Skinning a Character in 3ds Max - Part 12 - Skin Utilities

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  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • 3ds Max
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5 min

Skinning a Character in 3ds Max - Part 12 - Skin Utilities

In this tutorial, learn how to extract skin vertex data from one file and import it into another. This can be useful to fix errors and trouble areas that are working better in one saved file rather than in another. The technique shown here makes use of the Skin Utilities tool found in the Utilities panel.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2013
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2013 or higher.


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So you worked your skinning from your character's toes all the way to the finger tips.

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Let's imagine for a moment that after you spent a significant amount of time fine-tuning the solution,

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you realize at the very end that something is wrong with a part you already thought was working perfectly.

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Let's say somewhere along the way, you messed up the skinning of the left knee but you have just noticed it.

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You were concentrating on the upper body for a while.

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So let's imagine that you inadvertently selected some knee vertices and assigned them to the wrong bone.

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We're using the knee as an example here, this could have happened to any part of the mesh.

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One solution is to use Skin Mirror tools to paste skin data from the right knee to the left knee.

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However, if that is not possible, after all, you may have messed up the right knee as well,

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then another solution is to fall back on a saved file where the problem area is still skinned properly.

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Of course, that could be a file where you set the leg to work properly, but you haven't gotten the rest of the body adjusted just yet.

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In this example, we'll revert back to a file where the lower half of the body is skinned properly but the upper half is still untouched.

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Open a new session of 3ds Max and load the older file. If you want, you can use the file you downloaded for this tutorial.

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The file named "14-Zombie_skin-torso.max" features the lower body skinned properly while the upper body still needs work.

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Set the animation length from 0 to 2600 to see the effect.

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As you scrub the animation, you can see how the lower and upper areas behave.

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All this to say that we're only interested in the knee area which is obviously working well.

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Go to frame 0.

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To extract data from that area alone, here's what you do:

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Select the body and go to the Utilities panel.

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Click the More… button.

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Choose SkinUtilities and click OK. A new rollout appears.

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Click Extract Skin Data to Mesh.

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This creates a new duplicate mesh of the body, but more importantly, it saves vertex skin data inside of that mesh.

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Press H to select the new object from a list.

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The new object is named similarly to the original but with a "SkinData_" prefix added.

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Isolate the new object and go to the Modify panel.

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Go into Vertex mode.

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Select the vertices that interest you, the ones with the skin data you want to export to your final file.

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Use the Edit menu to Invert your selection.

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Press delete to delete the body except for the area of interest.

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Exit Vertex sub-object mode.

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With the object still selected, choose Save As > Save Selected to save the resulting mesh to a separate file.

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Give the file a name, such as "knee_fix.max"

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Exit this max session WITHOUT saving your file. You already extracted what you need.

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Now go back to your original scene, with the problem knee.

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At frame 0, merge in the file you just created.

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The knee comes in in the correct place.

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Go to the Utilities panel and if you need to, load up SkinUtilities again.

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Make sure both the new knee mesh and the character's body mesh are selected, and then click Import Skin Data From Mesh.

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A dialog appears where you can remap bones if you need to.

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Since you're working on what is essentially the same file and the same structure, simply click Match by Name.

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Click on OK to load the data and dismiss the dialog.

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At this point, you can delete the knee mesh you imported.

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Test your animation and take a look at how the knee skin data has been beautifully restored.

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This can be a real saver in bad situations.

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In the next movie, you'll skin the character's head.
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  • 3ds Max
  • Rendering
  • 2013
  • Lighting and Rendering
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