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[EN] [Fortnite][Tutorial] Converting a Head Rig for Fortnite
Credits: _tek105

[Image: 530-90_65298d6726f6b.jpg]
Hi! This is a tutorial on how to convert any pre-rigged head, including pre-Ch4 Fortnite heads, to use the bones/weights of the older style of Fortnite heads. In case it isn't obvious, this is in order to use older facial pose assets of older Fortnite skins.

Be aware his tutorial is for people who are more knowledgeable about Blender and Fortnite modding in general.

What you'll need
Here's what I use for this method:
  • Blender 3.3 and the latest version (add-on compatibility in Blender is very annoying)
  • The CATS add-on (for 3.3)
  • Half's Fortnite Porting (for latest); You can also use this to import Fortnite meshes

Step 1: Importing heads
First, you're obviously going to need to import the head that you plan on converting. You're also going to want to import a Fortnite head that you're going to take the bones from*. I recommend choosing one that is looks similar/is of the same ethnicity of your character so the proportions are similar, but it's not necessary. In this tutorial, I'll be rigging Lucien West with Jonesy's head.
[Image: 65298d6726f6b.jpg]
* If you're using a character that's not from Fortnite, make sure it's scaled/posed to the Fortnite skin (and applied).
* If you use Half's Fortnite Porting, make sure 'Merge Skeletons' and 'Reorient Bones' is off.

Step 2: Bone group assigning
This is by far the longest and most tedious step, but it's worth it in the end!

On your character's head that you want to convert (in my case, Lucien West), go into pose mode and remove any pre-existing bone groups with the '-' button.
[Image: 65298fa2c3b6c.jpg]
Then, create a new bone group. I recommend changing the color to bright yellow.

From here, you're going to select and assign 26 face bones that correspond to the 26 face bones on the other head rig. A * indicates it's not very important, so don't worry too much if you can't assign one of these.
  • 8 lip bones (3 upper, 3 lower, 2 corners)
  • *Tongue
  • Upper teeth and lower teeth
  • *Each cheek (there may be a lot of cheek bones, so assign the center-most one)
  • 4 eyelids (one for each eyelid, of course)
  • Each eye
  • 2 per eyebrow (so 4), and glabella (between brows)
  • *Nose
  • Jaw
Additionally, make sure you assign any spine, clavicle, neck, and head bones that may affect the weighting on the head mesh.

Step 3: Parenting surrounding bones
Once you assign your needed (master) bones to the bone group, now you need to parent surrounding bones to those. Think of it like this: you need to condense the larger amount of bones into a smaller amount of bones, so you'll want to attach similar bones to the one you're keeping (and eventually merge them).

For example, These cheek bones that surround the yellow bone are bones I'd want to connect to it.
[Image: 6529974bb81bc.jpg]
Select the surrounding bones (to be attached) first, then select the yellow (master) bone last. Tab into edit mode, press 'ctrl+p', and select 'Keep offset.' Now in pose mode, you can see that the other bones are attached. Keep doing this with everything else if attaching more bones needed! Make try your best to select the same bones on each side of the face and in the same order to keep things symmetrical.

Having extra bones that don't necessarily move with any of the yellow master face bones is ok! They'll get merged with the head bone in the next step. It's just important to have all of the bones you actually want to be moved to be parented to a yellow master bone.

Step 4: Merging bones
For this step, I need to open my blender file in Blender 3.3. I recommend making a copy of what you've done so far rather than overwriting it, because it can be risky opening a file in an older version, especially when it comes to materials (if you have any, of course).

With the CATS add-on enabled, head over to your side panel (hover over the viewport and press 'n' if it's not there already) and go to the CATS tab. When you expand 'Model Options', you should see a button called 'Merge Weights: To Parents'.
[Image: 6529bf4374fcf.jpg]
It's pretty obvious what it does, but it'll merge any bones/weights that you have selected to their parents (the parents being the yellow bones we want to keep!). Go to pose mode, deselect all bones with 'alt+a', and press the 'select' button underneath the yellow bone group.
 [Image: 6529c02fcc10f.jpg]
From here, we have all of the bones we want to keep selected. But if you want to get rid of everything else, we should invert the selection. Hover over the viewport and press 'ctrl+i'. Now in the CATS add-on, press 'Merge Weights: To Parents'. If you did everything correctly, the mesh should now only have the weights of the bones we wanted to keep!

Step 5: Renaming weights
Even though the weights align to the other reference head, the names do not. I like to select both armatures and go into pose mode together. Then I can easily click onto a bone on the reference head, press 'F2' to copy the name, and go to the corresponding bone on the other head. press 'F2' and paste the name. Do this with all the face bones, making sure you name all of them correctly!
[Image: 6529c38d0056f.jpg]
Renaming the bones will change the name of the weights, which is what we care about. You can also rename the vertex groups (aka the weights), but it takes more time for the same outcome.

Step 6: Adjusting old armature to the head
Here, you can delete the reference head mesh, but keep the armature since that's the new one you'll be using! Make sure to reset that reference armature's location in case you moved it. Go to your character's mesh's modifiers and change the armature to the base/reference one.
[Image: 6529c38c8b3ac.jpg]
Now, on the armature you just set the mesh to use (in my case, Jonesy's), move the bone locations in edit mode to match the location of the mesh! The only bones I would stress over when moving to the right place is the eyes, since an inaccurate location will make the eye's rotate very strangely. I like zooming in while in side view, and aligning the eyes to where they were on the old armature (then doing the same in front view). Use the x-mirror at the top right of the viewport, It'll keep the bones symmetrical.

Delete the unused armature (the original one of that the character used) and then parent the head mesh to the armature it's now using.

If everything went to plan, you should now have your character's head moving with the old Fortnite armature. I would do some manual weight painting/smoothing in case any bone doesn't move very well, but once that's all good, you can go on and export is as any other head (make sure to scale it up by 100 if it's scaled down!).

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