Some readers may know that I am working quite a lot lately with 3D software. My main tool is Cinema 4D from the German company Maxon – a package I know since my Amiga days. However I am also workinga lot with e-frontier’s (formerly known as Curious Labs) Poser, a software specialized in creating human characters for 3D scenes.
The current version of Poser is V6, but e-frontier made the previous Poser 5 available for free download. The offer is time limited until end of this week, so hurry up! I have never used version 5, but from the screenshots its pretty similar to version 6. The main differences according to the Wikipedia article are OpenGL rendering and image based lighting. So get it while it is still available!
There is a kind of Poser “clone” which has been free ever since. It is a software called “DAZ|Studio” by DAZ Productions. The workflow is different, and I like it less than Poser, but you can achieve the same results and lots of 3rd party add-ons can be used in both. DAZ acquired the 3D package Bryce from Corel a while ago. The current version is 5.5, but DAZ decided to make the previous version Bryce 5 available for free. You can download the software without registration. However if you take the time to register an account with DAZ, you can download an extended 90 MB version too. Bryce 5 still suffers from the avantgarde user interface by German design guru Kai Krause, yet it is quite a mighty tool, especially for landscape rendering. For this task though, there is another free tool named Terragen by the British company Planetside. Current version is 0.9.43 – version 2.0 which is under development will be commercially available at 100$. If the old free versions will still be available once the commercial version is finished is unclear. So again – get it while it is available!
If you have never worked with 3D before, it might take some time to get into the right state of mind. You probably best start with Poser, since its interface is – despite a bit of avantgarde as well – rather intuitive. Bryce adds some complexity, but Terragen requires even more dedication. However the results of all three are quite stunning. Maybe you want to have a look at some of the galleries: