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Maeve Balfour

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Everything posted by Maeve Balfour

  1. Hi Hamilton :matte-motes-smile: Firstly - Keep in mind that the content you see in SL is pretty much entirely created by the residents themselves, each with varying levels of skills (artistically and technically). Although it may appear somewhat backward when compared to modern era game graphics, the main joy for many residents (me included) is being ABLE to create content at all. SL I think is pretty unique in that regard - mayhaps difficult to understand unless one actually experiences the JOY that creating things yourself can bring. Sorta like Lego for grown-ups! Secondly - Mesh has only recently been introduced into SL as a new form of content creation (around August last year to the main grid). Many residents who are new to mesh creation face a relatively steep learning curve initially (but still definitely worth persevering with!). As time goes by and the average skillsets mesh creators possess improve, the overall quality of mesh (builds, vehicles, clothing etc) should get better. Thirdly - SL as a creative platform develops slowly behind the scenes. The fact that anybody can create pretty much anything they imagine in here, either by prims, sculpties, textures and mesh is pretty amazing, when you think about what needs to go on in the background to allow for this. So changes in the SL infrastructure tends to happen slowly - I can't begin to imagine how complicated it must be, especially when it comes to avoiding breaking existing content with minor changes. So by its nature, SL can't hope to be cutting edge like the games you describe. Game studios have huge budgets and dedicated artistic teams to churn out content specifically optimised for their games. In here in SL, most content creators are at the hobbyist level - some for business reasons, but most (like myself) just create things for the artistic enjoyment of it. So my suggestion: Just enjoy SL for what it is... a unique, user created community in a 3D environment (albeit often random in quality... but that random element is what brings the joy of unexpected discoveries). :matte-motes-smile:
  2. I'm glad that my work-in-progress has given you some build ideas, Syle - Ask me any questions in regards to it, if you need clarification of my techniques. One question if you don't mind. I saw the building below the one you linked me to and you had a block on the ground with a shadow underneath. Did you do that with texture only or was it baked to show the shadow? I am just curious since I didn't really see any othr shadows. Ah, are you referring to these tiles sitting on the floor? (Pictured below, the one on the left of my AV)? If so, that shadow is simply a textured two-triangle plane underneath the tile (part of the SAME mesh object - there are (I think from memory) SEVEN of those tiles scattered around the floorspace - all of which have this shadow plane effect, and ALL of them are part of the SAME MESH OBJECT. (Note: the underlying FLOOR ITSELF is a totally separate mesh). If I remember correctly, this mesh object (7 tiles with shadows) had a Land Impact of 4 - the highest cost was due to the physics, due to me wanting AVs to be able to step onto them etc, instead of walking through them... if the mesh didn't have physics, it would have been about 2 Land Impact (due mostly to the size, since the tiles were scattered across a relatively wide area - the large size was intentional, due to me wanting the tiles to maintain their original LOD over a large floorspace area). With the benefit of hindsight, I could probably have reduced the physics cost a lot more by using a properly optimised hull (I was lazy at the time, and just used the LOD1 mesh for the physics in the uploader). The shadow texture itself is a simple Photoshop job - a black square with a lot of gaussian blur applied to simulate Ambient Occlusion shadow, with associated alpha channel for transparency. This texture was repeated for each tile shadow in the mesh. I guess this is a good example of how mesh can be very useful for replacing the old style shadow prims for very little cost. IMPORTANT: The shadow planes I isolated to their own, specific material - this is CRITICAL due to the shadow textures containing an alpha channel. If you applied this effect as part of a single, all-encompassing UV texture, the ENTIRE MESH would have alpha glitching. So for any textures in a mesh that require an alpha channel for transparency effects, I strongly suggest isolating them to their own, SEPARATE UV textures and associated mesh material (within the same mesh object). Note that this particular build (the one below the project I linked you to) is an abandoned construction now - It was an early learning experiment, from which I have now developed more efficient mesh ideas that I am exploring in the build immediately above it. A little off topic, but since you have seen the floorspace there - I posted THIS explaining my method for texturing the large floor areas without having obvious repetition; something you might be able to get further ideas from, if it helps. :matte-motes-smile:
  3. Please feel free to ask as many questions as you need to, Syle - that's what this forum is all about... combined learning and sharing of our mesh knowledge. Your questions are no doubt ones that other readers of this forum have as well, so I would bet that many will benefit from questions you pose and answers you receive. So please, keep asking questions and others here will be all too happy to answer. :matte-motes-smile: Much of what you mention in regards to learning Land Impact costs and the effects of LODs is something that tends to come with trial and error - once you have a bit of experience from testing, you tend to get an instinct for how it works / where LODs are likely to swap, etc. For me, when I was in my early mesh testing phase (during the beta period) and wanted to figure out when LODs were likely to swap at what size, I created a relatively simple mesh object, with each lower LOD mesh designed so as to be easy to spot when they changed (ie: distinct shapes for LODs 2-3-4). I then rezzed this mesh, created a set of prims as markers at regular intervals, and then scaled this mesh up and down, camming in an out for each iteration, so I could get a good idea of when the LODs would swap. It wasn't a technically perfect scientific experiment by any means, BUT it helped me get a bit of an instinct early on as to how LODs behave at different sizes etc. So mayhaps this idea could be of help to you as well - purely as a method of helping you develop an instinct for LOD swapping in regards to size/distances. For objects like your cash register, you could possibly try having the main mesh for LODs 1 AND 2, and then create lower detail meshes for LODs 3 and 4. It might help with maintaining a better level of detail control, without having a huge impact in Land Impact overall (it will still be higher, but not majorly so - the biggest factor for smaller objects are the lowest LOD meshes' complexity (if I remember correctly!)). Your other idea of combining multiple smaller objects into the one mesh is a possible alternative, BUT I would think it would result in a significantly higher Land Impact cost - due to the LOD changes being made at a much longer distance than would be the case for these objects individually, and your LOD1 mesh would be relatively high in detail as well. I guess the best bet is to try it out, and see if the Land Impact cost is acceptable to your target or not. It's mostly a matter of deciding what level of Land Impact cost is acceptable to you for each mesh element, balanced with the level of quality you want to attain. Lowest Land Impact isn't necessarily the ONLY goal to consider - rather, it's an element to consider in your overall design. The fact that you WANT to achieve a good Land Impact cost AND have a good looking result shows that you are someone who definitely cares about your project's SL performance - and that is a GOOD THING! So you can definitely be proud of what you are aiming to achieve. :matte-motes-smile:
  4. Just a couple of general suggestions with skirts, slightly divergent from your original question, but I'll mention them since they might help with your creative process.... (NOTE: I haven't gotten into making rigged clothing meshes as yet - these are just things I have observed during my usage of mesh skirts to date). The centre zones down the front and back of a skirt (the areas between the legs, dropping off towards the outer edges of each leg) are subject to extreme geometry stretching, especially when the legs are walking/running. I would allocate a relatively higher density of geometry in these areas to help combat the issue. HOWEVER, I would strongly suggest keeping geometry DETAIL in these areas to a minimum - pleats for example between the legs (especially below the knees) distort a LOT and can look very strange. The same applies to textures around those areas. I tend to prefer skirts with relatively boring textures (like a plain woollen weave) because of this stretching issue. The outer sides of the legs, however, are much less prone to stretch. As such, I have found well designed skirts tend to have their geometry detailing around those areas (cloth folds, zippers etc). Probably the BEST example I have seen of a well designed mesh maxi skirt would be one sold by Jane's - it's a one piece full body dress, with the skirt down to the ankles. The geometry works superbly for most animations, and the texturing is cleverly done - horizontal stripes, which tend to hide the texture stretching to a large degree. It's a clear example of working around the limitations of mesh skirts, rather than fighting against them. (For the record, I'm NOT advertising for this store LOL - I just like this particular dress a lot!) I hope my general observations are helpful to you :matte-motes-smile:
  5. The SIZE of a mesh affects the distances at which the alternative level of detail (LOD) meshes kick in. A small mesh's LODs change over a shorter distance; whereas a very large mesh has a much longer viewing distance before its LOD changes occur. These LOD distances directly affect the Land Impact - mainly because a large mesh object is visible at its maximum LOD for much longer, hence it requires a higher amount of data streaming from the SL server. This can be tackled via different approaches to your mesh construction. Personally, for my own meshes where their LOD switches WON'T be visible (such as buildings with totally enclosed interior spaces not directly visible from outside areas), I severely ramp down the detail in LODs 2-3-4 to simple triangles (one triangle per material face). These extremely low LODs in cases like this can make a VAST reduction in subsequent Land Impact costs. Obviously, for exterior surfaces and for interiors which will be visible from outside, you need to use different methods... however, the amount of triangle detail in the lower LODs will directly affect the overall Land Impact costs. For generic objects such as furniture, a good approach is to consider the environments they will be most likely used in - for example, a mesh chair would probably be used indoors. As such, it can be helpful to design your LOD meshes to accomodate for this... in this case, the chair wouldn't often need a huge viewing distance, so you could consider how severely you would reduce the LOD3 and LOD4 meshes to help reduce their Land Impact. Of course, it's a matter of weighing up how important these LOD changes are, especially if it's for your own usage where you KNOW what its limitations are, or if you intend to sell it as a merchant, where your customers might use it for totally undesigned circumstances. Keep in mind that for very large single mesh shapes, such as a 64x64x64m maximum possible size, the LOD1 mesh will most likely be visible over all viewing distances, hence it will have a very high Land Impact cost due to this. The best approach I think (for very large mesh objects) is to break them up into smaller segments to reduce the distances their LODs change, and then optimise their subsequent LOD meshes - this should reduce the overall Land Impact cost when compared to the massive single mesh object. As always, it's a balancing act between detail quality in the lower LODs and overall Land Impact cost. However, I would assume that if you manage a good compromise, your resultant mesh building should be at the very least equal to an equivalent prim build, if not significantly lower overall. I hope this helps :matte-motes-smile: EDIT: Kwakkelde beat me to the punch LOL :matte-motes-wink:
  6. Mesh is a BIG subject... BUT... it's a wonderful one too. :matte-motes-smile: My best advice for now: Don't rush yourself. Take your time... And whatever you do, don't let yourself become frustrated. Mesh has a bit of an initial learning curve in regards to creation for SL - mostly involved in getting your head around the various steps and concepts required. It can seem daunting, but don't be put off by it - persevere with the initial learning phase and it will all fall into place. :matte-motes-smile: And by all means, ask as many questions as you need to here in this forum - plenty of regulars are happy to help!
  7. 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:
  8. Thank you for the clarification Kwakelde - and yah, if someone managed to hit the vertice limit, it would have to be a seriously heavy duty mesh LOL (although unfortunately, I reckon I've seen some examples in world which would quite possibly nudge that figure, judging by how overly dense the triangles were packed in - and these weren't large meshes by any means). :matte-motes-smile:
  9. In regards to faces... I think Ciaran was talking about MATERIAL FACES (as opposed to triangle faces/polygons, which is what I believe you may be thinking of instead). These material faces act the same way as the faces on standard prims, in the way you can apply textures, brightness, texture offsets etc via the SL build menu. With each individual mesh, you can have up to a maximum of 8 different material faces in this manner. Also useful, is the fact that these material faces don't necessarily have to be clumped in one spot - you can scatter the relevant triangles assigned to a material face all over a mesh at random, if you wanted to - which can be especially handy for complicated texturing via UVs etc. If you were worried about how many TRIANGLE faces you can use in a mesh (NOT material faces), I doubt that you will go anywhere near that limit, since you obviously know your way around mesh making and how to keep to a vertice budget etc. ..... I'm not much of a Blender user (yet), but I believe you can export components of a Blender scene via an export selection option or similar (I'm sure I've seen that mentioned in posts in the forums here before). :matte-motes-smile:
  10. Just a gentle nudge for you (you are only just beginning with mesh, so I won't flood you with information)... for future builds, try to keep your meshes as simple as possible WHILE getting the shapes you want. It will help a lot with general Land Impact costs for starters, plus in general, a simple mesh is MUCH easier to work with than an overly complicated one with tons of vertices and polygons. Remember, that you can always ADD IN extra polygon details if you need to later, once you get a general shape worked out - but keep polygon counts as low as possible at all times for best SL performance. Unfortunately with your current mesh... you will most likely have to find those errant triangles by hand... Keep in mind that if you have already UV-mapped and material mapped your mesh, that removing vertices will possibly mess them up. Hexagon CAN convert quads to triangles, but it's inefficient for SL usage since it only splits each quad face into FOUR triangles as far as I know (which is far too expensive). What I do is to export my mesh to Blender as an OBJ file (when I have finished shaping my model), and while in Blender, I simply RE-EXPORT it as a new OBJ file, using the convert to triangles option in the export window. This step neatly converts the quad mesh to triangles - with each quad face divided into TWO triangles (half the triangle count compared to Hexagon). I then re-import this new OBJ file back into Hexagon to continue working (UV mapping and material mapping etc). Not a perfect workflow, but quick enough, and sure faster than manually splitting each quad by hand. If any triangles need tweaking or redoing, it's a simple process within Hexagon. (When re-importing back into Hexagon, just keep an eye on the scaling measurements - depending on each program's preferences, sizes might change during the import and export stages. A few quick changes in the mesh dimensions palette in Hexagon can fix this easily though). Also, Blender is handy for converting your finalised Hexagon mesh (as an OBJ file) to a SL compatible DAE file ready for uploading. :matte-motes-smile:
  11. Amphei: Yours is a VERY GOOD question, not a stupid question by any means! :matte-motes-smile: Myself, I am working on various items of mesh footwear (for my own use mostly, but eventually I'll probably dip my toe in as a merchant (out of pure curiosity)).... Anyways.... From what I have learned so far, I think that in most cases shoes AND boots tend to have pretty random results when rigged - and this is purely due to the zillions of possible animations out there, either AOs or menu/poseball ones. For instances where the foot simply bends forwards and backwards, rigged footwear looks reasonable, however, as soon as twisting (ankle/shins) occurs, the results can look hideous - ESPECIALLY of you have geometry detailing around these distorted areas (buckles etc). With rigging, for sure, the geometry follows the AV's movements, but for instances like footwear I personally avoid rigging like the plague. It's a personal preference thing I guess... I just hate the appearance of badly distorted footwear (in my own eyes, it looks as bad as the old style two-piece jointed sculpt boots (separate foot and ankle attachments)). Sidenote: Having used Poser and DAZ content for a few years (for 3D rendering), the same distortion issues also occur - it's a fairly generic issue with 3D in general, getting an automated rigged attachment like footwear to look realistic and NOT look weirdly distorted when bending/twisting is applied to the base figure wearing them. So it's not just a SL specific thing. So yah, all my footwear meshes, shoes AND boots, are all simple attachments. They work fine like that, plus an extra bonus is that if you allow modding, customers can easily resize the mesh attachments to fit their feet perfectly (without needing resize scripts).... potentially, if your mesh footwear items are single meshes for each foot, TINIES could probably wear them as well (a potentially untapped market there). Also, for shoes that don't go above the ankle joint, rigging would be a wasted effort anyway, since they only sit ON the foot without needing any bending/twisting applied. I hope this helps - have fun! :matte-motes-smile:
  12. Six Igaly said: I know better though because I also know (without fully understandng it yet) that when you link mesh objects together (in some cases anyway) land impact will decrease. At least I experienced this with a custom mesh object I ordered recently. 2 linked together shows a landimpact of 1 while unlinked they both show as 1=2. ................... What you are seeing there is the rounding of decimal points of each mesh's individual Land Impact, when they are linked together. For example, say you had two mesh objects with individual Land Impact costs of around 0.5 each. UNLINKED, SL will display their cost as 1 (because SL doesn't show prim cost / Land Impact with decimals; it rounds the figure UP or DOWN to the nearest full digit). However, if you LINKED these two objects together, you would reap the benefits of the mesh measurement system... as in with the rounding of decimals: 0.5 + 0.5 = 1 Land Impact (LINKED). This is the rounding to the nearest digit working in your favour. IF possible (depending on perms, and IF it's safe to do so with purchased items), you can save a nice amount of overall Land Impact as a builder when you link meshes together as much as possible. Link them and round out their decimals - sometimes, it pays to experiment a little bit with WHICH meshes you link together - some combos will yield better savings than others... most likely down to whether objects have a high decimal or low decimal in regards to which way they round out. (1.2 unlinked would show as 1; but 1.7 unlinked would show as 2). So for example... two meshes @ 1.8 and 1.8 would show as 2 Land Impact cost each UNLINKED (4 in total).... When LINKED up, their decimal rounding... 1.8 + 1.8 = 3.6. Rounded out, that would still cost 4 Land Impact in total. HOWEVER, if you had a stray 0.5 mesh nearby... LINK that in... 1.8 + 1.8 + 0.5 = 4.1 ....which would then round DOWN to 4 Land Impact (so that stray 1 Land Impact mesh would become a free object, in essence). NICE! Also, the LOWEST possible Land Impact cost for a mesh (or any object) is 0.5.... which UNLINKED will show as 1 Land Impact. So it's always worthwhile to experiment with mesh linksets! :matte-motes-smile: EDIT: Please forgive me if I have messed up my calculations at all LOL... I am almost asleep at my keyboard (3.45am!) :matte-motes-yawn:
  13. Ah.. linking for off-sim placement...! Yah, that would be annoying for sure! I can empathise with your disappointment there. But you are correct though, that this issue hasn't been well publicised in general, so there are no doubt plenty of residents getting rude wake-up calls with the Land Impact spikes via sculptie linking. It's a pity, because I would guess that many would blame mesh outright for the problems without really understanding the reasons WHY the impact costs spike. :matte-motes-smile:
  14. Meshes are subjected to LL's new Land Impact system, which encourages mesh creators to work efficiently and keep server load and render load to acceptable performance levels. If a mesh is badly made and INEFFICIENT, the Land Impact costs rise accordingly - so if a mesh creator designs their work well, they are rewarded with a low Land Impact cost. Kind of like a carrot on a stick reward system... However, standard Sculpties and Prims are NOT held to this new mesh-based Land Impact System by default. A sculpted prim by its very nature is very inefficient in its render performance in comparison to general meshes, but to avoid breaking legacy content, LL has let them retain their original Land Impact settings - One sculptie = 1 Land Impact etc. BUT... and this is a BIG but..... As soon as you attempt to LINK any sculpted prims TO a mesh object, the Sculpties are THEN converted to the mesh equivalent Land Impact system. If nothing else, this just shows how BIG a performance difference there is between the mesh oil drum you described (Land Impact of 2 (MESH Land Impact measurement)) and the sculpted mangrove trees (originally with a standard Land Impact of 10, plus the root prim = 11). What I assume in this case has happened is that the original (legacy) 10 Land Impact cost of the sculpties has become 179 Land Impact when converted to the MESH Land Impact system. The mesh oil drum itself is fine and very low impact by the sounds of it... just that the equivalent cost of the sculpted mangrove trees has jumped sky high when their true impact cost is converted to the mesh measurement system. This gives a bit of an idea of the uphill battle mesh creators have been facing just to compete with the legacy sculpties, despite the vast performance benefits mesh has. Unfortunately, this disparity is necessary otherwise pre-existing content would be rendered useless if converted by default to the mesh measurement system. It's fully understandable WHY LL had to adopt this system for mesh - If mesh had not been subjected to these new Land Impact conditions, encouraging mesh creators to work efficiently, then the SL servers would never have been able to cope in the long run with an inevitable influx of massively complex, badly made mesh objects. So for the case you mention, and in general: Just DON'T link meshes to sculpties. It can be a pain, but it's the only safe way to avoid these massive Land Impact spikes. Linking sculpties to meshes will automatically convert the sculpties to the mesh Land Impact system, and as you found, potentially cause an unpleasant surprise with their resultant cost. :matte-motes-smile: EDITED TO ADD: A potential BONUS, though, is that any UNCUT, STANDARD CUBE prims (NON-sculpties) can be opted INTO the mesh measurement system, simply by changing their physics shape type (in the build menu) to Convex Hull. WHY? Well, prim CUBES by their nature are very low impact. In the default Prim Physics Shape, a single cube = 1 Land Impact. However, convert the same prim cube to a Convex Hull Physics Shape, and its Land Impact is reduced to 0.5 (half). This won't be immediately obvious, since SL automatically rounds to the nearest FULL number for Land Impact. BUT, LINK TWO of these cubes together, and their combined Land Impact (0.5 + 0.5) will equal ONE. This is a big bonus of the mesh measurement system... for meshes mostly, but for standard cube prims as well. So if you have any of your own uncut prim cubes around, try this out - you could save quite a lot of Land Impact cost. (NOTE: I think this only works with standard, uncut prim CUBES. Other prim types are less efficient. DEFINITELY DON'T try this with torus prims! (they are massively inefficient for physics calculations)).
  15. DAZ do this kind of thing from time to time... and no doubt annoy customers as you suggest. However (if I remember correctly from when I used to be a regular customer there), DAZ have a 30-day money back guarantee in place, so any customers in the past month would be able to get a refund AND retain a free version of the software. DAZ tend to make most of their income from content sales - both inhouse and from third-party creators who list with them (DAZ take about a 50 to 60 percent cut of the sales, depending on whether the creators are "power sellers" etc). My guess is that with the real economy being slow, they are offering up their software as a way of attracting new customers, who will potentially becoming BUYING customers of the content on offer. But there might be some big upgrades on the way too - DAZ tend to be regular with updates for DAZ Studio and Bryce. Poor Hexagon seems to be an abandoned child though... a shame that. ..... Keep in mind that Hexagon on its own won't be able to do everything you necessarily need for SL. As far as I know, it can't do rigging etc. For the "missing links" I simply use Blender - currently for DAE exporting, converting quad meshes to triangles (Hexagon is a bit inefficient in that regard), and eventually probably for rigging when I am ready to tackle it. You might ask "why bother?" with using Hexagon. Well, for me, I have been using it for several years now, and I am familiar enough with its interface to get the job done easily. To migrate to another software package would mean learning a new interface from scratch, which I don't really feel the urge to do currently. Hexagon does most of the things I need quite admirably, so I see no reason to throw it away. Also, keep in mind that it isn't unusual at all (for 3D work in general) to jump between several programs to result in a finished mesh. Many programs have specific strengths for certain tasks in the workflow, so there's no harm in exporting from one program to another to get the best result. Hexagon, although it can't do EVERYTHING needed, is still a very viable option for mesh making. Definitely worth considering adding to your software toolbox for sure, especially at its current "bargain" price. :matte-motes-smile:
  16. I say go for it! - Residents capable of seeing mesh now are in the majority, according to Charlar Linden's statistics (roughly 70% currently). Sooner or later, it will only be a tiny minority who cannot see mesh at all - it's just a matter of time. Keep in mind that there is a little bit of skill involved in keeping your mesh Land Impacts down to a reasonable level. It's definitely possible with a bit of experimentation, but be prepared for a lot to testing to get an instinct for it (make use of the Aditi test grid to save on upload/test costs). Whatever you do, don't let it frustrate you, just be aware that it may take a while for you to get your head around the technicalities of mesh optimisation. Once you achieve it, the savings of mesh over prim builds can be quite surprising! So yah, go ahead with your mesh builds for sure... if nothing else, you will have a headstart in mesh for when everyone can eventually see it. :matte-motes-smile:
  17. A possible (inelegant) solution, is to cover the entire chair with a cube prim, which you would hide with a full alpha channel texture. This would make the prim clickable instead of the chair itself. Then use something like the Multi Pose Sit System or similar to embed your animations into the invisible prim, and then set up the AV positioning to give the illusion of sitting on the original chair itself. For multiple AVs, you would probably have to use a separate prim per AV, with the invisible prims set roughly where you would want to click etc. Not ideal, but a possible way to get more usage from your chair. :matte-motes-smile:
  18. My own texturing methods vary, depending on the project I am working on. I often jump between 2D texturing in Photoshop and 3D texturing ONTO the model in a 3D program (3DCoat or Blacksmith-3D). At other times if I am working on repeated textures/tiling for simplistic mesh module pieces (usually for architecture components with easy-to-visualise flattened geometry pieces), I will create the 2D textures FIRST, and THEN UV-map to fit the textures - making efficient usage of tightly packed textures designed for efficiency and multiple repeats etc. If you decide to paint directly onto a 3D model, I strongly recommend you create hand-crafted UV-maps first, instead of relying on auto-generated UVs. Most likely your handmade UVs will be much more efficient in regards to data cost than the automated UVs, although keep in mind that IF your UVs have texture stretching, this will be automatically shown when you paint your mesh in a 3D painter (the smeared-stretched-distorted texture syndrome!). 3D painting is definitely a godsend for painting ACROSS UV-seams and camouflaging them, so definitely handy, even if you prefer to do the majority of your painting in 2D. :matte-motes-smile:
  19. Hexagon is quite fine for SL mesh modeling (I use it all the time). However, as with all mesh making programs, you need to stick to a low-polygon modeling regime, and be aware that some of the tools, such as the smoothing tool, will rapidly increase polygon count. No rigging tools though (that I am aware of at least) - so Blender is probably your best option there. I also use Blender for quick conversions to DAE. But for regular basic mesh making, Hexagon is fine if used with the right mindset, as with pretty much any modeling program out there. Worth adding to your 3D toolbox, especially since it's free for the moment. I reckon DAZ3D are on a drive to attract new customers for their content sales (which is their main income generator). :matte-motes-smile:
  20. Thankyou for the enlightenment Chosen - I've often wondered HOW flexi-prims worked. I knew there were complex reasons as to why mesh, sculpts and non cube/cylinder prims couldn't flex, but now I know specifically. The theory and practical implementation behind the scenes is always fascinating to learn! :matte-motes-smile:
  21. Yah, I can relate to your frustrations in regards to the technical jargon - When I was first getting into general 3D modeling a few years ago, it took me a while to get my head around everything (especially with all the new terms / procedures / steps that I kept stumbling across, which were often considered as common knowledge by other experienced creators). Information overload, basically... too much to figure out all at one time, and without a general overview of HOW things were made, it was pretty scary for me LOL. My best advice - Just make things. Just take it a step at a time, and gradually get your head around each of the procedures involved. As you go along, you will develop your own preferred workflow and preferred software tools. The more that you learn about mesh making in general, the easier it will get - trust me on that. At first it's pretty daunting, especially coming at it from a completely fresh start (it's a big subject, after all)... but as you build your general mesh knowledge and grasp the various steps involved, everything will become logical. Once you have the basic general steps figured out, then you can concentrate on refining your skills - especially in regards to optimising your meshes for SL. Getting low Land Impacts and low render costs for your meshes can be fairly technical... so for now, I would just concentrate on getting your mesh making workflow figured out and keeping your meshes relatively low in polygon count (as in, using as few polygons as possible to adequately describe your geometry (it's a balancing act)). If you can keep your polygon/triangle counts at this kind of low level, it will go a long way to helping reduce your Land Impact. After that, once you have gained confidence in general with mesh making, then would be a good time to get into the technical side of SL mesh optimisation for low impact. Also (you probably already know this, but I'll mention it regardless), don't forget that the Aditi test grid sandboxes are really useful for when you are tweaking meshes - you can upload there without it costing from your own pocket - which is especially helpful when you are trying to optimise your Land Impacts. Upload there over and over if need be, until you get your tweaking done, and THEN upload the finalised result to the main grid. It's a real life saver in regards to costs. Oh, and be sure to ENJOY making meshes - that's the MOST important part! Don't let it frustrate you, just ENJOY being creative! And feel free to ask questions at any point - I am always happy to provide answers if I have the relevant knowledge! :matte-motes-smile:
  22. Aw thank you, I'm glad you like my boots thus far... that final image is only a RENDER from within Carrara. However, my goal is to get that kind of look (WITH the shine effect) converted into a single flat texture - the final result should look similar to that in SL, even if it's a lower resolution texture overall. :matte-motes-smile: It's a pity that your 3DCoat trial has expired. Keep an eye on their website... occasionally, they have special sales with discounts to the software. Of course, it also depends on whether you are comfortable with using the software itself, as to whether its worthwhile purchasing it. Keep in mind that the workflow you described is perfectly adequate, if it gets the job done for you. My own workflow is all over the place LOL - I jump between a lot of different 3D programs in my collection (gradually acquired over the past few years as I have gotten more and more into 3D modeling). Quite often, a specific program such as 3DCoat will have a very specialised task that it excels at, when compared to other programs - and for me, things like that can make them worthy additions to my toolkit. Obviously, it also depends on your personal budget as to how much you want (or can afford) to spend - 3D can be an expensive addiction LOL! But the freedom of 3D creativity is hard to resist! :matte-motes-bashful-cute-2: ....................... ohh i got one more question.... Says mesh can have multiple sides/surfaces that in SL can be independently applied with texture? How is that stated on a model? or is it that if the corner is sharp enough - its a new surface? I am sure its much more complicated then that. Each mesh object can have up to EIGHT different texture faces - these work in the same way as texture faces on normal SL prims (as in, how you can change textures in the build menu etc). BUT with mesh, you can define these texture faces in any way you see fit - and these texture faces don't necessarily need to be in one spot on the mesh - they can be split up into segments across the mesh, and still act as the same texture space (I hope that is sorta clear LOL). To define these texture faces, you need to define MATERIAL zones on your mesh (this is nothing to do with the LL materials project, by the way - that is a totally different thing with a similar name (just to make things confusing!)). Think of MATERIAL ZONES as defined sections on your mesh - selections of triangles etc. You basically work through your mesh object, assigning batches of triangles to different material zones (up to eight in maximum). The process will vary from program to program, but it's a fairly standard thing in 3D overall. So you work until ALL the triangles in your mesh are assigned to one material zone or another. (You will need to assign ALL triangles in a mesh object to a material, otherwise that will cause problems with the uploader - it doesn't like unassigned triangles in regards to materials). (The material zones still use the exact same UV-map as your mesh does). Each of these material zones can then take a totally different texture if need be (these would all utilise the same UV-map your mesh has), or these material zones can just be used to change up the colour, glow etc via the SL build menu (just like with prim faces). Very handy! To give an idea - my boot from my previous post has a number of material zones - the heel, laces, toe cap etc (eight in total) are defined as different material zones (they are all still part of the same mesh object though). So if I chose to, I could tweak the colours of these sections to mix up the look of the boot, or even have a totally different texture applied to these zones etc. Definitely worth learning how to create them - materials will add extra versatility to your mesh texturing options. :matte-motes-smile:
  23. Firstly, I'm glad my information was helpful to you - and yah, 3DCoat is a seriously awesome program (which I seriously need to learn how to use properly!) Now... to answer your questions.... :matte-motes-smile: QUESTION: So about UV-Mapping.... is it ok if the UV has a lot of islands? In Zbrush when I take a Sculptris model and UV MASTER it, I often get one UV Flattened layout. With 3DCoat it always creates many islands. I was told islands are bad for SL efficiency. Is this true or does it matter if the UV has a lot of islands? Hmm... I guess it would be preferable to manually create your UV-map, in order to have logical 2D islands (assuming you are using the auto UV generator). UV-maps by their nature are an artform in their own right, and every model will have a different approach to create them. Separated UV islands are most times necessary, depending on the complexity of the mesh. I would guess that the more detailed your UV-map is (in regards to the number of islands), the more data is needed to describe them (I am only guessing here; if your UV map has a huge number of tiny islands, I would assume the data involved would be larger than a simpler UV). Not really sure how MUCH this would affect SL performance though - someone with greater experience in that area would need to answer that aspect. But personally, I would prefer to manually create my UV-maps by hand (creating the islands in a logical way), which will then give you greater flexibility to texture them in 2D via Photoshop etc. QUESTION: Are quads or triangles the better mesh for ultimate import to SL? I dont know where I heard this but I thought someone said avoid triangles if you can and stick with quads. I will say that triangles are easier. Also, is it ok if a mesh has both? In regards to quads... it's DEFINITELY better to model WITH them for sure - most polygon modelers' toolsets are designed for quad-based mesh making. The only reason you need to convert your mesh to triangles is due to how SL (and I assume the majority of game engines) render them in realtime. Generally I will leave the triangulation step until I have finished the modeling and UV-mapping steps, to make life easier. Blender has a handy triangulate option in its OBJ exporter... so I often use this function to convert my quad-based meshes into triangles. Generally, for 3D RENDERING (non-realtime / non-SL), most programs create far cleaner renders with quad-based meshes; triangles will often create render artefacting etc. But for meshes you are creating for SL, a mixture of both quads and triangles won't really be of consequence - the eventual upload into SL will be automatically converted to triangles. I just prefer to create my own triangulated meshes beforehand, so I can tweak them to my own preferences if necesary. QUESTION: I have been using Blender for exactly what you mentioned. Its the only DAE converter I know. I can get the OBJ into blender but I am completely lost on how to attache the textures to the mesh in Blender. I somehow did it once - so frikken confusing - but not sure how i did it. Is it better to figure out how to attach the texture, bump, normals in blender and export these textures into the DAE or to create the texture in Photoshop and import it independently into SL? As far as attaching textures - I wouldn't worry about that prior to uploading. If your model is UV-mapped, and you have created textures which match the UV-map, simply upload them into SL separately as you would a standard image. Upload your mesh without textures. Once in SL, simply apply your texture to the blank mesh via the texture section of the inworld build menu - the mesh's UV will automatically wrap the designated texture as you intended it (IF it looks unusual for some reason (rarely), try tweaking the texture rotation options. (For me, sometimes Hexagon will rotate the texture by 90-degrees by default)). Nice and easy, plus the texture you upload separately will probably be of better quality (I THINK the uploader might apply compression to images which you include with meshes, from what I sorta remember reading). .......... The eventual LL materials project sounds very promising. If you are familiar with any reasonably modern games, you have probably already seen realtime bump-mapping and specular mapping (not sure of the exact terminology (forgive me Chosen One if you are reading this LOL)). This is where the various texture channels on the game models can add extra detail to relatively low-polygon models. Bump/Normal maps, although only flat textures, can describe height information, and the game engine can create shadows with them on the models (the textures themselves can self-shadow). The same with textures in the Specular channel - these can create fake shiny "bumps", even though there isn't any real 3D geometry at that fine detail. I am guessing (and this is just an assumption on my part) that eventually, the LL materials project will incorporate these for SL... so say, for example, your voxel sculpts... if you baked out Normal maps and Specular maps from them and had them applied to your lower polygon models, in theory, they could APPEAR to have much more detail than the geometry actually has. Of course, there would be limitations to this (I am guessing the extra channels would need to be lower resolution than the maximum 1024x1024 diffuse textures currently available (the basic textures we use in SL now), however, they would go a LONG WAY to giving extra lovely detail to our low poly meshes. (Chosen One etc, feel free to correct me here LOL). :matte-motes-smile: ....... As far as BAKING textures go... this is something I am still exploring the workflow for. I am going to have to learn this in Blender, since my preferred programs (Hexagon and Carrara) don't have baking options built-in. Below I have a few images of a boot mesh I am slowly working on (so many distractions in RL are keeping me from finishing it LOL), which show the potential of Normal mapping via 3DCoat, and how it can be used for texture baking for SL (when i make that final step via Blender): ABOVE: This here is my basic boot mesh, triangulated and UV-mapped. I created this in Hexagon, however you could achieve the same via 3DCoat's retopology tools (with mayhaps a bit of triangulation via Blender and reimported etc if necessary). ABOVE: This is the same mesh, imported into 3DCoat's paint room. Here I am using 3DCoat's tools to create a Normal map (this is a texture which simulates bumps/depressions in the mesh, which aren't really there in the geometry). This adds a lot more potential detail than is feasible for realtime meshes. (This is still a work in progress, by the way, and nowhere near completion). ABOVE: Now this purple mess is the bump mapping on the boot in the 3D viewport, EXPORTED from 3DCoat as a 2D Normal map. You can see the stitching and fine leather pebbling details. This map matches the mesh's UV-map, so will automatically wrap onto it. ABOVE: This is a manually created texture map to match the boot's UV-map (with a pre-baked ambient occlusion texture (created with SMAK) merged via a multiply layer). This is a standard texture which could be used as it is in SL, which would be fine, but I want to take it a step further... ABOVE: Now this is the same boot mesh, rendered in Carrara, with the 3DCoat created Normal Map AND my manually created texture applied. I have applied a basic shine to the mesh via Carrara materials (but nothing special). See how the rendered light plays across the Normal Map leather grain and stitching? Definitely adds some extra quality to the look of the model. Now with baking, you can actually capture this kind of look and create a flattened texture from it (keep in mind that with SL texture limitations, the resultant bake probably wouldn't have the same amount of detail here in these renders, but should still be very acceptable). Obviously, the lighting won't be dynamic, since the texture itself is static, but definitely easier than trying to paint this look by hand. Since Carrara can't bake out textures (especially with the shine etc), I will have to teach myself Blender for this part (I know of others in SL who can do this, so I will be prodding them to show me LOL). Also, 3DCoat can create Specular maps as well - so you can actually control how the shine effects work, and how strongly etc - the resultant Specular maps would just be applied to the mesh in another material setting, which could then be baked out. Phew... I think I'm all typed out LOL... Hopefully I've given you some food for thought in regards to 3DCoat. Have fun! :matte-motes-smile:
  24. I have owned 3DCoat for about 12 months now, but thus far (to my shame) I haven't had a chance to properly explore it. However, it is a VERY powerful application, which I can see myself using a lot more of down the track once the SL materials project eventually gets released (to create realtime bump / specular maps etc, if they become feasible within SL). Although I am primarily a polygon modeler, I can see that 3DCoat could be quite useful for organic modeling via its voxel abilities, which you are no doubt already familar with. Voxels, by their very nature, are extremely dense in regards to geometry detail, and hence are far too heavy for viable usage in SL unaltered. This is where the retopology aspects of 3DCoat are really needed, as the 3DC staff have already mentioned to you. This is the section where you can "build" a polygon mesh around your voxel shape - which then would be a viable mesh asset to optimise for SL. Ideally, the polygon mesh would be a recognisable shape compared to your voxel sculpt, although obviously you need to allow for it to be somewhat angular/blocky due to the realtime rendering requirements of SL. It wouldn't be as super smooth as your original voxel sculpt, but should still look quite reasonable. However, DO consider that you can use your original voxel sculpt to generate a "baked" texture from, which you can then apply to your low-polygon mesh shape equivalent. I'm not sure if 3DCoat can actually bake a texture yet (this is where the model is rendered, and the result is transferred to a flattened UV texture map). However, this can be achieved via outside applications if necessary (Blender etc). So my suggested workflow (from what I understand so far of 3DCoat) would be this: 1: Create your voxel sculpt 2: Use the retopology tools to wrap a polygon mesh around your sculpt. CHECK THIS PAGE FOR VIDEO TUTORIALS. 3: UV-map your polygon mesh (this is where you prepare your mesh so it can have 2D textures "wrapped" onto it). 3DCoat has some pretty decent UV-mapping abilities from what I have seen. TUTORIALS HERE. (There are a couple of English tutorials near the bottom of the page). I also believe 3DCoat has an automatic UV-mapping option, which could be a time saver - but keep in mind that the resultant UV-map would probably only be usable for painting on within a 3D workspace (3DCoat etc)... (ie: It would probably be a nightmare to paint on as a 2D texture space). 3(a): IF POSSIBLE within 3DCoat, it would be worthwhile converting your quad-based mesh into triangles (for SL compatibility). Personally, I prefer doing this manually for better control of the resultant triangulated mesh, but automatic triangulation is quite viable as well (IF it divides your quads into TWO triangles each, for efficiency reasons). Generally, converting a mesh to triangles is better to be done AFTER UV-mapping, since most UV-mapping tools are designed for quad-based meshes for better results. 4: Paint your polygon mesh via 3DCoat (in the 3D viewport). TUTORIAL HERE. Keep in mind that displacement painting etc won't translate to SL - stick to diffuse texturing for now (basic texturing/colouring), UNLESS you intend to create bump maps etc for baking out in a separate application (where you use the bump/displacement/specular textures etc you create to "bake" out a flat texture map). When you have your painted texture completed in 3DCoat, you should be able to save it as a flattened texture, ready to be applied to the mesh in SL. 5: Export your mesh as an .OBJ file (I don't know from memory if 3DCoat can export in DAE format). 6: Assuming that you can't get a DAE from 3DCoat, just use a recent version of Blender to achieve this (no learning needed - simply use Blender to import the OBJ file, and then EXPORT it as a DAE file. 7: The resultant mesh should be ready for SL. Of course, you need to consider mesh optimisation etc etc, but the workflow above is what I would probably use to create meshes and their subsequent LODs for SL. On a side note: I currently use the 3DCoat paint room to create bump and specular maps for my meshes, which I am experimenting with to bake out texture maps, either to use directly in SL, or modify in Photoshop. Once the materials project LL are working on is released (someday in the future), I am guessing that realtime effects created by bump/specular maps etc will probably be possible (most likely in a low res format, but would still look lovely). In this case, 3DCoat would be a perfect tool for this. I hope my suggestions above will help give you a foothold in 3DCoat for SL - From what I can tell, it's definitely a powerful program worth coming to grips with, even if it's not perfectly suited to polygon modeling. If nothing else, it will let you create meshes which can be exported to other 3D applications for tweaking, if need be. :matte-motes-smile:
  25. I think what happens (from my own experience), is that if any body joint is NOT altered at all when the pose/animation is created, the standard SL anims will creep in (especially the head movement you describe). My own workaround (and I think it's done commonly from what I can gather), is to adjust EVERY body part/joint - even if its only a tiny bit for body parts that aren't required to be changed from the default T-pose. By doing this, I think it defines new parameters which tell SL not to override them. I guess otherwise, the unaltered joint parameters remain blank or something, so SL will do its own thing in regards to movements. Not sure if this is the proper way to do things, but it works fine from my own experience. Just make tiny adjustments to any body parts that don't need to move. I hope this helps :matte-motes-smile:
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