Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

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Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby blindsaypatten » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:01 pm

First of all, I'm pretty much a newbie with MakeHuman so I don't claim to know all the trade-offs between different ways of dealing with racial features, especially the programming aspects, I'm just giving my perspective as a user interested in parametric sculpting, I don't know if I could do better or if my ideas would work well if implemented. This is just my reaction after a week or so of trying to "sculpt" some Asian faces with MakeHuman, take it for what it's worth.

I see the race sliders as offering three "prototype" heads representing recognizable instances of people from three races. The first problem with this is the whole idea of "race" is known to have a poor fit to reality. The variation within each race is so vast that you can't really produce a single prototype for any of the races. Rather than Asian, I think it would be much more realistic to have a gallery of faces to choose from, like Northern China, Southern China, Korean, Mongolian, and a few Japanese variations. You could also have feature-specific racial features, like "Asian eyes", "Southern African noses", "Northern Africa noses", as well has having variable skin tone, etc. etc.

At very least it would be a gift to have a fourth slider "Base" so that you could get a neutral head if you want to start from scratch. Right now, a target made with the base mesh in MakeTarget is almost certain to be messed up by the gender and race settings.

Alternatively, since, other than height, the racial sliders don't really affect the body at all perhaps they could appear on the face tab rather than the main tab, maintaining the base head until one starts facial modeling? In fact, it might make sense to rename Main to Body (and Face to Head) and more fully separate the body and head modifications. As an example currently Weight in the Main tab only affects the body and there is a Head Fat slider under Face/Head Shape. If Main is meant to be global then it should probably incorporate some Head Fat as it makes the body fatter, but I think generally global is the wrong direction to move in.

Similarly, I would much prefer to be able to adjust body gender without affecting the head, and maybe have a gender slider under the head tab. Here's an example of a peril of mixing race and gender:
SkullJawlines.jpg

For the Asian skulls, the back of the jawline is more slanted for the female and vertical for the male, while for the European skulls the opposite is true. So when I model an Asian, in order to get a male body type I end up with a female jaw line. Arghh! And of course those skulls are again just representative, a good portion of male Europeans also have a more vertical jawline.

I'm going on too long but here is an illustration of intra-racial diversity/inter-racial similarity:
Kim Myung-Soo_1_Scaled.jpg

Excepting the eyes, this could be a Neo-classical Greek sculpture with its geometric smoothness and simplicity. It's a lot like the base mesh, but is pretty much impossible to achieve once you have set gender and race on the main tab.

Going back to skin tone, it would be a very powerful feature to be able to supply a secondary skin which would be merged with whatever skin is being used with for example an opacity slider. You could use it to affect skin tone as well as add surface features like the eyebrows in the special suit skins, as well as thing like tattoos. You can already do that by creating a new skin, but if you could composite multiple images you could produce a tattoo and use it with any of the base skins (young, middle aged, old, Asian, Aftrican, Caucasian, etc.) without having to produce a separate skin for each. You could also produce skin tone modifiers, and do things like color lips or other body parts.

I just wanted to put all that out there.
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby Aranuvir » Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:08 pm

At very least it would be a gift to have a fourth slider "Base" so that you could get a neutral head if you want to start from scratch.

To cut a long discussion short, though I haven't really tried it myself: it shouldn't be to difficult to create custom "anti"-targets for your needs.
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby blindsaypatten » Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:49 pm

Aranuvir wrote:
At very least it would be a gift to have a fourth slider "Base" so that you could get a neutral head if you want to start from scratch.

To cut a long discussion short, though I haven't really tried it myself: it shouldn't be to difficult to create custom "anti"-targets for your needs.


That was my first thought, but I don't know how. Clearly MakeTarget is based on taking the difference between two meshes but I don't know how to load the modified mesh as the starting mesh and the base mesh as the ending mesh.
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby Aranuvir » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:20 pm

Well, I assume you now how to basically use MC and where to find MH built in target files. The Base Mesh in MakeHuman which is not the same as the Base Mesh for MC has 50% of the universal male and female young everything average targets plus 100/6 % of each of the ethnic male and female targets, resulting in 8 targets to be loaded on the MC Base Mesh to get the MakeHuman Base Mesh. For convenience you can download jujube's base-target in the contribution section. To get your "anti" race target: Load the base mesh two times in MC / Blender. On the first mesh load jujube's base-target and apply it on the second mesh load the two universal young everything average target, set each of them to 50% and apply them, too. Go back the the first mesh, set it to base mesh if you see the option in MC. Deselect everything, then select the second mesh before the first mesh, so the first mesh (with the base-target on it) is the active (yellow color). Finally hit "Load target from mesh". And have fun, though I fear you won't get, what you expect ...
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby blindsaypatten » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:12 am

I see that there are various race-age targets in the source macrodetails, is it possible that by making one or more of those into a do-nothing target that I could create my own version of makehuman that ignores the race setting?
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby jujube » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:33 am

Having race and gender sliders that affect only the face, and gender sliders that affect only the body, is all I've ever wanted from make human. Race/gender sliders that affect only certain parts of the face would be downright *amazing*. In short, [expletive] yes, can we please make this happen?

(A dream feature for an ideal realistic makehuman: having two different macro gender sliders for bone structure and fat distribution.)

Once I tried to make a slider that affects only a part of the face, by shrinkwrapping only the nose verts on the base mesh to the female caucasian nose, but the problem with maketarget is that it seems to want you to move the verts manually; if you create a feature by applying a modifier it can be really, really hard to figure out how to get the thing to save your target. (The workarounds I used to try and get around this did not work out well. See pic. )

fail.png


blindsaypatten wrote:I see that there are various race-age targets in the source macrodetails, is it possible that by making one or more of those into a do-nothing target that I could create my own version of makehuman that ignores the race setting?

Like Aranuvir said, I made a target for this, two actually. The first one, "revert to basemesh"/"anti base.target"* is applied in makehuman to get your human to look like the default one from maketarget.
The second one, "default human for maketarget"/"base test.target", you load in maketarget to see how your mods will affect the MH startup morph.
http://www.makehumancommunity.org/targe ... emesh.html
http://www.makehumancommunity.org/targe ... arget.html

But the aracial male/female/neutral morphs should be included in maketarget by default IMO.

(My workflow is basically to load base target from file, make a secondary target with the basemesh target active, then when it's time to save, set the basemesh target to zero. )

BTW, in case you didn't know already, you can make an anti version of of any target by setting the factor to negative. (turning a target that shrinks into a target that embiggens)

*Just noticed there are spaces in these filenames, I'll have to go fix that.
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby blindsaypatten » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:15 am

jujube wrote:Like Aranuvir said, I made a target for this, two actually. The first one, "revert to basemesh"/"anti base.target"* is applied in makehuman to get your human to look like the default one from maketarget.
The second one, "default human for maketarget"/"base test.target", you load in maketarget to see how your mods will affect the MH startup morph.
http://www.makehumancommunity.org/targe ... emesh.html
http://www.makehumancommunity.org/targe ... arget.html


Thank you thank you thank you for these! :D

The obvious next question is can you produce two targets that change just the head back to base for the default with the gender slider at either extreme?

I spent the night working on a target to produce an Asian single-lid eye model, I totally screwed it up but I should be able to take what I learned and produce something reasonable tomorrow.
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby jujube » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:35 pm

Some quick n easy targets I made just now:

(for maketarget)
mixed_race_female
mixed_race_male
(for makehuman)
race_remover_white_male
race_remover_white_female

All of these affect head and body. And the latter two don't get you an aracial male/female mesh, they still revert to the same base.obj from maketarget.


Also, attempt no. one at body only target. The first time I tried, correcting the head inside blender lead to the neck being too long in MH. So then I had to take my mesh, and load mesh as target to a new blank mesh. (If you create shapekey from mesh, maketarget can't see your target and it doesn't save to the folder. It would be super convenient if it did!!!) You have to apply it on top of anti_base.target.
Attachments
male body only.PNG
macro targets test.zip
(481.2 KiB) Downloaded 98 times
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby blindsaypatten » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:05 pm

jujube wrote:Also, attempt no. one at body only target. The first time I tried, correcting the head inside blender lead to the neck being too long in MH. So then I had to take my mesh, and load mesh as target to a new blank mesh. (If you create shapekey from mesh, maketarget can't see your target and it doesn't save to the folder. It would be super convenient if it did!!!) You have to apply it on top of anti_base.target.


I assume that is a result of the fact that the race and gender settings affect height. So when you inverse-out the maleness of the head it also moves it downward. Ah, what a tangled web we weave...

Can you simply translate the head part of the mesh upward? Greater height probably also scales the head so probably a translation and a scaling?
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Re: Why I think race sliders aren't good for modeling

Postby blindsaypatten » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:48 pm

I've finally come up with a simple way of describing the problem with the racial sliders:

All people with stereotypical Mongolians features are Asian, but
Not all Asians have stereotypical Mongolians features.

So, if your racial slider produces stereotypical Mongolian features then it will definitely look Asian.
But, if you want to model an Asian with features that are not stereotypical of Mongolians, then setting the slider to Asian will move you farther away from your desired features.

Therefore, I assert, the Asian race slider should be limited to producing features that are nearly universal to Asians, such as eye structure and skin tone.

And I still think that a gallery with many more than three (hopefully user contributed) prototypes/archetypes (with sliders for mixing) would work much much better to get people to a suitable starting point. People are just way to varied to represent with three instances. In the worst case you just have the three existing prototypes, in the best case you have a wide variety.

P.S. I think a skin system which allowed you to set parameters would be better than having just a few to select from. A pigmentation slider would be a great start.
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