Pankaj Kholiya has shared the working process behind his animation-ready clothes simulation project, explained how the clothes were blocked out and textured, and detailed the process of creating animation in Marvelous Designer.
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Hi, my name is Pankaj Kholiya and I am a 3D Character Artist. I've been working in the game industry for the past 6 years. I started my journey as an Environment Artist back in 2017 and moved to character art after 2.5 years. Along the road, I worked on titles like Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Diablo II: Resurrected, Back 4 Blood, Kingdom Hearts III, and many more. Currently, I'm working as a freelance Character Artist.
The Marvelous Designer Animation Project
I started this project to learn more about the animation prospect in Marvelous Designer. I wanted to see how good and realistic the simulation will be while the character is moving. So, this became the base of the experiment. I never had any intention of taking this lookdev – as I mentioned, this was just a study for me but as I was advancing further with it, I saw the potential for a portfolio piece. Nothing was pre-planned for this project. This is how I started.
The most important thing that I learned from the experience with different projects is that blocking out is the most important part of creating anything. I prefer to spend a lot of time on the block out to ensure that I am not making any basic mistakes on proportions, silhouette, fitting, underlying structure, seams, etc.
I started by creating the basic patterns for the outfit and started tweaking the pattern according to the avatar. I also made sure I work with a particle distance of 12-15 on the entire outfit so that I focus on the primary shapes and the simulation doesn't get slow. I added the fabric according to the type of cloth and also added the default fabric textures to the outfit so I can have an idea of how the final result would look. I didn't stop working on the block out until I was satisfied with the fitting of the overall outfit on the avatar. After all the basic things are in place, I moved to detail the outfit.
Finalizing the Outfit
After I was satisfied with the block out, I moved to detail the outfit. I started by adding the piece on the shirt and buttons on the cloth. Then I started adding internal lines all over the outfit to get the seams right. In the last part of the detailing, I changed the particle distance to 10 and increased the weft and warp value to get the folds. Getting folds right won't be an issue if you have a nice block out. All these steps resulted in the final clothing output on A Pose. As this is for the animation I haven't detailed (refined) the cloth yet.
Animation in Mixamo
Adobe Mixamo is a great tool for those who want their characters to show some moves. The process to get the character animated is very simple in Mixamo. I imported my base mesh in the software and followed the steps shown in the rigging window and that's it for the rigging. I chose the animation that I liked for my character. After that, I exported the T-pose mesh to Marvelous Designer.
A-Pose to T-Pose
I simulated the whole outfit on the A-pose so all I had to do then was to import the T-pose mesh from Mixamo as a morph target and Marvelous Designer would automatically change the A-pose mesh to the T-pose and the outfit would also be morphed according to the T-pose. That was all we needed.
Fixing the Animation
The only fix that I needed to do in the animation was to add the T-pose in the first frame so that the clothing could be simulated in Marvelous Designer. To do this simple process I just went through this short video on YouTube. After I got the animation fixed, I exported the file in alembic format from Blender.
Animation in Marvelous Designer
And then was the moment I had been waiting for – animating the outfit. This process was pretty simple. I imported the animation file into Marvelous Designer and selected the FPS to 30 and hit "Ok". Then I changed the viewport from simulation to animation. After that, I hit the record button and my machine took care of the rest.
I got a nice animation and it was really good. This concluded my experiment but while running the animation back and forth I found a specific frame that I really liked and I had an idea to show the outfit in motion. So I started working on it to get a portfolio piece.
I started detailing the outfit on the frame that I liked the most. I started by decreasing the particle distance to 3-5 and changing the fabric properties to get a more detailed result with secondary and tertiary folds. I also changed the thickness of the overall outfit to match the type of cloth.
Then I went to the UV editor and placed all the patterns in 0 to 1 space. After I did the UVs, I exported the mesh as OBJ to start texturing it in Substance 3D Painter. In SP, I started by matching the color and roughness of the cloth to the concept. I added some dirt and noise to the asset. I also added some sweat to make it more believable. I added the patterns on the side of the trousers and that was it for the texture.
After the texturing was done, I imported the entire outfit to Marmoset. I used the lighting I created a while ago for a previous project and messed with the lights until I found the result satisfying.
This project was a quick experiment. I took this opportunity to explore the animation aspect of Marvelous Designer. Looking back on it, now I realized I could have made it even better but that is how you know you improved along the way.
The more time you put into practice the more refined your skills will get. For artists who just entered the world of 3D art, my advice is to make sure to reach out to people for guidance. The industry is all about helping and growing together. Always listen to constructive feedback.
That's it for the breakdown. Hope you guys liked it and learned a few things. Huge thanks to 80 Level for the opportunity.