[All Games] Marvel Mods Modeling Tutorial

Started by BaconWizard17, January 20, 2020, 03:58PM

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February 22, 2020, 01:00PM #15 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:08AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      Segments are portions of the skin that can be hidden and shown on a character. Usually they're weapons or similar objects that a character can take out or put away.
      If you're making a new mod and trying to decide whether to use segments or BoltOns, it's better to go with BoltOns, unless you need each skin to have a different appearance for the weapon. There's a limit to the number of segments that can be hidden in the herostat at once, and after that, they all stop hiding, so it's best to keep segments to a minimum
      If you're making skins for an existing mod, then keep to the original mod and make whichever segments are needed
      Note: if an image is too small, click to expand it

Applying the Segment Node
      Here's how to set up the segment properties on a model:

Expand to see steps
      To make an object function as a segment, you need to first make sure it's named correctly (which you should've done in Section 3 or 4). If you need cel shading, be sure to apply the cel shading first (as described in Section 13) before making the segment
      To make an object become a segment, select it (and its cel shading, if it has it). Then, under the Modify rollout, select Alchemy Object Properties. Once that's applied, select "Backface Culling" and "Segment Node." Now, you have the proper segment coding set up, and your object can be hidden! Do this one by one for each segment your model needs

Next Steps
      Now that you have the segment set up, you can finally proceed to Chapter 18 - Exporting Models.

  • Segments are detached elements of a model that can be hidden
  • Segments should only be used when absolutely necessary, as there is a limit to the total number that can be hidden in the herostat
  • To apply the segment settings, you need to apply the Alchemy Object Properties modifier

February 22, 2020, 08:46PM #16 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:08AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      Mannequins can be made in custom poses in cases where the pose their default animation has isn't from an easily accessible animation, or one that you know of. It can also be used to create any pose you want.
      To make a custom mannequin, you'll need to have a skin rigged up first. Follow the processes described for that first, and then go on for this tutorial
      Note: If an image is too small, click to expand it.

Posing the Mannequin
      Here's how to set up the custom pose for the mannequin:

Expand to see steps
      To pose the mannequin, start with your skin in its natural pose. Save it under a new name, like "Mannequin_FileName.max." Turn off figure mode. Now, you can move your character around to your heart's content. Rotate stuff. Move stuff. Move Bip01 around. You can do anything that you want to get your character into a position you want. If you're only making it for the mannequin, you can even give your character independent finger bones or more ponytail bones to create the proper pose that you want. If you have any detached elements you want to move around, you can delete the Skin modifier from them and freely move them. You can also import new objects if you want to do some decorating.
      If you're trying to achieve a pose of a default mannequin, but you don't have the proper animation for that pose, you can use 3D Ripper DX to rip the default mannequin in the character select screen. Then, you can pose your character alongside that mannequin to get the same pose.

      Once you've posed the character, save the file, and then save it under a new name, like "Mannequin_FileName_Collapsed.max." This is so that if you want to adjust the posing later, you can. Now, go under the Modify rollout, and collapse the Skin modifier to your mesh, and delete the biped. Your model should stay in its pose.

      Now, all that's left to do is to move the pivots of all objects to 0,0,0, and reset XForm.

Next Steps
      If you want your mannequin to have some sort of animation, like floating, visit Supplement 6 - Animated Models. Otherwise, the next section to visit is Chapter 18 - Exporting Models.

  • Custom posed mannequins can be made from rigged skins
  • Custom posed mannequins don't have to follow traditional skin guidelines, and can have extra bones or additional scenery items
  • Save separate versions of the file to make sure you can go back and edit it
  • Collapse the skin modifier and delete the biped to end up with just a model

February 23, 2020, 09:28AM #17 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:09AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      Below are the steps for exporting models for use in your game. This covers every model type discussed in the game.
      Note: If an image is too small, click to expand it

Adding the Alchemy Export Dialog
      The first time you export, you'll need to set up the Alchemy Export Dialog. Here's how:

Expand to see steps
      If the dialog isn't there, right click the toolbar at the top and select "Customize." Under the Alchemy category, choose "Open Alchemy Dialog" and drag it up to your toolbar.

Skins - FX Bones
      If you are exporting a skin for MUA1 or MUA2 (any console or PC), and your character uses the animations of any of the following characters (Black Panther, Black Widow, Blade, Daredevil, Deadpool, Elektra, Green Goblin, Human Torch, Iceman, Psylocke, Ronin, Scorpion, Swordsman, Thor, or Wolverine), visit Supplement 6: fx Bones before exporting your skins. If you're making the skins for XML1 or XML2, skip that supplement; it doesn't apply.

Exporting Skins
      Skins have a unique export method that's different from other models. Static models (3D Heads, Mannequins, BoltOns, other models, and 2D assets) should not be exported with this method, because they lack the bones that make them animated. See below for exporting static models.

Expand to see steps
      To export your model, select all parts of the model (not the skeleton), and go up to the top of your screen, and select the Alchemy Export Dialog. There are a handful of settings you need to adjust in this dialog. First, under "Default Object Properties," choose "Backface Culling" under "Face Culling." If you want your model to be compatible with XML2 PC and all consoles," uncheck "Save Full IGB," and uncheck "Objects" under "Extract" under the"Export Settings. This is referred to as "cross-compatible." If you're doing a model for MUA1 PC only, skip this step. DO NOT ENABLE THE OPTIMIZER. LEAVE IT OFF

      After that, make sure your model is still selected, and go down to the "Actor Editor." Press "Create From Selection." This will make a red box appear at your character's feet (igActor01), and add the model to the actor. If the pivots for all your objects were properly set to 0,0,0, then this will also be placed at 0,0,0. Otherwise, you'll need to move it to 0,0,0. Then, press H on your keyboard, and select Bip01. In the export dialog, press "Add Selection." Bip01 should now appear in the list. Once you've done this, select the entire skeleton and hide it. To hide the skeleton, press H on your keyboard, and select the skeleton (anything that starts with Bip01). Once it's selected, you can right click and choose "hide selection".
      Note: Sometimes, moving igActor01 can cause your mesh to move around as well. This is why I recommend to place all the pivots at 0,0,0 before beginning the Physique stage.

      Once you've done that, scroll up to the top and select "Export As."
  • For the cross-compatible method doesn't matter what you name the file, because the one you name isn't going to be the one you use. I usually name it "ZZZZZ" so it goes to the bottom of the folder. Once you export, you'll see that two files have appeared: ZZZZZ.igb and igActor01_Animation01DB.igb. igActor01_Animation01DB.igb is the actual skin file. Unless you're using igbFinisher, you can rename that file to an appropriate skin number.
  • For skins that are MUA1 PC-only, you can name the file however you please. Only one will be exported, and it will have the name that you gave it.

      Now you can add your skin to your game files to test it. Always test skins before releasing them. That's why I recommend saving different files at different stages, so if you need to go back to, say, the Physique stage, you easily can to fix something, and then go back through again and export it with the fixes.
     But wait, you're not done yet! Before you release a skin or use it in a mod, it must be hex edited. If you're going to be using igbFinisher on the model after export, it does this for you automatically, so you can skip this step. Otherwise, you must do this now. Outsider put together a detailed explanation to show you how:
Expand to see steps
Want to know why I said not to place the skins inside the actors folder yet? Because now comes the part that requires some technical work. It's called hex-editing. This is an important process, but I'll tell you why in a bit. To begin, you will need the XVI32 program. Open it up, press "File" then "Open." Look for skin #24309, and hit Enter, or press "Open."

Now, on this program, you will notice two sides -- a left side full of only numbers & letters, called the Hex side; and a right side full of all kinds of characters, called the Text side. Don't worry... this isn't complicated work. It's actually very simple. Click on any square on the Text side to make sure the Text side is highlighted. Next, press Ctrl + F. It'll open up the Find option. Make sure the text string is checked. Then, write in the bar igactor01appearance. Make sure "case sensitive" is unchecked. Then press OK.

If the skins were not hex-edited already, it will appear on the Text side with the first "i" highlighted. Now type in the skin number that you renamed the skin. In this case, that's 24309. When you're done, it will now read 24309or01appearance with the "o" highlighted. That's normal. Now notice on the Hex side that something was highlighted just as the "o" was highlighted on the Text side. See, when you change one side, you'll change the other. Now, click on the square that was highlighted on the Hex side, and keep pressing zero until the "or01appearance" part on the Text side is gone, as you're erasing it. It should now read 24309 on the Text side. Now press Ctrl + S to save, or click File then Save.

Congrats! You've just hex-edited a skin. Now you have to do the same to the character's other skins. If at any point you think you made a mistake, just click File, then Reload (or Ctrl + L). It will say that the skin has been modified. Click No -- that will undo any mistakes. Do not save if you think a mistake was made -- as it will make the skin unplayable. Once you are done hex-editing the character's skins, NOW you can place them in your project's actors folder.

Why was the hex-editing part important? Because at some point in the game, you will play the Murderworld mission. There will be Arcade Androids that take the appearance of your heroes. If your skin is not hex-edited, the Arcade Android will just have a plain white skin, ruining the game. It is also helpful for shape-shifter mods like :mystique: Mystique and Mortal Kombat's Shang Tsung, as it tells the game the skin they are supposed to morph into.

I had created a tool just for hex-editing that people can use to check all skins of all mods to see if they are hex-edited. It's called the Hex-Edit Test and you can find it here -- http://marvelmods.com/forum/index.php/topic,8753.msg191895.html#msg191895. This way, any skins you find that are not hex-edited, you can hex-edit them yourself.
      After hex editing, there are a variety of post-processing steps you can do to your skin. See the section called "Next Steps" below for more information.
      Congratulations on completing your skin! Below are some pictures of the skins made throughout this tutorial. With Scarlet Witch, you can see a tricky element of skinning: proportions. Since her hips are very wide, and her forearms are very long, her hand ends up clipping through her hip. Sometimes with skinning, these are problems that you have to just accept. To make it work, I would have to make her hips narrower and shorten her forearms, which could make the model look weird. Sometimes, you just have to accept what you have.
      Note: After applying the skin modifier, you can change the length of your bones with figure mode on. This can be used to alter proportions. Be careful how much you do this though, because it can cause unintended deformation.

Exporting Static Models
      All static models (3D Heads, Mannequins, BoltOns, other models, and 2D assets) can all be exported with the same method. Skins should not be exported with this method, because they won't work in-game. See above for exporting skins.

Expand to see steps
      To export your model, select it all, and go up to the top of your screen, and select the Alchemy Export Dialog. Once the dialog is open, there's just one setting that you need to mess with. Under "Default Object Properties," make sure that "Backface Culling" is selected under "Face Culling." Then, select Export As, and export it with the same name you gave the main model. DO NOT ENABLE THE OPTIMIZER. LEAVE IT OFF

      After exporting, there are a variety of post-processing steps you can do to your skin. See the section called "Next Steps" below for more information.
      Congratulations on completing your model! Below are some pictures of the exported models made throughout this tutorial.

Captain America 3D Head

Scarlet Witch 3D Head

Captain America Default Pose Mannequin

Namor Trident BoltOn

Deadpool Sword BoltOn

Halo Magnum BoltOn

Captain America Custom Pose Mannequin

Scarlet Witch Custom Pose Mannequin

Next Steps
      Although you can call your assets complete at this point, there are several optional post-processing steps that you can do on your assets before releasing them:
  • If your model has a texture with full transparency, you can visit Post-Processing for Transparency for information on the steps you need to take to get it to show up properly.
  • Supplement 11 - igbFinisher covers igbFinisher, a program that streamlines the post-processing operations for all assets. It handles hex editing, Alchemy operations (including console compatibility and fixing issues with skins turning black when hit), file renaming, and file organization in release folders. It's especially useful for releasing assets for multiple consoles/games.
  • If your model needs advanced textures applied after export, you can visit Supplement 12 - Adding Advanced Textures.

Supplement 8 - Alchemy 2.5 Tools and Supplement 9 - Alchemy 5 Tools cover some tools that are used during these operations. Supplement 9 also has some information on compatibility fixes to make a skin work with MUA1 PC and next-gen better, but these compatibility fixes are also automatically performed by igbFinisher if you're using that.

February 23, 2020, 10:03AM #18 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:09AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      Kitbashing is the process of combining different models into one new model. It's a way to get a model that may not exist specifically. I use it on pretty much every skin that I do, to make sure it's accurate to what I'm doing. Originally, I was going to go step-by-step with an example, but since kitbashing is different every time, I'm just going to explain the general process and some tips.
      For this section, I highly recommend you have a good degree of familiarity with 3ds Max, as these concepts are a bit more advanced

  • Start with a reference image. It'll help you determine what you need to do, and will guide the creative process
  • Pick a model that will best suit your character. You want something that you can use many elements of. For instance, I wouldn't start with a Beast skin to make a Jean Grey skin. I would want to start with something of Jean's first
  • Import your model into 3ds Max and get it properly set up. You want a properly oriented model before you start changing it
  • Delete anything from the model that you know you won't need. You can select elements or individual faces to delete
  • Edit your texture in gimp to delete anything on it that you don't need. To get a better idea of what's used and what isn't, you can use the "Unwrap UVW" modifier, which will show you how the model is mapped to the texture
  • Identify what things you'll need to add. In separate files, import and orient characters that have the elements you need, and then trim them up so you just have the elements you need
  • Import the elements into your kitbash character's file
  • Edit the texture of your kitbash character to include the textures of the new elements. You can move and scale things, but make sure not to scale anything smaller than 80% its original size. Avoid scaling faces down
  • Apply the texture to all the elements on your character. Use the Unwrap UVW modifier to adjust the texture mapping so that everything is in the proper place
  • Attach elements one by one to your main character (unless they're segments, capes, or items with separate textures; those can stay separate)
  • If you need to attach elements together, you can move the vertices around to get them close to one another. If you want to target weld individual vertices, convert from an Editable Mesh to an Editable Poly
  • If you need to cut faces (either to create more edge vertices to line things up, or to add more flexibility to an area), convert to an Editable Poly and use the Cut tool in Polygon selection mode. Make sure that all your polygons remain as triangles. Cut up anything with more than 3 sides.
  • Once you've attached everything together, apply the texture one more time to the collective object, convert everything back to an Editable Mesh, reset the pivot to 0,0,0, reset XForm, and collapse your modifiers

      That's the general process I use for kitbashing models. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, from just adding a small element to completely changing a skin. Once you're finished, you can head back the previous chapter that you were reading to continue on your modeling journey

February 23, 2020, 10:29AM #19 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:09AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      Reducing the polygon count of models is very useful for getting models into spec for console applications. The process can be done easily through 3ds Max, but you have to be careful how much you do it.
      Note: if an image is too small, click to expand it.

Poly reduction
      Poly reduction can be done through the MultRes modifier. Apply it to each element of your model that you want to reduce. You may want to detach certain elements (faces and hands are usually good) before reducing, depending on the initial level of detail and the amount you want to take out.
      At the bottom of the MultiRes modifier, press "Generate," which will allow you to begin the poly reduction. Adjust the vert percent or vert count to reduce the model. I don't recommend going below 50%, as it will heavily degrade your model. The higher the polygon count, the greater tolerance the model has for reduction.

      Once you've finished, reset XForm on all objects and collapse the modifiers. You can now return to the previous chapter that you were reading to continue your modeling journey.

February 24, 2020, 11:25AM #20 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:10AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      A lot of times, models of certain characters (especially really large characters) have proportions that don't quite line up with the default skeleton and height. Default models have longer legs than a lot of models from other games, which can make conversion tricky. Here's how to adjust the proportions
      Note: if an image is too small, click to expand it

Scaling the model
      Here's an example on how to adjust the model:

Expand to see steps
      For this example, I'll be using Hulk's Super War model, as Hulk models frequently have very short legs compared to their body
      Import your model into the scene, properly orient it, and, with the pivot at 0,0,0, scale it up so that it's about 7.25 blocks tall. Hulk's hips are about 3.5 blocks up, when they should be just above 4 blocks up. Setting up the skeleton like this would make him float a lot in the game.

      Now, scale him up so that his hips are just above the 4th line. Now, he's 9 blocks tall, which would make him way too big, especially with his scalefactor of 1.3.

      To remedy this, go to the "Hierarchy" rollout and select "Affect Pivot Only." Set the Z coordinate of the pivot to 41.82 (so its position will be 0,0,41.82), and then deselect "Affect Pivot Only"

      Then, scale the model so that his head is at about 7.25 blocks up. His legs will be floating, but he's the correct height now.

      Now, under the Modify rollout, press the black plus sign next to Editable Mesh, and select "Vertex." Select all of the vertices of his hips and legs from the waist down.

      Use the move tool to drag the vertices down until the feet are about halfway between the original position and the origin.

      Using the scale tool, expand the vertices vertically until the feet touch the plane. You may need to move them up or down slightly to make sure everything still looks natural

      The legs are now the proper length, but they look a bit skinny. Use the scale tool to make the legs a bit wider and a bit thicker

      And there you have it! Your model is now properly sized for XML1/XML2/MUA1 rigging. If you want your model to animate exactly like the default skins and match the proportions, I would recommend downloading the default biped templates. You can scale and adjust your model as necessary to fit them.

Raven Biped Template - Female
Raven Biped Template - Male
Raven Biped Template - Bulky Characters (patterned off of Juggernaut, will work for other characters like Thing or Hulk for the most part)

      You can now return to the previous chapter that you were reading to continue your modeling journey

June 15, 2020, 11:06AM #21 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:10AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      Many characters within X-Men Legends, X-Men Legends II, and Ultimate Alliance don't have a traditional human skeleton. This is particularly found in NPCs. Some of them are simply just really tall, some have extra appendages, and some are completely non-human. Read all the information below before using these bipeds.
      Below, I have a list of non-standard bipeds that have been extracted from the game and converted for use. I recommend that only advanced skinners use these, as there is an added layer of difficulty from the complex biped.
      Many of these bipeds feature additional bones. I made as many of them out of standard bipeds as possible, but some had to be built completely out of plain bones. Non-biped bones don't follow the rules of figure mode, so you have to be careful when editing the physique. You can set the keyframe to the last frame to move your model and test it there and then move it back to the first frame to reset it. You can also just press "undo" a bunch of times, as using the "undo" button won't undo changes to physique.
      Some of the bones in these bipeds look like they're facing the wrong way. This is not the case, and they're facing the proper way so that they can animate properly. I don't recommend changing the positions or rotations of these bones; it's better to adjust your mesh to fit the bones instead. For every biped, I've included one variant with the original rigged model so that you can tell how everything needs to be laid out.
      Some of these bipeds feature fx bones. Fx bones aren't part of your physique/skin modifier. You can find more info in Supplement 6: FX Bones.
      Lastly, I want to give a huge thank you to nikita488 for creating the tool that's allowed us to extract rigged models from the game. You're awesome!

The Bipeds
      Here's a list of all of the advanced bipeds that are available so far:

Expand to see bipeds
  • Angel
  • Blackheart
    • A standard biped, but he features a tail. He also has a longer neck than most conventional bipeds
    • Biped
    • Rigged Model
  • Fin Fang Foom
    • Fin Fang Foom is very tall. He has a tail, 4 fingers, fx bones on his fingers, multiple neck segments, and a ton of additional bones for his face and hands. His wings are a separate bolton from this model
    • Biped
    • Rigged Model
  • Galactus
    • Galactus is also very tall. He has 5 fingers, each with 3 bones, and he also has fx bones on each finger, and an fx bone for each eye
    • Biped
    • Rigged Model
  • Lizard
    • Lizard has a generally standard biped, but he features extra tail bones. He also has a long neck
    • Biped
    • Rigged Model
  • Lockjaw
    • Lockjaw has a very unusual shape, so I was not able to get him to work as a biped. He's just built out of regular bones. He has an extra bone for his jaw
    • Biped
    • Rigged Model
    • Modok uses a regular biped, but in a very strange shape. He also features 2 extra bones that control the weapons beside his head
    • Biped
    • Rigged Model
  • Scorpion
    • Scorpion has a regular biped, but he has a series of bones for his tail. The tail bones are different from normal ones, since they come from Spine2. He also has an fx bone
    • Biped
    • Rigged Model
  • Ymir
    • Ymir has a normal biped (aside from being very tall). He has 3 fingers instead of the usual 2
    • Biped
    • Rigged Model

June 18, 2020, 01:21PM #22 Last Edit: December 24, 2023, 05:42AM by ak2yny
Quote from: BaconWizard17 on June 15, 2020, 11:06AM
Note: It seems like this step isn't absolutely necessary, but you may get better results if you do an RGB-BGR swap. Feel free to test the results and let me know!

The first skin I worked on, after I read this tutorial and the colour-swap suggestion before converting the normal map, gave me problems that could be resolved with your method.

Note: I successfully applied over twenty normal maps without the RGB > BGR colour-swap, before I encountered this issue.

So here are the results and my opinion on them:

Original Skin (Cinematic Doom on MH model)   
No RGB>BGR colour-swap                               
With RGB>BGR colour-swap

Original Skin:No normal map applied. As a reference only. The skin is by Julio Cabral.
No RGB>BGR colour-swap:Note how the cape and armour have a chrome look and some distortions here and there.
The non-cape cloth parts have no bumps at all. No specular, environmental or gloss maps applied.
With RGB>BGR colour-swap:The skin looks as it should and the bumps show on all parts. Compare the bump details though:
The non-colour-swapped normal-map shows higher bumps and seems more detailed. Again, no other maps applied.

Conclusion: The RGB>BGR colour-swapped normal maps show a darker green than the normal maps with the red channel information. The red channel seems to preserve information in the alpha channel where it matters, giving the map more contrast (and bumps). The green and blue channel contain similar information and give the resulting normal map less contrast. If you extract the Iron Man example textures, the normal map is in a lighter green too, which makes me think that the proper way is to skip the colour-swap. The results can be better with the colour-swap though, as shown in the pictures. And if time allows it, it's definitely worth checking out both versions.

Important edit: The skin shown above has an issue that can be avoided when it's exported correctly (needs to be updated when we know what's the actual issue). The right way to apply normal maps is without switching blue and red channels, because MUA Material Editor and the Raven: Setup MUA Material optimization apply the textures in the correct colours (it's more apparent if you use a diffuse map and assign it as the diffuse texture in Finalizer). Only the Alchemy 2.5 exporter from 3ds Max 5 with DDS (diffuse) textures needs the colour-swap.

For the curious, I added another script for GIMP that does the colour-swap. Actually, it copies the blue channel to alpha instead of red. It's the same result.
Get it here.

September 11, 2020, 02:03PM #23 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:10AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      When editing the Physique and Skin modifiers, there are some extra things that you can do to make the process easier. The main one I'll be focusing on is saving the physique modifier as a .phy file/saving the Skin modifier as a .env file.

PHY and ENV Files
      Here's an overview of the process of saving these files:

Expand to see steps
      When editing the physique or skin modifier, you can save it at any point. The process for either is slightly different for each, but they do the same thing.
      For the Physique modifier, select it under the Modify rollout. Under the "Physique" section, select the save icon to save to a .phy file. You can name it anything you like. To load a .phy file, simply press the open icon next to it, and choose the correct .phy file. A dialog box will pop up. Keep all settings the same, and choose "all links" to be imported. For it to work properly, your current physique modifier must have the exact same bones in it as the .phy file (same names, but the sizes and positions can be different).

      For the skin modifier, the process is similar. Select the skin modifier, and scroll down to the bottom of it. Expand the "Advanced Properties," and then press "Save." You can now save it as a .env file. To load in a .env file, you simply select the "Load" button just under it. When the dialog box pops up, you can select "match by name" to make sure that the envelopes all match up, and then press "Okay." The incoming and current envelopes don't have to have the exact same bones, because the skin modifier will just match the ones that are in common.

      You may be wondering why you would need to do this. You don't ever need to do it, but there are many instances where this process is helpful.
  • If you forgot to move the pivots of all your objects to 0, 0, 0, then you can save the physique/skin modifier and delete the physique/skin modifier. Then, move all your pivots to 0, 0, 0, and reset X-Form. After this, you can reapply the physique modifier. If you saved a .phy file, you can apply it here, or you can convert to a skin modifier and then load the .env file
  • You can also do the above process if you need to adjust your model and skeleton's proportions after beginning the physique process.
  • These files can serve as useful backups in case your save gets corrupted.
  • If you're doing multiple skins for a character that have similar structure/proportions, you can use the same physique or skin modifier for them and just adjust the physique/skin on elements that are different.

September 11, 2020, 02:05PM #24 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:11AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      For a lot of mods, it's common to have some of the models be animated. Mannequins can be animated to change their presentation. Boltons can be animated to make a power look more realistic. In this section, I'll be covering 4 types of animated models: floating mannequins, looping-animation boltons, complex-animated mannequins, and rigged boltons.
  • Floating Mannequins: For characters that are in a flying pose, it is common to make their mannequin float. It's a very simple up-and-down bobbing animation
  • Looping-animation boltons: these are boltons with a single animation that loops over and over while in use. An example would be Wasp's wings fluttering at high speeds
  • Complex-animated mannequins: these are mannequins that start out as a skinned model and have some sort of more complex animation that they display in the select screen. BLaw has made mannequins like this.
  • Rigged boltons: these are boltons that have bones inside of them that allow them to work with a certain animation set. Some examples are Nightcrawler's tail and Mr. Fantastic's arms.

Floating Mannequins
      Floating mannequins are the easiest type to do, and they're also the most common. Here's how to make them:

Expand to see steps
     It's recommended that any mannequin that isn't touching the ground should float. For this example, I'll be using a Spider-Man mannequin.
      Start with the mannequin at a point above the ground. This is going to be the starting frame. For this, it's better to have your pivot centered in the object rather than in the world. To begin the animation sequence, press the bottom in the lower right that says "Auto Key." The screen will be surrounded in a red border, which indicates that keyframe mode is on. Along the bottom of the viewport there's a bar which can be dragged left and right. Make sure it's all the way to the left. It will say 0/100 on it. This indicates that it's on the first frame.

      Now, press the key button to the left of Auto Key to set your starting frame. A small multicolored bar will appear above the "0" on the timeline

      Now move the time bar to the middle frame, 50/100. Move your mannequin down 1 meter (subtract 1 from the Z coordinate). Moving the object will automatically set this frame. Move the time bar to the end frame, 100/100, and move the object back up to its starting height (add 1 to the Z coordinate). This will again set the frame.

      Toward the bottom right, there's a small icon with a clock on it. It's called Time Configuration. Currently, the animation is set to last 101 frames (0-100). The animations run at 30 frames per second, so this animation will last a bit more than 2.5 seconds. You can change the duration if you'd like. When you open the Time Configuration dialog, there will be a button that says "Re-scale Time." Press this button. It will allow you to make the animation faster without cutting anything off.
      60 is generally a good end time to use. That means the animation will last 2 seconds. You can play around with the settings and find what's best for you. I've used end frames anywhere from 60 to 120. I do recommend trying to do slightly different numbers for different characters so that they aren't perfectly synced up with other floating characters. Once you've finished scaling the time, press "OK" on both dialogs.

      Now your model is ready to export. You can export it the regular way for mannequins (as shown in Section 16). The only difference is that under "Default Animation," you should select "Bounce"

Looping-Animated Boltons
      Making animated boltons is a very similar process to the floating mannequin, but with an animated bolton, you can change it just about any way you want. Here's how:

Expand to see steps
      You can move the object, scale it, rotate it, or even transform individual vertices, faces, and elements.
      Note: This same process can be used for non-rigged mannequins, as well as for any kind of animated power models or even items found in-game.
      Just like the floating mannequin, you want to start with frame 0 as your initial pose, and then put transitional frames in the middle. You can have as many key frames as you want and as many total frames as you want. Keep in mind that the first frame and last frame should be identical to one another for the animation to properly loop. To duplicate any key frame, you can shift+click it and drag it along the timeline.
      For this example, I'm using this gun bolton. It starts facing up, and then at frame 25, I rotated it 90 degrees. At frame 50, I rotated it around another 90 degrees (so that it's upside down), and then I also pulled some of the gun's vertices out. At frame 75, I rotated it another 90 degrees, and had the vertices back to normal (to do this, I duplicated frame 25, but rotated it 180 degrees). Frame 100 is identical to frame 0 (again, I duplicated the frame).

      When exporting it, export again as you would a regular model. For the Default Animation, you can choose either "Bounce" or "Loop." Bounce will go back and forth along the timeline, Loop will continually loop through it. I'm not certain what Repeat or Clamp do.

Complex-Animated Mannequins
      Complex-animated mannequins are a step up from looping-animated boltons. They're essentially the same process, but instead of just dragging the model or its vertices around, you use the skeleton to move the model around. For this process, you MUST have a rigged model, as shown in chapters 12-14. You can't use mannequins from section 17 for this part. You have to have a rigged skin to do this process. Here's how:

Expand to see steps
      The procedure here is again the same, but instead of moving the mesh itself, you move the bones, and the model will move with them. Before turning on Auto Key, make sure figure mode is OFF. This will allow you to freely move the model around. I also recommend saving this file separately from your skin so as not to create any conflicts.
      It's best to start from Bip01, since everything stems from that. Sometimes it doesn't actually show the keyframe for Bip01 when you set it, but it will generally still work even if it doesn't. From there, you can move out and adjust all the other bones.
      One handy thing you can do, under the Motion rollout in the Keyframing Tools section, you can anchor the hands or feet. If your character is standing/hanging in place but moving the other parts of their body, these are very handy. (Anchoring any of the limbs keeps them still even if the rest of the body moves). The locking doesn't always translate well to the mannequin's actual animation though.
      If the keyframes don't show up for a bone, you can add and then subtract 0.1 from the rotation to ensure that the rotation does happen
      For this example, I just did a simple up-and-down squatting animation with Spider-Man to demonstrate how to do it.

      I haven't done a whole lot of experimenting with this, but the animation tools start to branch into conventional 3ds Max content, which should be covered by a lot of mainstream tutorials.
      Once you have your animation the way you like it, you can export it. Export the mesh only as you would a regular mannequin. Do not create an actor or add any of the bones to the export. You can select Loop or Bounce for the default animation. When you export, you'll get a warning message that says you are exporting a joint graph. This is normal, so just press OK.

Rigged Boltons
      Boltons can have bones too, the same way a skin can. Here's how they're set up:

Expand to see steps
     These are regular bones, which can be created under the Create rollout in the Systems section. There are a few approaches to making them: existing animations, single animations, and combined animations.
      For existing animations, you just need to replicate the bone structure of some existing bolton in the game. For example, if you wanted to make a tail bolton that uses Nightcrawler's tail animations, but you wanted it to have a different shape, you could use Nightcrawler's bones (you can find the download below) to make your own tail. For this process, you don't have to make your own animations, since you can use the ones from the game. I do believe you'll have to create an actor to export rigged boltons. As bones of rigged boltons are extracted, I'll add them here as convenient templates.
      Single animation boltons are very similar to the complex-animated boltons or the looping animation boltons above. The only difference is that the bolton has a series of bones in it, so you can create a physique modifier and edit it, and then convert it to a skin. This allows you to make more complex animations for your bolton rather than animating each vertex by hand.
      If you have a series of single animation boltons, you can make a new set of combined animations for your bolton. You can save several variants of the bolton, each with their own animation, and then export each one under a different name. You can then use the Alchemy 5 animation combiner to combine these into a new set that can be used with the rigged bolton. Keep in mind that this will only work for Ultimate Alliance on PC. I won't go into depth on the instructions for this process here, but you can find how to use the animation combiner in the animation tutorial.

      Animated models aren't a necessity for any mods, but they can greatly enrich how a mod plays. Although I didn't really go into extreme depth on the process because of how different it can be for any item, I hope you understand how it all works. Feel free to ask any further questions as needed!

September 11, 2020, 02:05PM #25 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:11AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      A lot of characters in MUA1 and MUA2 use what are known as fx bones. Fx bones are additional bones that are part of the model that allow effects to be connected beyond the regular skeleton. Usually, characters with bigger weapons have them. Here's a list of all known animation sets that use fx bones:
  • Black Panther, Black Widow, Blade, Daredevil, Deadpool, Elektra, Green Goblin, Human Torch, Iceman, Galactus, Psylocke, Ronin, Scorpion, Swordsman, Thor, and Wolverine.
      Any character that uses these animations will also have fx bones. For example, Beast uses Wolverine's _4_combat animations, so Beast has the same fx bones that Wolverine does.
      Fx bones only work in Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2 (all versions). X-Men Legends 1 and 2 do not support them, so it's not necessary to include these bones for skins that are only for X-Men Legends or X-Men Legends II.
      For this tutorial, Corvetterules was gracious enough to write an explanation on how to set up the fx bones for characters that use Thor's animations. I'll paste that explanation here, and afterwards I'll explain which fx bones the other characters use, and where those bones fall in the hierarchy.

Setting Up fx01 for Thor's Animations
      Here's Corevetterules' explanation on setting up FX bones:

Expand to see steps
      This chapter will address a problem that often rears its ugly head when one bases their mod's basic attack animations on Thor's. Usually, when you use a basic attack (I.e. a light or a heavy attack), you might notice that there's a small whoosh-like silver effect, which originates from your character's hand, or their weapon and looks like a trail. However, specifically in case you intend for your mod to use Thor's basic attack animations, those effects will not appear. The solution to that issue involves a short and simple enough process which begins with the introduction of a new bone inside your scene.
      Note: Throughout this chapter, you might notice that there is no Biped when you look at the pictures. It's just hidden, until a later stage of this tutorial (doesn't need to be hidden to begin with, it just happened to be in the first steps). Make sure you unhide it for when we get to the Schematic View part, if you have yours hidden.
      Note 2: You might also notice a red-outlined cubic shape in the origin of the scene. That's just the "igactor" of the skin, which is obtained as a result of the process of exporting the scene as an .igb skin for MUA. Also irrelevant to the task at hand.
      First, what you will want to do is to go to the Create tab on the right side of your 3ds Max screen, with the cursor icon. There, you will want to click the button "Bones"

      Once you have clicked the button, it will appear selected, colored in orange, and a menu with a bunch of different customization options will appear further down this right side of the 3ds Max window. None of that will be necessary for this, so you can forget about it.
      Now, just click anywhere in your scene in order to spawn a new bone. A diamond-like shape will appear in your scene, and you will notice that after clicking the first time to make it appear, you can scale its length by moving the cursor around (if you have practiced with and gotten accustomed to 3ds Max on a basic level before starting this tutorial, as was recommended in the very beginning, then you might notice that this is the same thing that happens when inserting some of the basic geometric shapes).
      Click again in order to stop the shape's customization, and then right-click. You will notice that there are actually two shapes that came out as a result of this

      No sweat. Just go to the "Select Object" button in 3ds Max's toolbar on the left side, select one of the two diamond-shaped objects (simply click on the shape of your choosing in your scene) and delete one of them by pressing the "Delete" key on your keyboard

      Now, select the remaining diamond and rename it, in the text box on the right side of the 3ds Max screen, under the "Name and Color" tab, from "Bone01"/"Bone02" (depends on which shape you deleted) to "fx01."

      The next step is to move your diamond-shaped bone so that it's in the very center of the weapon. In this case, it's an anime greatsword. It doesn't matter how it's pivoted, just make sure it's in the center of the entire thing.

      We're almost done. Now, in 3ds Max's toolbar, on the right side, click on the "Open Schematic View" button

      What you're going to see next is a gigantic schematic which depicts every mesh in your scene as part of a hierarchy. My particular character model is assembled from multiple meshes, so in your case, it may or may not have a ton of elements like it does in mine

      Out of all of these tree nodes, the only one you care about is the one that says "Bip01". Expand it and its children, in the following order: Bip01 -> Bip01 Pelvis -> Bip01 Spine -> Bip01 Spine1 -> Bip01 Spine2 -> Bip01 Neck -> Bip01 R Clavicle -> Bip01 R UpperArm -> Bip01 R Forearm -> Bip01 R Hand

      You can zoom in or out in this schematic using the mouse wheel. With these expansions complete, now locate the node which says "fx01". Will usually be isolated from the now expanded tree. In my case, it's the one circled in red in the picture below.

      Preferably, you should move this node so that it's closer, specifically, to Bip01 R Hand. Zoom in on it and click and hold on the top right corner of the node. Now move the cursor in order to drag it. Do so until you have brought it close to Bip01 R Hand.

      In this Schematic View window, in the toolbar, click on Edit -> Link Tool.

      Now click and hold the mouse button down on fx01, then drag your cursor to Bip01 R Hand. This will link fx01 as a child node of Bip01 R Hand. Your schematic will now reset, as if no expansions had been done at all, but as you can see, fx01 is a child of Bip01 R hand, as it should be

      You're done! Now you can just save your .max scene, then export as skin as usual. The silver whoosh effect will now show when you are basic attacking. For now, credit goes to UltraMegaMagnus, who taught me how to fix this issue, but I don't actually know who discovered this fix to begin with.

      Below, I'll list out the known fx bones, and what they need to be children of to function properly. One thing to note, is that you can alternatively use a dummy for your fx bone as opposed to an actual bone, and it will work the same way. You just have to orient it correctly.

Expand to see where fx bones are used
  • Black Panther
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
    • fx02: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
  • Black Widow
    • Gun1: parent bone unknown (likely R Hand)
    • fx02: parent bone unknown (likely L Hand)
    • Note: These bones can be found in her animations if you search them in a hex editor, but they do not show up when you view the skeleton in Finalizer. Her skins do not have these bones.
  • Blade
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
    • Gun1: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
  • Daredevil
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
    • fx02: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
  • Deadpool
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
    • fx02: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
    • fx03: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
    • fx04: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
    • fx05: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
  • Elektra
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 L Finger11
    • fx02: parent bone is Bip01 R Finger11
    • fx03: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
    • fx04: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
  • Green Goblin
    • fx01: parent bone unknown (likely R Hand)
  • Human Torch
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
    • fx02: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
  • Ronin
    • Gun1: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
  • Swordsman
    • Sword_left: parent bone unknown (likely L Hand)
    • Sword_right: parent bone unknown (likely R Hand)
  • Thor
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand
  • Wolverine
    • fx01: parent bone is Bip01 L Hand
    • fx02: parent bone is Bip01 R Hand

      Although fx bones aren't necessary, they're a nice addition to have, since they allow all the effects to properly show up. I highly recommend adding them, especially since they're so easy to do. Once you've added the fx bones, you can return to the previous chapter that you were reading.

One little comment on the "FX bones".

You can also use a Dummy for that instead of a bone. Just have to position it right through trial and error.

Quote from: BLaw on September 26, 2020, 02:56PM
One little comment on the "FX bones".

You can also use a Dummy for that instead of a bone. Just have to position it right through trial and error.

Thanks BLaw! I'll mention this

October 01, 2020, 02:31AM #28 Last Edit: October 01, 2020, 02:57AM by UltraMegaMagnus
I concur with Blaw, dummies works, when "beambolt" are referenced, maybe it means that the fx must be in the bolton file sometimes, not the actor. Might be the same when you see beambolt point, attache point. Most of fx I've seen for bolton are: fx, gun1, grab1 (for staff for example).
grab1 or fx are also used to determined where handle of weapon is. All vanilla holdable weapon have incorrect handle positioning.
A non exhaustive list of bolton with fx:
ALL THE GUNS BOLTON (to display muzzle effect at desired position) AND MOST OF HOLDABLE WEAPON

February 15, 2021, 09:21AM #29 Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 06:11AM by BaconWizard17

By BaconWizard17

      The Alchemy tools are a series of tools that can perform various functions on exported .igb files. The most important among them are Finalizer and Insight Viewer, but there are a series of other community tools that go with them.
      There are currently 2 different versions of Alchemy tools that have been discovered by the community: Alchemy 2.5 and Alchemy 5. This section will cover Alchemy 2.5, but it's important to understand the distinctions between the versions.
      The 3ds Max exporter provided in the virtual machine uses Alchemy 2.5. All files exported with that software will be in the format for Alchemy 2.5. The games themselves, however, use later versions of Alchemy.
  • X-Men Legends (all versions), X-Men Legends II (PC, PS2, XBOX, and GameCube), and Ultimate Alliance (PS2, XBOX) use Alchemy 3.2
  • X-Men Legends II (PSP), Ultimate Alliance (PSP and Wii), and Ultimate Alliance 2 (PS2, PSP, and Wii) use Alchemy 3.5
  • Ultimate Alliance (PC, XBOX 360, PS3, and Steam) use Alchemy 4.0
      Since Alchemy 2.5 is before all these versions, the Alchemy 2.5 tools will only work on files that have been exported with the Alchemy 2.5 exporter. These tools can't open any game files.
      Since Alchemy 5 is later than any of the game versions, it can open and edit many default game files as well as any Alchemy 2.5 files. However, files edited with Alchemy 5 can only be made to work with Alchemy 4.0 and some versions of Alchemy 3.5. So using Alchemy 5 can limit cross-compatibility. The two versions also have different functions from one another.

      Long story short: if you're making cross-compatible models, then you should use Alchemy 2.5 for any post-processing. If you're making models for Alchemy 4 only, then you can use Alchemy 5 for post-processing. Post-processing generally isn't necessary for most models, but it can be helpful.

Installing Alchemy 2.5
      Here's how to install the program so that you can use it:

Expand to see steps
      Alchemy 2.5 comes in a pre-installed form in this download here. Within the folder called "2 Paste contents of this folder to Alchemy directory," you can find the files. Simply move these files to C:\Alchemy\ and you're good to go! You must install it to this folder for the tools to work
      In the event that the above link goes down, or there is some issue with the pre-installed files, you can download the installer here. Run Alchemy25-ArtistPackMax-030218.exe to install it to C:\Alchemy. When you get to the "Customer Information" page in the install, you can use any email to register (it doesn't matter what you use, since it doesn't communicate with the servers anymore). The company name doesn't matter, and the serial number is "alchemy4max25".
      Note: the Alchemy 2.5 tools come pre-installed on the virtual machine, but for certain tools, you need to install them on your main PC as well. If you want to switch between the Alchemy 2.5 and Alchemy 5 tools, all you need to do is delete one from C:\Alchemy\ and extract the other in its place!

Using the Alchemy Tools
      The Alchemy 2.5 tools can be used on any .igb file that was exported with the Alchemy 2.5 exporter (which is the one used by the virtual machine). Here's how to use them:

Expand to see steps
     The two main default tools are Finalizer and Insight Viewer. Finalizer can be found in C:\Alchemy\ArtistPack\Finalizer\sgFinalizer.exe, and Insight Viewer can be found in C:\Alchemy\ArtistPack\insight\DX\insight.exe.
      Finalizer is a very powerful post-processing tool that allows you to make modifications to .igb files after exporting them. It wouldn't be possible to cover all its processes here, but I'll explain how the program works. There are 5 different panels within Finalizer 2.5, and each has a different process
  • At the top left is a tree of the various properties of the model. You can expand the categories here to see how the model is broken down and what properties are assigned where.
  • At the bottom left is the Optimizer Palette. You can choose various optimizations to run on the model. Double clicking them will put them in the list of "Optimizations to Run"
  • The list of Optimizations to Run is in the bottom middle, and it shows the optimizations that you've chosen to run on your model. Some optimizations have additional properties that can be edited here by double-clicking them.
  • The top right is a schematic view, where you can see the elements of your model and the child elements associated with them. Double clicking elements will expand them. Note that XML2/console-compatible custom skins will not show anything here.
  • The optimization processes are shown in the bottom right when they are being run. At the very bottom right of this section, you can find the "Run Optimizations" button, which will run any optimizations you've chosen for your model.

      Insight Viewer is a tool that allows you to view models that have been exported with Alchemy 2.5. Note that XML2/console-compatible skins will not show up in Insight Viewer. Certain models will also not show their textures when viewed in Insight Viewer. The Alchemy 2.5 version of Insight Viewer won't be able to view any default game files.

      The Alchemy 2.5 tools can perform many functions on files that have been exported with the Alchemy 2.5 exporter (which is used by the virtual machine). The default Alchemy 2.5 tools have been listed here, and you can learn about other processes in later supplements.