Headshot 2, the AI-powered add-on for Character Creator, enables advanced 3D real-time human creation from images and 3D models. It excels in model fitting, texture baking, and full-body animation, outperforming rivals. In this tutorial article, Peter Alexander showcases its versatility and discusses why it stands as the prime option for transforming static models into fully-rigged 3D heads.
Greetings, this is Peter Alexander. In this video, I’m going to demonstrate how to use Headshot 2 to create two distinctively different stylized characters. I’ll be using assets from the artist, Makar Malicki, and the character Fred, which is based on Makar’s work.
Makar has a wide variety of assets I’d encourage you to explore.
The head I’ll be using is from an asset named “Gustavo”, which can be found on Artstation. Makar provides a bash mesh version and a ZTL file. I’ll be using the ZTL file, as I’ll be transferring the details to Character Creator’s topology.
Choosing a Head Mesh Reference
Preparing your Head Reference
ZTL is a Zbrush format, so I’m now in Zbrush to utilize it. The character has several components, but I’m mostly focused on the base head mesh. Headshot will extrapolate textures for the rest of the body based on the texture map provided for the head; so it’s possible to design the look of the entire character from Headshot.
I’m not going to go crazy with texturing here, as I’m not a great texture artist. In addition, Character Creator provides a lot of additional maps that make materials look nice. So I’m going to add a bit of color for the skin, the nose, the ears, and maybe some shadows based on ambient occlusion values.
Projecting Details and Extracting Normals
After some thinking, I wanted the eyebrows and stylized stubbles to be part of the skin texture and normal maps to be transferred using Headshot. This can be achieved by using the project feature in Zbrush at a high subdivision level.
I hide the meshes I don’t want to be projected onto the head mesh and then use the project feature. After which I will go to the lowest subdivision and bake normal maps.
Ideally, the optimal approach would likely involve exporting this using GoZ and then importing it as an accessory. However, due to an oversight, I didn’t follow that process, yet the outcome was still successful. Moreover, I should have ideally adjusted this to match Character Creator’s scale, yet my uncertainty about the initial scale initially hindered this. Nonetheless, this minor detail is inconsequential since you can conveniently adjust the scale using Character Creator’s toolkit.
Scaling Head Mesh
The character I’m commencing with is Fred, who was initially adapted for a Character Creator content pack and draws inspiration from Makar’s design. I’m currently adjusting the head’s scale to a level that I believe will facilitate smoother transfer, requiring the least amount of effort in the later stages.
Consideration for your Source Material
I’ll pause here and say that if you’re going to use another artist’s work for a commercial purpose, you should definitely have the permission of the artist and any necessary licenses. With that said, I’ll start to navigate to the Headshot 2 panel and select the ‘Mesh’ option to initiate a detail transfer.
Assigning Reference Markers
You’ll notice a series of markers, which are designed for an optimal transfer of details. You need to match those markers to get the best results. You can try to auto assign points, and sometimes it works for stylized characters, but in many cases it’s best to do this manually to avoid losing match points in some difficult-to-see area of the mesh.
Sometimes it can be difficult to estimate where a corresponding point should go, but just do your best. The next step can assist you further, as long as you’re close to the mark.
The ‘Effective Area’ in the ‘HEAD GEN’ tab enables you to mask the head in order to emphasize specific details. For the purpose of this tutorial, I won’t be applying any masking adjustments.
The ‘REFINE MESH’ section provides the opportunity to enhance details even further. The closer your mesh aligns with the source, the more effectively the final details will be conveyed. If you find that your tools are causing the mesh to stick to the source too much, you can simply deactivate the ‘Conform to Source Mesh’ option.
The great thing about this addon is that it feels like it’s trying to help you every step of the way. It’s a little more intuitive than Zwrap, which is likely the inspiration for this tool. The focus on the head over the body is going to lead to more successful results, even though having body functionality would be great. Also, the ability to bake details directly from Headshot is a great feature.
Attaching Head to Body
When you’re ready, select ‘Attach To Body’. This will bring up another window, most of which is self-explanatory. I’m baking the normals from the source mesh, along with the normal maps I have provided. Ultimately, I want my maps to be 4096px in resolution.
Regarding the body, I’d like to stick with the current one loaded, which is the Fred character. It has turned out quite well. Although the head is slightly larger than my preference, I can make the necessary adjustments.
Touching up the Head in Zbrush
I’ll need to make some refinements based on my experience. I realize I should have given more attention to the nose during the refining process, which means I’ll need to address it in Zbrush. Apart from that, the outcome is promising. I intend to enhance the details before sending the meshes back to Character Creator.
Cleaning Up Normal Map
Now I’m going to clean up the normal maps a bit by sending the head normals to Krita. The base normal map color is (r: 128, g: 128, b: 255). Any distortions can be canceled out using this color.
Adjusting Other Features
And now I’m just going to adjust the eyes using the ‘Proportion Editor’.
The character is nearly good to go. Let’s put some clothes on him and test him out.
Correcting Clothing (For Stylized Bodies)
Often with highly exaggerated characters, standard clothes don’t fit well. For a character like this, you can try to convert the clothing to its base shape and scale it manually, then reconvert it to clothing. Unfortunately, you’ll lose some of the default settings in the process.
Usually, when an attempt is successful, I’ll save the project file, along with the head and body morph for further mixing.
Now I’m going to do the same thing with one of Makar’s orc models. I’m going to combine it with a Troll model I create for an upcoming content page.
I’ve only dialed in the body. Due to the exaggerated nature of this model, the body/head separation function leaves some deformation issues. I will see if I can still use it.
As before, I’m using the ZTL file and I’m preparing some very quick texture painting for demo purposes.
Correcting a Starting Body
The body I’m using is far more exaggerated than Fred, and has a significant hunch. So what I’m attempting to do here is use the ‘Proportion Editor’ to adjust some of the issues. Then I’m using the mesh editor to smooth out some of the deformations in the neck. Now I’m ready to initiate Headshot 2.
Using Auto-Detect for Reference Markers
This time I’ll try to auto-detect the markers. And surprisingly it does a decent job.
Headshot 2 does a great job with this character too. I’d probably have picked a more toned down body in retrospect, but I’d say this was a success.
Fixing the Posture of Ultra-Stylized Characters
The current posture and bone alignment challenges stem from the exaggerated proportions of the troll body. Given its default hunched stance, Character Creator attempts to make slight adjustments to rectify the posture.
Adding other Details
Now I’m just adding some additional touches in Zbrush, altering the teeth and more.
As I did with the Fred model, I’m going to use Krita to paint and blend out some of the flaws in the normal map.
I’m just using some assets I created to finish off the design.
I feel that now he’s sufficiently dressed as an orc. And with that, I will wrap up this article.
I hope this demo of Headshot 2 helps in some way. There are limitless possibilities waiting for you. For digital sculptors, you can now transfer your sculpted details to a clean topology with little effort, and animators can collaborate with other artists more effectively.
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