[Marvelous Designer] What Is the Proper Workflow Using, MD, ZBrush and Maya ?

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anthonybp node
Hello everyone,

I am wondering what is the best workflow for character modeling using Marvelous Designer with ZBrush and Maya ?

There are many sub-questions I have related to this question :
  • For the final character model, should I use thin or thick clothes ?
  • When do I apply thickness ? Marvelous Designer gives you to ability to export a mesh with thickness. But, should I bring the thick clothes to ZBrush or should I keep it thin ?
  • Is it a good practice to keep the clothes' UVs as it is in Marvelous Designer ? If it is, will ZBrush screw my UVs ?
  • When should I retopo the clothes ? After the high-poly sculpt or before, to have a nice topology to work with ?
  • What do I bake on what ? Thick from ZBrush on thin ? Thin from ZBrush on thick ? Thick on thick ? Thin on thin ?

The workflow I see right now is this one :
  1. [MD] Simulate clothing
  2. [MD] Export simulated thin clothing with unified UVs for ZBrush.
  3. [MD] Layout the clothes in a 2D arrangement. Then, export thin clothing with unified UVs for retopo in Maya.
  4. [ZBrush] Import simulated thin clothing, make sure the UVs are the same as in Maya. This is important, since later, I'll use the Transfer Attributes function from maya to transfer the topology from the retopo'ed mesh onto the ZBrush sculpt based on UVs.
  5. [ZBrush] Sculpt the details onto the simulated clothing. Make sure that you don't screw up the UVs from Marvelous Designer.
  6. [ZBrush] Export the final sculpt.
  7. [Maya] Import thin clothing in 2D arrangement, check if the UVs are good. Then, retopo the clothes. Since the clothes are in a 2D arrangement, it is easier to manually retopo.
  8. [Maya] Using the Transfer Attributes function, transfer the topology from the retopo'ed mesh onto the ZBrush sculpt based on UVs.
  9. [Maya] Apply thickness using a simple extrude and translation in the normals' direction. At this point, I'm not very confident about the techniques. I'm not sure if this is the best way to add thickness.
  10. [Maya] Make sure the UVs aren't broken. Now, since the mesh has more geometry because of the extrusion, the UVs should overlap (outside, inside and outline). Now there's two option : A. You don't care if the outline texture is stretched and if the inside has the same texture as the outside. The, you can leave it like that I suppose. B. You care. Then, you have to fix it.
  11. [Maya] Fix the UVs. The only UV shell you should have to unwrap is the outline since the inside, based on the outside, which already has proper UVs from MD, has good UVs.
  12. Done !

The only thing I have to do now is test it. This workflow is highly based on a video from FlippedNormals. Here's the link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFAfqW0Zlqk.

If you have any suggestions, it would be a pleasure to read them. Also, do not hesitate to ask questions !

Thank you


  • anthonybp

    Update #1

    I did the first three steps and I learned that UVs in Marvelous Designer aren't based on the 2D arrangement. It didn't make my life harder since there's an UV Editor withing MD.

    I'm working on step four. I've imported my simulated mesh in ZBrush and noticed that the geometry isn't really nice to sculpt on. So, I tried to make my like easier by using ZRemesher, but it did the opposite since it completely destroys UVs.

    My solutions at the moment are :
    • Retopo the clothes and transfer the topology onto the simulated clothes, in Maya, before going into ZBrush. Though, I'm not sure, because even a really good topology sometimes isn't proper for sculpting details.
    • Export a thick version of the clothes which will be used for sculpting. The problem is, I don't know how MD handles the UVs with thick clothes and how the topology transfer will work from a thin to a thick clothe. Using a thick version would probably be better with DynaMesh, since it shouldn't have to close the mesh.

    This video explain how to keep as much as possible the details from MD, including seams and smaller folds : https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=470&v=T91URSsDC_4.

    Basically, he quadrangulate the clothing in MD. Then, he export it in multiple OBJs with thickness. By exporting it in multiple OBJs, the seams are naturally created and you can easily create polygroups later on. Maybe this would help. That said, the problem mentionned in my second solution, which is the topology transfer from a thin to a thick clothe, is still there.

    That's pretty much it.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666

    check this out ^^^

    its my go to workflow

    you have likely asked too many questions all at once to get much of an answer. if you follow the tutorial i linked that should cover many of your questions.

    Just remember, you don't have to have knowledge of the whole process in your head in order to begin. Just blast forward and you'll figure it out. It's not rocket science, just takes some tinkering. When you hit small, specific snags then you'll be able to ask questions that are easier for people to answer.

    Best thign to do is a test run with a super simple model. Like, a square piece of fabric hung over a sphere. Just to figure out the workflow.
  • anthonybp
    Thank you Alex Javor ! I'll check this out right now.

    And yes, I agree I asked too many questions at once. That said, maybe it's not the best place to do so, but I treat this post more like a blog than an actual question. I'm just documenting my research and if someone like you wants to join up in my research and give me clues or simply a solution, it is very appreciated.

    Have a great day !
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