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Marvelous Designer to Blender


Wulfie Reanimator
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So I got Marvelous Designer this morning out of curiosity and... wow some people are lazy.

I'm going to write a little tutorial for exporting a piece of clothing from MD into Blender so you can further optimize/retopo it.

Disclaimer: This is my first time using MD or creating any kind of clothing. Here's what I'm gonna use for my example:

d4e6c4febb.png

Part 1: Leaving Marvelous Designer

  1. Select all clothing pieces
  2. Export the simulated cloth model (Export > OBJ)
    • Make sure your export settings are set to:
      • Select All Patterns (no avatars)
      • Single Object
      • Unweld
      • Thin
      • Unified UV Coordinates
      • Scale: Meters (optional)
  3. Right-click your cloth in MD's 3D view, select "Reset 2D Arrangement (Selected)"
    384c6fad14.png
     
  4. Export the cloth model again with the same settings

Part 2: Entering Blender

  1. Import both OBJ files, don't move them
  2. Rename the simulated model to "MD" and the flat model to "MD-Flat"
  3. Duplicate MD-Flat and rename it to "Retopo"
  4. Retopologize it now, trust me. Make sure your edges have a matching number of verts, you'll merge them together later.
  5. Select MD, then MD-Flat, then use the command "Join as Shapes"
    f9e571e032.png
    • Select the MD shape key (Object Data tab) and make sure "Value" is at 0
       
  6. Add the Surface Deform modifier to Retopo, with MD-Flat as the target, and bind it
    7b5a9baec9.png
     
  7. Make Retopo overlap with MD, you're done! (almost)
    1. Select MD-Flat
    2. Go to Object Data
    3. Select the MD shape key and set "Value" to 1
      72f20f030c.png

Your retopo'd mesh should now perfectly align with the original MD cloth.

Your retopo'd mesh should have the same UV layout as the 2D layout in Marvelous Designer. (Unless you created a new object for the retopo.)

Now you should just need to apply the modifier, Remove Doubles and merge the edges together where needed. I also created some new geometry to hide gaps between the cloth and body, and rearranged the UV.

c8c466df3b.png

Bonus tip: Quad Mesh Export

In Marvelous Designer, when you've selected all of your clothing pieces, go to the Property Editor (under Miscellaneous) and set "Mesh Type" to "Quad" before exporting anything. Marvelous Designer 9 also has a "Remesh" feature in the same place. Remesh will do most of the work for you, but you'll still need to clean up some random triangles. These are the remesh/quad exports side-by-side:

0RNpsep.png

This whole process, including learning how to use MD and reading several tutorials, took me one morning/day. I tried rigging it, but I did not use an appropriate dummy (or even a T-pose) and I don't have the focus/motivation to learn another big new thing within the day. Hopefully I got far enough to be helpful to those who need it most.

Frankly, I understand the "it takes a lot of work to optimize" argument even less now.

Edited by Wulfie Reanimator
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43 minutes ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

So I got Marvelous Designer this morning out of curiosity and... wow some people are lazy.

(lots of good info) 

Frankly, I understand the "it takes a lot of work to optimize" argument even less now.

This method is still far from optimal, BUT it's a HUGE step forward in comparison to the raw MD export. And it's WAY easier to rig properly with that new geometry than that mess the original mesh featured. Just remind the reader to get rid of any left over modifiers and or shape keys, should they have any.

This is why I'm so adamant in saying that retopoing a garment from MD is not only trivial, it's beneficial to the overall product quality. How long did your method take? Five , ten minutes? It takes a little longer to make LoDs for sure, but it's easy with clean topology like that. That's why it's a beneficial process: easier and smoother Rigging, easier and straightforward removal of excess geometry for LoDs and less render complexity once imported to SL. 

Good job Wulfie 😊

Edited by OptimoMaximo
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1 minute ago, OptimoMaximo said:

This method is still far from optimal, BUT it's a HUGE step forward in comparison to the raw MD export. And it's WAY easier to rig properly with that new geometry than that mess the original mesh featured. Just remind the reader to get rid of any left over modifiers and or shape keys, should they have any.

This is why I'm so adamant in saying that retopoing a garment from MD is not only trivial, it's beneficial to the overall product quality. How long did your method take? Five , ten minutes? It takes a little longer to make LoDs for sure, but it's easy with clean topology like that. That's why it's a beneficial process: easier and smoother Rigging, easier and straightforward removal of excess geometry for LoDs and less render complexity once imported to SL. 

Good job Wulfie 😊

Do you have suggestions on an even more optimal workflow? (Also could you remove most/all of your quote? It's pretty redundant and makes the page longer, lol.)

Everything up to the shape-keying took literally less than 5 minutes. I spent most of my time merging verts after applying the surface deform, and making sure the UV was properly mirrored and aligned.

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15 hours ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

Do you have suggestions on an even more optimal workflow? (Also could you remove most/all of your quote? It's pretty redundant and makes the page longer, lol.)

Did the edit. Sorry for that redundancy! 

The most optimal method is to retopo by hand, following the topology rules for troublesome areas in order to get good deformations (namely, the joint areas). If edges are placed in the correct spots to mimic the original UV seams, at least with Maya, they can be transfered to the new topology no problem, admitting that it's what one wants. Typically I don't, because of the stretching that occurs on textures on such mesh/UV from MD. I just prefer to rearrange and unfold them myself, the fold bending effect can be achieved using extracted normals and height maps during the texturing stage, if that's a concern. An optimal method really needs work, but once a flow has been established, it doesn't take that long. 

Edited by OptimoMaximo
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5 hours ago, Kyrah Abattoir said:

It's also very relaxing, and good shortcut/finger practice

That depends on individual tastes, but for sure it gives finer control over the final polygon count, and allows the use of a very coarse geometry to begin the shaping and UV mapping that's easier/less complex to control and make selections on, while not hindering the use of a smoothing algorithm of sorts (subsurf, turbosmooth or smooth) to increase the resolution later on, to catch some smaller detail. This also provides 1 lod level, since the subdivision increases the polycount by 4 at every smoothing iteration. Assuming 1 subdivision being applied, the subdivided model is the high lod, the original is the low lod, the medium lod can be easily made from the high lod by removing every other edge loop. The same applies to the low lod, which can easily generate the lowest following the same method. Same UV mapping, same shape. At Rigging stage, copy the weights from the high lod over to the other models basing off UV placement. No more work required. As I said, it takes some extra work, but that definitely produces the finest technical quality of an asset. 

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19 hours ago, OptimoMaximo said:

The most optimal method is to retopo by hand, following the topology rules for troublesome areas in order to get good deformations (namely, the joint areas). 

Okay, I was beginning to think I was wasting time retopoing by hand, making sure the edges somewhat align where the base mesh bends. So my OCD is not totally misguided.

 

10 hours ago, Kyrah Abattoir said:

It's also very relaxing, and good shortcut/finger practice.

I do not now about relaxing, but my OCD sure makes me do it.

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9 minutes ago, Pirschjaeger Fassbinder said:

Okay, I was beginning to think I was wasting time retopoing by hand, making sure the edges somewhat align where the base mesh bends. So my OCD is not totally misguided.

 

I do not now about relaxing, but my OCD sure makes me do it.

Well it's the same advice as always, tools are just tools. They can be used to maximize your productivity but they shouldn't be seen as a replacement for a skill you don't have.

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I found some time for more experimenting (side-note: the new Animal Crossing is really good and adorable), here's how to do Marvelous Designer's "remesh" yourself, using the triangulated mesh MD uses for best performance.

So we start with this much more complicated model:

12f6705e96.png

Export as explained in Part 1, so we have something like this in Blender:

a04b04e355.png

Make a new copy of the flat model and extrude it so you have something solid:

97c0410a05.png

Create a new plane, subdivide it until you have the resolution you want (I used 100 subdivisions), and overlap it with the solid model:

77e5abfc29.png

Add a Boolean modifier to the plane, target the solid model and set the Operation to "Intersect" before applying.

1e7189d1cf.png

Now you can add the shape key and Surface Deform modifier, targeting the original flat model, and move it into place:

c6b16d02d6.png

Note: The pieces still need merging and don't have matching edge verts (in fact the edges are the only places that are slightly messed up due to extra verts with the boolean), but I think this is a cleaner starting point than MD's built-in remesh feature -- even if you're still going to retopo the whole thing by hand since you can now use modifiers with better results.

This only took about 2-3 minutes of work and you get the same clean UV map for free, since you're just cutting into the plane's default UV map.

c38a4a67f5.png

Edited by Wulfie Reanimator
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5 hours ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

Another good method, too long to quote entirely 

 

That's a similar approach to what was shown years ago for Maya using the transfer attributes tool. The only difference is that the new flat version is being moved over to the draped model using their uv coordinates for vertex space movement.

This still takes a good amount of work afterwards and needs care when merging the vertices at the seams, as that creates texture distorsions. One method is to use a cutting tool that preserves UVs, to divert the last edge to a closer position to the twin mesh shell to avoid that distortion and remove the old one, so that merging doesn't move vertices in space too much. Another method is to make sure to enable UV preservation in the move tool to get pair of vertices closer together before merging (but I don't know if blender has such an option yet) 

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9 minutes ago, OptimoMaximo said:

That's a similar approach to what was shown years ago for Maya using the transfer attributes tool. The only difference is that the new flat version is being moved over to the draped model using their uv coordinates for vertex space movement.

This still takes a good amount of work afterwards and needs care when merging the vertices at the seams, as that creates texture distorsions. One method is to use a cutting tool that preserves UVs, to divert the last edge to a closer position to the twin mesh shell to avoid that distortion and remove the old one, so that merging doesn't move vertices in space too much. Another method is to make sure to enable UV preservation in the move tool to get pair of vertices closer together before merging (but I don't know if blender has such an option yet) 

I haven't noticed any kind of texture distortion being caused by merging vertices. The ones that need to be merged are very close together to begin with, any stretching would be imperceptible and at this point you shouldn't have the final UV anyway. I don't know either if Blender has a "preserve UV" feature. I imagine it does, at least as an addon.

Though, there is a trick to reducing the amount of annoying geometry that comes from edges barely overlapping during the boolean. You can edit the subdivided plane a little to move the geometry around, it should reduce the later hassle. For example, the hood I showed has some real painfully thin geometry near the seam, so a tiny adjustment is all I need:

479a1cd04a.png

(Pro-tip: Hold Ctrl to select "shortest path" between two points.)

2dd544b3b4.png
b5ccd0b5a5.png

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5 minutes ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

I haven't noticed any kind of texture distortion being caused by merging vertices. The ones that need to be merged are very close together to begin with, any stretching would be imperceptible and at this point you shouldn't have the final UV anyway.

It's minimal distortion, yes... Yet it is there and is more likely to show itself when using a fine pattern like a fabric. Considering how close people inspect clothing, those might become perceptible, so this detail needs to be pointed out in order to create awareness about it, it's the modeler final call whether to do something about or not. As per the UV being final or not, most people would call it good enough and wouldn't proceed with any further optimization. It's worth noting, at this point, that pinning the UV borders and relaxing the inner UV vertices is most likely going to fix thos minimal distortions anyway. 

In regard to the preserve uv options in the move tool, I don't think it is available in blender yet, considering that exact edge loop insertion is a relatively new feature. What I'm talking about is the move tool, when moving vertices around, preserves the correspondent uv vertex coordinate relative to its mapping position to compensate and avoiding texture distortions. Someone more into Blenders nitty gritty features may come in and confirm whether or not it's an option there. 

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1 hour ago, OptimoMaximo said:

In regard to the preserve uv options in the move tool, I don't think it is available in blender yet, considering that exact edge loop insertion is a relatively new feature. What I'm talking about is the move tool, when moving vertices around, preserves the correspondent uv vertex coordinate relative to its mapping position to compensate and avoiding texture distortions. Someone more into Blenders nitty gritty features may come in and confirm whether or not it's an option there. 

When "moving" - ie grabbing and dragging - vertices around, nothing happens to the UV. But, if you are sliding edges or vertices blender can change the UV as you do it - it's the 'correct UV" tool option for edge and vertex sliding and is enabled by default in blender 2.8x. by judicious use of "snap to vertex" and sliding the edge verts on one part to match the other, so that they can be merged they should also slide that vertexes UV position an equivalent (proportionally speaking) distance along the appropriate edge. So, to merge a couple of edge verts on different parts, like that hood seam for example, a user was to slide the vert on one part to the intersection of the edges, then turn "snap to vertex" and slide the other vertex along its edge to meet and and snap to it, they should then be close enough that a "merge at center" or "merge by distance" to join them will not distort things and they would have their mutual positions correct on the UV map too

 

As a side note, something that blender does not have and which I know I'm not the only person has missed... it can't do "edge slides" or "vertex slides" while editing the UV - sliding along edges can only be done while editing  the geometry.

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8 hours ago, Da5id Weatherwax said:

When "moving" - ie grabbing and dragging - vertices around, nothing happens to the UV. But, if you are sliding edges or vertices blender can change the UV as you do it - it's the 'correct UV" tool option for edge and vertex sliding and is enabled by default in blender 2.8x.

OK that's good. Fortunately in Maya ANY movement or rotation of a vertex or edge or face, or even scaling at object transform level, can have the UV preservation enabled with no restriction tied to sliding. Same goes when editing UVs, sliding in the UV map is possible. Nice to see that Blender is slowly getting close.

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  • 1 month later...

You know all this retopo can also just be done inside MD using the topology tool on the 2D pattern pieces? Then just use the 3D view to your left to make sure everything is lining up from seam to seam. 

Then duplicate the mesh and sew together, export thin/welded OBJ and you have nice topology with welded seams inside blender.

They've also released a remesh topology option which creates a quaded editable topology before the mesh is made with a few triangles that you can fix up, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCxZEAK_g2o&feature=emb_title

cheers

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8 hours ago, 3DFashionDesigns said:

and you have nice topology

Nice topology yes, still far from good. See, good topology isn't just a matter of getting all quads. Triangles can be part of good topology too, what makes it good is the edge flow at joint locations when it bends, with circular and concentric patches that ensure higher density (and less stretching caused by linear movement) on the stretching side of a joint and lower density on the compression side. What is shown in the video is nice topology by the mean of being workable in a 3d app. It can even work well in some instances, but it's still a noob topology as the same amount of stretching on one side of a joint  applies as compression on the joints opposite side. 

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9 hours ago, 3DFashionDesigns said:

You know all this retopo can also just be done inside MD using the topology tool on the 2D pattern pieces? Then just use the 3D view to your left to make sure everything is lining up from seam to seam. 

Then duplicate the mesh and sew together, export thin/welded OBJ and you have nice topology with welded seams inside blender.

They've also released a remesh topology option which creates a quaded editable topology before the mesh is made with a few triangles that you can fix up, here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCxZEAK_g2o&feature=emb_title

cheers

Just because MD can produce quads doesn't make it produce good topology unfortunately.

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@Kyrah Abattoir @OptimoMaximo

I think you both misunderstood me. I'm simply talking about using the manual topology tool inside MD, does it matter where you do the manual retopology? Surely it's faster to do the retopology on the 2D flat pieces over snapping it to the model inside blender?

When you can manually lay it out in the 2D pattern view and see where it's ending up on the 3D view next to you in MD. I'm not talking about just changing the model automatically to quads or using the remesh feature then saving it as is, that's terrible!

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2 hours ago, 3DFashionDesigns said:

@Kyrah Abattoir @OptimoMaximo

I think you both misunderstood me. I'm simply talking about using the manual topology tool inside MD, does it matter where you do the manual retopology? Surely it's faster to do the retopology on the 2D flat pieces over snapping it to the model inside blender?

When you can manually lay it out in the 2D pattern view and see where it's ending up on the 3D view next to you in MD. I'm not talking about just changing the model automatically to quads or using the remesh feature then saving it as is, that's terrible!

While it's true that you can do the retopo in Marvelous, I had never used it before so it was much faster to export the model into Blender and use the knowledge I already have there.

The automatic remesh feature you and I have both mentioned does not create completely clean topology. Look at the bonus tip in the OP for an example.

Edited by Wulfie Reanimator
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33 minutes ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

While it's true that you can do the retopo in Marvelous, I had never used it before so it was much faster to export the model into Blender and use the knowledge I already have there.

The automatic remesh feature you and I have both mentioned does not create completely clean topology. Look at the bonus tip in the OP for an example.

Agreed, the automatic version without working on it after does not work at all for providing a cleaner workflow. 

Also, this is close to that MD > ZBRUSH > Maya workflow lots of people use but with blender:
 


Forward to 7:30 onwards for the zbrush version, for those who really really would like to skip any manual retopology and are happy enough to accept the one this spits out into blender.

Cheers

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5 hours ago, 3DFashionDesigns said:

Surely it's faster to do the retopology on the 2D flat pieces over snapping it to the model inside blender?

Faster, yes. As good as laying down edge loops where they're needed, no. 

 

2 hours ago, 3DFashionDesigns said:

Also, this is close to that MD > ZBRUSH > Maya workflow lots of people use but with blender

I myself use this kind of workflow, but through the years, and still now with ZBrush 2020, the zremesh tool creates areas of spiraling edge loops that are a complete nightmare to work when making UVs. When speed is imperative, I use the zremeshed model and delete the chunks where spirals are found and reconstruct only those. Usually spirals form on arms and legs, specifically and more often on forearms and calves area, no matter how you strongly mark guidelines (zremesh guide curve, polygroups with marked edges and such). Do you realize that most of the videos about those work flows show how to quickly create art for a portfolio entry, for which there is no way to check usability in an actual production environment and there's no need to, as long as the few shots look good? If that was that quick, movies like pacific rim, games like assassin's creed, would be finished in a fraction of the time than that it really takes. 

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3 hours ago, OptimoMaximo said:

Faster, yes. As good as laying down edge loops where they're needed, no. 

 

I myself use this kind of workflow, but through the years, and still now with ZBrush 2020, the zremesh tool creates areas of spiraling edge loops that are a complete nightmare to work when making UVs. When speed is imperative, I use the zremeshed model and delete the chunks where spirals are found and reconstruct only those. Usually spirals form on arms and legs, specifically and more often on forearms and calves area, no matter how you strongly mark guidelines (zremesh guide curve, polygroups with marked edges and such). Do you realize that most of the videos about those work flows show how to quickly create art for a portfolio entry, for which there is no way to check usability in an actual production environment and there's no need to, as long as the few shots look good? If that was that quick, movies like pacific rim, games like assassin's creed, would be finished in a fraction of the time than that it really takes. 

Not for the sake of full productions, but for SL (and daz3d where I come from) content perhaps, I've seen this workflow used with blender and seen perfect edge loops that go around, and others who did end up with spiralling edges that go on a journey lol 

The topo tool in MD allows you to add edge loops just fyi!

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10 hours ago, 3DFashionDesigns said:

I'm simply talking about using the manual topology tool inside MD, does it matter where you do the manual retopology?

My bad I misread you, I have no experience or opinion on this specific tool within MD.

Edited by Kyrah Abattoir
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