IMPORTING FROM SKETCH-BASED MODELERS
This is part four 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:
Sketch-based modelers, on the face of it, seem like they’d be a perfect solution for character model creation for 2D artists with little to no skills in 3D modeling. The main problem with using sketch-based modeling for this is that they tend to produce fairly blocky, chunky low-polygon models and that’s in part because the models are actually quite small. They’re small on purpose since it seems the intended output for these things is hobbyist and consumer 3D printers.
Despite these obvious drawbacks I thought I’d give some of them a shot, just to see if they could be included in one’s workflow for character model creation. The first one I tried, which has arguably the simplest user interface, was Archipelis Designer. You can get the demo to try out here:
http://www.archipelis.com/home.php (Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone)
The demo won’t let you save or export anything and limits you to creating just five object using only the provided bitmap images, and you can’t even switch viewing modes to wireframe or vertex points. The intended purposes of it are either to create models for Second Life or to export models for 3D printing through Shapeways. I would say if you don’t want to do either of those things don’t buy it. Unfortunately I did and wish I still had my money, but the demo is so limited I had no way of knowing the actual quality of models produced by the program (I’d hate to think that’s why the demo is so limited). The quality of the models it produces (I’m talking the virtual models, not printed ones) isn’t very good and the capabilities of the editing tools are pathetic compared to Shape Shop. Another problem is that the models you export are still using the scale for 3D printing, the maximum size of which is 3.5”x3.5”x3.5” - so if you try to create a character, export it as either Collada DAE or Wavefront OBJ they import into other modeling programs at whatever size you set for 3D printing export (the default is 1”x1”x1”). That includes importing the OBJ into COORDINATE - you get a microscopic model. So you have to scale them up in something else (pretty much any program that can open an OBJ file is fine, but you’ll need to scale it up like 100x to get it around the correct size for COORDINATE to try rigging it).
Meet Grunk The Caveman
As part of my testing to see if there was any usefulness to sketch-based modeling for 3D Character creation I thought I’d try to create one from scratch in the way I’d imaging most 2D artists would. So I started with a freehand sketch. Meet “Grunk The Caveman:”
No, he’s not from anything and if you’re wondering “Why a caveman?” Well, I’ve been playing with a lot of 3D modelers lately and the simplest starting point for most things is to use “primitives” (cube, sphere, cone, cylinder, and plane) so what could be more appropriate to build out of primitives than a caveman?
Here’s how the sketch scanned in:
Then I inked him in CLIP STUDIO PAINT
And finally finished him up with complete orthographic views suitable for the six faces of background images Archipelis supports:
Drawing him in Archipelis actually goes pretty quickly, but as it maps the texture behind the model onto the surface it gets a bit messy in places.
Also, I hadn’t really thought about this when I drew him, but that club in his hand is obscuring the side of his head, which messed up the texture mapping on both his head and the club. I later tried to fix some of those texture issues by editing the texture maps for the resulting model, but there was just no getting around how messy Grunk is.
Notice how his club got textured with his ears?
I exported him from Archipelis as an OBJ file, then pulled him directly into COORDINATE as a single-body model and tried to rig him with the built-in COORDINATE tools. It didn’t entirely work because of the “odd deformation” problem I’ve previously mentioned and I think that would be a persistent problem with these models because of how "lumpy" they are. Here's Grunk in Archipelis with the textures removed:
So I redid his skeleton in Cheetah3D and exported him again:
So I redid his skeleton in Cheetah3D and exported him again:
I did get him registered in my Material Library and imported to CLIP STUDIO PAINT where he does assume poses dropped onto him. Here’s Grunk in a “Funny Run:”
Even if you do use it to create a posable character you aren’t going to ever want to use the shadow-casting in CLIP STUDIO PAINT because the models are very chunky. You can’t really see that they are with textures and even lighting, but with shadows cast on the surface you’ll see just how lumpy they are:
Grunk with lighting turned on in CSP
You can potentially smooth them out a bit, though, by pulling them into another modeling program (like Blender) and subdividing the surface one or two times, which smooths them out considerably. As long as you’re there you may as well edit the mesh to try and fix it, but if you’re going to be pushing the mesh around manually what was the point of starting with a sketch-based modeler?
The second sketch-based modeler I tried was the free “ShapeShop” program. You can get it here:
http://www.shapeshop3d.com/ (Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8)
It does sort-of work in WINE on Mac and Linux, but there are visual rendering issues. The models you export are fine however. If you’ve only got access to a Mac or Linux machine you may want to try it anyway and see if you can live with it.
The user interface on ShapeShop is a bit more complex, but that’s because it’s capable of doing more things than Archipelis - it can create flat-ended parts, rotate a part to create a lathed surface, and create subtractive objects that can poke holes in another model part. I also liked the way it lets you import reference drawings better than how it is on Archipelis. Archipelis sticks the reference image to the back wall of the view. ShapeShop puts them in the center and makes them semi-transparent. What that means is you really only need a front and side view to get the contours, and you can rotate one of the views 90 degrees. That said I wasn’t able to get enough detail to actually follow those contours - ShapeShop likes to make blobby objects too. Texture mapping doesn’t really work well with the reference image. That’s one thing Archipelis does do better is apply the reference image as the texture. ShapeShop doesn’t work that way - it expects you to load a series of images of a texture (for example “fur”) not a detailed image. That said, you could use another program to to unwrap the model so you could do a single, detailed wrap around texture.
Shape Shop can export as either OBJ, which can be imported directly to COORDINATE as a “body” but without textures, or Collada DAE which COORDINATE can’t import, but if you use Autodesk’s FBX Converter you can convert the DAE file to an FBX maintaining reference to the textures that COORDINATE will understand. However, just as Archipelis does, ShapeShop’s models are really small and clearly intended for 3D printing and therefore must be scaled up (about 100x) in another 3D program before you could even think of using them in COORDINATE.
I also tried a popular one for Windows called Curvy 3D, you can grab the demo here:
http://www.curvy3d.com/ (Windows only)
If you intend a more organic method of modeling your characters in 3D this is probably the only one of the sketch-based modeling programs to even consider. It IS actually capable of producing very high quality models that would be suitable for use in COORDINATE and CLIP STUDIO PAINT (take a look at the gallery on their website). I only played around with the demo version, but it’s clearly many notches above the other sketch-based modelers I tried. It only outputs as 3DS or OBJ, but the OBJ files can be imported directly to COORDINATE and rigged as a single body model.
At some point I may buy a copy of Curvy 3D because it looks to have enormous potential for CLIP STUDIO character creation - at least the initial mesh. If you want to make a properly rigged character for CLIP STUDIO you’ll have to export the hair, head, body, and any accessories as separate models, convert them to FBX files (you can use Autodesk’s free FBX Converter for that) and then they’d need to be rigged in yet another 3D program (and so far I’ve only found two programs that allow you to either rig to the the Celsys “Bone Standard” or just let you transplant the entire skeleton out of the sample model into your own mesh.