AvPainter and Mapping Photorealistic Textures

December 25, 2008

I’m starting to look into making clothing as a possible stream of new income in Second Life. The benefits are that people do not need to own land in order to use the product. My other products (gadgets) often require land with available prim space in order to work.

I started searching for swim suite/club models to work with photorealistic textures. I wanted to find something tight-fitting that would not need additional prims to look good (such as a dress, boots, frilly shirts, etc.). I found a One Piece Rio Swim Suit at Liquid Vinyl Clothing that may do the trick. I choose it because it had additional holes that allowed me to see visual markers to help with the mapping to a model.

The original templates provided by Linden Lab for creating clothing and skins were horrible. Today, they offer better templates provided by Chip Midnight. I hadn’t realized that they updated their templates and went with the Avatar UV templates by Robin Wood. I had used the templates a few times in the past and was comfortable with how much detail and help they offered along with many other Second Life Tutorials by Robin Wood. I was familiar with Robin Woods artwork outside of Second Life. I often use one of my favorite tarot card decks, the Robin Wood Tarot.

Using Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, I was able to start morphing the swim suite model to cover different points of the UV maps. Once a texture is mapped, designers often had to attempt an upload in the past to see a preview to determine if the clothing appeared correct. There were rumors that you could use Poser to load up an avatar mesh and preview the textures. I purchased the program, but was a bit confused with the setup to even attempt to load my own mesh and map textures. Other folks who design software have created tools to help speed up this preview/creation process without the use of Second Life until the final texture is ready. The first that I had found in the past was the freely available SL Clothes Previewer. I wasn’t able to find the software at the original site or on my network storage device, so I started looking at more options. (Update: Found a link to the original files on TATS blog on the post, SL Clolthes Previewer).

 

Desktop of AvPainter and Photoshop to create swimwear for Second Life

Desktop of AvPainter and Photoshop to create swimwear for Second Life

The next item to help out designers is AvPainter. The AvPainter software lets you not only preview textures, but also allows you to paint directly onto the model. Their is a free demo version that prevents you from saving – but it’s enough to give the same functionality (if not more) as the SL Clothes Previewer. Drawing directly on the model was very helpful with being able to not only see where I went wrong, but to start making corrections.

 

The software also lets you use layering for each part of the clothing. I had a skin layer, a UV map layer, and then the actual swimsuite layer. I was able to draw on the swimsuite without affecting the other layers. A tablet is a must-have for this software. I personally find the pen to be much better when working in 3D. The addition of pen sensitivity in the image also gives an added benefit.

AvPainter comes with a default UV Mesh as the base. It’s great for seeing the mapped parts, but horrible for getting an idea of what body parts are where. I started hunting for skin to go under the swim suite. I found a post by Vint Falken about free full perm female skin textures by Eloh Eliot . Eloh Eliot posted many different skins as PSD files with many layers showing how the skins are built up. I found that loading up the PSD in AvPainter with all the layers started having an effect on memory. I flattened all of the skin layers so that the PSD eventually only had 3 layers. Skin, UV Map (15% opacity) and Swimwear. It worked perfectly. I could visually see how the clothing would appear on a fully skinned model with a hint of UV mapping.

 

Although you can smudge the image in AvPainter, it leaves much to be desired in the realm of moving the mesh to prevent smudging. I had to keep going back to photoshop to stretch/distort/warp/liquify the image a little each time and then come back to the AvPainter. I may even have to go back and work with the Morpheus Photo Warper a bit to help with the morphing as well. However, I’ve had trouble in the past with it since it is not originally meant to morph images in this way. It is often used to morph one image into another; not to morph the mesh of an existing image.

At first glance, I showed my wife and she was amazed at what I had done in a couple of hours. Then the critic in me started pointing out the problems to her. Shapes did not appear correct. Holes that appeared as ovals on the original model started to look egg shaped or too circular in my version. The back of the model was not showing enough detail for me to map. The left side didn’t map well either and I had to duplicate and flip the right side of her, giving an odd mirroring effect. Clasps sat against the skin which would eventually require prims on models with large chests.

I suppose it is a good first start, but it leaves much to be desired. The optimal model would offer a front, side, and back view strait on with hands stretched out to the side. It would be easier to map the photos to the UV templates. However, I have never seen any models like this in photographs. They are often at an angle, and only sometimes show the back. The lighting often changes for the back because the camera man is usually in the same area where the model simply turned around. Even better would be if the model was wearing a catsuit of an avatar mesh under the clothing. I can’t have everything.


What is this world comming to?

April 28, 2006

It’s amazing to think about all of my little accomplishments in this new world. The things I have built, the people I have met, the events I have attended. So much potential is here for this platform to become more then what it is. To think that all content within this world is made by players.

About two years ago, my mother in-law was astonished that my wife wanted to buy an in-world item on one of these online games for real money. It was a very rare axe that was hard for the best grand master blacksmiths to forge. On top of that, the price was a whopping $40 in US currency. “But it’s not real!”, she would say. I would check in from time to time and find that my wife was still hacking away with that axe from time to time that she had purchased.

Today, games have gone much further. In Second Life, You can build your own objects from scratch in-world and sell them at any price you see fit. You also retain rites on that item. In-game skill systems are a thing of the past, as now you apply your own real skills in 3D design, animation, interior decorating, fashion design, graphic design, programming, advertising & marketing, socializing, management, and more. The list just keeps going. These new games are bringing the real world inside of there own worlds.

The main incentive is that you can make real money. Anyone can cash-out any money that they have made in-world. For second life, the value of your in-game currency can change by the minute just like the real stock exchange. Other players make bids for how much they are willing to pay for in-game currency. You can also create sell orders that are limited so that you can sell them at a set price.

This tends to effect the in-world economy, as the US dollar value of items that you sell fluctuates. Something that is worth about a dollar today, and end up being worth only fifty cents with tomorrows rates.

Some of us residents have gotten around this by adjusting the prices of our in-world items according to the rate of the dollar against the in-world currency. When there is a problem, someone is always making something to help the players solve it.

Problem solving is the really amazing part of these games. People who are not employed by the company are building the content of the game. Some of the content addresses problems. Find a need, and all you do from there is build something to answer that need. Then people buy it from you at your own set price.

There are thousands of people actually building content every day. The host of the world does not pay those people. In fact, those people pay the host for the privledge to show off there builds on there own rented out land. Every way that you look at it, it seems that the residents in this world are paying variouse amounts to do specific tasks or earn specific privledges.

It must be working, because the game that I’m playing, “Second Life”, has actually been around for over five years. Staff has grown quite a bit and there are usually over one thousand people in-world.


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