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ZBRUSH Detailed WorkFlow Steps - create Mesh with Hi Rez Texture!


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OK folks - especially Mesh Noobs like me that are lost on the workflow to get a mice mesh model with a high rez baked texture into SL - I have used the invaluable instructions from BOUTTIME WHYBROW as well as from early valuable input from MAEVE BALFOUR to flesh out a detailed step by step instruction for NOOBS by using the ZBRUSH program.

I want to thank Bouttime for the detailed instructions / steps.  Although they still were not basic and noobish enough for me, I worked thru the instructions 3 or 4 times and finally succeeded in getting my first complete high rez texture baked mesh model created using only ONE TOOL - ZBRUSH !  Without bouttime's guidance I would never ever have figured out these steps.

So, below is my basic step by step detailed instructions of how to start from scratch in Zbrush and create a textured model.

1)  Create new zbrush 3D tool (ie. a 3D sphere)

2)  Immediately enter EDIT mode  (in zbrush if you dont enter immediately into EDIT mode - you cant later)

3)  Make it into a PolyMesh3d (tool menu "make polymesh3d")

4)  option - decimate to lowest poly count possible (this will become your LOD 1)

5)  make your basic model shape changes  (i.e. create your model's basic shape)

6)  Under TOOLS->Geometry increase the model's geometry to 1 or 2 million points by Dividing the model until you reach LOD 4 or 5.  This highest LOD of the model can be used to make more shape changes to the model but more importantly this is the LOd that you will polypaint your textures onto the model to achieve a high rez crisp baked texture for later export to DAE.

7)  Makes any more subtle shape changes  (good news is you can do steps 7 and 8 back and forth as much as you want)

8)  Paint your model  (remember to switch to a STANDARD brush to make zbrush actually enter in to polypaint mode... many of the other tools will still change the models shape.  Also under TOOL->PolyPaint, enable COLORIZE to paint.  Also, set your mode to RGB and turn off Z ADD)

9)  Set the 6 Sides of the model to Zplink's configuration as follows:

9a) Position the front face (rotate model then hold SHIFT to snap to a face)
9b) Go to DOCUMENT -> Zaplink Properties -> FRONT  (back will automatically be set)
9c) Position the Left side of the model (rotate left and hold SHIFT)
9d) Set the Zaplink LEFT side (right will automatically be set too)
9e) Position the Top side of the model (rotate to top of model and hold SHIFT)
9f) Set the Zaplink TOP side (bottom will automatically be set too)

10)  Execute the ZapLink feature (i.e. DOCUMENT->ZAPLINK) to move textures of all the set sides of the model into Photoshop.  A Zaplink popup window will appear. You will see Zaplink take a photo of each side of your model and then Photoshop opens a new document with 2 layers for each side - a total of 12 layers at very high res that came from polypaint of Zbrush vis Zaplink.

11)  You will now work in Photoshop and leave Zbrush alone for a while until you SAVE the document in Photoshop which returns the updated images back to Zbrush control.  Following is what you do in Photoshop to perfect the images:

11a)  For each side, you click on the SHADER layer and duplicate this layer.  Then "MERGE DOWN" the first Shader layer to the side's main texture layer.  Do these 3 steps to each of the 6 sides.  You will still end up with 12 layers like when you started.  What this does is integrate the material, shader, and specularity aspects of the texture into the texture to become 1 baked layer per side.

11b)  You can apply any other photoshop enhancements to the image as well (like brightness etc.)

11c) SAVE the document in Photoshop.  This will save the layers back to Zbrush via the zaplink interconnect.  It is not Saving like a normal save in PS... its a Save that links back to Zbrush control.

12)  Return to ZBRUSH program.  It was suspended and waiting for your return.  When you return to Zbrush it will notice that changes were made in Photoshop and ask you to accept the changes of the texture layers for each side.  You will be asked to accept 6 times (one for each side).  THIS BAKES THE TEXTURE with its Shaders/material ON YOUR MODEL.

13)  To see how the texture will look when rezzed in SL, change the "Material" to a neutral material like "skinshade".  The texture will get brighter as the darker material is not being anymore on the model.

14)  Now you need to ensure your model has a UV map applied.  You will use "UV Master" to do this work.  Following are the steps:

14a)  Goto ZPLUGIN->"UV Master" and click "WORK ON CLONE".  You need to do this since UV Master cannot do its job on a model with multiple LODs.  "Work on Clone" creates a new lowest LOD duplicate of the model.  You will now see a white textured low rez model.

14b)  Click "UNWRAP" from UV Master.  Your model will have a new efficient UV set.  If you want to control where the UV seam should or shouldnt go, you can "Enable Control Painting" first and then use the Protect & Attract buttons and paint on the white clone skin the areas you want UV Master to avoid a seam or attract a seam.  Then you click "UNWRAP".

14c)  You now need to place that UV seam onto the real model with all the LODs.  To do this your click the UV Master "Copy UVs" button, then under "Tools" you click on your main model to make it the active model again in zbrush.  Then you click UV Master "Paste UVs".  Your main model now has the UVs assigned to it at all LODs.

15)  Now you need to SAVE your baked high rez model texture that is on the model.  To do this you do the following:

15a)  Click the TOOLS subtool of "UV Map" and click a UV Map size of 1024.  Since SL can only bring in an image no larger than 1024, clicking a higher size is useless.

15b)  Click the TOOLS subtool of "Texture Map" and click the "New From PolyPaint" button.  Then click the "Clone Txtr" button on this subtool a little higher up.  This will move a copy of the baked high rez texture to your main Textures menu on the left side of your Zbrush screen.  It needs to go there so that you can export the texture out of Zbrush.

15c)  Click open the "Texture" popup window on the left side and click "EXPORT" and save the texture to your disk (in PSD BMP ot TIF). You now have the exported baked high-rez shader aspects texture for the model.  This could be used to bring into SL independent from the model's .dae import.

16)  You now need to get the model itself converted to a Collada DAE format.  You will use the "ZSculpty Tools" (a tool you installed from Pixelogic's downloads site earlier) to export the model to DAE format.  To do this you:

16a)  Go to your TOOLS->Geometry subtool and reduce the model to the lowest LOD - "SDiv1".  This is the model geometry that will be exported out.

16b)  Goto the Zplugin->Zsculpty Tools and click on "Export SL Mesh" (there are a couple other option you can click prior to clicking export).  You will be asked what the name of the DAE file will be.

16c)  The tool will then create your DAE with the actual high rez baked texture at 1024 into the DAE.  You now have a DAE that you can import into SL.

17)   Enter into SL and Upload Model.  Remember that if you want the model to come in with the texture that was baked in from zbrush - you need to go to the UPLOAD OPTIONs and click on the "include textures".  If you dont then the model will not internally add the textures to the model.  You will have to do this texturing seperately.

18)  REZ THE MODEL TO SL!!!

And here is a photo of the model I got into SL.  Its just a blob but take note that the texture amazingly high rez and it even includes most of the material aspects like specularity and shading and bump!

 

TestBlob_001.png

 

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Again.... thank you so much bouttime and Maeve for your time and effort to explain the basic concepts and the steps to a NOOB level.  Your guidance and input were invaluable. 

I now have a proven workflow that I can use and expand upon and even use imported Sculptris models to enter into this workflow.   AND NO BLENDER!!!

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Nice one Toy! Kudos for posting your workflow too - I am sure that will help other users of ZBrush get a footing :matte-motes-smile:

Now that you have a working method for getting your meshes into SL, you will no doubt find it easier to gradually tweak your processes and optimise your projects for lower Land Impact etc as your experience grows. You will improve upon that over time as your skills grow - the most important part is that you now HAVE a workflow you can refine and are comfortable with using. It will get easier from here, I am sure of it, now that you have gotten to grips with the essential steps of mesh creation.

I'm so happy that my advice was of assistance to you - it always feels good helping others make their own personal breakthroughs with creative pursuits. Your post just made my day!

Lots of fun to come for you, I am sure of that! Enjoy! :matte-motes-smile:

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Thanks Maeve :)

And yes... I completely believe your predictions as I have gone through these "break through a technology understanding" barrier many times.

I knew that as frustrating as it was hitting my head on developing a repeatable successful workflow and more importantly to understand the key concepts behind the workflow, that once that AHAH!!! moment hits, it will be like turning on a firehose of knowledge expansion.

Its almost like the analogy of doing a puzzle.  When you decide you want to tackle the puzzle, you pour out the box of a 1000 pieces.  You stare at this mess of unconnected pieces and the best you can do is figure out the edges.  The rest makes no sense and you often get very frustrated and walk away from it several times after only finding one or two pieces.  Thennn you reach that magic moment when enough pieces are together that the other pieces just fall into place fast!

The key facts that turned on the lightbulb for me was several of the facts in bouttime's non-linebreak steps in Zbrush, which even though some of the facts were missing or not 100% on the syntax... it was enough for me to research other video tutorials to fill in the blanks to my noob level of Zbrush.

 

  1. POLYPAINT is actually painting colors on each vertice / point on the model (a video tutorial from pixelogic visually showed exactly how).  THIS was a huge fact to discover.  Explained why my textures looked like crap.  I needed to make the model poly count high enough to match the resolution of the texture I ultimately wanted.
  2. Understanding that the PolyPaint and Texture Map are two different types of painting in Zbrush and that when PolyPaint was done, you need to copy the results to the Texture Map that is critical for being exported out of Zbrush.
  3. Exactly when a UV Map needs to be created... That I could hold of UV mapping the model until just prior to polypaint clones its results to the texture map.
  4. To understand how Zbrush really works with LODs (or sDivides) and how it works with the amazing UVMaster plugin (which is an absolutely Godsend of UV Map simplicity).
  5. ZAPLink and when it is needed - i.e. to get the cool aspects of a Material baked into what has been painted.  I have learned that ZapLink and PS blending of the Shader to the Texture is not required unless you want the Materials aspects to be part of the exported texture map.
  6. And how easy it is with ZSculpty plugin to make quick Collada Exports.  No need to use Blender for anything now!

Since the published instructions I posted, I have already accomplished two new major accomplishments:

  • Importing a Sculptris model (which I love because of its VOXEL sculpting concept) into Zbrush and having the Workflow 100% absorb the foriegn model and work to SL.
  • Importing a multi-object model from Sculptris and understanding how to polypaint each of the imported objects in the model can be worked on for sculpting and painting.  And ... that the multi-object model also 100% works with the workflow to SL.
  • Understanding the limits and more advanced feature of Zbrush Polypaint (i.e. painting an image onto a surface).
  • Understanding how important it is to reduce the polycount of the model right at the beginning of the workflow and how this ultra-low polycount does or does not impact the texture map and LI.

Sooo it will be an explosion of ideas now that will let my creativity release.

I only now wished more of SL Residents would upgrade their viewers to see Mesh.  Still surprising even for me how few residents do not use a mesh enabled viewer.  Still about 50% of my friends whom I show my sample models say they cant see the model because they have not been inpired enough about upgrading their Phoenix client.  Many of them even now do not really know what mesh is and how its any different than any other prim.

This lack of awareness still rests on LL's shoulders.  They assume because they are geeks and understand it and because they are working with a bunch of 3D modeling mesh geeks in the mesh forums that understand it... that somehow magically everyone in SL will hear about Mesh and understand it.  THEY WONT.

Not everyone  - in fact most ppl - dont understand even basic technologies.. They just use what they are told and when they need it.  And since the full adoption of Mesh involves the full adoption of mesh capable viewers where older viewers are still functional and the upgrade to the new viewers is in each user's control.... LL needs to put a ton more effort promoting MESH ... what it is... why you want to see it.... how do you see, use it, buy it.

Ohh well... just some thoughts.

:)

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Toysoldier Thor wrote:

 

This lack of awareness still rests on LL's shoulders.  They assume because they are geeks and understand it and because they are working with a bunch of 3D modeling mesh geeks in the mesh forums that understand it... that somehow magically everyone in SL will hear about Mesh and understand it.  THEY WONT.


I really think you're insulting a good lot of people who are always willing to help. Or do you consider yourself a geek now you can build mesh? In that case, forget this post. You of all people, saying certain posts can be frustrating, are frustrating others who merely try to help. I think your latest two posts were more technical and complicated than the one I posted and was tossed aside by you for being "greek" or "geek".

Give it some time and people WILL understand what it is. Consumers don't need to know the technology or workflow or whatever behind mesh, they only need to see it. People don't understand the details about textures, animations, normal prims and sculpts and that has never been an issue.

People are stubborn creatures. As time goes on more people will be using viewers that can cope with mesh. And if that doesn't draw everyone over the line, the fact the world will look like boxes and blobs will convert the majority. Latest and final change will be mesh viewers being mandatory, or V3 based viewers anyway. I don't think there are any viewer coders so stubborn to take a functioning mesh viewer and pull the mesh code out of it. Then again..people ARE stubborn....

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Im not insulting anyone.... I fully place myself into the "GEEK" camp as much as you and other 3D modelers are.  In fact the steep hurdles with regard to the technical depth required to create Sculpties and now Mesh have been a boom for me over the past 3 years in the substantial revenue I have been able to make in SL from my 6 sculpty packs.  Because a relatively low % of the total SL population understood / understands how a sculpty works - much less how one is made, this GEEK barrier is a huge money maker for those that can get through the technical barrier and create.

So... fine... if you say I am insulting  mesh creators by calling them Geeks then I have... and I have no problem understanding that I insulted myself.

But this is not the point to my message.

What I was saying was that LL should be doing a lot more to promote Mesh, educate their customer base what mesh is, and better stimulate the general user population to get off the older viewers and onto the Mesh enabled viewers.

"Give it time"?   The LL strategy seems to be "we created the technology and got it on the grid.  Our work is done here... now let this new feature called MESH get to the masses by word of mouth".

There is "being stubborn" and then there is not being informed enough to know why they should upgrade a viewer.  When most viewer upgrades tend to introduce some kind of new problem or lag or issue with how they operate in SL, many SL residents are not stubborn for the sake of being stubborn.  They are resistant to upgrading viewers just because there is a new viewer since it usually disrupts a stable experience.

IF SL residents were much more aware that the upgrade they are not interested in upgrading to is preventing them from a much greater expereince in SL.... if LL would do more to educate their customers how amazing mesh is and you dont know what you are missing all because of a simple upgrade of the viewer.....  Most SL residents would likely upgrade quickly.

Dont confuse stubborn with cautious because of a lack of knownledge.

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As for my instructions being more Geek that your postings....  I would debate that.  My instructions were long but I provided down to the basics step by step instruction ... even mentioning the exact command in Zbrush to use... and provided a sentence explaining why this step was being done.

That is not Geek Talk.... Geek Talk would have been if during my steps I said "UV your model"  "now clone your polypaint layer to the texture layer".... making high level "technology assuming" statements without provide the NOOB what button to press instructions that go with it.   That is Geek Talk.

Nothing wrong with geek talk as long as its directed to a fellow geek at the same technology evolutionary point in life as you are.  If that makes sense.

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Geek and experienced is not the same. A geek is someone who is out of the ordinary and focussed one one particular thing, to such an extent where he/she loses touch with the "normal" people. I certainly don't place myself in that corner, nor do I want to place others in any corner, that's insulting, plain and simple.

I find it rather surprising you don't understand geeks at a certain point in time, then a week later you consider yourself to be one.

"POLYPAINT is actually painting colors on each vertice / point"

"That I could hold of UV mapping the model until just prior to polypaint clones its results to the texture map."

"get the cool aspects of a Material baked into what has been painted."

I don't think terms as "UV island" (or whatever I wrote that was greek) is less clear than this. Maybe if you don't understand something, you can ask for clearification rather than dismissing it as garbage.

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That is not insulting in any way...see how easy it is to not be insulting?

 

As for the mesh deployment....

I agree LL could have done more to promote mesh. I've seen games and vampires on the logon screen, nothing about mesh though, besides a notice under the loading bar I think. That should have been dealt with better I think.

On the other hand, sculpties were never promotoed and it took a good time before people knew what their possibilities are. Things simply take time, yes, because people are stubborn. That's on the same path as cautious, just a different place. It's not SL user stubbornness, it's human nature. People in general don't like change, people want to stay in their comfort zone. All over the forums I read comments from people saying they don't give a hoot about mesh, even when they are told the advantages. Luckily most people already use mesh enabled viewers and the number is rising. For now? I'd say take the time to improve your SL mesh skills, I'm still learning or picking up things regularly and I've been building 3D models for about 15 years (not full time, not even close).

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Toy Soldier - THANK YOU.  I'm new to ZBrush and this is EXACTLY what I needed to get over the next hurdle.  I can't express how grateful I am for you taking the time out to write out such detailed step-by-step instructions.  I've been dabbling in 3ds Max for years but that hasn't helped with the workflow in ZBrush - but this sure does.

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you are very welcome.

I wrote the instructions keeping in mind all the frustration and hassles I have been struggling with over the past 6 weeks trying to get a BASIC SIMPLE set of instructions on the all mighty WORKFLOW!  I know how hair pulling frustrating it was to get step by step instructions.  SOOOO I decided to interpret the pretty darn close steps bouttime provided me... and write them down to a level I understood.

This meant right down to what button to press on Zbrush and why was I pressing this button.

The most complicated mystery in getting a foothold understanding over creating 3d models for import to SL is the END-TO-END WORKFLOW.

This workflow might not be perfect for all situations but for a noob like me to gor through the entire process successfully once... a whole set of lightbulbs will go on.  Now I can understand it and I can start fine tuning it and improving the workflow.

and if this simple end to end workflow works for me - then other can get their lightbulbs turned on too. :)

Thanks for the posting of appreciation.  I am glad all the time I took to write it helped someone.  And thank bouttime for giving me the seed to this workflow!

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"The most complicated mystery in getting a foothold understanding over creating 3d models for import to SL is the END-TO-END WORKFLOW."

THIS!  Yes, couldn't agree more.  I'm picking up ZBrush pretty quickly and have already created some models I'm quite proud of but there are a LOT of things one needs to know about getting that mesh into SL without loss and with high rez textures that aren't covered in ZBrush tutorials.

Please keep posting your progress.

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So here is an example of a "Woman On Knees" sculpture that I completely shaped in Sculptris. 

After I shaped it, I reduced its poly count from about 500,000 triangles to 5100 triangles / 2680 vertices by using the Sculptris Reduction Brush (love that tool). 

Then I exported to OBJ out of sculptris and imported it into Zbrush as a Zbrush Tool (Zbrush's stupid name for model) and began the workflow described a the beginning of this thread.

I wanted to see just how good the process was at maintaining very high aspects of a material - i.e. Specularity (shininess).  So I painted the model with a mossy grunge texture over a very shiny material to make it look like a shiny gold model.

As you can see, by flowing through Zaplink and PhotoShop, the model in SL was shiny gold - just like in Zbrush.

The LI for the model ended up at 1.16 because I set the LOD of med, low, lowest to 200,50,10 since no one would see this model well from a distance anyway so why give it any real level of high detail.  I set the physics to the lowest LOD since I just want someone to bump into it.  And I told the upload to include the texture - which it did.  The model's upload size was .5  x  .99  x  .77

Other than the time to create the model in Sculptris, the time from sculptris export to uploading into SL was about 15 minutes.

This is the result (I increase her size to 1.4 x 2.2 x 2.8 but the LI is still 1.

GoldWoman.jpg

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Toysoldier Thor wrote:

What is interesting is that all the LI values I gave you were from Aditi....

But when I did the same upload into the main grid the LI was lower ... only .5 LI and $3L cheaper for the upload.  Not sure why but Im not complaining.

There is some randomness to the calculations for uploading a model. This is always the case. I think it has got to do with how the uploader reduces the vertices for the lower LoDs, I'm not sure about that last bit though.

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Very cool!  Here's a model I was working on before I decided to go with mesh clothing.

character-model.png

I started with making an armature with zspheres, then just kept playing with it from there.  I was amazed at how quickly I could get good results compared to how long the same work would have taken in 3DS Max.

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That looks cool.  That was through the workflow?

Can I ask what Armatures and zspheres are?

I am far from comfortable or ready to tackle this concept of "rigged mesh" which I understand is a mesh that attaches to an avatar, but I do want to start learning terms related to that - specially if you are doing this in Zbrush. 

Maybe related or maybe not, but a question I have based on something I wanted to experiment with in the closer future.

So I have already been able to create and bring into SL a 2 object model.  It was an eyeball inside an eyesocket blob object.  I created the two object model in Sculptris and brought it into Zbrush.  I was able to paint the two objects separately (eyeball and skin) and export it out to SL.

BUT... here is my question....

What if I wanted the eyeball to have a script that made the eyeball randomly rotate twitch?  When the model comes into SL its 1 object.  Is this where a "rigged" model would let me move an eyeball inside an eyesocket?  Or... is the only solution to create two models and in SL to place the eyeball into the socket and then apply a script to the eyeball model and then linkset the two so they stay in relative position to each other?

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zspheres are a really simple way to get a base mesh started.  Check out the video tutorials here:

http://www.pixologic.com/zclassroom/homeroom/tutorial.php?lesson=zspheres

My model in thepic above isn't in SL, it's just screen shots I took from in Zbrush :)  It's just a model I made while learning Zbrush.

It's funny how we all approach SL mesh from a different angle :)  I wanted to jump into rigging as soon as I felt comfortable with Zbrush modelling, although I still haven't gotten into texturing even - which is why I appreciated your work flow so very much!

Yesterday I managed to get the SLAV plugin for 3d Studio max working and was able to get my own avatar's shape into 3ds max.  I uploaded the upper body just to test the rigging that SLAV provides and it worked just fine.  My avatar could wear it and it moved with her perfectly.  But what I really want to do is bring that already rigged model from 3ds max into Zbrush so I can work on it there and then bring it back to 3ds max to create the final .dae file and upload it all rigged and ready into SL.  That is a workflow I could REALLY use right now :)

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I will look at that video tonight.

"SLAV" is a SL plugin for 3D studio?

Why do you need to send the rigged mesh in Zbrush back to 3D Max to export to DAE?  Zbrush has a 3rd party DAE Exporter (the ZSculpty plugin utility as is part of the workflow I mentioned).  Does this Zbrush DAE Exporter not deal with rigged mesh models?

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The SLAV plugin does the rigging for you.  It isn't available for Zbrush.  I'm just getting into this and haven't figured it all out yet but I suspect I will need to upload the final product from 3ds max to keep the rigging.  Not really sure about that yet though.  I haven't been able to find ANY information on this so today I'm going to do a bunch of tests to see if I can get a fully rigged model from 3ds max into Zbrush and back again.  I figure I need to do this to keep the rigging so that I can make mesh clothes but am really only guessing at this point :)

You really hit he nail on the head when you said the workflow is the hardest part to figurre out.  I find modelling in Zbrush pretty easy but getting it into SL is another story!

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Speaking from the perspective of a SL Mesh Modeling Noob and one that is quite new to this SL MESH Forum, these are just my thoughts....

 

  1. The Mesh forum should be sub-divided to sub-forums like:  "General Concepts & Q/A", "Mesh Workflows to SL", "Mesh Futures" and then a sub-forum for each 3D modeling tool "Blender", "3DMax", "Zbrush / Sculptris", "3DCoat", "Maya", etc.
  2. It would be great if there was a growing list of successful Workflows for any Mesh Noobs to follow and use as a seed of knowledge to grasp the end-to-end flow.  These Workflows could be in each product sub-forum and pinned to the top as a suggestion.
  3. Maybe the workflows are better suited for wiki pages BUT then the workflows wiki link should be pinned to the top of the sub forums.

I think a lot of the Mesh Experts might take for granted just how critical it is in the steep learning curve of creating mesh for SL a very basic simple step-by-step workflow is to a noob of a new concept. 

i.e. even though Blender to a new user of Blender is as daunting as taking on Brain Surgery, one of the Blender Gods/Godesses must be able to provide a sample end-to-end "down to the button press" workflow.

 

Anyway... just wishful thinking.  I am happy I finally broke through the first major show-stopping hurdle and I did my part for the Zbrush community. :)

 

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Toysoldier Thor wrote:

I will look at that video tonight.

"SLAV" is a SL plugin for 3D studio?

Why do you need to send the rigged mesh in Zbrush back to 3D Max to export to DAE?  Zbrush has a 3rd party DAE Exporter (the ZSculpty plugin utility as is part of the workflow I mentioned).  Does this Zbrush DAE Exporter not deal with rigged mesh models?

The .dae exporter in Zbrush doesn't support rigging. So, you can only use that exporter for static mesh.

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