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13. December 2018


In modern AAA games you often have a staggering amount of control over your character’s creation.  As a game developer you may think, “Why can’t we do this for creating game assets?”.  Simple answer, you can and that’s exactly what Character Creator 3 from Reallusion enables you to do.  Starting from a base mesh you have a staggering amount of control over just about every single visual aspect of your character.  You can flesh this out by adding a variety of clothing items, props, hair and more, all via simple drag and drop.  Best of all, your character is full rigged and ready for export and animating.

This approach to character creation is nothing new, several other packages we have covered in the past such as Fuse, MakeHuman and the recently cancelled Manuel Bastioni Labs all take a very similar approach to character creation.  Character Creator 3 however has some key advantages.  One of the biggest is it’s game engine focus, with the ability to create game friendly meshes (both in terms of polygon count and UV layouts) and export them to a number of game engines and applications including Unreal Engine, Unity, Maya, Max and Blender.  There is also functionality for tweaking your generated mesh right down to the vertex level, substance designer integration for materials, fine level PBR texturing control, templates for creating your own clothing and tools for automatically creating multiple LOD meshes.

Watch Character Creator 3 in action in the video below. 


If you are interested in checking out Character Creator 3, there is a 30 day trial available here.

Until December 31, they are also having a holiday sale with savings up to 50% available here.

Art Design


20. November 2018


Substance Painter, the popular PBR based texturing application, just received a major update.  The fall update comes with a completely new rendering engine resulting in better performance with lower hardware demands by incorporating Sparse Virtual Textures, which simulate large textures using less memory.  The new engine also supports up to 300 UV Tiles at once enabling support for massive scenes.  There are also several new tools aimed at mobile users including a new 2D viewport exporter with the ability to bake into a single high resolution texture and more.


Complete details on new features from the release notes:

Added:

  • Summary: a huge boost in performance, viewport upgrades, proper 2D view export, new UI helpers, an enhanced symmetry tool and new content
  • [SVT][Engine] Sparse Virtual Textures (SVT)
  • [SVT][Preferences][UI] SVT hardware support acceleration option
  • [SVT][Log] Additional information for Sparse Virtual Texturing feature (e.g. size disk)
  • [SVT][UI] Message window at start if size on disk too low for the cache
  • [SVT][Preferences][UI] Substance Painter global cache location
  • [SVT] New environment variable to specify the path of the cache of Substance Painter
  • [SVT] New environment variable to activate the SVT hardware support acceleration
  • [SVT] Detect sparse support by hardware
  • [SVT][Hardware Sparse] Raise minimum driver version for Nvidia GPU
  • [SVT][Shader][[Viewport][UI] Warn user if artefacts present with Sparse Virtual Texturing at project opening
  • [Anti-aliasing][Viewport] New temporal anti-aliasing filtering for 3D viewport (via Display Settings)
  • [Export] Export the content of the 2D viewport as a single texture
  • [Export][Dithering] Expose dithering at export
  • [Layer stack] Colors on layers and folders
  • [Layer stack] Quick activation and deactivation of multiple layers and effects
  • [Layer stack] Easier navigation for blending modes with up down keys and mouse scroll
  • [Proj][UI] Additional rotation manipulator on all three axis for triplanar
  • [Proj][Shorcuts] - and + to change the UV projection manipulator size
  • [Shader] Control coated layer parameters with channels in the PBR-coated shader
  • [Substance] Expose new mesh-based texture inputs for filters and generators
  • [Symmetry][Viewport][UI] Control symmetry offset with manipulators
  • [Symmetry][Contextual toolbar][UI] New symmetry panel with options
  • [Symmetry] New symmetry line intersection mode
  • [Symmetry] New symmetry clone cursor
  • [Symmetry][Shortcuts] Q to hide and -, + to change size and shift to snap
  • [Log] Improve error messages when unable to export textures
  • [Scripting] Allow to change or update the resources in Display Settings
  • [Scripting] Allow to create or remove channels in Texture Sets
  • [Content][Shaders] Add support for anisotropy with a dedicated shader (pbr-metal-rough-anisotropy-angle)
  • [Content] Update of the preview sphere with anisotropy and modified angle
  • [Content] Updated matFx shutline
  • [Content] New Texturing.XYZ seamless face scan
  • [Content] New anisotropic procedurals
  • [Content] New filter: baked lighting stylized
  • [Content] New environment map: studio automotive neutral
  • [Content] New project template: PBR - metallic roughness Anisotropy angle (with anisotropy channels)
  • [Content] New project template: PBR - metallic roughness Coated

Fixed:

  • [Color Picker] Painting cursor appearing when trying to pick a color
  • Crash by Selecting or Unselecting layers in a specific order can lead to crash
  • Crash when pasting as an instance a layer with a mask
  • [User Channel][Regression] Crash when renaming user channel
  • [User Channel] Grayed brush preview
  • [Alembic] Only one texture set from several materials after import
  • [Engine] Exported texture differs from viewport for brush stamps
  • [Engine] Invert with a level effect does not fully affect a texture
  • [Material picker is applying a brush stroke while picking
  • Switching resolution to 128x128px leads to a crash
  • Mesh map links are not updated properly when rebaking or instancing layers
  • [Substance] UserData ColorSpace does not work on Baked Mesh Normal requested as input
  • MDL association mismatch when using multiple shaders instances
  • [Symmetry][Fill Layer] Symmetry plane and its manipulator active in Fill Layer
  • [Viewport] Pivot point for translation not always updated after clicking
  • [UI] Fixed icons and removal of placeholders for HDPI monitors

Known Issues:

  • Computation freeze on AMD VEGA GPUs
  • Huion tablet issue with shortcuts on Windows OS
  • Anti-aliasing and shadows when active together may give unexpected results

You can learn a great deal more about this release in this blog post.

Art GameDev News


15. November 2018

EDIT  -- Several of the licensing issues that limited this bundle’s usefulness were removed.  As a result, I created the following video, that takes a look at the updated license details as well as takes a deeper look into the contents of the bundle.

The folks over at Humble Bundle are running another bundle of interest to game developers, the Humble RPG Game Dev Bundle.  It’s a large collection of RPG Maker (don’t worry, they can be used outside of RPGMaker in your engine of choice) assets including sprites, tiles, sound fx, icons and more.  Humble Bundles are collections with different priced tiers, with a portion of the proceeds going to the content maker, a charity of choice (Child’s Play in this case) as well as to Humble Bundle themselves.  I normally full heartedly recommend Humble Bundles to people, but this time I must give a bit of a warning due to the attached license.

From the license:

4.1. A “Licence” means that the Seller grants to GDN (purely for the purpose of sub-licensing to the Purchaser) and GDN grants (by way of sub-licence thereof) to the Purchaser a non-exclusive perpetual licence to;

(a) use the Licensed Asset to create Derivative Works; and

(b) use the Licensed Asset and any Derivative Works as part of either one (1) Non-Monetized Media Product or one (1) Monetized Media Product which, in either case, is:

i) used for the Purchaser’s own personal use; and/or

ii) used for the Purchaser’s commercial use in which case it may be distributed, sold and supplied by the Purchaser for any fee that the Purchaser may determine.

That 4.1 b is going to be a huge deal breaker for many people.  If you are intending to use these assets for personal use, the license wont matter.  If you are looking to distribute your works however, do be sure to go over the license with a fine tooth comb, as that clause seems to limit you to a single product, commercial or otherwise!  There is a discussion of the bundle going on over on /r/gamedev if you are interested in learning more.

EDIT – An update on the licensing terms.  The publisher of the assets have reached out to me on Twitter to announce they’ve heard the complaints regarding the license and are updating it to be more developer friendly.  Additionally I signed up for the Humble Bundle partner program, meaning purchasing through the above link will help support the channel.

image


EDIT2 – The license is going to be updated, but hasn’t been officially updated yet.  However, the following has been attached to every file in the bundle.

Licensing Before you jump in and get going with all of the assets included in the bundle, we just need to make you aware of the licensing terms for using the assets.

Each asset that comes in the bundle is mainly covered by GameDev Markets standard license terms, with one vital difference. At the moment our license states that each asset can only be used in one project, however we are in the process of removing this clause, so for the purpose of any Humble Bundle purchases, all assets can be used in multiple projects.

You can find the full terms here - https://www.gamedevmarket.net/terms-conditions/#prolicence Please ensure that you read the license terms in full so you understand what you can and can’t do with the assets.


Updated and hands-on video

Original Humble Bundle video

Art GameDev News


24. October 2018


Materialize, a free texture generating tool we featured last week has just been open sourced under the GPL 3 license.  Materialize enables you to quickly create texture maps such as Normal, Edge, Ambient Occlusion and Height from a single Diffuse map.  It was built using the Unity game engine and the author is hoping to see Mac and Linux ports as a result of the open sourcing.  The source code is available on Github right here.  Simply clone the repository and import into a recent version of Unity game engine to run.

If you are interested in learning more or seeing Materialize in action, be sure to check out this video also embedded below.

Art GameDev News


18. October 2018


Meshroom is a new, free and open source photogrammetry software from AliceVision.  Photogrammetry software enable you to create a 3D scene using a series of photographs, generally the more the merrier.  Currently documentation is a bit lacking, so I’ve decided to create this quick tutorial.  In this tutorial we are going to quickly walk through the process of using Meshroom using a photoset available here.  That post links to a zip file containing 50 images that are confirmed to work with Meshroom.  Simply extract them somewhere on your drive.  Of course you need to download Meshroom, which is available for download right here.  Simply download the archive, extract then execute the Meshroom application.  Note Meshroom requires a CUDA GPU and works on Windows and Linux!  So this process will only work on nVidia GPUs, at least as of time of writing.


Once you’ve got Meshroom loaded, follow the following simple steps.

Drag extracted images into the Images pane on the left.

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Save your project somewhere

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Click the green Start button.

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As it’s running, you will see the progress across the top:

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This bar indicates a problem occurred.  You can divine more details by locating the current task in the Graph, like so:

image

With the node selected, check the Log (bottom right corner) for details.  This is the error message you receive if you run the process on a non-CUDA (nVidia) GPU.  Keep in mind, it can also be caused by the process running on a laptop with Optimus, not automatically selecting the right GPU.

image

Hopefully however you encounter no such errors and the process is entirely green.  On the bright side, it should pick right up where the error occured if you run the project again in the same directory, as Meshroom caches the results of each step as it goes.  You will find the vast majority of time is spent on the DepthMap section,  this is normal.  As the process continues, you should start seeing results in the 3D viewer.

image

You can pan, zoom and orbit the mouse using the LMB, scroll wheel and MMB respectively.  More detail in the point cloud will fill in as the process runs.  Once it completes successfully, you will see a button Load Model.

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You can now preview the results of your effort!

FinalGif

A few steps in, it will have evaluated all of your photos, acceptable/usable photos will be marked with a green checkmark.

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Review the remaining photos for flaws and inconsistency if you run it again.

Go make some tea… it’s going to be between 10 minutes and an hour depend on the speed of your machine.  Once the process is complete, there will be a folder called MeshroomCache, with the following contents:

image


This is a folder with all of the output files from each step in the process.  Generally what you are going to be interested in is the obj, mtl and texture file in the Texturing folder.  This can be imported into your 3D modelling application of choice, the obj format is fairly universal.  The resulting mesh is extremely dense and you may consider checking out Instant Meshes for optimizing the results.


Now that you know it works, it’s time to start refining the process or providing your own picture set.  I would recommend the following tips from my own experience:

  • use an actual camera, not a phone.  I got terrible results from my Pixel phone, but my Canon DLSR gave much better results.  YMMV
  • DO NOT green/white screen your background.  Unique markers in the background help Meshroom position each virtual camera
  • try to get the entire object in frame on each shot
  • get rid of any image with any blurring

So far we just default settings in the Graph Editor.  This graph represents a graph of nodes in the process, one for each directory shown in the screenshot above.  Note when you select a node, there are a number of properties you can edit:

image

You can also connect pins to multiple nodes to create multiple results.  For example, if you wanted to create a set of TFF and lower resolution PNG textures, you can do the following.  Right click the graph editor and select Texturing:

image


This will create a new node in the graph.  Now drag the output node from MeshFiltering and connect it to ini and inputMesh.

image


Select the new Texturing node and have it create a lower detail texture set:

image


Now when it runs, it will create two sets of textures for you.  Note there are other nodes such as Decimation that aren’t in the process by default.  You can see the entire thing in process in the video attached below:

Art


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