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Swappable head models?

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  • Swappable head models?

    Okay, so our character is made up of one body, with 6 different heads (at the moment, could be more later)

    What would be the best approach to allowing these 6 character heads to be changable, for example, choosing head 1, and then changing to head 3 without loading a new body, and still having working skeleton and animation on both the body and the head.

    We're open to suggestions, i'd like to say that we already have these models ready (minus textures which shouldnt affect anything), and the body is rigged with the head in mind, we have a test character with head 1 attached/stitched to the body within the 3d modeling program, just to test it out in UDK.


  • #2
    I would import the body without a head and add the different head models as an attachment in a socket, same way you would do with armor/weapons/clothing really.

    Here's a video tutorial on how to setup sockets in case you need it:

    Video source:


    • #3
      Hi, briefly looked into sockets, but from the looks of things we'd have trouble attaching an animated skeletal mesh to a socket of the animated skeletal body. I could be wrong, but wouldnt that create really noticable seems on the neck?


      • #4
        Its also worth noting that these heads would also need different hairs, (both short and long) so is there even away around this, or do we need to import each fully build character into UDK?


        • #5
          The seems may not be too bad as long as the animations and mesh line up really well. They'd probably still be noticeable though, especially when light hit at odd angles.
          If you want swappable heads, that's probably the best you can do. As far as hair, sockets should work fine.

          If you want to entirely avoid noticeable seems, I'd recommend importing each unique character as a complete mesh. If you're looking for customizable character models, the best way I've found in UDK is probably Morphs. You'd make a set of characters that each have one feature different. One has a big nose. One has big ears, one is fat, etc.

          Then you could use Scaleform sliders or something to morph between each of them. I haven't set this up yet, but after some research we've decided that morphing is probably going to give the best results. I'm expecting it to be tricky when we add a lot of different morph targets insofar as the math goes, but you may want to look into that as an option.


          • #6
            Thanks, we decided to just have a seperate full body character for each of the 5 different heads, not as performance friendly, but we'll still be giving the option to change the hair and textures, so it should be enough for what we're looking to do.


            • #7
              looks hard


              • #8
                In theory, sockets for heads, hands, arms, legs, feet and what ever else you could think of should work just fine and without bad seams so long as you cut it up in such a way as to hide these seams, or at least put a little thought into how you will hide these seams.

                I noticed that some game Like Dragon Age Origins, hide the seam with a little bit of a decorative piece around the neck. It's kinda a collar necklace bit that separates the neck from the rest of the body.

                When standing there in their Skivvies, It's like a strap necklace they wear. Armored they have a section of it form the collar area to hide the seam.

                You could try and do that.

                Most of Dragon Age's armor and clothing are built to overlap just a little bit. However it was some issues where the player wasn't wearing any gloves and the bare arms don't match up with the armor portions of the character.

                Mass Effect 1 (Also from BioWare) did this a bit better. The Body part was one model and the head was another. Finally the face it seems was a third.

                Head or Helmet would go into armor or clothing, Face would fill up the hole in the head, or be place inside the helmet.

                Almost everything overlapped a little except for face (and there are times you can see just a slight seam, but it's nothing to get too worked up about as it's minor) in the head model. Hair and hats could then be place on a socket attached to the head like a wig on a manikin.

                Mass Effect 2 changed this up a little by taking away changing armor of your allies in favor of their own unique uniforms. The only one who could have their armor and clothing changed was Shep, and even these changes where done in Socket bits and parts only for armor where there are seams between plates even if the model was a single object.

                If done right, the seams could be hidden in the slight overlapping of the open edges of the parts being fitted together. you just need to be mindful of where those seams are at all times when modeling additional clothed bodies with the bare skin body parts of the character.

                Then again I could be completely wrong. Please correct me if I am wrong. PLEASE?