Trying to use ue4 mannequin with custom characters

Hi. I realize this question gets asked a lot, I know this because I searched high and low for literally over a week. It is beyond frustrating… I found MANY MANY people have this issue but have yet to find an actual practical solution. I know there must be a solution however because I see characters on the marketplace that use the ue4 skeleton. I would really like to figure out how to correctly rig my characters to the ue4 skeleton. I will start off with what I know and what ive tried, then ask for advice.

First off, I use blender. I am wondering if this is the core of my issue. I don’t want to fork over the cash for maya LT (definitely cannot afford the full version OMG) unless I know it will solve the issue.

I have tried everything I can think of.

I used make human’s game engine mesh which uses the exact same bones as ue4 mannequin. Ive tried modifying the pose in blender to match ue4’s mannequin pose exactly. I have retargeted my skeleton in ue4 properly and most the animations look decent. But there are always minor problems, most noticeably in the hands and fingers. Ive retargetd many versions of many different skeletons. I also spent hours making minor adjustments to the source pose from the ue4 mannequin when retargeting.

I have managed to do a decent job, the animations are pretty close. basic walk and run and other locomotion animations look pretty decent. but some animations look terrible.

BEFORE - arms and hands are in wrong place, and fingers or horribly twisted like they are broken.

After adjusting the source pose of the mannequin (this is the pistol animation from animation starter pack.)

As you can see I am getting close. But this is extremely tedious. And I’m wondering if I’m going to have to do this over and over, and if it will work for other animations. Its like I’m driving in the dark. There must be a better way.

I have also tried exporting the ue4 skeleton into blender. Which has its own challenges, but I managed to make it work with manual weight painting. The problem is again, the custom characters have different proportions (like hand size and arm length), and again when I retarget to the original skeleton, I get strange twisting.

I even tried using lui’s ue4 tools for blender and even that didn’t work well.

What would be really nice is if there was a tutorial or possible a blender version of the rig with all the correct bone locations and rotations.

TLDR: In a nutshell, I want to know how the experienced community is doing this. How are you making characters that use the UE4 Mannequin? Is it really just a blender thing? Would I be better off using maya? Is there an easier way to use the actual ue4 skeleton in maya or something else that doesn’t work in blender?

I would really like to be able to use animations from the market place, but they are useless to me if I cannot make my characters perfectly (or at least close to perfectly) utilize the UE4 skeleton.

am I really doomed to spending hours making minor tweeks to the base source pose of the ue4 mannequin to get my custom skeletons to work correctly? or is there a tutorial somewhere on how to correctly make a rig that matches the pose of the skeleton?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

while writing the original post, I had an idea and decided to test it. it worked! problem solved. I decided to give back to the community and make