Second Life Mesh Clothes Blender 2.6 Setup 2012 Tutorial

Not So Easy Method

This method is more work, but you learn more. We will export a custom shape, which is more complex now than I expected. I had to run down a number of loose ends. We will get it into Blender and add rigging and vertex weights. You will be able to pose it and rig mesh clothes to it. While the Easy Method above results in a similar file and the exact same capabilities, it doesn’t teach you all this process will.

Exporting SL Avatar Mesh/Shape

Some of us will want to make custom clothes for our avatar, to do that we need to export our shape. Others will want to export the default shape because their OCD makes them be extra sure they have it exactly right. Whatever the reason some us will want to export shapes for use in Blender or Photoshop.

Linden Lab Viewers

The some LL Viewers are currently shape ‘export’ broken. Versions; 3.3.2, and the 3.3.3 Development viewers all have the problem. The shape export function doesn’t work.

VWR-23983 – “Appearance to XML” not creating a XML file on my computer. Sometime in early 2011 the feature stopped working in Linden Lab viewers. I’ve updated and re-opened the JIRA bug report. If you are using a viewer with the problem, please jump over to the JIRA and click WATCH. (Vote doesn’t count. This is an old JIRA item so you can see it.) There may also be some updated information on the problem.

JIRA STORM-1828 fixes the problem. In the fix the file name and location changed. You will find the file named and in:

C:\User\[win_login_ID]\AppData\Roaming\SecondLife\user_settings\new archetype.xml

LL Viewer version 3.3.1 does work. You will have to try it to know if your viewer version works.

This function is not currently working in some Third Party Viewers (TPV). They will likely get that corrected… some day. Let them know in Their JIRA’s if you run into the problem.

If you use a viewer with the function working, you will be bummed to know Blender doesn’t have an XML import feature for Second Life files. There are two tools in the SL Market Place that are third party created Blender add-ons that allow one to import shape XML files into Blender.

AFAIK, these are it. I think Avastar has better licensing, but both work and WIZ has good reviews. So, it is possible to go this route and get a custom avatar shape into Blender.

UPDATE Oct. 2012: The Mesh Deformer as currently designed will allow the use of an exported XML shape as the base shape for a rigged mesh object.

UPDATE: See: Second Life Shape Export – Not all XML file exports are the same. Nor are all the imports of XML files. Plus there are mistakes in the OBJ file exports from viewers. – 2013 April

Third Party Viewers

Some third Party viewers have an export feature that will export a shape as a Wavefront OBJ file. This is ideal because Blender has an import feature for that format. But, there is a problem. The feature does not work with the new V3 code. So most newer TPV’s currently lack the feature.

You can find it in Phoenix 1.5.2 (1185) – Download Page. I suggest you get this copy as soon as possible and save it. I doubt the Lab will ever block it from the grid. But the Phoenix team might stop publishing it.

The current Firestorm 4.0.1 (27000) and Phoenix 1.6.0 (1600) and 1.6.1 (1691) do not have the feature. According to the Firestorm JIRA they plan to add the feature to Firestorm. Since it is a seldom used feature I suspect there are many features ahead of it in the priority queue.

FIRE-1727 – Meshes & Morphs – Ability to export avatar shapes. There is voting in the FS/PH JIRA. You must login to vote or comment.

Update Oct 2012: This item is still showing as Unresolved with only 14 votes. Please visit the site, sign up/in and vote for the feature.

Making a Blender File

Regardless of where the mesh comes from the easiest way to make a working Blender file is to add the avatar mesh to the file made in the Easy Method. For this example using an exported avatar mesh makes following along in this example easy.

You are going to need an updated add-on for Blender named Bone Weight Copy. There is a custom Weight Copy add-on modified by Gaia Clary just for Second Life. I highly recommend you get it. Someday it may be built into Blender. But, for now (Oct 2012) it isn’t. See Bone Weight Copy add-on download.

UPDATE: As of version 2.66a Blender has a better Weight Transfer feature. However, it does not add the missing bones I discuss here. Some say the add-on Bone Weight Copy script we have been using does not work with 2.66a. So, in 2.66a you will need to manually add the missing bones before exporting. But, we now have more options for the weight transfer task. See Weight Copy Blender 2.66a for more information.

So, at this point we need these things:

  • Working copy of Blender 2.63a
  • The file made in the Easy Method.
  • The Bone Weight Copy Add-on from Gaia. (only for Blender pre 2.66a)
  • An Avatar Mesh w/Vertex Weighting
  • UVMaps

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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