Movable 3D Human Skeleton

KineMan Pro Operating Instructions

This page describes how to use the functional features of KineMan Pro, in several sections:

[Non-functional features of KineMan Pro are described elsewhere, as follows: Presenter License (in Terms of Sale)].

Group Motions: Neck & Lumbar Spine

KineMan Pro allows you to move selected groups of bones together synchronously, using a single control (i.e., a slider, or the view-integrated joystick). Two groups currently setup this way are the neck (cervical spine, consisting of joints Occiput-C1 down to C7T1) and lumbar spine (T12L1 down to L5S1). You can select either group from the joint menu, just as any other joint. Or, you can click on the most distal bone of the joint group: the sacrum, for the lumbar spine, or any cranial bone, for the neck. [The latter setup works because all cranial bones belong to a bone group, sharing the same proximal joint].

Specific instructions are as follows:

    Move the cervical spine:
  1. Select any skull bone (except the mandible).
    -or- Select 'neck' from the Moving Joint menu.

  2. Use the tinted sliders that appear to the right side.
  3. -or- Drag in the viewing area, for combined flexion/extension and lateral flexion.
    -or- Drag in the viewing area, while holding the Alt key down, for axial rotation.
    Move the lumbar spine:
  1. Select the sacrum.
    -or- Select 'lumbar spine' from the Moving Joint menu.

  2. Use the tinted sliders that appear to the right side.
    -or- Drag in the viewing area, for combined flexion/extension and lateral flexion.
    -or- Drag in the viewing area, while holding the Alt key down, for axial rotation.

Note that you can still move individual spinal joints, by selecting them the normal way (menu or click the distal bone): this works for all but the most distal joints (Occ-C1 and L5S1). These 2 joints cannot be operated individually because their 'internal wiring' in the KineMan software has been repurposed to move the group joints.

6DOF Body Motion

This section provides instructions for using KineMan Pro’s 6th DOF (degree of freedom) features. Before using these techniques, you should have a working understanding of the 5 DOF operation, as used in the KineMan Basic edition.

Dial Angle

In KineMan Basic, the 5 degrees of freedom for full body motion include 3 translations (horizontal, vertical, and distance) and two rotations (spin and tilt). KineMan Pro supplements these with a 3rd rotation, called the 'dial' angle, which controls rotation of the body in the plane of the screen (or equivalently, about an axis perpendicular to the screen). As with the other DOF, the dial angle can be adjusted several ways, including a slider (at the bottom of the screen) and a joystick method (i.e. by dragging across the viewing area); the 90 degree step rotations (described below) can also change the dial angle.

Note that the dial angle influences the other two rotations: the green (tilt) axis changes direction to follow the dial angle, and the blue (spin) axis moves in a plane, which remains perpendicular to the green axis. This behavior has implications for how you adjust the spin and tilt angles, i.e. it's not quite as simple as for KineMan Basic. (Nevertheless, you'll find that it's still very intuitive, especially with the new rotation axes display, described here).

  1. To rotate the body in the plane of the screen, adjust the dial angle, using either of these two methods:
    1. Via the dial angle slider: drag horizontally, starting anywhere in the dial slider box.
    2. Via the joystick technique: Hold the [Alt] key down, while dragging the cursor along a circular path, around the center point of the viewing area, to change the dial angle. Note that the sense (CW or CCW) of rotation is defined by the trajectory of the cursor relative to the viewing area centerpoint, e.g., CW rotation can occur by dragging downward on the right side of the viewing area, or upward on the left side.

  2. To rotate the body around the green axis, adjust the tilt angle, using either of these two methods:
    1. Via the tilt angle slider.
    2. Via the joystick technique: Drag the cursor perpendicular to the green line. (The body may spin as well, if you don't drag exactly perpendicular).

      (This is much like the 5DOF joystick technique, where you drag vertically for tilt; now, you may have to drag at an angle, if the body axis isn't vertical).

  3. To rotate the body around the blue axis, adjust the spin angle, using either of these two methods:
    1. Via the spin angle slider.
    2. Via the joystick technique: Drag the cursor perpendicular to the blue line. (The body may tilt as well, if you don't drag exactly perpendicular).
      (This is much like the 5DOF joystick technique, where you drag horizontally for spin; now, you may have to drag at an angle, if the body axis isn't vertical).

  4. To adjust the tilt and spin angles together, use the joystick technique, combining the methods of (3b) and (4b) above.

    'Casual' Mode for Angles

    KineMan Pro uses a special convention for reporting angles, which we call 'casual' mode. The standard convention for defining the orientation of a body in space, in terms of angles, is to use 'principal values': a range of ±180° is used for two of the angles, whereas the third uses a ±90° range. This convention makes it possible to report the angles with no ambiguity: there's a one-to-one correspondence between angles and orientations. A drawback of this method is that the angles can change abruptly, even as you change the orientation smoothly.

    KineMan's casual mode avoids this jumping, by defining all three rotation angles over a ±180° range. With this method, there's some redundancy in the angle values: each spatial orientation can be represented by two different sets of angles. This drawback is insignificant for most KineMan usage scenarios. (An optional 'strict' mode can be added to KineMan, to enforce the typical principal values, if there is sufficient demand).

Step Rotations

In addition to the sliders and joystick technique, KineMan Pro offers an additional way to manipulate the skeleton: the full body can be rotated in 90° steps, using intuitive pushbuttons (located in the lower-right corner), around any of 3 screen-fixed axes (horizontal, vertical, or normal to the screen). [The axes for these step rotations are not shown - in part, because they don't change direction, and also to alleviate unnecessary clutter and confusion with the regular red, green, and blue axes]. The step rotation buttons are available only in KineMan Pro, because such rotations are inherently 6DOF – they allow you to reach positions that aren't possible using just 5 DOF.

Along with the step rotation buttons, an additional button is provided to return the body to its 'home' position, by setting all body rotations to zero. This button affects the body position only (defined as that of the thorax); it doesn't alter any of the joint angles.

Show or Hide Bones

The KineMan Pro Advanced Option allows you to hide individual bones, or to show individual bones in isolation. Hiding a bone allows you to see details that would be otherwise obscured: for example, clicking on the frontal bone of the skull allows you to view the skull’s interior. Showing a bone in isolation allows you to focus attention on it, and also to view details that are normally obscured by its neighbors. For example, you can isolate an individual vertebra, to examine the shapes of its articular surfaces.

Note: The methods for showing & hiding bones have been redesigned as of May 2018. Following are the new instructions, which apply to all input types ( mouse & keyboard, or touch), except where otherwise noted.

Brief Instructions

To do this: Proceed as follows:
Show the ‘Show/Hide Bones’ menu Click / tap & hold (for >1 sec), in the viewing area, until the menu appears.
(Keyboard users: alternatively, right-click in the viewing area).
Hide a visible bone Click / tap on the bone: once or twice (once to identify it, then again to actually hide it).
If the bone appears blackened, instead of invisible, it's because the 'Expose' mode is active. To make the blackened bones fully invisible, press the 'Expose' button to cancel this mode.
Show a hidden bone If the bone is invisible: click the Expose button in the Show/Hide menu, to reveal all hidden bones in dark coloration.
If / when the bone appears ‘exposed’ (in dark coloration), click / tap on it (once or twice) to Show it.
Keyboard users: alternatively press [Ctrl][Shift], while hovering, to temporarily expose hidden bones.

More Instructions

Show/Hide Bones (SHB) Menu

Show/hide multiple bones: To perform any show or hide actions, the ‘Show/Hide Bones’ (SHB) menu has to be visible. While the SHB menu is open, you can easily show or hide more than 1 bone, simply by targeting them in succession. That is, it’s not necessary to close & reopen the SHB menu, when you change to a different bone.

Exposing hidden bones: When bones are invisible, you won't be able to tap on them to Show them. As explained above, in this case, you have to ‘expose’ the invisible bones (by pressing the ‘Expose’ button), to allow you to click or tap on them. To clarify: hidden bones can be either 'invisible' or 'exposed'. If you prefer, you can think of these instead as 'fully hidden' or 'partially hidden', but regardless of the terminology, the general idea is that it's necessary to have an intermediate state, between invisible and visible, in order for you to click on the bones you've selected to hide.




The Expose button is a toggle: you click or tap on it once to activate the Expose mode, and then again later when you want to deactivate it. (Keyboard users: if you hold the [Ctrl] and [Shift] keys to temporarily activate Expose mode, the mode will end when you lift up on those modifier keys).
When Expose mode is active, the Expose button will be shown with a green border. Also, when Expose mode is active, it will show all hidden bones - there's no option for exposing individual bones.

Enable joint selection: When the Show/Hide Bones menu is visible, you can do other operations, like moving the body or joints, using the techniques described in the basic KineMan Instructions. However, by default, you can't select or deselect a joint by clicking or tapping (on a bone, or background) , because clicking / tapping is used for showing & hiding bones. To allow selecting joints, while the SHB menu is visible: Press the 'arrow icon' button, at the bottom right of the Show/Hide Bones menu. After you do so, any subsequent clicks/taps on bones or background will cause joints to be selected or deselected. To resume the regular show & hide tapping mode, press the button at the lower left of the SHB menu (with the ‘+/-‘ symbols, to represent showing & hiding).

Cursor/mode selectors:
left: Show/Hide bones
right: Select joints.

Upon pressing either of these 'cursor/mode selector' buttons, mouse users will see the viewing area cursor change, to match the button icon. Touch screens, unfortunately, do not show cursors. However, you can always tell which cursor mode is active via the green border, applied to the last cursor mode button pressed. Finally, note that the Show/Hide mode is the default, when the SHB menu is open, but joint selection is the default, when the menu is closed.

Perform other SHB operations: The ‘Show All’ and ‘Hide All’ buttons are self-explanatory. The ‘Invert’ button allows you to convert all currently hidden bones to visible, and all visible to hidden. This can be useful, for instance, if you want to show just 1 bone: starting with all bones showing, if you hide one bone, then press Invert, it will become the only visible bone. [Or equivalently, press Hide All, then Show the one bone – either will work].

Relocate the SHB menu box: Currently, it’s not possible to relocate the menu box by the normal method, of dragging on its title bar. To reposition the menu box, relaunch via the press & hold method, at some other location – (you don’t have to close the menu: it will do so automatically when you reopen it at a different location).

Finer Points

As you experiment with the show & hide capabilities, you’ll see that they are conveniently integrated with other important features of KineMan; however, they are not fully integrated. Here are some pointers:

Integrated with hover identification : When you hide a bone, to reveal some other previously obscured bone behind it, you can hover over the newly revealed bone and identify it. This may seem obvious, but it has ramifications: hovering over a hidden bone doesn’t do anything: you can't identify (fully) hidden bones by hovering, and you can't right-click on them to show their show/hide option menu. Instead, you have to Expose the bones, to make them visible again.

When you [Ctrl]-right click a bone, its name appears at the top of the context menu (along with the name of its KineMan bone group), along with its associated (proximal) joint name. The group and bone name are the same as those shown in the ‘Pointing At’ textbox (in the panel to the right). However, the associated proximal joint name is NOT the same as the ‘Moving joint’. The Moving joint is the one you’ve most recently selected to move, which remains unchanged until you select some other joint; the associated proximal joint is the one that will move if you select it, and changes as you move the cursor to a different bone or group.

Note that if you hover over a bone that belongs to a group, such as frontal bone of the skull, the associated proximal joint may be somewhat ‘remote’: e.g., for the frontal bone (or any other skull bone), the associated joint is the Occiput-C1 joint. This is not an error; rather, it reflects the fact that in KineMan, the skull moves as a rigid unit relative to the C1 vertebra.

Integrated with joint moves : When you hide a bone, it doesn’t become disconnected from its neighbors, it’s merely invisible. As a result, it will move (along with any distal neighbors) when you move any joint proximal to it.

When you select a joint to move, the bone or group immediately distal to it is normally highlighted in blue. If that bone is hidden, you may need to Expose the bones, and then you'll see it in a dark blue coloration.

Not integrated with the Fit function (formerly 'Autofit') : The Fit feature adjusts all three body translations (horizontal, vertical, & distance), so that you can see the full skeleton centered in the viewing area. This behavior remains unchanged when bones are hidden. The drawback is that if you show a single bone, the Fit function doesn’t work on that bone alone. The advantage is that you can more easily locate hidden bones: for example, if you press Fit, and then expose the hidden bones, all of the bones will be contained in the viewing area.

Not integrated with Undo or Redo : The undo & redo buttons do not apply to changes in bone visibility. Because the bone visibility changes are relatively simple, you can undo or redo them simply by revisiting the show/hide context menu.

Pose Flipping

Pose flipping allows you to instantly change any pose to its mirror image, in any one of 3 directions: left to right, up to down, and near to far. Simply press the button for the flipping direction you want. (The buttons are located at the bottom of the ‘Edit’ subpanel).

Flipping poses can be especially useful when creating animations, for movement involving alternating left-right joints (e.g., walking, running, swimming,...). During a full cycle of movement, the poses during the 2nd half cycle are usually mirror images of those from the 1st half (differing also by a ½ cycle time delay). So, the efficient approach is to generate poses for the 1st half cycle, then flip each one across the mid-sagittal body plane, and insert it into the 2nd half cycle.

The choice of mirror plane will depend on your view: for example, if viewing & posing a runner frontally (i.e., head on), then the flipping left to right is appropriate; whereas if viewing the runner laterally, you should flip the pose along ‘near-far’ axis. If the runner is at some oblique angle, you can still flip across the mid-sagittal body plane, as follows:

  1. Press the [ L-R ] flip pose button.
  2. Hold the [ Ctrl] key & press Undo (to lock the joints while reverting to the previous body position).

Pose Editing (Copy/Paste)

With the Advanced Option, you can replicate 'portions’ of poses, or body position parameters, with ease. The Copy & Paste tools (in the Edit panel) allow you to select various joints, and/or body degrees of freedom, and then copy their rotation angles &/or displacements into a buffer. From there, you can paste those pose parameters into any other pose(s). This capability is best used for copying parts of a pose; if instead you want to copy full poses (i.e., all joint angles and all body DOFs), it’s easier to use the 'Save Pose’ and 'View a stored pose’ tools (in the Save & Restore panel).

You can select the joints to copy using either or both of two menus (in the blue section of the Edit panel):

  • The 'Select joints’ menu allows you to pick individual joints.
  • The 'Select groups’ menu allows you to pick from a list of convenient groups of joints, such as 'Arm (L)’.
Note that as you hover any item in these menus, the bones associated with that joint or group will be highlighted in orange. Also, a description of the joint or group is revealed in the tooltip for each menu item (e.g., Arm (L) group contains '3 KineMan joints: gleno-humeral to radio-ulnar’).

In each of these menus, you can select one or more items, using conventional selection logic:

  • Hold the [ Shift ] key to select contiguous items.
  • Hold the [ Ctrl ] key to select multiple distinct items.
  • Likewise, use these keys to extend a current selected group.
  • When you click any new item without using the [Shift] or [Ctrl] keys, it assumes you’re starting a new selection: i.e., the all existing selections are deselected, before new ones are added.
  • You can also easily deselect individual selected items: click again on any selected menu item to deselect it.
  • To select all items in the menu, select any one & then press [Ctrl][A].
There’s also a “None” item at the top of the 'Select joints’ menu, to remove all selections at once. (This option is ignored, if you Select All via Ctrl-A).

Note that when you select joints or groups, the distal bones for those joints are highlighted in deep blue – but this only works while you’re hovering in the Copy & Paste tools (i.e. the blue section). Caution: it's easy to confuse the two blue tones for bone highlighting: deep blue means selected for Copy, light blue means selected to move. To help clarify the difference, slide your cursor away from the Copy & Paste area.

For extra versatility, you can select joints from both menus at the same time. If you do, it's useful to understand the combination logic for how the 'copy set’ is built:

  • If a joint is selected using either menu, it will be added to the copy set.
  • A joint must be deselected from both menus, to be removed from the copy set.
(For example, if you select the individual joint 'humero-ulnar (L)’, and the group 'Arm (L)’, the copy set is basically the same as Arm (L), because the Arm group includes the gleno-humeral joint. However, if you deselect 'Arm (L)’, the humero-ulnar (L) joint will remain in the copy set – to remove it entirely, you have to deselect it from the individual joint menu as well).

Once you’ve selected a set of joints to copy, it's a simple matter to copy & paste the joint angles, using a conventional approach:
Select a source pose > Press [Copy] > Change to a destination pose > Press [Paste].
Note that [Paste] is disabled, when there is nothing to copy, or after any changes to the copy set, until you [Copy] a new pose.

Also note that the menu & buttons for copying & pasting the body position (in the lightbrown section) are independent of those for joints and groups (in the blue section). Be careful to use the correct Copy & Paste buttons, for the parameters you want to copy.

You can copy and paste body rotation angles & displacements (or equivalently, 'view’ parameters) using the 'Copy & Paste body position’ menu & associated buttons (in the light brown section of the Edit panel). You can select one or more body degrees of freedom from the menu, using conventional selection logic (as described above for the joint & group menus). Unlike the joint & group menus, there is no highlighting (orange or blue) available when using this menu.

Once you’ve selected a set of body degrees of freedom to copy, it's a simple matter to apply the values to a new pose, using a conventional approach:
Select a source pose > Press [Copy] > Change to a destination pose > Press [Paste].
Note again that [Paste] is disabled, when there is nothing to copy, or after any changes to the copy set, until you [Copy] a new pose.

Unlimited ROM

With KineMan Pro, you can disable the prescribed range of motion (ROM) limits for any joint DOF, by checking the ‘Unlimited ROM’ checkbox (located in the 5th ‘subpanel’ on the right side). This box is unchecked by default, which causes the range of motion for DOF of each joint to be limited to a realistic range. For example, when you select the tibio-femoral (knee) joint, you can move it up to 140° in flexion or 5° in extension. [These upper & lower limit values are displayed at the ends of the corresponding slider for that DOF, e.g. :

     flexion/extension (°): [ 0.000] -5 [--[]-------------------------] 140 ].

The upper and lower limit values apply not only when you use the slider, but also if you move the joint using the joystick (i.e., by dragging across the viewing area).

The upper & lower limit values are generally average values for adult populations, and as such they may be too restrictive to represent highly flexible individuals. By checking the Unlimited ROM checkbox, you can move any joint beyond its prescribed limits, generally over a range of ±180°. (Such wide ranges may of course be very unrealistic, but that’s the downside of using this feature). Note that the enable/disable action applies globally: all joints & DOF will be limited, or, all joints will be unlimited.

You can re-enable the range limits at any time. If you do so, note that any ‘out-of-range’ angles will not automatically be returned to the realistic range. Rather, they will remain as is, until you try to adjust them again. This makes it possible to disable the limits selectively: you can disable limits before adjusting one particular joint DOF, but then re-enable them before adjusting any subsequent joints, without changing the out-of-range joint. With this capability, you may have to tolerate an adverse side effect: an out-of-range joint may ‘jump’ back to fit within the limits, if you try to adjust that joint after the limits are restored.

Pose Tracing

Creating realistic poses is now considerably easier with KineMan Pro, thanks to ‘Pose Tracing’. You can import an image of a person posed (or in action) to serve as a background behind the KineMan skeleton, and then fit the bones directly on top of the image, to match. (figs) . If necessary, you can select new rendering options, like ‘comic style’, ‘outline color’, and ‘transparent body’, to help tell if the bones are correctly positioned.

While doing this, you still get to use all of KineMan’s other special capabilities: identify bones, move them, hide them, etc. With 6 body degrees of freedom and 172 joint degrees of freedom, you can fit any realistic pose.

Caveat: there’s no magic involved here – a 2D image does not present ‘depth’ information well, and KineMan cannot correct this problem. When tracing a pose, you may have to infer the depth of various body points, from experience, or image details such as perspective, lighting, shadows, etc. Nevertheless, KineMan Pro can help, thanks to its realistic ranges of motion for joints, you’re less likely to pose a joint incorrectly.

As a further benefit, the pose tracing tools can be used for other purposes. For example, if you select a transparent background and then save the skeleton as an image, you can export that image to a different graphics application, where you can show it interacting with photographic backgrounds or other graphic elements. Or, you can choose to render in line art (comic) style, with contrasting interior and outline colors, to create comic art, coloring books, etc.


Following is a step by step procedure, to trace a pose using KineMan Pro. The procedure is presented twice: first as a summary, and then in detail. (Note that the tools for tracing a pose can be used for other applications as well; these are described later under ‘Related Tasks’).

  1. Open the Show subpanel, if necessary.
  2. Select ‘Transparent background’.
  3. Press the [Insert image] button, and select an image file.
  4. [Optional] Move or resize the background image.
    1. Click the Move checkbox.
    2. To move the image: Hold the Shift key, while dragging the image.
    3. To resize the image: Hold the Alt & Shift keys, while dragging the image.
    4. Uncheck the Move checkbox when you’re done.
  5. [Optional] Use transparent outlines
    1. Select Comic style
    2. Select Transparent body
    3. Click Outline color, and choose a color for high contrast.
  6. Position the skeleton to match the image pose.
  7. Save your pose: optionally edit the pose name, then press the [Save Pose] button.
  1. Open the Show subpanel if not already open, by clicking on its titlebar.

  2. Select ‘Transparent background’, so that the image will show through when you load it. Before an image is loaded, the transparent background will appear white.

    Initial view

    Transparent background

    Background image inserted

  3. Click the [Insert Image] button. A window titled ‘Open’ will appear, allowing you to select an image file from your local disk.

    You can insert any of the conventional web-compatible image types, including .bmp, .gif, .jpg, and .png.

    Note however, that you can’t load an image directly from the internet - if you wish to use such an image, download it first to your local disk before loading it into KineMan.

    Your selected image will appear behind the KineMan skeleton, fitted to the size of the viewing area, and centered.

    The ‘Show’ checkbox, to the right of the insert button, will be automatically checked whenever you open a new image. You can optionally uncheck this box if you ever wish to hide the background image.

    (Note that the Undo, Redo, UndoAll, and RedoAll buttons do not apply to the operations in the Show subpanel. If you make a mistake, correct it by just manually un-doing the operations described above.)

    (Note that the background image will NOT be included when you save a KineMan pose, as described below, nor will it be included when you save an image. If you want to keep track of the name of the background image you used to create your pose, you may wish to reference it in the pose name; otherwise, record it in an external notes file).

  4. [Optional] Move or resize the background image. When you import a background image, it will be automatically fit into the area behind the skeleton. You can resize &/or move the image, as follows:

    1. Check the Move checkbox (in the Show subpanel); this allows you to change the image size & position by dragging.

      (The Move checkbox changes the normal dragging behavior: normally, when you drag across the viewing area, you move the skeleton. When the Move checkbox is checked, these same actions move the image, instead. You should uncheck the Move checkbox when you’re done moving the image, to reinstate the regular dragging effects).

    2. To move the image, hold the [Shift] key down & drag across the viewing area. You can position the image horizontally and or vertically as you wish.

    3. To enlarge or reduce the image, hold the [Alt] & [Shift] keys down, while dragging across the viewing area.

      (Note that moving to the right or upward causes the image to shrink: this is intentional, to match the effect of changing the skeleton distance, when dragging normally (without the ‘Move’ box checked)).

      It's advisable to make the posed figure in the image as large as possible, to fit within the viewing area. This will make it easier to fit the skeleton because you can pinpoint the joint centers and discern depth cues more readily. Also, if you’re rendering the skeleton as a transparent outline, the lines will be more pronounced and thus easier to fit.

    4. Repeat (b) and (c) as necessary to position your image.

    5. When you’re satisfied with the image position, uncheck the Move checkbox; this will allow you to use the [Shift] and [Alt][Shift] buttons in their regular mode, i.e., to position the skeleton.

    Note that the image can only be moved or resized by dragging across the viewing area, as described above. There are no sliders to do these operations.

  5. [Optional] Use transparent outlines

    When you follow the steps above, you should see the KineMan skeleton in front of your background image, rendered using KineMan’s conventional ‘illuminated 3D’ mode. This skeleton ‘style’ may be adequate for matching the bone positions to your image, but you may find it easier if you change the skeleton appearance, to depict the bones using transparent outlines instead.

    To show the bones as transparent outlines:

    1. Choose ‘Comic style rendering’ to show the skeleton using a line art style. When you first select this option, the skeleton is rendered in two contrasting opaque colors.

    2. Choose ‘Transparent body’ to remove the colored interior of the skeleton.

      Note that this checkbox doesn’t do anything useful unless you’re using comic-style rendering.

    3. Click the ‘Outline color‘ box, to select a line color that contrasts sharply with your background image. When you do this, a conventional color selection panel will appear, allowing you to select a standard or custom color.

      Color selection panel

      You may find it useful to change these options while you work: change the line color as necessary to contrast with portions of your image, or revert to ‘illuminated 3D’ mode (by unchecking Comic Style), if the lines aren't sufficiently thick.

      Note that these changes cannot be reverted using the Undo or Redo controls, and they’re not counted with the ‘operations’ counter.

    Comic style

    Transparent body

    Alternate outline color

  6. Position the skeleton to match the underlying image pose. There is no hard & fast procedure to do this; a good amount of trial and error will typically be necessary. Nevertheless, here are some recommendations, regarding positioning the skeleton:

    1. Start by positioning the ribcage (thorax), and work outward from there. It's worthwhile to take some time to position the thorax accurately, because it’s the ‘base’ for all other bones, i.e., all of the other bone and joint positions depend on it.

      However, this approach won't work for all situations – you may have to position some distal bone before you can finalize the position of its proximal neighbor.

      For example, as you work outward from the thorax to fit an arm, you would first fit the clavicle, then the scapula, then the humerus, then the ulna, etc. At the shoulder (gleno-humeral) joint, you can easily adjust 2 of the upper arm angles (flexion/extension and abduction/adduction) by matching the elbow location. However, you may find it difficult to fit the 3rd shoulder angle (internal/external rotation), because that angle doesn’t affect the elbow position. Instead, you may need to skip ahead, to (roughly) fit the forearm by adjusting the flexion angle at the elbow (humero-ulnar) joint. This will help you assess the amount of internal/external rotation to apply at the shoulder. Generally, you may have to iterate the positions for the shoulder and elbow joints to obtain a satisfactory fit for the wrist position.

    2. Take into account the amount of flesh (muscle, fat, and skin) on top the bones, as you position them above your image figure. In particular, it's helpful to understand where the flesh is thin, to allow quick & accurate positioning. For example, if you’re fitting the skeleton to a lateral view of the body, the tibia (shin bone) is located very close to the front edge of the calf.

      You can often use your own body to find other locations where the flesh is thin. Or, consult an online anatomy reference, especially one that shows cross-sectional views. For example:

      Of course, this all presumes you can see or discern the relevant body surface features in your image. This will be easiest if your posed figure is wearing minimal or tight clothing.

    3. Understand & handle biomechanical constraints. Occasionally, you may come across a pose that you can't match, because you encounter an ROM (range of motion) limit for one of the joints. There are a couple of reasons this may happen, and different solutions:

      i) The posed figure in your image may be more flexible than the KineMan skeleton, whose ROM limits are averages for a population of test subjects. In this case, you can disable the joint range limits (via the Enable Limits checkbox) and move the joint to match your image. Remember to re-enable the limits when you're done, because otherwise you might introduce a lot of unrealistic angles you didn't intend !

      ii) The posed figure isn't necessarily more flexible than average – instead, you’re constrained by a joint angle you selected closer to the thorax. Perhaps the best example is when you try to lift the skeleton’s upper arm straight upward, and you can't, because you run into the flexion limit (at 110°).

      ROM Limit @ 110 flexion

      Although you could disable this limit, you shouldn’t, because this is a real biomechanical constraint. Instead, you may need to elevate the clavicle, at the sterno-clavicular joint. If you elevate it close to its limit (45° elevation), the upper arm will be directed more vertically upward. (And if that’s not enough, try adjusting the abduction/adduction angle…)

      Elevated sternoclavicular joint

      Note that in this case, the joint range limits are actually beneficial, because they force you to position the bones realistically.

      This approach may work in other situations as well. The general idea is that, if you reach a point where you can't fit the skeleton to the image pose, try returning to one of the more proximal joints and make some changes. As with other aspects of pose tracing, expect that some iteration will be necessary.

    4. Tolerate imperfection. You typically won't be able to fit the skeleton perfectly to the figure in your image, for several reasons:

      • Uncertain pose: If your posed subject is wearing baggy clothing, or tends to be plump, it may be difficult to discern the correct locations for the bones.

      • Obscured details: If your image shows a figure posed with some body part(s) obscured by other parts (or by objects or other figures in the image), it may be difficult or impossible to match the pose of the obscured parts.

      • Ambiguous depth in 2D images: There’s an inherent difficulty fitting a 3D pose to a 2D image, in that the depth (i.e., distance along the viewing direction, from near to far) of various body parts may be difficult to discern.

        If you photograph the pose yourself, you can alleviate some of this difficulty by shooting the same pose from different angles, e.g. 90° apart, and using them successively to fit the skeleton.

        If you can't use multiple angle shots, you may be able to guess the depths reasonably well from experience: for a runner viewed from the side, you can presume that the motion paths for the feet lie laterally within a few inches of each other. Otherwise, your only recourse is to use visual cues such as perspective, lighting and shadows, to estimate the depths.

      • Body proportions: The skeleton used in KineMan represents one particular body size, shape, and gender, so it may not fit ideally for other body types.

      • Complexity of the skeleton: The KineMan Pro skeleton comes with a large number of degrees of freedom (172 for joints, plus 6 for the body overall). Although you can adjust any of these at any time, you may find it useful, as a practical matter, to prioritize & limit your effort to the most important joints.

    Bones positioned to match

    Final result

  7. Save your pose: although your pose will be saved temporarily using KineMan Pro’s auto-save feature, it’s better to save it as a named pose, so it will be available whenever you want it. For further details, see here.

Related Tasks

This section provides overviews and instructions for using the pose tracing tools for other tasks (besides pose tracing).

Use a Transparent background

The black background behind the KineMan skeleton can be removed in KineMan Pro, independently of any other operations. You may find this useful if you want to export a posed skeleton to some other graphics application, where you can show it interacting with some sort of environment, some objects, or other figures. For example, you could use this approach to combine multiple KineMan skeletons into a single image. (Note that for exported skeletons, the body and joints will no longer be movable).

To make the background transparent:

  1. Select ‘Transparent background’, in the Show subpanel.
If you haven't loaded a background image, the background will show as plain white.

If you now save the image as a png file (via the ‘Save Image’ button in the Save subpanel), the saved image will have a transparent background as well. You can then export the png image into a different graphics application.

Note: When saving an image with a transparent background, you don’t actually discard the background – it’s still there, in the form of a rectangular region of transparent pixels, as large as the original black background. These ‘extraneous’ pixels shouldn’t cause any difficulty, but if you want to minimize their effect (e.g. on image file size), try reducing the size of your browser window: this will correspondingly reduce the KineMan viewing area and hence the amount of background content (without changing the skeleton size!)

Use a background image

You can import an image in any conventional web image format (jpg, gif, png, bmp) to show behind the KineMan skeleton. This capability is primarily intended to allow you to trace a pose, as described above. However, you can also import a background image as a way to show the KineMan skeleton interacting with objects, figures, or an environment, and at the same time to retain all of KineMan Pro’s special capabilities (to move the body and/or joints in 3D, identify or hide bones, etc.)

To import a background image:

  1. Open the Show subpanel, if necessary.
  2. Select ‘Transparent background’.
  3. Press the [Insert image] button, and select an image file.
  4. [Optional] Move or resize the background image.
    1. Click the Move checkbox.
    2. To move the image: Hold the Shift key, while dragging the image.
    3. To resize the image: Hold the Alt & Shift keys, while dragging the image.
    4. Uncheck the Move checkbox when you’re done.
For additional details, see Steps 1-3 in the Pose Tracing section.

Render the KineMan skeleton using ‘Comic style’

KineMan Pro offers the option to draw skeleton bones using outlines, instead of illuminated 3D graphics. This ‘comic style rendering’ has been introduced to simplify tracing a pose, as it allows you to see image details that would be otherwise obscured. However, this capability can also be used independently of pose tracing, to generate comics, coloring books, or cartoons, for entertainment, education, or whatever else you can dream up!

When you show the bones using comic style, you can still use all of the regular KineMan Pro tools, to move the body or joints, to identify or hide bones, etc.

To use comic style rendering:

  1. Check ‘Comic style rendering’ to show the skeleton using a line art style. When you first select this option, the skeleton is initially rendered in two contrasting opaque colors.

  2. Select colors for the outline and interior by clicking on the colored boxes (labeled ‘Outline’ and ‘Interior’) When you click on either of these boxes, a conventional color selection panel will appear, allowing you to select a standard or custom color.

Some options:

As a shortcut, you can obtain a white interior by clicking the ‘Transparent body’ checkbox, which removes the colored interior of the skeleton. Likewise, select ‘Transparent background’ to show the background as white.

You can show the bones as colored silhouettes, by selecting identical colors for the outline and interior. (If this doesn’t seem to work, check that the ‘Transparent body’ is unchecked !)

Saving Poses

As you construct a pose using KineMan (Basic or Pro), you can quickly access previous poses by using the Undo & Redo buttons to navigate through your history of operations. The operation history is deleted, however, whenever you close your KineMan session. Also, you can't remove poses from the history, so as to focus on a set of key poses while removing unimportant intermediate steps. Plus, it can be useful to add names to your poses, but this isn't possible using the pose history/ operations functions.

To bypass these limitations, KineMan Pro makes it possible to save poses, multiple ways:

  • Auto-save a pose, & restore it at the beginning of a new session.
  • Save a named pose, & restore it at any time.
  • Save a collection of poses (a 'Repository') to a file, and later reload it into KineMan.

When you save a pose in KineMan Pro, you’re saving the values for all the body positions and joint angles, so that you can later reload them into KineMan and use all of the KineMan capabilities: to view the skeleton in 3D, move the body or joints, identify and hide bones, etc. This is much more powerful than saving an image of a pose, which is just a file containing a 2D array of colored dots: an image of a pose can't be further manipulated in the same way that a restored pose can.

Also: Some of the settings and changes you make using KineMan Pro are NOT retained when you save a pose; these include: current joint, hidden bones, 'Show' options (axes, transparent background, background image, etc.), and the 'Unlimited ROM' on/off state.

Save and Restore a Pose using Auto-Save


To:Do this:
Save a pose using Auto-saveYou don’t have to do anything – the new pose is automatically saved after each change in body or joint position.
Restore an auto-saved pose[ !! Do this IMMEDIATELY* after opening KineMan !! ]
Select ‘lastPose’, from the pose menu
(in the Save subpanel, labeled ‘View a stored pose’).


Each time you change the body or joint position in KineMan Pro, the new pose is automatically saved in your browser. If you’re creating a pose and somehow your browser or computer accidentally quits, this auto-saved pose will be available when you restart KineMan. Alternatively, you can use this capability to reinstate the final pose from your prior session, even if you closed it intentionally.

The key benefit of saving a pose this way is that it's automatic: you don’t have to remember to save your last pose & you don’t have to assign a name to identify it.

Note however that restoring an auto-saved pose is not automatic. When you reopen KineMan, it doesn’t automatically show the last pose from your previous session. (Instead, KineMan always shows the skeleton initially in its ‘home’ position).

Furthermore, an auto-saved pose is temporary. If you wish to restore the auto-saved pose from your previous session, you must do it immediately when KineMan opens (i.e. with the skeleton in its ‘home’ position). You must do it before you move the body or any joint, or restore a named pose. [Once you move or restore a pose, that pose becomes the new ‘lastPose’, and the one from the previous session is no longer available. This restriction is reflected in the pose menu: 'lastPose' will only show as an option when you first start KineMan; it disappears after you change the pose.]

This technique provides a simple way to continue your work between sessions, but you have to be careful to restore the pose as described above. For a more robust approach, save your pose as a named pose, as described in the next section.

Save, Restore, or Delete a Named Pose

(Click here to skip ahead to Instructions)

You can save poses using names you choose, and then quickly restore any named pose at any time, by selecting it from a menu. Once restored, you can further modify the pose: spin it around, move the joints, hide bones, etc, just as for any other pose!

Named poses are saved ‘in your browser’, as part of your browser storage data. For convenience, we call this part of browser storage ‘The KineMan Repository’. Poses saved in the Repository will be available whenever you use KineMan Pro – they’re not discarded when you exit the application or close your browser. Thus, you can begin to create an intricate pose (or series of poses) during one KineMan session, and if necessary, continue with your task at a later time.

The KineMan Repository can potentially hold hundreds of poses. The actual number depends on your browser, which limits the storage used by any particular website. The number of poses in the Repository also depends on the complexity of the poses: each degree of freedom with a non-zero angle increases the ‘size’ of the pose, thereby using more of the browser-defined storage capacity, and reducing the overall number of poses you can store.

For convenience, you can re-use the same pose name multiple times: KineMan Pro adds a unique numeric suffix to all pose names. This can be handy when you're saving a group of related poses.

You can remove any named pose from the Repository, at any time. To do so, you must first display the pose to be deleted, by selecting it from the menu. Then you can delete it from the Repository.

Note about privacy: Poses saved in the KineMan Repository are stored on your local disk; they are not sent or accessed by the KineMan website server. The only way they can be accessed by anyone else is if you choose to share them, by distributing them as a repository file, or, by allowing others access to your browsin data (for example, by syncing browser accounts). If you’re accessing KineMan from a public computer, and you don’t want to leave any KineMan info on it, you should use your browser’s private (or incognito) browsing mode. Then, your locally saved info will then be discarded when you close your browser.


To:Do this:
Save a Named Pose Decide whether to use the ‘current’ pose name, or to change it.

The current pose name is initially set to 'my pose', as shown in the right-most textbox in the line '[Save pose] as [ my pose ] -00x'.

To use the current pose name:
  1. Press the [Save pose] button.
To change the pose name:
  1. Click on the pose name textbox.
  2. Edit the name.
  3. Press the [Return] (or [Enter]) key, to complete the entry.

    (Caution: The pose is not saved yet! Pressing Return only indicates that you’ve finished editing the name!)

  4. Press the [Save pose] button.

Restore a named pose All poses saved in the KineMan Repository are listed in the menu labeled 'View a stored pose'.

Select a pose from this menu. It will appear in the KineMan viewing area.
Delete a named poseRestore the pose as described above.

Press the [Delete] button.


This section provides additional info regarding the instructions above.

Saving a named pose:

A numeric suffix follows the pose name (e.g. ‘-001’); this suffix will be automatically appended to the name. The numeric value increments automatically whenever you save a pose, so you can reuse the same name multiple times, without ambiguity (& without the hassle of having to confirm whether to overwrite the previous pose of the same name). Note that the numeric suffix cannot be edited. Also, it is limited to 3 digits: after it reaches '-999', the next suffix will be '-000' again.

If you start to edit the pose name, but then change your mind, you must still press the [Return] key, to indicate that you're no longer editing.

Note that the [Save Pose] button is disabled while you’re editing the pose name. It will be re-enabled after you press [Return].

To verify that the pose has been saved, open the pose menu (labeled ‘View a stored pose’): the newly saved pose name will appear at the bottom.

Restoring a named pose:

The instructions above describe how to restore a pose currently saved in the KineMan Repository. If the pose you want isn't included in the current repository, but rather in a repository file, you must first restore the repository, as described here.

Deleting a named pose:

After you press [Delete], the pose is removed from the current KineMan Repository. You can confirm this by reopening the pose menu – the pose you just deleted will no longer be listed.

This action only removes the pose information from the repository - it does not delete the pose from the viewing area.

Save or Restore a repository file
(Click here to skip ahead to Instructions)

The KineMan Repository (described in the previous section) is ultimately saved to your local disk. However, the file that contains the Repository is intended only for use by your browser: you can't select the filename or edit the contents, and you probably shouldn't share it, as it contains additional info besides your named poses. Plus, although you can store hundreds of poses in the Repository, that may not be adequate if you're a serious user. Finally, there's a chance you could accidently erase your Repository, if you choose to clear your browser data and forget that it holds your poses.

To work around all of these limitations, KineMan Pro allows you to save your current Repository to a file you choose, on your local disk. You can select the name and the path, and make as many backup copies as you like. Later, you can restore a repository from a disk file back into KineMan.

This capability provides several benefits:

  • You can back up the KineMan Repository for safekeeping.
  • You can build a library of poses, to access as needed.
  • You can move poses from one browser to another.
  • You can share your pose files with colleagues or friends. (Note: a KineMan Pro subscription is required to open and view the poses).


!!! This section applies for users of Windows, Mac, or Android devices. If you're using an iphone or ipad (iOS), please see Instructions for Saving Files using iOS.

To:Do this:
Save the current Repository to a file
(new as of 8/8/17)
  1. (Optional) Enter a filename, with extension, into the textbox to the right of (or below) the [Save Repository ] button.

    This filename is originally set to ‘KineManRepos.txt’. If you change it, your filename will be retained for reuse, in your browser storage area. If you reuse the filename, the operating system will add a suffix, e.g., KineManrRepos (2).txt. (That is, it won't overwrite any previous versions of the same filename).

  2. (Optional, but infrequent) Modify the location (path) for the file.

    The repositories are automatically saved into the ‘downloads’ folder that you designate for your browser. You can review or change where this folder is located, via the browser settings page:
    • Chrome: main menu > Settings > Advanced > Downloads section & modify the path.
    • Firefox: main menu > Options, Downloads section & modify the path.

    Caution: these browsers also offer an option 'Always ask you where to save files' or similar - if you select this approach, it will apply to ALL of your web downloads, not just KineMan files.

  3. Click on the [Save Repository] button.

    Your browser will immediately confirm the save, by some combination of message or graphics. You can also review the new contents of the dowloads folder, in either browser, by pressing [ Ctrl ] J.

Restore a repository from a file
  1. [Optional] Backup your current KineMan Repository to a file, using the instructions provided above. This is advisable because the current Repository will be overwritten with the one you restore from a file.

  2. Click the [Load Repository] button (in the Save subpanel).

    A file browser window will pop up, allowing you to navigate to and select your desired file.

    Once you’ve selected the repository file, it will be loaded into KineMan Pro as the new/current Repository. You can access its poses by following the instructions for Restoring a named pose.

Saving Images

!!! This section applies for users of Windows, Mac, or Android devices. If you're using an iphone or ipad (iOS), please see Instructions for Saving Files using iOS.

You can capture and save the KineMan viewing area to an image file, a couple of ways:

a) KineMan Pro method: In the lower right corner of the KineMan Pro control panel is a [Save Image] button, along with a text box containing a filename. By clicking the button, the viewing area will be automatically saved as a png file, using the name shown. You can edit the name if you wish. (If so, you must press the [Return] key to finalize the changes; after that you can press the [Save Image] button to actually perform the image capture).

This method works well to save a series of images: the same filename is used, but a numeric suffix will be automatically appended (e.g., ‘KineMan image (22).png, KineMan image (23).png, etc) to prevent overwriting previous images.

One disadvantage of this method is that you can't select the folder where the images are saved – they are automatically sent to the ‘Downloads’ folder defined in your browser settings. Also, you don’t get to choose the file type: png is the only option.

b) Third-party utility: If you want to save the image in some format besides png, and/or you want to avoid an extra conversion step, some third party tools may help. Your operating system may include a snipping tool, which allows you to grab a region of the screen, and save it to many popular image formats. Alternatively, you can find tools on the web (I've had good luck with Greenshot ( )).

Adjusting Layout

KineMan Pro offers multiple capabilities for adjusting its user interface layout, including automatic, proportional fitting for new screens, special resizing behavior, plus several ways to customize the size of the viewing area, controls, and text.

Automatic initial size: When you first use KineMan Pro (or when you change to a different screen size), the layout is automatically fit to your browser window: it uses the full window area, with all content (viewing area, controls, & text) scaled relative to the window height (i.e., proportional sizing).

Special window resizing: Thereafter, if you resize the window, the layout adapts in a special way:

  • The controls outside the viewing area (sliders, buttons, & panels) remain fixed in ‘readability’: the font-size (in pixels) for all text remains unchanged, as do related dimensions such as the slider height (i.e., for horizontal sliders) and far-right control panel width.
  • The viewing area adjusts to be as large as possible (*), without need for scrollbars, and in such a way that all the controls are readily accessible.
    * subject to your choice of viewing area size, as described below.
  • The slider boxes surrounding the viewing area adapt length-wise, to line up with the viewing area.
Note also that, whenever you resize the window, the KineMan skeleton remains fixed in absolute size; it doesn’t rescale. This behavior makes it possible to maintain a useful ‘distance’ calibration, whereby the values shown on the ‘dist’ slider represent realistic estimates of body size at any distance.

Customizing the layout: At any time, you can customize the layout various ways:
* Adjust the size of KineMan controls (sliders, buttons, etc) and/or their associated text labels
* Select the size of the viewing area
Contols for these adjustments are located in the Settings subpanel, as shown below.
Some explanations for each of these:

Resize controls & text: Use the slider, number box, or ‘reset’ button (labeled ‘1.0’) to adjust the overall scale, for controls outside of the viewing area. Generally, as you enlarge the controls & text, the viewing area will shrink, and vice versa. The numeric value for these adjustments is a scale factor (relative size): 1.0 refers to the ‘auto-selected initial size’, i.e., the size(s) of controls & text that were set automatically for this screen & its first window. In general, this control does the same thing as your browser’s zoom control: e.g. if the zoom is 100%, and the scale factor is 0.8, it's the same as using zoom of 80% with scale factor 1.0. However, the browser zoom is only available in discrete steps (…, 80%, 90%, 100%, 110%, …) whereas the 'Resize controls & text scale' factor allows you to select intermediate values).

Resize text: As the title suggests, these controls allow you to modify the font size, without changing the other layout dimensions. As for the ‘Resize controls & text’ adjustments, the values are scale factors, defined with 1.0 representing the auto-selected initial font-size.

Note that this adjustment is connected to the ‘Resize controls & text’ adjustment, in a special way: If you change the value for ‘Resize controls & text’, a corresponding change will occur in ‘Resize text’. However, the influence is ‘one-way’: changing the ‘Resize text’ adjustment doesn’t affect the ‘Resize controls & text’ value. This coupling makes it possible to maintain a consistent definition of the scale factor, to mean ‘relative to the auto-selected initial size’.

Resize viewing area: With this menu, you can select different viewing area sizes, in several ways:
  • Maximum width & height(default): causes the viewing area to expand to use as much window area as possible, after the controls outside the viewing area are fit (either autiomatically, or via the Resize adjustments described above).
  • Maximum 16:9 or 4:3 fit: causes the viewing area to expand as large as possible, while maintaining a fixed aspect ratio (width : height), after allotting for controls outside the viewing area (as above). With this setting, if you resize the window, the viewing area will resize to maintain the same aspect ratio.
    This method of sizing the viewing area, as well as the following one, are useful if you intend to export KineMan images or animations for use in some other digital medium, as the available aspect ratios (16:9 and 4:3) are commonly used for digital videos.
  • Dimensioned viewing areas: (e.g. 640x360) sets the viewing area to a fixed size, in pixels. The available dimensions are grouped according to aspect ratio, and sizes are disabled if they’re too large for the current window (after subtracting ‘real estate’ for the controls). When using one of these settings, if you enlarge the window, the viewing area will remain fixed. If you shrink the window, the viewing area will remain fixed if possible; however, if there’s insufficient room, the viewing area will shrink, while maintaining the same aspect ratio.
    Below the menu is a text field labeled ‘current size’, which shows you the actual viewing area size in pixels. It may differ from the dimensioned size you selected in the menu, if there isn't sufficient space for that size. Under the Current size, an additional text field may appear, as ‘Targeting aaa x bbb’, where aaa & bbb are the dimensions selected in the menu. This message is simply a reminder that the viewing area will enlarge to that size, if you resize the window a sufficient amount.

Reset Layout: As mentioned above, the KineMan Pro window layout will be automatically set, using a ‘proportional sizing’ approach, when you first use KineMan Pro, or, if you change to a new screen size. After that, the size of controls & text will maintain the same ‘readability’, if you ever change the window size. However, there may be situtations where the automatic sizing doesn’t work well: for example, if you originally started KineMan in a small window, or if you change the browser zoom level for the KineMan app page. For such cases, the Reset layout button allows you to re-invoke the proportional sizing algorithm, to obtain a ‘comfortable’ mix of viewing area, controls, and text sizes.

Here’s an example of how to improve the layout for a relatively large monitor:

  1. Set the browser window size to some level less than full screen, e.g. 50% of window width & height.
  2. Press Reset layout, to obtain a proportional fit.
  3. Enlarge the window to full screen & evaluate.
  4. Iterate if necessary, using different window sizes in step (a).

Saved Settings: Your layout settings are automatically saved between KineMan sessions, in the KineMan Repository (area of browser data). Note however, that when you save the Repository to a disk file, the layout settings are NOT included. This helps to prevent undesirable changes to your layout if you load an old repository file, or import one from some other user. On the other hand, if/when you clear your browsing data, you may have to reset the layout to your preferred dimensions.