Poser is a funny one, it has been around for years, and for many professional 3D artists it has a stigma, mainly with its uptake by the hobbyist and ‘other’ branches of the Internet when they need a figure in an ‘interesting’ pose.
After spending some time with the latest release of Poser Pro (Version 11) this attitude would be doing it a massive disservice. However, there are still some caveats to think about.
So what is Poser exactly, well it’s easily the most full featured character creator tool on the market. While the free MakeHuman is now available it doesn't have the range of props and accessories available, which can be fitted to your characters. As a maquette creator for ZBrush sculpts it's a great tool, as the inherent anatomy of the figure is created in Poser for refinement in the sculpt of ZBrush which for a perpetual ZBrush and anatomy beginner like myself is a huge wait off my mind. In fact for a model of a statue that I needed for an archviz walkthrough, a Poser>ZBrush>Cinema 4d model creation took me 10 minutes.
The characters have a full IK skeleton, but the UI still takes some getting use to with the Heath Robinson set of widgets for controls which haven't changed since the turn of the millenium are still there, I really wish there was a way to swap the UI for a more conventional 3D UI.
However, with a bit of persistence it is possible to get your model working well, and with the excellent new Alembic support, don't think of poser as a standalone island. The Walk Designer within poser can be used to rig a character and have it follow a path spline very quickly which can be exported out via alembic to the app of your choice, and since the character is one that you will have created and therefore is bespoke, Poser offers a lot more for your money than buying a stock character with a walk cycle.
The render engine within poser has been improved, but claims of it being photorealistic, when compared to other engines which you will probably have access to are pushing it. What is unique is the range of non-photorealistic render options which are available which can give a lovely handcrafted feel to Poser scenes, and can be a basis for storyboards, illustration etc.
I would definitely recommend having a look at Poser if human figures are ever needed in your work….which to be honest is pretty much all of us. Poser Pro 11 offers a lot of options especially when used in conjunction with a full 3D application. There are Poser plugins available for most of the big guns which come with Poser, I have found the trick with Poser Pro is to dig past the surface layer of ‘Poserness’ and enjoy the application for what it is a first rate character prototype creator.