disappears. I didn’t do anything special to remove the gap, it’s just hidden by the clipping.

Loading selected bones and flipping the pose

One of the perks in Anamnesis is that you can select multiple bones and load part of a pose onto them. This is extremely useful for stuff like expressions, but we’re going to focus on using this option (combined with flipping the pose) to pose arms.

First things first, let me explain how you can selected specific bones and load onto them.

By clicking and holding left click you’ll be able to get multiple bones selected. For a more specific selection you can click the bones one by one. By holding shift or control you retain the bones you already selected. You won’t be able to edit them, but if you go to the load menu you will see the option to load a pose onto the selected bones.

Although this is fairly on the nose, you can use this to combine different poses. But as it is a bit on the nose, we’re going to do something a little different with it.

If you’ve drawn on a PC before, you might have done this before. You copied the eye you just drew and flipped it to avoid having to draw it on the other side. What I’m doing here is essentially the same. I raised the right arm and want to do the exact same with the left arm. I save the pose but if I were to load it onto the left arm, nothing will happen as I’ve made no adjustments to it.

Instead, I click “flip” without any bones selected. My entire character now flips over and the right arm is now the arm that’s down. The pose I saved however, has the right arm raised. I select the appropriate bones and load in the saved pose. Now both arms are raised.

This is an easy way to quickly move limbs. Even if you’re not planning on having these parts the exact same, you can use it to save some time if they need to be in similar positions.

Flipping the character is also useful in checking if anything looks awkward, just like in drawn art.

Quality check “Will my character fall over?”

More often than not I catch myself putting a lot of weight on one side of the character. If I were to do that in real life I’d without a doubt end up flat on my face. So as I rotate around a character I ask myself, would they fall over? Now the pose we’ve been working on doesn’t really seem to have any balance issues. Despite the pose leaning towards the right and putting a lot of weight that way, due to the pose being a “motion” shot it doesn’t look unnatural.

Having a character in motion is an easy fix for balancing issues. Technically they wouldn’t be able to hold the pose you put them in, but we can see that there’s going to be a “follow up” frame after this, albeit imaginary.

That doesn’t mean putting a character in a “motion” like pose is a get out of jail free card. You still have to imagine that the movement required to not fall down is something that is feasible from the pose the character is in. In the above images, you can see how incredibly awkward the unbalanced pose feels. She’s leaning too far over to the right without her legs to support her. As she is leaning right, gravity would also make her fall over to the right, which, would make it really hard to move her leg into the position of the balanced pose to catch herself from falling.

Let’s finish up on the pose

We’ve talked a lot of theory and in the background I’ve been applying all of this to the pose we were working on. So now it’s time to finish up on the pose. I’m going to be adding final details and apply fixes where I deem it necessary.

There’s little left to be said about what I’m doing. The only thing really left unaddressed that you can see in the video is how I pose the weapon. Don’t be afraid to alter the position of the weapon to avoid posing another arm. The character’s left arm (our PoV) was a bit far back and that wouldn’t look great in relation to the weapon. I could force the arm to be closed, which would feel a bit unnatural. Instead, I moved the weapon in a way that gave me more breathing room with the arm.

Other than that, we have the facial expression which I generally tend to keep simple. In part due to me being a little lazy, but also due to it not translating very well on other races like the rest of the pose..

Setting up your pose for sharing

Now that the pose is all done, you might be considering sharing it with the rest of the world. That’s great! For this, I’m going to recommend you have a read through this part of the Anamnesis Wiki. If you’re looking to share your poses to different Discord servers I recommend The Crystalline Means and the XIV tools servers.

And with that, we’ve reached the end

And so we reach the end… Congratulations, you’ve made it through! This guide was written mostly from my own perspective on the tool. Eventually you will develop your own way of getting around it and you’ll do things the way you prefer.

If you have questions that were left unanswered or came up while reading this, please do not hesitate to ask them directly in our Discord server. And of course, don’t forget to check out the official Anamnesis Wiki.