About this Document...
- Export a Shape from Second Life.
- Import a Shape to Blender.
- Export the Mesh to Collada.
- Import the Mesh to Second Life.
The Video content:
- Export Shape from Second Life.
- Import the Shape to Blender.
- Modify the Mesh.
- Export the modified Mesh to Second Life.
What does Avastar provide?
Avastar basically supports the creation of animatable Models (Avatars&attachments) and the creation of animations. Therefore the tool adds various functions and user interface elements to Blender.
The full functionality of Avastar can be a bit overwhelming on first sight. You should be prepared to spend some time and patience to get it all working nicely for your projects.
What does this Document provide?
You learn how to get a visual exact copy of your Avatar’s Shape into Blender and modify the Shape by using the Appearance Sliders. Finally we move the modified Mesh back to Second Life.
This document only shows you how you transfer your Avatar between Second Life and Blender. What you actually do with your Avatar inside of Blender is only limited by your own creativity.
We expect that you have basic knowledge about Blender.
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.
How to export your Shape from SL
Enable the Develop Menu
Call Appearance to XML
By now your current Shape data has been copied to a local file on your computer. You find this file in your application folder. For me (on Windows 7) 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.
Import the Shape to Blender
How to Load your Shape into Blender
The Second Life Shape Importer
Suppose you start a fresh Project with an empty scene. You already have downloaded your personal Shape from SecondLife as a local Shape file (in XML Format). All that you want is to create a new Avastar character with exactly this shape.For this purpose we offer the XML Shape importer within the regular Blender Import menu:
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.
Replacing an Avastar Shape
Suppose you already have your Avatar in the scene. You only want to apply the local Shape file to your existing character. Avastar is capable to do that. We can import and export shapes from OpenSim or any compatible online world. You find the Shape 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:
The Avatar Shape IO Options
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” -> “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
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.
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.
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”)
The Export option Subpanels
The Exporter provides a couple of export options for special cases. Please use these options with care.
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.
Armature Modifiers define a relation between your mesh and your Skeleton (Armature). You find the Armature modifier in the Modifer Stack (see image). Armature modifiers are always defined for the mesh. Armatures them self have no Armature modifier.
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.
Avastar also provides some advanced export options. However those options are noy shown by defauilt as they are only rarely used.
You enable these options in the Avastar Addon Panel (where you initially enabled the Addon after you installed it):
Limit Weight Count: In SL the number of weights per vertex is strictly limited to 4. We believe this number is sufficient for all weighting tasks. In cases where this limit seems to be too low we always found the real problem was due to bad mesh topology and bad rigging.
Setting this number affects the maximum number of weights which are exported by Avastar. We strongly recommend to keep this number set to 4.
With Attachment Weights: SL does not allow weighting of attachment points. Hence we suppress the export of weights for attachment points by default.
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)
The Upload Panels in detail
Upload the model (import the Collada file to SL)
The LOD Panel (The entry page)
The Options Panel (Here you enable rigged mesh)
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…