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Character Model Importing Tutorial - A Tutorial for Mario Kart 8

Model Importing Tutorial

*Please watch the video i created, i really don't think i have to make a text tutorial, so enjoy the video script copy-pasted

Hello everybody and welcome to another Mario Kart 8 Modding tutorial, today we are discussing model importing,

Now before we begin we will need to install a couple things:
First, we need a 3D modeling program, I will be using Blender 2.79 in this tutorial.
Secondly, we need The Switch toolbox, this makes importing 3D models into Mario kart 8 possible
Third we need two blender plugins: these are “CATS” and Material combiner, on each of the download pages there will be a short tutorial on how to install blender plugins.
Finally we need a model, here is a link to the Model Resource

Before we start I need to mention some prerequisites:
First off, your texture file size will need to be equal or less than, than the one you are replacing, to check the file size of your characters textures simply drag and drop your characters file into the switch tool box, character files can be found in content/driver, once it Is opened click the BFRES file and then textures.

Most characters have 512 x 512 textures for the body and 256 x 256 textures for the eyes/mouth however some don’t such as Donkey Kong who has 1024 x 1024 textures.  
Second make sure that your vertices/polygons are less than 6000, you can go over however the game will lag.

Ok lets begin! Import your model into blender, if your model is not rigged please go to this time stamp on screen.
If your non-rigged model has multiple textures you will need to atlas them before we put It in a auto-rigger, please go to this timestamp onscreen, and come back to this part when you are done
For this tutorial we will put this model into an auto rigger called Mixamo, the website link is in the description, signing up for this website is completely free.
Once you have signed in you will get a screen like this, click Upload character, now just drag and drop your 3D model file into mixamo.

Adjust the model with these buttons if you have to, now put these markers over the model like the diagram shown, under skeleton LOD mark it as 2 chain fingers, Mario kart 8 uses 4 bones to control the fingers, we can merge child bones’ weights when we get into blender, after this click next, the auto-rigging process may take some time so please be patient

When it is done you will get a preview of your character, if you are happy with the results click next.
This is optional but you can select all these animations and do some extra proofing
When you are finally done click download, when this screen shows up, under format pick .DAE, this 3D model format the most universal.

Once you have your model imported the materials may be deleted, lets fix this! Create a new material in the material tab and scroll down to MMD texture and select the characters texture, once done click Fix model in the CATS tab.
When you import your model and if you haven’t already, click Fix model in the CATS tab. After this go to vertex groups and go into Weight paint mode and check the weight painting. Please refer to your characters skeleton. Also merge any bones to the parent by selecting them in edit mode and clicking merge to parents in the CATS tab
Sometimes when you import your model the textures maybe broken, to fix this go to MMD texture in the material tab and select the right textures, also you may need to delete any materials you don’t need.

If you have any bones that are missing such as here with the head this might mean that CATS has deleted it, not to worry we can easily fix this! First go to edit mode and then select the end of the parent bone and press E, this will add a child bone, now simply rename this to the original name of the bone, this name can be found in Vertex group, when you do this it will transfer all the weights to the new bone, repeat this if some more bones have been deleted. To parent bones, right click all the bones and select the LAST one to be the parent then to Ctrl + P then click Keep Offset.
Also I recommend that you pose your model in a correct stance aka a T-pose.

Now we are going to rename all the bones to what your character uses, again refer to the skeleton list.

If you want to make a shadow map I would recommend THIS tutorial made by the creator of “The Switch Toolbox” KillzXGaming.

We are almost finished in Blender! The last thing we need to do is atlas the textures, remember, Mario kart 8 characters use 1 object and 2 materials, this being the body and the eyes/mouth, if you have textures like this Lucario example I have here, you will need to atlas them, however if you have only two textures you can ignore this step.

First go the Material combiner tab and tick/untick the textures you need to combine, for the atlas size I recommend Quadratic with “Size of gaps between images” set to zero.
Now before you create your atlas, save your blender scene just in case something brakes. Now click “Save atlas to..” and select the folder location of your atlas,
When you do this you may have this weird lighting issue, this is probably a bug with the material combiner, we can very easily fix this!
Open a photo editing program, you can use any, however I recommend paint.net since it’s free and easy to use. Open your atlas and overlay your original textures over the atlas, once you do this, save the image.
Before we export, make sure your materials are renamed to “Body__m_Body” for the body, and “Body__m_Eye” for the eye/mouth,
Lastly we need to export! I recommend using the CATS plugin for exporting but you can use blenders built in exporter, make sure the file you export is either a .DAE or .FBX file.
Ok now we are finished in blender!
Alright lets get this model imported in-game!
First drag and drop your character file into “The Switch Toolbox”.

This extra step will be important later, go into settings, a window will now pop up, the check boxes are self explanatory.

Now, let’s finally import our model! Go into models and right click your character and select replace, select your exported model, you should now see this menu, make sure all these settings are like shown on screen, after clicking OK, uncheck “Use material” and “Create Placeholder Textures”, next click the “inject mode” tab, check all these options, now click on the “Current” materials and rename them to the appropriate names on the right, once you are finished click on the model settings tab and click save.

You should now have your model imported in, but we are not finished yet! Right click your character and select “transform”, if your model is too small then I recommend setting the scales to 1.1, set them all to 1.01 for more precise sizing, if your model is too big then set all the scales to 0.5.
You want to try and position your model to align the armature.
Ok lets test this! Go to animations, then Skeletal animations and click on any animation to see what your model will look like when put in-game. Hmmm, it seems that the animations look broken, lets fix this! I would start by sizing the model up and then repositioning the bones, to reposition the bones, go to your character and then skeleton, start by collapsing all the bones until you have reached the bones that need to be repositioned, I don’t recommend stretching out the bones too much as it may brake other animations.
Ok this looks great!
Now lets apply our textures, under the textures section right click the textures that end with _Alb and click replace, do this for all your model textures, also replace the pupil texture with a transparent image.

If you don’t want to include a spectral map, set all the textures that end in SPM to a 1x1 black image
When you have done all this you are done! Simply click save/save as and click yes when it asks you to compress with Yaz0
Congratulations!
You have now imported a model into Mario kart 8!

  • cranrun75 avatar
    cranrun75 Joined 12mo ago
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    Hey, so I was able to make a somewhat stable Zipper using your instructions, I just need to practice a few more times. I also was able to replace banana's with Seabass and mushrooms with apples following the same general rules, on the WII U the apple is perfect and the Seabass is OK but slightly dark at angles, on cemu the Seabass shape is there but black and the apple crashes the program, do you have ideas of a fix? 
    Bananite
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  • Watapascul avatar
    Watapascul Joined 2mo ago
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    One thing that I found out while making my own character mods is that it isn't necessary to rig the model (this includes rigging the model in Mixamo, fixing the model with CATS, rearranging the bone structure, etc).

    The steps I always follow to get the correct rigging for the character is:

    1.  Have character in T-Pose (not really necessary, but I always do it just in case), with two meshes (body and eye/face) having one material each (you can use the Material Combiner for this or do it yourself).
    2. Import the character you want to replace to the same Blender file. To do this, use Switch Toolbox and export the model (which will be in .dae format). *I will call this model MDL in the next steps
    3. Combine your model with MDL. To do so, select both Body meshes and Ctrl+J, making sure that the resulting mesh is under the existing armature (otherwise, undo and repeat inverting the selection order). Do the same for the Eye meshes.
    4.  In edit mode, move MDL's body and eye mesh to see things better.
    5.  Assign faces from your model to the existing vertex groups from MDL (for example, select faces from the left foot of your character and assign them to the "FootL" vertex group). You can leave unassigned those vertex groups that you consider your character doesn't have (for example, Pikachu doesn't have HairL, HairR , etc), and you can use MDL's assignation for reference.
    6. Once done (make sure that when selecting every vertex group your character is fully selected), you can delete the faces of MDL as well as their material and UV map.
    7.  Rename your model's material and UV map to the name they had on MDL (for example, m_Eye, Body__m_Body-texcoord, ...)
    8. Save your file (for further tweaking) and export your model (making sure nothing remains of MDL) with CATS.
    9. Follow the video from 6:33 onwards.

    Overall, this method can still be time consuming (especially the vertex group assigning), but it skips some steps and allows you to import some more complex models as well as tweak the vertex groups later if animations aren't correct (I always do this in my character mods).
    El Donko
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  • Hello I have a question when I export the fbx model to mixamo, why when I put 2 chain finger(41) I get an error?

    This is the model I am exporting:https://www.models-resource.com/mobile/winxclubbloomixquest/model/36304/

    Bananite
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  • Jezza123 avatar
    Jezza123 Joined 3mo ago
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    Hey i'm struggling with a few things can you possibly help me with them
    Bananite
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  • Watapascul avatar
    Watapascul Joined 2mo ago
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    Thanks a lot for this. I've finally been able to import a character to MK8 following the guide.


    If someone gets an error in Switch Toolbox about an incorrect array or something like that, make sure to check the vertex groups since they have to be exactly the same (not more, not less) as the character you are replacing. For instance, Toad doesn't have leg or knee vertex groups despite having the bones for them.

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    El Donko
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  • Miguel92398 avatar
    Miguel92398 username pic Joined 4y ago
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    1mo 1mo
    Just a suggestion, maybe you could use Table of Contents for this tutorial (you can unlock it in Unlocks) and use Header like

    Header 1 (use for title or steps)

    Header 2 (substep)

    Header 3 (substep within a substep)

    • Informative x 1
    Don't DM me for stuff
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Details

Difficulty Level
Intermediate