You may want to modify the Avastar meshes, or just create posed static versions of the Avastar meshes. The workflows below help you to Quickly create a Mesh based clone of the SL Avatar.
Good to know
Important: In some cases you may want to modify the Avastar character beyond what you can do with the Avastar Shape Sliders:
- Create a tiny or a giant.
- Add extra shape beyond what you can do with sliders.
- Modify the Avastar Meshes into something totally different.
- Joint the character parts to have one single mesh body
If you do not know what you are doing here, You have a good chance to break Avastar and create wild results:
The technical reason for this behavior
Avastar needs to translate the slider settings into the final shape as you can see in the Blender 3D View. However the shape calculation is based on a hidden reference shape. This reference shape is created once when the sliders are setup for the character. And Avastar relies on the reference shape having the same mesh topology (same number of verts, edges and faces) as the visible mesh.
But as soon as you edit the visible mesh you introduce a difference to the reference shape. Then it becomes likely that Avastar gets everything wrong. And things like in the image above can happen.
You can get over this by freezing the Avastar character. Basically you then remove all shape keys from the character. What this means will be explained later.
This is the most basic process of creating a simple character mesh based on the SL Avatar mesh
Step 1: Create a new Avastar
Add Reference Model
add -> Avastar -> Basic/Extended
The Avastar character is based on the
SL Avatar definition files
from Linden Lab.
The Avastar is fully compatible with the character from Second Life and all similar online worlds like OpenSim for example.
Adding a new Avastar
You add a new Avastar Character in Object mode. You navigate to the Add -> Avastar menu and select from one of the rig types:
After a short time (typically 2-4 secs) a new Avastar character is created in the 3D View and at the center of the 3D View .
Compatibility to Second Life
Avastar is fully compatible with Second Life.
The Default Avastar character uses the exact same Default Shape in Blender that you also get when you create a new shape in SL.
The character in Blender is shown exactly like the Avatar in SL. Some users believe Avastar is wrong. If you think so as well, then please use the Avastar Restshape (see below)
Note: You also can set the character Gender in the Avastar Appearance panel (See image below)
Default Shape and Restshape
You can reset your Shape in Blender to the SL Default Shape in the Tool Shelf – Appearance panel.
Click on the yellow stickman icon in the Shape preset header at the top of the Preset Selector (see image)
If you prefer to use the SL Restshape (like with the Avatar Workbench) then select the white stickman icon instead (right to the yellow default shape icon, see image).
What else you should know
- New Avastar characters can only be created when you are in Object Mode.
- A new character will always be placed at the Center of the 3D View
- You can hide (‘h’) or remove (‘x’) not needed parts of the Avatar meshes (like the skirt or the hair for example) without breaking the tools.
- You can create as many characters as you like aside each other and so you can create multi-character animations.
Step 2a (optional): Use Appearance Sliders
We support the same Appearance Slider system as you can find in SL, OpenSim or other compatible worlds. You find the Appearance Sliders in the Toolshelf – Avastar Tab:
- Go to object mode.
- Select the Rig (RMB on the yellow circles around the mesh).
- Open the Tool Shelf – Avastar Tab
- Here you find the Appearance Panel (see image).
The UI Elements of the Appearance Sliders
It may look small and easy to use. But it is also a very powerful tool in your daily life with Avastar. So there is a lot of activity behind the scene and the tool actually loads a complex extra set of data and this consumes a few seconds of load time.
Load Appearance Sliders…
We decided to only load this extra data when it is really needed, so after you startup Blender you may find the appearance sliders are not available. Instead you find a button to load them…
Fortuinately you only need to load the sliders once and they keep available as long as Blender is running, even when you switch to other blend files.
When the appearance sliders are available, then you see the panel is divided into 3 sections…
- Orange Stickman: Reset the Shape to the SL Default Shape (Identical to create new Appearance in SL)
- White Stickman: Reset the Shape to the SL Neutral Shape (SL Restpose) This setting may be useful when you bind to a mesh that used the default SL Skeleton (like workbench or avatar.blend)
- Load Shape to Shape Buffer(new): Can be used to do store the current Shape without need to store it in a Shape Preset
- Paste Shape from Shape Buffer(new):: Load the shape from the Shape Buffer back into the Sliders
- Shape Presets: Here you can add your own Slider configurations. When you click the white + sign the current shape slider values get stored as new Preset (see also below)
The Shape Presets Selector
The Preset Selector can be used to store your custom Shapes. For example when you attempt to work with a fixed set of Standard Shapes, you can create Presets for each of your supported Shapes.
All you need to do is:
- Define your shape (by moving the Shape Sliders, see below)
- Create a new Preset
- Use Bind Pose: Treat the Restpose of the Rig as a Bind Pose. This is mostly used for slightly modified Rigs (e.g. A Posed Rigs).
- Male: When enabled, the Shape switches to Male gender. The current absolute Avatar Height is displayed in parentheses.
The Section Sliders
The section subpanel of the Avatar shapes panel contains the Shape Sliders. the sliders are organized almost identical to the Appearance Editor in SL. The values assigned in SL match exactly with the slider values in Blender.
- Some sliders have a small Bone icon on their left side. This indicates the slider affects the bones (bone sliders).
- Some sliders have a small magnet icon on their left side. This indicates the sliders affects a fitted Mesh bone (Collision Volume bone)
- Sliders with no icon on the left side affect only the System Character mesh (Morph sliders). They have no influence on your Custom Meshes.
- Sliders with a peach colored Bone Handle on their left side. This indicates the sliders affect the new Bento bones. But note: Some of the Bento bones are also affected by the other sliders. This is not indicated in the Avastar Appearance Settings. Please take a look at the Bone-Slider map.
The icons on the right side of the sliders indicate that the slider value has been changed. Click on these icons to reset the corresponding Slider Value to its default (Then also the icon disappears)
Note: The Reset icon on the Top Right of the section panel resets the entire Bone Section to its Default Values.
Appearance Sliders and Custom Rigs
In general the appearance sliders also work when the rig has been edited (when the Armature was modified in edit mode). However the sliders behave slightly different for bones which have been edited. Especially when sliders not only scale bones but also translate them (like for example the eye distance slider or the Shoulder distance slider) then as soon as the bones are edited, they only can be rotated and scaled. Any translation component is then suppressed!
The Appearance Sliders in Avastar behave in the same way as they do in Second Life. But we have added a visual hint, that indicates when a slider affects one or more bones with custom joints…
Assume you have edited the Shoulder Bones and separated them a bit (see image). This means the Shoulder bones (actually mShoulderLeft/Right to be precise) are now treated differently. And now all sliders which directly move the Shoulders will be colored in red.
Here you see the Shoulders slider is now marked in red to indicate that it no longer translates the mShoulderLeft/Right bones as before.
- We have added 4 extra sections (Changed, Fitted, Extended and Skeleton) which do not appear in the Second Life Shape editor:
- The Changed section is empty by default and will be populated by the list of changed Shape sliders of your Avastar.
- The Fitted Section contains all Sliders which affect Fitted Mesh Bones (Collision Volume Bones).
- (new): The Extended section is the collection of sliders which affect the new Bento Bones.
- The Skeleton section (see image) contains all sliders which affect the bone length of the Avastar character.
- On top of the list (in the Section Header) you see a Reset button. This button will reset all shape sliders of the current Section to its factory defaults.
- Each slider can be dragged, or you can click on it and then type in a number.
- If a slider has been changed then you see a reset icon right to the slider. Clicking on that icon resets the slider to its default value.
Bake to Mesh:
This function makes all slider changes permanent for the active (and selected) Custom Mesh. Take care: This function deletes all Shape keys (should you have defined Some) and the Mesh gets permanently and irreversible changed!
Hint: This option is not available (greyed out) for the Avastar Meshes.
Special Feature: The Mesh deformer
The Mesh deformer is an old development that came to live a couple of years ago. But the project has never been gone public in Second Life. However we keep basic support for the Mesh deformer available, because other compatible online worlds might possibly support the Mesh deformer.
Step 2b (optional): Change Gender
Step 3: Freeze your Shape
The Avastar Meshes can not be modified. As soon as you try to do this, you will get very bad distortions. This is due to how Shape keys are handled in Blender.
The freeze either creates static meshes from your rigged meshes, or modifiable versions of your selected meshes. The tool basically removes all shape keys and all Avastar control data.
The Freeze Tool is used in following situations:
- Ensure Blender is in Object Mode.
- Select all parts which you want to freeze.
- Set the freeze options.
- Freeze Selected.
Select all parts of the Avastar meshes which you want to use for your own character:
Note: The frozen Meshes do no longer react in the exact same way to the Avastar sliders as the original Avastar character does. However, the meshes behave exactly in the same way as they will behave when imported into SL, OpenSim or other compatible virtual environments.
What you should know
- When you select to Keep the Original, then the original mesh and your frozen mesh will overlap and you might not be able to see that there are actually 2 meshes now.
- When you select to Delete the Original, then the Original Avastar mesh is fully replaced by your frozen version.
- When you select to Hide the original, then the Original Avastar mesh will be hidden from view, then you only see the frozen version.
- when you enable Standalone Posed then your frozen mesh will be detached from the armature and it will end up as a simple non rigged static mesh.
- When you enable Remove Weight Groups then all weight groups of the frozen mesh will be deleted and you end up with a static non rigged mesh without any weights associated to it. (A naked model so to say)
The Tool Options
This option defines what shall happen with the original Mesh(es) (those which you have selected in Object mode)
- Delete: The Original Mesh is deleted.
- Hide: The Original mesh is kept but gets hidden. You can always unhide hidden objects with the keyboard shortcut ALT + H
- Keep: The Original Mesh is kept and remains visible. Thus the original and the new copy are displayed at the same time
As static Mesh:
If the original Mesh was rigged to an armature, then -by default- the frozen mesh Copies keep rigged as well. But sometimes you want to get a complete static statue with no animation information at all. In this case you will select this option.
Note: If you select this option you get an additional option Remove Weight Groups which does what the name implies. Hence you can achieve that the frozen object contains no animation data at all (this option is rarely used, but very handy when needed)
If you have selected 2 or more objects, then the Join Parts appears. This option just joins the frozen parts into one resulting mesh object.
Note: If the Join parts option is selected, then you get one more option Weld Parts. If that option is checked, then all duplicate vertices along the adjacent edges of the joined parts will be merged.
Step 4: Join Parts (Optional)
Join Avatar Parts
Joining parts of a mesh will make all parts belong to one single object.
- Select all objects that you want to join. Here i have selected the Head, the upper body and the lower body of a frozen version of the Avastar character:
Note: You can select multiple objects by holding the SHIFT key down while you right click on the parts which you want to select.
- Press CTRL +J to join the parts into one object
What you should know
You might have duplicate vertices especially along the seams of the meshes. You can remove these duplicates as follows:
- Go to Edit Mode
- Select all Vertices (press “A” once or twice)
- Press “W”
- Select the “Remove Doubles” function
- Go back to Object Mode
Your final result will look like this: