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Custom Bento head - possible or are you out of your mind

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As I swim deeper into tutorials and manuals about Bento heads, I am more awed than ever by the artistry and skill that goes into these creations. I'm in the planning stage for animated movies that use Bento-enabled facial expression. 

Current heads meet many of my needs, but sliders can't quite achieve a particular shape I'm seeking for special applications of projected light. 

As an animator with crude modeling skills, I could conceivably sculpt and rig this shape on my own. Would that mean weeks of study and $$, or months and $$$$ (for Mudbox or Zbrush)?

What about commissioning the shape from a 3D sculptor and paying another artist to Bento-ize it? Could a major creator easily produce a variant, which she could then sell in her store?

I realize there may be many possibilities. Before I choose a path, I'm just seeking perspectives from this expert community. Thank you!

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Hey Friday.   There is a sample Bento head mesh and it's armature available on the SL wiki.   You could use that as is. but I found that it is sized differently from the classic head in world once uploaded to second life.  Also that mesh is just as crude as the classic head.   I used that sample as a guide and completely modeled a new and more detailed head.  It has been a ton of work.  Also I used BLENDER to do the modeling, but the texture UNWRAP would not lay out the mapping even remotely close to the lay out of the standard face skin layout.  I had to grab each vertex on the texture map and move them to where I wanted them one at a time.  That took me a few months of on again - off again effort , and more than a few shots of Scotch.   
The next problem is that I have not been able to find Bento face animations of any quality that come independent of commercial heads.  I have found a simple talk animation and one hud with a few facial expressions, so I know my head works, but I need more and better animations.  I guess they will become available as the Bento community matures.
Hope this helps.

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Take a little look at Blenderella’s tutorials on YouTube. She has a entire series in modeling a mesh head. Blender is free and you’re sure to get what you want.

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Wow it’s great to get two helpful replies! I will check out those tutorials Janet.

Heather, I’ve spent enough time struggling with Blender to appreciate your experience. I learned enough to realize that there’s a reason why Bentos are really hard! I’m more of a bourbon drinker but I needed more than one for sure, and I didn’t even try UV unwrapping and texturing. 

I also gained huge appreciation for what skilled makers have been able to do with the grotesque proportions of the SL default. “Wait, the eyes are HERE and the neck is WHERE?”

As an animator I have had to explore other platforms such as iClone for facial animation. Their Faceware technology produces files that MIGHT be useful for SL, but as you know the skeletal vs morph based differences can be so challenging. 

Another promising direction is the advancing facial “depth” technology emerging in the micro-Kinect in the notch of the Iphone X. But will any of it ever translate to the special Bento rig? If you want to animate emotion that goes beyond sequencing the Bento-head packages (which are cool) do you adopt another platform?

A final note: I’m seeking a face that’s neither a luscious-lipped Playmate nor a rock-jawed stud. If anyone wants to earn some actual dollars rigging a facial mesh that I already have as an object file, IM me! Yes I’ll gladly approve a Scotch budget.

thanks again!

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Hi Friday.  Speaking of rigging or modeling a face....   A lot of heads and faces are inventions of the modeler - and that's cool - but it means a user's preexisting shape file, and the Classic face that they invested so much time into designing to be just right, then goes out the window.  When they put on a mesh head, they never look like themselves again.  I speak from first hand experience.
When it came time to design my bento head, I used the Second Life Bento head example as a guide.  I developed a head with much more detail and a much higher vertex count, but followed the same overall shape.  I tried to hand paint a similar Weight Painting, so that when loaded into Second life, it takes on the same shape as the user already know.  At least that was the goal.   The bento armature does respond differently from the classic armature of the system heads, so I could not achieve the exact look, but it is close.   Skin and Makeup textures then also have a great effect.
The odd thing about this approach is that my head does not actually look very good when seen in BLENDER - while other heads are a study in Beauty when seen inside their modeling program.  But those pretty heads get completely reshaped by the body shape file and will look totally different. sometimes to some really awful results.   My ugly head also distorts.   It however is similar to the ugly system head when seen in the modeling program.  Once inside Second Life, it takes on all the loving care people have put into making their system head pretty.  So with the exception of skin and makeup, at least the shape is recognizable.

So back to your point of " neither a luscious-lipped Playmate nor a rock-jawed stud" - my head takes the shape you give it.  If you would like to try it, contact me.  Also your comments and help would be appreciate to refine my Ultra Vixen II head further.

me face_003.jpg

me face_004.jpg

me face_002.jpg

me face_001.jpg

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Posted (edited)

u can scuplt in blender wo problem. Hardest part would be rigging it and scripting then. ( if u wanna have appilers to it like omega, and some hud so head would be more usable) 

Edited by BiroIsHere

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