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hatch22

MakeHuman Project

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Greetings Gamedev community, I am a recent member but I have frequented Gamedev since its creation and am a huge fan of the community here. I have been learning to use Blender lately and I just wanted to shed some light on a really cool add-on in development called Make-Human that uses a Python script to create a very realistic model of the human form, complete with both genders and a host of customisable features for distorting the figure with additive morphing. It also has skeletal animation built into the design so that the resulting figure is posable and can be used to create animations. The version currently being worked on and scheduled to be out by the end of October includes muscular deformation and features like aging (from infant to elderly) and a new, highly improved GUI. This looks like it will be great for getting a jump start creating 3D humanoid characters. Check out the sample screenshots and videos: http://www.dedalo-3d.com Note that the site is in both English and (I believe) Italian. [Edited by - hatch22 on September 20, 2004 7:51:13 PM]

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I tried a version of it several months ago, and while it was quite cool (read: actually worked!!! [grin] ), I did have the problem that none of the meshes created were manifold--ergo, I could not decimate them to reduce the polycount. I thought it might help me with some of the (very few) human characters in my game, but without being able to reduce to a lowpoly version, no go. The resulting mesh is just too detailed to make me want to do a large-scale poly reduction by hand. I'll have to check out this newer version when it comes out to see if they fixed this or not.

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IIRC, the main source of discontinuity I found was somewhere around the ears. It's been awhile since I messed with it, but I seem to remember that's where I found the flaws in the mesh that disallowed mesh decimation, or at least in the handful of meshes I experimented with.

(AP was me, by the way. Auto-login cookies went broked.)

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I emailed one of the developers, and this is an section of his reply, edited for clarity (His English isn't so great since he is Italian):

"The non-manifold mesh is an old problem. It's due to an initial error, during the modelling phase. I've thought to correct it several times, but actually the main mission is to complete the new features (GUI and muscles) to release MH2.0.

The manifold mesh isn't really a feature, but a necessity. The "problem" is that it's very hard to avoid removing the wrong edges, and it can be done only manually, so requires lot of time. However it's to do...

I will talk about this with other developers soon, but probably it can't be done for 2.0 release.

The main problem of MH morphing technology is that the number of
verts can't be changed. However you can attain similar results using different sub-surface levels.

Moreover, we are working to add a sort of "level of detail" option using the displacement mapping. The truedisplacement script in dedalo-3d was originally developed for this use..."


I am glad they are aware of the issue you brought up. I have not had a need to reduce the polygon count and therefore had not noticed this limitation in my own explorations. Thanks for the heads-up Vertex. I still think that the new muscle system is worth a look. From the videos on the site, the muscular deformation looks impressive, especially when compared to the armature system they were using previously.

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The developer I emailed earlier has just informed me that a non-manifold cleaning script for implementing LOD/polygon count adjustment is ready and will be added to MH2.0 (coming late this month). It seems they have taken this issue seriously and worked to implement it sooner than expected. He also said there should be a news item about it on the website within the next few days.

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I also think that these type of apps should be balanced so you can use them in games as well as CG work. So many have been solely CG based but I think that's changing as new gfx hw allows good IQ and realtime runing.

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The MakeHuman site has released an update about the new non-manifold locator scripts that have been used to find non-manifold errors in the current MakeHuman base mesh. The corrected mesh allows Blender's decimator tool to create lower poly-count versions of the human models without causing errors. The corrected mesh will be used in MakeHuman 2.0 so that scaling a model to a useful polygon count for use in games will be easy.

JD: Your concern is a valid one, and the developers of MakeHuman have gone to considerable effort to make sure that the models produced by MH will be useful to both CG artists and game developers. Blender also comes with many export scripts (and some graphics/game engines come with importers for Blender's model format as well) that allow models to be used in games. In addition, because the entire MakeHuman project is Open Source and done with Python scripting, it is concievable that the model creation system used could be incorporated into a graphics engine directly to allow dynamic creation or morphing of models from within a game.

AP: To install it, you need to first download Blender here and then download MakeHuman here. Both Blender and MakeHuman come with instructions for installation, either on the website and/or in a readme file. MakeHuman 2.0 is on its way, and looks to be even more impressive than version 1.8 (the current version).

Keep in mind that MakeHuman is not entirely limited to purely human forms, but can also (as of the current version) do forms that would work well for elves (including the pointy ears), orcs, ogres, dwarves, or other fantasy humanoids. With some fiddling with the settings you could probably produce some good models for humanoid aliens for science fiction genres as well.

[Edited by - hatch22 on October 7, 2004 1:09:27 AM]

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