Second Life Mesh Clothes Blender 2.6 Setup 2012 Tutorial

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 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.

#5 SL 2005 Avatar – 18 Parts – 0.588m Tall

  • 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.

#6 Avatar-Workbench-260.blend File

Machinimatrixavatar.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.

Machinimatrix: avatar-workbench-263.blend – This is the most up to date file as this article is written. See the post Export rigged Meshes with Blender 2.63 for details.

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.

41 thoughts on “Second Life Mesh Clothes Blender 2.6 Setup 2012 Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Second Life Mesh Clothing Tutorial

  2. Greetings Nalates, thank you so much for this nice tutorial. This could my final motivation to push myself learn make clothes.

    In the page 3 you say that all the viewers uses the same avatar files, but it may be not true. I am not completely sure, so I won’t say names, but I think that there are one or more viewers using the modified avatar filed on STORM-1800:

    • You may be right. There may be some viewers that use the STORM-1800 Avatar. BUT… I expect those to be experimental versions. I think all the main versions TPV Dev’s release will use the same LL avatar. That because of the recent TPV Policy change. Most dev’s interpret it more strictly than I do.

      I have yet to test the STORM-1800 avatar to see how it works.

  3. Nal, I think the key to exporting your shape in the SL viewer, at least for Windows, may be to run the viewer as administrator. If I don’t do this, the shape doesn’t export while if I do run as administrator I do get the new_arrchetype.xml file. Right click on the icon that starts the viewer and select Run as Admnistrator.

    I think the problem in windows is that the program tires to write to the Program Files (x86) folder which is only allowed in administrator mode.

    • No… it depends on the version of the viewer you are using. I’ve tried the run as Admin, select avatar, etc. Plus Whirly was able to reproduce the problem.

      But, Thx…

      • Well, I tried it on v 3.3.1 as described, and was able to successfully export the xml. It also works on the current versions of Firestorm and Dolphin, although not in Niran’s. I thought I’d mention it since you specifically mentioned v 3.3.1 of the SL viewer. It could be operating system dependent too.

          • It looks like the newer viewers (i.e 3.3.3 and those using the newer code base like Niran’s) write the file to C:\Users\User_name\AppData\Roaming\Viewer-Name\user_settings instead of to C:\Program Files (x86)\Viewer-Name\character as before because of write permission prohibition to the latter folder in newer Windows OS’s

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  5. This is a great tutorial!. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I’m just starting to learn Blender and working with mesh. I agree it’s important for people to get under the hood and learn the “poor man’s” approach to doing this. When I get more time, I plan to walk through every step of your tutorial.

    I also agree that Avastar is a great product. I’ve uploaded my own shape and am making animations specific to it. Although I haven’t tried mesh clothing yet, making regular mesh objects and uploading them to SL is pretty seamless. It’s cost of $22 USD is no more than most good books.

  6. Just to double check, if you have the avastar add-on you don’t need the Bone Weight Copy script, correct?

    • Look in your User Preferences -> Add-ons. It will be near the top if it installed. Look for 3D View Copy Bone Weight.

  7. Not sure if I am missing something here. It seems like everything does great up until I do the bone weight copy. From what I can tell, it appears that the process sets the weight for all bones to zero not only on the target mesh, but on the mesh being copied from.
    I’m using Blender 2.63a. Is there a known issue, or a different weight copy plug-in I should be using?
    Sorry. Still new to all this. 🙁

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  10. I cannot get the bone weight copy to work I have redone all the steps starting at page one more than 25 times now & everything is fine up to the bone weight copy. They never copy…I have made sure both layers are selected & my mesh is chosen 1st & then the mesh to be copied from which I made sure had weighting. Blender acts like it’s doing something for a minute or two but when it finishes there are no bone weights in my mesh.

    • Check the weight painting on the source… make sure your source avatar shape has weight painting.

      Open a new copy of your base file, add a cylinder around the avatar. Add some edge loops (Ctrl-R then mouse wheel). Parent it to the armature. Do a Bone Weight Copy to see if the weights transfer.

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  13. Awesome. Works like a charm and very well written. But I have a problem. When I upload my rigged avatar its head and feet shrink. Any idea why?

    • Which viewer are you using?

      Just imagine I placed my standard rant about including your technical information in with a question about technical issues.

      Also, your fastest and likely best answers will come from the SL Forum’s section on content creation.

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  19. hello may i ask something? can we put a cloth pattern in blender? and apply it to an avatar body?

  20. Thanks for this! Now that Blender has a transfer weights option built in, are you planning on updating this guide for that?

    • I’ll probably put off updating until I am sure we have a working Fitted Mesh process. The ‘Fitted Avatar Model’ in the viewer is broken. We have JIRA BUG describing problems. The Lab will likely have to make some changes. I have no idea how that may affect what we know now.

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