Second Life Design

Second Life Design
See my Meshed Up Second Life

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Second Life Mesh Design of Clothing Using Avastar, Blender and Zbrush Part III

 Hello after a little break I am back and still working on the last piece of mesh clothing and I will have to tell everyone I had to take the break to research the mesh body parts and how to work with them also ...  My findings are that Mesh boobs and butts are and issue with mesh clothing. From use of alphas and the Second Life alpha glitches to the fact they are edited resized and changed all the time so there is no default for them what so ever .... This means you cannot really put the mesh over the mesh. I have some ideas for solutions yet they are in the future and I have a contract to build other items first before I can do this. Also in the last two weeks second life has released a new viewer update and this may have included support for the new bones and such yet I am nt suire of this yet, but as a builder and a designer this is going to change our work as well change our use of avastar till Gaia Cherry has a chance to update the plugin. Yet I am not going to stop sharing workflows, I am telling you this because some parts of the workflow may change slightly ... So where I left off I was getting ready to bake maps in zbrush for the normals .... which are the bump maps and then as well I did add a specular and a material map which will then be used as a layer in some of the textures I use for the bra. I also have starter another item for a male avatar and will make many more. One thing I did not mention and that is that all of this may need 3 or 4 deformer shapes for each piece of clothing and as well you also may need alpha maps that make the body parts invisible ... so all you pervs out there ... looking up the dress of a female avi she will appear invisible and you may not be able to see her underwear or anything just other inner working of the mesh.  I say this as in my testing of mesh that is the first obvious part when designing and fiddling with clothing. My store in world you will be able to see many parts of my work in progress and it is located here
if you like my blogs and would like to show it feel free to purchase and item or hit up my Tip Jar for either Badabong Bigbear or Elliana Inkpen as every little bit helps. So I know this is a short post and there are no image examples though I am working on these mesh appliers and need to finish adding them to my previous works .... So I will leave you with that and a link explaining mesh body attachments ,ore fully.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Second Life Mesh Design of Clothing Using Avastar, Blender and Zbrush Part II

  Well here goes the continuation of my work flow with some more images / screen grabs of my work in Blender, Avastar and Zbrush used in the creation of mesh clothes in second life. So I was explaining the work flow I use in the creation of second life mesh clothing and this is really quite easy for the most part yet the item will change some here and there. My whole goal is to sculpt, paint and texture the 3d object or well 3d item of mesh clothing ... and do this mainly in zbrush and then after moving it to blender to create the uv maps then exporting it back to zbrush to create the textures and normal maps or the bump maps for use in second life. This is a process that will require you to be somewhat fluent in both Zbrush and in Blender. As well unless you have a working version that is able to run both gob and avastar ...   Mine will not pass the model correctly and this could be a bug created with the importers and the avastar Plugin not understanding what we want to do ... so I just will export and import as a .obj from blender and zbrush back and fourth .. then once I have the details done will use blender to export the clothing as I have to seeing that you cannot actually rig and animate the correct way in Zbrush. Now if it was a plain collada file with out and animation ... there is a plugin that will work to export these for zbrush but that will not store or transfer a rigged file containing animation information.  So now say we do not create any seams we will come up with a uv map that will be exported back into Zbrush with the Mesh Bra Object .... in fact it should be already included in the object file ...  the unwrap process took place in blender and can be seen below

Now the cool thing is that when I imported this to Blender from zbrush the first time it came over already correctly fitting the avastar avatar and as well in exact spot because I used and exported version of the model that I extracted the mesh from a exact version of my second life avatar shape. So I could decide that I want to make seems on this model rather then have it round like this ... it would not be that hard to texture the way it is but with seams it may be even easier, this is all in personal preference..... I will show you the UV map again in this post or the next after I added two seams ... but now I have again imported this into Zbrush after exporting just the bra from Avastar and Blender ... in order to just export the bra you will need to be in Object mode and have the Bra selected and then when you get the export box you will check the selected only box in the export window. So now lets import the object into zbrush again, and then at this point we need to add details. So first off if you are using a smooth brush be very careful about the edges since it is one sided ... the smooth brush will melt your model away in seconds ...  First in order to get the detail we want then we will need to subdivide to a level of detail that we will be using for our normal maps and texture maps. So before dividing you should turn the SMT button off for atleast the first 2 or 3 subdivides. After that point you can start sculpting ... using the dam standard brush cut in some folds and wrinkles, remember we will fit this to our model again and any time you alter a mesh it will need to be adjusted to your avatar shape ...  Also there are some great custom fabric brushes made by person called Selwy eaither serach for selwy brushes or well here is the link also for cut and paste, you may want to go through the tutorials ... you can never get to much reference, and education this person is a very good digital sculptor I have been using these brushes a few years in Zbrush.

Here  is a look at the top  / bra after doing a little quick sculpting for wrinkles folds ... even latex will fold and wrinkle as well cloths will have different folds and wrinkles depending on the type of cloth, whether it is a heavy canvas or denim or a light and delicate lace or silk or satin ....
  Now the material here in zbrush will only matter if you do a matcap bake with the zbrush matcap baker plugin. If not then only the texture color and paint will matter, and also the polys that are causing lines will be smoothed after we are in blender again. As well you can smooth normals before we export the normals maps that we will use. Our whole purpose in zbrush is that we have some great tools to polypaint with and as well texture and in the end the only version that blender will see of the model is the low poly version ... See the normal maps and texture maps are the ones that will have all the details, not the model itself. So for the next post I will finish up with my maps and then we will go back to Blender once again to finish this project.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Second Life Mesh Design of Clothing Using Avastar, Blender and Zbrush

 Well hello everyone today's blog is getting down to the fun part of second life mesh clothing design. To start I am not doing a tutorial with this blog but rather showing you one of many workflows for creating mesh clothing in second life. Today I am using Zbrush, Avastar and Blender to build with, and this same project I could use other 3d design programs but this is one of the best mesh building pipelines available to create clothing in 3d for second life.   First off a pipeline is the set of programs that are used for creating 3d into a game engine, movie or even as in our case a virtual world. A pipeline can consist of multiple programs and you use them for many different situations as well some of the programs may do the same things though you may use the programs that you like best or suit your situation the best. Most programs used in 3d these days have multiple import and export of many different file types while some can automatically do the importing and exporting others you will need to import and export manually, and in the case of Zbrush, Blender and Avastar currently we will have to do this manually. There is goz and gob in zbrush though I found I am running into issues when using them with Blender , Zbrush and the Avastar plugin/ add on running. As well Zbrush has goz that will send the files to Photoshop for a number of functions and utilities, as well Modo, 3ds Max , Maya, and Cinema 4d though we will not be using these today. So basically though there are some important things that you need to know when using a pipeline that includes zbrush and blender while working on a clothing model for second life.  Above you the model in Blender and Avastar with the cloth mesh bra / mesh top ... Then below is actually how I made the mesh above as you see the head is separate from the avatars upper body ...  As well you can see that the upper body is in quad or four sided polygons rather then 3 sided or Tri's that the head is made of, this was done to make it easy to extrude the bra ... Also I did this using my avatar Elliana Inkpens shape and that way when I was done with the mesh top zbrush it automatically fits the shape I am building it for. I will get into more methods for sizing later but to start this is and easy way to create a template in order to work from. Also I delete one side of the bra and the edge as I only need one side, and also though this is a dense mesh its not overly dense yet I may end up doing some retopology before I skin and texture this piece of second life mesh clothing.

  The reality of this process should be told and that is there hundreds of methods to create clothes and there cannot be said,  to be one and only one correct method. Often you may combine different workflow methods and application / program pipeline configurations to get the job done and the best method is the fastest error free method that you have available or the method that gives you the best results. Zbrush is not a free program so maybe you like 3d coat as it is cheaper ... well then you will use a similar method in 3d coat. In  order to make the upper body template that I used in zbrush ... I save off a copy of my female second life avatar after importing it into Avastar and blender first and after I saved a copy I then went to file/ export and I chose to export my models body  as a .obj file (wavefront file) and saved it. The I opened up Zbrush and I imported the models object file into my zbrush program and I hid the hands, the lower torso as well and deleted the hidden, then I grouped the head and upper body separate and then I split the groups so I had the templates in two different subtools. This made it very simple to then dynamesh the body section and then I used the zremesher guide pen and I  drew the flow of polygons for the topology with symmetry on and I then set the zremesher to adaptive, set my curve strength to 75, set my polygons count to around 5 or 6 K and zremeshed the upper body.   At this point I took a look at it and the topology was not that bad so now at this point I have a template of the upper body in order to make my cloth with !!! 

Seen here this example can now be moved into Blender and Avastar or I can texture a very high poly version, texture the surface , make a normal map and texture map in zbrush as well the UV's  ... But that would be a mistake ... First I want to import this into Avastar as shown in the first picture and make the UV maps for it ... then take it with those back into zbrush as seperate copy ... then the version I have now textured and painted in zbrush I would then project all to hte version that has has UVS previously done ... This project all will be of the texturing and the painting ,,, from there I will now make the texture map and normal map from the copy that I created the uvs for in Blender and export all of it again back to blender.  From there if I have all the graphic appearances correct including the maps and as well deleting the high poly levels ... see now the maps will still work as they are made for the low or high poly version, yet these maps make it so you do not need the high poly version ... Remember some maps from zbrush may need to be flipped before uploading or exporting to both Blender or to second life ...  Yes we are now ready to avastar to rig and weight this version ... Again I am giving you the work flow this is not a 3d zbrush and Avastar, Blender tutorial.  There are so many ways that a piece of clothing can be made and this is just one method! Most of all have fun ... yes you may get stuck at times ... In this case take a look at tutorials and videos about the process and other workflows for 3d animation, texturing and modeling.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Intro to Using Blender to design second life mesh that is rigged and skinned to animate with your Second Life Avatar !

Long Title and well this first post of this series  I will keep short and sweet about the use of blender for mesh design in second life but I need to stress more the avatar development plugin called Avastar. First off I will tell you that there are  other programs that I have always preferred over blender .... But you may ask for what reason would you like these other programs more when blender is open source and free. Well the main reason is that 3d modeling, rendering and animation is taught and pushed by companies such as Zbrush Pixologic and Autodesk as well the Adobe creative suite. So if you want to work in that industry you have to work in the creative tools and pipelines that they have created for both movies and video games.  But even with that being said yes these others have great tools , but so does blender and now that I have spent a few days in blender again just doing refreshers ... well honestly even if not my first choice Blender is a great tool that is just as good as Autodesk or Maxon tools for the most part. Plus there is another plugin I have already mentioned that is critical to being a designer that uses Blender for second life clothing and animation  and that is Avastar ....  the link is in the previous post and its also listed on google. Avastar is a paid plugin that is simple to install and as well you could do some things without it when it comes to design and animation but what you cannot do without it is the bigger issue here. For example you can upload your male or female avatar shape right into the blend file ... Thus the clothes you create are basically now custom to your avatar ... as well you can now create multiple versions of the clothes for your shops etc .... with just the addition of a few extra steps instead of per say a few hours of time and steps.  Here is a screen shot of and avatar shape from Badabong Bigbear that I saved as and xml file from export out of the Phoenix viewer.

Here and above you can see the avatar is now a shape of a male and I can alter his shape using any of the sliders that I have circled in red and when I do so just like Second Life the shape of my avatar will change here in this .blend file ...   when I save and attachment and prepare to move it into Second life though ... It will be exported using the avastar plugin to a collada file and will include all the weights needed , and be rigged if I choose it to be. But the great thing here is that I do not have to depend on blender for this or use a work around or even rely on having to learn how to set up a rig on my own ... Yes I do know how to do this as well in Maya and in 3ds Max and Blender ...  but that is besides the point and as well yes there is a bit of work to it if you are new to 3d.  The whole point here is that our custom consoles and plugin is very easy to work with has all the add on bells and whistles and for the most part is all the extra you need for basic design and manipulations from animations to clothing and attachments. I have the Package adjustment circled because well it cracks me up ... I mean come on there genitals that are located there ... In art people that cannot get over this normally can end up ... aww never mind get your minds out of the gutter. 


Here above you see how easy it is to actually pose and avatar in Avastar and Blender and this will be correct to the right height and as well at zero point as in relation to you in your viewer. laoding the avatars exact size and then posing took less then 5 minutes they could be exported and uploaded to second life just as fast .....  So all in all this is a extreme power tool for mesh, and blender with ongoing development it makes the Avastar plugin well worth the 7000 lindens to purchase it. Yes second life mesh is a whole new breed of animal but with it the grid can evolve and be even more intense and fun to experience and explore. I will continue writing about it and showing more uses in the next post this week showing you the weight mapping features, as well how Avastar can be used with second life and blender for clothing animation and rigging, Also I will work on a work flow tutorial and maybe even include the workflow as if it is a video game pipeline including zbrush as well other game building apps that first off can and will aid us in mesh development and second off aid in alternate work flows to the process of designing mesh clothes for second life with more detail, great textures and ease of use for the digital art pipeline for second life.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blender and Avastar for Second Life to Create and Rig Clothes, Mesh and Animate

Well I have mentioned many tools for use in second life and I have also been exploring many tools created for mesh creation and and editing as well as mesh skinning and rigging for second life. Well I came across a gem of a plugin created for use with Second Life and Blender and this program is called Avastar. Using Avastar for second life you can do many things to help you with mesh creation from helping to rig and skin a clothing item to help you build and animation file specifically for your avatar to be imported in to second life. Building mesh for second life can be very daunting especially if you are going to animate it but with Avastar and Blender it is rather quick and easy to create a simple piece of clothes or and attachment that is animated with your avatar that is easily imported in to second life. WHY IS THIS A GREAT GEM OF A FIND ?  WHERE DO YOU GET THE PROGRAMS AND PLUGINS ?   So you will need to download Blender from and at the time of this article the Avastar Plugin required Blenders 2.68 or later so you will need to get that version from the website at to  find the correct version of Blender for use with editing mesh in Second Life. But the great people that created Avastar -1 are hard at work and release updates on a regular basis and as well so check there documentation also as Avastar can be used for avatars and mesh in many other virtual worlds as well. If you have a minor grasp of mesh and 3d building using a professional grade set of software's and plugins, furthermore this may be your saving grace, the saving grace yes that saves you and furthermore educates you in the arts of custom shaped characters and rigging, character based animated attachments, clothing, weapons, fashion accessories and more. As well helps you to understand weights and weight painting of animation skinning also you can see how to create and add  textures on your mesh second life models, while also providing you with and easy and extremely comprehensive interface inside of blender that makes even creating a more complex custom avatar base or avatar mesh clothing for second life and other open sims and virtual worlds ... So as well you do not only need to take my word on this though I am extremely knowledgeable about 3 d programs  there are other companies that will recomed it as well like  Medhue Animations in second life that have discovered Avastar as well in the aiding of custom character poses, creating mesh shapes attachments and quick animation adjustments, and you can see a video that they created of the uses they have found for use of Avastar for Second life avatar rigging, animations and attachments, located on Medhue's feed. I will go through and do a video tutorial in the upcoming weeks that shows you how to use the Avastar Plugin for many different purposes in the creation of mesh for second life. I also am working on a way to get the Go B Plugin so we can use it to texture the clothes and other items created for second life in Blender. 

    I want to mention I am not being compensated for this review in any way, so I am not a person looking to sell you on a product. I am reviewing this product and I purchased it after reading a few different articles and then after reading the site decided that there is no better 3d package to Second Life import and export of rigged and animated mesh. After reading a few of the note cards at the in world store I clicked pay on a vender and received my download link ... I made sure to install the latest compatible version of blender and followed the rest of installation info. Be sure that you also sign up for the blog as the best tutorial videos are only available after you are free member of the site or you can request advanced support and videos for and additional $10 USD  ...  but the basic free membership gives you the tutorials needed to get going quick and right out of the box.

Avastar-1 itself  costs $27.00 USD and is available either via paying lindens in world and or also via the website using pay pal for your purchase. This program does not do all the work for you but it gives you and incredibly powerful set of tools that will aid and assist you in your mesh creation process, also blender is a terrific program that is also compatible with many other great mesh creation apps and programs. If you are a Mesh and building dabbler in second life then this may be a lot to learn as again the learning curve here is very steep, and the Avastar plugin as well Blender will require you 1. watch all of the tutorial videos. 2. Watch some you tube tutorials about getting started with blender ... There are some great online tutorials and a huge community with some great sites such as Blender Cookie, Blender Network, and as well many groups and community's and pages such as on Facebook or G Plus for example  or this one for blender on G+
    So anyway I have not went into the details of the uses in some of these programs yet but I am listing and writing here in the order of use and useability as well what people can afford in the creation of content in relation to in world. So far I have put out to you that Blender and Avastar are extremely important as is also the other program I have not mentioned as much in this post ... and that is Zbrush. There are a few plugins that may help with other 3 d packages like Maya or C4D or even 3ds Max, but these programs will never really develop much of a rigging, modeling or animation  plugin of any other type specifically for Second Life mesh animation and creation because most people can and would not be able to use these high end pro programs. Just a little secret here .... Blender is about as good or better of a 3d mesh tool at most tasks then any of the others are. The other programs are great but Blender is Open Source ( FREE), has grown and surpassed and excelled at different tasks these other 3 d packages also are great at ... but Blender is open source and even though Autodesk rakes in there share of the 3d and digital art industry's millions ... Blender being open source with hundreds of artists and programmers giving attention to the code and scripting just gets better and better. Again I will mention that I am not ever trying to discourage anyone when I say the learning curve is steep ... I am forewarning that this is a very complex based group of programs, that also require a graphics intense computer, I have a Dell Precision T3500 Workstation with over 8 gigs of ram, a Nvidia scientific based video card .... This means it is faster , better and more equipped for the creation of 3d graphics then a gaming card ... there is no  comparison but to just make sure it can do what I need it to and to get great render times ....   its a Pentium chip quad core.

Well here is and example of carachter development using programs such as Zbrush and Blender from another blog that I started last year ... from a digital sculpting, 3d modeling and design for second life so stay tuned for more ...  ohhh and before I forget here is a link that tells you more about our graphics machines my background etc ... From my computers to more about software for second life builders and mesh creations called

What I did This Week Online ~ Second Life, Mesh Creation and Animation 

I also began one last new blog that may be of interest to you also and I must say its a really odd view but it is a very real phenomenon ... It is a fashion blog through the eyes of a female avatar run by a male for my online and second life stores. I built her so I did not have to dress my male avatars up like women to test clothing items and creations I make for women. I am writing this from a female avatars point of view with building and designing abilities as well as ideas for female meshes. The name of the blog is

Elliana Inkpen Second Life Blogger ~ Dude Looks Like a Lady ! 

Please if you look at these and they interest you then please be sure to comment and ask questions etc .... I view these blogs a few times each week to say the least. Though the more in depth blogs such as this one regarding mesh creation in second life and other virtual worlds I often check them twice a day, please join our group in second life
Bigbear Design and as well you may contact me in second life via Badabong Bigbear or via Elliana Inkpen doing so with a notecard named :   Attention Bigbear Design.  I also will be adding a mailbox in world soon at our store in Second Life just click on the following link to visit our store Bigbear Mesh Design In Second Life. Also please take a look at our Bigbear Mesh Design Facebook Page and give us a like we promise we do not send or solicit you with unwanted emails and messages.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Using Mesh Tools for Importing into Second Life

    Well it is a new day and so for this one I will touch on some basics when dealing with mesh for avatars, second life mesh clothing, mesh objects.  First off when importing and uploading to second life different mesh items will have different methods that must be followed. For example a couch or chair made of mesh can be uploaded as a mesh object without the sit animations added, you would then add them the same as would with any other object mesh or prim before use. But objects such as mesh must be uploaded with a much more complex import. While on the subject of complexity I also should mention that mesh creation and manipulation is process that first is a steep learning curve and second can be time intensive. So if some one has great mesh that is fully rigged for animation and they are selling full perm for a high price ... well they more then likely put a lot of time into it. Creating a monster head in a program such as zbrush may only take me a few hours of sculpting, modeling and sketching, but for that item to be animated and imported well you may be talking at the least another 2 or 3 hours if not a another day to prepare it correctly.  As well besides Blender the other manipulation tools are pro grade tools that are expensive I have over 10 K in to my system alone which include monitors multiple computers and software etc etc etc .... So this being foretold realize that even basic importing and exporting software, plugins  and apps will cost you something.

   So lets start with my favorite software that is not free, but if you already own it the plugin is free for creating a collada or .dae file.  First off this is for either post work before animation or for stationary or non animated wearable mesh such as a hat or pair of shoes.  The program is Zbrush and it is made by a company called Pixologic. It is the most powerful digital sculpting software available and it as well is the best for texture and creating highly detailed maps for your mesh.  The learning curve is very high and it could be a year in tutorials to just learn the basics. If you are and artist is a must have program, and your work will improve year after year if studied correctly. But I am not trying to discourage you here I am just making sure everyone realizes people actually go to college for this type of occupation. So after you have Zbrush you will still need the plugin for converting your polymesh to a .dae file, this is free and easy to install just follow the directions on the link I am providing.  The plugin called the Zsculpty maker converts both mesh and prims or sculptys to a dae file .... or a sculpt map depending on what and how you are making the item. You can find the Zbrush Mesh and Sculpty Plugin on the Zbrush Central Forum  (this is a link straight to it ) or well just cut and paste
This plugin can convert for mesh and sculpty maps but you need to understand the use of the program and 3d in order to do it. For mesh you will need a high and low version and when exporting it asks if you would like to create levels of detail ... I always answer yes, as I also tell it to include the texture maps I created.  If it is a hard edged or hard surface model like a car or gun or furniture etc ... then do not smooth if it is organic based then smoothing or not smoothing will be your choice. I can and atr a later time will go into more detail on this whole process and as well how to get there but for now this is how you use zbrush on inanimate objects or objects that are animated with out rigging. Despite the fact that these procedure are used for inanimate objects ... you can take the base mesh and import with the correct maps and topology into one of the animation software packages such as Maya or 3ds Max using the Go Z function and again this is a whole other lesson and explanation. Things you need to know when creating mesh ... first off the denser it is meaning the more polygons, the larger the .dae files and the longer to load and the more prims it costs. But in order to poly paint a model to look highly detailed you need a highly dense or high poly count model.  Another aspect is the topology flow of your models and again this another lesson, Topology is a great thing to learn about but is such a large area of education it could not all be documented here. Retopologizing a model is a lot like dot to dot books when you were a child but the outcome of how the topology flows is extremely important. You can not make texture maps then retopo  a model and use those same maps, you will need to either re texture or project the old textures to the new maps .... Again a whole new lesson, that you can read about on the web as well watch videos. 

   Next I will go on to explain tools for Blender in the next part of this blog series, each post I will try and bring up more great tools and apps in world and out in RL for building and editing mesh to animations, so stay tuned till tomorrow.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Posting about Living in Second Life Business to Everyday Second Life.

Like I was saying I will post here often and most of the time short posts less it be a second life tutorial of one sort or another. I will cover second life topics such as business, photography, mesh design, building, land renting vs buying and much more! From learning and use of mesh programs, Photoshop and texturing, Zbrush, Autodesk and Blender, animation, art in world and out world, advertising, metaverse economics and more !!!! How many people really understand the work involved when building a business in second life ? Its not just putting a few textures on prims anymore there are programs used in building the mesh and in motion capture that cost thousands of dollars, and what about the vending systems ? First and best advice I can give you ....  Use a trusted brand for a store ... A brand that has been around for the years and is used most across the grid. I would advise this in a number of other situations as well, remember that business in second life is changing everyday just as the real world. I have seen this happen personally with items like security orbs that were network connected and when the maker left the world the security no longer worked. I have two photo studios that are virtually worthless as the maker still has a store but does not answer emails about upgrades that passed while I was away ...  talking about real world dollars in this circumstance also.  Some items here you may pay a good bit for depending on whether it is tech or code or mesh or even robotic in nature as the viewers upgrade, servers upgrade, physics upgrade well these all can render your item useless .... Just as time passes in the real world, time also passes in the MetaVerse and items become old and well we never actually wrinkle or rust in the metaverse but the bunny's keep a breeding unless code is not updated.  So I hope you understand and get the point as to what to watch for in the metaverse.  I still miss the old sim board park we used to ride in and that was just two years past when it was on Meta and SL TV all the time.