Testing Mesh Head Demos

The next step in my second life body evolution was to figure out mesh heads. I’ve been seeing them everywhere. Every time I saw an avatar who struck me as exceptionally beautiful it turned out she was sporting a mesh head.

To those landing on this page who are not aware of what a mesh head is : In short, you are able to make the standard Second Life head invisible and place a user created mesh head in its place. Why? They allow a much more natural shape, and lighting creates more natural shadowing in the features.

I like to be a little bit exhaustive in my research – especially for items that are going to cost me a few thousand Lindens. So I set out to get my hands on just about every mesh head demo out there. It helped me to take a photo so that I could compare side by side, and I thought it might help you all as well.

Now for the terms and conditions.

  • These demo heads are right out of the box. Meaning I popped them on and took a photo. I did not spend time messing with their options to see their full capability. I know there are downsides to this as these appearances can drastically change. I just wanted first impressions.
  • For all of the heads that did not come with a shape, I used my own shape and did not edit it.
  • I used mesh eyes in a lot of these demos, and you will see that not all of them are perfectly placed.
  • I didn’t take time to match skin tones to my body.
  • My mesh body glitched mid shoot and you’ll see i went from mesh to non mesh.
  • These are not all of the mesh heads that exist, but a lot of them.
  • All of these are separate options for purchase – except for EVE. The three skins shown are all included in the one mesh head for EVE.

Normal - No Mesh_001_001

This is regular me, no mesh head.

CATWA annie_001 CATWA jessica_001 EVE skin one_001 EVE skin two_001EVE skin three_001 FIORE angeled toni_001 FIORE angelic toni_001 FIORE contoured toni_001 FIORE precious toni_001 FIORE soft toni_001 FIORE angeled aylah_001 FIORE angelic aylah_001   FIORE contoured aylah_001 FIORE precious aylah_001 FIORE soft aylah_001 GA.EG kirsten_001 GENESIS amber_001 GENESIS annie_002 GENESIS marie_001 GENESIS nicole_001 GENESIS olivia_001 GENESIS suzy_001 LELUTKA aria_001 LELUTKA ever_001 LELUTKA karin_001 LELUTKA leda_001 LELUTKA lotte_001 LELUTKA simone_001 LELUTKA stella_001 LOGO alex_001 LOGO chloe_001 LOGO sadie_001  PUMEC elise_001 PUMEC lucy_001 PUMEC melina_001 PUMEC sydney_001 SLINK becky_001 SLINK emma_001 SNOW RABBIT nea_001 TSG dakota_001 TSG mimi_001 TSG mizu_001 VCO anna_001 VCO bambi_001 VCO rania_001 VCO risa_001 VCO tia_001 VCO yomi_001

Row One: CATWA Annie, CATWA Jessica, EVE (Skin one), EVE (Skin two)

Row Two: EVE (Skin three), FIORE (angled, Toni)FIORE (angelic, Toni)FIORE (contoured, Toni)

Row Three: FIORE (precious, Toni)FIORE (soft, Toni), FIORE (angled, Aylah)FIORE (angelic, Aylah)

Row Four: FIORE (contoured, Aylah)FIORE (precious, Aylah)FIORE (soft, Aylah)GA.EG Kirsten

Row Five: GENESIS AmberGENESIS AnnieGENESIS MarieGENESIS Nicole

Row Six: GENESIS OliviaGENESIS SuzyLELUTKA Aria, LELUTKA Ever

Row Seven: LELUTKA KarinLELUTKA LedaLELUTKA LotteLELUTKA Simone

Row Eight: LELUTKA StellaLOGO AlexLOGO ChloeLOGO Sadie

Row Nine: PUMEC ElisePUMEC LucyPUMEC MelinaPUMEC Sydney

Row Ten: SLINK BeckySLINK EmmaSNOW RABBIT Nea, TSG Dakota,

Row Eleven: TSG MimiTSG MizuVCO Anna, VCO Bambi

Row Twelve: VCO RaniaVCO RisaVCO TiaVCO Yomi

So, I went with EVE for a few reasons. It was one of my favorite shapes, and right now it is also in its Beta phase. So it is only $850 Ls and I’m actually quite interested to see the evolution of it. For my first mesh head I thought this was a solid choice!

Snapshot_021

I hope this helps visual people like myself narrow down the pool! Enjoy!

 

A Breakthrough! Importing the dress.

I have spent weeks now toying with learning blender and creating my mesh. This has gotten incredibly easier. Its true that you just need to throw yourself into the fire. Every time I couldn’t figure something out, or suspected I could be doing something easier, I looked it up. Searching and applying for information made things stick, and made things easier each day.

I got to a place where I thought “This is passable. Lets move on.” I am skipping texturing for now because that hands down seems like the hardest part to me – and will make or break my dress.

I skipped to rigging just so that i could quickly import it into second life and see if there were things i needed to change as far as the shape goes. Avastar makes it really easy to apply weights.

This is the video I watched before I tried. I didn’t do all of the painting, I simply applied the weights just as they were and then exported since I knew this was a test. I’ll have to go back and paint the weights more appropriately soon:

I suppose I should explain that I’m making a maternity dress. Probably a more advanced shape to tackle as my first project – but its something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m involved in Gorean role play ( Hamrar Village if you want to come play 😉 ), and it can be hard to find clothing to match the story. Especially maternity that is modest and time period appropriate.

This dress will eventually be packaged as three different dresses for three different sizes of belly growth. First, I wanted to make the largest size since it is the easiest to visualize.

I can’t even describe the feeling when I imported and this MOVING, TWISTING, FITTED dress appeared.

Snapshot_003

Look at the way it moves when she kicks her legs back! Its far from perfect. The belly still needs some shaping and so do the breasts. The belly collapses strangely when she sits, but for the most part… this is NEARLY COMPLETE.

This was a very special moment for me. About 5,6 years ago I ordered a book on Blender and knew I wanted to do this. Its been a long time coming. I’ve been through art school and then lost the part of me that cared about art. I feel like I’ve got that back in this 3D work.

The other day I just sat on Bryn Oh’s blog admiring her work. If you don’t know who she is or are familiar with her work – PLEASE go in world to her exhibits. It is the most beautiful and immersive story telling experience. It will take you on one heck of a ride. Right now, ‘Obedience’ is open – here is the SLURL.

Anyway, its great to see people who approach this as a real world art. Its awesome to think of it yourself as an art while you do it. Art has always been a meditative and enlightening experience for me. I think this small little breakthrough has let that resurface for me.

So excited to keep things moving, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for this dress!

Starting my first dress & Viewing Avatar Workbench Layers

I’m about 26 videos in to BornCG‘s evolving series, and I have to say, I’m learning a lot! As I started taking in more and more information, it became clear that not only was it essential for me to be following along in blender, but I had to start working on my own projects where these techniques don’t apply as clearly.

Mainly, I realized that I was taking in information for the sole purpose of understanding that each of the things that he was talking about was possible within blender. When I went to go begin my first dress, i knew for instance that I could subdivide. I may not have remembered off the bat what the keyboard shortcut was, but learning the capabilities and tricks i am able to use has helped a lot.

And yes, you heard me right! I started my first dress. Don’t get too excited. All I’ve got so far is a bunch of contorted squares.

First, as we discussed before, I downloaded and opened Avatar Workbench.

For some reason, when I first started, I thought it was a good idea to make a dress like this: (THIS IS THE WRONG WAY)

  • make a long plane the length of the avatar in front of her
  • use the knife tool to cut out the shape of the waist, sleeves, curves
  • copy and paste it behind the avatar and connect the two
  • subdivide and.. move vertexes around?

No! It was just a glorified box.

Then i tried to: (ANOTHER WRONG WAY)

  • make a cylinder the length of the avatar that she fit inside
  • subdivide and resize the loops to make a better shape

To be honest with you, I can’t tell you for certain that either of these ways are wrong, but I knew I wasn’t getting any results and I was missing something.

Another search for ‘Blender Dress’ brought me this video: The Wedding Dress.

Now, its kind of hard to get through. Its i think a three or four video series and its long, and the video itself isn’t great quality and moves slow. BUT – i learned some things that I haven’t seen yet in BornCG’s videos, mainly the Shrinkwrap Modifier. I haven’t by any means mastered it, I’m actually not getting anywhere near the results he has. But I’m working on it!

My cylinder hunch was right, at least for the skirt area. So I’m trying to figure it all out now. Who knows, maybe I’ll even record a video when I figure out how to get a good result. But for now there was one thing I was confused about that I think I should address. It was hard for me to figure out where this ‘skirt’ piece was that was clearly appearing in the top right hand list of layers but nowhere in sight.

dresslayer

There it is, those little dots at the bottom (I figured that out myself!). You’ll also find another woman avatar, a male avatar, and their bones below it.

Want to show the avatar wearing the skirt and hair? Good ol’ shift click will do it for you.

I’m going to keep playing around and faithfully watch at least two video’s a day until I get all caught up. When I hit a breakthrough, you better bet it will be here.

Repeat after me: You must learn a program before you master the skill it is made for!

Just a quick update here to remind myself in the future, and anyone else ready to hop into working with blender for second life – learning the program is mandatory! I’m intensely glad I didn’t just hop into Blender and set off to make my first item of clothing for second life. I’m sure something would have been made but a) I’m sure it would have been countless frustrated hours doing things I could have done in 2 minutes and b) the items would have just been plain bad.

I’m 10 lessons into BornCG’s video’s on YouTube. This man is amazing! The videos move quickly and I’ve learned so much in these past four days I can’t even imagine what I was thinking before. I even made a bunny!

Right now there are 49 lessons in the series, and he keeps them coming! The last one was uploaded 2 weeks ago. I am beyond thrilled to basically have an ongoing class to keep up my skill.

Many of these lessons don’t directly apply to what I’m trying to do. Adding fonts to the scene right now are not really that important. But I may need them someday (hopefully for a virtual storefront!) and learning more about the program as a whole is helping a ton. Imagine a world where we know what all of the buttons in blender do! eeee.

I’m very tempted, with all of my new knowledge, to just put it to the test. But I see lessons 35+ are about rigging and bones, which I know is going to be important to what I want to do. Those videos are based around minecraft, but I hope they’ll be useful for second life – we shall see!

I’m going to keep plugging away and maybe make some noob items to fill my little world before I head mouse first into clothing.

The fire is lit! Now I just have to keep it going long enough to complete the first item I’m proud of.

Here’s a link again to the videos! 

Big differences from Blender 2.48 to 2.70! (Hindsight Duh)

The main recommendation here for getting started in Blender for Second Life is downloading Avatar Workbench. So that’s just what I set out to do, but when I got there I realized there were quite a few versions to line up with Blender versions. As we discussed in the last post, we want to stick with Classic Rigging instead of Fitted Mesh Rigging for the time being. The furthest back that avatar workbench offers is for Blender 2.49, which likely would have worked with 2.48, but it made me a little weary.

Learning on old technology may be easier, because the technology is simpler. It just gets more advanced as the versions go along. But there’s no use in learning how to play the guitar on a ukulele when a guitar is just as readily available – even if it is a little more cumbersome.

So, I deleted the old Blender and downloaded 2.72. I then downloaded the newest Avatar Workbench (which was for 2.71, but still works) and opened it up.

Wow.

Its like we opened a whole new program. Some of the basic features are available here, that we learned in CannedMushroom’s videos. But the vast majority of what I see on my screen is simply terrifying. So without hesitation I bolted to YouTube to find an updated blender tutorial. And thank goodness it exists.

BornCG on youtube has a new series for fully new users to understand the Blender 2.7 series. While I’ve only listened to his ‘course’ introduction, I think this is going to be a good place to start for learning blender at our current version.

There are 34 lovely new videos that I can’t wait to start on! Thennnn I’ll be able to hop back to the Avatar Workbench and understand it a bit better – and hopefully be able to touch it!

34 Videos will take me a while (especially this time of year), so if I don’t see you before then, Happy Holidays and a Merry 2015!