Designing Clothing for SL-Part 5--Various UV Map Templates

I have revised/updated this particular blog entry due to posting it prematurely while ill.  I hope it makes more sense now and is more inclusive.  My apologies if the original was confusing.

In Part 4, I skipped around a bit and discussed a little about graphics software needed for making Second Life "layered clothing".  Before that, in Part 3, we started looking a little at the clothing templates, specifically the original template guides produced by Linden Labs.

Today, we are going to do a bit more exploring of the Linden templates and see what other templates guides are available s available to help you with your "layered" clothing creations.  As far as I am aware, ALL other clothing templates are based on the Linden's basic templates  each adding specific enhancements or  details to the templates making the templates easier for us to use.

Linden Lab's Fashion Design Templates

As noted previously, the Linden templates are very basic.  In my humble opinion, these templates are not very explanatory, especially if you are new to the whole 3D "layered clothing" creation process like I was.  I remember being all excited  downloading the templates, opening them in my brand spanking new Photoshop and just stared.  Flipped open the text file and the .pdf that comes with it and thought, "what the heck".   I kept turning off the different layers and tried to make some sense out of what I saw and finally admitted I was horribly lost and closed the program. 

Looking at the templates for the first time is sort of looking at some weird blue print with no instructions or, legend making absolutely no sense unless you have some idea what you are looking at.  This is especially true if you are also new to your graphics editing software.  There is hardly any information about the templates themselves or, how to use them in any detail.  Even the included "Second Life Fashion Design: Using the Templates" document does little to explain.

Linden Lab's Upper Body Template-Seam Lines Noted

Okay, so the templates are not very well explained by the authorities. So, what do we do?  We look at the templates themselves for a few minutes...I mean really look at them, then start thinking about our own AVs...the clothing we may have purchased or been given... how they look on we might be able to replicate something similar...and slowly we may begin to dicover a few things about what we are looking at. When I look at the Linden templates with a critical eye here are a few things I see (see below).  I am sure you will begin to see more than I do and can add your own observations to the list.  

Linden Lab's Upper Body Template With UV Lines

1) Name of each piece and where it is suppose to fit on the AV.  It is very easy to get the tops and bottoms of pieces mixed up when you are new at this venture.  My advice is try to memorize the placement of each piece and how it relates to each area of the SL AV.   Not only is this important for clothing, it is extremely important when making skins.

2) Different colored lines along the edges of the different pieces.  These represent where each of the pieces fit together with the other pieces.  Where the back and front meet.  Where the arms fit the front and back.  The colored lines are the seam areas like you would find on RL clothing.  Good fittings and well matching seams are a must for successful designers. Even the slightest bit off can turn a great outfit or skin into mediocre ones.

3) Light grey lines are marked on each piece to indicate major divisions on the AV and other important body areas, including the center of the chest, the back, the breast area, the midriff, etc.

4) A purplish-blue filled area, on the outer and inner arms, is noted as the "Glove range",  this area covers the hands and about 3/4 the way up the arm. 

5) "Minimum Bleed Area", a mint or light green, surrounds the entire outline of each upper body part on the outer edges.  This area seems to indicate an overfill area, which should insure seams  are completely filled. This "minimum bleed area" is a very important thing to be aware of and pay attention to.   Clipping or filling your clothing edges too close to the template outline, you can end up with part of your AV bleeding through your tops  at the sides, shoulders, neckline, and waist. It is always better to overfill this area to insure everything is covered.

6) When we turn on the included UV Map layer in the Photoshop file, we will see all the areas of the wire frame of the AV in faint white lines. These lines, while very difficult to see, are very important to in placement of buttons, shadows, wrinkles, embellishments, how things will stretch, where they may stretch, where things begin and end, etc.

7)  If we look globally, we focus in on the placing of each piece.  Its overall structure REQUIRES each piece to remain precisely where they are on the template.  If they are moved, even slightly, the entire garment will not fit correctly.  So, we must take care to NOT move the template when working on our creations.

8) Lastly, we have to follow the lines laid out for us.  Remember as a child and you had coloring books or pages and were encouraged to color within the lines?  It was difficult at first, but with experience were able to make these brilliant colored pictures. The same goes for the "layered" clothing templates.  Color within the guidelines and bleed area for a nice neat representation of your final product.

So, after looking at the Linden Labs template for awhile, we can see even though it doesn't look like they are all that useful at first glance, LLs original templates do provide us with a lot of basic information.  All the Linden Lab body templates are similar in nature.  It is our job to look beyond what little information is given and figure out how best we can use them for our creations. 

While I am only focusing on the upper body temples, you should take a few minutes and look at each of the other body area templates. Become familiar with each you are going to use before you begin your clothing projects, really look at the templates.

Chip Midnight's Clothing & Skin Templates

I believe that Chip Midnight, a long time SL Resident, was the first to expand and improve upon the basic AV templates provided by the Lindens.  The popularity of Chip's templates have had a long and widely enduring popularity since he introduced them back in 2005 (I believe this is the correct year but, don't quote me).  Not only did Chip expand upon the Linden's, he made available his hard work to all SL Residents for free. 

Below, is an example, of the upper body template, which can be used for making skins, jackets, shirts, undershirts, dresses, bras, bathing suits, etc.  This particular shot shows all of the layers in one texture from the Photoshop file, including the shaded areas which are difficult to see in this example.

Chip Midnight's Upper Body Clothing & Skin Template

You may hear these templates referred to in a few different ways in forums, blogs, web sites, and general discussion but, all are one and the same.
1) Chip's Templates or Chip's Clothing Templates
2) CMFF Templates
3) Chip Midnight Templates or Chip's Clothing Templates
4) Chip Midnight's Clothing Map

From what I can tell, Chip revised the Linden Templates by breaking down them down into greater precise detail.  He added colored seams lines in increments, which makes it easier to match seams, patterns, embellishments, make cuts or specific fill areas overlapping front and back.  He darkened the wire frame lines so we could actually see them; whereas, so we did not have to ruin our eyes or work at higher resolutions unless we wanted to.  Chip  provided a greater precision to the templates by adding colored sections just inside the edges of the template for easier global matching of sections/pieces.  He also uses an incremental approach to the seam areas with smaller colored sections on the actual seam line. Plus, he adds labels to key us when we are working which area fits with areas are the other pieces for the front and back.  

If you will notice the, the front and back are unwrapped from the SL AV a little oddly. They are unwrapped from one side then laid out flat. If you look in the middle of the template, where is says Clothing and Skin Template, you can see that the front and back seams come together in that area....when the item is put on the AV those seam areas merge together and wrap around the AV.  

This made little sense to me when I first started.  I was expecting the front to fit exactly over the back, when matching the seams, not to wrap around it.  If I had paid better attention to what was on the CMFF templates, especially the labels,  I might not have made so  many mistakes and gotten so frustrated.  So, it pays to really look at every template you use to gather an understanding of it.  

Until I was able to understand what was actually happening with how the clothing reassembled on the AV, I was totally lost.   LOL...I am sure some of you out there are saying what a ditzy woman...hopefully, dear reader this will be easier for you than it was for me to come to grips with.

Back to templates.

Remember when we discussed a little about layers and how they are stackable?  The beauty of this method can been seen  when you start to use templates such as the CMFF templates.  Each of the body templates Chip created has several layers that build upward.  You  can turn a layer on or off when working on your projects...then turn off all the templates layers when you save your creation for uploading.  Stackable layers really is a simple and effective concept.

Where To Download The Files

With a little searching you can find a number of places on the web or, blogs that house or provide links to these templates for download.  Generally, I have found the best place to access the CMFF templates are at the SL Creation Portal Wiki (see Resources section for a link) maintained by the Linden.  It seems to be a trustworthy site to use. 

The original CMFF templates are found in Photoshop format (.psd), which can be used in Gimp or other software that has the ability to open and use .psd file formats.  Usually, the templates are set for a resolution of 512 X 512 pixels, which is what is encouraged for upload to SL.  You can find them on the SL Creation Portal Wiki under the heading "Chip Midnight's Improved Clothing Templates."  Simply click and they should immediately begin to download.

Also, a higher resolution set of files can be found under the heading "Higher Resolution Clothing and Skin Templates".  This link will take you to a site maintained by Ann OToole, another generous long time SL Resident.  On this site, you can find a higher resolution (1024 X 1024) set of Photoshop files and a set of JPEG files.  The files are set up to be downloaded in individual pieces for Head, Upper Body, Lower Body, and Skirt. 

On Ann's site, the Photoshop files will be downloaded in a zipped format when you click on the colored link; whereas, the JPEGs will pop open on your screen and you must do a "Save Image As..." to download to your computer.  

Please note, only the Photoshop files will have the flexible individual layers you can turn on and off.   Since Ann gives us the option, I would encourage new creator's to download both files since JPEGs can be opened in a "viewer" program you can have open for reference in addition to what you are working on in your graphics software.

A Word About Resolution

Both the "Chip Midnight's Improved Clothing Templates" 512 x 512 and the "Higher Resolution Clothing and Skin Templates" 1024 x 1024 resolution templates, mentioned above, include all the associated layers, the only difference is the file size.  Robin Wood's templates, which we will discuss in the next section, are also 1024 x 1024 resolution .psd files.
 The larger 1024 X 1024 makes it easier to see your work  when designing and creating in your graphic software.  You  can also re-size the templates, within your graphics software, to a larger resolution to work with, say 2048 x 2048  then re-size the final product to 512 x 512 for upload.   

It is advised by those techies, who know about these things, not to upload any texture (include clothing) higher than 1024 x 1024 While you can upload your clothing as 1024 X 1024, it does takes longer for the clothing to rezz for many people depending on their computer system and network connection.  Also, I believe anything higher than 1024 will be reduced by SL on upload so for the best results and less strain on everyone's system, please upload at 512 x 512 or less.

One of the reasons you will see everything as gray when you log-in or, on teleport is your computer needs time to access all the texture, prim, and other avatar information in the area of your "draw distance".  The higher the draw distance your computer is set at, the more information is required for processing and the images to become clearer.  The higher the resolution textures used, the longer it will take them to come into focus.  

This may not be a bad thing if you have a really fast computer and network connection, it can be really slow and frustrating for those that don't.  So, as a creator, you should keep this in mind with your creations whether you are creating textures for buildings and such or, for creation clothing. 

Robin Sojourner aka Robin Wood Templates

Another very popular set of clothing template guides are those created by Robin Sojourner, who is also known as Robin Wood.  Of course, my bookmarks being a total disaster, I can't find the forum link now where Robin discusses her own additions and enhancements to the Linden Lab clothing template guides. 

Robin Wood Upper Body Template
Robin's templates are just as detailed, but in a different way as those created by Chip Midnight.  Chip's seem to be a bit more precise, meaning they appear to follow the outside edges of the Linden Templates precisely and is broken down into smaller, specifically marked colored sectionsOn the other hand,  Robin Wood's templates seem to take into account body areas via coloring specific areas.  These markings make it easier for cutting and matching pieces together in other areas besides just the seams.  It also appears that she takes into consideration the "Minimum Bleed" area from the original Linden Lab clothing templates; whereas, Chip's does not seem to. 

She also has matching lines on the arms, front, and back to make matching the sleeves.  While the usage of SL system skirts has fallen out of favor, there are also matching lines on the shirt for where it would mean with the skirt.  Robin's templates has a multitude of layers that can be turned on and off as you wish. 

If you would like to download Robin's templates you can find them also on the SL Creation Wiki, under the clothing section as "Second Life Tutorials". This will take you directly to her website that houses her version of the templates. She too offers her templates in two resolutions, 512 x 512 and1024 x1024,  JPEG formats or, you can download the layered Photoshop file (also 1024) or the Layered with Vector Smart Objects. 

One of the nice things about Robin's download site, is not only does she offer multiple individual section files, she also offers and all-in-one file of the body sections.  This makes it nice and convenient for those who want/need all the pieces at once. 

Also, there are many excellent tutorials on her site, both written and via video.  Not all tutorials are for clothing, however,  some are related to using Photoshop and if you have the extended version, she has several tutorials how to use that feature as well.

Other Templates Clothing Templates

One would think, after all these years, you would find any number of clothing templates out there.  You would think other designers would post the templates they have created over the years to be of assistance to others, but such does not seem to be the case.  I am not sure this phenomena is because clothing designers are a secretive bunch not wishing to share their "secrets" or, if you simply cannot improve upon the Big Three (Linden Labs, Chip Midnight, and Robin Wood) template sets.  

I did ask in the Second Life Creation Forums if anyone knew of other templates but was without any success.  With some detailed searching, I did find another template that might be helpful to you.  

This template was created by Gwyneth Llewelyn using the Linden Lab template and adds two additional layers.  One is a CMFF layer, with the wire frame lines, and the other appears to be one she may have created adding colored lines for length matching on the upper body.   Llewelyn's layer also seems to break the top into easier to work with, larger sections, of the wire frame lines.  Plus, she has the breasts and nipples marked out nicely for those wishing to make skins.

 This is not a very good image for some reason. But, you can see the colored lines and how this might be beneficial in making say crop tops, bras, low cut shirts/dresses, etc.

Gwyneth Llewelyn's Updated Upper Body Template
I have yet to work with this particular template.  But, I do know from working with the others template, the front and back pieces do not match straight across the entire layer.  The back section is smaller and set slightly higher on the layer.  Filling or, cutting straight across the layer, you will end up with your sections not matching.  

What Gwyneth's template appears to shows us, is where to fill or, cut each section so the areas will match together perfectly in length.  Unfortunately, she only provides two areas on the arms/sleeves to match...a short sleeve and a long sleeve area at the wrist. 

Sadly, Llewelyn only offers a Upper Body template for length.  I wish she had provided one for the lowers as well, which are pretty tricky when it comes to making underwear and shorts.  The lowers have their own issues regarding the crotch area. 

Give Thanks

Each of us should give thanks to the Chip Midnight, Robin Woods, and Gwyneth Llewelyn for their hard work and their generosity to the SL Creator Community.  These folks did not have to SHARE what they created with us, but they have.  They allow us to use their templates to help with our personal creations.  Without their kindness, I doubt we would be where we are today in relationship to some of the fantastic clothing we can find In-world. 

Please, send them a small donation if you can or, at the very least, drop them an IM In-World and thank them for their generosity.  A Thank You goes a long long way!

P. S.

If anyone out there knows of OTHER TEMPLATES, freely available for use, PLEASE, please, please, drop me a note here or In-World so it can be shared with others! 


If you haven't found the SL Creation Portal Wiki yet, please visit it.  Lots and lots of valuable information and links can be found there for all kinds of things not just clothing.  You might be surprised what you might find. The site is stable, offers a lot of information, and usually is up-to-date with files to download or direct links to the information you are seeking.  You should also be aware that some of the information may be outdated.  I think the wiki helps maintain the history of SL so you may need to review the information carefully.  I am not sure if it is just maintained by LL or, if volunteers help keep functioning with new information.  Also, please be aware that some of the links are broken so, you may have to search the web for a new one, if it exists.  

 Clothing Templates

General Building/Creation

 Resolution Upload Discussion 


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