Using the snap and topology tricks shown you end up with your model on the surface of the avatar. Depending on what you want to accomplish that may be a good or a problem. There are some easy ways to move your model off the surface of the avatar. I think the easiest is scaling using Alt-S. The Alt-S scaling moves the selected vertices along the Normals.
NORMAL: In 3D modeling this term denotes the perpendicular to a surface. You can display Normals in the Objects Tools (‘N’ to open close the panel on the right). Look in Mesh Display for Normals.
Think of scaling pants or a top. The pants surround both legs. If you ‘S’ scale the pants the inseam moves inside the leg. Using Alt-S the inseams will move toward each other. Try it and experiment with using it in Vertex, Edge, and Face modes.
- For an experiment make two cylinders set close to each other, sort of like legs.
- In Object Mode make a mesh cylinder. Details like vertices and face count or end caps don’t matter.
- Change to Edit Mode.
- Press Shift-D to make a duplicate and slide it to the side.
- Press ‘A’ twice to select all vertices.
- Press ‘Alt-S’ and slide the mouse up and down to see the effect. Left-click to accept the change or right-click to cancel the change. (#7)
- Now press ‘S’ and slide the mouse around to see the effect. (#8)
Using a ‘Shrinkwrap’ modifier will let you do something to Alt-S scaling. You can specify a distance for the Shrinkwrap to stay away from the target surface.
I think explaining what shrinkwrap does in detail is less productive than your experimenting with it. So, experiment. For a good experiment with shrinkwrap try using a plane with your two cylinders.
- Create a plane and move it to the side of the cylinders.
- Subdivide the plane. I used Loop Cut and Slide (Ctrl-R and wheel) and Subdivide (W and Tool Shelf*).
- Switch to Object Mode and keep the plane selected.
- In Properties select Object Modifiers (the wrench icon).
- Add a Shrinkwrap modifier. The item the modifier is applied to is the item that will deform.
- Set the Target as your cylinders. It should deform something like my example.
- Switch back to Edit Mode. (Tab)
- Click the Apply to Editing Cage button (see image). You can now edit the vertices and they stick to the target (cylinders) surface.
- After editing some vertices switch the Apply to Editing Cage off to see the effect on your original mesh.
- Now experiment with the Offset. Positive values move the surface away from the target. Negative values move the surface inside the target.
*Note: In Blender 2.63a the W->Subdivide doesn’t work as I expected. Previously we could type a number to set the number of subdivisions made. I suspect that will get fixed. For now you must click the Number of divisions you want in the Tool Shelf modifier near the bottom.
You’ll notice there are some other controls in the Shrinkwrap Modifier. The Subsurf Levels setting is something that does not currently work. Even the current manual on the Blender site notes it does not work.
The MODE control allows us to change how Shrinkwrap works. For our use in Second Life this is an important control. Change your experiment to use PROJECT. Depending on how your experiment is set up you will have to play with the Axis and Direction controls. You should get something like my image ###. This will allow you to get away from the topology of the base avatar, but follow its surface.
At some point we need to apply the deformations so we can import our work into Second Life. I save a copy of the file with the modifiers in place. Then, in a new copy, I move on to applying the modifiers.
I definitely want my modifiers applied before I start parenting and weight painting.