Matt Belshaw is a British self-taught game developer and digital artist.
As a recreational workaholic, when he isn’t in the Gym or creating tutorial content for his popular YouTube channel – Game Developer Training, Matt will be working his full-time job as a teacher or creating content for his own video games
In this two part Unity tutorial series, Matt walks us through how he creates a full-rigged and animatable digital human for use in Unity’s High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) using Reallusion’s Character Creator, Auto Setup for Unity script, and iClone animation tools.
’Ello Mate! I’m Matt Belshaw, in this first of a two part tutorial we’ll create a character using Character Creator 4, add animations using iClone 8 and save our project ready for importing into Unity using the HD Render Pipeline extension.
Thanks to the work of Victor Soupday it’s now easier than ever to use realistic humans and animations created in Character Creator 4 and iClone 8 within Unity projects.
Many people want to harness the power of Character Creator, iClone and their many fantastic addons, but don’t have the time or desire to learn an entirely new game engine, which puts those people who have always preferred Unity to Unreal Engine at a disadvantage, until now. Using Victor’s Auto Setup addon, it’s now incredibly easy to get your favourite characters out of iClone, including all animations and use them in Unity.
Before we start working on the Unity side of things though, let’s build ourselves a character that we can use.
In order to follow this first part of the tutorial you don’t need to download any special tools, although I do recommend downloading the Auto Setup addon Download Here.
Also, since we’re downloading stuff, let’s browse the Reallusion Content Store for any skin, hair, clothing and mocap assets that we might want to use now that we can work in Unity.
Creating the Base Character
First things first. We need to create the base character which we’ll then customize. Inside Character Creator, with an empty scene, open the Modify window and click on the load neutral base button.
After a few moments our character will appear (undies added for safety). This androgynous character can now be customized to whatever shape we want using the extensive morphs available in Character creator 4.
Whilst still in the Modify window, note at the top a selection of sub-menus.
We’re going to click on the third icon from the left which looks like a square being squished by two arrows.
Ensuring you have the character selected and not one of the items of clothing that you’ve already added for modesty, you will see all the morphs that are currently available to apply to the character.
There are some morphs which apply to the whole body, some which apply to single body parts, all of which use a slider allowing you to apply these morphs to any degree.
Any character presets you own will also be available from this menu. This is your opportunity to get creative and design your character. Don’t expect to create the perfect specimen quickly, these things take time and a lot of fine tuning. Take your time and create the character of your dreams before moving on to the next step.
Applying a new skin
To apply a new skin to our character it’s as simple as double clicking on something!
Open the Content window and with our character still selected, browse to the “Skin” sub-menu.
From here, it’s just a case of browsing to the skin or skin-pack that you want to use and double-clicking on it to apply your choice to your new character.
If you’re happy with the way your realistic human looks, then you’re good to move on, but if you want to tweak the skin colour a bit, then it’s time to re-open the “Modify” window and select the materials sub-menu.
Within this tab we can select all the Digital_Human Skin materials using Shift-Click
Just below this within the materials tab, there will be a section called “Shader Settings”. Open it up and more options will be visible.
Open up the accordion tab for Skin Colour and check the “Activate Skin Colour” box.
Open up the Colour Adjustment tab and Check the “Activate” box
You can now customize the colour of your character using the three colour sliders within this sub-menu.
Once You’re happy with your colour, click on the Bake Skin Colour to Diffuse Map Button. This will make your changes permanent.
Add Clothing and Hair
Using the Content Menu, browse through your library, ensuring your character is still selected in the scene and double click on whatever clothing and hair you wish to add to your character.
Remember that there is no right or wrong thing to do here, what clothing and hair you choose to add is entirely down to your personal preferences. Once your new friend is sporting a nifty new hairdo and sharply dressed, move on to the next step.
Adding Wrinkles (good ones of course).
Back in the “Modify” window with our character selected, select the Expression Wrinkles sub-menu. (The icon that looks like a head with a vent on the side.)
Check the Activate Expression Wrinkles Box
iClone will now apply a default expression facial profile to our character.
Check the “Check with Expressions” box and double click on any of the facial areas to apply an extreme expression which shows the wrinkles in action, allowing you to tweak the strength, redness etc.
Once you’ve wrinkled / unwrinkled your character the desired amount, export your character as an iAvatar to save your progress and then move on to the next step.
Exporting to iClone
Now it’s time to open iClone. This isn’t mandatory as it should open automatically.
Once iClone is open, click on the “Send to iClone” button
iClone will start importing your character.
Once this has been completed, you can close Character Creator.
Adding our animations
Before we start, I highly recommend having a text document open and ready for you to record the start and end frame numbers for each of our animations, since once we import the character into Unity, we will have to manually chop up the animation into individual parts again.
Make sure the timeline window is open and visible.
Browse through your content library and add any animations that you want the character to be able to use. It’s not completely vital to get them all at this point but it does avoid unnecessary messing about later if you can get all the animations you need in the first place.
As you double-click on an animation you will see it being added to the timeline
Note down the animation start and end frame numbers and of course what the animation is. You can press the play button to see how your character looks doing each animation. This is often a good idea as it can identify any potential clipping that might occur or animations that just don’t suit.
Once you have all the animations that you wish to export added to the timeline, it’s time to move onto the final step!
Exporting our character for Unity
Click the menu option at File > Export > Export FBX…
In the dialogue box that appears, ensure that you choose the Unity 3D Preset. Set your frames per second to Project(60) and make sure that you check the “All” option in the Export Range. Adjust your max Texture size if you wish and then check the “Delete Unused Morphs” and “Delete Hidden Face” checkboxes.
Hit Export and save your character in an empty folder whose location you will be able to find later.
That’s it, you’ve completed this tutorial. In the next stage we’ll import the character into unity using the Auto Setup tool, break the animations up and apply them to our character.
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