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Mesh: Does it make normal avatar skin and shape design redundant?


Saru Mukaida
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Hi,

I'm a very fledgling skin designer and I admit that I haven't kept up with the development of mesh as much as I should have. So my understanding of it is very limited, can someone help me with some very simple questions?

1. Does mesh make skin design irrelevant, will it all now be done in apps like 3dsmax etc?

2. If someone is wearing a mesh, can they alter their shape or customize their shape to the degree you can do currently?

3. Will mesh designed clothing fit standard avatars or only mesh designed avatars?



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Although I'm sure many mesh avatar makers will create custom human avatars with mesh, there are no plans that I know of to replace the current default avatar mesh. Customization using the inworld shape setting is very limited, if it is even working. Sorry, I've not played too much with custom mesh avatars. Most mesh clothing will be created to fit any avatar, as these will probably be created in pieces and attached as needed.

Really tho, there is no reason to stop making skins using the SL template. If there does become a popular mesh avatar, or a change of the default, then I'm sure you will get a new template. Any adoption of a new avatar mesh will be extremely slow, as SL tattoos, clothing, and other layers will not work on the new mesh. So unless the mesh avatar maker is going to hand the templates out for every1 to create accessories for it, then few are going to jump at any new human mesh.

Like I said tho, I've not played with avatar meshes much, so some1 please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Hi Saru,

I sent you a copy of my "Experimental Mesh Avatar" on the beta grid (Aditi) to play with.  To answer your questions:

(1) The default SL avatar has a body geometry (ie a mesh), and a UV map (the three skin textures you set up according to a template).  The body geometry is attached to a set of "bones" which are used to animate the body.  If you create a new mesh-based avatar or body parts, it will use the same bones to control movement, but you can make custom geometry and UV maps.  The custom avatar is worn like a clothing item, and then you hide whatever parts of the default avatar you need to.

Creating the geometry and UV template is done in some 3D program and imported. The actual skin textures are done in whatever image editor (Photoshop, GIMP, etc) you prefer.

(2) No, only the underlying body shape changes that affect the bones will affect a worn mesh.  Other appearance changes that only morph the default skin will not affect the worn mesh. 

(3) There are two kinds of mesh clothing, those which are set up to follow the bone animations (called "rigging"), and those that are not.  The latter will act as any static prim object.  You can wear them on some part of the body, but they will not deform when the avatar moves.  Rigged clothing will follow the avatar's movements, for example a sleeve will follow the arm bones if you set it up that way.  Whether it will fit a given avatar depends on the body settings for that avatar.  Rigged clothes are indistinguishable from rigged avatar bodies as far as the SL software is concerned.  They are made the same way, and only look like a body or clothing by how they are made.

Because rigged clothes will only follow bone changes and not skin morphs, you would probably need to make several sizes to fit different avatar shapes.  If you make both clothing and avatar mesh rigged the same way, they will both change the same amount by twiddling appearance settings, so they should keep their fit.

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If you want to see such stuff in action, log into IMVU.

Or wait until the IMVU folks will invade SL on day zero. Cause they will.

Btw., IMVU stuff is all but impressive, and i doubt that all the "supposed-to-be-fancy" mesh stuff will have much impact because an attachment does not count as a prim - and there are still many ways to create simple photoshop and prim/sculpt attachments which will definately not look worse than anything done by some 3D modelling hobbyists.

Consider that, as pointed out, rigged attachment will either need a complete avatar OR some serious appearance tweaks. Both options are not exactly user friendly out of the box and stuff which is user hostile as this is does not sell anyway.

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Vivienne Schell wrote:

Consider that, as pointed out, rigged attachment will either need a complete avatar OR some serious appearance tweaks. Both options are not exactly user friendly out of the box and stuff which is user hostile as this is does not sell anyway.

I beg to differ. Although it might seem like there are negatives to making mesh avatars, most of those negative go away when you are talking about custom non human avatars. Plus, animation height does not seem to be an issue with a mesh avatar as it does with the default avatar. Don't ask me why. This is huge tho. This mean that a tiny little ant can use the same animation as a giant king kong. As some1 who likes to make animal and monster animations, I'll be in heaven.

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I'd also like to point out that there are sculptie clothes already, essentially offering the same thing as a mesh attachment would (though we'll need the ability to resize attached, rigged meshes if we want say, a single piece coat that moves with the avatar properly.  A non-weighted mesh attachment would work just like a sculptie right now) which themselves are not affected by the avatar's sliders.

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Yeah, mesh clothing items will be 1 of the major markets for mesh. Sculpty jackets look pretty ridiculous, being all stiff and stuff. Shoes will probably be the 1 market that gets totally taken over by mesh. Why? Because prim and sculpty shoes are notoriously prim heavy, and boots do not bend with the leg. These factors will, eventually, make mesh footwear the only way to go.

The other area that consumes massive amount of prims, is hair. Now, although mesh hair will not replace prim hair, it will still make for a great base hair to create less prim intense hair.

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Yes, those do look very good, but in SL, the hair would either be stiff, or move with you. The mesh hair will not be flexible. The flexibility of hair is what adds the realism to hair movement. So, I can see creators making the majority of hair base with mesh, and then just adding a few dozens flexies to give the hair some realistic movement.

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