Maid Dress Progress 03

It’s been a little while since I talked about the progress with the Maid Dress. This is mainly because all of the work I’ve done on it lately isn’t the kind of thing that’s easy to show in a blog post.

In the previous post the basic mesh had pretty much taken shape. Since then I’ve played around with it a bit, adjusted a few pieces here and there and settled on a final appearance for the dress:

Still with the poofy sleeves

Still with the poofy sleeves

This picture is of the 270,000 poly high-detail model. There’s also the low-poly model which has about 13,000 triangles which is the model that will be uploaded to SL. Where I am now is where the work on the two models separates – the high poly model is going into the texturing lab while the low-poly model is going to get modded for the standard sizes, then rigged and uploaded.

What’s changed since last time? Well, the apron’s shrunk a little bit – before it was wrapping too far around the waist and riding too high; the sleeves have grown extra ruffles and a lot of little tweaks have taken place all over the mesh.

After I’d fixed these issues I ran the mesh through a useful little Lightwave plugin called Thickener. This does pretty much what the name suggests – it gives things thickness. If you compare the picture above to the one in update 1 you’ll notice that the cloth has thickness now; you can see the edges and you can see that the sleeves have insides now.

Of course, Thickener worked its magic on the entire mesh, so I’ve had to go round and delete a lot of the “inside” of the garment because it’s stuff that would never be seen and that’s just geometry that’s not needed. This left me with a mesh that will look like cloth in the right places without overloading things with unnecessary polys.

Then there’s the black art of UV mapping…

For the uninitiated UV mapping is breaking down the mesh and flattening it out onto a two dimensional plane so that a texture image can be applied to it. It’s fiddly and annoying, but a vital step in making something.

In the case of this dress most of my available time to work on it over the last week has been taken up with sorting out the UV maps. It’s part of the process that I look forward to least, but in this case I think things have turned out reasonably well. I’m putting more effort into producing clear and simple UV maps now because I want to be able to release a Texture Developer’s Kit for this dress and let everyone have a go at texturing it.

Main UV map

Main UV map

It’s not the most efficient UV map ever created, but it is one that should be accessible for anyone who picks up the TDK after the dress is released. And so what if it looks like a BBC test card from the 1970s?

The resemblance is uncanny

The resemblance is uncanny

So, where does the project go from here? The UV maps are going into Adobe Illustrator (via the OBJ Wrangler mentioned in a previous post) for me to create texture and bump maps with fine detail in. The high-poly model is headed for Lightwave Layout for texturing and the low-poly model is headed for another cycle through Lightwave Modeler to fit it to the standard sizes and then out for a good, hard rigging in Blender.

This is where things get a bit experimental for a while – I’m going to be looking for nice texturing effects and playing with the rigging both in Blender and the SL Beta grid to see how it needs to be adjusted. Most of the fun designer-y tasks are done and now it’s the long, technical slog to get it ready for market.



Kat’s Toolbox : The OBJ Wrangler

A handful of the items in my toolbox are ones I’ve written myself for one purpose or another. You can usually tell when it’s something I wrote because it will have a name that’s just awful. Today: The OBJ Wrangler.

At the moment it only does one thing, but I called it the OBJ Wrangler because it’s built around a little framework I wrote for loading, parsing and working with Wavefront OBJ files. In time, it will do more things, as I need it to, but for now it just gets me some useful stuff from UV maps for making textures.

Awful name, mostly awful software

Awful name, mostly awful software

I do a lot of texturing work in Adobe Illustrator, particularly stuff like laying out seams and details on bump maps. It’s very useful to have your UV maps in a vector format, or sometimes in an absurdly high-rez bitmap, and this is what the OBJ Wrangler gets me. I know Blender can output the UV map of a model as a SVG file, but what you get from this is thousands of individually drawn paths corresponding to each polygon.

The OBJ Wrangler has a few extra tricks – it can output a SVG file just like Blender’s one, but it can also do things like detect edges of UV regions and output these as separate, clean SVG paths. On my last project, the Panel Dress, having these was invaluable for doing all the stitching and detail work.

In future I’m hoping this will be helping me make better and more detailed textures for my products, particularly now that I’m modelling meshes with closer regard to the actual cut of the cloth that they represent.

Maid Dress Progress 02

Today it was time to do a little test rigging. I’ve learned from experience that it’s best to try rigging a copy of a piece of mesh clothing earlier in the process rather than later because once it’s on the armature and you can see it rigged against the avatar it can show up some significant problems.

Since last night I’ve had a first-draft mesh of the dress, so today it was time to get it into Blender and see how it moves. I use Blender for rigging and weight painting because I’ve never managed to export a rigged mesh from Lightwave that Second Life would accept.

This thing is going to be a pain to rig, I think. I’ve had a lot of problems with movement of the legs or trunk causing the apron to disappear through the dress. I’ve also learned that I need the apron to sit lower on the dress or it gets pulled out of shape badly by movements of the chest bone. It is good to learn these things early.

I’m having second thoughts about the neckline, too – the current one has a few issues with movements of the avatar’s head and I’m thinking that it’s not going to work too well if the wearer wants to wear a collar too. I suspect collar wearing won’t be uncommon for people who buy this dress. I like the high neck, though – gives the whole thing a more rubber-fetishy feel, I think. Decisions, decisions…maybe I’ll end up making two maid outfits – this one with the floofy skirt and ruffles and another one a tight-fitting, low-neckline affair.

So, for now, it’s back to Lightwave to shove the mesh around a bit. Hopefully this week I’ll be in a position to finish the mesh and maybe get the UV mapping done and dusted.

Maid Dress Progress 01

So far I haven’t talked about any ongoing product development on this blog. This is partially because of the way I work – I play around, experiment, try stuff out and, now and then, something escapes into the marketplace.

Lately I’ve been doing too much experimenting, so it’s about time I staged a jail break and got something new out there. Somehow I’ve managed to be making kinky things in SL for more than six years but I’ve never got around to doing a fetish maid outfit. Until now…

Yeah, that's right - poofy sleeves!

Yeah, that’s right – poofy sleeves!

No textures yet, of course, but I’ve taken a snapshot of the current mesh in Lightwave’s OpenGL viewer and run off a quick render with some lighting as well.

I’m not done with the mesh yet – I still need to add an apron and probably some more ruffling around the ends of the sleeves, but you can get an idea of where this is heading.

More to follow…

Update a couple of hours later:

Late evening update...

Late evening update…

I’ve added at least a first attempt at an apron. I think I need to remodel the body of the dress since now I’ve got the apron on there it looks like the skirt is sitting too low on the hips. Oh, well – that probably means an even shorter skirt, but I’m sure nobody will complain 😉

Avatar Pants Template

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m British, so pants are already something you wear under things. We have no separate concept of underpants – underpants and pants are the same thing. We Brits have no truck with this French-influenced colonial nonsense; nor have we since Queen Victoria herself standardised things with the 1866 Royal Commission on Unmentionable Nomenclature. For more information on this subject see my upcoming book: The Epistemology of Undergarments in Three Volumes.

America, whence Second Life comes, of course refers to trousers as pants, much to my annoyance. Nevertheless, I shall swallow my pride and refer to them as pants for the remainder of this post. I will spend some extra time this evening spelling colour with a “u” and drinking tea to make amends.

I mentioned in my very first post on this blog that I’ve been playing around with making avatar textures from cloth-simmed meshes. I made a T-Shirt and put the resulting template textures up here for anyone to have a play with. This time I’ve done a similar thing with the pants template:

Rocking the leather pants template in-world

Rocking the leather pants template in-world

These textures are made by taking a high-poly cloth-simulated mesh and then using surface baking to transfer all the details down onto the avatar template. The original mesh is about 130,000 polys, so baking it down to one texture is quite the saving in overhead despite losing some of the detail.

High-poly mesh in Lightwave

High-poly mesh in Lightwave

This time I’m giving away the basic diffuse template and something parhaps a bit more interesting: A baked leather template. Without further ado, then:

Diffuse texture

Diffuse texture

Leather texture

Leather texture

Neither of these textures have any details like pockets or seams, so they’re not really ready to go straight into something you can use, but they should provide some useful extra detail and texture to anything you’re working on already.

I’m releasing these textures under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license – meaning you can use them pretty much however you like so long as you link back to this post and mention my name (Kat Fetisov, in case you’ve forgotten in the time it took to get this far down the page).

The textures are provided at a resolution of 1024 x 1024 to give you a little more flexibility with things – scale them down to 512 x 512 before uploading them for use on avatar garments.