Hello, my name is Imani. I was originally drawn to this project by the prospect of working on animation; however, as I became more acquainted with the project, I changed my focus slightly and decided to work with the 3D modeling team. Before this term, I had never worked with 3D content. Therefore, a large portion of my time was dedicated to familiarizing myself with Blender—the program we used for modeling. Although I lacked experience in 3D modeling, I brought with me a background in visual arts that helped me quickly adapt to the Blender environment. In order to familiarize myself with the way Blender works, I worked through a tutorial on making a barrel, from creating the geometry to texturing the surface. Below is an image of it.
The 3D modeling team had several goals this term, and we split those between the three regular team members. Our two major priorities at this stage of the project were to optimize, for a gaming environment, a number of pre-purchased building models and to create period specific women’s clothing. The optimizing jobs went to the two members of the team who were more familiar with Blender, and I worked on creating the clothing. This job was a perfect fit for me based on my interest in characters and animation. During the four to five weeks that I spent focused on clothing, my main objective was to create a dress based on reference images that would work within the Fuse > Mixamo > Unity pipeline.
Characters will be an essential part of our game, and it is an ongoing challenge to find pre-made period-specific clothing (especially for women). Historical accuracy is a major concern in the development of this game, so having the right clothing for the characters is very important. Our strategy was to use the program, Adobe Fuse, to create human models that could then be easily exported for use in Unity. Fuse allows for a seamless and easy creation of 3D human figures with customizable assets. They can be auto-rigged and have animations assigned to them through an online program called Mixamo, and then easily exported for Unity where their movement can be further edited. With the Fuse > Mixamo > Unity pipeline in mind, I set out to figure out how to best dress the Fuse models as a beginner to Blender and modeling. Below is a screenshot of the Fuse workspace.
While Fuse is an excellent program for creating 3D human characters, the pre-stocked clothing within Fuse is limited and far too modern. My strategy was to bring the modern clothing from Fuse into Blender and edit the geometry to construct unique period-specific clothing. In order to do this, I worked closely with our team researcher. She provided lots of great images and descriptions of clothing for me to base my model on. A lot of my learning this term came through attempting to reverse engineer the default Fuse clothing. I had to look at the finished clothing for reference and then deduce the best construction strategies from there. There was a lot of trial and error, and the end product is far from the polished version that I hope someday exists, but I learned a lot in the process. Below I will briefly walk you through what I did.
This picture below is an image of the clothing in its initial state. The top and bottom were separate. I chose to keep them separate while I shaped each piece because I wanted to be able to best manipulate the original geometry with ease. The first step was creating a skirt. I deleted most of the geometry from the original Fuse skirt and then used that as a blueprint for the new skirt. The pictures below illustrates the difference between the original and the first draft of the new outfit.
One important thing I learned was how to fit clothing to 3D characters. A big challenge I encountered along the way was predicting whether the clothing geometry would fit the Fuse model the way it fit the model in Blender. I ran into some issues initially, but I got the hang of it eventually.
The final step was to close all the gaps so that the player would not be able to see through the clothing to the model geometry underneath. I sealed all holes in the neck, sleeves, and dress bottom by extruding the edges, folding them in, and then merging the vertices in the center.
This dress is far from finished, but it is a good start. The next steps for the project are to texture the dress and continue to edit the geometry to make it look more appropriate. The first step in texturing is to UV unwrap the object. This means creating a flat map of the object sort of like a blueprint. This is achieved my marking the seams on the object so the program can know where to cut your 3D object to create flat pieces. Of course, the more intricate the patterns on your object the more complicated this might be. Texturing the barrel was much more straightforward than the dress model. In the end, the best way that I can explain UV unwrapping is to think of the object like it is a stuffed toy. It is really helpful to think of 3D object as sewing patterns when trying to find places to mark seams. Ask yourself: “If the object were in front of you in real space, where would you make the seams to best cover the object in fabric?”. Below is an example of the marked seams and the resulting UV map.
I learned a lot during this process, but there is still more I need to know. As I continue to develop my 3D modeling skills, I am sure that I will find ways to make this process smoother and easier. My advice to anyone out there trying to learn how to model 3D clothing is to turn to YouTube tutorials as a starting place. Even if the YouTuber is not making exactly the garment you are trying to design, it can be helpful to see someone else’s workflow, and you will pick up tips and tricks as well. Finally, below is the dress in its current state on a basic Fuse model.