For anyone who wants a free pose-able human reference for drawing



The other day I came across this awesome program by accident
(I don’t even remember what I was actually searching for, but on the several
times I’ve looked for a program like this I’ve had no luck). It’s cool enough that I wanted to share it.

It’s called DesignDoll (website here) and it’s a program that lets you shape and pose a human figure pretty much however you want.

There’s a trial version with no expiration date that can be
downloaded for free, as well as the “pro license” version priced at $79.
I’ve only had the free version for two days so far, so I’m not an expert and I
haven’t figured out all of the features yet, but I’ve got the basics down. The
website’s tutorials are actually pretty helpful for the basics, as well. 

Here’s the page for download, which has a list of the
features available in both versions.

There are three features the free version doesn’t have:

  • Can’t save OBJ files for export
  • Can’t download models and poses from Doll
    Atelier (a sharing site for users; note that the site is in Japanese, though)
  • It can’t load saved files

The third one means that if you make a pose, save it, and
close the program, you can’t load that
pose/modified model later
. You have to start with the default model. I
found that out when I tried to load a file from the day before (this is why
reading is important…). Whether saving your modifications (and downloading models and poses) is worth $80 is up to you. 

But, the default
model is pretty nice and honestly if all you’re looking for is a basic pose reference
it should work fairly well as it is. Here’s what it looks like:

There’s a pose tag
that lets you drag each joint into place and rotate body parts. The torso and
waist can be twisted separately, and it seems like everything pretty much
follows the range of movement it would have on an actual human.

Even the entire shoulder area is actually movable along with the joint! See, like how the scapular area of the back raises with the arm:

The morphing tag
is one of the coolest features, in my opinion. It lets you pick and choose from
a library of pre-set forms for the head, chest, arms, legs, etc. It has some more realistic body shapes in addition to more anime-like ones. Don’t like the
options there? Mix a few to get what you want! Each option has a slider that
lets you blend as much or as little as you want into the design. 

So you, too, can create beautiful things like kawaii

The scale tag
lets you mess with the proportions and connection points of different joints. This
feature combined with the morphing feature not only allows more body shape
variations, but it also means that you can do things like make a more digitigrade
model if you want. (The feet only have an ankle joint, but for regular human poses that’s all that you really need, so whatever.)

Or you can make a weird chubby alien-like thing with giant
hands and balloon tiddies if that’s more your thing.

The ability to pose
to the extent it allows is far more than I could have hoped for from
a free program. Seriously, you can change the position of each finger joint individually, as well as how spread out the fingers are from each other. Each crease on the diagram below is a point of movement, and the circles are for spread between fingers. 

And to make it a bit more convenient, there’s a library of pre-set hand poses you can pick from as well, and then change the pose from that if you like. 

In both versions, you can also import OBJ files from other places for the model to hold, like if you wanted to have them hold a sword or something.

Basically, this program is awesome and free and you should
totally check it out if you want a good program for creating pose references.

I just wanted to add a little more to this. If you have trouble figuring out how light sources work in your drawings this also allows you to choose where to have a light source.


That shaded ball on the left is your light source. You can see how moving the point changed the shadow cast.


Oh and all those other nifty looking things in that bottom bar there, yeah it’s what you think. You can change the model color to one of these presets or even customize your own palette.


Plus for all you lovely people who want something a little more simplified to use as a pose reference


You can turn your model into the classic wire frame.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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