Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Icon SSBU Tutorial

Character Model Importing & Rigging Tutorial v4.2

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  • added more pics for additional reference
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  • forge method fixes as well as better clarification on materials
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Have you been wondering, hey, I want to make a character import! 

But I've heard those are hard... how do I get started? 

This tutorial will show you how!

I just wanted to say beforehand, before commenting an issue you have, look in the FAQ at the end of the tutorial, thanks.

Disclaimer: if you haven't made noticable progress on a model import (no rig, very little visible progress, etc.) Don't make a work in progress, make a help thread about it so more people will come to help you then on a WIP page where they would less likely help out because they'd be going nuts over it instead if it was a char they liked..

1. 3DS Max 2010 or higher. 3DS Max 2014 has an unfixable bug. 3DS Max 2015 is the recommended version, but if you have a very low-end computer, you can get 3DS Max 2010 instead.. You can get 3DS Max for free by making a student license in seconds. This will not have any issues if you fake making an account. The page for the student signup is here. Many people say they don't have good enough computers for it, but it actually handles fine on low-end computers as long as you get versions from years back, such as 3DS Max 2010.
2. Sm4shExplorer and a dump of SSBU is required to fetch files and run the mod ingame.
3. Patience and a Windows computer. If you do not have Windows, virtual machine might work with enough effort.
4. .net 4.6.2+, you may or may not already have it. find it here
5. Python 2.7 OR 2.7.11 installed. Any higher will not work. MAKE SURE IN INSTALLATION THE VERSION IS PYTHON 2.7/any version of 2.7, AND THAT THE ADD TO PATH OPTION IS ENABLED.


I HIGHLY SUGGEST you follow these two tutorials here on the basic 3DS max interface before messing around with the software and attempting rigging models, or else you will have a very hard time with rigging and actually importing. Going in too cocky will have BAD RESULTS on your import.

Tutorial One: Basic 3ds max interface. Very helpful for learning how to rotate and properly make sure your model is in the correct place later.

Tutorial Two: Viewport. Information vital to making your mod position well when editing your rig, and also helpful for making sure you've got a grip on camera angles.

After watching those two tutorials there, return to the tutorial here.

The script for importing our model:

Now it's time to find our model, or create our own if skilled enough. To find other models from other games, go ahead and search on The Models Resource for video game model rips or search on the internet elsewhere for characters to mod into smash.

After you find a model, download it and extract it somewhere you can easily access it, like the fighterCreator folder earlier if you want. Search for a obj, fbx, or dae file. These file types typically are the correct kind of model for importing, though several other formats may work. Some models can be converted for use in 3DS Max and eventually forge.

Now, open up 3DS Max. Drag the fbx/dae/obj/model over 3DS Max's viewport scene. The model should be located in there.

For example purposes, I will be using spongebob as a test rig. Now you are, ready for rescaling and rigging.

If you see blue like textures in the folder where your model came from, those are called "normal maps." They are usually transparent, and if those do come with your model, later on you'll have to assign a ID to them in Smash Forge.

If the textures are already on the model, you can skip this step as you already have them applied.

Drag the textures over each model and make sure they are applied correctly and preview fine in 3DS Max's viewport. If there seems to be several textures for one part of the model/mesh and you can't drag each texture over it without it overwriting, use this script:

Drag it over 3DS max and find this box at the bottom-left of 3DS Max:

Now in this box, type:
splitMeshByUVElements $spongebob 1
Replace spongebob in that command with your model name and hit enter, the meshes should be seperated by texture, allowing you to drag the textures over each split mesh.

E.X if you have a mesh named doodlyDoo:

splitMeshByUVElements $doodlyDoo 1

If you make a mistake, press CTRL + Z to undo the action. Now to the left of 3DS max, you should see the Scene Explorer. If not, hit Tools at the top left and then hit "New Scene Explorer."

Select all your custom models and right click > Convert > Convert to mesh in the scene. If you see bones or anything other than the meshes (your characters model) in the current scene, delete those using the Del key after selecting them, so we can import the Smash 4 skeleton of the fighter you are importing over.

Now, in sm4shexplorer, goto data > fighter > fighter you are importing over > model > body > c00
Then right click on the c00 folder, then hit extract. 

If you want to rig over different costumes, e.x cloud's physics bones on his alternate costume, you can also extract those costumes. E.x cloud c01 is advent children costume bones, which has some physics bones used for it.

Now, in the fighterCreator folder you downloaded earlier, there should be this Max Script inside of the folder: 

Drag this also over 3DS max where the viewport is and this should popup.

Hit the import model button and locate to your sm4shexplorer folder > extract > data > fighter > fighter you want to import over > the costume (default c00 usually) > 

Hit model.nud and select. The character model for who you are importing over should appear. 

Delete all the models/objects of the default Smash character that were just imported into the scene. You can do this by clicking on the invidivual models in the scene while holding CTRL and press "Del" on the keyboard. Make sure you left your new custom model in.

Do this for every model until the only remaining model or models is your custom one you imported in Max. Now, there should be bones from the Smash character still remaining in the scene, meaning it should have "TransN" as a 'root bone' and your custom model or models beside it on the list. EXAMPLE:

Now, move your custom model around and rotate it at proper angles that match up with the bones properly inside of the viewport. E.X 90 degrees, 180 degrees, to match up with the model perfectly. (smash brawl models need to be rotated at a 90 degree angle exactly if you are using a brawl box exported model) and scale it like in the tutorials above I told you to view and move it to fit to match with the bones of the Smash Fighter. Don't be wary if your model doesn't completely fit, since the next step will go over that.

Now select all your models one by one by CTRL + Clicking them from the list, and in the viewport (where your model shows up) right click > Convert > Convert to Mesh. 

Vertexing the model, or editing the portions of the model, can help immensely in certain models that don't fit perfectly. The next step explains this since it'll be needed to fit the model to the scale of the bones.


Time for rigging the model onto the character! Rigging is a method where you make the bones of the character move with parts of the model, allowing it to animate ingame. Select your model from the scene. If you have multiple models, select all the models and continue, unless you'd like to separately rig each model which is not recommended for beginners. 

Hit "Modifier List" like so, and scroll down and click Skin. Select the Add button here, and make sure Skin is selected in the list above the button.

In the new window that pops up after hitting Add, hit select at the top of the window, and then hit Select All to select the Skeleton entirely.

Then this should happen, as it selects all of the bones in the list.

If you don't see RotN, expand the bone list by clicking to the left side of the bone TransN. 

Proceed to press CTRL and click on TransN and then again on RotN to deselect them, as they cause issues whilst rigging. Any "issues" you encounter even with these deselected like not being able to Weight in the next steps are because you'll need Noesis, which has a download in FAQ at the bottom. 

Deselect anything other than the bones in the list if something was, since you are only toying with the skeleton at the moment.

Deselect bones you dont need to rig on, such as captain falcons scarf bones (they start with SWG), or if you're rigging a character who doesnt need them, for example Rayman, deselect root bones for the bones you don't need to rig to and select bones inside of those if needed. E.X character has no left arm, you deselect RShoulderN, RArmN, and everything inside of that. Experiment to see what works for your model if you need to do so.

Hit Select in the bottom right corner of the window for bone selection.

Now you should see your chosen selected bones here, meaning you did it correctly.

If you are clueless on weighting and rigging in general, there
are great tutorials to help you out with bones and rigging.

 DO NOT skip this step.

This tutorial has a great explanation on rigging and vertexing the models to fit better. I chose clips from 2 other brawl tutorials to teach you how to vertex the model to fit and also how to make your rig and body work correctly. Many other tutorials do exist out there, so if you are ever lost OR confused by this tutorial in general, looking up more basics on 3DS max and skinning will help you greatly, including other brawl rigging tutorials with tips and tricks to help you out.

It is very important to know how to rig and weight so your character has proper structure ingame.

Explaining of the finger bones and hand rigging. Drawn by Y2K.

If you do not understand this video tutorial, find other tutorials about rigging and weighting to help you out like I said above, and try different methods to make your models look proper in smash as I also said above, such as the Skin Wrap method (many tutorials exist on this) that parents the original model's rigging and slapping it over yours and using it as a base to work off of.

You can hit the "F3" button on your keyboard to be in a wireframe view to see how the bones line up with your model and it will help you greatly on proper shoulder rigging and etc.

Make sure your models all have a skin modifier applied and are rigged properly before exporting and testing. Make sure the Skin modifier is at the top of the list of modifiers, (usually is.) so above Edit Mesh modifier, for example. Errors you may get may happen due to improper weighting, dead vertices, too high quality of a model (the Optimizer modifier decreases many extra polygons from models), etc. 

If you want to have expressions, you will either have to make entire new custom models for each facial expression OR do flat texture expressions and re-UVing a flat plane that fits over the face of said character. This is all explained in detailed tutorials on creating your own model. 

For naming these models and making them work ingame (I.E expressions), when In the smash forge tool later, make the list of models identical to the original character names so that way the order will match up ingame, or alternatively make a txt file and rename it to, and drag it over a cXX.

A reminder, expressions are optional and imports WILL work without them, just look a little less full of life.


                                      --SMASH FORGE--


Smash forge is the recommended way to import your model into the game which allows for easier material editing and features like editing NUT files on the fly use Smash Forge to put your rig in the game.
Get the latest smash forge version here.

Extract smash forge somewhere you want to, and open up the exe. Goto the File option in the top left corner, and open > open file. Navigate to the VBN of your character and select it. It should import the bones of your character. Now, in 3DS Max, Goto File > Export > and select to export as an FBX file. Download the noesis tool here as we will need it.

Open the FBX file by double clicking on it and it should show up in the preview. Right click on the FBX and hit Export. Set the main output type to DAE, and there should be a box called Advanced options.
In advanced options, copy exactly the following:

-smoothnorm 0.001


(Change .fbx export to .dae export as seen in picture.)

Now, in the bottom right corner of the Export window, hit export.
If you had your .FBX exported from max called "something.fbx," it would output as "somethingout.dae", so look for a file with out at the end of the name. 

In forge, File > Open.. > Open file again, and then select the .DAE made by Noesis. There should be a box that pops up, with an option saying "Rotate 90." In most cases, you should make sure the Rotate 90 option is ticked. 


Now click import, and there is your model.
(Also tick ignore vertex colors if when imported the model doesnt have a blue and grey checkerboard appearance.)

All textures that your model uses must be exported in or another program into DDS. To do this you must open up the textures for your import in or your preferred photo editing program, and save them as DTX5 and in the DDS format with generated mipmaps enabled (and set to Fant/Bilinear). DTX1 and DTX3 also work for this.

At the top of forge, there should be "Textures." Click this > Open .NUT Editor.

The first thing you'll want to do in the NUT Editor window is to click on Texture > Import > and select your DDS file. It will import, and now have a hash ID. This will be important.

(Texture > Import the dds, then you should have your texture preview and a Hash ID.)

Now, you should copy the Hash ID underlined in the picture above, and close the window. On the right of smash forge there should be a list of models. Inside these models are meshes, and inside of these meshes in our model contain Polygons/Meshes as well. Expand the mesh > Right click on Polygon or mesh in it > Edit Material.

Before anything is done here, click Load Preset. Select one of the presets in the list (For example, Mat09 is beginners material, which is suggested for basic imports. Others also exist for things like Metal Models and etc.) Select Open and continue. Your flags and IDs may be different and that is normal.

Now, there should be a texture tab right here.

Click on the texture tab. Now click on diffuse as seen here.

There is a texture ID box. Copy the ID from your texture into there.
Exit this window, and it should save. Repeat this process for each mesh and each texture required.

For advanced material editing such as metal models, glowing, and Normal Maps if necessary, use other presets and follow guides and references such as these: (Guide Part 1) (Guide Part 2) (About Flags and bytes)

After that is done and you have cleaned up and expiremented with your model and its materials, now is time to export the .NUT. To export the nut, go back into Texture > Open NUT Viewer, and now in the nut viewer window, goto File > Save NUT. Save the nut in a folder with your boneset (VBN file).

Now, for the actual models in the list on the right, you right click on them to then Export the NUD into the same folder with VBN and NUT.

Congrats, your import should be working now. If none of this worked out for you, the older method is below: (Not recommended: Old method. Use only if absolutely required)

---------- (Outdated method)

Now, do some fixing and whatever you need with the helpful FAQ section below, and you should be able to fix issues you have. 




Usually, this means when you import in forge your .DAE you need to tick "Smooth Normals." If this messes up anything ingame, use -smoothnorm 0.001 in the advanced options for noesis export.



"Game crashes while loading/infinite load screen. Help?"

Try adding only the NUD to the folder instead of the NUT, since NUT is prone to bugs sometimes (due to the size of the DDSes, or broken mipmaps, caused by exporting default nuts from forge sometimes.)

You may also have dead vertices in your model, which can be fixed by "Removing Isolated Vertices" in the middle right of the screen in vertex mode.



"My model is invisible ingame and does not show up. What do I do?"
If this issue occurs, you need to copy c00 from your character and paste it anywhere you want. Now export your model as a NUD inside of that copy of c00, along with your nut. If it's still invisible, you should make a empty file called "" and drag it over the cXX folder in sm4shexplorer.

If it is STILL invisible, it may be because you moved bones or messed with them on accident reimport with default model.vbn and make sure its properly imported.

If it's still invisible, check your material and if anything seems off that might have messed it up ingame. Also try rearranging order by adding blank meshes by right clicking on the model > and adding blank meshes and renaming them to the expression meshes



"Parts of my model are invisible..but in some moves they are not! How do I fix this?"

A solution would be to rename your meshes to match with your original characters and order them in a way that will be identical and show the meshes in the same spots they were ingame. If you don't have the same amount, right click on the model and hit add blank mesh and rename the blank meshes to the expression names/meshes.



In 3dsmax, Select a Mesh and go to the Skin Modifier. Under the Advanced Parameters Tab, Find an Option Titled "Bone Affect Limit" and set it to 4. Do this for all of the Meshes just incase.


Have fun, and please comment or contact me on (Hefty#4575) if you need further help. I am also usually available on the Smash 4 Modding discord which you can find on the main page of the the Smash 4 Gamebanana page here. just give me an @Hefty.

If you have texID issues or are planning on releasing an import, please use munomarios mass texID fix script to fix textureIDs.

Please make sure to credit models you use from anyone when releasing model imports, and smash on!



Don't PM me for help. I prefer discord messaging OR comments on this tutorial. This is why.


finish the mod shown in the tutorial ::)


  • 3dEdited 3d
    Could the textures be transformed to mtl?
    If you are reading this.
  • 9dEdited 9d
    Biderial avatar
    Biderial Offline
    Member Joined 11mo
    415 points Ranked 10042nd
    Im using 3ds max 2015 since it was the recommended version to use, but on step one, when you tell me to select all my models and right click, there is no convert option. And I have four models unlike in your example for Spongebob you only had one, not sure if that has anything to do with it.
  • 1mo
    Mewtwo20XX avatar
    Mewtwo20XX Training on FD
    Member Joined 7mo
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    Does it has to be 3DS max... I'm having issues installing it... Could this tutorial apply to Smash Forge too, or no...?
    Low Tier Is The New Top Tier
  • 1mo
    Gonderage avatar
    Gonderage Offline
    Member Joined 2mo
    549 points Ranked 7876th
    I can't get to step 3 at all because when I downloaded Forge, the .exe doesn't do anything. I used compatability mode, tried turning off antivirus, downloaded an older version, yet nothing would get Forge to load up. Do you know anything?


    • Agree x 1
    I love my beautiful anime gf.
  • 1mo
    iambr0ken avatar
    iambr0ken Offline
    Member Joined 1mo
    After following this tutorial my rig turned into this monstrosity -
  • 1mo
    When I imported onto smash forge I got this message "Error: More than 4 weights detected"

    I am using 3ds max 2015.
  • 1mo
    SeriousNorbo avatar
    Member Joined 1mo
    Something's not quite right...

    I did your tutorial step-by-step and i encounter this:

    This is how it looks in Smash Forge:

    And in-game it's face is messed up:

    BTW, i'm 100% sure that all textures have the same resolution and are converted in exacly the same way.

    Any help with this??? :/
  • 2mo
    LuckyJero avatar
    LuckyJero avatar Online
    Member Joined 1y
    So I read the FAQ where the game crashes. (In my case it suddenly stops loading.)

    I need to add only the nud and there is the problem:

    Where does my import take the custom DDS if I am not using the custom NUT created by the NUT Editor?

    Is there any fix for the NUT?

    Thanks in advance!


  • 2mo
    kingboo983 avatar
    kingboo983 Offline
    Member Joined 6mo
    130 points Ranked 23375th
    How would I convert a .pose or .mesh file into a file 3dsmax can use? I did a quick google search but didn't find much, and since I'm getting on a plane soon I won't be able to continue searching. Also, 3dsmax cannot open them as they are; I already tried.

    I got the models from:

  • 2mo
    gothic_rinnegan avatar
    Member Joined 6mo
    425 points Ranked 9831st
    This all makes sense until I scale the model and it doesn't fit. Mostly because I'm using the 2015 version and rigging plus vertexing make NO sense to me because I don't get that video. If I could get past that it'd be really nice. 

    P.s Its mostly the hands not lining up and the legs not lining up with the bones. Help wanted please.


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Key Authors
wrote tut
I linked a video tut on how to brawl rig in general, and he made it
Person who made basic 3ds max tutorials
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helping me setup a few things in rigging


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