Today's post will be one of recommendation to my fellow artists.
I've never used Poser, but many artists do. Poser is a software package that " ... comes with everything you need to create incredible digital art or 3D animation. 3D Characters, Animals, Vehicles, Props, Scenes, Cameras and Lights, all included! Poser is simple to learn, but powerful. Best of all, its fun. "
What would an illustrator use this for? Sometimes we need to reference a pose and human anatomy, but can't be bothered to go get a friend and shoot our own photo material. Some use mannequins, others will use a 3D dummy in Poser. I used to use my own rigged character, but not very often. The rig wasn't well done, there was a lot of weird stretching of skin, unnatural joint movement and so on.
Here's where today's recommendation comes in - BlenRig 4 for the Blender 3D package. The best thing about it? It's completely free!
"Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU Public License."
Blender does take some getting used to, especially if you've ever used other 3D packages. The UI seems unintuitive, but the "free" part helps with getting over that. ;)
"BlenRig is an Auto Rigging & Skinning System for Blender 2.5+ series.
It features an adjustable rig which proportions can be changed to fit existing models, or to create a new character based on a previously rigged mesh."
More importantly for artists, it's very easy to adjust the pose of the character. The default model is very good, if a bit boring muscled guy. You can get other models already rigged in this system too!
(and everything you need to know about this system is covered by video tutorials)
You can do lots just with the default guy too, you can change scale of his parts separately, or stretch and squish them at will - so you'll get your dwarf/ogre reference as well.
Now it's not some super lifelike "muscles sliding over bones under skin" type of rig, but it deforms VERY well. Especially for quick reference of human anatomy in perspective and a particular pose you'd be hard pressed to find a better system.