MetaHuman Creator was easily one of the biggest things that happened in 2021 so far. It is hard to describe by words how incredibly fast it is to create completely believable humans. And this includes very advanced facial and body rigs. To call this a game changer feels like understatement. Well, this is the result of decades worth of work with companies like 3Lateral and Cubic Motion that are now under the wing of Epic Games.
The way how the process goes as of today is that one signs up for MetaHuman Creator Early Access and then gets to the online site where the design and processing of the characters happen. What this means is that we don’t need super-spec PC to do this as most of the magic happens in the cloud.
Creating MetaHuman is very intuitive and easy that works by blending ready made templates. It seems limiting at first but there is real depth and freedom to this especially when diving to deeper level. There are several hairstyles, beards and so on to choose from. And the template animation that shows the character like posing in front of a mirror is so real it is kind of creepy.
It is amazing how MetaHumans are able to avoid the pitfall of the uncanny valley. Character Creator 3 is a great software but even that has issues with especially the out of the box expressions looking cheap. One needs to really know deeply facial animation and rigging to be able to make good results with that. MetaHuman on the other hand delivers very believable and natural results instantly.
When the character is finished in MetaHuman Creator it is as easy as launching Bridge (What used to be Quixel Bridge) and downloading MetaHuman from there. All of your metahumans appear there as downloadable files.
We need to setup the Bridge plugin from the Export settings. It is also possible to get MetaHumans to work with Maya and we can export as high as 8K texture maps.
Now what goes on under the hood is really remarkable stuff. What we get are believable shaders, absolutely fantastic hair that is based on grooms that reacts to physics, and full facial and body rig. The facial rig is something we could see in multi-million dollar Hollywood production. It is also pretty easy to use.
Furthermore what’s amazing about this is that we can do high-quality facial animation of MetaHuman characters with with iOS LiveLink. This takes advantage of iPhone ARKit. We can drive facial animation with Live Link Face that is available here. It is quite easy to setup and it is not difficult to imagine the possibilities here.
Rigging custom clothes from Marvelous Designer + ZBrush is relatively straight forward and one can also use the template body that comes with MetaHuman to transfer skin weights to make weighing of the rig faster. The bodies come in several templates and are named logically with a naming convention.
Now, there are limitations of course, one being extremely small amount of garments (the existing garments look good though). Also I feel like the shoulder rig could be better, what comes to body rigs I feel CC3 has more stable rig. In it’s current form – raytracing doesn’t work well with the eyes with simple HDRI for example making the horririble black-eye effect that looks like it is from the Ring franchise. It is easy to somewhat workaround this by lighting the eyes separately or doing a second render pass just for the eyes, but needless to say this is somewhat cumbersome. I suspect that these issues will get fixed in near future so it is not a deal breaker anyhow.
If you are into making characters I definitely recommend to check out MetaHuman Creator. It is free and fun. I will be creating in-depth tutorial on the topic soon.
If you are new to material editor in Unreal check out this small tutorial on using material functions. It is easy and fun.