CREATING MESH TEXT FOR SECOND LIFE USING BLENDER

All the Holidays are over now, at least where I live, and Old Man Winter seems to be slowly creeping in to keep us indoors.  Hopefully, life with settle down and I can start applying myself (laughs outrageously) to some learning projects. 

Most of my learning projects involve NEED.  I NEED something and either can't find it or, I find it is too expensive either cost or prim wise.  Thus, to have it, I must learn how to make it!  Such has been the case where mesh text is involved.  

It is surprisingly easy to create mesh text in Blender for Second Life (SL). I am going to show you how I create it so it will no longer be a mystery. The one caveat I found is the font and size you create.  If not careful, the text you create can be so high in vertices it will crash the SL Uploader or it will be so high in land impact you won't wish to use what you have created.  Having said there, there we go...

CREATING MESH TEXT IN BLENDER

1) I am using Blender 2.72b--please open it to proceed.

2) In OBJECT MODE, center your cursor (Shift-C), and click on ADD on the OBJECT MODE menu line.
3) NUM PAD...go into 5, 7...for TOP ORTHO VIEW...
It should look like the above.  Notice we are still in OBJECT MODE at this point

4) TAB into EDIT MODE

Notice in EDIT MODE the highlighted squares to the left of the WORD Text.  This is where your cursor is currently.

5) BACKSPACE to DELETE the WORD Text and begin typing a simple word.

I am going to use the word ROOM for this example.  You can play around with this later after you learn these simple steps.

6) Go to the PROPERTIES PANEL on your left and SELECT the FONT choice (looks like a capital F)

7) Scroll down in the FONT section to the bottom of the menu.

8) Now, before we go further, we need to change the SIZE from 1.0 to 0.250.

You will thank me later for ingraining this into your process as this point.  You can probably set this to a lower size; however I have NOT experimented with it.    We want something small when we import it into SL so we do not have an outrageous Land Impact.

9) Next, you can use one of the options under ALIGN. 

In my example, I chose to Center.  I do this by habit since I often use multiple words and like them centered with each other.

10) OPTIONAL...USE CAUTION...STEP...CAN SKIP

The red arrow to the far right is an additional option you can experiment with in changing the type of font you use.  Using this option REQUIRES that you know where your fonts reside on your hard drive.  I normally use True Type Fonts which have an extension of .tff.  You browse to the font directory and click on a particular font you wish to use.

Be cautious when changing to elaborate fonts.  The more elaborate the font the greater the chances your "mesh text" will be some astronomical number of vertices that either crash/not upload or cost you a both a fortune in upload fees and land impact!

11) Tab back to OBJECT MODE once you have set your options in the FONT panel.

Your text should already be fully highlighted.  If not, you can highlight it by toggling the letter A.

12) With your object selected, Click on the OBJECT MENU next to OBJECT MODE at the bottom of Blender.  Mouse over CONVERT TO and select MESH FROM CURVE (the bottom selection)


Your mesh has now been converted to a "mesh object" suitable to export as a .dae file.  However, we have a few more steps to do before it is ready to import into SL.  If we imported out object this way, it would be an invisible plane on the back side.  While this is often useful, let's extrude it a bit so we will have something with a bit of depth when we have it in SL.

13) Tab to EDIT MODE. Highlight the entire "mesh word" Room. 

You will need to angle your screen a bit to do this next step.

14) Hit the letter E (Extrude) on your keyboard then immediately click to set it.  DO NOT.  Use the BLUE up arrow to slightly, and I mean just slightly, pull the lettering up a bit.  When finished, stop and release your mouse to set it. 

Remember, the more faces and vertices you give to our mesh, the more it will cost to upload and impact your land in prim costs.

15) Still in EDIT MODE, go to the PROPERTIES PANEL, click on the little yellow marble icon (MATERIALS).

We are going to add a material to this mesh so when brought into SL you can add a texture or color.  For text, I generally prefer to alter the color rather than the texture. 

16) In MATERIALS tab, click on NEW.  Scroll down (should already be showing) to DIFFUSE and click the white bar and give the text a color...then click ASSIGN.  This will be the base color of your word.

With some experimentation, you can add up to 7 more colors for individual letters by highlight those letters and assigning a new material.

17) Next, while still in EDIT MODE, highlight the entire word (a to toggle selection/deselection) and do a CTRL J to simplify the vertices.

I do not know if this will matter when uploading to SL.  It was something I was taught long ago before I knew a bit more about Blender.  For me it is habit, you might wish to experiment using it or not as part of your workflow.

18) Tab back into OBJECT MODE making sure the entire mesh object is selected.  You can either skip Step 19 or not.  Is up to you. 

19) OPTIONAL STEP...on the Tool Shelf...under TRANSFORM.  Scroll down to SHADING and select SMOOTH or FLAT. 

I prefer to use FLAT but SMOOTH can be nice.  You should experiment with them both in-world and with various shiny qualities.

20) It is now time to EXPORT the mesh.  Highlight the mesh object (the word Room).  Go to the FILE MENU and under FILE, select EXPORT.

21) EXPORT as a COLLADA (DEFAULT).DAE FILE.

NOTE--if you are using AVASTAR as part of your Blender Add-ons, BE SURE TO CHECK MARK...SELECTION ONLY...when you export. 

If you don't, you will also import the mesh av model with your text...you should be able to see this in the uploader and can cancel the upload.  Merely export it again and retry.  

22) Now, upload your mesh text object to SL. 

If you don't know how, here are some resources for you to review on the uploader.

http://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Uploading-a-mesh-model/ta-p/974185

http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Mesh/Upload_Model_UI_reference

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27hcpVajjL8

http://www.lokieliot.com/blog/?p=1193

Happy Creating, 
Morgaine

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