Editable Avastars

Purpose

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

The reason for this behavior is: Blender does not support editing Meshes which have Shape keys defined. The Avastar Meshes make heavy usage of Shape keys. Hence you get major fail as soon as you touch the meshes.

If you do not know what you are doing here, You have a good chance to break Avastar and create wild results:

broken_avastar

Unexpected results after small edits in the Avastar meshes

 

Workflow

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

Navigate to:

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:

AvastarObject

Avastar’s default Shape is compatible with SL’s default Shape.

After a short time (typically 2-4 secs) a new Avastar character is created in the 3D View and at the current 3D cursor location .

Compatibility to Second Life

Avastar is fully compatible with Secondlife.

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

The SL default Shape (Create new Shape).

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).

Image345

In SL you create the default shape from your Inventory: (See image)

new_shape

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.
The character that you know from avatar.blend or from the workbench (sometimes also named “ruth”) is equivalent to the SL Restshape (the white stickman icon in the Appearance Sliders). Further explanations can be found in the Avastar vs. Workbench Skeleton article.

 

Step 2a (optional): Use Appearance Sliders

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

Image379

  • 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

reference-003

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

Image380

  • Use Bind Pose(new): Treat the Restpose of the Rig as a Bind Pose. This is mostly used for slightly modified Rigs (e.g. A Posed Rigs). When Use Bind Pose is enabled, then you no longer need to fiddle with Alter to Restpose or forcing the Rig into T Pose.
  • Male: When enabled, the Shape switches to Male gender. The current absolute Avatar Height is displayed in parantheses

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

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.
 Image211

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).

Step 2b (optional): Change Gender

You can change the Gender of the Avastar character as follows:

  • Select the Avastar Armature
  • Open the Data Properties Tab in the Properties window:Image010
  • locate the Gender Selector and enable “Male”

Your final result will look like this:Image011

Note: You can switch the Gender on and off as you like.

 

Step 3: Freeze your Shape

Freeze Shape

Purpose

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:

You want to create a static statue in the current pose and with no rigging information assigned. But when you export the Avastar character to SL as it is, then the imported mesh rezzes always in T-Pose, even when you exported in another pose.
You want to modify the Avastar base meshes for optimization or as initial model for your own custom Avatar project. But as soon as you edit the Avastar meshes, they quickly get into a chaotic disorder.

Usage

  • Ensure Blender is in Object Mode.
  • Select all parts which you want to freeze.
  • Set the freeze options.
  • Freeze Selected.
Note: You can apply Freeze Shape to any mesh object (unrelated to Avastar). This is practical for example when you want to apply all shape keys.

Details

Select all parts of the Avastar meshes which you want to use for your own character:

Image008

Here i have selected the Head, the upper body and the lower body

Then set the Freeze Options, and finally Freeze Selected:

avastar_tools_02

It is important to understand that this tool always creates a copy of the selected meshes with all Shape Keys applied! The copies are placed exactly where the original meshes are located.

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

Original:

This option defines what shall happen with the original Mesh(es) (those which you have selected in Object mode)

Values:
  • 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.

freeze_02

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)

Join Parts:

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.

freeze_03
Caveat: The Weld Parts option only removes doubles along the welded edges. Duplicate vertices on any other place in your meshes will not be removed by the freeze tool!

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:Image008

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:

Image009

 

Step 5: Export the Mesh