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MakeHuman - Open Source Human Modeler

Date/Time Permalink: 01/27/08 12:04:29 pm
Category: Reviews

Allow me to introduce the software that will change graphics on the Linux desktop forever. The Linux graphics toolkit has been missing one crucial tool: a way to quickly render human models, similar to the commercial, proprietary Poser. Well, we've got that now.

MakeHuman is this fantastic work of software magic. I ran into it over on Eric's Binary World. So that's a big one that Eric scooped me on, and he's reviewed and commented on it as well.

Now, Eric, if you visited that link, is happy to render naked bald women over there. That's "to each his own" - I kinda got my fill of those after Lieutenant Ilia in the first Star Trek movie. Now, me, when I sit down with a human model renderer, the first thing I think of is drawing an alien freak:

He's drawn really, really funny.

Can any of you witty commenters come up with a caption for this guy? All I can think of when I look at him is to base a new religion on him that would be a sequel to Scientology.

[EDIT] Three years later, I ended up using him as a wall portrait in this strip of Doomed to Obscurity. In a completely original fictional religion I made up called "Micca". Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Anyway, this software is alpha. Do not expect miracles! I had a devil of a time getting it running. First I grabbed the source tarball and gave it a compile on my Slackware 11.0 box, but it (all three pieces of it) depends on Aqsis, which won't compile on my system because I'm missing a bunch of obscure little libraries that I've never heard of, and I'll have to Google and scour the Earth for them.

Next, I attempted to run it on the dreaded Windows XP machine. It installed alright (what doesn't install on Windows? It's a garbage can, it'll eat anything!), but it was not in running condition. Evidently the Windows system I inherited has no tolerance for OpenGL whatsoever. It froze like a brick.

Next, I tried the Windows executable on both Slackware and Zenwalk using Wine, and yeah, verily, it didst worketh!!! About ten minutes after getting it running, my memories of the struggle to get to this point melted away. This! Software! ROCKS!!

Now, I still can't get the renderer working, without Aqsis. Also, I can export Collada .dae format from MakeHuman, but my Blender barfs on that format. I can export Wavefront .obj format from MakeHuman and my Blender opened that, but even that has drawbacks, as Eric points out.

She's flying high on goofballs.

So instead, the models I'm showing you here are simply taken from screenshots of the MakeHuman environment. You can change the background to any convenient wallpaper you have ready, and then the skin renders fine right there, so what's the difference? Snap them and Gimp some clothes and hair on and wedge them into whatever scene you want. I expect they'll fix more of these issues by the time they get to final release. And the next time I paste a wig on a model, I'll do a better job.

Be glad you cant see this old fat guy wearing boxer shorts.

In the case of the big bald guy ("Boxer Joe") I zoomed him in to full size, then took four window shots from Gimp, scrolling the model up each time, resulting in four pieces which I could then paste back together and post-process. These examples are the beginning of my experimentation - I'm just letting everybody know so you aren't all "How do I get MakeHuman to do that?", these are mostly the result of post-processing outside of MakeHuman.

I have found graphics Nirvana! By the way, the MakeHuman team is asking for donations, so golly, it sure would be nice if a bunch of people responded to all this blog love to go shower them in dollars - perhaps from the upcoming tax refund windfall - to support them while they get these last few kinks ironed out. Then their first official release would be a real blow-out, and then the greedy, freedom-oppressing, proprietary-software corporate swine everywhere would just sit on the floor and bawl like babies, because there'd be nothing left to monopolize.

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