Friday, June 10th, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

Get the free ‘mesh to MetaHuman’ plugin for Unreal Engine

Originally posted on 10 June 2022. Updated on 11 June with more details of MetaHuman Creator.

Epic Games has released a free MetaHuman plugin for Unreal Engine, enabling users to import a custom facial mesh or scan and convert it into a MetaHuman real-time 3D character.

The character can then be edited in MetaHuman Creator, Epic’s work-in-progress next-gen character creation tool, which has also just been updated with new clothing and hair presets, and new facial animation loops.

Part of Epic Games’ framework for creating next-gen digital humans for real-time applications
The new plugin is the latest part of Epic Games’ new MetaHuman framework for creating next-gen 3D characters for use in games and real-time applications.

The first part, cloud-based character-creation tool MetaHuman Creator, which enables users to design realistic digital humans by customising preset 3D characters, was released in early access last year.

Users blend between presets to generate new characters, customising the proportions of the face with MetaHuman Creator’s Move and Sculpt tools, and adjusting skin and eye textures with slider-driven controls.

MetaHuman Creator also includes a library of customisable strand- or card-based hairstyles, and recolorable clothing, including tops, bottoms and shoes.

Completed characters can be exported for use in Unreal Engine or Maya via Quixel Bridge, the free asset-management tool for Quixel’s Megascans library, now integrated into Unreal Engine 5.0.

The animation rig includes both facial and finger controls, and is compatible with facial animation data captured using Epic’s free Live Link Face app.

Free MetaHuman plugin for Unreal Engine converts 3D scans and sculpts to MetaHumans
To that, the new MetaHuman for Unreal Engine plugin – more specifically, its Mesh to MetaHuman system – makes it possible to create MetaHumans based on 3D scans or facial models created in other DCC apps.

The plugin uses automated landmark tracking to fit the MetaHuman facial topology template to the imported mesh, then submits it to the cloud, where it is matched to a best-fit MetaHuman from Epic’s database.

This mesh is then used to drive the character’s facial rig, modified by the deltas from the source mesh.

Facial meshes can be imported in OBJ or FBX format, and require either an albedo texture, or separate materials for the skin and sclera of the eyes and uniform, front-facing lighting.

The process works with both skeletal and static meshes, including pretty-much-raw scan data – as you can see from the video above, you can even import meshes with holes, so long as they are manifold surfaces.

You can find more details in the online documentation: the process requires a bit of manual input, but it’s largely automated, and looks pretty straightforward.

New UE5-based version of MetaHuman Creator
In addition, Epic Games has updated MetaHuman Creator itself.

The new version uses Unreal Engine 5.0, and the MetaHumans it generates are compatible with UE5’s new character tools, like the Control Rig Pose Tool and IK Rig.

As a result, the MetaHuman character rig itself has been updated, with an IK spine and neck, soft IK on the arms and legs, and a reverse foot setup; and MetaHuamns now ship with active ragdoll physics.

UE5 MetaHumans are not compatible with UE4, but the option to create UE4 MetaHumans is still available via a version selection screen; and existing UE4 MetaHumans have been duplicated as UE5 versions.

The update also adds 23 new hair grooms, including hairstyles and facial hair; 6 new clothing items; and new patterns and graphics for the existing clothing.

There are also 10 new facial animation loops, 5 facial poses and 6 body poses for testing characters.

In addition, the free MetaHuman Lighting add-on, a collection of Unreal Engine lighting presets for MetaHuman characters, has been updated to support Unreal Engine 5.0.

The pack also includes three new presets from Epic’s The Matrix Awakens UE5 tech demo.

Pricing, availability and system requirements
MetaHuman for Unreal Engine is compatible with Unreal Engine 5.0, while the MetaHuman Lighting presets are compatible with Unreal Engine 4.26+. Both are free downloads.

MetaHuman Creator is available in early access. It runs in the cloud, and is compatible with the Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari browsers, running on Windows or macOS. It is free for use with Unreal Engine.

Download the free MetaHuman plugin for Unreal Engine from the Unreal Engine marketplace

Read more about how the MetaHuman plugin for Unreal Engine works in the online documentation

Read a full list of new features in MetaHuman creator on the Unreal Engine forums

Register for early access to MetaHuman Creator on the product website