Sunday, April 22, 2007

Too Many New Toys

I may never sleep again! I have too many exciting things to do.

On Thursday, my new island sim for Second Life was delivered. (Insert happy dance here.)

I had no idea how much control we have on private islands. So I spent some time playing with all of them, and swapping terrain textures, and digging down to zero with the Terrain tools just because I could. Playing on a totally empty sim, with no lag at all, was also an an amazing experience. If I was rich, I'd buy one just to put my workroom on.

On Friday, I got the new Adobe Creative Suite CS3 with Photoshop extended. I was so busy playing with my new island that I didn't install it until Saturday. (I also wasn't sure I was going to keep it, since the software and the island, together, cost as much as a new computer. Quite a nice new computer. But then I decided to go ahead.)

When I did try to install, I was horrified to find that I couldn't. The installer reported a conflict with the public beta of Photoshop CS3, and wouldn't work. So I dragged the beta to the trash, and emptied it. Big Mistake. It turns out that you need to use the Uninstaller. I was stumped until I found this blog post which explained how to get the script from Adobe to fix it.

Running the script was a little scary, because it has warnings that say if you do it wrong, you could lose everything on your drive. I was already mostly backed up from a system crash about a month ago, but I backed everything else, and it ran as smooth as silk. So CS3 is up and running.

Once that was done, I spent a couple of minutes playing with .raw files for my island. This is going to be so much fun!

And then, even though it was very late at night, I decided to just peek at Photoshop's new 3d layer.

It works like a charm, except that you can't add textures. You have to open a 3d image that already has them.

e-frontier has a free exporter for Poser 7. (It's a Python script, really,) that does this. But, as I found out after three hours of pouring over the opened files in BBEdit Lite, comparing them line for line, you must not leave any spaces in the name when you save the file. (It's the .mat file that can't have spaces in the name, but unless you want to edit it manually, just save the whole thing without spaces.)

Once I had it working, of course, I had to play with it a little, and see how much easier it really makes it. (Even though, by this time, it was no longer really late, and was more like a little early the next morning.)

It's going to save me a lot of time, I think.

The lighting is a little disappointing. I wouldn't be happy if I had gotten it primarily to use rendered models in my work. But since I got it mostly to work with the textures on those models, I'm pretty much delighted.

You can't paint directly on the models; you have to paint on the textures, and save them to see the painting updated. But since that's a single keystroke (and another to step backwards if the paint didn't land where you wanted,) it only took me a couple of strokes before I found that I kind of knew where it was going to show up while I was painting.

Updating in real time without a save would be even better, if Adobe could manage it, and painting on the model itself would be even better than that, of course. But I'll take this!

More on that later, though. For now, I have an island to play with!


Kitten Lulu said...

I found a 3D modeling program called 'modo' from luxology, it lets you paint in 3D, setup a scene and bake lights and shadows. It's among the best 3D tools that I worked with.

I am waiting an answer from luxology about how to export sculpties' vertex maps. If Modo can do that too, I am sold and I am going to spend the 860 and something USD to buy it.

21firewire said...

Hi Robin,
I've just discovered your blog and website and have been reading them with interest, particularly your post about using Photoshop CS3 with Poser.
Can you make skins for Second Life using these two programs? (Sorry if this is a dumb question, I'm new to this.) What I mean is, can you get a model from Poser, "unwrap" it in Photoshop CS3 extended, somehow make it the right size and shape to match the SL UV templates and then upload the texture into Second Life to use on your avatar?

Robin Wood said...

Hi Kitten! I have Modo. :D

So far, I haven't been really successful exporting a Sculpty from it, although there are instructions about how to do that here and here.

The second page has a new "test bed" with better gradients, so I'll probably be trying that soon.

But yeah! Not only can you paint on the model in Modo, but you don't have to push and pull vertices on a sphere in order to make the Sculpties! You can use the regular modeling tools, or model something any way you like, and then use the "UV Peeler" with the Uniformity set to 100% to make a perfectly even UV Map, which is what is needed for Sculpties.

When I have time, I'll write a post that tells exactly how to do that. :D

In the meantime, I'm loving Modo.

Robin Wood said...

Hi 21firewire!

Ummm.. not really. You can't make any kind of UV Maps in PS CS3. You can't even paint on the model, really. All you can do is view properly saved materials, and use the PS tools to paint on the flat textures, which you can then view on the model as soon as you save the texture. They aren't even in the same window, I'm afraid.

There are several programs that would allow you to change the UV Map you're using on a model, and also allow you to make new UVs, in several different ways.

However, you need to be aware that the various skins for the models you use in Poser are copyrighted.

Unless you have a skin you've made for a Poser model, and want to translate your own work to use on an SL model, you'd be asking for a MDCA Takedown at the very least, and possibly thousands of dollars in fines.

So, really, you don't want to do this. It's lots cheaper to buy a really good quality skin, or have one custom made for you. :D

And don't feel bad about asking. Most people don't realize that everything that anyone has created for the last thirty years is automatically copyrighted, and things that you can buy are usually sold by people who are willing to do the extra work to protect their copyright.

You'd be amazed how often this very question comes up.

Hope this helps!

Ina Centaur said...

Hi Robin - just found your blog and am taking you up on the offer to write a tutorial on using modo's UV peeler for making SL sculpties!

Robin Wood said...

Hi Ina!

I'm working on putting all of this into a "book" for the Texture Library. Right now, I'm trying to nail down a good way to figure out the whole LOD (Level of Detail) thing that can twist sculpts out of shape as you zoom in and out on them.

However, using UV Peeler is really very simple. :D

I'll try to do this in text, very quickly.

First, make your model so that it is topologically a plane (it's possible to unfold it into a single flat shape.) This is necessary to make the UVs correctly.

Anything that's a Sphere or Cylinder, or anything made with the Radial Sweep tool, or things made by beveling a single polygon into a shape will work.

Make the poles as tiny as you can, and then delete the pole, and the 3-sided polys all around it. It's better to just let SL make the poles, really.

Once you've done all of that, in the Edge mode, double click on the edge that intersects the X axis. (You could use any edge, but I find that using the same one every time makes matching parts and things much easier.

That should give you an orange highlighted line that runs from one pole, up the entire length of the object, and ends at the other pole. Since there aren't any polys at the poles, the line will be on one side of the object only.

Go to the List tab, (in the group half way down on the right, if you're using the 301 Default Layout) under the UV Maps flippy Triangle, choose (new map). Name it something that will make it obvious what it is. (For instance BottleUV, if you're making a bottle.)

Now click on the UV Button in the Tools palette on the right (if you have the 301 Default Layout) and choose UV Peeler from the Spread section.

That should open the UV Peeler options, in the section below.

Change the Uniformity to 100%, and click the Apply button, and your map is made. It should look like a perfectly uniform bunch of rectangles, with orange lines on the right and left side, and no red overlap.

That's it, for that part!

Save this model, Copy the Mesh, and open the Test Bed so you can save out a Sculpt. (If you need to download that, let me know.)

Paste the Mesh, and then click on the Texture:Blue Texture Locator in the Items list, open the Properties tab, and click the Auto Size button.

Repeat for the Green and Red Texture Locators.

In the Lists tab, click on the UV Map you made, to activate it, and then just go up to the Render menu, and choose "Bake to Render Outputs". It'll make the rainbow Sculpt map just like that.

Click Save Image, save as a .tga file, and you're ready to upload it!

NOTE: depending on how you made it, you might need to Flip Horizontal in a Graphics program, so that the normals face the right way.

Also, don't forget to put in some kind of Alpha channel (I use my Logo) unless you want to distribute the sculpt freely. Anyone can make a screen shot of a modifiable prim that uses a sculpt, and easily make a copy of it.

There'll be lots more detail in the Book, but this is the gist of the process. Let me know if it helps!

Yvette said...

People should read this.