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Exporting fabrics from CLO to Blender


  • ottoline

    Simple answer  > you don't in the manner you are doing it, unless you factor in shader types and how to automate that translation between differing render engines. (more work, investigation and know-how)

    What people have to realize is that CLO3D is a one stop shop in terms of an integrated Digital sample (clothing) CAD, and that it uses it's own shader system (vray) for materials, as most software's do according to the render engine they plug into. For example Blenders cycles materials shaders are not compatible with vray material shaders hence you need to appreciate what you are doing.


    If you want to export fabric materials from MD/CLO3D/Vray you need to first >know< what it is you can export that is common between these various software's, render engines, material node graphs and shaders. It does not simply happen as 100% compatible (wishful thinking) at any level of material shader unless >you< do the rigorous work of factoring in what can be sent universally and what cannot. In this case you need to quickly look at the latest PBR material maps based in texture tiling and UDIM to determine if you can shift garment fabrics seamlessly to blender and then a compatible or scripted node to load that into the correct node graph. There are addons for blender that routinely do this for PBR based maps. However you also need to decide if you are using texture tiling (CLO3D fabrics are texture tiles) or texture maps (UV/UDIM). Both differ in quality and results, both are possible and both have pro's and con's.

    You also need to state if you are expecting to use real-time Evee or cycles, and then you need to consider the stitching and how you intend to deal with that aspect of CLO3D to Blender, as that will be a huge part of the workflow that can add in substantial time if not done properly.

    What might be the best way to approach this is to first think about why use Blender rendering over CLO3D internal vray? And that if you want to use both that you settle on one common fabric material library, that sits common to both render engines. That may help you focus in on what the drivers are, and how to better set up your materials (fabric) pipeline. For example I have 100% universal materials (fabric) compatibility due to a common materials standard that sits in an external material management system, that lets me turn any of my fabrics (literally thousands) into an instant resource for any render engine > and simply make one node graph to act as that interpolation for texture tiles or UV maps. And then leverage the simply drag and drop interface capability within each software (MD/CLO3D/VRAY/Blender cycles/Evee), such that all materials can be cataloged independently of the software's. This ensures the fabric management and integrity of that resource is always compatible and is universally accessible. A much better approach, as it can then factor in additional issues like stitching, buttons, trim, labels, transparency, pucker, creasing, depth, fur and some effects eg: diffraction.

    To simply expect a 1:1 perfect materials (Fabric) translation is wildly out scope with wider CG pipeline crossover. And for textiles that is crucial as many render engines will differ on the nature of the way they handle image maps and just which maps may be deployed. eg: blender > micro-displacement in the shader node graph.

    Maybe do a bit more research and tailor back your expectations according to how CG materials pipelines handle texture integration across various render engine types and you will find you are then in a better position to dive into a broader plan for your fabric library. One size fits all - it's not, unless you build that functionality.

  • nathalie17

    thanks ottoline

    how would you create holograms from CLO-files? 

  • ottoline

    ? Create a hologram > From < a CLO3D file ?

    Not sure what you mean here exactly, maybe you need to be more precise in your technical description but if you want a hologram as in real world hologram on a current display you can do that today using holographic viewing hardware, I have one of those displays in my studio. Pretty simple to do just open up the CLO3D PBR file and view it, no drama as long as it's a 3D object you just load that garment. What you need to decide is > should you maybe be using the newish CLO3D PBR web view format and the CLOSET / Old Benfitbyclo VR garment view app . How I did an in shop display for realtime garments, been possible for years only you used MD instead (their sister company).

    And if you are doing in shop VR display of garments I would look at the PBR view of the garment in the CLO3D window and not use the vray shader, as that's technical nonsense if you are outputting PBR based compatible garments as your workflow. CLO3D v6 now has a PBR view mode with shadow catcher that lets you see how your PBR (fabric textures) will look on your garment in realtime, which begs the question - did you explore the CLO3D features fully before you started out on this hologram workflow as you may have missed out a lot of the tech built into CLO3D.

    Maybe do a relook at the features in CLO3D and the wider eco system (VR viewing potential) and the maybe head back to the forum with some questions.

    A good workflow would be to generate the garment using the PBR workflow, (no vray shaders) and then output that to what ever hardware viewer you choose, that way your artisans are working and viewing the garment in CLo3D as it will appear as a final output, introducing blender into the mix seems irrelevant, if you only want PBR based garment texture project views. And remember Blender can take in a CLO3D garment (PBR) if you set up your import procedure, and materials (Fabrics) so that they are translated via the blender node graph (eg: script), a simple procedure to allocate material names into a blender PBR material. One simple node graph of your choosing, however as I mentioned earlier the pucker, stitching, fabric thickness and all the pattern edge detailing would need to be refactored. Which then makes you wonder why not stick to using CLO3D and the PBR mode and closet output.

    Check out this thread where you can see some PBR shots of a cap with pucker and stitching. That is maybe what you toss out when you move to blender, as you then need to redo all that work already done in CLO3D. Why?

    Thick-cap-brim >> where I talk a user through the process of better seam PBR detailing in CLO3D


    CLO3D v6 seam PBR render quality (below). If you want to get this level of detail in Blender you need to do a lot of additional work. So ask yourself, do you have the best garment workflow for the artisan and end artifact output (PBR) you can get - out of the box with blender verse using CLO3D v6 outputs in the wider eco stream?

    Below blender projection map stitching using the internal line and stroking (blender auto script) to any CLO3D seam line. Requires you to make the add in, works with thin mesh CLO3D object exports and gear your PBR stitching to load into all CLO3D stitch ID's. So the question I would always ask is - this is additional work when you shift to using blender, baking stuff down - yet you get this in CLO3D as you work !

    Here I drive both my CLO3D and Blender stitch libraries so they are the same from one PBR based resource so they stay the same.

    Simple stitch node in blender that strokes in all the PBR materials for the seam joints for Evee, I can change the thread type (2 ply, 3ply etc) the needle hole pitch and diameter, the pucker, the angle of the stitch, color, etc - just like you can in CLO3D. So although you can add in great edge detailing in blender, you now get most of this out the box in CLO3D v6 in PBR view mode.

  • nathalie17

    I have to create an exhibition with holograms from creations with CLO3D

    I just start to look into this

    Thanks for your explanations, I will try only with CLO3D and leave blender

  • ottoline

    You don't need to leave blender if that is your technical pipeline workflow for the hologram (it's an alternative to explore against your technical criteria ) if blender is part of your pipeline rationalize why. But be aware on what has changed in CLO3D v6 recently (what I am highlighting) as you maybe need to factor in how CLO3D v6 now uses PBR and textures and UV texture atlas maps (LOD) as it changed dramatically from version CLO3D 5.0.

    And within that territory maybe further explore the VR nature of their web based viewed garments with PBR materials either tiled or using UV texture atlas maps eg: closet. And with that I would also say take a look at MD (marvelous Designer their sister company for CG) and how their 3D garment models work with Sansar, which is a VR world already up and working for many years. As that perhaps gives you an immediate example of how detailed a low poly CLo3D/MD garment could be produced quickly as an output that could drop immediately into Blender, Sansar, or any VR based world software as 100% compatible. So more research on the current wider eco-stream that surround CLO3D and it's immediate software partners might be prudent so you have a good overview on what is possible today on the technical landscape. Not to simply bail to one technology or the other > do more blue water (deep) research, as that can save you time, money and also get you to cross over with other resources (people and softwares) better fitted to your project. eg: discord forum (Marvelous Designer + Sansar garment export), Sansars VR exhibition world building and experiential services, Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), Cryengine, Unity, etc.

    So maybe explore what it can now do and come to a point of view on approach. You can read from what I wrote that I use a 'single texture' library at the core of what I do. That means it doesn't matter what system I use. And that is both a strategic, technical and cost based approach top ensure I don't limit myself or my assets to one software stream. I get the benefit from both software's at no additional human labor cost based on how I capture fabric textures, and set my shaders between systems. And now that CLO3D v6 uses PBR materials I get my full use of my historic fabric library of textures, many tens of thousands of fabric scans. So it's down to curation integrity of your core digital assets, and how you intend to leverage them, and future proof them, that becomes your driver. So you need to also think similar when doing any digital projects - how to best leverage digital assets.


    I have done holographic exhibitions in the past (British museum and V&A) , I think you need to keep in mind the scale of the final garment the hologram will appear in and the technology of the screen, unless using an old school photographic approach verse moving image. The scale of the technology and the viewers eye line perspective of the art work is the driver for the detail level you can place into the final garment.

    For example I use a new process we developed that is possibly the highest quality in texture capture for fabrics and can render incredible detail of seams and stitching, but that would be totally useless detail if the image were played on a holographic screen at a pixel to fabric density over the image capture scale. So that is your immediate limitation you need to focus in on in your technical brief, the scale of the fabric relative to the human eye and distance to the hologram.

    I can get 2400pixels per cm resolution in my fabric scans, and from about 2.5 million light angles, which is absolutely crazy file size to shift around by technology, so the limiting factor is how I can tile that level of detail repeatedly so it appears organic and continuous as a fabric texture. (eg: algorithms and A.I. to process the randomness to trick the eye on the repeat at a much smaller scale > and hence more efficient to compute on a fabric surface). So your 1st part of the project is to zero in on the technical aspect of the capture technology and then the hardware on what can actually be reproduced. eg: I work at 5 to 7 pixels per yarn diameter, as that is 'good enough' for a photographic digital still, but that would be insane to push around in VR so you therefore need to scale down your thinking to reach an appropriate balance on technical and viewing quality relative to technical medium for 'todays' technology.

    What you need to do is quickly get down to brass tacks on what both your hardware (that generates the hologram can produce and what the viewer at exhibition view point will be able to discern when walking up to and around the exhibit). Then nothing else matters as it's simply out of technical scope. So focus in would be my advice.


  • nathalie17

    ok, lots to look into ottoline, THX!

  • sadearyel


    Hi Ottoline, 

    I don't know if you work at  CLO and that's why you know so much but you seem very seasoned in the space. I am about 2 months into learning, and you mentioned so many different things. I was wondering how you learned most of this. I know there is youtube which I am very active on but I have found that now I am trying to integrate CLO with other products like blender it is becoming more complicated. Do you have any tips on learning how to blend the different apps and understand them together? Especially with there being low amounts of videos on the intersections of the two Apps. 

    Also if you use Twitter or Instagram, I would love to follow you! You are so knowledgeable (:

  • ottoline

    No I don't work there. But on their sister company (MD) I am what is called a 'Power User' in the discord forum 1 of only 2 so maybe an endangered species of knowledge I think.


    I have used this app in one form or the other from the very beginning so that is roughly  8 + years of MD/CLO3D and then a couple of decades+ in professional design from hard goods to soft goods, where I have created many different products. However I also have manufacturing experience in the digital space and VFX. I am  in the southern hemisphere (NZ) busy passing on the knowledge and international industry experience.


    I used to use Max, then Modo /Maya and now after Blender 2.8 started to look interesting have thrown myself into Blender for fashion related rendering and detailing. After so long in the industry the toolset for Blender 3.1 is a pretty good all around package, and the online community and updates are simply staggering for support. So where once I might have thought no way ... now I kinda have to eat my hat cos blender is actually very capable and my 1st choice on many projects.

    Where CLO3D is great, and I do mean 'great' in the sense that I have used other clothing digital systems (and are also a MD user)  is that it is a 'stand alone' digital fashion prototype software with an integrated cloud tech pack - so it represents what I think is the gold standard on digital prototype performance (simulation and rendering) with  superb communication and technical pack documentation backend systems at amazing value. So if you use CLO3D you don't neccesarily need to step outside to blender if you don't want too. CLO3D is really well thought out for both the small and large design studio (or independent) and the CLO3D development team have taken a fantastic long term view that they are going to champion the digital fashion sector - which they have been leading for the last 8-10 years. Their teams thinking is always fresh and they certainly push the envelop on what is possible (eg: jinny for VR) They are a nimble team that really do plow out , well thought tools. Not bogged down in too much detail, but well rounded to get you from A to B in one easy to learn digital prototype sample garment system.

    I don't use twitter or Instagram toolsets unfortunately, but maybe soon I will start my own MD/CLO3D design space. 

    Where blender comes in is perhaps if you are creating accessories, props or doing more complex animation you need to feed back into CLO3D for custom characters with a different pipeline eg: VFX for online marketing, then maybe you need to integrate with blender/max/maya/modo. However you can go a long way staying completely within just CLO3D. That is very dependent of cost, learning time frame and end deliverables. If you are heavily into batch rendering or animation as a professional path then yes you mind need to widen your scope to include animation, rigging, texture painting, sculpting - much like the VFX industry for game or film characters. However that is a huge technical journey that you might best grow into over time. You can think of CLO3D as a well rounded introduction to digital marketing samples that also covers just enough VFX technical space to get you to a professional standard, eg: digital clothing samples for early market testing and technical packs for making rapid prototypes (eg: the hand held digital printed / cut sample).  You could grow into aspects of blender as a support toolset for modelling related and character rigging,animated elements that might support things that are non-standard within CLO3D, eg: avatars, trim, shoes, bags, etc. CLO3D actually comes with many of these as standard for the clothing industry but not really for the VFX market (eg: film and game). To that end CLO3D created the sister company Marvelous Designer to cater for that sector where it's pretty much a similar toolset at the drafting level but doesn't have the 'stand alone' cap-ability. With MD you need to also save your work to flow into a VFX pipeline where the specialist tools for rigging,modelling assets, texturing, sculpting, and custom details that sit outside standard fashion are more diverse and need more detail. This is where blender comes in as that single software can act as a complete VFX pipeline.


    Staying within CLO3D is also a cost issue so you need to think that through, as VFX digital assets are generally more costly to create where-as in CLO3D you can bash out a marketing render to a new clothing design on a size adjustable avatar in under and hour. So where fashion is generally really conscious on the need to keep costs down for a digital sample CLO3D is the way to go. If however you are into the fashion for gaming then take a look at Marvelous designer with blender, that might be the way to go. But know that learning both MD and blender is a steeper curve than learning just CLO3D.


    Hope that helps.

  • ycik

    Hi Ottoline and all, joining this thread as I'm also interested in the topic. 
    Thanks ottoline for sharing your expertise here and laying out the details, really valuable!
    Recently I've more and more often encountered the challenge of having to reduce the polygon count of the mesh for online web application of a 3D model created in CLO; say a rather complex style, like a leather jacket or so; this was mainly for 3D E-commerce platforms where they use live-render engines.
    This is where Blender came into play for me (correct me if there's any way to do this in CLO/MD) - I understand I have to learn more about retopology in order to "clean up" the mesh from the obj exported out of CLO or rather rebuilt it with lower quad-count. (?)
    Was wondering if you had any experience with that or if you're even well versed in retopology or remeshing as well as you seem very skillful in this whole field of digital fashion creation..

    Many thx!

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