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8 Weeks with Blender: MakeHuman

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8 Weeks with Blender: MakeHuman

This is the fourth chapter of a series of posts about my experience working with the open-source application, Blender. I'll spend at least 30 minutes every day over a period of 8 weeks working directly with Blender and I'll post my discoveries, links and ideas at least once a week

MakeHuman
After learning about low-poly modeling, I was curious about modeling human figures in Blender. Well, no matter what 3D application you use, modeling a human or creature is still somewhat complex and time-consuming. Since I only have 8 weeks for these articles, I thought I'd look for a short cut.

I found the short cut to creating 3D humans in the open-source application: MakeHuman.

This awesome program uses simple interface and several generic figures along with sliders to adjust everything from gender, age, head-size, body type and much, much more. You can even add clothes to the model if you like. There is a simple rigging that comes with the model which you can use to pose or animate your character once you get it into Blender.

Getting Your MakeHuman Character into Blender
You might think that because both Blender and MakeHuman are open source applications there would be a simple add-on in Blender to import MakeHuman characters. Unfortunately, there isn't. And after quite a bit of searching, reading and tutorial watching (not all of which are consistent). I was able to come up with a pretty clear workflow for getting your character OUT of MakeHuman and the importing it (along with clothing and textures) IN to Blender.

The most clear explanation of this workflow came from the Thomas Larsson's Bitbucket site: Diffeomorphic. He created the MakeHuman eXchange format 2, which is the current script for import/export of MakeHuman models for Blender. I repeat the description of the process in full here:


MHX2 - MakeHuman eXchange format 2

MHX2 replaces the old MHX format that has been bundled with MakeHuman. Contrary to the first version, which was a Blender-specific format, MHX2 is not tied to a specific application. Instead it exports relevant information about the MakeHuman meshes and materials, which allows importers to build their own application-specific rigs. Currently there is only an importer for Blender, but mhx2 importers for other applications will eventually be welcomed. Support for the old MHX format will eventually be terminated.

MHX2 is not part of the MakeHuman distribution. It is hosted separately at https://bitbucket.org/Diffeomorphic/mhx2-makehuman-exchange. To download the repository as a zip file, go to https://bitbucket.org/Diffeomorphic/mhx2-makehuman-exchange/downloads.
Instructions.

Copy or link the folder 9_export_mhx2 to the MakeHuman plugins folder.

Copy or link the folder import_**runtime_mhx2** to the addons destination directory where Blender will look for user-defined add-ons. Depending on the OS, this may be:

  • Windows 7: C:Users%username%AppDataRoamingBlenderFoundationBlender2.6xscriptsaddons
  • Windows XP: C:Documents and Settings%username%ApplicationDataBlender FoundationBlender2.6xscriptsaddons
  • Vista: C:Program FilesBlenderFoundationBlender%blenderversion%scriptsaddons (this is valid at
    least for blender 2.69)
  • Linux: /home/user/.blender/version/scripts/addons

Instructions

  1. Open MakeHuman and design you character. In the Files > Export tab, select MakeHuman Exchange (mhx2), select the export path, and press export.

  2. Open Blender and enable the MHX2 importer. Select File > User Preferences. In the window that opens, select the Addons tab and then the MakeHuman category. Enable MakeHuman: Import-Runtime: MakeHuman eXchange 2 (.mhx2), and Save User Settings.

  3. In the File tab, enable Auto Run Python Scripts and Save User Settings.

  4. Select File > Import > MakeHuman (.mhx2), and navigate to the mhx2 file exported from MakeHuman.

By default, the exported character is imported into Blender as it appears in MakeHuman. However, if Override Export Data is selected, the character will be rebuilt according to the options that appear.



My zombie character
Since I'm not at my best when drawing freehand, I asked my partner, Lisa, to draw me a simple zombie character that I can create after exporting a custom character from MakeHuman into Blender. I figure I'll import it, work on the mesh to fit Lisa's drawing, re-work the UV maps for the clothing, skin and blood/bones, then pose it to look like her drawing.

Here's Lisa's drawing:

And here is the model I created in MakeHuman:

I spent extra time on the model making it look as thin and cadaverous as I could. Squaring the shape of the head will help creating the half skeletal look. I also chose clothes that would look good torn/ripped and splashed with blood. We'll see how it turns out next week!

Links

Be careful with tutorials for the MakeHuman to Blender workflow. A lot of them are out of date and may not work with current version of Blender.

Current version of Blender is 2.79. Note that this is big release and there are all kinds of new additions to the program. You can download it for FREE here: https://www.blender.org/download/

Blender and makehuman

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3D characters, 3D models, Blender, MakeHuman, OpenSource, Zombies
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