Create iClone Character with Maya

Welcome to iClone tutorial for importing Maya template into iClone. In this lesson you will need 3DXchange, iClone and the newest FBX Plugin available for Maya.

The following image illustrates the pipeline of how to import Maya Characters into iClone.

How to get iClone Standard Character?

If you have purchased 3DXchange Pro from Reallusion, the iClone Standard Character is included in the resource pack.

Step-by-Step

In this tutorial we will guide you through the process of how to modify the existing G3 Character model and import it to iClone. After you are done with this tutorial, you will be familiar with the following concepts:

Character Makeup and Construction

Characters are handled in a specific way in iClone. So before we build any characters for iClone, there are some concepts we need to discuss in order for the process to progress smoothly.

On the iClone G3 character, you will find 6 interchangeable body parts. Of those parts, only 5 can be created from scratch or edited from an existing model. The basic body parts are:

Import Character FBX Template

When you are importing iClone Standard Characters into Maya using the FBX file, you do not need to adjust any of the settings in the FBX Importer. You may leave the settings as the default.

Scale and fit the RL Bone System to your character meshes

By scaling the RL Bone of the iClone Standard Character, you will be able to change the overall proportion and the body shape of the character.

  1. Launch Maya. Import the file right into Maya by dragging and dropping the fbx file.

  1. Let's first transform the G3 character into a muscular superhero by scaling its RL bones.

  1. Select a RL Bone from Outliner to scale.

Note: You may scale multiple body parts by holding shift and selecting additional RL bones. It's useful when adjusting left and right limbs simultaneously at the same time to maintain symmetry.

  1. Select the body parts you want to adjust by clicking on the RL bone. Scale the bones to deform the mesh and exaggerate the muscle bulge.

  1. Here is my character after adjusting the character's body.

Before

After

Preparation for Model Editing

Saving Skin Weight

Saving skin weights saves us a lot of time when adjusting every single part of the body. By doing this, we can easily load the weighting from the iClone Standard character after we have modified all the meshes.

Before you save the skin weight of the character, you need to think about which body part mesh will be modified. For my character, I will be modifying the upper body and lower body with a new mesh. Thus, the upper and lower body are the ONLY two parts I will save the skin weight maps for.

  1. Highlight the upper body mesh and choose Export Skin Weight Maps to save skin weights.

  1. Select a place to store the skin maps and confirm the number of skin maps to be written.

  1. Click Yes to confirm the writing.

Now, I will repeat the same procedure for lower body.

Detach Rigging and Skinning Information

For us to add a new mesh to the character, you must first detach the information on the skin from the skeleton, then bind the skin again after you finish modifying the meshes of the character.

Please remember you only need to detach the parts of the modified skin mesh. E.g. if I have modified the skin mesh of the upper body, then I only need to export the weight maps of the upper body.

  1. Select the upper body mesh from the outliner.

  1. Go to Edit > Delete by Type > History. This removes all the relation between the mesh and bones, and give us a clean mesh to work on.

  1. Now, all the bones have no weights.

Edit Character Models

Model Additional Mesh for the Character

This part of the tutorial is completely subjective. You can edit your object anyway you like.

To enhance your avatar’s characteristics, we can add and design additional meshes for the character. I have planned to make my character wear a badge on both arms.

  1. Choose a cube polygon and adjust the number of subdivisions and the size of the polygon.

  1. Model the polygon by using the extrude tool.

  1. Then, use the merge tool to combine the vertices of the two faces.

  1. The overall shape has been modeled. You may now refine the details of the model.

  1. Once you have completed the right side, you may Duplicate Special to the other side. Inside the Duplicate Special window, select Instance and then Translate to mirror the other side.

  2. When you move the vertices on the left side armor the right side armor also moves. You can use the steps described above to make any other mirror objects.

Model Dress for your Character

  1. Add a Polygon Pipe and set to appropriate subdivision.

  2. Since extrusion is really handy when modeling in Maya, I will use the extrude tool to model my dress.

  3. Enable the Keep Faces Together for the back side of the dress, this will keep all the chosen faces together when you extrude.

  1. Disable the Keep Faces Together for the front part, this will make the chosen faces separate slightly once they are extruded.

Character Texturing for iClone

Texturing in iClone is handled on a per object basis, meaning you create the specific maps you need just for that object. Layered Textures are supported so you can have 2 materials per object. This is how you texture skin and clothes at the same time.

Before you begin texturing, you will need mapping coordinates for your geometry. UV Texture Mapping is not covered in this tutorial because this is considered a core skill to know for this tutorial.

Naming Rule:

When you modify a character for iClone, you should follow the naming rule for both the skin and cloth. As you can see in the illustration below, all the skin textures include "Skin" in front of every body part. For the cloth part, "Skin" has been eliminated and only keeps the body part names for iClone to identify.

Skin Naming

Cloth Naming

Here are the steps for the lower body in more detail:

A. Create a skin material named "Skin", set the diffuse color white (255, 255, 255). Using your favorite image-editing program, create a texture map that approximates what the skin of your character would look like without clothes. It isn’t necessary to create all the details, just the details that will be seen. Remember, a 10x10 pixel swatch from the skin map is used for the skin tone matching system. Be sure that this is present in the skin texture map (as well as the others).

B. Create the Clothes Material named "Lower", set the diffuse color to white (255, 255, 255). Again, using your favorite image-editing program, create a texture map that represents the clothes your character will be wearing.

Here are examples of the Cloth map and the Skin Map used for the "Lower" body.

Texture Map for Lower Body

Texture Map for the Lower Body Skin

Apply Material

  1. Select the polygons to apply new material to.

  2. Go to Lighting/Shading > Add New Material and pick phong to apply the badge.

  3. In the Common Material Attributes change the color to silver.

  1. In the Specular Shading section adjust the specularity for the badge to a higher level.

  1. Repeat the steps for the other additional meshes.

Combine Additional Meshes into One Piece

Before combining additional meshes into one piece, please remember that all the body parts are separate meshes, which divide the character into five parts: Face, Hands, Upper, Lower and shoes. Thus, if you have additional meshes for the upper body, you only need to select the new meshes of the upper body to combine.

  1. With the upper torso and armors selected, click "Combine".

  1. Now all the meshes have merged into a single piece.

  1. Do the same for the lower body.

Import the Previous Weighting Map

Applying the previously saved weight map is the stage where you need to use Maya’s bind skinning technique to allow the RL Bone system to skin with the character mesh again.

Select all the bones and body parts for importing weight maps.

  1. Go to Skin > Edit Smooth Skin > Import Skin Weight Maps to apply.

  1. See! My character can now move after applying the previous weighting map.

Plus, all the additional meshes move with it too.

Note:

  • Only "Face" can be skinned to the "Jaw" bone. Skinning body part models other than "Face" to the "Jaw" bone will cause a conversion error.

Adjust Weighting of the New Meshes

Since not all the points are weighted to the desired points as we wish, with the Component Editor, you can directly modify the values of individual skin point weights.

  1. Select the skin points you want to weight.

  2. Select Windows > General Editors > Component Editor. The Component Editor displays the component data for currently selected components in the workspace.

  3. Click on the Smooth Skins tab. The Smooth Skins tab lists all the weights assigned to a skeleton's joint.

In the Component Editor you can enter the weighting values of the points to define which bone they should be weighted to.

Export the Character

Since we have added the desired accessories and adjusted the character, we can now export the FBX file.

  1. Go to File > Export All.

  2. Select FBX file type to be the export option.

  3. The FBX Exporter pops up for advanced options.

Ensure that Selection Sets is selected for the connection boundary to be identified when the character is imported into iClone.

Enable Embed Media for the texture maps to be embedded with the character.

When you export the FBX file, please make sure that you have Z Up Axis selected.

Convert from 3DXchange to iClone

  1. Import the FBX file to 3DXchange4. Check the character after importing into 3DXchange4.

  1. If you are satisfied with the character, you can then convert it into an iClone4 avatar.

  1. Import into iClone and apply motions to the character to see the result.