Character Creator 4 is packed so full of features and tools that you can’t adequately cover them all in one article. While CC4 is a character tool, with its mesh extraction tools it is now a prop manipulation tool since we can load any prop into CC4 whereas CC3 was very limited in this area. It seems some folks missed the Reallusion tutorial on the whole mesh extraction thing or some thought it only applied to character clothing mesh.
Nothing could be farther from the truth as CC4 will let you set up prop models in an animate-able fashion that were previously static, or one-piece meshes. Like 3DS Max and other 3D tools, CC4 takes advantage of element extraction to extract prop parts just as it allows us to remove part of a uniform or shirt to place on a CC4 character.
So, let's slow down here and take a step back to catch up for those of you that missed the memo on this extremely important addition to CC4. Since it is a character tool many assume that you can only extract clothing meshes as mentioned above but the truth is you can extract any clean element from a prop mesh to turn into a sub-prop for animation.
Just as you would extract a shirt or pants from a 3rd party or custom character you can also select the tires or tires of an automobile model that were previously part of the entire mesh. That’s right, you can select the wheels, sometimes taking several clicks, then extract those faces which will allow you to press another button to turn the extracted mesh into sub-props.
You will have to attach or link items just as you would skin shirt or pants to a new model. In our example, you would attach the tires to the wheel area of the model or link them if you wish to animate the connection… you never know when you might want the wheel or wheels to fall off for comic or dramatic effect.
The procedure is to, above all, convert a piece of a prop to a sub-prop. In order to get that magical button to appear you need to go into the MESH menu, then Element to select the part in question like a tire. It is possible to choose both front tires as one item and the same for the back tires giving you only two items, front and back, to animate instead of 4 items, i.e., the tires. It just depends on your needs.
In my own tests, I started with some static Sketchfab models like:
"Scifi Motorcycle Project_MX_2" (https://skfb.ly/ouKGn) by JonnyMANSON is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
While this is a multi-piece model it is not the right pieces. So, I used the Mesh-> Element-> Extract to isolate the pieces I need. The tires are a separate item already, but both are attached together as one item making them impossible to spin around their hubs as they just spin around the model instead.
Select the Edit Mesh Menu, Then Select Element and click on the tire several times until it is all red. Then Extract.
You can now close the Edit Mesh menu and look for the convert to the sub-prop button. You may have to adjust the pivot point depending on the model used. The rear tire can now be animated with a rolling motion. With font tire, you only need to convert to sub-prop since it is all that is left of the tires mesh.
Now that tires are out of the way you can stop here, or you go a little further and animate the swingarms as they go up and down across the road. There is only one problem. The front swing arm is also connected to the handlebars and a small fuel cell. You don’t want all of that to rotate up and down, so I used the same method as above to select and extract the front swing arm from the rest of the mesh. Convert to sub-prop and you are ready to do the same for the front hub.
Adjust the pivots to the proper ends on the swingarms then DETACH the tire and hub from the main mesh and attach the Tire to the Hub and then the Hub to the Swingarm. Attach the Swingarm to the main mesh for the proper hierarchy. Now they can be pivoted up and down as the wheels are turning.
Using the Mesh->Element->Extraction tool to isolate the front swingarm from the handlebars and fuel cell.
The final mesh can now be used on the road with more realistic movement with the ups and downs of the swingarms and the wheels turning. I also tried some other models and had some great results except that doors don’t always extract from the cab; they can be one piece without the proper geometry for extraction.
"Generic civil service vehicles pack" (https://skfb.ly/orDHz) by Comrade1280 is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
In the image above you see other single Mesh Props from Sketchfab with parts such as the service truck hoist and the wrecker bed extracted for movement or animation. By setting up the motorcycle swingarms I was able to just lay down the rear swingarm and tire separate from the cycle as in an accident with damage to the bike.
Character Creator 4 is a powerful custom character tool but don’t let that fool you into not using its other powerful features as the line between CC4 and iClone 8 has blurred a bit with this latest release. Sometimes I forget I’m working in CC4 instead of iClone with the prop work.
Reallusion's Mesh Extraction Tutorial:
Reallusions Clothing Extraction Tutorial:
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.