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:
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.
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?
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.