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Deceptacon

A little help with 3DS Max skinning

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I've been using 3DS Max for several years, and I've always used Physique for my skinning. I'm starting to work on models for a video game I'm working on now, so I figure that I have to use the Skin modifier rather than the Physique modifier (correct me if I'm wrong, it's part of my issue aswell). I'm not very good at using Skin at all. Am I right in assuming I can't use morph angles in a realtime engine? The engine for the game isn't complete, so I'm unsure what an average engine actually supports in realtime. Without using morph angles though, I have real trouble getting a high poly character (15,000 tris) to deform nicely, even around the relatively simple parts like the knees, and the waist/thigh section is a mess. Any confirmation or otherwise of any of my ponits would be great, and any help on skinning a hi-poly mesh with the Skin modifier would be great. Thanks for any help!

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Original post by Deceptacon
I've been using 3DS Max for several years, and I've always used Physique for my skinning. I'm starting to work on models for a video game I'm working on now, so I figure that I have to use the Skin modifier rather than the Physique modifier (correct me if I'm wrong, it's part of my issue aswell). I'm not very good at using Skin at all. Am I right in assuming I can't use morph angles in a realtime engine? The engine for the game isn't complete, so I'm unsure what an average engine actually supports in realtime. Without using morph angles though, I have real trouble getting a high poly character (15,000 tris) to deform nicely, even around the relatively simple parts like the knees, and the waist/thigh section is a mess. Any confirmation or otherwise of any of my ponits would be great, and any help on skinning a hi-poly mesh with the Skin modifier would be great. Thanks for any help!

first answer me this, why are you trying to animate a 15,000 tri model for a game?
also, i never actually used Physique myself, so i am not sure what you needed to do with that, but it sounds like you're not adjusting your envelopes right.

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First off, the model is for a game I'm only just starting to build, so I'm planning a few years until completion, so I want the main character to be high detail (next-gen console type quality). But for the purposes mentioned here, it's also a learning exercise, because hi detail models are harder to skin, and I can't "fudge" them over like I can on lo-detail ones. With physique, it does a lot of fancy stuff like creating a spline through the bones and defomring vertices off that rather than the bones themselves, so you get much better results with a lot less effort. But I can't use any of that in realtime. The fact is that I'm not as skilled in doing vertex weights as I'd like (like you said). But everything I do makes it really thin out at the joint (and I can't think of any solution around the top of the leg that works). How good can you get it without using morph angles? I'm just wondering at this stage if I'm just not good enough, or whether I'm trying to get results that aren't possible with such a hi-poly mesh.

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First off, the model is for a game I'm only just starting to build, so I'm planning a few years until completion, so I want the main character to be high detail (next-gen console type quality). But for the purposes mentioned here, it's also a learning exercise, because hi detail models are harder to skin, and I can't "fudge" them over like I can on lo-detail ones. With physique, it does a lot of fancy stuff like creating a spline through the bones and defomring vertices off that rather than the bones themselves, so you get much better results with a lot less effort. But I can't use any of that in realtime. The fact is that I'm not as skilled in doing vertex weights as I'd like (like you said). But everything I do makes it really thin out at the joint (and I can't think of any solution around the top of the leg that works). How good can you get it without using morph angles? I'm just wondering at this stage if I'm just not good enough, or whether I'm trying to get results that aren't possible with such a hi-poly mesh.

try this, i do this when i am rigging a human, but keep in mind that i am also no expert in rigging yet.
after you have him skinned and all bones applied, bend the guys leg, now go into the skin modifier and adjust the envelope for that bones while its bent, this will give you a realtime look at how it will deform when being bent, therefore making it a lot easier.
if you want more indepth advice, checkout some tutorials. or aim me at metalgearsolido8 later on today (its a lot easier to explain things person to person).

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Thanks for your patience. There's a job I want to go for, and it's very rare for a job like this to be anywhere near me, and it requires that I know skinning, so I'm trying to learn it quickly. I'm downloading several video tutorials right now, and they're good, but they don't cover more complex areas. I already had him posed and with knee bent (all like you said). DO you rely on morph angles, or can it all be done well be just envelopes/vertex weights alone?

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Its just a matter of painting weights properly and using the Weighting tools when you go high poly. On low poly meshes, you can just use the input box, but on higher poly meshes, you're going to have to do alot of painting. Just adjust your envelopes in the rough shape, then paint, paint, paint, with your character in all sorts of crazy poses.
Generally though, binding is tedious but not impossible on any mesh. My thought is that the geometry is a bit off when lining up with the joints, so its popping and rotating incorrectly when the bone rotates.

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Original post by Professor420
Its just a matter of painting weights properly and using the Weighting tools when you go high poly. On low poly meshes, you can just use the input box, but on higher poly meshes, you're going to have to do alot of painting. Just adjust your envelopes in the rough shape, then paint, paint, paint, with your character in all sorts of crazy poses.
Generally though, binding is tedious but not impossible on any mesh. My thought is that the geometry is a bit off when lining up with the joints, so its popping and rotating incorrectly when the bone rotates.


That's the kind of stuff I want to hear. Just needed some re-assurance that I wasn't wasting my time trying. I'm getting better results after a bit of work now (still not happy with it). Much harder than using Physique. My knee seems to flatten more when bent straight down, whereas in Physique it follows basically a perfect arc of a circle around the kneecap. I'll probably post some screenshots when I've got it to a decent stage for some visual critiqueing.

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Original post by Professor420
Its just a matter of painting weights properly and using the Weighting tools when you go high poly. On low poly meshes, you can just use the input box, but on higher poly meshes, you're going to have to do alot of painting. Just adjust your envelopes in the rough shape, then paint, paint, paint, with your character in all sorts of crazy poses.
Generally though, binding is tedious but not impossible on any mesh. My thought is that the geometry is a bit off when lining up with the joints, so its popping and rotating incorrectly when the bone rotates.


That's the kind of stuff I want to hear. Just needed some re-assurance that I wasn't wasting my time trying. I'm getting better results after a bit of work now (still not happy with it). Much harder than using Physique. My knee seems to flatten more when bent straight down, whereas in Physique it follows basically a perfect arc of a circle around the kneecap. I'll probably post some screenshots when I've got it to a decent stage for some visual critiqueing.

just be glad you don't have to rig a model for a game engine that only allows 100% wieghting...

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just be glad you don't have to rig a model for a game engine that only allows 100% wieghting...


Yeah, I don't think you can get away with that on models with more than about 100 polys :p
Anyway, I'm still trying to get this looking good.........

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just be glad you don't have to rig a model for a game engine that only allows 100% wieghting...


Yeah, I don't think you can get away with that on models with more than about 100 polys :p
Anyway, I'm still trying to get this looking good.........

well, i'll have to try, either that or complain to my programmer that is not going fly.
i just joined the project and his engine is kind fo outdated (no ps, vertex lighting, no normal mapping...etc) yet he wants good graphics... which is kind of hard to do with those limitations.

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just be glad you don't have to rig a model for a game engine that only allows 100% wieghting...


Yeah, I don't think you can get away with that on models with more than about 100 polys :p
Anyway, I'm still trying to get this looking good.........

well, i'll have to try, either that or complain to my programmer that is not going fly.
i just joined the project and his engine is kind fo outdated (no ps, vertex lighting, no normal mapping...etc) yet he wants good graphics... which is kind of hard to do with those limitations.



Wow, sorry! I didn't realise you were actually in that situation. pixel shaders and bump mapping are basically a must for any new game to compete graphically. I don't even have a finished engine yet, a problem with being on such a small team, but it will support everything I need.

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Hey, I worked on Fourth Age Total War, a major RTW mod for a year, and did dozens of models and textures, and hundreds of LoDs and bindings. I was LUCKY if the unit was unique enough to warrant more than 700 polygons, and there were no partial bone weights. And one could still make damn good looking units. And it looks even better with 10,000 of them fighting onscreen.

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Hey, I worked on Fourth Age Total War, a major RTW mod for a year, and did dozens of models and textures, and hundreds of LoDs and bindings. I was LUCKY if the unit was unique enough to warrant more than 700 polygons, and there were no partial bone weights. And one could still make damn good looking units. And it looks even better with 10,000 of them fighting onscreen.


I guess those characters wouldn't be soon too close up. Still, you must be good to get good results with no weighting. In the style/genre of game I'm making (with in-game cut-scenes too) I couldn't get away with it. Luckily I'm getting a bit more experience with using Skin now, so my results are getting better already.

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Hey, I worked on Fourth Age Total War, a major RTW mod for a year, and did dozens of models and textures, and hundreds of LoDs and bindings. I was LUCKY if the unit was unique enough to warrant more than 700 polygons, and there were no partial bone weights. And one could still make damn good looking units. And it looks even better with 10,000 of them fighting onscreen.


I guess those characters wouldn't be soon too close up. Still, you must be good to get good results with no weighting. In the style/genre of game I'm making (with in-game cut-scenes too) I couldn't get away with it. Luckily I'm getting a bit more experience with using Skin now, so my results are getting better already.


Umm... okay. Thats enough out of you.

First off, next gen games AREN'T using pure poly pushing power. Nor will they. For the most part, they will probably be using middle-range poly counts with advanced shaders. Now, I can understand, say, using a really high detail model to generate a normal map, or something similar to that. What you are doing is... pretty much insane.

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^^ Agreed. You can get much better results with an 8k character and higher-res textures and better shaders than a 15k character that uses the same processing power. Even on a very hi-res character, much of that is used in the face, so it deforms correctly (see HL2 Alyx with 4k poly head).

After spending a few hours binding a character yesterday, I'd give anything to go back to those 1-weight 2 minute skinjobs of low-res.

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You guys are right, but my game won't be completed for years yet, and currently games aren't pushing limits. I've had to redo my character twice already because of the poly count, and this time I'm splashing out. Nothing else in the game is anywhere near as excessive. All characters have parts where they will be in really close up shots (on sections with literally just a picture background). This is for the ultra high detail version. I am going to create LOD from them for other sections of the game.

btw, I just checked, and the character is actually 10,000 tris (with 5000 of those in the head), and thanks to your advice, I'm cutting that way down (most of the detail was around the joints, and isn't working). Thanks to your advice (and thanks to a few vidoe tutorials I got) I realised I can severely cut that down without any drop in apparent quality at any level (in fact, it looks a lot better). In effect, you've answered my question of how to skin a hi-poly character - make him lower poly :P

[Edited by - Deceptacon on July 20, 2006 10:39:53 AM]

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You guys are right, but my game won't be completed for years yet, and currently games aren't pushing limits. I've had to redo my character twice already because of the poly count, and this time I'm splashing out. Nothing else in the game is anywhere near as excessive. All characters have parts where they will be in really close up shots (on sections with literally just a picture background). This is for the ultra high detail version. I am going to create LOD from them for other sections of the game.

btw, I just checked, and the character is actually 10,000 tris (with 5000 of those in the head), and thanks to your advice, I'm cutting that way down (most of the detail was around the joints, and isn't working). Thanks to your advice (and thanks to a few vidoe tutorials I got) I realised I can severely cut that down without any drop in apparent quality at any level (in fact, it looks a lot better). In effect, you've answered my question of how to skin a hi-poly character - make him lower poly :P


Uhh... half your polycount comes from the head? Well, you either:
A) Put loads of superflous detail in the head that even a basic texturing could solve.
B) Have crippling detail shortages everywhere else.

Here's the trick about 99% of all games:

You spend most of the time looking at the REAR of the character. You have to stop and think when you're making game models. This isnt something where you can see every little detail possible all the time. Not only that, but there are ways OTHER than increasing the poly count to decrease the amount of noticable polygons. There is tons of tech in this field you seem to be outright ignoring.

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Original post by AnonymousPosterChild
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Original post by Deceptacon
You guys are right, but my game won't be completed for years yet, and currently games aren't pushing limits. I've had to redo my character twice already because of the poly count, and this time I'm splashing out. Nothing else in the game is anywhere near as excessive. All characters have parts where they will be in really close up shots (on sections with literally just a picture background). This is for the ultra high detail version. I am going to create LOD from them for other sections of the game.

btw, I just checked, and the character is actually 10,000 tris (with 5000 of those in the head), and thanks to your advice, I'm cutting that way down (most of the detail was around the joints, and isn't working). Thanks to your advice (and thanks to a few vidoe tutorials I got) I realised I can severely cut that down without any drop in apparent quality at any level (in fact, it looks a lot better). In effect, you've answered my question of how to skin a hi-poly character - make him lower poly :P


Uhh... half your polycount comes from the head? Well, you either:
A) Put loads of superflous detail in the head that even a basic texturing could solve.
B) Have crippling detail shortages everywhere else.

Here's the trick about 99% of all games:

You spend most of the time looking at the REAR of the character. You have to stop and think when you're making game models. This isnt something where you can see every little detail possible all the time. Not only that, but there are ways OTHER than increasing the poly count to decrease the amount of noticable polygons. There is tons of tech in this field you seem to be outright ignoring.


Well actually, if you knew anything about the game, you'd know that the character is constantly seen from every angle in my game (definitely not the rear). And he isn't skimped anywhere else, and texturing can't solve the issues, because texture wise, he is quite minimal (think Sonic the Hedgehog). His details are all justified, and texturing can only get around a few of them, and I it looks nowhere near as good. My game isn't your standard 3rd person type deal, so please don't judge my decisions based on the norm of what people are making.

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I'm making a darts game at work and a large chunk of the polygons are in the faces. Thats because the camera is always focused on the upper torso and since a lot of money was spent on licensing players, faces have to be smooth and detailed.

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You guys are right, but my game won't be completed for years yet, and currently games aren't pushing limits. I've had to redo my character twice already because of the poly count, and this time I'm splashing out. Nothing else in the game is anywhere near as excessive. All characters have parts where they will be in really close up shots (on sections with literally just a picture background). This is for the ultra high detail version. I am going to create LOD from them for other sections of the game.

btw, I just checked, and the character is actually 10,000 tris (with 5000 of those in the head), and thanks to your advice, I'm cutting that way down (most of the detail was around the joints, and isn't working). Thanks to your advice (and thanks to a few vidoe tutorials I got) I realised I can severely cut that down without any drop in apparent quality at any level (in fact, it looks a lot better). In effect, you've answered my question of how to skin a hi-poly character - make him lower poly :P


Uhh... half your polycount comes from the head? Well, you either:
A) Put loads of superflous detail in the head that even a basic texturing could solve.
B) Have crippling detail shortages everywhere else.

Here's the trick about 99% of all games:

You spend most of the time looking at the REAR of the character. You have to stop and think when you're making game models. This isnt something where you can see every little detail possible all the time. Not only that, but there are ways OTHER than increasing the poly count to decrease the amount of noticable polygons. There is tons of tech in this field you seem to be outright ignoring.


Well actually, if you knew anything about the game, you'd know that the character is constantly seen from every angle in my game (definitely not the rear). And he isn't skimped anywhere else, and texturing can't solve the issues, because texture wise, he is quite minimal (think Sonic the Hedgehog). His details are all justified, and texturing can only get around a few of them, and I it looks nowhere near as good. My game isn't your standard 3rd person type deal, so please don't judge my decisions based on the norm of what people are making.

could we get a screenshot of your model?

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While it seems it would definitely be in my best interests to post pics, I'm quite opposed to showing anyone else anything from my game at all (yes, I'm quite paranoid), and since he's the main character, and the game is heavily based on the uniqueness of him, I wouldn't want to. I tell you, he seemed like such an easy character to rig up (relatively), but because his legs are so chunky, it's damn hard to get the top of the legs deforming correctly. Every other character is fine, but my main guy is just really hard.

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You guys are right, but my game won't be completed for years yet, and currently games aren't pushing limits. I've had to redo my character twice already because of the poly count, and this time I'm splashing out. Nothing else in the game is anywhere near as excessive. All characters have parts where they will be in really close up shots (on sections with literally just a picture background). This is for the ultra high detail version. I am going to create LOD from them for other sections of the game.

btw, I just checked, and the character is actually 10,000 tris (with 5000 of those in the head), and thanks to your advice, I'm cutting that way down (most of the detail was around the joints, and isn't working). Thanks to your advice (and thanks to a few vidoe tutorials I got) I realised I can severely cut that down without any drop in apparent quality at any level (in fact, it looks a lot better). In effect, you've answered my question of how to skin a hi-poly character - make him lower poly :P


Uhh... half your polycount comes from the head? Well, you either:
A) Put loads of superflous detail in the head that even a basic texturing could solve.
B) Have crippling detail shortages everywhere else.

Here's the trick about 99% of all games:

You spend most of the time looking at the REAR of the character. You have to stop and think when you're making game models. This isnt something where you can see every little detail possible all the time. Not only that, but there are ways OTHER than increasing the poly count to decrease the amount of noticable polygons. There is tons of tech in this field you seem to be outright ignoring.


Well actually, if you knew anything about the game, you'd know that the character is constantly seen from every angle in my game (definitely not the rear). And he isn't skimped anywhere else, and texturing can't solve the issues, because texture wise, he is quite minimal (think Sonic the Hedgehog). His details are all justified, and texturing can only get around a few of them, and I it looks nowhere near as good. My game isn't your standard 3rd person type deal, so please don't judge my decisions based on the norm of what people are making.


You have a 10,000 poly model with sonic the hedgehog like texturing...

Yeahhhhhhh... you're going to have to post that, because it sounds either rediculously over detailed mesh wise, or rediculously underdetailed texturewise.

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I have to say, yes you are paranoid.. the game is made by the gameplay not the unique main character. Everyone has plenty of their own ideas, and the type of person who would rip off your idea is probably the type of person who would never manage to finish making a game.

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You guys are right, but my game won't be completed for years yet, and currently games aren't pushing limits. I've had to redo my character twice already because of the poly count, and this time I'm splashing out. Nothing else in the game is anywhere near as excessive. All characters have parts where they will be in really close up shots (on sections with literally just a picture background). This is for the ultra high detail version. I am going to create LOD from them for other sections of the game.

btw, I just checked, and the character is actually 10,000 tris (with 5000 of those in the head), and thanks to your advice, I'm cutting that way down (most of the detail was around the joints, and isn't working). Thanks to your advice (and thanks to a few vidoe tutorials I got) I realised I can severely cut that down without any drop in apparent quality at any level (in fact, it looks a lot better). In effect, you've answered my question of how to skin a hi-poly character - make him lower poly :P


Uhh... half your polycount comes from the head? Well, you either:
A) Put loads of superflous detail in the head that even a basic texturing could solve.
B) Have crippling detail shortages everywhere else.

Here's the trick about 99% of all games:

You spend most of the time looking at the REAR of the character. You have to stop and think when you're making game models. This isnt something where you can see every little detail possible all the time. Not only that, but there are ways OTHER than increasing the poly count to decrease the amount of noticable polygons. There is tons of tech in this field you seem to be outright ignoring.


Well actually, if you knew anything about the game, you'd know that the character is constantly seen from every angle in my game (definitely not the rear). And he isn't skimped anywhere else, and texturing can't solve the issues, because texture wise, he is quite minimal (think Sonic the Hedgehog). His details are all justified, and texturing can only get around a few of them, and I it looks nowhere near as good. My game isn't your standard 3rd person type deal, so please don't judge my decisions based on the norm of what people are making.


You have a 10,000 poly model with sonic the hedgehog like texturing...

Yeahhhhhhh... you're going to have to post that, because it sounds either rediculously over detailed mesh wise, or rediculously underdetailed texturewise.


The fact is that texture wise, he is basically flat color for of him (he's a very stylized character). The fact is that texturing can't substitute any of the geometry directly. He is basically all curves all over too. Of course I could go and it down, and I am well aware of how much higher poly he is relative to current games. As I said, that's the highest detail version. In the situation where you are expecting him to pop up, a much lower poly will be used. In the parts where I use the ultra hi detail version, he will only have a few hundred other polys on the screen max at the same time. Much of the areas of higher detail were added because I didn't know how much detail I would need for skinning, but after all of your obvious objection to my methods, and the advice you've all given for skinning, I'm cutting it down a lot anyway. Because a lot of the polygons were wasted in these areas. I will think about posting it when I've finished skinning him and I feel I've adressed all of your concerns (which I assure you I've taken quite seriously at the moment)

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