The MB Lab Addon is allows us to generate a character with a few clicks. Quite a diversity of characters can be made based on phenotypes like Asian, Caucasian and Afro. But also Anime, Elf and Dwarf. While the original developer (Manual Bastioni Lab) stopped further development, the community took over the development of the addon under the name MB Lab.
Quick overview of how the MB Lab works.
For those not familiar with the MB Lab, keep in mind that creating a character takes two stages. First we use the Creation Tools and once you are finished defining your character you use the After Creation Tools.
The Creation Tools – Stage 1
- Select. Select the Phenotype like Asian, Caucasian, Afro, Anime, Dwarf, Elf. And select Male of Female of each.
- Use inverse kinematic. With this selected you can for example more a hand and then the upper- and lower-arm will follow. (Using layman’s terms here).
- Use Basic Musculus. With this selected, parts of the body deform better when we move parts of the body.
- Use Cycles Materials. (Toggle) Since we have more render-engines in Blender 2.8 (EEVEE, Cycles, Workbench) we can choose here if we want Cycles Materials or not. Not all Cycles shaders are compatible with EEVEE. In the shader editor you can make a metarial for both EEVEE and Cycles. It seems to be the case with the MB Lab as well.
- Use EEVEE Materials. (Toggle) If we want EEVEE materials or not. See also previous option.
- Use Portrait Studio Lights. If you are using EEVEE and you don’t have something to setup your lights like EV Express, it’s a good idea to use this option. This, because EEVEE doesn’t play nice with world light or HDRI.
- Create Character. To create the character according to the options selected. This could take a minute or two.
Creation Tools – Stage 2
- Character Age. To set the age of the character. This goes from 18 yrs to 80.
- Character Mass. Defines the weight of the character.
- Character Tone. Defines if the Mass are muscles or fat. See previous setting.
- Reset character. This will put all three previous sliders back to 0.
- Character library. Here we have presets of types (like fitness model, giant, pear, stocky, triangle, hourglass) and phenotypes (like Central American, Central Asian, East Asion, etc). Then there is an option to mix it with the result we already have or not.
- Random Generator. Under the Engine dropdown, we can define how much randomness we want, like just a little bit or extreme. Then there are option to preserve some features like Mass, Height, Weight, Tone, etc. You can press multiple times the Generate Button until you are satisfied with the result.
- Body measures. Here you can select parts of the body and often loads of options appear. For example you can define how long the fingers need to be or what the Upper Leg Size needs to be.
- Automodeling. You can change the model (roughly) manually in Edit or Sculpt mode and this button ensures that the modifications are plausible. For example if you want a character with a big head, small chest, you can roughly edit it. Then use the Auto-modeling feature.
- Averaged Automodeling. Similar as previous, other algorithm.
- Rest Pose. What rest pose you prefer. Choose from: a-pose, ii-pose, lambda pose, start-pose and t-pose. You can also load and set custom rest pose.
- Skin Editor. Settings for skin-shader like roughness, saturation, SSS. Probably you want to develop your own shader, but the texture come in handy. So it could be that you don’t want to spend to much time on these settings.
- File Tools, To import and export character. With options to save textures or not.
- Finalize Tools. To finalize the character so we can then go to the next Stage: After Creation Tools.
- Display Option. If the 3D viewport is lagging, you can switch off subdivision preview etc.
After Creation Tools
Then finally we have all the tools we need to animate our character. We can create and delete a face rig. There are also facial expression we can animate. Also, there are options for assets and fit the assets to the character, meaning when animating the character, the clothes will move with the character. And we can load and save poses and even use animation files (bvh).
Where to download the MB Lab addon?
You can download the MB Lab addon on Github. Installation of the addon is as usual. On github, press the green button on the right to download the .zip file. In Blender you to go to Edit > Preferences > Addons > Install. Browser to the .zip file you just downloaded and install. Then you can the MB Lab in the N-panel. See here the full documentation of the MB Lab.