Second Life Mesh Clothing Tutorial

UPDATE May 2012 – I’ve replaced this tutorial with a new revised tutorial. It is updated for Blender 2.63a and the coming Mesh Deformer. See: Second Life Mesh Clothes Blender 2.6 Setup 2012 Tutorial

Update: 2012-03-08 – The coming Mesh Deformer is going to change some of the thinking in this tutorial. At the time I wrote this and these tutorials were being made the thinking was using our avatar shape to make custom mesh clothes was a good idea. In some ways it still is. But, for those of us that sell clothes, not so much. The Mesh Deformer will allow mesh clothes to be adjusted by the viewer to any avatar. This means making clothes for the base avatar is probably the better choice.

UPDATE: 2012-05-13 – There is a Mesh Deformer Project Viewer available with the 0.3.3 version of the Deformer. You need this viewer to upload mesh that will use the Deformer. This the only SL Viewer that recognizes mesh deformation and displays and uploads it. A number of TPV’s have the Deformer in test versions. 

You can get a copy of the Deformer Project Viewer from: Downloading Viewer Test Builds. I also have a link in my blog’s left column. You can find lots of information on the Deformer in this blog, just click Deformer in the tags section of the right column. There is additional information in JIRA STORM-1716.

Ashasekayi has made a 6 part video tutorial on making mesh clothes. The tutorial uses Blender 2.49 rather than 2.5x. That is good and bad news. The good news is that Blender 2.49 has been doing a better job of making importable clothes than 2.59. The bad news is everyone is moving to Blender 2.59. Linden Lab is working to fix problems with Blender 2.59 clothes imports and has it mostly fixed. Following are my tips to help get you through the tutorial, avoid some gotchas, and descriptions of each video part’s content.


Mesh Clothing Video Tutorial

I suggest you use Blender 2.49 if you plan to follow the tutorial, especially if you are not familiar with 2.59. I started out using Blender 2.59 to follow the videos. It is not too bad. Keyboard shortcuts are mostly the same between 2.4 and 2.5. When I reached the point where I needed to copy bone weights I ran into problems. Over the last couple of days those have been worked out. Read this article and you’ll know how to use 2.59 for the bone weights work. I used Blender 2.49 while I worked through the problems with 2.59. Then redid it using 2.59.

If you decide to use 2.59, you will need to install a modified copy bone weights script. I have links to it below. While I was writing this Gaia Clary was fixing the original script. So, as of 9/1, there s a new script for Copy Bone Weights Blender 2.59.

Ashasekayi  has already made a video on how to install Blender scripts. See: How to Install Blender 2.5x and Blender Addon Scripts. (05:19) This tutorial shows the Blender Archive install I talk about next. To install a script in Blender 2.59 you can follow the tutorial.

Installing scripts in 2.59 is very easy no matter how Blender was installed.

One downloads the desired script and puts it some place easy to find. Open Blender. Do NOT open any files. You want to be looking at the default screen. Then select File->User Preferences. Select the Add-On tab. At the bottom is a button Install Add-On, click it and navigate to the downloaded script. Once selected, click the Install Add-On button in the upper right of the panel. This copies the script into Blender for you. You will then see the script feature listed. Over on the right click the check box to enable it. Then click Save As Default. The save puts these settings into Blender as defaults.

It is possible to have Blender 2.49 and 2.5x installed at the same time without problems. BUT… you will find things work much better if you use ARCHIVE install, which I now find much easier and quicker. See Blender 2.57b Released for instructions on how to install multiple versions of Blender. I strongly suggest you read the article. Hopefully it will save you some pain.

Blender 2.59

It is a good idea to have Blender 2.49 installed along with 2.59. Many people say 2.49 works best for exporting clothes from Blender. However, more people are saying 2.59 works now. But, you have to use the right viewer version for the import to work, I think any version from 3.0.2 and up.

UPDATE: 2012-05-13 – Blender 2.63a is out now. The Collada export problems for Second Life have mostly been fixed. The difference between the 2.59 and 2.63 user interface is mostly in the addition of new features. So, there is no additional learning curve. I recommend you use Blender 2.63.

The changes in 2.63 will change our work flow. The modeling editing in Blender is undergoing its first major re-write in years. We now have ngons to work with. This should greatly improve and ease making clothes and other rigged mesh for Second Life. See this video to understand the change: Blender’s New BMesh Modeling System – Overview 01

It is nice to have a 2.59 version installed and usable. More tutorials are coming out based on 2.5x. Plus all new work is being done on the 2.5x releases and that is the version on which Linden Lab is focused.

People are making clothes in 2.59, exporting them to 2.49, and then exporting them to Collada via 2.49 for Second Life. So, you can see it is probably going to be handy to have both 2.49 and 2.59 installed. We won’t need 2.49 much longer.

Here is the list of the tutorial videosSecond Life Rigged Clothing Tutorial Series

About The Tutorials – Part 1

The first Second Life Clothing Tutorial (13:54) is about manually setting up your avatar model in 2.49. It includes the steps needed to import your actual avatar to Blender if you so choose. I did that some time ago and covered it in a December 2010 tutorial: Second Life Mesh Tutorial. I followed Gaia Clary’s tutorial:  Rigg your Avatar. It is not a video, so it may be easier to follow the step-by-step as you work through. Both of these tutorials use the Phoenix Viewer for the avatar export. Also, both use Blender 2.49.

Notice: You may need to run Phoenix in Administrator Mode, a Windows thing, to be able to make the export. I’m unclear if that is just a Win7 thing or not, or just a new thing for the new versions of Phoenix. In Vista, Admin mode is not required. Also, know that Firestorm does not have this feature, AFAIK. Expect it in the future.

Update: The SLViewer will export the avatar to XML, which can be used with Blender. However, in Win7 the viewer must run as Admin for the export to work.

UPDATE: 2012-05-13 – Things have changed since this was written. It has become accepted practice to use the Default Male and Female avatars for designing clothes. There is nothing to keep you from designing for your custom shape. But, to fit a mesh to the widest selection of avatar shapes and work with the Deformer, it is best to use the Default Avatar shapes.

There is ongoing confusion about what ‘default’ avatar will be used by the Deformer. The Ruth and Roth avatars are NOT the default avatar used by the Deformer. Many of us call them the default avatar and in several contexts that is correct. But, the default avatar used by the Deformer is the Default Avatar SHAPE. You can make such an avatar by Editing your shape, selecting male or female and then creating a new shape. You now have the base avatar for use with the Deformer. You can use the information in the tutorials to export your very own copy. 

Or… you can down load the prepared for rigging Default Avatar Shape from STORM-1716. You’ll find the file a couple of screens down labeledDefault Male & Female Rigged These are open license files so you can use and share them. The ZIP files contains several formats.

There are gotchas if you decide to go with Blender 2.59. One of the first ones you’ll run into is Copy Bone Weight. See the thread Bone Weight Copy in Blender 2.5x for what one needs to do to add that feature to 2.59. Also, read through the thread to learn more about how to set up the avatar file. Over the couple of days I’ve been playing with this and writing this article the thread has changed a lot. I expect it to keep changing, so if something I say about the thread doesn’t make sense, it changed again.

The first post has been updated to have the Python file link. As you read the thread you’ll see where Gaia Clary made a revised version of the script. You can also go to Gaia’s site and get Copy Bone Weight. Then to understand how to use it check out Ashasekayi’s new tutorial: How to Use the New Bone Weight Copy 2.5x Script. If you use 2.59, this is a must see video.

The newer version works for me. Remember. Copy Bone Weight will drive Blender into a black screen and Not Responding. It looks like it crashed. It didn’t. Just wait. At higher interpolation values it takes longer. For the head, upper, and lower body Copy Bone Weight at level 1 takes about a minute. The sample shirt at level 4 can take 5 to 10 minutes.

Part 2

The second Clothing Tutorial video (05:31) is about using the Wiz Daxtor Plugin (L$2,000 8/31/2011), which is also available in the SL Market Place. It comes in flavors for different versions of Blender. There is a free demo that allows one to bring in the default avatar. If you want to use your shape, you will need a license. Having a license would allow one to make custom clothes for other avatars.

Part 3

The third Clothing Tutorial video is about completing the setup of the avatar in Blender. (05:28) This is an important video to watch as it includes the rest of the avatar setup for Blender. It helps you get the Blender file setup to have all the bones needed for importing to Second Life.

There are a couple of dozen vertex groups that need to be deleted. It is a slow tedious process. Becareful. Avoid deleting any needed group they are hard to reconstruct. If you make a mistake, use Ctrl-Z to undo it.

Ashasekayi  provides a list of the bones needed, which I posted below. As best I can tell, there are only two that must be added (in green). I thought that might depend on whether you import your avatar’s shape. It doesn’t. I think the default avatar available for download from various web sites and the current avatar have different bones.

— Crucial Bone List (21)–

The new Bone Weight Copy script that Gaia made eases this problem for those using 2.59. Add the two needed bones (green). Check both options to copy just the needed vertex groups. This saves a load of group-by-group deleting. See Post.

Remember to test the avatar after the copy is complete.

Part 4

The fourth Clothing Tutorial video (07:08) is about rigging a shirt and includes a handy trick for dealing with the LoD models and a bit more avatar setup.

Ashasekayi skips over what to do with the default avatar mesh if you loaded your custom shape. Initially the default shape was in layer two. I suppose one can discard it. I didn’t want to do that. So, I had to use different layers than the tutorial.

Ashasekayi deals with the copies of the shirt you’re making. You need copies to simplify for uploading as the various LoD’s. This is something I have struggling with. Ashasekayi solves that problem for me.

This video gets into actually binding a shirt to the bones and adjusting the mesh weight. Ashasekayi skips making the shirt. It is premade for the tutorial. There are plenty of other tutorials for making the model of the shirt.

Part 5

The fifth Clothing Tutorials video (11:54) is about making an Alpha Layer for the avatar. The layer will keep the avatar body from poking through a close fitting shirt as the avatar moves about. There is also the Make Real step that is a gotcha for many people new to rigged mesh otherwise known as mesh clothes.

Part 6

The sixth Clothing Tutorial video (06:02) is about importing the model into Second Life. Even if you have already made several imports there are some nice tips in the video.


Once you make a base file and have the avatar all setup, it can be used with Blender 2.59. Avoid trying to take things you plan to work on into 2.49 from 2.59 back to 2.49. You will likely run into problems. Opening a 2.59 file and exporting with 2.49 is not a problem. Just remember to avoid importing the User Interface with the file.

UPDATE: 2012-05-13 – You should not need to use Blender 2.49 for your exports. I suggest you plan to work in 2.63a or newer and export from the newer versions of Blender.

Additional Tutorials

You may have noticed two more tutorials in the list. Ashasekayi labeled them Primers.

Primer #1 (31:45) – Vertex Groups & Weight Painting – Vertex groups are a means of controlling groups of vertices. Weight painting is about working with rigged mesh or clothes. Some parts of a mesh you will want to move 100% with the controlling bone. Think the cuff of a sleeve for something that needs to move 100%. Think of the seam between a shirt sleeve and the body of the shirt as a part you would want to move very little with the upper arm.

These video tutorials are also made using Blender 2.49.

Primer #2 (22:37) – Second Life Rigged Clothing Series: Primer 2 – Is about Armatures and Clothing. Armature in this case means the type of armature used in art, an underlying support. For our models that is specifically the avatars skeleton. Rigging is about attaching the creative material that makes up the art to the underlying support. To make mesh clothing that moves with the avatar one needs to attach the clothing to the avatar’s bones. Hopefully that makes sense and you know why mesh clothes are said to be a rigged mesh.


The tutorials are well done and to the point. A person new to Blender should be able to keep up with out much trouble. One can learn a bunch about Blender.

2 thoughts on “Second Life Mesh Clothing Tutorial

  1. Pingback: #SL Cloth Simulation Clothes

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