Reallusion's original Character Creator took the tedious work out of making custom characters while putting the power of custom morph sliders into the hands of it ever growing base of users. The first iteration allowed custom morphs to be created or combinations of existing morphs to create unique characters and morph sliders that could then be reused or sold in the City Marketplace depending on the situation. Combined with 3DXchange a user could morph the body of an existing character or re-sculpt into a new character then bring it back into the Reallusion ecosphere with your favorite 3D app like Max, Maya or Blender. The best part was no rigging required if your 3D app has some method of copying the existing rigging form the original mesh. All that tedious weighting on the hands, fingers, elbows, and knees were done for us. At last we were set free to create a character without having to engineer it from scratch.
All that was lacking was the ability bring real time and real world texturing to the characters and with the recent release of Character Creator 2.0 PBR Reallusion has brought their game up a notch or two. Combine this with the already beta tested and now Early Access iClone 7 and its much-improved real time render it seems that Team Reallusion is more than serious about putting easy to use yet powerful animation and character tools in the hands of its user base. In fact, there are so many new features in CC 2 PBR and iClone 7 this longtime user has yet to cover them all in detail. Even with months of beta testing there is just too much to learn. Reallusion has always packed their upgrades with new features and yet they still out do themselves with every release.
I will spare you the fanboy drivel from this point on and focus on the best feature of the new release... the PBR (Physical Based Rendered) applied to the texturing of characters. First, there are built in Substances (graph based texturing) such as Fabric (cotton, denim, linen, lycra, nylon, sweater), Metallic (Chain Mail, Dotted, Faceted, Plated, Gold and Scale Armor). Leather Is not left out either with two methods including a leather/wood generator with options galore and some drop down presets. You can also bring in your texture work from Substance Painter, 3D Coat, zBrush and other applications.
Perhaps the coolest feature is the addition of a Color ID map system that uses basic colors drawn over the top of an existing texture to tell Character Creator to break it down into multiple textures instead of a single texture. This feature requires creating this map manually but you don't have to be a Van Gogh to create the Color ID map. It's a very straight forward process that puts the ability to make variations in the hands of anyone that can create the simple map. There is a 3, 5 and 7 matt choice using red, green, blue, and other basic colors. Make no mistake, this is a powerful feature for most users and can certainly help less advanced users by allowing items to be changed via Color ID maps.
In terms of the UI there are some nice additions there as well. No longer are we stuck with the left side menu panel as the Version 2 is more like iClone 7. There are tabs at the bottom that allow the user to switch to Scene, Visual or Content. Scene and Visual are the new additions allowing for a scene tree with assets you can toggle on and off and visual controls for Ambient Light, Ambient Occlusion and IBL lighting. Now, to a larger degree, we can see how our CC characters will look in iClone. There are also more calibrate poses or you can bring up the Edit Pose editor just like in iClone.
There is more to this upgrade than we can adequately cover in one review so we will be taking a look at some of the more prominent features of Character Creator 2.0 PBR in upcoming articles. We'll take a look at the new PBR system and Color ID system in separate reviews for more details but until then this longtime iClone/Character Creator user is impressed with the new features. Character Creator keeps getting more powerful doing all the tedious chores for you allowing you to do what an artist is supposed to do... create.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. M.D. is currently working on VR projects and characters. You can learn more about MD at his website.