Art Workflow for In-game Character Editor

My team and I are going to be implementing a character editor feature in our upcoming mobile game, but we are stuck in figuring out the best way to tackle the exporting of our art assets into UE4 to best suit this feature, as well as how to tackle the animations in relation to different clothing combinations that the player can choose for their character.

We currently have modelled out two base models, male and female, that won’t change at all, other than skin texture (or paramaterized material color) for different skin types. Each base model currently has a few different wearable items and hairstyles. We have our models wearing these items in the standard t-pose.

We are wanting to change hair style, hats (front, back, sideways), top clothing (t-shirt, long sleeve, hoodie), bottom clothing (a few different pant and short styles), and footwear (shoes, slippers, boots). We are also going to support avatar items, such as wristwatches, necklaces, earrings, waist items, and backpacks. We know the waist and wrist items can be attached to the character via sockets and won’t need to be deformed or animated when the character moves their arms and legs, but for the different styles and types of clothing and all the movements that the character will have, we don’t have a clue how we should move forward with it.

We are just looking for pointers and best practices based on these requirements, on how we should set up our model exports and animations to be seamless across all clothing types. For instance, the shoes will need to crease along the toes if crouched. We can’t use sockets for this cause hypothetically the shoe will just poke downwards into the floor. Does the clothing need to be included in the animated base models as well? If not, will each individual piece of clothing need to be animated and exported by itself? or is there a way we can set up an endless amount of wearable clothing models that can just conform to our base models and their animations/poses? What are the different art workflows for this and what’s the suggested method for implementation?

We appreciate any and all suggestions/assistance, and we thank you in advance for your time.

If you want characters to wear interchangeable, individual pieces of clothing, look at the Stylized Action Female and male on the Marketplace, you’ll see that they have several meshes for the various parts of the body. Eg. you have one for the left hand, one fore the left forearm, left elbow, left shoulder, etc. This means that you can give them gloves, a rolled up shirt, a t-shirt, a vest, etc. The character is therefore set up of various meshes, only parts of which are visible. You hang each one on a master animation component (you’ll have to research what that means, it gets mentioned in the Stylized Female comments section).

These Marketplace items also have extra clothes like hoodies and glasses, so you can also see how they are added, which will help you with watches, backpacks and jewellery, etc.

Aloha @Jezcentral, thank you for your reply. This helps tremendously and I think with this information, we’ll get it figured out! Sorry for the late reply - from Hawaii and just endured some of Hurricane Lane.

@Element808 I hope you and your team is safe and sound.

@UdarTenjin - Thank you for the well wishes! We are all good. Got 2 more hurricanes heading our way, but I think they are going to head north and disperse.