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[Request] Using photorealistic UE4 shaders and fixing materials of DAZ3D Genesis characters in UE4

I have heard here and there some bits and pieces how people are using DAZ3D characters in Unreal Engine, but in many tutorial videos I see the same problems again and again, to which commentators give some suggestions for fixing, but there is no actually any video that would squeeze maximum possible quality of DAZ Genesis characters in Unreal.

To be more specific, the issues are as follows:

  1. lighting in nostrils and mouth is wrong; it is too bright where shadows should be. It looks almost as if a lightbulb is hidden in a head and is shining through character’s mouth and nostrils. This problem actually is not specific to DAZ3D characters; I’ve seen it in many games except the latest & greatest ones. Clearly there should be some trick to fix this also for DAZ3D materials.

  2. teeth look too plasticky. Of course, good teeth should be white but bone white, not plastic white. Maybe some subsurface scattering and reflections could fix that.

  3. applying Unreal’s skin, eye and hair shaders for maximum realism and performance. Important: If completely replacing DAZ Genesis eyes, the possibility to use morphs or a custom eye controller should be preserved.

If any of you have managed to successfully implement all the things above, I - and many others - would be grateful for a step by step guide for how to do it correctly, preserving also any facial and eye movement morphs from DAZ.

Well just so you know doing photo realistic characters is hard very hard. Doing a 1-1 import from DS still has issues to work around but has greatly improved since 4.15 but has yet to deal with the material differences as to why things looks a lot better when rendered in DS.

  1. DS support both Iray and Delight materials where Iray requires a SSS profile that does not get exported as a material as required by UE4 for accurate reproduction. If you export the materials with the character that is using Iray then the texture will tend to illuminate due to the percentage difference by contrast. To fit it try using the Delight texture and if that does not work try editing the texture to knock down or match the color tones. You could also try using an Ambient Occlusion map as whats really causing the problem is indirect lighting so overall I would say it’s an imbalance in texture contrast .

  2. Same problem as the nostrils

  3. We just excluded the eyes when exporting and make use of the digital human version in a Character BP. Skin Material works well and so does hair but we need a better understanding of just how the digital human materials work (there is a recent twitch cast that demonstrates some aspects of practical use.)

Found the pro material video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyqJghINrV4

Thanks for the useful tips & hints but I’m sure there are many tiny caveats and multiple ways to make mistakes in the process. That’s why I really hoped somebody would create a full step by step instruction.

Actually, I recently found some new DAZ3D -> Unreal courses on Udemy but unfortunately those were focused mostly on animations only and for the most part ignoring materials, LODs, etc.

1.) Skin. Painting AO masks would be my suggestion as well. To fully utilize the Digital Human resources (aka “Mike”), you will have to paint quite some masks, which you do not get out of the box in Daz (or anywhere, for that matter). In terms of skin, I found that the older “Photorealistic Human” (or “Twinblast” bust, which now is included in the Digital Human project) is much easier to utilize, as the masks involved there match those provided by Daz more closely. Not as fancy, but still decent and a good stepping stone.

One more thing you could try is lowering the Shadow Bias value on your light sources in Unreal.

2.) Teeth. You can basically use the Digital Human teeth material instance and just plug the mouth textures from Daz into it, looks decent enough. Tweaks to that shader should be easy, too. I made my own SSS material before, but settled on the premade one.

3.) Eyes. You would attach the Epic eyes to sockets on the eye bones, so movement etc. will be fully preserved.
If you were making a character randomizer, you would have to watch out for too excessive face morphs that could reveal too much of the eyeball, but if you are creating premade characters, this shouldn’t be much of an issue (you can always scale and / or reposition the eyeballs).

(4.) Hair. Daz hair is very high poly. What works really great, is Paragon hair (I have all hair from the released characters fitted to work with Genesis 8), so should hair from Mixamo Fuse (though it will not have all masks needed by the Digital Human shader).

Other than that, “full step by step instruction”… it’s a lot of steps, that’s the issue.
I was thinking about sharing my experience / workflow at some point, but haven’t settled yet on a medium (I’m not really the talk-in-a-video type of fella).
Also, don’t think I have all the answers myself.

For now, you will have to gather bits and pieces here and there and try to develop your own workflow.
Make sure to watch FrankieV’svideos, read the Wiki (it’s old, goes through 3dsmax, but could still provide some ideas).
This blog has some useful stuff, too: https://crazyrestosim.wordpress.com (Youtube channel)

@Cpt.Trips awesome, this will help a lot.

I also sent a (nagging) message to the authors of the Udemy DAZ->UE4 animations course if they would like to create a video course about DAZ material improvements in UE4, considering that these guys are pretty good at video tutorials.

Well since your in a nagging mood you might also want to nag Epic to included Daz Studio>Genesis as part of the Datasmith pipeline :wink: Daz Studio offers an open development plugin pipeline, just like UE4 so if someone had a mind to do so could develop a plugin to handle a 1-1 conversion of textures and materials.

What would that have to entail? (in terms of output)

Alot

First Daz Studio makes use of the iray materials and render system so it is a PBR type of material. It just packaged in a different manner.
Transparency for example is still a problem that results in zombie eyes and low fidelity hair.

Baby steps though would be a materials package, kind of like substance works, where the base materials can be added that makes use of the standard textures applied to the G3 frame work. As a first baby step this should allow a higher level of fidelity moving materials from DS to UE4. The digital human materials works well as a base but on things like hair is still off.

More or less a material package that works as far as the need of using DS materials is something that could be sold as a product.

Something that I’m trying to do with mixed results but is encouraging.

From there the textures can be pulled manually and inserted into a material instance a tada your done.

The easier solution is just to let Datasmith do it as it is being done in 3ds Max.