Clothing Tool in Unreal Engine 4
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Clothing Tool in Unreal Engine 4
9 June, 2017

With the development of new technologies and the increase in the processing power, we’re starting to see some really cool clothing simulations in real-time games. Most of the character artists, who work with clothes for their beloved 3d dummies, work with Marvelous Designer to simulate those outstanding elements of the production. With the newest version of the Unreal Engine 4.16 developers finally got a very easy and streamlined tool, which can help you simulate all the cloth elements in their games. 

In Unreal Engine, version 4.16, APEX Cloth has now been replaced with the NVIDIA’s NvCloth solver. This is a low-level clothing solver that is responsible for the particle simulation that runs clothing. This clothing solver allows integrations to be lightweight and very extensible because we now have direct access to this data. Unlike APEX Clothing, which is a sophisticated SDK that is a one-stop shop for clothing simulation that handles both the simulation and the render.

With the Clothing Tools now available within the Editor, the workflow has been redefined to enable developers to work directly in Unreal Engine to author their content without the need for external dependencies.


Old Cloth Workflow

New Cloth Workflow

With the “Old” workflow using APEX Cloth, you were required to develop all your assets outside of Unreal using an external program (NVIDIA’s Clothing Tool) or DCC Plugins that require specific software (3DS Max/Maya) to author this content. Only during the final stage of development would you bring your authored content into Unreal and assign it to your mesh. This meant that if you had to correct anything you would have to go back to your program and re-author the content outside of the Editor.

The “New” workflow enables you to create your content once and then do all the creation editing of the clothing directly inside of Unreal. This makes the creation and iteration of testing content that much quicker, and you also avoid any disconnects between where the content was created versus where it’s being used by being able to see all of your edits for your clothing simulation happening in real-time and as they will appear in your game.

Creating a Cloth Section Asset

To create a new Cloth asset, follow these steps.

  1. Click the Section Selection button in the main toolbar. This will enable you to select the different Material Elements of your Skeletal Mesh.


  2. With your section selected, you can right-click anywhere on the highlighted element to bring up the Cloth Asset options menu.


  3. Hover over Create Cloth Asset from Selection and then fill in the following areas.


    • Asset Name – Give your asset a name so that you can easily find locate it later.

    • Remove from Mesh – If you’ve got a separate mesh piece of geometry you want to be associated as cloth, you can enable this option. If not, you can leave this unchecked.

    • Physics Asset – If this cloth asset is for a character, use its Physics Asset here to get proper collision for the cloth simulation.

  4. Once you’ve set the information from the previous step you can click the Create button.


Assigning a Cloth Section Asset

To assign a Cloth asset to a section, follow these steps.

  1. With your section element selected, you can right-click anywhere on the highlighted element to bring up the Cloth Asset options menu. Then hover over Apply Clothing Asset and select from the available clothing assets to apply. This will associate the Cloth asset you created with this Material Element geometry.


Painting Cloth Weights

To begin painting your cloth weights, follow these steps.

  1. Go to the main menu and select Window, then locate and click Cloth Paint. This will open the Cloth Paint panel where you can click the Enable Paint Tools button to access the various options for painting cloth weights to onto your geometry.


  2. To start painting, select your assigned Cloth Asset from the Assets window.


  3. In the Cloth Painting section, set a Paint Value and then left-click and drag the brush across the surface of your clothing geometry you’ve selected.


You can read the full documentation on the UE4 Clothing Tool here.

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