Bloom 2018 – New release!

Prism Events’ Bloom event begins April 15 and runs thru to the 30th –

From the creators of Tannenbaum and Salem, Prism Events brings you Bloom.

Rich in flora, fauna and foliage, Bloom warmly welcomes spring with over 100 vendors and 2 ways to shop!

Stroll through Bloom’s Springtime Market and connect with artisans across the grid, selling seasonal goods. Or try your luck in the Gacha Grove!

Bloom opens on April 15th and promises to be a wonderful shopping experience, sure to put a spring in your step!

and just to give you a sneak peek, I thought I’d let you know about this new release ahead of time!

These are slightly oversized armchairs intended for both singles and couples seating.  They are 4LI each and feature 7 single animations and 4 couples animations. They are mod, copy, no transfer. Best viewed with Advanced Lighting turned on!

Check these and many other new spring-themed items out at Bloom, starting on Sunday!

Corgi Updates!

Greetings!

I’m recovering from a couple of setbacks this week. I have been recovering from a bit of a cold – the weather here is warming up slightly, which always means more colds and flu floating around.  That said, I figured I’d update you of my progress on the corgi.

Animation has been progressing well. Our corgi can now walk, run, jump, swim, crouch, sneak, and has some limited ground sits. I’ll be working on some object sits soon. At this time, I’d say the animations are around 70% done, although I’d like to do some more specific animations that will also take advantage of sounds and keystrokes via SL’s gesture assets.

Textures have also been dialed in a bit from previous posts, with the help of Substance Painter (which underwent a major UI change recently). It’s been interesting to make use of their texture resize feature, which allows for quicker brush stroke application at lower resolutions but which preserves the type of brush stroke if you need to flip up to higher resolutions, allowing for the higher detail to be preserved as one sizes up.

Predictably, all of this brush stroke recording does become a bit memory intensive, so I predict that some export to Photoshop at some point will be necessary for me as I begin to work in some of the other coats I want to work on.

Fantasy Faire arrives soon (next month – runs April 19-29) so moving forward, I’d like to tie this up and revisit the wyvern for use as an avatar before addressing some other Fantasy Faire exclusive editions for certain items. Additionally, you can look forward to some Organica content soon at Bloom (also next month – Runs April 15-30).

It’s still unknown as to whether Animesh will be made available on the main grid by Fantasy Faire – In all likelihood, I doubt it. Linden Lab has always been reticent to put out a specific deadline for releases like this and as of the most recent meeting, true testing for final LI accounting and poly-count limits has not yet concluded.

It’s for that reason that I’ll be mostly concentrating on avatar-related releases for this year’s Fantasy Faire – and if the opportunity for Animesh arrives subsequent to that, I’ll deal with Animesh kits as the need arises.

With that said, what kind of animations and functionality would you like to see out of a pet corgi?

Leave comments below or message me directly in-world at Aki Shichiroji.

See you next week!


If you enjoy what I’m doing here or think someone else might also find it of use, please feel free to share this blog with them. If you’d like to keep up to date with posts, the RSS for this blog is here, I can also be found on Twitter and Plurk. The Discord server is here.

If you really like my stuff, perhaps consider donating to my Patreon? Your continued support helps to produce weekly content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

Thanks for your support!

Cochrane – Rustic kitchen island with accessories

New this week is a new addition to the kitchen department!

This decor item includes a rustic wood island great for every-day food prep. It comes with various accessories suitable for any modern kitchen! There are 15 pieces total, packaged as a coalesced whole and some items can be de-linked where desired.

All items are mod, copy, no transfer and many are materials-optimized.

Drop by the main store in Organica Sim or visit the Organica Marketplace store to pick this up!

Corgi Week 3: Weighting the Avatar

To adequately modify weighting for the avatar, there are a few methods of particular relevance:

Automatic Weights

This is a shortcut – one which attempts to assign the mesh to the bones that are closest to that particular area on the mesh. Automatic weighting is achieved by right-clicking the mesh, THEN the armature in Object mode, then Parenting the former to the latter by selecting ‘Ctrl + P’. This brings up the ‘Armature Deform’ menu, from which  ‘Automatic Weights’ should be chosen.

It is important to note here that with human avatars, it’s usually possible to use it to predict which parts of the mesh should be associated with which bones. The same cannot necessarily be said for avatars that depend upon a modified skeleton (like this Corgi). Sometimes Bone Heat works, sometimes it doesn’t. In any case, there will always be some degree of tweaking required afterward, so tools such as ‘Automatic Weights’ should be considered a useful tool in most cases, but not a magic bullet. This is why the following two methods are also very important to learn.

Manual assignation:

To accomplish either of the following two methods, the mesh needs to be parented to the armature. This can either be done by choosing ‘With Empty Groups’ from the Armature Deform menu (which we got to by selecting the mesh, then the armature – both in object mode – then hitting hotkeys Control + P) OR selecting the mesh and adding an Armature modifier, taking care to point the ‘Object’ field in that modifier to the appropriate armature.

Once this is done, the mesh can be weighted using the first, second or both of the following methods:

A) Assignment as an Edit Mode property – by selecting a single vertex or a whole group of them in Edit mode, you can affect their bone weighting by choosing the (above) indicated menu in the Edit properties tab, adjusting the associated weight and then hitting either ‘Apply’ or ‘Remove’. Vertices associated with a given bone can also be selected or deselected in this same menu.

B) Weight Painting – This is a weighting method which allows you to visualize the degree to which verts are weighted to a particular bone through the use of colour. It allows you to use a digital brush to add, subtract, draw, lighten, darken, blur or otherwise affect bone influence, which in this mode is represented by a gradient of colour, ranging from blue (no influence) to yellow(middling influence) to red (full influence).

There are pros and cons to using each of these methods and almost 100% of the time, I use the second method *after* having used the first, in order to make it look more natural.

The weighting process with the cute, fuzzy and not-at-all skinny corgi has been, inevitably, a bit different (and long-winded) compared to weighting the sleek & non-squishy Drider avatar covered not too long ago.

I’ve always found this to be the case – coming to a happy medium between influence from multiple bones in a soft mass is a very organic process that depends heavily upon an understanding of what you want to move, and where.  Don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t work out right away. Understanding a lot of this comes with experience & experimentation.

Whereas you can (for the most part) assign heavy influence of a rigid mass to a single bone, rigging to ensure smooth movement along a curvy mass often requires more of a gradiated transition – sometimes extending well past the immediate location of the bone.

For example, you could weight mesh along a tail rigidly, but when it comes time to move it, the mesh will be overly faceted and easily visible from afar as being unnatural.

Adding geometry judiciously at this stage is a good way of adding a more natural look. This is also a great opportunity to smooth out weights along

It’s at this stage that I have added more geometry to critical areas, such as joints and the tail.

Maintaining a low poly-count to start with is very helpful in reducing additional work when it comes to correcting delicate bone weights, but it’s also in these cases where adding intervening geometry is appropriate, and this is why, despite having used a Subsurface division modifier to visualize, I have not applied such modifiers permanently to my mesh. Being able to easily select and divide up edge loops and rings manually allows me the greatest ability to create more natural shapes while maintaining clean edge-flow.

The weighting and animation processes are inevitably intertwined. In the next little while, I’ll not only be animating but correcting vertices with stray weights as well. I will often be animating, find that a certain movement affects the mesh in some negative way, and as a result find that I need to go back to editing weights to prevent any significant negative outcomes.

It’s also during this process that any final joint position tweaks should be made. As was mentioned in the previous post, it’s important to ensure any such position changes are carried out between *both* the Control bones (green) and the Deform bones (blue, purple, red). Failing to do so can cause some unpredictable results upon export.

(which happened here some time ago while working on the Yeti)

So far, I’ve explained the concept of these weighting methods and discussed a few pitfalls, but I’d like to delve a little deeper next week with some video content, demonstrating the use of these Weighting tools in greater detail. If you’re looking to learn about weighting with Blender & Avastar and have any particular questions for me to work in to these videos, please leave a comment here or drop by my Discord server for a chat within the next couple of days! (Latest March 4, please!)


If you enjoy what I’m doing here or think someone else might also find it of use, please feel free to share this blog with them. If you’d like to keep up to date with posts, the RSS for this blog is here, I can also be found on Twitter and Plurk. The Discord server is here.

If you really like my stuff, perhaps consider donating to my Patreon? Your continued support helps to produce weekly content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

Thanks for your support!

Corgi Week 2: Using Blender 2.79+ & Avastar 2.X, Part 1

Just a note! Apologies for the late post. Due to some unforeseen local circumstances, I’ve been really occupied this week prepping proposals at work and dealing with RL circumstances. With that said, this article is gonna run long, so I’m splitting it in two more manageable sections.

Let’s begin!

Repositioning joints

The joint editing process has been refined a bunch lately – particularly with the most recent iteration of Avastar’s 2.X plugin, which now only works with Blender 2.79 and above.

Of note, the folks behind Avastar were able to iron out pretty much all of the kinks when it comes to ‘snapping’ one set of armature bones to the other and vice-versa. Whereas previously there were some issues with spine bones not translating properly, they seem to work well now. I can’t say that I’ve tried doing any significant constraint editing yet (such as in previous cases with the weeping willow and drider rigs) but I’m happy to see this functionality relatively stable now.

With the current setup, you can select your Avastar armature in Object mode, then switch to edit mode and either select Animation bone groups or Deform bone groups to work with from the Avastar tab menu on the left-hand side.

Joints can be repositioned by selection and translation, just as you would a vertex, edge or face.

If you are significantly changing the position of the hip and shoulder joints, also be sure to click ‘Enable’ next to ‘Structure’ on the Rig Config menu to allow structural joints in those areas to move, otherwise you’ll have a hard time moving the heads of mCollar/Collar and mHip/Hip bones. Additionally, somewhere along the way, Blender did finally fix X-mirroring for armatures, so you should definitely make use of this tool (found in the ‘Options’ tab when you’re in Edit Mode for your armature) in cases where you would like to maintain symmetry across your armature.

Here, I referenced dog skeletons and bone placement for general positioning. It might seem like the outer shape is what one should pay attention to when rigging, but It’s important to pay attention to analogous joint positions in your critter’s real-life counterpart and to position your own to similar positions.  This will help to keep your animations as natural as possible later.

 

Once the joint positions are roughly where they need to be with the Animation bone group, ensure that the corresponding Deformation bone group positions are in place by clicking ‘Cleanup Rig’ with ‘Target Animation Bone Group (green bones) selected in the following menu.

The alternative is to simply show both the Animation AND Deformation bone groups while in Edit mode and to adjust their joints concurrently.

You can check that the effect has been applied correctly by toggling visibility of said bone groups and ensuring that they match and overlap precisely. Once you have ensured that this is the case, it’s time to parent the avatar mesh to the skeleton.


The next post will be up in the next couple of days – in the mean time, If you like what you see but don’t think it’s quite right for you, perhaps consider donating to my Patreon? Your continued support helps to produce weekly content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

Corgi Week 1: Working with modifiers in Blender to help visualize advanced geometry efficiently

This week I figured I’d get started on some Wilds of Organica-related items, since the last couple weeks have been pretty landscaping and decor-heavy.

Linden Lab have taken the past few weeks off, as far as Content Creation user group meetings – they will resume tomorrow (Feb 15, 2018) at 1PM SLT, on Animesh 1 region (on ADITI grid).

It’s hard to gauge how much longer the testing period will take. When we last met, it seemed like development was ongoing, but felt like we were moving a bit closer toward final performance and animesh limits testing. There has been some push in terms of increasing the triangle limit, however I’m still of the opinion that 50K is far more than enough.


With that said, I’ve begun development on a new WoO product this week that would likely see use as either an avatar, animesh, or both. We’ll see how development goes moving forward – I’m excited to see just how well it can be implemented, given the positive experience I’ve had popping in animations and some basic scripts for existing content thus far.

When I’ve chosen a real-world subject, typically I’ll look up some basic reference material to get the proportions down. In this case, it’s mostly been looking up corgis on Google Image search. It’s easy to get caught up researching cute critters and your search results are likely to be the same as mine, so suffice it to say that I use such references as a touchstone to develop an idea of what age and proportion I want my avatar to be.

My preference, from a stylistic point of view, is to avoid being photorealistic in my translation of a real dog to SL dog. I don’t really enjoy the uncanny-valley look that often comes from taking references completely from photograph to projected final texture, so usually these references become proportional and very general references later on when I paint my fur textures manually.

In this case, I was going for non-puppy, but still on the young side, just to get a nice balance between lovable huge ears and adorable elongated & lowered carriage. I’ve also elected to go the non-docked route, although a bobtail option might be in the cards at some point.

The early hours of my avatar making process usually start with something very simple – like a box with some very simple extruded faces, to block out limbs, head, etc. Once I feel i have the main proportions down, I will usually toss on a few modifiers to help me get a clear idea of what the final product will look like, even if i might not apply all of these modifiers by the end of the project.

 

By using a SubSurf modifier, I can non-destructively visualize how my geometry might look if i were to subdivide and smooth. I don’t typically ever apply this modifier permanently because it’s too easy to just apply it and call it a day, without addressing some of the geometry problems that it introduces.

In particular, SubSurf tends to cause geometry to form vertices which either branch off in three or five directions, which is not ideal from an edge-flow perspective.  Also, it’s typically a lot more efficient to add edge loops and rings in areas where necessary, as opposed to allowing a modifier to add them all over your model.

I tend to add some edge loops and rings to some degree at this stage, to get the basic silhouette established, but do tend to add more later on, during the rigging stage, for added flexibility and attention to specific bone weights. One might conceivably use the ‘simple’ subdivision method rather than Catmull-Clark, however that subdivision method will not apply any vertex to vertex smoothing calculation and, at least for this use case, does little to add to this workflow.

I will typically mix the SubSurf modifier along with a Mirror and EdgeSplit modifier.

The Mirror modifier allows me to model on one side-only and have those changes propagate symmetrically.

I usually add an EdgeSplit modifier to help visualize the edge-flow of my model – in this case to help define key features in the surface as well as to give some definition to the fur.

I usually turn off angle calculations for this modifier, opting instead to define my sharp edges manually by right-clicking a sequence of edges, hitting Control E, then selecting ‘Mark Sharp’. Basically I want to adjust the geometry based on shapes I want to add to it, rather than adjusting the geometry based on what I have so far.

This helps to give the mesh a more distinct silhouette and to give me a better idea of how the geometry will need to be broken down later from the standpoint of someone who needs to rig and animate. As with the SubSurf modifier, unless I actually need a very sharp edge in my final model, I usually don’t permanently apply this modifier permanently either, since the resulting edge-splits will cause duplicate vertices that are not always necessary.

Below, you can see the difference between my Mirrored model (with no other modifiers added, but faces rendered as smooth), my mirrored model with edge-split, and finally with SubSurface divisions.

Once I am happy with this edgeflow and overall shape, I will usually begin modifying the Avastar Extended Bento skeleton to fit the avatar.

We’ll cover this, along with rigging our corgi, next week.


If you like what you see but don’t think it’s quite right for you, perhaps consider donating to my Patreon? Your continued support helps to produce weekly content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

Fresh Cut Roses

Right in time for Valentines Day, these fresh-cut roses are now available in-store and on Marketplace and they are great for both buying for yourself or gifting to others!

Mod, copy, no transfer. To gift, left-click the vendor and choose the ‘gift’ option (or buy on Marketplace).


If you like what you see but don’t think it’s quite right for you, perhaps consider donating to my Patreon? Your continued support helps to produce weekly content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

New Flowers this week at Organica!

This week, we turn to Spring! Sorta.

It’s still pretty solidly winter here in Canada, so I figured we could use some flowers to brighten things up.

This week, you can pick up one or more gerbera varieties in store or on the Marketplace!

2LI at packaged size, these flowering plants feature vibrant colours and detailed materials – perfect for any outdoor garden! Pick ’em up now seperately or as a fatpack!


If you like what you see but don’t think it’s quite right for you, perhaps consider donating to my Patreon? Your continued support helps to produce weekly content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

New Furniture and Decor at Organica this week!

Today, I thought I’d share a new thing I’ve been working on, on top of a few other things that I can’t discuss quite yet.

I’ve always loved older furniture and one of my prized finds this year was a Duncan Phyfe drop-leaf table. It’s sort of hard to pick these up any more. Most are at least 75 years old at this point and they only come available every once in a while in Toronto, even though the occurrence of downsizing and estate sales seems quite high.

I managed to bring home one for a good price this past fall and it’s been both a beautiful yet unobtrusive addition to my kitchen, mostly in that it is so flexible in the way of footprint.

In any case, I decided to put together something with similar functionality, and here is the result.

For the moment, this table will come as three static versions, with movable drawers, all in one package. Ideally, I would like to take this in to an Animesh format in the future, so that a single scripted object would be all that is necessary to rez. We’ll see how well this works in practice in the following few weeks, provided available time.

This current version is mod, copy, no trans, 5LI ea and available in 8 colours. It will be eligible for free updates if/when an Animesh version is made available.

 

Additionally, there are a few light decor items being released this week as well, including some vase and table accent pieces, as well as some original inkwash artwork by Florence Chan (me).

Each are mod/copy/no transfer.

Everything mentioned above is now available in-store or on the Marketplace!

Background environment is Scarlet Creative’s Mountain Lodge gacha rare, by Charlotte Bartlett.


If you like what you see but don’t think it’s quite right for you, perhaps consider donating to my Patreon? Your continued support helps to produce weekly content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

Kitten Avatar Update + New Coat Announcement!

Today, I’m glad to announce that the Kitten avatars are undergoing a long-awaited update, which includes additional Bento functionality plus a brand new animation override. This updated avatar is now available in shop, along with one completely new line – the Bicolour coat pattern!

If you already have one (or more) of either the Tabby or Cheshire avatars and purchased it off the Marketplace, you can expect an automatic delivery for each within the next twenty-four hours. A limited number of recent in-store purchases will also receive this automatic update. If you do not receive your update by Jan 17 2018 (EDT), please see below before contacting me by IM:

If you purchased in-store prior to Christmas and do not recieve an update automatically, please come to the main shop and rez your update token (found in your original Kitten package). There may be a delay but you should still get your update that way. If it times out, please contact me (Aki Shichiroji) directly by IM.

This new bicolour pattern is very much intended to reference the ‘tuxedo’ look that many bi-colour cats have. Five colours are available in this line and these new kittens will include Bento functionality, just like the updated originals!

Changes (2018/01/15):

– Facial and tail Bento support
– New Animation Overrider HUD featuring advanced facial animations specifically for this avatar
– Update system now also uses the blue circle exchanger system (Read the included notecard for full details).

Known issue: RFL Purple Cheshire has not been addressed in this update but will be within the week. Please stay tuned for further info.

Relevant inquiries:
Will the applier system used for several other recent releases also be used for the kitten avatar?
– While the possibility is not closed to this, the logistics are non-trivial. The Applier system will not be applied to the kitten avatars at this time.

Will dev-kits and/or clothing be made available for these avatars?
– Both are being taken in to consideration at this time and both are very likely. Again, the logistics of packaging and managing a growing number of coats for this avatar are something that I need to become accustomed to before I will have time to address either. Please IM me to let me know of your interest!

Will animesh support be provided with this avatar?
– It’s a bit early to comment, but animesh for this avatar is quite likely. In all likelihood, Animesh support will involve a customized kit that can be dropped in, but given that these details are rather abstract, the final execution may be somewhat different. There are also some non-mesh and non-rigged components which would need to be converted for use with Animesh should a conversion occur, so I would need to account for the additional time cost for this work.

Stay tuned to the Subscriber Kiosk or the in-world group notices for further news about this or other releases from Wilds of Organica! Join the Subscriber kiosk ( here ) or the in-world group ( here )!

Thank you for your ongoing support!


If you like what you see but don’t think it’s quite right for you, perhaps consider donating to my Patreon? Your continued support helps to produce weekly content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!