If you're an artist aspiring to master the human figure, you absolutely should consider getting DAZ Studio 4.5. (It's FREE!)
For those of us unfamiliar with 3D art (you know, the type of art you see in things like the animation films done by Pixar), this form of art can give the intimidating impression of being exceedingly difficult to master and produce, probably requiring a solid grasp of various esoteric forms of computer programming. While misgivings such as these can be justified to a certain extent ― creating a virtual human/oid character from scratch and making it pose and/or animate properly down to the last details can indeed be a very painstaking task that can take months ― 3D art software producer DAZ 3D has happily removed all such concerns for us by providing us all with a program which truly places 3D art within the reach of anyone who uses a PC. A program which furthermore has undergone a long period of development, as is evident in its name.
The philosophy behind DAZ Studio basically comes down to this: why make everyone new to 3D art come up by him/herself with all the virtual figures, backgrounds, props etc that s/he would need to place in a 3D scene s/he would like to create? Why not instead provide some ready-made figures and props which s/he can use out of the box? That would surely encourage so many more people to try their hand at 3D. One of DAZ Studio's greatest features in this respect is a ready-made, physically entirely accurate virtual model of a human figure ― named Genesis ― which you can customize in countless ways!
You can make your figure buff and athletic (as I like him)...
...or thin and scrawny. Plus change his clothing, hairstyle and posture.
How about letting him hold something in his hand?
You can have more than one figure in your scene, too.
All the scenes above make use of digital content already supplied with the program itself, and I've barely hinted at the sheer range of possibilities offered. The implications for the aspiring figure artist should be immediately obvious: you now have at your disposal a virtual model of the human figure to help you visualize it with greater accuracy in your artistic endeavors. Heck, you might even forget about painting and drawing and simply settle for creating 3D scenes of human figures.
Lest I forget, you can also add lighting...
...the angle, color and brightness of which (plus the number of light sources) are all adjustable...
...as is the angle from which you view your figure(s). (Again, so far I've only used the digital content and features which are already present in DAZ Studio 4.5.)
All this certainly beats having to hire a model to pose in your living room, or even molding a clay model, if you ask me. The props and accessories that come free of charge with DAZ Studio 4.5 are admittedly limited; you'll need to purchase separately any further digital content or plugins that you desire for populating or modifying the scenes you create with this program. (Hey, the people at DAZ 3D need to make a living, too.) But that should not be an issue if one's intent is simply to have an anatomically accurate virtual human figure to study and to serve as a model, as opposed to creating full-fledged 3D art.
Speaking of props and accessories, there are thousands of them separately available for purchase which can be used with this program, such as exotic weapons, armor and clothing for your characters; ancient, modern or alien stages/environments to place your figures in; new faces and skin textures for your characters; special visual effects to spice up your scenes; and many more. You can check them out here. I must warn that you might be greatly tempted to buy many of them! (DAZ 3D is just devilishly clever at siphoning the greenbacks out of your wallet.) And if you do decide to use this program to create serious 3D art and not just to ogle the figure found in it, it is strongly recommended that you use Windows 7, have at least 4 Gb of RAM and use a 64-bit machine. The program (which comes in two versions, 32-bit and 64-bit) can operate under Windows XP and with a 32-bit machine, but just not quite as well...
A further warning: if you decide to purchase any new garments, skin textures etc, make sure they're suited to the Genesis figure. If they were meant to be used with some other figure instead (a number of other virtual figures have been created previously for earlier versions of DAZ Studio, such as Michael 4 and Victoria 4), then you'll either have to buy that other figure as well, or use the auto-fit tool (in the case of shoes and clothing) to fit the clothing onto Genesis. The auto-fit tool does come freely with DAZ Studio 4.5, but in my experience works only with garments meant for Michael and Victoria 4. (There can always be later updates, though.)
The learning curve for this program can be a bit steep. (One of its most frustrating features is the arrangement or classification of its digital contents, which can be difficult to locate at times.) But my judgment is that it is ultimately worth the effort to learn it, besides which DAZ 3D has also prepared several tutorial videos for beginners to ease the learning process, and in addition has a message board where you can go and present your queries, plus make some online friends!
Below are some of the pieces which I've created (or 'rendered', in 3D art language) using this program. Hope you'll like them. :) Just click on the images themselves for larger versions of them. (I'm sorry to say that this time they make use of plugins and digital content which have to be purchased separately!)
Wrestler Subduing Tiger
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