Animesh Hits Organica – Weeping Willow Trees Now Available!

It’s been a while since I discussed this project – I covered initial development for these trees in late 2017/early 2018, but they were put on the back-burner due to a shadow rendering issue that affects how shadows are rendered for transparent textures on rigged objects.

While previously this was a known (but low priority) issue for avatars, it’s become increasingly necessary for Linden Lab to address this with the onset of Animesh. Fortunately, Graham Linden has been tasked with finding a solution and progress on the issue appears imminent (Inara Pey reports a solution has been developed and waiting for release via the viewer pipeline eventually).

With all that said, I decided to move ahead with the Weeping Willow despite this problem because it would be unlikely that any changes be made to accommodate shader fixes on the viewer side, once they have been committed. 

In the past week, easily 30-40 hrs have been put in developing new textures and revising existing animations to be more natural and appropriate to region wind speeds. I’ve also been very fortunate to work with NeoBokrug Elytis of Desolate Studio to develop an extensive feature set that I am sure you will appreciate!

So it’s with much excitement that I offer this set of Weeping Willows for your consideration:

Features:

The Weeping Willows are the first in a line of trees from Organica that will both offer Animesh support as well as built-in compatibility with the Organica Seasonal Control Module, which will allow for mass foliage change of Organica: Winds of Change-compatible products both region-wide as well as parcel-specific.

The Willows are set to animate and rustle in relation to Second Life region wind. They change texture (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Dead) on command from the included SCM, but you can also set foliage by individual tree as well if you wish.

All settings can be secured to owner, group or anyone.

A few caveats:

  • As an Animesh product, a compatible viewer must be used to view it properly. If your viewer has updated to 6.0 or better, you’re all set!
  • Due to the nature of Animesh (it snaps back to the size defined by its armature and animations), only two sizes are currently offered and this tree cannot be resized. I’ll be doing some experimentation and hopefully more sizes will be available in the future – any additional sizes to this product will be sent as a free update.
  • As discussed above, shadows from this product are not currently cast properly. Keep an eye on JIRA BUG-202837 or at Content Creation User Group Meetings for movement on this problem – I will also announce once I learn this has been fixed.

The Weeping Willows are offered mod, copy, no transfer with copy-only scripts, animations and sounds and are optimized to 23LI each (Land-impact of future additional sizes may vary). Full documentation for use of the Organica Animesh Tree System available here.

Special thanks to Aposiopesis Fullstop for her consultation on our documentation as well as the Residents of The Wastelands for being our guinea-pigs in our latter testing stage.

You can pick up the Weeping Willow 3 pack, mod/copy object, copy-only contents, in-world here and on the Marketplace, here

Animesh on the Main Grid & Snakes On My Head

It’s been a long while since I first posted about Animesh. Apparently, it’s been a good 18 months since Linden Lab started working on it, and just this week, the new functionality hit the AGNI grid (not just on RC channels) completely. If you have not yet updated your SL viewer to 6.0.0 or higher, you may wish to do so now!

That LL announcement was the final kick in the butt I needed to finalize the look & feel as well as packaging and pricing for my new Medusa Gorgon Hair.

While I would have preferred to have released these prior to Halloween, it just didn’t work out from a scheduling and feasibility point of view. With that said, I am glad LL took their time to ensure all their ducks are in a row moving forward, and look forward to making much more content that takes advantage of the new functionality.

White-snaked Medusa hair made by Wilds of Organica. Snapshot taken at Lost Unicorn. Head: Lightstar Lin Head. Dress: *MC* Empire Maxi Dress

For full details, please be sure to try the demo and to read the documentation fully. There are some caveats relating to Animated Mesh objects which may affect the product’s utility for you. 

Now available in-store, here!


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 regular content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

Thanks for your support!

Themed Wreaths at Tannenbaum!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been in the midst of moving house – only recently getting mostly settled in. This week, I had the opportunity to (finally) sit down and work out the next few offerings from Organica. Starting today, Prism Events’ Tannenbaum event will begin!

Newly available will be these three themed wreaths, which touch on tropical, underground and underwater themes! Pick up the Tropical, Ocean Kingdom, and Cavern Riches Wreaths exclusively at Tannenbaum for the duration of the event – from November 17 thru December 22!

Mod/Copy/No Transfer, with some copy-only scripts, range from 4-9LI.

Wyverns now available at Wilds of Organica!

The TL;DR:

Eight wyverns are now available from Wilds of Organica. For now, available just in-world, so be sure to drop by and pick up a demo, here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Organica/100/185/26 .

Full avatar details here!

For the moment, these are fully animated avatars with some Bento support + eye control. I’ll touch on plans as follows…

Delay

Some of you may recall the wyvern having made an appearance on the original Bento video put together by Linden Lab. By that point, the main model had been completed and rigged with a preliminary Bento rig. At the time, I chose to make use of both hind and wing bones to make this a mount, rather than a full avatar, but it also meant there needed to be a few compromises when it came to any treatment of a human avatar rider.

While I am not sure I couldn’t have made it work, there were a number of factors that spurred me to abandon the mount-as-part-of-existing-rig solution.

First, I was working on a number of projects at the time and various events called for projects that just made more sense to be released first.

Second, both the underlying Bento rig and development tools have changed since I started. We started off with no wings to some wings to potentially being able to ride rigged objects eventually.

Third, the final rig implementation as it stands best accommodates a fully opening and closing webbed wing structure by using most of the hand bones, which is a lot more difficult to do with just the Bento wings. 

The added difficulty of dealing with an especially thin webbed membrane and preventing as much clipping as possible has been a major bone of contention for me and I feel like the current setup strikes the best balance.

As it stands now, I hope to keep an eye on the avatar and how folks like it. As always, updates are free, and with the new vendor system, I look forward to being able to just push updates to you automatically.

I will be looking in to tangential implementation as Animesh and hope to, ultimately, also provide a means for use as an Animesh mount… but until then will be catching up on a few items for both shops along with packing up for a major life change coming up in the next month or so.

Moving

I don’t want to bore folks much about it, but I must say I will be moving at the end of October. While I’ve made good memories where I am now, I’m really looking forward to making the new place my home.

Now that the Wyvern is out of the way, I hope to delve a bit more in to upcoming Animesh releases as well as other things I’ve been meaning to work on for a while. 

Look for some freaky Halloweeny stuff coming up soon, along with some new household items as well.

I am also moving things around in the Organica shop and hoping to better feature everything that is on offer. Please let me know if you think things are going in a good direction or if you have any other feedback.


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 regular content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

Thanks for your support!

2 New Prefab builds!

Two new builds are now available at Organica – but before I get to that let me take care of a few housekeeping items.

Housekeeping

A limited number of prefab buildings have also been put back out on display. Following the initial store rebuild at ground level, some prefabs were moved to a rezzer, while others were not put back out on display for various reasons (mostly because the rezzer vendor does not handle multiple-part builds very  well. While not all previous builds are on display quite yet, those of you who are looking for modern style builds suitable for both skybox and ground use can view them once again in-store.

I’m still considering a setup that would allow all of the bigger builds to also be shown, but there are considerations to be made on my part with respect to visibility at ground level.

New Stuff

With that said, I’m pleased to announce this new two-story craftsman-style home! Features 2 bedrooms,  2 bath, kitchen & laundry area, front/living room, dining room and Includes extra room in the basement that would make for an excellent family room. Best viewed with advanced lighting model enabled. 58LI at packaged size, which is 15x20m. 3.5m ceilings. Mod, copy, no transfer.

Built to fit a common 512sqm alottment, this is a detailed house waiting for you to make it a home. Comes unfurnished, all room walls can be individually edited and will take any texture that is horizontally seamless by default.

 

Additionally, this next release was originally built to house items at Home & Garden Expo, but I wasn’t prepared to offer it for sale at the time as it was undergoing some final refinements. Today I’m pleased to say it’s available!

This shop space stands 12m wide by 18m deep by 13m tall and includes a detailed facade & back roof area. It’s great for smaller shops seeking a look that’s got character. Also best viewed using the Advanced Lighting Model.

Come see both of these in-store (180 Hamilton here and Kensington here) or check them out on the Marketplace (180 Hamilton here and Kensington here)!

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 regular content (written, modelled, animated or otherwise) and helps to keep original content creation in Second Life!

Thanks for your support!

 

New Mesh Plants and Hedges!

New this week are a couple of great additions to your garden!

Flowers aren’t always necessary to introduce colour to your garden – Begonias come in a wide range of looks and here are a handful of them to start with. Included are both the individual plants as well as a version of them potted in a wooden planter. Each has a unique set of materials, featuring detailed bump maps and hand-painted diffuse textures, so please do be sure to enjoy these with Advanced Lighting Model turned on in your viewer.

Available as singles or in a fatpack, mod, copy, no transfer, both on Marketplace as well as in-store.

Additionally, here’s a new set of hedge pieces made for carefully groomed gardens! Mingi Mingi are dense bushes from New Zealand that feature small leaves and small berries. Pieces range from 1-3 LI ea, materials optimized, and are mod, copy, no transfer. Available both on Marketplace as well as in-store.

Additionally, both the calathea plants as well as the new Altadore bedroom set are now available on Marketplace as well!

 

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 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!