A few weeks ago, I wrote about VRoidStudio, a small application that you can use to create your own anime 3D characters. This time, I decided to take a look at how to use those anime characters in Unity.
Right now, the software only supports exporting to VRM file format (which is a virtual reality format). The creators of VRoidStudio have stated that they plan to add support for more file formats in the future, but we don’t know when that may happen. That means, we have to figure out alternate ways to do things while they work on it.
As a note, I should mention that, yes, you are free to use your anime characters in any way you want. You retain full copyright of your creations in the software. You can share them or keep them for your own projects.
There are people that, seeing this format limitation, have come up with their own Unity solutions to use these characters. One of the options is to use a VRM importer for Unity, created by someone who goes by dwango. To use it, you just need to go to the user’s GitHub page here.
The VRM importer is distributed as a Unity package, so all you need to do is create an empty Unity project and import this package. When the package is installed, you can drag and drop your VRoidStudio exported VRM file into Unity, and it will import just like any other file. Just a note, you should import your model into an empty folder inside your project, to keep things more organized. You’ll see why below.
When the model finishes exporting, the first thing you notice is that a few folders and files are created. Importing will actually extract textures, materials and meshes, and then create a prefab object that is fully configured and completely resembles your character in VRoidStudio.
What’s amazing is that you will actually get toon-shading materials that look virtually identical to your VRoidStudio materials. You can modify those materials to change various effects, or you can replace them with your own 3D-looking materials in case you want to do that.
Another cool detail is that you actually get your blendshapes (facial morphs), meaning that your avatar in Unity will be able to portray different facial expressions. The Unity prefab object also includes the bones, so, you can pose the character inside Unity by rotating the bones. Using the animation editor in Unity, you could also animate the characters.
One thing to mention, though, is that you may not get any animation, or that you may want to use your own animations. There’s another little plugin you can use, created by user kellanhiggins, to export to FBX format.
Just like the previous one, you will need to import the asset package into Unity. After this is done, you can select any object in your scene, and export it as FBX. This is not without its problems, though. When you import it into Maya, you will notice the character has no rig, meaning you can’t animate it. If you want to animate it, you have to make a rig for it (actually this seems to be an issue of the VRM format itself, not the FBX exporter, since people using third party plugins to import VRM files into Blender also report the same issue with the animation rigs).
While these are not optimal solutions, they are a good start, so it’s about what you want to do. On one side, you can import the character into Maya and re-create everything there, or you can use Unity’s (somewhat limited) animation tools to animate the character. Another option could be trying to re-create the character’s rigging in Maya. While you don’t have the rig in Maya, you do have a lot of empty groups that you can use as a template to layout your bones, so you have a rig to animate the character (and then use scripting to animate the character’s face). I am not sure how this last option would work, though, since I haven’t tried it myself. Either way, I believe these two plugins can give you a great start if you want to use your VRoidStudio characters in Unity.
More info ...
Get VRoidStudio: https://studio.vroid.com/download.html
Get the Unity VRM importer: https://github.com/dwango/UniVRM/releases
Get the Unity FBX exporter: https://github.com/KellanHiggins/UnityFBXExporter