Fitted Mesh Base Avatar Files

A couple of years ago we were sorting out just which files we could get that had a model of the Second Life™ avatar with a default shape. We were going to need that for use with the Mesh Deformer. A good ‘default shape’ file will still be needed on the OpenSim grids. I wrote a long article on which files were which and did a lot of testing of the files to find the differences and decide which file to base my work on. I am sort of in the same place now with Fitted mesh.

Linden SL Avatar - Wiki - Image #1

Linden SL Avatar – Wiki – Image #1

To see the older files, look in the menu above, The Stuff->Tutorials Index Clothes.

The Files

I’ll say that OFFICIALLY there are no files for Fitted Mesh… yet. The reason for that is Fitted Mesh is still in development. So, there is no FINAL version of the avatar. But, we do have two files that can be used by experimenters. I’ll explain what we have have now.

Linden Fitted Mesh Avatar

The Wiki has a ZIP file that has a number of files in various formats. The files appear to have been last updated 12/16/2013 4/2014. They are provided in a ZIP file and include the file I show below. The Mac folder has the same files with slightly different file names.

You can see there are Blender, Collada (dae), FBX, and Maya (ma). The last two are AutoDesk file formats. For compatibility consider:

Autodesk FBX technology helps to enable the interchange of 3D data between the following Autodesk products: Autodesk® 3ds Max®, Autodesk® Maya®, Autodesk® Softimage®, Autodesk® MotionBuilder®, Autodesk® Mudbox®, Autodesk® Smoke® and Autodesk® Flame® software.  Consult the compatibility charts below to learn about the level of support for these applications.

Different

If you dealt with the previous files, you know they came in various arrangements of 8 to 15+ parts; upper, lower, head, hair, eyes, etc. The new Linden files are different. In Image #1 the bones show in orange. The BUTT bone/group is selected. You can see the weight painting in the file for the BUTT bone.

The arrangement of the mesh avatar is different too. The current fitted mesh files have the avatar skin welded into a single mesh item. The blue part shown in the image used to be separated into items labeled Head, Upperbody, and Lowerbody. Now the mesh is a single item labeled Base Female.

The avatar most of used was in eight parts; hair, head, left eye, right eye, eye lashes, upperbody, lowerbody, and skirt.

I found no eyes, lashes, hair, or skirt mesh in the file provided in the wiki. Previous versions of these files had those parts. They were handy for various uses. Plus you are likely to need them for use on other grids. Not having these parts limits what you can do with the file.

The file appears to have a full set of the Vertex Groups and includes the new groups not in previous files. It has the basic UVMaps. But, I see no Shape Keys.

Still the file provides a basic starting place for those wanting to make Fitted Mesh clothes. But, it is going to take some effort to get this file into shape as a useable base model for clothes making and testing. I think its best use is for transferring weights to previous models…

Avastar Free File

The makers of Avastar provide a free version of the base avatar. See: The Avatar Workbench.

Workbench 265 - Pre-Fitted Mesh - Image #2

Workbench 265 – Pre-Fitted Mesh – Image #2

On this page are links to some different avatar files. The original Domino Marama file is linked to. This is the file used by animators and mesh clothes makers prior to the change in direction toward Fitted Mesh (Nov 2013).

The Avatar-Workbench file is an improved Domino file. There are versions of the files as they were provided for earlier versions of Blender. The avatar-workbench-265.blend file is the latest, and I think, most useful of the files. But, that file has not changed, as best I can tell, since it was released.

The image below shows the avatar. It has all eight parts of the model and the pre-Fitted Mesh skeleton. It lacks the new bones and vertex groups needed for Fitted Mesh.

AVASTAR File

There really isn’t a file with an Avastar avatar in it. The Avastar program builds the avatar and vertex groups as needed. You insert the avatar model when needed just as you would insert a cube or sphere. But, the insertion is far more complex as it adds mesh, armature, vertex groups, and shape keys.

Avastar 950 Model - Image #3

Avastar 950 Model – Image #3

Because Avastar makes so many tasks much easier, I suspect this is the best starting place for most people wanting to make clothes, provided they purchase the Avastar add-on. Plus the Machinmatrix people figure out the SL Avatar and Blender foibles to make a useable tool and cut down the learning curve.

The avatar model made with Avastar 1.1-950 is more like what we have been working with pre-Fitted Mesh in that it consists of 8 separate meshes.

The Machinimatrix team is working to figure out what works for their users. Each iteration of the add-on is a bit different.

In Image #3 the Avastar avatar is shown and in Image #1 the Linden avatar is shown. I have the same ‘bone’ (vertex group) selected in both images. You can see the weighting is different. I suspect this is a change made to save users some work. Previously we would have had to move mPelvis weighting to BUTT weighting. It looks like they have done that for us in this Avastar model.

This model of the avatar is a good model and has lots of features to aid animators and clothes makers. But, outside of Avastar these features may be more in the way than a help. Just trying to figure out what the Machinimatrix team has done or why is a problem.  read their notes on the workbench files to get an idea of what they did. The notes are on the blog. The reasons are readily apparent if you have tried to remap animations to the SL Avatar model from motion capture or open source BVH files.

There are also aids included in the Avastar model for posing the avatar that I found confusing without the Avastar add-on. Plus there are hidden intermediate parts of the avatar and features used by functions in the Avastar add-on. With the Avastar add-on these extra parts remain invisible and you generally never notice them or have reason to notice them.

For these reasons I don’t recommend trying to get a copy of the Avastar avatar for beginners or those new to the SL Avatar. I expect Gaia to release a new workbench file once the new Avastar model is finalized. Until then, there is nothing really ready for new people wanting to get into figuring out Fitted Mesh clothes making. We just aren’t there yet. But, we do have the files and models I mention here to experiment with.

Gaia Clary provides a detailed comparison between the avatar-workbench and Avastar models here: Compare.

Summary

This is not an impossible situation. It is just one in transition. The transition means various people will be at different points along the transition path. That includes the Lindens, Machinimatrix, and users. New users are going to get a mix of good and not so good information. It is going to be confusing and misleading at times, but it can be figured out.

Gaia is not saying much about the changes happening in the Avastar revisions for Fitted Mesh right now. I think that is a matter of not knowing what can be reliably said. Things are quickly changing and being figured out. I know I have run into problems, which I think are in a large part just my not fully understanding how things work. So, the idea is no information is usually better than misleading information.

For those not wanting to purchase Avastar the Linden Avatar from the wiki is probably the best choice for a starting point. Even if one plans to buy Avastar, it may still be a good starting place. I think by using the Linden file one will learn more about how to use the model and how it is represented in SL.

Whichever way you choose to go, I hope this helps you understand what we have to work with now.

4 thoughts on “Fitted Mesh Base Avatar Files

  1. This is a very helpful article Nalates. I would like to add one more thing about the default fitted mesh skeleton offered by Linden Labs in their Wiki. The (Skeleton.Female.ma) file has some weirdness that will make rigging with it hard for some Autodesk Maya users. First, it gives you a number of errors when loading, which is alright if they used a different version than me. However, more errors will show in the form of distorted skin over the bones when trying to rig it. For maya users with this trouble, it would be best to use the (.fbx) files included than the (.ma) ones.

  2. Pingback: The Problem: Fitted Mesh an Alpha Tutorial | Nalates' Things & Stuff

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