Unreal Engine 5 Character Creation, Animation, and Cinematics

Book description

Get to grips with the base workflow and create your own cinematic scenes in UE5 by learning to develop the main elements, animate, and combine them into a complete rendered movie scene with the help of key images printed in color

Key Features

  • Perform your entire rigging and animation workflow inside Unreal Engine 5 using Control Rig tools
  • Create hand-keyed animations and clean up motion capture natively in Unreal Engine
  • Learn the basics of creating 3D assets and customizing a MetaHuman for your movie needs

Book Description

Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) offers beginners and seasoned professionals the ability to create detailed movie scenes with realistic human characters using MetaHuman and combine it with custom props and environments. It also comes with built-in industry standard animation tools to develop such scenes in a fraction of the time compared to old methods. This book takes you through the entire 3D movie production pipeline using free (open - source) software.

By following the step-by-step, beginner-friendly tutorials in this book, you'll learn how to create your own custom 3D assets in Blender and texture these 3D assets in Quixel Mixer. Next, you'll take these completed 3D assets into Unreal Engine 5 and use them to build a virtual 3D movie set for your 3D movie. You'll also populate your 3D movie set by using Quixel MegaScans assets and create and customize your own photorealistic human character using MetaHuman Creator and UE5. As you advance, you'll discover how to rig, skin, and animate these 3D assets and characters using Blender and UE5's new Control Rig. Finally, you'll explore the process of setting up your movie cameras and animation sequences and rendering your 3D movie using UE5's Sequencer.

By the end of this Unreal Engine book, you'll have learned how to combine different elements in UE5 to make your own movies and cinematics.

What you will learn

  • Create, customize, and use a MetaHuman in a cinematic scene in UE5
  • Model and texture custom 3D assets for your movie using Blender and Quixel Mixer
  • Use Nanite with Quixel Megascans assets to build 3D movie sets
  • Rig and animate characters and 3D assets inside UE5 using Control Rig tools
  • Combine your 3D assets in Sequencer, include the final effects, and render out a high-quality movie scene
  • Light your 3D movie set using Lumen lighting in UE5

Who this book is for

This book is for beginners to Unreal Engine or 3D animation and art in general who want to learn the entire process of creating 3D movies with Unreal Engine 5. Experienced 3D artists and animators new to UE5 will also find this book invaluable as it covers cutting-edge techniques for making real-time 3D movies using Unreal Engine, Blender, Quixel Mixer, and Quixel Bridge. Although prior experience with 3D software is not necessary, it will be helpful in understanding the concepts more easily.

Publisher resources

Download Example Code

Table of contents

  1. Unreal Engine 5 Character Creation, Animation, and Cinematics
  2. Contributors
  3. About the authors
  4. About the reviewer
  5. Preface
    1. Who this book is for
    2. What this book covers
    3. To get the most out of this book
    4. Download the example files
    5. Download the color images
    6. Conventions used
    7. Get in touch
    8. Share Your Thoughts
  6. Part 1 Creating 3D Assets
  7. Chapter 1: An Introduction to Blender's 3D Modeling and Sculpting Tools
    1. Technical requirements
    2. What is 3D modeling?
    3. Understanding 3D sculpting
    4. Introducing Blender
      1. The user interface
      2. Elements in the 3D Viewport
      3. Interacting with the 3D world in Blender
      4. Axes and transform orientations
      5. Manipulating objects or their components
    5. Exploring Blender's modeling tools
      1. Extrude region
      2. Bevel
      3. Loop Cut
      4. Inset Faces
      5. Merging faces, edges, and vertices
      6. Proportional Editing
    6. Using modifiers in Blender
      1. The Mirror modifier
      2. Subdivision Surface modifier
    7. Using Blender's sculpting tools
      1. Brush settings
      2. Remesh
      3. Blender's sculpting brushes
    8. Other sculpting tools
      1. Line Project tool
      2. Mesh Filter tool
    9. Summary
    10. Further reading
  8. Chapter 2: Modeling a Robot Drone Character
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Preparing Blender's Units
    3. Modeling a Robot Drone character
      1. Modeling the shape of the body
      2. Creating eyes
      3. Adding a shoulder and a ball joint
      4. Attaching a KitBash mesh
      5. Modeling the arm
      6. Extruding the custom shape
    4. Summary
  9. Chapter 3 : Let's Sculpt an Alien Plant!
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Loading the file containing the reference image
    3. Blocking out your model
      1. Extruding and duplicating mesh parts
      2. Subdividing the mesh
    4. Sculpting the primary forms
    5. Fixing problem areas
      1. Flattening an area of the mesh
      2. How to fix surface artifacts
    6. Adding secondary and tertiary forms
      1. Using masking in 3D sculpting
      2. Adding the final polish to the sculpture
    7. Generating the low-resolution mesh
      1. Decimating the mesh in Blender
      2. Using Instant Meshes for auto-retopology
    8. Summary
  10. Chapter 4: UV Maps and Texture Baking
    1. Technical requirements
    2. What are textures and materials?
      1. Textures
      2. Materials
    3. Understanding UV maps
    4. UV unwrapping the Alien Plant model
      1. Fixing shading issues
      2. Creating UV seams
      3. UV unwrapping the Alien Plant model
      4. Triangulating the Alien Plant model
      5. Exporting the Alien Plant mesh
    5. UV unwrapping the Robot Drone model
    6. Understanding texture baking
    7. Introduction to xNormal
    8. Preparing the Robot Drone model for xNormal
      1. Preparing the low-poly mesh
      2. Preparing the high-poly mesh
    9. Baking texture maps
    10. Summary
  11. Chapter 5: Texturing Your Models inside Quixel Mixer
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Introducing the basics of Quixel Mixer
      1. Configuring your project and Mixer file
      2. Quixel Mixer's UI and shortcuts
    3. Texturing the Robot Drone in Mixer
      1. Loading the Robot Drone model into Quixel Mixer
      2. Adding texture maps
      3. Adding paneling details
      4. Texturing the Robot Drone
      5. Using material ID maps and masks
    4. Texturing the Alien Plant in Mixer
    5. Exporting your materials for use in UE
    6. Summary
    7. Further reading
  12. Part 2 Building Your Virtual Movie Set in Unreal Engine 5
  13. Chapter 6: Exploring Unreal Engine 5
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Introducing UE5
      1. What can you do with UE?
      2. New features in UE5
      3. Free sample projects
      4. Examples of animation projects that were made in UE5
      5. UE terminologies
    3. Setting up your project
    4. Viewport navigation
    5. Most useful shortcuts
    6. UE's UI
      1. Docking the Content Browser panel
      2. The Viewport menu bar
    7. Summary
  14. Chapter 7: Setting Up Materials in UE 5
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Importing your 3D assets
    3. Importing textures
      1. The Texture Editor
    4. Creating materials
      1. The Material Editor
      2. The Static Mesh Editor
    5. Previewing your models with lighting
    6. Summary
  15. Chapter 8: Using MetaHuman to Create a Photorealistic Human for UE5
    1. Technical requirements
    2. What is MetaHuman Creator?
    3. Getting access to MetaHuman Creator
    4. Launching MetaHuman Creator
    5. MetaHuman's UI
    6. Creating a photorealistic female sci-fi character
      1. Customizing the shape of your character's face
      2. Previewing your character with animations
    7. Adding your MetaHuman to Unreal Engine 5
    8. Customizing your character's clothing
    9. Summary
  16. Chapter 9: Building a Virtual 3D Movie Set in UE5
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Setting up the basic elements of your 3D movie set
      1. Adjusting the scene's exposure
      2. Adjusting the Viewport's Field of View
    3. Using Quixel Bridge to acquire free 3D assets
    4. Customizing your material instances
      1. The Material Instance Editor's UI
      2. Editing your Material Instances
      3. Using Albedo Tint for the Rock assets
      4. Using Nanite on your rock assets
      5. Using asset filters in the Content Browser window
    5. Building the 3D movie set
    6. Summary
  17. Chapter 10: Adding Lighting and Atmospheric Visual Effects in UE5
    1. Technical requirements
    2. The fundamentals of lighting in 3D graphics
      1. Realistic and stylized lighting
      2. The three traditional lighting techniques
      3. Types of light sources in UE5
      4. Using Lumen in your UE5 projects
    3. Preparing your project
    4. Adding a Sky Atmosphere system
    5. Lighting your 3D movie set
      1. Adjusting your Key light (Light Source)
      2. Adjusting your first Fill light (SkyLight)
      3. Adding a second Fill light (DirectionalLight)
    6. Adding atmospheric visual effects
      1. Adding Fog
      2. Light Shafts
      3. Lens Flare and Light Bloom
    7. Summary
    8. Further reading
  18. Part 3 Character Rigging for Animation in UE5 with Control Rig
  19. Chapter 11: Alien Plant Joint Setup in Blender
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Preparing our 3D model for the skeleton
      1. Importing the Alien Plant into Blender
      2. Best practice when importing your model
      3. Positioning and scaling the Alien Plant
    3. Parent/child hierarchies in 3D software
    4. Creating a skeleton for the Alien Plant
      1. Creating the skeleton
      2. Creating a parent/child relationship
      3. Making a long joint chain for the main stem
      4. Making the skeleton for the branches
    5. Summary
  20. Chapter 12: Alien Plant Skinning in Blender
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Introduction to skinning in Blender
      1. Painting skin weights
    3. Skinning the Alien Plant mesh to the skeleton
      1. Skinning the Alien Plant
    4. Summary
  21. Chapter 13: Robot Joint Setup and Skinning in Blender
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Creating a skeleton for the robot
      1. Opening, positioning, and scaling the robot
      2. Body and left arm bones
      3. Renaming and parenting the bones
      4. Using the Symmetrize tool
    3. Checking and editing the local joint orientations of the joints
      1. What is the local orientation of a bone?
      2. Editing local bone orientations
    4. Skinning the robot to the skeleton in a rigid way
      1. Preparing the model and collapsing modifiers
      2. Skinning the robot body parts
      3. Assigning exact skin weights to vertices
    5. Summary
  22. Chapter 14: Making a Custom Rig for Our Alien Plant with Control Rig
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Introduction to the Control Rig Editor
      1. Loading the Control Rig tools in UE
      2. Getting the Alien Plant and its skeleton into UE
      3. Creating the Control Rig node on the Alien Plant
      4. Understanding the Control Rig Editor interface layout
    3. Creating basic Control Rig controllers
      1. Creating two simple control shapes
      2. Deciding on the controllers we need
      3. Creating all the controllers
      4. Organizing the controllers in a hierarchy
      5. Positioning the controllers on the joints
    4. Controlling the Alien Plant skeleton with the controllers
      1. Practical setup for three basic nodes
      2. Completing the animation rig
    5. Summary
  23. Chapter 15: Creating a Control Rig with Basic IK Controls for the Robot in UE5
    1. Technical requirements
    2. What is IK?
      1. Understanding IK
    3. Creating the controllers for the robot character
      1. Exporting the robot and its skeleton from Blender
      2. Importing the robot into a UE project
      3. Creating the Control Rig controllers
    4. Ordering the control objects in the correct hierarchy and linking them to joints
      1. Controller hierarchy
      2. Positioning the controllers to line up with the bones
      3. Linking bones to controllers in Rig Graph
    5. Creating an IK controller and testing the whole rig
      1. Getting bone orientations of our arm bones
      2. Setting up an IK controller
      3. Testing the IK setup
    6. Summary
  24. Part 4 Animation in UE5 Using Control Rig and Sequencer
  25. Chapter 16: Creating a Simple Swaying Animation Cycle in UE5 Sequencer
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Overview of the Sequencer interface
      1. Opening the Sequencer and adding the Alien Plant animation rig
      2. Sequencer interface overview
    3. Setting keyframes for animation
      1. What are keyframes and curves in computer animation?
      2. Setting keyframes for the Alien Plant Control Rig
    4. Editing keyframes and animation curves
    5. Summary
  26. Chapter 17: Creating Three Simple Animations for the Robot in UE5 Sequencer
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Animation A: idle cycle
      1. Using the Poses tool in UE5
      2. Animating the idle cycle
    3. Animation B: movement cycle
    4. Animation C: action animation
    5. Summary
  27. Chapter 18: Importing Motion Capture onto the MetaHuman Control Rig
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Getting MoCap animations from Mixamo
    3. Getting MoCap animations from the UE Marketplace
    4. Retargeting MoCap animations to a MetaHuman skeleton
      1. Importing Maximo MoCap into UE
      2. Setting up retargeting on the Mixamo skeleton
      3. Setting up retargeting on the MetaHuman skeleton
      4. Retargeting Mixamo MoCap animation to the MetaHuman
    5. Summary
  28. Chapter 19: Motion Capture Editing and Cleanup Using Control Rig and Sequencer
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Planning Your MoCap edit
    3. Baking the Stand_Up MoCap to the Control Rig
    4. Overview of the MetaHuman Control Rig
    5. Editing and cleaning up the Stand_Up MoCap
      1. Changing the clipping plane in UE
      2. Lining up the MoCap with the ground plane and the root
      3. Fixing floaty feet
      4. Improving the standing pose
      5. Cleaning up Sitting Pose
      6. Fixing the hands with the Snapper tool
    6. Summary
  29. Chapter 20: Using Sequencer to Construct Your Final Scene
    1. Technical requirements
    2. Importing all the scene assets and positioning them in the scene
      1. Migrating UE content between projects
      2. Attaching the body armor to the MetaHuman Rig
      3. Preparing character and Level Assets
    3. Importing animations onto our characters
      1. Importing Mocap animations onto the MetaHuman
      2. Importing Mocap animations onto the Robot Drone
      3. Importing animations onto the Alien Plant
    4. Creating cameras and animating them
      1. Using multiple cameras and cutting between them
    5. Rendering our final scene
    6. Summary
    7. Why subscribe?
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Product information

  • Title: Unreal Engine 5 Character Creation, Animation, and Cinematics
  • Author(s): Henk Venter, Wilhelm Ogterop
  • Release date: June 2022
  • Publisher(s): Packt Publishing
  • ISBN: 9781801812443