Shape Panels

Avatar Shape IO Panel

Avastar can import and export shapes from OpenSim or any compatible online world. You find the import/export functions in the Object properties of the Avastar Armature:

 

  • Go to object mode.
  • Select the Rig (RMB on the yellow circles around the mesh).
  • Open the Properties window.
  • Navigate to the “Object” properties.

There you find a panel Avatar Shape IO. This panel displays a Preset selector and a subpanel with 4 main functions:

[PS Showtime url=”http://blog.machinimatrix.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/map_appearance_io.png”] appearance_io_01

Load Shape (Import a shape)

This function allows you to upload a Shape that you have previously exported from your online world: In most viewers there is a shape export option hidden in the advanced menu (“Advanced” -> “Character” -> “Character Tests” -> “Appearance to XML”). This will silently create a file called:

[application_folder]/character/new archetype.xml

This file contains your current shape and can be loaded into Avastar, where [application_folder] is the viewer’s application data folder. For Windows this folder is located at:

C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Second Life\user_settings\new_archetype.xml

The XML Shape Importer

The Load Shape tool is good for replacing the current shape of an existing Avastar model, But this is inconvenient when you do not yet have an Avastar in your scene. Here is the use case:

Suppose you start a fresh Project with an empty scene. You already have downloaded your personal Shape from Second Life as described above. Now you want to create a new Avastar character with exactly this shape.

You find the XML Shape importer in the regular Blender Import menu under

File -> Import -> Shape as Avastar

The tool first opens a file selector where you select the XML shape. Then the tool creates a new Avastar character, and finally applies the imported shape.

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Save Shape to

By default this function creates a new Shape file with your current shape settings. This file can later be used for Load Shape (see above). Right besides the function you find a selector for the save destination.

As mentioned above the default option is to save to File. But you can also save to a Blender textblock. In that case the slider values can be found in the Blender text editor panel. The values correspond to the shape settings in the SL viewer.[break]

[PS Showtime url=”http://blog.machinimatrix.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/map_appearance_io.png”]

Note: Some viewers support the upload of shape file to SL (e.g. Firestorm, Singularity). To see the file, switch to the Blender Text editor and locate Shape for: Avatar (Avatar stands for the name of the Armature). Useful when you need to update the shape in SL with the values from blender.

Refresh Shape:

This resets the Avastar meshes to the current Shape values. Useful together with the new custom shape key function. Also if you messed up the Avastar meshes (by editing them) you can return the mesh back to the current shape slider values.

Warning: if you added or removed vertices from the Avastar meshes, this function will fail!

Delete Avastar Shapes

Remove all Shapes from the Avastar character. You will want this when you use the rig for non human characters where keeping the Avastar human meshes make no sense.

Load Appearance Sliders

When you load a blend file which contains an Avastar Character, then the Shape panel sometimes only displays the “Load Appearance sliders” Button. This happens when you just have started Blender).

Activating the button loads the appearance setting controls. We added this for optimization purposes as it takes a few seconds to initialize the Avastar shape system.

 

Appearance Sliders Panel

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. The panel is divided into 3 sections…

Shape Presets

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  • 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

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Presets are stored globally (outside of the current Blend file), so all defined presets are available at any time in any project. Avastar is shipped with a few example presets (See image above)

Shape Properties

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  • 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.

Fitted Mesh Sliders indicated with a magnet

  • (new): 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.

Bento Sliders indicated by a peach colored Bone Handle

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.

The Special Sections

  • 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.
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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.

 

Appearance Sliders

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.

Hint: If you plan to create Meshes compatible to the Mesh Deformer, then you will want to reset all bones in the Skeleton Section to their default values (Reset Section to defaults).

Face Expressions Panel

Face Expressions

Avastar supports hand expressions and face expressions.

  • Hand Expressions: We support all 15 SL Hand expressions.
    Note: An SL Animation can only contain one single Hand expression. And this hand expression will remain valid for the entire animation sequence. If you need to change the Hand expression you will have to split the animation into pieces and then merge the animations in the SL animation editor.
  • Face expressions: Unlike hand expressions face expressions are implemented as Shape keys. We support all 20 face expressions. In Blender the face expressions can even be animated (key framed). However this fine detail of animation is not (yet?) available in OpenSim or other compatible online worlds. But for Blender animations the expressions are fully implemented and can be combined and key framed.
  • Select the Armature
  • Open the Object section in the Properties windows (the small cube)
  • scroll down to the bottom of the properties window
  • Open the expressions panel
  • select which hand expression you want from the drop down list
  • Now go to the Animation export panel
  • And make the export