All the files listed above use the exact same avatar mesh. When exporting from SL using Phoenix Viewer’s Meshes and Morphs feature, more on this later, there is the choice to export the Base Avatar, which I think sucks the mesh out of the Ruth/Roth files built into the viewers. All viewers use the same avatar files. It appears all the meshes and the Ruth/Roth meshes in the above listed files are the same mesh.
In Phoenix’s Meshes and Morphs there is the choice to export the Current Mesh, which will export the current shape you are wearing. If you have created a new shape and avoided making any changes to it, so it is the default shape, you will export a mesh that is very nearly the same mesh as the Base Avatar. This default shape is the RECOMMENDED shape for those planning to have mesh items handled by the coming Mesh Deformer. That is not the exact shape I find in files listed above.
If one creates a new shape as Karl suggests and exports that shape, there are slight differences between the base and current exports. They are very small. I also asked Karl about these small differences. He believes they won’t matter.
So… while there is a technical distinction between the ‘default avatar-Ruth/Roth-base’ and the ‘default shape,’ it is so small it should make no difference. So, whether you use a Ruth/Roth shape found in files above or the Default Shape the thinking is it should make no difference.
The avatar mesh difference is shown in the image. Domino’s, Workbench, and the Base Avatar seem to be exact duplicates. All the files seem to use the same mesh. The Current Avatar export using the default shape is slightly different. The actual difference in the distance between identical vertices is 0.0044 Blender Units (BU). The difference is in the avatar’s butt. The files have a larger butt and the default shape a smaller butt.
There are some differences in the hands, feet, and face. Most of the rest of the mesh is a perfect match.
These are small differences. I can’t see that it makes that much difference to the final product after the Deformer smoothes the math and calculates the deformation. The real problems come from the basic design of the Second Life avatar and that is unlikely to change any time in the next couple of years… or longer.
Are we deconfused on which avatar to use? As far as I know, all the files listed have a mesh that will work well with the Deformer. The differences between the default this that or whatever are too small to worry about.
The File to Use
The reason I rewrote this tutorial is there currently is no best file for Blender 2.63a. If you just want a file to use, grab Gaia’s avatar-workbench-263.blend. For this tutorial I’m going to use a new, empty Blender file. My hope is this tutorial will remain valid longer and be more useful as additional Blender versions come out.
To make an easy quick file preparation tutorial and to provide a longer more educational experience I’ll start with Domino’s file. I’ll prove the easy steps then follow with a more complex process. The result will be similar to the 263 file, but not as complete. In other tutorials I’ll be adding the things that are in it.
Fixing Domino’s File for Second Life Use
Unfortunately most available files are not useable for creating rigged mesh for import to SL in their current download state. We need to make some fixes. I picked Domino’s because I can demonstrate more things.
Gaia has a tutorial (Rigg your Avatar) on setting up a Blender file for rigging. She made this when Blender 2.49b was the prime choice of Second Life users. But, it works pretty well for those using Blender 2.5 and 2.6 versions. However, it assumes you will have exported an avatar mesh that you want to set up. This is really good for those trying to understand how to rig meshes. For those just trying to get a file set up it adds extra complication. I’ll show you how to fix the file as easily as possible. Then I’ll go on to show you how to do the custom shape export and setup, because that will teach you a bit about rigging.
The hold up with Domino’s file is a couple of bones are missing, there are bone attachments that are a problem for those using Blender 2.63, and it lacks the Brushes needed for weight painting. We need to fix or add those items in. Then we are good to go with our own rigging for import to Second Life.
For Blender 2.49b Ashasekayi has a video tutorial: Second Life Rigged Clothing Series: Part 3. This video shows how to create the missing bones in the model. It also shows removing all the extraneous vertex groups. That removal may not be necessary. Gaia skips deleting the extra groups. I have files with and without the extra groups. Whichever is better is something I have yet to decide. I’ll show you how to add and delete groups in Blender 2.5 and 2.6, so you can do whatever feels right for you.
Here is the list of Ashasekayi’s tutorial videos: Second Life Rigged Clothing Tutorial Series. She did these very well. While they are made using 2.49b, you can learn from them.
Create Blender File
Open Blender 2.63a. This will create a copy of the default Blinder file. Save it with a meaningful name. This will become the base file for future use in creating mesh clothes.
One can open Domino’s file in Blender 2.5 or 2.6, but doing so makes a mess of things. A large part of the mesh is hidden. I didn’t find that out until way too late. So, this time we are going another route. Rather than opening Domino’s file we will APPEND it into the new Blender file.
Appending Other Files
We are going to append Domino’s avatar and its associated stuff into our new file. The steps are:
- Open a new empty Blender file using a 2.5x or 2.6x version. (done above)
- Set the layer you want active. The active layer is where the Appended Items will land.
- Now open the Domino’s Blender file using File -> Append.
- You should see Image #11
- There is no way to append an entire file. If you were going to do that you would just open the file, but that brings in too many things we do not want.
- The part of the file we want is in OBJECT. If you try to use MESH, it appears not to work. It works but it’s not what we want and that is beyond this tutorial.
- Select OBJECT. You will see a long list of names.
- Select the items you want to append. You can use Shift-Left-Click to select more than one.
- It is important you select all the Parented Items in one append action. Otherwise, you will get multiple armatures. That is not all bad. I decided to use separate armatures for my in-parts-avatar and my one-part-avatar. Whatever, it can be changed later.
- What you select is influenced by what you want to do. The very least you are going to need is the head, upperbody, lowerbody, and avatar. That is enough to make mesh clothes.
- You will see a load of things like L Upper Leg, R Forearm, etc. These are the Bone Attachments that mess up the Collada export from Blender 2.63a. DO NOT append them. That should be corrected in Blender 2.64. But, they do still get in the way.
- Once you have made your selection, Append your items to the file.
Fixing the Missing Bones
In the far right properties panel select Object Data (Image #13), the upside down triangle icon. (see the image arrow A). This will open the panel so you can see the Vertex Groups. To the right of the Vertex Group name list are the controls you need (B). They are:
- Plus – Creates new groups.
- Minus – Deletes groups.
- Black Triangle – Open options menu.
- Up & Down Arrow – Arrange the list.
Click the PLUS to create a new group. Just below the group list is an input field (C) where you can type in the new group’s name. Add: mFootLeft and mFootRight. Spelling is important. This file is now ready to use for rigging and importing to Second Life.
To keep things orderly you may want to move the two new groups so they are positioned in the list with the other ‘m’ bones items. But, that is not necessary. You can also use the Options to arrange the list too.
You may also want to delete all the groups that are not for bones, all the bone groups start with an ‘m’. As best I can tell this removal is not necessary.
Save the file as a basic starter file for your rigged mesh work. It is pretty much ready for making clothes for export to Second Life.
If you goof and get some Bone Attachments in the file, no big deal. But, you probably need to know what they look like. See Image #14. These need to be removed before you attempt to export a mesh for Second Life.
Removing Bone Attachments
In case you got some or want to use an older file you have, here is how to remove them:
- Press A to deselect everything while in Object Mode.
- Right-click and shift-right-click to select the head, upper body, lower body, and the armature. Press H to hide these parts.
- Press B and click-drag a window to select all the Bone Attachments.
- Press X or Delete to delete the items.
- Press Alt-H to make the hidden parts visible.
- Save a copy of this file.
This file is pretty much ready for use as a base file for making clothes.