A Beginner's Inquiries on Customizable Character Systems (Specific Questions)

So as the name of my post suggests, I am looking for assistance with creating a customizable character system. I have seen a ton of posts on the web about this, but they all tend to delve into other aspects of the topic and do not answer my specific questions which are relevant to my project. I am not a beginner to modeling, but I am to UE4 and blueprints and basically everything else to do with this. I am going to post a few questions below. If anyone has experience in these topics or has some information, I would be thankful and appreciative if they could share their knowledge. And the most detailed, in depth answers you can provide, the better…
1 - How would I make settings for changing parts of a character (arm size, head size, height, etc.)? How about for finicky things like eye shape? I have read it involves blueprints and sliders? I do not know how to use those in general, let alone for that specifically and none of the topics talk about the initial base meshes involvement. Which leads me to question 2…
2 - What part does the initial modeling play in that? If i want a slider for instance, that changes my CAC (Create a Character) arm size, do I have to model multiple different arms with those measurements or does one mesh suffice and I can do all of that editing in UE4. And if it is all doable in UE4, would that hold true for other aspects?
3 - How would I do Tattoos or Face paint? I am familiar with UV unwrapping and texturing an unwrapped model, but if I texture a human model with tattoos for instance, they are stuck with them on that particular texture. I am not even sure how to approach this for a CAC system.Would I create a patsy UV map where I only create one set of tattoos on it and nothing else then apply it as a selectable option, and if I do that then change the characters arm size, will that distort my tattoos? Also, how would texturing work with this process in general?
4 - Clothing? If i create leggings for my model that conform to them and i change my models leg thickness, what will happen? I assume they will glitch out and the leggings wont expand with the legs. How do i make them and any clothing I create,change with my model?
5 - Should my model be a single connected mesh? I use 3ds Max and would like to know how this works with a CAC system, especially for rigging movement between those pieces. My question is also including clothing along with body parts.
6 - How would hair work with all this? I know there are some good hair creation programs (they are more plugins than anything, but you hopefully get my point).
7 - And lastly, how would my animations fit into all of this shaping and shifting? Is it an adjust within reason thing, (ie, no 20ft tall CAC grabbing a 5’2 CAC since it wouldnt look right) or is there a particular way to do something close to this and make it look right without having to create new animations for large and small characters?
Again thank you all for any answers I can get for any of the questions. Apologies for the long post, but I tend to ramble. :wink:

This sounds extremely interesting, let me know if you get any answers!


1: If you want to build a system like this effectively you’ll have to learn programming.

2: No, limb scale are modifications per bone inside an animation Blueprint. You change x,y,z of a bone and rigged mesh follows. Engine has nodes for this.

3: Tattoos are flat colors masked by an alpha texture, on a layered material. When the tattoo is moved, it’s just UV offset spplied to the alpha image.

4: Good luck with that, this is where most modular systems fall apart, when people realize every piece of cloth have to be rigged and need morph targets applied too to match body changes.
This is why MMOs have gender locked classes and each “class” is a different skeleton / base character.
Older MMOs have only male / female and everything is attached to sockets instead of rigged to the skeleton, morph targets aren’t used at all.
Some engines support runtime loading or removing skeletal bones when body parts are charged.
​​​​​You cannot do that in Unreal or Unity or etc…

5: If you want not destroy game’s runtime performance than don’t use morph targets on the naked character. Modify bones in the animation Blueprint instead; attach cloth to sockets and don’t rig them to the skeleton, if your design is smart then the naked character can be a single closed mesh, if your clothes need to be deformed by skeleton then problems start to show up.

6: Hair is the same problem of any other piece of cloth.

7: Again, this is why MMOs use a different base character for each class. Animations need tweaking for each different character scale even after you retarget. IK help a bit.

8: Character modularity is very bad for runtime performance. Unless you do it like in new Monster Hunter where “morphs” are driven by bones on face instead of blendshapes and clothing is actually a predefined whole different mesh (four different base characters in the game just to change default clothes, all other pieces are socket attached).

Hello @HigurashiWTC

I’ve been pursuing the development of Modular Entity Construction Systems for some time now. All of my current UE4 development efforts are focused on using Blueprints exclusively to create PROTOS: An In-Game, Multi-user, High Density Modular, World & Entity Construction System AKA “the Customizer for everything…”.

PROTOS is being developed to handle Architectural, Mechanical and Organic Entities (Characters). The Character Customization I’m aiming for is inspired by Black Desert Character, Destiny Character, and Spore Creature Creator. I’m currently at Milestone 1, completing Architectural Construction/Customization. Next will be Entities Construction/Customization for Characters, Creatures, Weapons, etc. With that said I’ve been planning my approach to answer questions similar to yours.

MorphTarget (MorphTarget Pipeline)

My modular workflow for Organics uses a single or sectioned (seamless) base-body mesh that contain MorphTargets. Clothing, Armor, Accessories, Accents Parts & Pieces are attached to the base-body mesh at run-time to add detail piece-by-piece. The purpose of the base-body is to fill in areas where seams and weighted joints are a concern. I’ve also considered using cloth meshes as flexible ‘patches’ to cover joints with seams/gaps.

My plan is to create base-body meshes for Characters and Creatures w/ MorphTargets using a DAZ3D Genesis 8 ->UE4 Workflow. There are several Youtube Tutorials for achieving this and VerumBit’s Tut is good place to start. I’m a lazy programmer, and considering acquiring the Character Creator in the UnrealMarketplace for boilerplate which contains morphtargets & slider widgets etc.

Decals | Mesh Decals (Example)

Decals are Materials that are projected onto meshes in your level, including Static Meshes and Skeletal Meshes. These meshes can have a Mobility setting of Static or Movable and the Decal will still project on them. Many Decals can be rendered at once without a large performance decrease.

Clothing Tool

I’ve also planned a Clothing System in PROTOS (GLAMOUR) inspired by Marvelous Designer (MD) which uses sets of geometry pieces in the shape of garment patterns authored in Blender (or other 3D Tool that exports to FBX) and attached at run-time. Using ‘Cloth Pieces’ artist can apply cloth paint to these pieces with UE4’s new Clothing Tool. The systems also leverages UE4 layered materials (layered material creation) to apply fabric PBR to specified areas of the base-body mesh. Layered Materials will be easier to use in UE4.19. YAY!

The previous modular cloth technique employed was to create separate clothing meshes for each body part you have to render an entire new skeleton and sync it’s animations with the main skeleton resulting in excessive draw calls. I would say, you could employ this technique if necessary, and if you do morphtargets would be useful.

As stated above, I’m using DAZ3D to produce a single or sectioned (seamless) base-body mesh + MorphTargets, attaching Parts & Pieces. If a 3rd Party Editor such as Blender or 3DMax is used, it will be for touch up and export to FBX. I prefer to use tools that specialize in Character face/body and Clothing such as DAZ3D & MD. I would not try to craft that sort of detail from scratch, but, if you can pull it off…go for it.

Hair Shader and Lots of little meshes…
How to create amazing digital hair

Animation Retargeting | Retargeting Different Skeletons

The video tutorial series on the Skeleton Asset is one of Epic’s best in my opinion. Master the Skeleton Asset and bend any Character to your will. Its a good thing you’re not new to 3D Modelling, because its takes a special kind of 3D Modeler to author 3D assets for modular assembly. We can discuss this further (live) in chat.

[USER=“434”]BrUnO XaVIeR[/USER]

Thanks for tip, I’m take this information into consideration for MorphTargets.