Import Your Own 3D Models In Manga Studio EX 14

Just like you I was thinking about the possibility to lay my hands on additional 3D objects for my copy of Manga Studio EX. Though it comes with a whole bunch of 3D models that can keep you busy for a very long time you will come to the point where you want just that object that isn’t in the package.

On my prowl to find something new for you (and me) one of my mates sent me a link to a very interesting tutorial on Youtube. That shows you how to create 3D objects in Google Sketchup, convert them with Blender and then import them into Manga Studio. Both applications are free and easy to use.

All the credits for this tutorial are going to Christopher Chong over at Sonic Images who did a very good job demonstrating us how to do it:

Thank you very much Christopher!

P.S.: If you want to dive deeper into this there are a lot of instructional video’s on Google Sketchup if you new to it.

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14 thoughts on “Import Your Own 3D Models In Manga Studio EX

  • Piledriver

    Create in Sketchup and convert in Blender…? The *.obj export plugin at might be a better solution.

    I’ve yet to delve into SketchUp, but it does look awesome — at least for the mechanical and architectural objects.

    Another free modeling tool worth giving a look is Wings 3D . The Nendo-style interface is the most intuitive I’ve ever come across, so even though I’ve since picked up a more powerful commercial modeling software, box-modeling in Wings 3D is my first choice for what it does. Wings3D can also export *.obj (and other formats) using plugins.

  • joe

    There’s also file converters like Autodesk FBX. the SketchUp OBJ plugin has a few problems.

    Blender is good, but the first thing you’ll notice is a different user interface. For modelers, another one to look at is Sculptris it’s an alternative to ZBrush. Where a 2.5D program like ZBrush comes in is after building a model in another program like SketchUp, you use a 2.5D program to add details to the model than you can’t with the build program. Most of what you see in the movies was built in either Maya or 3D Max but the details and textures had to be added using ZBrush.

    For SketchUp, adding plugins is a necessity. I have 20, including a few that I use to do subdivisional modeling that makes it come close to Maya or 3D Max. The only advantage that Maya or 3D Max has is that they can do rigging, until someone develops a plugin that does this.

    • Mario Post author

      Thank you for the additional information, Joe.

      As soon as I have a little spare time I will dive into it and have a look. Most of the programs are new to me. Even Maya :-)
      I came across it just recently when I bought some stuff over at The Gnomon Workshop.

    • Piledriver

      Actually not true about ZBrush (or Mudbox or Sculptris) being used for film projects. Those programs use algorithmic methods to increase detail generally in a way that is too inefficient for that kind of work. They are used primarily for the creation of normal maps to give the illusion of higher detail, mostly in real-time renderers (video games).

      If you were to build a model with the high polycounts typically generated by ZBrush, I think it would cause Manga Studio to crash, or at the very least bog down your system. You will notice that even the architectural models that come with Manga Studio use textures to fill in most of the detail for the same reason.

      Could you post a link to those subdivision plugins, though? That’s something Wings 3D lacks as well — so when I get to the point that I need to do such things I have to export and go into 3DS Max. Max’s ProBoolian function being able to work with a “mesh” shell, as well as it’s stability, makes it pretty hard to beat. Haven’t tried Maya, though. You left out Lightwave, too… a more common program for film and cg-anime production, as opposed to games.

      • joe

        the plugins can be found in
        the site had changed since I’ve been there in a while.

        according to pixologic ZBrush had been involved in most of the cgi films,
        and several other trade sites mention this as well. Content I’ve made for several virtual worlds used it besides several other modeling tools, and virtual environments are high poly sensitive, one of the reasons why ZBrush has a decimation feature. Besides it’s only used to add details to the model and not build it. I hadn’t seen anything about Mudbox and Sculptris though, pixologic grabbed most of the market before autodesk acquired mudbox.

        • Piledriver

          Thanks for the link, Joe.

          I stand somewhat corrected, since there are a number of recent movies listed among the bevy of games there. Still, I suspect the use of ZBrush is limited to normal maps used to speed rendering of heavily massed objects, and possibly for concept work (while ZBrush/Mudbox simplifies matters, it’s patently false that the end results could not be achieved with conventional modeling tools). All those same movies had their base modeling and animation done in Lightwave, though.

          I suspected from your suggestions and omission of Lightwave that you come from a games background, where Maya (previously 3DS Max) reigns supreme.

          Still, it’s moot. If we are talking about generating 3D materials for use with Manga Studio, there is little need for such expensive software. Yes, I do have Max, but I don’t see anyone spending a ton of time building organic models with NURBS, embellishing to the extreme in ZBrush/Mudbox, and then rigging just for the purpose of a simple composition/lighting reference in Manga Studio. After all, the same levels of organic detail that take many hours to accomplish in 3D take only a few minutes to sketch, with superior results.

          A cheap outdated version of Poser would likely do just as well, or better (considering the time and skill level involved in creating comparable content from scratch). Daz was giving away Poser 6 free, but I can’t find that webpage now… it may have been a limited time deal. Old versions go pretty cheap on eBay, though (unfortunately, resale of those high-end modeling softwares is forbidden).

          • joe

            Come from a games background, I wish. About 3 years ago I got introduced to virtual worlds and started looking at content after I got familiar with the environment. It took about a year to sort it out and 6 months to get educated about software choices before getting hexagon then ZBrush. The only autodesk software I have is sketchbook, I don’t like autodesk’s policy about 3D Max and Maya being sold as a yearly license subscription (I’m under the impression with the newer versions if you don’t renew the software expires.)

            Actually the original copy of the software can be resold. Autodesk got hosed with autocad over that, with the doctrine of the right of first sale. Autodesk claimed the software was licensed, but the ruling made the finding that software was sold and not given away in order to have the license. and the original license accompanies the resale. Of course this doesn’t mean duplicating copies for sale or selling an earlier version after you upgraded and keeping the newer one.

            I’m looking at 3D from the perspective of making content for a virtual environment that if I need can be imported in Manga Studio and the converse. If made for one I don’t have to duplicate the effort for the other.

            I switched from hexagon to sketchup for similar reasons you mentioned about 3D Max, the time to make the mesh. I heard that some of the content creators were spending 20-30 hours to make a mesh, and looks like the same build can be done well under 5 hours with sketchup.

            My take on using ZBrush is to get a quick model done in sketchup, import in ZBrush, brush in some details, decimate, add in textures and bake, then export to a rigging tool, not another modeler. I’ve been looking for one that lets you import the mesh and textures, and lets you both import and create the rig for the mesh then export, as a 3D Max, LWO, and collada file.

  • Piledriver

    And that’s another reason I don’t want to recommend 3DS Max.

    My dongle for Max 9 still works… for now. Having to give up one of my USB slots all the time just to run the software is another hassle, but considering that you need that plug to install/run the software, there really should be no problem with reselling. I don’t know about anything more recent, in that regard. If I were using Max in a commercial environment where I had to exchange files I would have to stay current, since there is no reverse compatibility.

    Even without license expiry, the situation is messed up. There’s no support if you don’t upgrade, plugins compatible with Max 9 have long since evaporated, and I may have problems trying to re-install when I upgrade my motherboard.

    If (when) this dongle fails or my ‘license’ is revoked I will likely go looking for a crack or pirate distro rather than being bullied into upgrading that way.

    Unfortunately, other high-end 3D softwares have similar licensing policies, and cost even more than Max.

    Milkshape 3D may be capable of doing what you need in the rigging department, though it’s very basic, with no automation, physics, or other dynamics:

    For realtime/game content there are a few things Milkshape can do that other low-end modelers might have difficulty with — such as single-sided polygons for fringes/hair/etc.