Procedural Character Creation

Requested by: verbal007

Procedurally generate characters using tools similar to those found in The Sims, Saint's Row, and Mixamo's new "Fuse". Body types can be generated by blending in different attributes, like sex, height, muscle & fat. Face structure can be customized using attributes like mouth width, eye spacing, forehead height, etc. However, customization tools can go beyond this by utilizing many of Houdini's built in tools. Skeleton & generated mesh can be exported in formats that are compatable with packages and services like Unity or Maya. Examples MakeHuman (open source) SIMS - character creation walkthrough Mixamo's FUSE
nicoM 9 years ago
I would like to ad an automatic muscle system generated with the character.
Amion 9 years ago
This would of been my suggestion so I gave it a vote. The topology is very important here. Makehuman has got it pretty good this time around. 3-edge poles should be avoided at any cost since it will cause pinching in high level subdivision or when sculpting Zbrush or Mudbox. Preferably the mesh should be derived from a Nurbs-base which will allow for inserting isolines (edgeloops) or curve point density procedurally with Refine-SOP or Resample-SOP. The endpoints will not be joined like Maya but once the Nurbs geometry is converted to polygons the points will be merged in the Convert-SOP. Having Nurbs based basemesh will force it to quads only with 5-edge which in turn gives aligned surface-tangents with minimal subdivision pinching.
verbal007 9 years ago
I hear you both! Taking advantage of Houdini's procedural nature in order to "grow" a character mesh from the underlying skeletal structure is a very powerful approach, especially for any effects that would use the surface as a source, like muscles, wrinkles, crawling particles, etc. Deriving the mesh from a NURBS surface makes a lot of sense and I'd be curious to hear a character modeler's take on this, especially when it comes to areas like the clavicle/shoulder area. Another thought: With a consistent character setup, why not integrate a lighting rig, to make sure those characters are always presented perfectly to the camera w/ a default 3 point lighting system. Maybe procedurally generated idle animations? How about simple jaw-flapping animations driven by Houdini's audio capabilities? Ok... maybe getting carried away here. In any case... creating character variations is a very common request from my clients, who can't afford a team of character artists. And now there's Houdini Indie which would make this even more appealing.
Amion 9 years ago
Preferably the rig would be set up so it would be possible just to assign animation capture data for say the Idle animation. I think a lighting rig would be redundant but that is just me. I've worked as a character technical lead and have made lofi versions of this type of setup in the game industry with different basemeshes but same rig for female/male characters, but not procedurally. We basically had quad only topologys where we have had several joints inserted for good edgeloop flows at nasolabial fold and deformations of all facial features and the step up to a patchcentric Nurbs mesh is not that far. When you say "areas like the clavicle/shoulder area" what do you mean? A lot of times it is better for both sculpting and animation to have a clean evenly spaced quad topology than doing topology insertions for special muscle features. Normal and/or displacement maps could also be used in combination for more details.
verbal007 9 years ago
Revisiting the idea of a lighting rig, I can see what you mean by "redundant". Lighting setups are quite pipeline dependent and easy enough to setup outside of this tool. Scope creep. That being said, I won't mention anything about a ragdoll rig. ;) In regards to the clavicle/shoulder area, I was having trouble picturing fingers to hands, arms to torso being pulled off efficiently, though this is probably because I became accustomed to rigging characters with the insertions that your talking about. Digging around a bit on the web and looking at some character wireframes, I can totally see what you're saying. Though the skinning experience on these models can be enjoyable to work with, it's not really neccessary. Thanks for the insight Amion!
Si Smith 9 years ago
Something simular to Exocotex Species plugin they made for XSi would be amazing, I actually dream of being able to create characters based on starting with procedural bones and fem muscle structures first and then getting houdini to create a skin based on the underlying muscle and bones, so rather than creating a mesh and rigging it, which always seems backwards, get the movement and muscle system right and then create a mesh based on that, its getting the UV's and edge loops right that would be the hard thing . I'd generate the muscle and bone rig first, say a character with alot of fat would have more wobble in it etc. Then generate a skin mesh thats and weighted based on its underlying stucture. For any standard biped the movement and rotation would be pretty simular. That way you don't have to create your character mesh then spend endless time rigging characters which essentially all follow the same anatomocial rules anyway, just generate a rig based on height, weight, body shape, fat, etc and mesh it and export the mesh out for sculpting in zbrush etc, then apply it back as a displacement map at render time. As I said something like species for XSi would be amazing
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