Another use of the avatar mesh is to make the new mesh clothes. For this use one needs a more complex file with more stuff in the file. These new clothes are made as any 3D model is made, but we must enable animation so they move with the avatar’s arms and legs. That is called rigging.
When we make a mesh dress, blouse, hair, shoes, feet, hands, or even a full avatar, all the things that need to change size to fit and move with a short or tall avatar, we need to RIG them so they move and change with the avatar. Sleeves need to move with the avatar arm. Dresses and skirts need to move with avatar legs. Since system clothes are ‘painted’ on they are already rigged to avatar. We don’t have to deal with rigging for system clothes.
In the 3D modeling world this adding animation is known as: rigging the mesh model to the animated armature… hooking (rigging) a dress (mesh model) to the avatar (animation armature/skeleton) so the mesh moves with the avatar (dress becomes animated too).
For this to work the file you use must have several more things.
- The avatar mesh – correct one for the Deformer (base skin)
- The armature – sometimes called the skeleton
- The vertex weights – the information that tells the system how to move the model (dress)
Following is a list of files commonly referred to in Second Life Tutorials for clothes making.
Downloading Second Life Avatar Files
There are various sources. SNOW-1716 is a JIRA item about the Mesh Deformer project. In that JIRA item in Attachments, at the top of the pictures, is a zipped file (Default Male & Female Rigged Avatars.zip) with male and female avatar models with the default shape used by the Deformer. Several formats are included for different modeling programs.
The Second Life Wiki also has a list of tutorials and downloads for those interested in making clothes. See: Second Life Clothing Tutorials, which may have new information. But, much of what you find on the page is rather old. However, near the top of the page are the Second Life avatar meshes and Improved Second Life avatar meshes for 3D texture painting.
Let’s look at what some of the files are.
SL 2005 Model SL Files
The SL Avatar Meshes referred to in the preceding paragraph are the 2005 files from Poser and are the Ruth/Roth files. Included are all parts of the avatar. The files are for all creators whether making clothes or animations. Unfortunately these files are incomplete for many purposes. The skeleton part is included. But, it is work putting the dozen plus parts together correctly.
- SL_avatar_OBJ.obj is a file in the set that is Ruth broken into 18 mesh sections. There is no skeleton.
- SL_Female.obj & SL_Male.obj are similar files without skeletons.
- SL_Avatar_Tpose.bvh is the skeleton/armature in the T-pose.
The mesh is in more than 3 parts in this set of files. There is something like 700+ duplicate vertices. These duplicates will NOT throw off the mesh deformer. I emailed Karl Stiefvater, Mesh deformer developer, to ask. The extra vertices have to do with UVMapping.
Also the avatar is the wrong scale/size, or I’m doing something wrong. Whatever, I had to scale the avatar up by a factor of 3.3638. That gets me an avatar that is 1.877 BU tall, which is the size of all the avatars in the other files and my avatars (with default shape) as exported with Phoenix. This file fits the avatar inside a small cube with the largest dimension being 0.558 BU.
Improved Model (Not)
The ‘Improved’ version by Chosen Few is primarily for use in painting programs like Photoshop Extended, IMO. The file works in Blender too. However the mesh has been welded into a single mesh, which can be handy. The mesh is the one seen in all of these files. There is no skeleton. So these files are less useable for animation or rigging.
Default Male & Female Rigged Avatars (SNOW-1716)
These files when imported to Blender via Collada format lack the skeleton/Armature. I don’t find any vertex groups or weighting. So, I don’t see how the Collada version can be used for rigging without a bunch of setup.
While the files are provided in FBX and MAX format too, Blender 2.63 has no FBX or MAX importer. So, unless there is something in those formats I don’t know about, which is very possible, these files are not useable for rigging and animation without some serious work.
UPDATE: Blender 2.64a includes Max and FBX export-import features.
There is an FBX converter that will create other files types. I haven’t tried it on this file.
Machinimatrix & Domino Files
Some time ago Domino Marama of Domino Designs made a Blender file that has the avatar and all the things one needs to work with rigged mesh and mesh clothes. Gaia Clary uses that base file to build on and includes it with most Machinimatrix products. This is the best file I’ve been able to find for a beginner. However it is incomplete, a couple of bones are still missing. But, it has the mesh, skeleton, UVMaps, and vertex weights and groups you need to make mesh clothes.
The file can be found either at Domino Marama or Gaia Clary’s sites. It’s the same file in either place as Gaia just links to Domino’s site.
Domino Designs: Download Second Life Avatar. Look to the right side of the web page, in the menu, and find Avatar in the Primstar section. That is the avatar.blend file download link. Grab a copy and put it where you will know what it is. I’m not clear what the licensing is on the file. So, I am assuming it cannot be redistributed.
Machinimatrix: avatar.workbench-260.blend – This is a file for use with Blender version 2.60. It has everything you need to start rigging mesh and make a successful load. This file is ready to use in Blender 2.60 as downloaded. It is different from Domino’s file primarily in how the armature is done. I haven’t used it, so I’m not familiar with it or how it works for animation. The textures that give the avatar skin color are something you learn to do later. It’s nice they are already set up.
Note: In the change from Blender version 2.59 to 2.60 something changed and one had to do some fancy foot work to get the SL upload to work with Blender 2.6+ version and Collada 1.41 export. The 260 file has those changes built in. The story is on Second Citizen titled as: Lesson #1: How to export rigged meshes from Blender 2.60 and later. With the release of Blender 2.62 a Second Life compatibility mode was added to the Collada exporter. So, the fixes included in this file are not necessary unless you use 2.59(?), 2.60, or 2.61.
Note: Blender 2.61, 2.63, and 2.63a export the ‘bone attachments’ found in several of files listed. Collada Export exports the attachments causing the Lab’s mesh importer to fail… or the imported mesh to warp. Removing the bone attachments fixes the problem. That is also the part of the reason I rewrote this tutorial.