Marvelous Designer & Blender Multiple vs Single Texture Faces

Today, I want to talk a little about Marvelous Designer, Blender, and texturing in-world. I have been experimenting using in-world textures on created, not  creating a new composite texture from the mesh UVs maps in Photoshop or Gimp but using actual textures from my SL inventory.  

WARNING--the information being presented is due to an EXPERIMENT on my is NOT to be taken as the "proper" or "correct" way to create or work with mesh clothing.  

This information is not a replacement for in-world classes, video tutorials, or advice/or training from those with more knowledge.  I am a hobbyist.  I don't claim to be a professional computer graphics artist nor do I plan on becoming one.  I create for the joy of creating .  I may not know the "proper" or "correct" way to achieve something.  What I present, may start you out or give you very bad habits! Remember, you have been warned!


What I am experimenting with pertains to mesh created in Marvelous Designer only.  The mesh has NOT been retopologized to reduce the poly count or, to change it from tris to quads.  This is a straight out of the box mesh exported from MD and imported to tweak the fit, create your UV and other maps, export and upload to Secondlife.  This experiment DID NOT include rigging, weight painting, or creating a composite texture in Gimp or Photoshop...just a simple non-rigged mesh item  you can apply textures to from your Second Life in-world inventory.

Figure 1 MD Summer Dress
The pattern used to make this dress is one I traced in MD from an existing RL pattern.  Following the cutting and sewing instructions as closely as possible, the dress contains 7 separate pattern pieces.  The front has a center fold.  There are two front side pieces, which are the same size and shape. There are two back side pieces, which are the same size and shape but not the same size and shape as the two front side pieces. Also, there are two center back pieces, which are the same size and shape and is similar in size and shape to the front center. 

There is nothing terribly unique about this particular dress except it may have more pattern pieces and seams than some dresses you see.  You will find similar mesh dresses being sold everyday in the Second Life Market Place that look just like it. 

This is not an overly complicated, but does have quite a few pattern pieces, which are varying in size and shape.  Sewing the pieces was a bit messier than I thought it would be. MD's Reverse Seams function became my new best friend during the project.  I did have some difficulty with the shoulder straps twisting when I simulated but rearranging the pattern pieces and resimulating a couple of times took care of the issue.  I think the end product turned out nicely.

Rather than using the default fabric for the entire dress, I  decided to use a different fabric for each pattern piece. Marvelous Designer's fabric, more or less, equals the concept of Blender's materials.  I wanted to try to solve a problem I encounter some time ago with texturing a similar dress, which had 2 pattern pieces (front and back) and 2 fabric/materials.  Texuring with plain fabric worked well on the dress but trying to match patterns or stripes at the seams was a nightmare. 

With more pattern pieces, each assigned a different fabric/material, I have a greater number of choices when texturing this dress in-world.  More material faces allows me greater flexibility while I do not have to worry about creating a composite texture in Photoshop or Gimp.  

If I want to, I can apply 7 different textures to the dress when imported to Secondlife.  I can use some of the thousands of textures accumulated over the years in my inventory and apply them directly to the mesh.  It is a similar method used by some creators to have more flexibility when needing to use different textures for say houses or other mesh item.  Multiple material faces will be created for a single mesh item for multiple textures that can be scaled, rotated, moved, colorized independently of one another. A composite textures can be limiting, especially if you purchase items from another creator, who may or may not supply you with good UV maps, .psd, .obj, or .dae file to create your own. What I am writing about is NOT a new concept.

Now, whether this method is the "correct" way for texturing (whatever that really means), which I have been told it is not, it is still a choice. One only has to browse the SL Market Place to see numerous examples by other creators using something similar for both clothing, furniture, home accessories, mesh clothing, etc. You may not see as many material faces being used as I chose to use, but enough to know others out their creating, right or wrong, do use this technique.  

See, I may be teaching you bad habits according to some!

Once my pieces were sewn together, I chose to texture the garment in Marvelous Designer, which is what you see in Figure 1.  The texturing capabilities of MD is not that great in my opinion.  The texture matching at the seems turned out better than I expected.  I then exported the garment as an .obj file along with the texture, (Make sure to check the "Unified Coordinates" box when export so your UVs are decent). It was then imported it into Blender.  Because this was an experiment, I only tweaked a few spots on the mesh for fit; I did not rig nor weight paint the item.   I made my UV, shadow, and AO maps then exported the dress as a .dae file. 
For the sake of this article, I skipped the retopology/remesh step to give you some idea how important retopologizing mesh clothing from Marvelous Designer is. When I uploaded the dress(don't forget to check the texture box when uploading) I got a big surprise.  Well, not really, I rather expected a high upload cost but nothing like 104 L (see how much I love my readers) with a land impact of 35.637.   The upload cost and land impact is pretty expensive I thought. I am use to uploading mesh at 11 L for 1 land impact.   

Why so expensive?  See those nice draped folds, the length of the dress and more than likely the number of pieces all added to the high cost in Lindens and Land Impact. But, all those fabulous folds and draping effects Marvelous Designer also up your costs and land impact.  Sure, I could of reduced the particle count in MD, but it didn't look as nice as the default.  And since, I didn't retopologize it in Blender or remesh it in ZBrush, the poly count is pretty high.  When creating mesh and uploading to Second Life you pay for all that lovely detail you create. 

Figure 2 MD to Blender to SL

The dress on the left in Figure 2 was the directly exported as an Avastar .dae file from Blender.  It was then directly imported into Second Life. Notice how the scaling of the texture is way off compared to the one from MD as seen in Figure 1.  When the dress was imported and the scaling checked, it showed the texture applied as a single 1:1 texture, across all the faces.  But, to be honest, my current texturing knowledge with Blender is minimal at best until I learn more about it.  I have since learned you can rescale your UV islands larger in Blender so the texture is better scaled. my next piece of the puzzle to learn and hopefully share with you.

Now, look at the dress on the right,  it looks more like the texuring in Figure 1. I experimented with texturing on the right two separate ways and both worked the same. 

1) I copied the dress on the left, in-world, and changed the texture repeats of the already applied texture that came with the dress on import.  The scale is 20:20.  
2) I rezzed a copy of the dress from inventory.  Changed the texture blank, then reapplied the same texture from my inventory to each face using the original texture I purchased from the texture artist.   Again, the dress required the texture be scaled to 20:20. 

There was no difference between the texture methods I used.  Granted, this is just one item and the methods may not hold true for all mesh items using the creation method I did.  FYI,  I purchased the texture from a texture artist in-world.  The original texture was 256 x 256 and I did not alter it to a higher resolution. 

Okay, so far this experiment is working as I thought it might.  Now, I want to show you one of the reasons why I chose to texture each of the pattern pieces with a separate fabric/material face. 

Figure 3--Single vs Multiple Material Faces

Let's look at the same dress as in Figure 1, but using a stripe texture for illustration.  Again, this was an in-world texture purchased from a texture artist, and applied straight out of inventory  in-world to the mesh.  I believe the resolution for this texture is 1024 x 1024. 

The dress on the left is the same dress as Figure 2; however, in MD I changed the fabric/materials back to one, did a new export, process through Blender as previously mentioned, then uploaded the new .dae file.  Same dress just the number of allowable textures has changed. The dress on the right has our original 7 material faces. 

Notices the side seams on both dresses.  The dress on the left the textures do not align on the different pattern pieces. There is no amount of manipulation in-world I can do to make this look better.  The only way to do so, is create a new texture for it in Photoshop using the UV Maps and aligning the fabric in each pattern piece. I am sure there is a better way of doing that in Blender, but again my skill set is currently limited in that regard.

Looking at the dress on the right, you can see the same texture has been applied.  However, the multiple faces allowed me to manipulate the texture using the in-world edit tools to better align the stripes. I had the ability to rescale, rotate, and move each texture on each piece adjacent piece to to better match at the seams.  While it is not perfect, if I had spent more time with it, I think I could have gotten a closer match.  For me at least, I found this a much easier, less frustrating, and more cost effective way than trying to create a single texture in Photoshop. 

The method described in this article does NOT replace creating single textures for mesh clothing.  Single texture mesh is probably the more efficient than what I did in this experiment. I think a lot depends on your skill set with graphics software and Blender.   If you are just learning, it may make better sense to use the method I tried until you have more skills under your belt.  Just because this may be an easier option, should not mean you should stop striving to be more efficient and frugal.

Until Next Time, Happy Creating


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