The video clip shows uniforms I’ve created lately, for a personal project based on the steampunk bedtime stories I used to tell my now-adult children.
I start with the standard human models that are part of the Unity Game Engine’s UMA system, and in Blender3D I shape each piece of clothing as 3D geometry, down to each button on the dress shirts and pocket flaps on the suit jackets. It’s tedious to get all those elements to fit together, not only when the character is standing still but also when it moves. But I watched a lot of tutorials, and learned a lot of tricks, and after creating dozens of different models I’m getting pretty comfortable with the process.
The UMA character management system in Unity3D is designed to crunch the complex Blender character models into much simpler game-ready versions, so it’s often the case that geometry that meshes perfectly in Blender will glitch in Unity. See the male officer in the purple jacket? His maroon vest is poking through his gold sash. I also see that when he turns his head, the points of his shirt collars seem to be stuck to his shoulders. That’s exactly what I would want to happen in the case of long hair, but it’s not right for a shirt collar. In the jumpsuits on the women the right, the wrist cuffs are a bit too small, and we are seeing some of the character’s skin. Also on the all women’s cravats, there’s a shadow on the fabric that doesn’t line up with with cravat pin. And the trim on the cuffs of the blouses has a weird black shadow that shouldn’t be there.
I know exactly how to fix all these little problems, but I’m in the mood to create new stuff, rather than tweak, so fixing it will wait.
The hair models that come with Unity are pretty plain, and none of them look steampunky. A few weeks ago I extended the sideburns of the male character in the purple coat, using a subtle semitransparent feathering effect that looked great in Blender, but ended up looking chunky and awful in Unity. I figured at some point I’d have to up my hair-modeling game, but I moved on.
Yesterday I found a set of great, free hair models on cgtrader.com, by a user with the handle o-sharshatkin, who arranged the strands of hair around a model of a head that wasn’t exactly the same size or shape as the head I have to use. I put on some relaxing music, made myself a cup of tea, and started nudging vertices. It took a lot less time than I thought it would, and I ended up with a decent result last night. This morning I tackled the updo with the loose strands. It was easy-peasey to add different hair colors.
I’ve got maybe a half a dozen more female uniform models to complete, and I’ll try to import a new hair model or two for each one.
After that, my next task will to be get the characters to sit down at a control panel, check gauges, push buttons, and confer with co-workers. At some point down the road I want to add downtime animations like eating and drinking, reading a book, and maybe playing a game of chess.