Second Life Design

Second Life Design
See my Meshed Up Second Life

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. 

Designing Mesh for Second Life.

   In second life and Building in second life there is always so much to learn whether it is learning to design mesh or clothing and textures or using prims or primitives in the SL world. First off the mesh is one building block that for the most part is edited in the real world and then transferred or imported in to the grid. After mesh is imported then it can only be altered a few ways using the build tool, you can stretch it or well re-size is a better way to put it , you can move it and you can as well edit and change the textures and or colors, glow and shiny shader .... Other then then this you cannot torture mesh like a prim, twisting, pulling, pushing and otherwise manipulating that a prim can take retain that shape.  What you get when you import a mesh is basically what you get, and as well be sure if you stretch a mesh object that has a texture be sure to also check stretch texture or it will not look right after modifying the mesh. 

Just and example of designs quirks and what appears to be sl fails ... First off for stores and business photos every one of these photos can use some major Photoshopping. Well maybe the one of my female avatar does not ... see in order to run a store with items that shall we say meta sexual in nature or well everything that may be worn or bought and used by both a male and female avatar .... you must test likewise and so rather then constantly dress the male or female as the opposite for testing its just more simple to create and alt for the opposite sex or well eerrm species as well in some cases !

   There are many programs that can be used for design and building of mesh and pretty much to many to list. Each has its advantages and as well costs vary widely also. So to start you will need a program that you can edit and create mesh in, that being said I will start off that I use 4 programs the most for my mesh editing creation, modeling and sculpting. The programs are Zbrush from Pixologic, Topogun for changing the topology of the mesh, and as well also Photoshop for the editing of the Texture Maps, then also Blender ....   Blender is and open source 3d program so it is free, while the others do have a price tag.  I also will state I often use Autodesk products as well though the price tag on Maya, 3ds Max, and Softimage is quite hefty, you may be able to find a student version of these, and as well Zbrush cost me about $700 USD a few years ago.  Creating a mesh model just a basic square is quite simple, but to sculpt and model one such as the pipe in the previous post is a different story. Don't get me wrong the pipe was not that hard for me to model in a few hours from start to the textures and export,  but again I have been using these programs for years. So now you have and idea about me and my work as well  how mesh are made. I will post both items from my store some will be full perms for resale and others will be mod, copy as in retail sales. I also again want to point you to our facebook page as well for Bigbear Design.  There you can also request custom mesh designs, see what I am working on and as well fee free to ask questions either on this blog or there on the Bigbear Design page.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Welcome Second Life Artists, Mesh Designers and Digital Sculptors

This is the finished pipe I recently built in 3 colors as well, with the glowing coal and a smoking particle script. All done 100% in Zbrush out of mesh. 

Thank you for visiting I will be adding many links to helpful builders blogs and tutorials as well other great art links and more. I have been using Photoshop as well many other great 3d programs for almost 17 years now, and I built this blog to help other great mesh designers, texture artists and even animators and machinma artists in 3d worlds as well as game engines. I have numerous avatars for use in both designing and building as well to use in my interest of virtual world robots and more. I will include items here from video of my live mesh creation and sculpting using programs such as Zbrush, 3ds Max, Blender, , Maya, Topogun, Photoshop, and many others. My Bigbear Design Store is also Located on Facebook located here Bigbear Design Mesh and 3d Design  I also have many other groups and pages from a zbrush art group to Freelance artists groups as well. These are all used by hundreds of artists to promote the work and as well others to find talented artists.  To show off a little of my original work first we will start with a simple smoking pipe that I created a week ago and now sell in my store in SL.

    Here is more items I am working on at this point still currently they could be used as a prop though I plan adding either AI (Artificial Intelligence) otherwise some sort of robot or pet type scripting, but I must be able to bring the prim or land impact allowance down some. If I turned them into and avatar that would be a slightly different type of circumstance but I am and have not.  The level of detail on the trihead dino animal is quite good and can be seen in world located at
Bigbear Design in Second Life in World Store   or
I will be posting and blogging on a daily basis to everyone as well making connections to other bloggers and media. I as well try and provide weekly as well as monthly links to other helpful blogs and tools for use in second life. To start I will provide you with a link to one of the most helpful