Free Character Creation Workflow

One of my struggles early on was creating realistic characters.  While there are a few free tools available for different parts of the process, it was difficult to find a workflow where all they all played nicely with each other.  Below, I’ll walk you through my process step by step.

  • Skill Level: Medium
    • Basic understanding of UE4 and Blender
  • Needed software:

Step 1: Create a Basic Character:

To get started, we’ll head over to MakeHuman to create our base character.  Go ahead and install this program if you don’t already have it.  There are plenty of tutorials already on how to do this so I won’t cover that part here.

Feel free to make any changes or tweaks that you want.  Before we export the character, we need to make sure we do a few things.

Go to the Geometries Tab –> Topologies –> and select the Male1591 mesh.  This mesh is fairly low poly but is a good one to use for making clothes and other accessories later. I also have the wireframe view on so I can see the UV mapping.

MakeHumanSetup

Open, the Pose/Animate Tab –> Pose –> T Pose (at the bottom).  Do NOT add a skeleton here though. We’ll add a skeleton with Mixamo so we can utilize their free library of animations.

T-Pose

Next, export the model with the Scale Unites in Centimeter (this is to make the scale match with UE4).

Export SettingsExport Settings1

 

Step 2: Rig the Character:

Once you have your character exported and saved, upload the file to Mixamo.  Once uploaded, you’ll be walked through the process of Auto-Rigging the character.  Use their standard skeleton (65 bones) and line up the place markers as indicated.

Auto Rigging

One the Auto-Rigger is completed feel free to add animations and then download the character. We’ll be using UE4 next so go ahead and get a project set up if you don’t already.  There are a lot of tutorials that cover this as well so I won’t do that here.

Step 3: Import to UE4:

In UE4 you can set up the animations that were exported with the FBX and start using the character in your game project.  The next step I’ll cover is how to export the character so you can modifications in Blender.

To export the character from UE4, right click on the file –> Asset Actions –> Export

ExportfromUE4

Make sure to select FBX 2014.  At this time, Blender users FBX 2014 (7.4) and weird things will happen to your skeleton if you export as FBX 2013.  This is the main reason we have to use this workflow rather than importing the FBX directly from Mixamo or make human.

Export Settings

Step 3: Export to Blender:

Import the character into Blender (default settings should be okay)  and we’re almost done! Blender adds a placeholder object that if we don’t remove, will add an extra bone when we export back to UE4.  To remove this, go into Object mode, and select the Armature — most likely called Hips.

BlenderOutline

 

Make sure Hips is selected, then press ALT-P and Clear Parent and Keep Translation.  This will let us deleted the placeholder object without the mesh scaling up a crazy amount.

 

 

Blender Clear Parent

We can now delete the placeholder object (in my chase CharacterTutorial) and make any changes as normal to the character.  Once done, we can export back to UE4 (default settings).

Thanks for reading!

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