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Getting started with 3DX in Blender

Tips and tricks for getting started with 3DX in Blender

Smutbase & Open3DLab are both amazing resources for finding models, but some of the models can be fairly intimidating for new creators.

In recent months I’ve seen some conflict appear between creators, who are sick of being asked ‘basic’ questions, and those trying to learn.

The aim of this post is to hopefully provide some tips, hints, and information on how to get started with Blender and a brief introduction to some of the rigs you can expect to find on models found on sites like Smutbase.

Blender Basics

First let’s talk about the basics. Blender is a complex program. If you have only just opened Blender for the first time, please don’t start by using one of the models available on Smutbase .

Please do go to YouTube and watch a Blender basics tutorial. This one by Blender Guru is well liked by the community and is an excellent place to start.

I’d recommend going through the whole playlist as it is a great introduction to Blender.

Why Donuts!

You might be thinking: “But I want to make lewd stuff, not donuts!”

Well, you need to start somewhere and following the donut tutorial will introduce you to most of the systems in Blender and you use the same systems to make lewds. Making lewds is no different than making any other scene. So power through, listen to Andrew’s dulcet tones, and you’ll come out with some of the knowledge you need.

Model Basics

Now you have a basic idea of how to use Blender we can get to looking at how you might use a model!

Preparing The Model

First you should read the model description on Smutbase. This is extremely important. While the basics of all models are similar, each model is custom and the description may contain important notes.

Be Aware Eagle eyed readers will notice some of the information is a repeat of what is in the description of some models. That's to emphasize just how important it is. You will save yourself the wrath of annoyed creators but making sure you have followed all available instructions first.

With most models, if you have a Blend file and a textures package, you should extract both to the same folder. If the textures are not in a folder you should place them in a folder called textures in the same folder are the blend file.

For Your Information
Is your model pink/purple when you render it? This means the textures are missing. Don't panic! Just go to `File -> External Data -> Find Missing Files` and select the folder where the textures are located.

Next open the blend file directly. While you should append the model, I would advise at least opening the model blend directly to take a look around. Here are some things to take note of:

  1. Check the collections - Is there a single collection you can append or do you need to append multiple?
  2. Are there any custom render settings? - Some models require higher more Transparency and/or Transmission light paths to look correct.

Tips for Appending the Model

To append select File -> Append, find your Blend file and then go to collections and append the collections you need. You can pre-select a collection in your own file to have Blender place the appended items into that collection.

While you don’t have to append models to a new file, it is a good practice. Why? Well eventually you’ll want to bring multple models together into one file, appending is the best way to do this.

You can technically use linking, but that is a complicated subject that doesn’t always work correctly right now. I’d wait for the asset manager in Blender 3.0 as it should be a lot more helpful and hopefully solve some of the issues or eliminate them entirely.

Model Rig Types

This is tricky to have tips for. Each model can be quite different but there are a few more common set-ups around these days.

Rigify Models

First up is rigify. This is probably one of the most well known rig amongst Blender users. It is powerful when used well, very extendable when the model’s Metarig kept with it, but (like most rigs) can be daunting to new users.

How do I know if my model is using Rigify?

Good question. First check the model creators description, this is normally the best way.

Second, you can check for a Rig_ui.py file in the original model Blend. This is normally used by Rigify.

A final method is to match up the rig shapes with another Rigify model. This how I personally tell, but I will always use another method to confirm if it is important.

Using Rigify

Rigs are far too complex to explain how to use them via this small guide, but a very good video that shows how to use Rigify well is this YouTube video by CGDive.

MHX Models

MHX models are, in my experinece, relatively rare in the 3DX world however recently models are appearing that use it. Most notably the new version of the outstanding Tifa model by MustardSFM .

How do I know if my model is using MHX?

Again checking the model description is a good way. You may be asked by the creator to manually run a python script within Blender or install an add-on to enable advanced rig features with recent MHX models so this is a good way to know.

Like with Rigify with experience you will be able to ‘guess’ the rig by looking at the rig shapes.

Using (MakeHuman) MHX Rigs

There are unfortunately no YouTube videos, that I can find at least, showing how to use the MHX rig. However watching the Rigify video above and looking through this post on the Thomas Make Human blog should help with what each bone controls.

For Your Information
Note that the UI information will likely be incorrect as most 3DX models that use MHX are using Diffeomorphic and it includes a separate UI to handle MHX rigs.

Custom Rigs

Some models, like those by Rigid3D , use a custom(?) rig. With these it is best to be a little familiar with common humanoid rig controls. If in doubt though head into Pose Mode and move things around. You can always revert or reload if something breaks.

Model UIs

Using the UI of a model, if one is provided, is your choice. Please, please, please read the model description for model’s with UIs. Each one can feel familiar but be different to use in practice.

Something to remember is that nearly everything a UI does is able to be done manually. The UI just adds convenience.

In some cases, like enabling outfits, it is simple to do manually. Others, such as enabling physics or improving performance by disabling morphs, are much more time consuming and using the UI is a no brainer.

Conclusions

Despite how large this post is if there is one thing I want readers to take away it is this:

Please read the description of the models on Smutbase .

If a model doesn’t have a nicely written description, and you are just starting out, grab a one that does and practice. I know it’s probably not what you want to hear, but this is how we all started out.

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