Ah… nothing like this time of year and I don't mean the holidays.
However, it is an early Christmas for a lot of digital artists out there as our creative products get multiple updates and new releases. The list is long starting off with Camtasia then on to ZBrush 2020, Marvelous Designer 9 and Reallusion's suite of iClone related products that got a major update and a new toy for face creation.
These are just a few of annual updates that come early to our digital stockings and in this article, I want to focus on Headshot, an AI driven new plug-in for Reallusion's Character Creator 3 that produces custom heads and when using the new auto feature… hair generated on the fly based on the photo used.
Very little tweaking. Mostly AI-driven to this point.
It's pretty damn good too. Not perfect but a lot better than some of us could ever get with sculpting.
The funny thing is if you use the Pro option (both are included) instead of Auto you don't get the hair but you do get a lot of controls and a very handy overlay of the picture you used to generate the head. Since Pro doesn't generate hair I started going the Auto route first, saving the hair then reprocess into the Pro side adding the hair later that was saved from the Auto generation.
While the hair can look atrocious at times… it's a lot better than nothing with a lot of the hair being usable. I've tried converting the opacity map to standard and using it to correct problems, but it seems to be linked to the diffuse texture and I've yet to find a way to unlink them. Might be able to RTFM and get that info. Too many other goodies to play with right now to get that technical.
Funny thing too. I saw this on a Reallusion Headshot Video comment… “deep fakes just got a lot easier!” Oh, well… progress is as progress does.
Again, very little tweaking and not such a good job as the first one but recognizable.
So back to what counts… does it pass the smell test??? The main test??? The ONLY test???
Do you have to read a manual to use it?
Simple answer, No. SHOULD you RTFM first is another question open to debate but far as my threshold… no immediate need for a manual is always a good thing.
Since you've gotten to this point on your own you certainly have the chops to use the plug-in without the aforementioned RTFM. Eventually, yes… when a problem pops up, yes… but just diving in to get started… hell no. You don't need anything but the will to create and if you are a deep faker… a diabolic smile that will most likely come naturally.
Good Example of Hair that could be usable.
You will also need to download the Character Creator 3 resource pack 2. Don't put that off as it is a large download if you have questionable internet… about 3.1 gigs of goodies. Important goodies. Click on one of the free items and that should trigger the download.
Headshot is a “pump and dump” operation. You pump in the photo and Headshot dumps out the result for you to tinker with or use as is.
There are sculpting tools to tweak the face that involves an area overlay to show what can be manipulated. If you press the Pro button you also get the photo overlay that neatly and nicely overlays the photo you used to generate the head. You can then sculpt contours to match the photo.
You can even turn the photo to grayscale to see the difference and there is an opacity slider to control how much of the overlay photo you want to see or in this case see-through.
A not so good example of auto mode hair generation.
The Auto feature is just that. It does the work for you, generates the hair, which may or may not be usable. The Pro feature does a lot of work based on a high-resolution 4K image which I never used for my test.
We don't all have 4K headshot laying around. I also haven't used a side shot yet for lack of any to use but that is next on the list.
To me, a longtime Reallusion customer, the Headshot plug-in is easy to use and complicated as you want to make it or as simple as you want it to be. For generating random heads, it will be a great tool. With a little experience and some sculpting, you can do celebrities and politicians that are easily recognized. Skill will still go a long way towards the latter with anyone being able to do the former via the Auto function.
While it is “pump and dump” it has many features to go beyond the AUTO function which in itself seems capable and powerful for a first-gen. We need to keep in mind that Reallusion had a good photo to face mapping routine already compared to others out there so they do have some experience in the field.
There will be more coverage of the Headshot plug-in as time goes on and we learn more about it but right now… it's a great plug-in to make unique characters or... deep fakes.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.