Ultimate Guide to Character Models in Unreal Engine 5 and Unity

Introduction to Character Models

If you are building a game in Unreal or Unity, you will need Character Models. There are many different ways to acquire character models, and you need to find the right one for you. In this article we will go over some of your options when it comes to making characters in your game, dealing in price (long term and short term), quality, ease of use, and when we’re done we’ll deal with importing our character into Unreal, helpful apps, and how to rig the skeleton for animation.

By the end of this tutorial you should be able to import characters into your game, and use them. You will also have a good grasp of Daz Studio.

Where can I buy Unreal Characters?

You can get them from the Unreal Marketplace, the Daz Store, or make them with Character Creator 3.

However, unfortunate discovery now, if you wish to buy them, you need money, learn how here.

Is Unreal engine MetaHuman free?

Yes, if you want a free option, Metahumans are free for all Unreal based projects.

Does Unreal engine come with assets?

There are numerous free assets with Unreal, just check the Unreal Marketplace, Epic recently released 17 million dollars worth of characters and environment components from their MOBA, Paragon, for use in Unreal based games.

What are your options?

1: Daz Studio

Daz is one of the best options for a single indie dev. They have some of the highest quality character models on the market, with swappable outfits, numbering in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. They have basically everything, if you can think of it, someone has probably made it on Daz, and you can in 98% of cases, purchase the rights to use them in your game.

Once you start getting into teams, it complicates things because they need to own all the same assets as you, and at least one member of the team needs a license for everything used. Which can get very expensive very fast. I found myself very limited by teams, and able to make much better work on my own, than anything I was getting paid to make.

You can also use it to make high quality 3D renders. The images produced are of absurdly good quality, and are professional grade. They have humans, animals, monsters, environments, props, vehicles, lighting, makeup, you can purchase morphs to change the shape and style of your character.


Long Term: HIGH

Let’s get this out of the way, Daz3D is a little too good at what it does. The models are too well made, the outfits too cute, the sales too tantalizing to resist. The interactive licenses often go on sale, and if you want to build a large scale game, with lots of different characters and environments, you will easily sink 6k into the program before you even feel like you’re starting to have enough stuff. But the price of the individual items is low, which means you’ll buy them a lot. Don’t trust yourself around Daz3D and a credit card with a high limit. You will soon max out your card.

Short Term: LOW

However, short term the price is actually very low. You can purchase a character in a sale of inordinately high quality for 10 dollars, the license in a good sale is 5 dollars, you buy one outfit for 10 dollars, the license for five, some hair for 10, license for five, and you’ve picked up a high quality character for approximately 45 bucks, including all the prerequisite rights. You can also buy bundles of items, often at a deep discount, and you can get a character, some hair, an outfit, and some poses for maybe 10-20 dollars, and 5 for the license for the entire bundle. Compared to other options, this is actually really inexpensive.

You just, won’t be able to stop.


The quality of the Daz Characters and Environments is top notch, you would have a hard time finding better quality assets out there. It can be done, but it’s a challenge.

If you’re importing them into Unreal, your assets will be of the highest quality, and if you’re using HDRP in Unity which I would warn you off of, then they will be nicer quality than standard render pipeline in Unity. The downgrade to Unity is very noticeable, but assets themselves are top quality.


This is where Daz stumbles a bit. They use their own self created Genesis 8 skeleton for all their Gen 8 characters, there are several generations of characters. This means that if you’re importing into Unreal, you’re going to have to do a whole lot of retargeting of skeletons, and depending on your method of importing into Unreal, you may have to use an FBX Joint Renamer. That said, once they’re in the game, and the skeleton is correctly targeted, they work like a charm and make your game beautiful.

The environments are similarly difficult to use in Unreal, but more so. You might find yourself in a position where you have to recreate all the bounding boxes from scratch, this doesn’t always happen, but it’s annoying when it does. Usually importing into Unity is a bit easier, and with fewer problems.

But in terms of character models, once you learn how to do it, it’s not that difficult, and the reward is high.


I haven’t acquired this one yet but it really looks like a good option. Character Creator 3 is a character creation suite for Animations, Games, AR, and VR. The characters appear to be at least as good, if not higher quality than Daz, the character creator is more powerful, you don’t have to buy as many individual items, it looks like you can just buy the creator and build, and they have a range of options in terms of price. You can even import your daz characters into Character Creator 3 and get the full range of options when designing with it.

They have multilayered clothing, skin texturing, mix match clothes, auto-rigged clothing, morphing and transformation, deform and change your character, material painting, cloth simulation, face tracking for motion capture, body, face and hand capture, and a whole host of other options.

It really is the most powerful tool on the market for making your characters in Unreal. You can also just export it with the Unreal Skeleton, ready to animate, no weird rigging or other nonsense required.


Long Term: LOW

Considering you can just buy this suite and get the biggest bundle for 1770 (right now on sale for 885), and that’s all you’ll really need to make as many characters as you want, and especially because you can import your Daz Characters into the suite as well, you’re actually saving quite a bit of money going with this option. The base suite right now is on sale for only 122 bucks, for the core software, although I tend to get the best option on offer when I’m buying something. All things considered, a very good long term investment that won’t set you back as much as other options will.

Short Term: HIGH

Even on sale for $885, that is not a trivial sum of money to most people, however if you’re building your game, really you should spare no expense on it. Whether it makes you money back or not, you should try to make the best game you can make, and the base suite on sale at $122 is pretty good actually.


Jaw droppingly good. Take your game to the next level with this. There are so many options on offer it’s just flat out ridiculous. You need this for your game and so do I.


I haven’t used it but it would appear to be a very competent suite, basically the best of the best on offer. No ease of use issues predicted here.


This option is solid, the Unreal Marketplace has some great stuff on offer, at a variety of different prices to match your budget. You don’t have to do anything special to your characters to get them to work, just import them into the game and animate them, what could be simpler?


Long Term: Medium

The stuff on the Unreal Marketplace can be a little on the high side, for instance Murphey here, a new release, will set you back 62 dollars CAD, all things considered, not too bad. But those things add up over time, so you might be better off investing in Character Creator 3, than buy 20 Murphey style characters and realize you could have got the best Character Creator 3 suite available and make Unlimited Characters.

Short Term: Medium

You can find some pretty good deals if you look, but you will be paying a nontrivial amount for most characters, and you’re probably stuck with whatever they’re wearing at the time of purchase.


Generally the quality of these characters is quite good. They are well designed, some can be modified and changed, these are pretty good characters all things considered. You’re going to get stuff you’d expect to see in an Unreal Engine game, and they’re going to be optimized for Unreal so they’ll look really good. Although if you want to swap out your character’s clothing a lot, you’d be better off with Daz3D or CC3.


This is where the Unreal Marketplace Shines, designed for Unreal, the characters you buy here are basically guaranteed to work fine, out of the box, with a minimum of effort or difficulty. Just buy, plug into your game, and use. They are ready for animation, with the UE4 skeleton. Nothing could be easier, except for spending all your money on Daz.

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Unity Asset Store

The Unity Asset Store, This is where you’ll get everything Unity related, from tools and utility programs, to characters, environments, and everything else under the sun. They’ve got just about everything you need to get your game up and running. The only issue is that you really will need this store, Unity barebones is not the best in the world. You need these assets or your game will run into a lot of problems.


The price, while reasonable, considering how much you’ll be needing to purchase to get a really good game up and running, expect to spend about 2k before you’re satisfied.

Long Term: HIGH

The character models are pretty expensive here, compared to other services you don’t really get that much, and you need to purchase assets to get your game off the ground, because it does a lot less out of the box. All things considered, an expensive option.

Short Term: HIGH

You’ll need to spend a lot to make a good quality game in a reasonable amount of time, expect to sink about 200 dollars into it just walking through the door.


Abysmal. Your game will look like something out of PS3 at best, arguably halfway between PS3 and PS2, or maybe a gamecube or something…. The assets just don’t look that good.


Pretty low. I found myself having all kinds of problems with the Unity Asset store characters and assets, and often the assets will conflict and break each other.



First go here to download Daz Central. This is the hub that you will use to manage all your purchased content.

You will need an interactive license for Genesis 8 Starter Essentials. The license is currently on sale for 5 dollars. The asset itself is included in Daz Studio 4.x Pro. You will need a license for every item or bundle of items you wish to include in your game, including any morphs or dials used.

I would also recommend the Genesis 8 Female Body Morphs, Genesis 8 Female Head Morphs, and a few other packs to get started. Then Purchase 1 character, and 1 set of clothes. For the purposes of this article we will be using George, with the Victorian outfit.

You will also need a license for the Daz to Unreal Bridge.

Open up Daz Studio.

Here is the empty scene. On the left you have your assets in the ‘Smart Content’ tab, there’s also the ‘Content’ tab, where you will find any assets you purchased somewhere besides the Daz Store. And there’s also draw settings, render settings, and simulation settings. Render settings is important if you want to make a lot of 3D renders of your characters.

Further to left you will find, Accessories, Anatomy, Animations, Cameras, Documents, Environments, Figures, Hair, Lights, Materials, Poses, Presets, Props, Ready to Render, Render Settings, Saved Files, Scene Builder, Scenes, Shaders, Shaping, Simulation Settings, Transportation, Utilities, Wardrobe, Web Links.

In the center is the viewport, which you can navigate around by moving the camera by holding right mouse, and zooming forward or backward, with mousewheel, you can move up down left and right, and rotate with the buttons on the side under where it says perspective view.

On the right you will find your scene heirarchy, auxiliary viewport, and environment tab. And you will also have parameters, shaping, face transfer, and posing, surfaces camera, lights for your selected character or object. You will apply all morphs and shaping to your character here, as well as any translation and rotation.

Building your character

Let’s put George in the scene and get some clothes on him. Find him in ‘Figures’, and the clothes are in ‘Wardrobe’.

Ok, now we need to fit all the clothes to George’s figure, for easy export. Power up Unreal Engine while we’re waiting.

Find George in your scene heirarchy, and locate the items of clothing he is wearing, for each item, right click, and chose “fit to” choose George as the target, and parent to target. When you’ve done that for all of them.

In the Unreal Engine, go edit, plugins, and after downloading it through Daz Central, choose the Daz to Unreal Plugin, and activate it, you will have to restart the engine.

In Daz Studio, go file, send to, Daz to Unreal, and it will export him into the game. You’ll see this window:

Just copy my settings and choose a name for your character. Morphs are a bit advanced for this tutorial but leave them on if you’ve used any, you can also select morph targets to import into the game engine.

Here you’ll select a bunch of export options, to speed things along, just copy my settings but you will have to learn these. Click accept.

It will now start importing. Give it some time. Eventually he’ll show up in content browser, in the Daz3D to Unreal folder.

You’ve got a mesh, an animation, and a physics asset. The Skeleton is stored in the daz to unreal folder in engine content, which is not immediately visible but can be enabled in the content browser.

Ok, you’ll have to remap the bones, here are the correct answers so you can just copy them:

Anything else just leave blank. In the Skeleton Tree, choose ‘show retargeting options’, it will look like this:

Right click on the top bone and choose ‘recursively set translation retargeting skeleton’. Now set root to animation, set hip to animation scaled, and set abdomenLower to animation scaled. It should look like this.

Find the animation blueprint you want to retarget, rightclick and choose Retarget Anim blueprints -> Duplicate Anim Blueprint and Retarget. (I would suggest using a suffix)

[You may also wish to change your character to the T-Pose depending on the animations you are retargeting. Simple go to the skeleton tree, change to pose to whatever you need, then in retarget manager choose use current pose under modify pose.]

And your character should now be ready to animate.

Importing directly without the Daz to Unreal Plugin

However, if for some reason that doesn’t work, you’ll have to try the more direct method.

Go back to Daz Studio, choose file -> export, select the same options as last time, except with FBX 2012 instead of 2014. And export.

Take the resulting files you created, and put them in the debug folder of your FBX Bone Renamer. (SmartPoly has helpfully provided an FBX Joint Renamer)

Right click the rig file, choose edit, and change the name of the fbx to your new character. Run the rig file.

Rename the output file to your new character, and put them somewhere safe with your new folder. Then find a good place to put them in Unreal, right click, and import. You’ll see this menu:

You can keep most of these the same, click import all.

Go to your skeleton and choose humanoid rig and automap, fix any small problems with the automap. [clear out calf twist and the IK bones, fix the spine issues] Change to T-Pose if needed.

Here’s how it should look in the retargeting manager.

And here are your animations:

Your character is now ready to use. You can make them into an enemy, an npc, a playable character, the works!!

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