PART 3 of Making Materials with CLIP STUDIO COORDINATE

YES, BUT WILL IT BLEND?


This is part three of a five part Series on importing 3D models to create Character Material in CLIP STUDIO COORDINATE for CLIP STUDIO PAINT and MANGA STUDIO.  Here is the table of contents for this series:


You may be thinking that the FREE, open-source 3D program “Blender” might be the answer here.  Well, you can easily pull the FBX parts files into Blender and tweak them (I really like Blender’s sculpting tools for quickly modding a mesh), you could also assemble your models - from parts or from scratch and then export them as a single model.  However, Blender’s current support for FBX models is rather poor.

I didn’t have much luck trying to work with rigging bones in Blender.  As of this writing the current, stable release of Blender can only import binary FBX models and any rigging already in them won’t be exported.  That’s right, Blender currently strips the skeletons out of FBX models on import.  You could try to rebuild the rigging from scratch with Blender’s native rigging tools, but you’ll only be able to export it as an ASCII model with rigging in an outdated FBX formate that cannot be imported properly by either COORDINATE or CLIP STUDIO PAINT.

My first attempt to try and get Blender to import the sample FBX files with rigging intact led me to a patch for the FBX importer/exporter (this is for the stable version 2.7.0 - it will not work on the later “test” release):


This still only exports ASCII models, but you can convert them to FBX 2012 binaries with the free Autodesk FBX Converter.  The import, though, is still very buggy.  This patch imported the skeleton rotated 90 degrees from the mesh.  You can reposition it, but that’s not the only problem.  In Blender you’ll see the skeleton as just a series of dots - regardless of what viewing mode you use for the bones:



That’s because they are not only imported with the wrong orientation, they are not being scaled properly.  If you zoom in really tight you’ll discover that each of those dots is actually the entire joint and the dashed line (in most views) shows which other tiny bone it is connected to.  You can make them easier to work with by selecting each joint, in turn, and scaling it up about 100x, but some of the individual bones are rotated 90 degrees in the Z axis - but not all of them (or this would be easy to fix):



In some of my tests I did get a modified head and body, with skeleton, to export - but in COORDINATE the head and body moved independently.  In another test the models head ended up glued to the ground with a freaky long neck stretching back up to the body.  You could move the body around, but the head remained glued to the ground.

For Blender users on Windows there is apparently a third-party script which (from what I’ve read on various 3D modeling forums) imports FBX models to Blender with rigging and allegedly exports them “flawlessly” but it’s not available for Linux or Mac users.  You Windows folks can get it here:


I’ll just say that I tried to use it (on the Windows version, of course) and encountered some Python script errors that prevented me from successfully opening any files with it.  I’m not sure if this script was made for the version of Blender I was using, and it’s possible there is a bug-fixed version available, but all I can say for sure is that the one I downloaded did not work for me.

The unstable development release (2.7.1) has a slightly better FBX importer and exporter in it that will write out FBX 2014 (aka FBX version 7.4) binary models, but it still cannot import an FBX file with rigging intact.

At the heart of the problems with using Blender for this is the poor support for the FBX format.  Blender only recently acquired add-ons for this format and they are buggy and incomplete.  You can’t really blame the Blender developers for that though - FBX may have become an “industry standard” for character modeling - widely used in game development - but it is a proprietary format owned by Autodesk and their license on it - and the Software Development Kit for it - are not under terms friendly to open-source projects like Blender.  This is one thing where you’re better off using a commercial 3D modeling program that can just pay Autodesk their licensing fees and include proper support.

I’m not entirely ruling out Blender’s usefulness, particularly for building a model from scratch or easily modding a base model.  But you’re probably not going to be rigging the model or exporting an FBX you can use in COORDINATE or CLIP STUDIO / MANGA STUDIO.  So to answer the opening question “Will it Blend?”  No.  Not by itself it won't.  But you can actually get somewhere by using another program called "MakeHuman."

MakeHuman to Blender

MakeHuman is a character creation program similar to DAZ Studio, only MakeHuman is a free and open source alternative.  While it is designed to create high detail (meaning high-polygon) models, it does have some alternative "topographies" that are lower-poly.  However, if you want to reduce the poly count of the models you'd probably be better off using Blender's "Decimate" modifier instead, as it will give you much better fine-tuned control of just how much the model is simplified.  Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  First you need to get the programs and the plugins:

Step 1: Download the free “MakeHuman” program here:


Technically you only need the Blender Tools, but it is much easier to modify the character bases within the stand-alone MakeHuman program and export them in MHX format (a special format for exchanging with Blender).

Step 2: Download “Blender” program here: http://www.blender.org/download/

Step 3: Download and install the MakeHuman “Blender Tools” to your Blender scripts/addons here:

Step 4: You then need to enable all of this in Blender.  Instructions are here:
And the MHX Importer:

Step 5: Open up MakeHuman and tweak the base character as much as you like (make it young, old, fat, skinny, etc).

The “Alpha 7” has more options or hair and clothing, but the models aren’t as nice.  The current 1.0.1 version makes much nicer models, but is missing some of the library elements in the earlier version (and the Alpha 7 library items are *not* compatible with 1.0.1).  You can install both versions on one computer, so try them each.

Step 6: When you are done configuring your character go to “Pose” and select the “humanik” Rig Preset (it’s the closest to the ones CLIP STUDIO uses):



Step 7: Export the file in “Blender Exchange (mhx)” format.  Don’t worry about selecting a “Rig Format” your model will have the “Human IK” rig bound to it.  Set the “Scale Units” to “centimeter” since models in CLIP STUDIO are all measured in centimeters:



Step 8: Close MakeHuman and open up Blender.  Go to “File → Import → MakeHuman (.mhx)” and navigate to the model you just exported and open it:



Step 9: I had trouble getting any of the textures to import properly, which would need to be fixed before it gets into CLIP STUDIO COORDINATE.

Modify the model however you like, for example with the Sculpting Tools, or build clothing around the model if you imported it nude.  

Small Detour: Making Clothing with MakeHuman Tools in Blender
However, if your intent is to make custom clothing you should use the built-in base models in the MakeHuman Blender Toolkit.  You’ll be able to export the clothing to MakeHuman so you can apply it to your customized character there and then import your models to Blender in MHX format already clothed (it’s easier than trying to cloth them in Blender and then shrink-wrap the clothing to the body mesh, which I haven’t figured out how to do successfully yet).

In the panel along the left side of the model space find the "Make Human" plugin tools.  Under "Type" select a Base Mesh from the list that says "with Helpers" to get the clothing assistants.  It will then load a strange looking model like this:



Those different colored things allow you to more easily create shirts, dresses, skirts, tights, pants, and hair.  Details on using the MakeClothing tools in Blender:

Ok, if you're back from going down the rabbit hole of virtual tailoring and dressmaking, you need to decide what you’re going to do with your MakeHuman model:

Option 1: Modify the Skeleton
Modify the skeleton so that it conforms to the CLIP STUDIO “Standard Bone Specification” and, as long as you get the parenting and names right, it should work like a native CLIP STUDIO skeleton, then…

Option 2: Drag-n-Drop to CS PAINT
Whether you modified the skeleton or not “File → Export” it as an FBX file, put the FBX in the same folder with its textures, zip them up and drop the zipped folder onto your page in ClIP STUDIO PAINT.  The model should import fine, but it won’t be added to your Materials Library.  If it still has the Human IK skeleton from MakeHuman it won’t adopt Poses dragged onto it (because the skeleton is non-standard).

Option 3: Reset to T-Pose, Transplant Skeleton or Rig in COORDINATE
First we need to get the model into the standard “T-Pose” (assuming you used the 1.0.1 version of MakeHuman, the model’s feet will be apart and arms down, the feet need to be together and the arms straight out).



Thankfully, with the MakeHuman Tools for Blender this is pretty easy to fix.

1. Go to the “MakeWalk: Utilities” panel on the left side of your Blender screen.

2. Scroll down and select “Set T-Pose” and the model will snap into the standard pose.

3. Scroll down more and select “Current Pose → Rest Pose”

Go to “File→ Export” as an FBX or OBJ file.

Transplant Skeleton
Import the model into Cheetah3D or Maya.  If you exported as FBX strip out the non-standard skeleton, if it’s an OBJ it has already been stripped out.  Now we need to re-rig it!

Now transplant the standard skeleton from one of the Celsys sample models and once you’ve got it set up right BIND the skeleton to the mesh and SAVE the model in FBX format.  Make sure the model and its textures are in the same folder.  You should now be able to zip it up and drag-and-drop it directly into CLIP STUDIO PAINT (and it should assume poses you drag onto it), or you can make a more complete “Character Material” by pulling the model into COORDINATE first…

Rig in COORDINATE
Whether you exported as an OBJ or FBX, and whether you did a skeleton transplant or not, if you want to create a more robust “Character Material” and register it as a material so it shows up in your CLIP STUDIO PAINT “Material Library” panel you need to pull it into COORDINATE.

If you have an OBJ, or an FBX without any bones, you’ll need to rig the model with the COORDINATE rigging tools.  Be forewarned this is highly likely to be out of alignment with your mesh in places and make it crease oddly.  You get MUCH better precision rigging it by hand, but rigging in COORDINATE is still an option, just not the best one.



PART 2

9 comments:

Philippe Blanc said...

Ping, I cannot find another way to contact you (private message will have my preference).

I really like what you did there, your post on Clip Studio Coordinate is really inspirational. I finally found a way to make it work in the last version of blender. Unfortunately I don't have time to document it but I can send you a blend file with the basic armature in place. and I can try explain the few tricks to make it works. The exportation from blender need some specific settings, and in Clip Studio Coordinate you need to rebind the armature to the model (and to don't be confuse by the buttons at the end of the process).

I hope you will continue to provide translation for Clip Studio Coordinate, as my workflow rely heavily on it :)

Thank you!

Also for a first time 3d model with Cheetah 3D that was quite good, I am impressed

OffWorld Girl said...

You should post about this at the official Manga Studio forums. It has a much larger audience than my silly little blog. You can zip up your blend file and attach it to your post about the specific export settings required (and I'll link to the post here of course ;) )

As for the translations for Clip Studio Coordinate, just in case it wasn't clear I didn't actually DO the translations myself, I'm not sure how the person who did figured it out. Unless and until either they or someone else figures out how to do it, or Celsys releases an official English version of CSC, the translations will unfortunately be limited to the older version(s) listed/linked on this site. I don't know about CSC, but their modeling program now has character creation tools in it - but there is not English translation for the newer versions. :/

I haven't done much more playing around with any of this since I wrote it up on my website, but if/when I do I'll definitely be documenting it - and I encourage anyone else who figures any tricks out to do the same!

jenn Moral said...

Did you post I would be very interested to learn what you did in blender to make the armature work for clip studio this is needed by me badly please.

Philippe Blanc said...

I never did it, and I don't even remember the exact step I was doing... and that exactly why I wanted to document it. Well I sill have a blend file with a working skeleton... I am just not sure how to share that with you. If I remember well there is some new development (and drama?) around the FBX support in Blender recently... so that something I will need to test too.

Actually are you interested to help me to document it?

jenn Moral said...

Sure why not I've done some testing with blender I've had some success and then some failures the new fbx exporter for blender seems to add an extra bone to the center gluing the model to the floor even if you import a working model if you export it the model well have a bone that sticks it to the floor kind of like a pmd models ik bone.

Philippe Blanc said...

oky let me test and see if I can get the new FBX exporter to work on my end.

Philippe Blanc said...

Sorry for all the noise. I was able to make it work with Blender 2.77.

For reference let's use this tutorial: https://howto.clip-studio.com/library/page/view/clipstudioaction_005_001_001

Don't follow the original advice of keeping the bone structure flat (whatever was doing before that seems to be fixed), you must have a hips bone and all the other bones need to be a parent of it.

For the leaf node you have two way to handle that, you can either manually define them (as see in the linked tutorial) or you can choose "add leaf bones" in Blender (under the FBX options for armature).

jenn Moral said...

I have always added the leaf bones so that didn't help however I was having this same issue in Unity and so are others the issue is when you export with fbx in Blender all your models bones are on the wrong axis. https://youtu.be/wqSde5eJHV0 this guy although not the best quality Tut shows how to fix that I then discovered the bones are also not correct some of the bones need a different placement I will do a Tut to show what I mean but I've solved it! It may take me some time to do the tut but I think others could use this.

Dark Bosatsu said...

Hey! Really appreciate u sharing ur experience on this stuff! Not sure if u figured this out yet but if u export a DAZ figure as an FBX the fully rigged character imports over... u just have to make sure hair is parented (as u noted) and check off "figures", "props", "morphs", "merge clothing..." and "subD". All works and fully poseable. Only problem is the characters dont have joint limits and awkward looking over rotation can be an issue if one isn't careful.
Another thing is DAZ's pose format doesn't work in MS/CS and vice versa. Have u found any solution or pose conversion methods?