Use SL Shapes
Avastar supports the import of your own SL shape to allow exact animations made for your character, or to create static Mesh dummies from your SL Avatar for re import back to your Online world.
Step 1: Export your Shape from SL or OpenSim
The procedure to export the Character shape may vary depending on which viewer you actually use. We use the default SL Viewer.
When all is running smooth, then you will find your XML file in your application folder. For me it is in:
(where nnn is a number)
Note: the file path contains your Windows user name (mine is gaia) and your SL user name.
Step 2: Import to Avastar
Create a new Avastar
Add a new Avastar Character
add -> Avastar
This will create a new female Avastar character. 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 .
Important: The Avastar figure is an exact representation of the SL Avatar, based on the SL Avatar definition from Linden Labs and so it is fully compatible with the character from Second Life and all similar online worlds like OpenSim for example.
We do not use any of the Ruth shapes, because there is no clear definition what Ruth is. While there is an official definition of the default shape. In SL you create the default shape from your Inventory:
What you should know
- New Avastar characters can only be created when you are in Object Mode!
- A new character will be placed at the current 3D Cursor location.
- You can hide (‘h’) or remove (‘x’) not needed parts (like the skirt or the hair for example) without breaking the tools.
- You can create as many characters as you like and thus you can create multi-character animations. Multi-character animations will be explained in the reference guide.
The character that you know from avatar.blend or from the workbench (sometimes also named “ruth”) looks different from the default Avastar character. this is not a mistake. Further explanations can be found in the Avastar vs. Workbench Skeleton article.
Load your Shape
The Avastar Shape (Properties, Object Section)
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.
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” -> “Charater Tests” -> “Appearance to XML”). This will silently create a file called:
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:
Save Shape to
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.
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.
This resets the Avastar meshes to the current Shape values. Useful together with the new custom shape key function (see below). Also if you messed up the Avastar meshes (by editing them) you can return the mesh back to the current shape slider values.
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 Shape Editor
Activating the button loads the shape setting controls. We added this for optimization purposes as it takes a few seconds to initialize the Avastar shape system.
Hint: The sliders are a bit slow sometimes. Currently there is not much that we can do about that.
Export to Collada
Export your Character as Collada
Hint: You usually can keep the default settings and just click on the “Collada(Avastar)(.dae)” button. A File Selector will pop up. Here you can navigate to your export directory and then export your file as a Collada file (using the file extension “.dae”)
By default Avastar applies all mesh changing Modifiers except the Armature Modifiers to the exported meshes. However, some modifiers have 2 sets of options, one option set is for rendering, the other option set is for the Viewport. We provide 3 options here:
- Apply according to the View Settings (the 3D Preview settings)
- Apply according to the Render Settings (the settings for Blender’s own Renderer)
- Don’t apply modifiers and only export the base mesh
The View settings will be applied by default. These settings are very closely related to the Blender Render System. In most cases you can actually just use the defaults. We will get back to this when we talk about how to use (or not use) Modifiers.
We will get to armature Modifiers in the “Create an Attachment” tutorial.
Textures export (advanced)
Note: But for rigged meshes the images are not recognized.
- UV Textures & Material Textures: Blender supports Material based textures and UV textures (which are directly assigned to polygons). Normally you want to export only the UV textures. In rare cases it is more desirable to export the material based textures instead. But beware, Blender does not export the render results, but only the source images!
- Image Type: The image format is typically predefined in the Blender Render settings. However we found it convenient to provide an immediate setting in the Exporter. By default the image type will be applied ONLY to generated images.
- Use ‘Image format’ for all images: If this option is set, then Blender will use the selected image format for all exported images. If the option is disabled, then only the generated images will be affected.
- Use RGBA: Blender can export the Alpha channel for images. Normally this is controlled in the render settings where you can specify to use either RGB or RGBA for image exports. If the currently selected export format supports Alpha then enabling RGBA here will export images with Alpha channel even if the render settings are set to RGB and vice versa.
Hint: You may want to NOT use RGBA because of the Alpha glitch. However this is not a general advice. There are many situations where using Alpha images is even recommended (for example when you want to create an Alpha mask).
Hint: If the format of the exported image(es) does not support an Alpha channel then the “Use RGBA” option is simply ignored.
bone bug fix: We have found that some online worlds have serious issues with modified Joint offsets for Collision volumes and Attachments(1). Hence we suppress the export of joint offsets for collision volumes and attachment bones by default.(1): The technical details are related to the SL Importer’s option With Joint Positions The Skeleton can be modified (in edit mode) to create other rest poses than the default rest pose (T-Pose) When you do that, you actually move the Joint Offsets away from their default locations. And you will later have to set “with Joint Offset” during import in order to get your modified skeleton uploaded.
Step 3: Import your Character to SL
Once you have exported your Mesh character, you only need to import it to your target System (like SL or a compatible online world). Although this is easy in principle, there are a few pitfalls in your way. So let us take a deeper look into the Mesh Importer.
The Video explains:
- How to import a rigged Mesh to SL, OpenSim or similar online worlds.
- How to use an Alpha mask for hiding the default character
- How to use image textures to texturise your character.
- Potential problems with your meshes (visible seams, wrong shape, missing face animations)
Upload the model
The LOD Panel
The Options Panel
Step 4: (Optional) Import your Shape back to SL
Sometimes you might have modified your Shape In Avastar. And maybe you want to get your modified Shape back into Second Life. While the default SL Viewer does not provide a Shape Importer, most other third party viewers offer such an option nowadays.
Exporting a Shape from Avastar
You can export your current shape from Avastar to File as follows:
- Ensure Blender is in Object Mode
- Select the Avastar Armature
- in the Object Properties locate the Avatar Shape panel
- There you find a Save Shape To option
Importing a Shape to Second Life (using Firestorm)
You can import your shape back to Second Life with the Firestorm viewer as follows:
- Enter the Appearance Editor in your Firestorm Viewer
- Down in the right lower corner of the editor you find an Import option
Now we are done with our first Mesh creation. You can simply wear the mesh and see how it moves with the default animations…