iClone 6 Robot Restoration

Create and render a 3D scene with Reallusion's iClone 6 utilizing the newly integrated Allegorithmic Substance, Soft Cloth Physics and Indigo Render

Download a free 30-day trial of iClone Pro to follow along with this tutorial.

Reallusion iClone 6 enables users to create 3D scenes in real time, complete with lighting, cameras and new tools to render commercial-quality 3D art. In this project, 'Robot Restoration', I've created and rendered a scene that demonstrates the result of using iClone 6, Allegorithmic Substance Designer and Indigo RT Renderer.

Reallusion has carved a complete path for 3D artists to easily create scenes that incorporate Substances and render like a pro with Indigo directly from iClone 6. Learn how to use the rapid development tools inside iClone 6 to quickly compose scenes in real-time, add and edit multi-layer material Substances, and instantly send everything readied to render by iClone 6 to the physically-based renderer, Indigo.

This tutorial will cover how to:
1. Import models
2. Compose a 3D scene: place models, lights and camera
3. Apply and edit substances: .sbsar, Substance 200 and Substance Designer
4. PhysX physics: soft-cloth
5. Auto-convert and apply Indigo shaders
6. Render a scene in Indigo

Step 1: Importing 3D models

The 3D models for this project were imported using Reallusion's 3DXchange 5, which gives artists a way to easily import their 3D files or animations for use in iClone 6. Imported models in this project are mixed with some of Reallusion's 3D models from their marketplace to generate the full assortment of assets for my project. I can easily import 3D files from FBX, OBJ, SKP or 3DS formats with the ability to smooth models and support materials. I can also size models to the desired scale and then export to iClone for use in real-time scene composition.

Step 2: Real-time 3D scene composition

iClone 6 3D models and scene assets are stored in the Content folder, where imported files are kept inside a Custom folder. Reallusion content packs are stored as Templates and sorted by content type, such as: Characters, Props, Terrain, Trees, Skies and Lights. 3D models from any Content folder are applied to the scene by drag-and-drop to place the model into position, or by double-clicking the file to place the model at 0,0,0 xyz coordinates. Objects can be transformed, rotated, or scaled, and their properties can be edited in the Modify Panel including physics and materials.

Above is a shot of my scene setup in iClone 6, where real-time scene composition lets me quickly place my models, assign materials, set my lighting, and position my cameras.

To learn the basics of iClone 6, check out this tutorial to get familiar with the UI:

Step 3: Applying and editing Substance materials

Substances are multi-layered materials that can be applied to 3D models and edited via the integrated Substance slider bars to alter the look of each material layer. For example, in this project I
began with a 3D model of my robot toy that looked as if it were a new toy, but the idea was to make that robot look like an antique that had seen lots of play. I imagined that the person restoring
the robot wanted to give it a completely new look with fresh paint.

To achieve the antique effect of the robot I used a Substance that layered paint over wood and gave many parameters in the Modify panel to edit the Substance material with enough patina (a thin, green layer of copper) to add 20 years of age and rough-play to my robot.

The multi-layered Substance used in this scene comes with iClone 6. Substances are highly tweak-able inside iClone 6, where Reallusion has made over 200 Substances available via the Substance 200 content pack add-on.

The workbench, brick wall and mat under the robot are also all Substances. It's also possible to utilize Substance Designer from Allegorithmic to create Substance (.sbsar) files for use in iClone 6.

Step 4: PhysX physics: soft cloth

The workbench in the scene has lots of hard surfaces, so to add some variety to the feel of the
scene I want to have a cloth or rag draped over one of the boxes. iClone 6 physics makes it
possible to get a soft cloth with just a few steps.

First you need to setup some rigid-body physics on the object that the soft cloth will be draped onto. In this case, I have a small wooden box that I will drape with the cloth.

Select the box first and, with it highlighted, find the Physics properties in the Modify panel; Activate them for rigid-body physics and then uncheck Object Gravity to keep the box from falling into infinity when you play your scene.

Next, select the plane that is to become the soft cloth and, again, go to the Modify Panel and open the Physics settings. This time you will want to Activate Physics and make sure the Object Gravity is checked, as we will want our soft cloth to fall and drape over the box. Gravity will be necessary, but the box under with the rigid-body physics will keep our cloth from falling into infinity.

Select the soft cloth setting and then choose to Edit the Weight map, which is determined by a black-to-white gradient - what stays rigid is black and what hangs from the rigid point is white. For this project my weight map will be full white because I want the entire cloth to drape without any hanging points.

Next you will need to choose from the Presets for Cloth, Hair or Wind. Since this is an interior shot there is no wind, and it's cloth, not hair, so we only need to be concerned with tackling the cloth settings. I've imagined this cloth to be like a soft suede cloth, so I choose the Leather to get the cloth type to drape and lay the way I want it.

After you have done the settings in the Modify panel you will want to go to the left of the Play Controls and change the Time Mode Switch from Realtime to By Frame. This will ensure your physics cloth drops and drapes properly. Pressing the play bar will advance the playhead a few frames and reveal your soft-cloth effect.

Above is a render from Indigo showing the Leather Substanced soft-cloth along with Substance materials on the robot, box in the background and the workbench. View this video tutorial to learn more about soft-cloth in iClone 6:

Step 5: Auto-Convert & Apply Indigo Shaders

Once you have your scene ready to render in iClone, the next step is to open the Indigo Render Settings panel and start assigning Indigo Shaders to your models. There is a massive library of free physically based shaders that can be downloaded from Indigo from inside iClone. The Indigo physically based shader library provides access to shaders for metals, glass, painted surfaces and more that will render great visual effects. The render of the tools below shows the Scratched Chrome Indigo Shader on the airbrush, and Scratched Metal Indigo Shader on the robot arms, which are both available to download for free from the Indigo library.

You can utilize the eyedropper tool to pick your object surfaces and assign an Indigo Shader directly in iClone.

The shader will appear when you hit the render button to send your iClone project to
Indigo. Objects and their assigned shaders are listed in the Indigo Render Settings panel.

3D objects in your scene that do not require Indigo physically based Shaders will be auto-converted to Indigo shaders from the available info in your object's material ball. This step saves lots of time and lets you easily convert every 3D model into a Phong render-ready object. The blueprint and the hammer on the table in the image above are good examples of auto-converted materials to shaders by iClone.

The Indigo Render Settings panel is quite powerful with Indigo Shader downloads and assignment,
Auto-Converting materials to shaders and also the ability to set lighting parameters for your project's render in Indigo. Scroll down the Indigo Render Settings panel to locate the Indigo Environment section. The environment can be setup for your render to include iClone lights only, background color illumination, or Indigo Sun and Sky, which positions the Sun in accordance to the Key light or another light you choose from the scene. You'll want to turn off any iClone lights at the bottom of the Indigo Render Settings panel if you do not want those to render in Indigo.

Most of the heavy lifting is done in iClone so that your projects go to render in Indigo without lots of further tweaking.

Step 6: Rendering in Indigo

Scrolling down further on the Indigo Render Settings panel provides access to the Export Range, Tone Mapping, Export resolution size, and more. Now that all models are in place, Substances have been added, soft cloth has been created, the physically based shaders have been assigned, and the lighting for Indigo has been selected, you are ready to render.

Select the Render Scene button from the Indigo toolbar and you will launch the Indigo RT renderer using the plug-in pathway we created directly from iClone 6 to Indigo. Indigo will open and then your iClone scene will begin to process and progressively build before your eyes. While rendering your scene in Indigo you can use Pick Material to eyedropper any material surface and add another physically-based shader or edit the properties of any currently assigned shader.

The camera in Indigo can even be panned, zoomed, or dollied, to correct the view or change to a whole new view for rendering various locations of your scene. The Render Settings inside Indigo also give access to Tone Mapping, allowing you to select from a variety of film settings to get a range of different looks for your render. These can be cycled through at any time during your render to find a look that best suits your scene.

The image above shows an Indigo Render: Substances on the Robot and metal mat; Indigo physically based shaders on the screws and screwdriver.

Once you are happy with the progress of your scene render in Indigo, you can save your image or if you are animating you would have set the range of frames to render inside iClone. The Robot Restoration project is a still life, so we just need the one frame rendered.

After 1 hour I had a frame that would work just fine and, letting it go further, it just kept looking better and better. You can choose how long to let your scene to Render and then save the image when finished. Indigo projects can be saved to continue rendering later so you won't lose progress if you need pause your render. Learn more about how to work with these rendering tools in this video tutorial about Indigo and iClone 6:

Image above: Indigo Materials: Jars: Scratched Glass, Red Paint - Caramel Red, Blue Paint - Speckled Car Paint. Substances: Robot feet and legs, work mat

For free training, demo videos and a full feature list for iClone 6, visit Reallusion's website.

Pricing and Availability
iClone 6 is available now for Windows. It can be purchased at the Reallusion store for the standard list price of $99 USD or a PRO price of $199. Standard upgrades are $59, while PRO upgrades are $119.

Related links:

Visit the Reallusion website
Learn more about iClone
Follow Reallusion on Facebook
Find iClone video tutorials on YouTube

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