Character Creation - Expert Advice Needed!


I’m new to video game development. My specific area of interest is high quality 3D character creation, specifically realistic human females. I’ve seen beautiful female 3D models that were made using Daz3D but I don’t want to use Daz3D or Poser to create my 3D models. I’m more serious than that! So what paid product should I use to more easily create characters for eventual use in Unreal Engine 3? What paid product should I use if the models will eventually be used in cutscenes for a game that doesn’t exist? Is there a simple character creator like what we use when we customize a character in The Sims 3 or Guild Wars through Eye of the North for example?

Fuse Character Maker :slight_smile:

I’ve heard many negative things about this software, so I’d proceed with caution.

You won’t find anything that has character modelling in the style of The Sims 3 or Guild Wars. All game models are typically hand crafted in Maya, 3D Max or similar. If you’re happy to put in the time and effort to learn these, then Blender is a good place to start as it is free, but full featured and an excellent introduction to modelling.

Learning to model yourself is a good option, but it is not quick or easy, nor will your initial attempts be of a high quality. Unfortunately, your options are either to teach yourself, or to use character generation software. Alternatively, if you happen to have a pile of spare cash around, you can hire an artist. As an artist who also likes money, I wholeheartedly support the latter option!

Blender is a good starting place, like Gunner mentioned, and also has a wonderful community built around it which has supplied a wealth of tutorials. Even if you go down the daz/poser route, that knowledge will be indispensable, because something will go wrong, or you’ll need to make an asset or prop yourself.

Make Human: It’s free, very good and their models have the best performance ingame. It also has useful blender plugins.

There are two mainstays of game development and animation: 3ds Max, and Maya. Some artists only use one; many artists use both, for different things.
There are a few additions for higher-end or other kinds of development (including film): SoftImage, Houdini, Modo. These are good at different things, and not as commonly used for the full game development pipeline.
Depth painting tools like Z-brush and Mudbox are also useful, for the initial high-resolution mesh creation.
Then there are a variety of tools at all kinds of price points and feature sets: Blender, 3d Coat, MakeHuman, etc
This is not counting all the geospatial and manufacturing packages, like ESRI or Inventor or SolidWorks or d’Assault or …

If you were to learn only one tool, I would suggest either 3ds Max (my favorite) or Maya.

Thanks for your help, guys. I guess it’s 3ds Max or Maya for me. :slight_smile:

Lol poor Poser and DS :smiley:

They get such a bad rap based on nothing more than unfounded perception.

Be it Poser or DS mesh is mesh and polygons are polygons and are just as primitive as a box and it’s what you do with it after as to purpose or intent that makes the difference.

Think of it this way.

Did you know that speedtree is used in a lot of different media besides video games?

Did you know speedtree was used in Avatar?

Did you know DS and Poser are used by many different production studios to generate back ground actors or crowed scenes?

Did you know that you can general hundreds of different and unique characters based on a handful of base body frames and never repeat the same character twice?

Stick with Maya or Max sure if you have the need to feel the pain but if you want to talk about empowering if the need is to flood your world with NPC’s, the next Assassin’s Creed, the power to do so is “now” in the hands of the individual with out the need for an entire production team.

Fuse is a really good program put out by the folks at Mixamo. If it doesn’t create realistic enough characters for you then at least consider using their rigging process and then you can use any of there stock animations with your character

if you wanna to create many characters for background use, create each extreme variation, and then deform the character to have mixes of the variations (I did this with morph targets before, and I have done it in maya/zbrush, its a very useful technique), techniques to generate many characters are interesting but they become generic and lack personality (now why making them instead of just buying, and deforming, because you have freedom with texture size, polycount, style, animation, props, and for that reason they can be part of a more unique world but yes they will still be more generic probably a reflex of how they are made), but if you wanna make some character truly awesome make it from scratch usually thats how main (awesome) and important characters are made.

exemple: took a year to develop Altair the main and first character for assassin’s creed (this including lots of concepts and many tests), but for the background characters and less important ones they took from 1 day to 7 days.

*of course this example is extreme usually main characters don’t take that long (it probably took longer because they knew it would be a serie) but anyway they do get more love, and only the best artists get to work on them.

Here some softwares you should consider and games related to the software.

3ds max : gears of war, assassins creed… blizzard games.

maya: uncharted, and there are others but maya is mostly used for animation (many game studios have max for modeling and maya for animation) and its widely used in movies.

softimage: metal gear solid 4, devil may cry, I know people from blizzard who uses it for cinematic modeling, and its also my favorite software, but its being discontinued so Im avoiding it.

modo: Valve games, Wolfenstein: The New order, and others… also its used in movies, and its the one I’m using right now, its my new favorite. (cheaper than maya, and 3ds max… does the same stuff).

blender: its a free software, and i know people who does great on it, but I used it too little to talk about (2 months experience)

them there are softwares that are super important to sculpt, create detail, and realism, those are used together with any off the ones on top:

zbrush: used to create high res models and extract the details, really fun software to work I really have fun sculpting on this one, and I highly recommend learning it, almost all studios (games and movies) use it.

mudbox: its the same as zbrush, and by autodesk(same creators of maya and 3ds max) this software has some advantages to zbrush but its more technical than artistic, its also really fun to use recommend trying.

Sculptris: free… similar to zbrush, and fun to use (its own by pixologic the creator of zbrush)

All these softwares have good, and bad so it becomes a matter of personal preference try them, and pick the ones you like. besides its not important the one you use if you learn one its really easy to switch when need I say this because I have done that plenty of times.

here is my workflow for reference:

concept in photoshop-- model base in modo – detail/highres in zbrush – texture in zbrush --retopology in modo,zbrush,3d coat or topogun – UV in modo – project back details in zbrush – retouch texture in photoshop – rig and animate in maya – have fun in Unreal 4

*some times if the model allow I just do everything but animation in zbrush.
**workflow varies from project to project and from model to model, also from artist to artist

if your area of interest is “high quality 3D character” them there is no other way than creating your own its hard will take time (years) but if you truly like it, will be a really fun journey :wink:

Poser is fine for posing and combining pre-made geometry. However, Poser is not for actually making that geometry.
The magic of poser is the ready-made geometry that goes into the tool, not the tool itself. Poser is also not good with exporting the full, rich geometry (with morph channels and the like) because doing so would kill the revenue stream that Daz has going with the geometry inputs.

Btw: If you have pre-made geometry, you can also pose and morph it in 3ds Max, and most other 3D creation tools, and it’s not much harder than doing it in Poser, assuming you actually know your art package.

MakeHuman might be the right answer. It is free, open source, working well with Blender. It can rig your generated character automaticly for you. You have multiple rigs to choose from. Also, you can changes topologies on the go. They will add more in version 1.1 .The characters are also compatible with Faceshift, a cool markerless facial mo-cap software for Kinect.
Makehuman also lets you create external morphs.

 Daz characters are not good for game development. They are high polly, and in order to use them in your game, you need to pay 500$ just to be able to use them legally + 100$ for the decimator. It simply does not worth.

I personally use Blender as modelling software. I also have experience with Maya, and I can tell you that for modelling, Blender has more tricks in its sleeves and I achieve the same results faster. For animation and rigging,  Maya is the best. If you want to use both softwares without changing habbits too much, you could check  out my custom key configuration for Blender.

I am currently working on a character for Unreal Tournament, using the free tools I mentioned.

I would disagree.

We are using DS as part of our overall player model strategy that the amortized cost in time alone would be well over the $500 mark if we substituted need with labor instead.

Granted there are a lot of things that should be custom built but there are a lot of things that can be done with out the need for reinventing the wheel by avoiding throwing out the baby with the bath water.

I understand the desire to learn, but, tools are invented to improve quality and save time. Imagine coding UE4 from the ground up. A Digital Artist’s talent is knowing how to use these tools to produce works-of-art never before seen. I’m a solo code-centric game developer with a tiny budget. The art side of game dev process is weak spot. I’m adding tools like DAZ3D Genesis, Fuse, Spore Creature Creator, and Blender to my 3D Asset production workflow. You were inspired by female models produced with DAZ3D, why not use it?

Unfortunately, I’m one those game devs that doesn’t have a pile of spare cash around, but, I do have $20-$50 bucks here and there to spend on 3D assets. After this discussion, I’m just not convinced that Artist like money. A majority of Artist reject the concepts of producing Modular Assets to be sold to the masses in online Marketplaces. I’m told I must pay $1000+ per character or learn to do it myself (which I am). They prefer to take $0 than the $20-$50 bucks I have in my wallet. I participate in several Game Dev communities:,,,,,,, There are 100,000’s of other amateur game dev, hobbyist, gamers-turned-gamedev out there with $30-$50 to spend on assets. They just don’t recognize me as the new type of customer.

You’re right. I realized earlier today before reading your post that instead of beginning with 3ds I can utilize DS just for character design. I’ve read before that DS models aren’t compatible with game engines and mahri says they cost WAY too much to use anyway, so when I want to use my customized V5 or V6 models in a game I’ll hire an artist, show him the renders and have him model the characters for use in UE3. This way I can start designing characters now instead of working for a really long time to master 3ds.

Edit: I saw some lesser-priced models on turbosquid so I’ll probably ask someone there to work for me when the time comes. $1000.00+ per model is crazy if the buyer is just an average non-studio individual.

This article may be useful: Daz3d for creating game assets. I seen your post for Artists in the Got-Skills-Looking-for-Talent Forum. I’m considering posting in that forum myself for Artist who understand the new game dev market.

If helpful our group has decided to open the development of our game to our player base as to what we are working on even in unfinished form. Thats to say anyone on the team is allowed to discus and show off what they are working on as works in progress and what I’m working on is integrating Genesis

To show off the design pathway I did up a couple of videos for our player base who are interested in this kind of thing.
Procedural character design is very useful if you know with in a context what you need and what an application has to offer as to that need and the videos explains how such a direction fits our game design that is a typical FPS and not story driven.

Thanks for the article, there’s a lot of useful information there.

Great videos. The second one makes me wonder if we can use sets purchased from daz3d as game environments?

There is a scaled license for everything based on what you need. Type “developer” in the search box and a dozen or so different vending machine license will popup.

We only need the 500 dollar version to make derivatives of the Genesis model as demonstrated in the video and of course we contacted Daz3d as to due diligence as to what we wanted to do and they confirmed.

Should also be noted that you only need a license when you decided to release your game and our current use of show-n-tell fits the general licensing terms and conditions based on the stock EULA so we can defer paying for a license up to the last moment.

So you can decided as a plan “A” so to speak if you will actually be using Genesis via implantation or switch to plan “B” if you decided that it’s not a fit for you project.

I wasn’t looking forward to modelling anything beyond characters so this great news! Thanks.