Animating cloth physics in Marvelous Designer for Unreal Engine 5

We all want realistic cloth physics in our animations. They add an entirely new level of realism to our scenes. Cloth simulation is a 3D cloth animation technique that has been popularized by the advent of cloth simulation software. It allows designers to create and animate clothing in real-time, as well as simulate cloth physics for video games and films.

With cloth simulation, you can better mimic the natural way cloth behaves when worn… There are two major types of cloth simulations: interactive and non-interactive (or prerendered). Interactive cloth simulations require some form of user input or cloth physics in the rendering software; this could be from an animator or through skin weighting and natural physics. Noninteractive is precomputed simulations based on predetermined character animations and environment settings. This allows for more detail and interaction with the character and the clothing.

So how do we animate cloth physics in Marvelous Designer for Unreal Engine 5? The first step is to create your garment from within Marvelous Designer, this includes adding your textures and materials. Then export it as an alembic file that we will import into Unreal Engine 5. This alembic file gets combined with our character to create the full animation with character animation and cloth animation. Combined they give an amazingly realistic effect.

Because I think it’s important to set up a framework for projects, I wanted to explore the folder structure for all the various programs/mesh/materials/animations. I like to organize projects based on their respective program and sequence within the overall project. For animations such as a short, I would typically be using the following software: Sketchup, Blender, Substance3d, CC3, iClone7, Marvelous Designer, and Unreal Engine. When breaking down the folder structure to complete a short film, I would build out the following folder structure.

Film Name

  • 01_Blender
  • 01_CC3
  • 01_Sketchup
  • 02_Substance3d
  • 03_Assets
  • 04_Characters
  • 05_iClone
  • 05_Marvelous
  • 06_AnimationExports
  • 07_UnrealEngine
  • 08_Renders
  • 09_Premiere
  • 10_Finals

Folder Structure inside UnrealEngine

  • Content/Animations/Character_Name1 (to include base character mesh and character skeleton and materials)
  • Content/Animations/Character_Name2
  • Content/Animations/Scene1 (Shot1), (Shot2), (…) (to include character animations and cloth alembic animations)

File Naming inside UnrealEngine

  • Character: sc1_sh1_(character name).fbx
  • Cloth: sc1_sh1_(character name)_cloth.abc

With all this framework set up, it will be easier to focus on the creative side of the animation. Below I will go through the process of creating a short and simulating the cloth physics for that animation in the video below.

(Video)

I’m an Architect. My favorite thing to do is create stories through architectural design. Founder of Whitewash Studio architecture firm in Atlanta, GA.