Here’s an obvious addition to the list of physical things that now have digital app equivalents: those poseable wooden mannequins that you always see in art shops but that nobody actually owns, as far as I can tell. And as far as digital imitations of real-world objects go, I think this one works pretty well.
The app is basic but focussed. You get a wooden mannequin in the middle of the screen, surrounded by a few controls and menus. You can chose from a range of premade example poses, or get in there yourself and drag the mannequin around until it looks how you want.
The premade poses are the sort of thing you’d expect: a few pin-up girl poses with their hips out, Boticelli’s Venus, and a golfer getting ready to putt (actually to be honest I wasn’t expecting that). But you can also download poses that other people have made and saved, and these are of far more use and variety.
Arranging the mannequin yourself works pretty well, although it took me a bit of practice before I got the poses looking kind of natural (and less like I’d dropped the mannequin into a washing machine). A nice touch is that even when you’re using a pose someone else has made and saved, you can still adjust and rearrange it. So if you find one that’s nearly but not quite what you want, you can tweak it until it’s right without having to set it up completely from scratch.
A mild complaint I had (but one that I’m sure could be a big deal to some people) is that while you can rotate the mannequin in relation to the camera, you can only do so on one axis – you can quickly turn it left or right to your heart’s content, but you can’t tip it forward or backwards without a lot of fiddly rearranging of the mannequin’s individual limbs and torso and so on. It doesn’t make high/low angle perspective impossible by any means, but it means it’s not as easy as it could be if there were two perpendicular rotate functions.
Generally speaking though, the app does a good job of giving you a clear view of both the mannequin and the controls, even on a smaller device. The app does feature an ad banner along the top of the screen, but it’s small enough that it isn’t obtrusive.
An artist’s mannequin is a really useful piece of equipment for anyone trying to draw the human form in a range of poses and angles. But they can also be expensive and cumbersome. While WoodenMan won’t give you the same experience as a physical object, it is free, effective and portable. Worth a look if you’re the arty type.