Designing Clothing for SL-Part 3-AV Layers

Wow, I just re-read part 2...it was a bit wordy and rambling.  I may have to go back and rewrite it later.  But, I do hope it at least gives you some idea about what UV maps are, how they are made, and how they relate to our Second Life AVs

Anyway...Welcome back to the next wordy and crazy article. 
 

RECAP

So far, we have discussed  
1)  Beneath it all, our AVs are 3D  mesh wire frame cages.
2)  We wear multiple layers of textures over our mesh cages.
3)  If we change our shape,  an AV standard size goes out the window.
4) We use  UV maps  as a guide to create "layered" clothing


On to today's discussion....

More History

As we learned last time, during the early days of Second Life, Linden Labs took "Ruth" and divided her into 3 main sections.  Each of these 3 body sections were unwrapped from her mesh frame, the coverings laid flat, a special picture taken (UV map),  the  picture exported as a texture, and finally, the texture was uploaded to Second Life (SL). 

It had been years since I have seen the Linden created UV map templates for clothing. I never bothered with them to be honest.  It took me awhile to find them, but I finally did on the SL Wiki.  I keep forgetting about the SL Wiki.  It has soooo much useful information listed on various topics by sooo many wonderful folks it is easy to become overwhelmed and lost.  You probably should bookmark the site for future use and exploration.

If you would like to download a copy of the Photoshop files for yourself, please follow this URL http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Clothing_Tutorials and chose..."Linden body and clothing templates"link...it should be the first item on the wiki page. The .psd files can be used in Photoshop, Gimp, and possibly other graphics editors that support "layers".  

Click on the link, download the .zip file and extract it to see the wonderful gifts in inside! You should find multiple .psd files, a Readme.txt file, and a Using the SL Fashion Template .pdf file.   Take a few minutes to at least read the .pdf file. While some of the information is outdated, such as you have to upload a .tga...it still has some useful information to take in consideration when making clothing. BUT...big but here...don't get bogged down by what you read.  
 
While there are multiple files in the zip file you receive, we will only be looking at the 3 main body sections only.   Each of these templates, or guides, are used for both male and female avatars and are a "must have" as guides in making clothing, "skins", tattoos, alpha layers, etc. 


Let's look at the files

When you open the .psd files, you should see multiple layers in various states of being "turned on or off".  For my examples, I have turned off all the layers but the base or, "background" layer in each of the .psd files for the 3 main body parts templates.



 
Linden Labs Head/Face/Partial Neck Template
 
Linden Labs Lower Body Template
 
Linden Labs Upper Body Template Including Partial Neck

Uummm...I am a hobbyist and was just beginning to learn Photoshop so to say I was a bit frustrated with what I saw, for the first time, was a mild understatement. When I looked at the Linden UV maps for the first time, I was astonished to see how basic they were.  There really is very little information listed.  I suppose the Lindens felt we are all creative genius and what they had  provided was self explanatory. 

All that is listed is a few notes describing what the pieces were  and a note pointing out the minimal bleed areas.  While it is not pointed out, there are colored lines corresponding to where each the seams fit together. You can see the seams on all 3 of the examples above. 

I am sure most of you are much more savvy about 3D  than I was when I joined SL and know much more than I did.  But, just in case, I have taken the liberty to point out the actual seam lines on the upper body template for you so you don't have to struggle like I did.   
 
Upper Template Seam Lines

Notice the different colors on different sides of each of the pieces? This is how the upper part of AV was "unwrapped" to lay flat, and shows where each of these pieces "seam" back to together when on the AV.  Each of the the body sections has its' own set of seams for matching; however, the Lindens didn't add seam guides for fitting the body sections fit together.  They left that matching to the "minimum bleed area". 


Also notice, the Back is smaller and is set slightly lower on some seams and slightly higher on others than the Front.  The back and front do not match perfectly on the 2D templates, nor do the arm pieces.   My assumption is the front is larger due to the ability of larger breast and chest size. You really have to be aware of this difference and take it into account when it comes to matching seams and necklines.  

Another oddity when this was made, there is only one arm listed, which means, what you create on one arm will be on both arms.  This can be very frustrating, especially if making tattoos since when applied to the AV it will be on both arms. 

Seams can be very very tricky and will make or break a clothing item! You should pay careful attention to your seam matching.  Be vicious and anal retentive when making your seams match.  Poor seam alignment can turn a beautiful clothing item into something mediocre or just plain bad.


 Stitched Back Together

To give you a little better visual how this would "re-wrap" or be seamed back together on the actual AV, I imported the Avatar .obj file (third item down on the wiki link above...Second Life Avatar Meshes) into Photoshop CS 6 and "rewrapped" for you. You can see where many of the seams meet.


Re-Wraped AV Using LL Clothing Templates

 Okay, this looks a bit better, but not everyone had Photoshop with the 3D painting feature, and this feature was unknown at the time these templates were made.  So, what Linden Labs did, back in March of 2003, was they went a step further and added the actual mesh wire frame lines on a separate layer in their clothing files.  Adding the mesh lines provides us with more detail guide for placement on the avatar.  

Looking at the figure below, you can see the lines in white.

LL's Upper Body Template with UV Lines


You can add the lines by "turning on" on the UV map layer when you are working with the templates in your graphics editor.  See all the little squares?  Don't they look familiar? If not, go back to Part 2, of this series, and look at the photos and examples.  Adding the  UV Map layer in the Linden's template does help us some but is still lacking.

In part 4 of this series, we will look at a couple of other very popular and detailed clothing template guides, which in my humble opinion, are much more useful to us than the Lindens guide.  However, don't discount the Linden Lab templates, they do have a couple of features that the others do not.

Linden Lab's All Fashion Design Templates File

When you opened the "All Fashion Design Templates" file folder you downloaded, you found a number for .psd files and various other documents. But what are all these for?  What can we do with them?

Each of the respective .psd files provides you a template for the various AV body sections and most can be used to create multiple items.  Included you will find guides for...

1) Head/Face including partial neck & makeup 
2) Upper Body including arms & hands & partial neck
3) Lower Body including feet
4) Eyes
5) Hair
6) Skirt 

Most, I think are self explanatory, but you can use these templates to assist in making the following clothing layers.

• Upper Body (Skin, Shirt/Undershirt/Upper Jacket/Upper Tattoos/Gloves, Alpha Layer)
• Lower Body (Skin, Pants and Shoes/Underpants/Lower Jacket/Lower Tattoos/Socks
, Alpha Layer)
• Hair (Hair bases, tattoos, Skin, Alpha Layer)
• Makeup (Skin, Head and Face
, Makeup, Tattoos, Alpha Layer)
• Eyes
• Skirt (Skirt layer)

The Skirt template is used generally for the Special Skirt layer in SL, but I don't believe it is often used anymore.  The Skirt layer you add is not very good and generally deforms the AV to a less than pleasing shape.  This was a useful layer prior to the introduction of "flexible prim" clothing, but think it has fallen out of general use with flexi-skirts.

I have not really experimented with this layer, but you may wish to at some point.  It can be useful in making items that require a bustle, such as Victorian style skirts or fantasy type clothing.  

Layers, Layers, and More Layers!

I hope at this point I have not been too confusing.  There is a lot of information to ponder and digest...I mean really digest and think about. Sure, you do not need to KNOW all this information to make clothing, but in the long run, if you take the time to learn some of this basic information, it can help you avoid some of the pitfalls and hours of frustration.  

Despite what anyone tells you, making clothing can be very labor intensive, especially when first starting out.  I remember the first outfit I made took me over 40 hours to create, and looking back, it was not really very good.  If I had known and understood all this information at the time, had it been in one spot, I could have saved myself some new grey hairs popping up. 

Along with everything else, you need to understand the placement or, layers order in SL.   Knowing how the layers stack upon one another, will help you in planning the outfit you are considering to create.  Some good explanations have already been given in other blogs or tutorials, which I have listed in the resources for you below to consult.  

Basically, this is the order of layer stacking for "layered" clothing.  Some layers will share similar order stacking, but for the most part, if what is listed below suffices.  Keep this order in mind when creating your layers.

1.    Alpha Layer (recently added layer used for mesh items)
2.    SL Default Skin Layer (the entire wire frame mesh cage)
3.    Created Add-on Skin Layers 
4.    Tattoo Layer
5.    Hair Base
6.    Under Pants (ends at lower waist/upper hips; ends at ankles)
7.    Socks (feet and 3/4 up the legs)
8.    Glove (hands to 3/4 up the arms)
9.  *Base Shoe Layer (feet and 3/4 up the legs)
10.   Undershirt (ends at lower waist/upper hips)
11. *Pants (ends at lower waist/upper hips; ends at ankles)
12. *Shirt (ends at lower waist/upper hips)
13.  Jacket (Upper and Lower Template used-2 pieces)
14. *SL Skirt Layer (generally not used)
15.   Physics (not played with this option...experiment)

*Has slider options that will deform the AV
Please do not confuse this order with the prim attachment points on the AV that is a another subject entirely. 

RESOURCES

SL Wiki...many clothing resources in one spot
http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Clothing_Tutorials 


http://avatartoolbox.info/Skins.html 

Seshat Czerat Blog 

Hope to see you next time.  In the mean time, enjoy and learn all you can!


P.S.  Because I wanted to get this posted, I may go back and edit this for better clarity later!  Yes, I am a "Too Much Information" girl...and somewhat disorganized!
 

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