Accessory Meshes, Senor Style



Hello my students. X3 Professor Crouch here again. This tutorial deals all in basic meshing in 3ds Max.

HOWEVER, since this is a Level 2 Tutorial there are some prerequisites involved. So before continuing any further please make sure you have gone over the Prerequisites before proceeding.
Prerequisites for this Level 2 Tutorial:
Completed one of the following-
1) Read over the Level 1 Tutorial- Basic Tools of 3ds Max, Senor Style
2) Have a general understanding of what 3ds Max's tools are, this includes the camera controls, the tool bar for object manipulation, the basic tabs, etc.

If the above prerequisites have not been completed, please click on the link above to be redirected to the Level 1 Prerequisite Tutorial. Thank you.

A 2 part tutorial: 1) Creating a mesh. 2) Exporting Ritual of Create Mode

In this tutorial I will go into detail on how to create an IMVU accessory and successfully bring it to IMVU. Those who have no experience what so ever with the program 3ds Max, this is the tutorial to be in.

Let's get started. First the programs used in this tutorial:




Before we actually get into any of these programs though, we need to download IMVU's avatars and their exporters:

Male Avatar

Female Avatar

IMVU's Cal3D Exporters

Good, now that those are downloaded we can finally get to opening up 3ds Max.


Part 1: Creating a Mesh



Once it is loaded up go up to "File" then click "Open" and open up one of the 2 avatars you downloaded in the step above. In this tutorial I will be using the male model.

So I am going to open up the "Male03_Anime01_WeightingPoseMASTER" avatar in 3ds Max 7. The other one you could have chosen was the "Female04_Anime01_WeightingPoseMASTER" avatar.

*gasps* 3 seconds into the tutorial and already you feel like you've broken something. X3 IMVU's Education Center fails to mention this part of opening up their file. For if you opened up the male avatar you should get a window that looks something like this:



Don't worry, just make sure the small box is checked and then hit "Continue"



As we can see the avi is wearing glasses. I dunno about you but I am not interested in making glasses. So...



Just highlight the glasses by clicking on them with your mouse...



And go up to "Edit" and click "Delete"

And ta da, your avi is no longer wearing glasses.

I am going to be working in four specific view points, so lemme back out of the singe view, by clicking the camera lens, as I call it the focus lens, and show you how to change them:



Go up to any of the four top left hand corners of each view and right click. In this case I am right clicking the word "Top" going down to views and then click on a new view. So I will change it from the original IMVU views to my own:

Top / Front

Right / Perspective

XD I know it can be a bit tedious but at least we can move on with our accessory. In the steps ahead you can follow me along while I am building a hammer or if you feel daring, make an object of your own.


Rods and Ends




Okay start by moving over to your creation tab and click "Cylinder". I am going to create it in my "Top" view. When ready to create click and hold the mouse. Drag it to the desired width then release the mouse. Begin moving the mouse upward to create the length of the cylinder. Once at the desired length "right click" the mouse to end the creation process.

X3 Of course a cylinder of that width would never fit in an avatar's hand, so let's shrink it:



I am going to focus only on the top view for now. Select your scale tool and hover the mouse over the outer part of the Pivot's corner. When it's hovered over it will be highlighted yellow strand like the picture above. I also moved from the creation tab to the modify tab.



Now click and hold the mouse down on the yellow strand and move the mouse in the direction of the arrow till you have the desired width. After that release the mouse.

Now to turn this cylinder into an editable mesh:



Once in the modify tab go into the "Modify List Selector" and scroll down for an "Edit Mesh". Click it. There your cylinder is now considered a mesh. X3 But don't jump for joy just yet, we have a long way to go.

Next up comes the UVW Map. Don't let that term get you flustered, it's just basically a technique where it takes your 3D object and puts it onto a 2D plane so you can take it to programs like Photoshop or GIMP to color and texture it.



Go into your modify list selector again and scroll down for a "UVW Map". Click it.

Now you have a UVW Map equipped to your mesh. But first we have to edit it a bit:



Click the "+" sign next to the UVW Map so the "Gizmo" is seen in you list. Click the Gizmo so it's name is highlighted in yellow, that means the Gizmo has been selected.



Next select your rotate tool and rotate the Gizmo around the X-axis by 90 degrees. I highlighted the axis to rotate in the image above. Once you have it rotated you have to now enlarge the Gizmo so that the Gizmo wraps the rod inside itself, as you see down below:



Under your Modifier list you will see box to change the length and width of your gizmo. Change both to a high number like I have so that the gizmo is now larger than your cylinder.

X3 Okay now you can deselect your Gizmo by clicking the yellow highlighted "Gizmo" in your modifier list again.



Next up, go back to your Modifier List selector and scroll down till you find "Unwrap UVW" and select it.



Once it is added to your list, once again go underneath the list and click on "Edit".

This window should pop up:



Go up and click on the move tool up in the upper left hand corner of the window and select it. Then with your mouse, click and drag a dotted square over the entire cylinder. Then release the mouse and also make sure all the vertices are highlighted red.



Then with your mouse and the move tool still selected, click and hold the mouse down on one of the red vertex and move it to a spot on the map, for me I am going to move it over to the left of the map. Alright looks good, close the UVW Map window. We will come back to it later.

IMPORTANT, don't move anything passed the dark blue lines. That represents the edge of your map.

Oh and also please remember where you put your items on your map. The reason being is that in the end all your pieces will come together on one map and trust me you don't want any of your items on the map overlapping.


A Smashing Performance


Well now that that's done let's get to work on the hammer head. X3



Just like last time, go to your create tab and click on the cylinder. This time I am going to construct it in the "Right" view. Once again clicking and holding down the mouse and moving it right to determine the width, then moving the mouse up to determine the length, however, notice because you created the cylinder on its side the length is being created horizontally instead of vertically like last time....right moving on. X3 Then right clicking to end the creation process.



Just like last time, going into my modifier list selector and selecting "Edit Mesh" to make this cylinder into a mesh.

As you can also tell I used the move tool to move the soon to be hammer head over the first cylinder we made.

I am going to focus in on the front view and zoom in the camera a little.



This time however we are going to edit the mesh around. I am going to select the vertex button underneath the modifier list, this will allow me to move the object's vertices around. Next select your scale tool, then click and drag a dotted square over the middle 2 rows of vertexes. Once you have them inside the square release the mouse, now the vertices you selected should be highlighted red.

Next up we are going to click and hold the inner most corner of the Pivot. This time, when hovered over, looks like a yellow highlighted triangle as shown above.



Now drag the mouse downward. This will shrink the vertices down. Finally release the mouse to stop shrinking the vertices.



Now I want to select just one set of the shrunken vertices, so I am going to drag another dotted square over only the vertexes I want, highlighting them red.

Selecting the move tool, I am going to move these selected vertices back a bit.

Then I am going to select the other set, in the same way:



I am going to move this set forward a bit. There. X3 Now it looks like a hammer head.



I want to move the hammer head down to the cylinder but first I want the Pivot to be centered on my hammer head.

So go over to your Hierarchy Tab, select Pivot



Then click "Affect Pivot Only", finally click "Center to Object". There, now the Pivot should be centered to your object.

I am quickly going to go back to all four views:



Go back to your Modify Tab and move the hammer head down to the cylinder and center it as best you can. Now it's UVW time.

Back in Front View, go up to the Modifier List selector and select "UVW Mapping", click on the "+" sign once you get it in your list. Highlight the Gizmo like last time.



We are going to have to rotate the gizmo again, but this time along the Y-axis. I have highlighted which axis that is. You must rotate it 90 degrees.



Then enlarge the gizmo, using the length and width options below the list. Now that the gizmo is large enough, time to unwrap it.

Going back up to the modifier list selector and scrolling down for "Unwrap UVW", select it to add it to your list.



Underneath, click "Edit" again and the UVW Map window should pop up like last time.



The hammer head is too big on the map because remember where we put the first cylinder? But just in case you forgot, I highlighted the area where we put it just in case. =P So I suggest shrinking the hammer head UVW.

Select the Scale tool in the top left hand corner of the window. Drag a dotted square over the entire hammer head, highlighting each of the vertices red. Click and hold one of the vertices and drag the mouse downward to shrink the UVW.



Still keeping in mind where we put the first cylinder, I am going to use the move tool, highlight the vertices, and move the hammer head UVW up in the top right hand corner of the map. Safely away from the first cylinder.


Just Add Glue


Next thing we want to do is collapse the lists. X3 Sounds fun huh?



Inside your list Right Click with your mouse, you may have to Right Click on one of the lines in your list in order to see the "Collapse All" option. Click "Collapse All", usually a window pops up warning about collapsing the list, don't worry though, just hit "Continue" or "Ok" if that window does pop up.

There, now your list should have only one thing in it: "Editable Mesh"

Time to do the same for the cylinder:



Then...



Alright, almost done with the creation process. Good. X3 For those who are still with me, you are doing great!

Next up is to attach the 2 pieces of the hammer together. Select either one of the 2 parts of the hammer.



Under your modifier list you should see an "Attach" button. Click it and it should become highlighted yellow.

Click the piece you didn't select.



There now both pieces should be selected. Once they are click the "Attach" button again to fuse the 2 pieces together.

Now to unwrap the UVW of the newly created hammer:



Go to your modifier list selector again and select "Unwrap UVW". Click "Edit"



Now your UVW Map is completed. I suggest at this point in time, if you are making your own object you press "Prnt Scrn" on you computer. Paste it into either Photoshop or GIMP and cut up the pasted image so that just the UVW Map is showing, then texture it in one of these 2 programs. I am sorry, but I will not be going into how to texture a UVW Map, but I will say that in GIMP or Photoshop you want to makes the UVW Map's dimensions 512x512 pixels for the greatest quality texture. Moving on, here's how the UVW Map should look like when you are using it as your texture:



See nothing but the Map itself.

Getting side tracked again. X3 Anyways...

Okay now that we went and made the texture for you item in GIMP or Photoshop, time to bring it here.



Go up and click your Materials Editor button.

This window should pop up:



Now the texture chosen by default is the first texture, the one on the top far left. We want to chose the one right next to it, 02 - Default. (I recommend you rename the default color into something all your own. It'll make things a bit easier for you later in this tutorial, although I did it the hard way in this tutorial.)

Then scroll down to the area where it says "Diffuse", there is a small unmarked button that you want to press.

This window should pop up when you do:



Double Click the "Bitmap" option, a window should pop up after that asking for which image to put in the bitmap. The image you are looking for is the texture you made in GIMP or Photoshop or another image manipulation program.

Once you select your texture, the white sphere we saw earlier should be replaced with you new texture:



Finally, make sure your hammer is selected and press the add to selected button as shown in the picture above.

Also as a helpful tip: If you have a new texture you want to add that looks better or you just edited your older one I have underlined in red how you change your textured image to a new one then hit "Reload"

At this point in time it might be a good idea to render your item, see if the texture came out how you wanted it to on your mesh.


The Swivels




Just hit the render button to see how it looks so far. I do not show you the rendering window that shows a preview of your final product thus far, but I will tell you it comes in handy when looking for flaws before you bring your item to IMVU. While you are doing that I am going to move my hammer to the other side of the avatar, getting it ready to be held in the hand. I am also going to be changing the camera angles on some of my views just so I can see what I am doing to my hammer. X3

Now we are going to begin rotating the hammer around, but if you notice the Pivot is not centered to the object. So time to go to the Hierarchy Tab to center it to the object:



It's the same as last time, "Pivot" then "Affect Pivot Only" and finally "Center to Object". Then go back to your Modify Tab.



Select your Rotate Tool and turn the hammer along the Y-axis about 90 degrees so that the hammer head is facing your camera in the Front View.



Next up I am going to rotate the hammer 90 degrees along the X-axis so that now the hammer head is facing the ground.



Now is the perfect time to align the hammer up with the hand of the avatar. Try to fit the handle as close as you can to the palm of the avatar's hand. Don't worry, clipping the avatar's thumb nearly unavoidable. Just try your best to fit it into the hand and don't worry so much about the thumb. If you've ever noticed, most accessories in the catalog clip the avatar's thumb just a bit. My guess though is most will be too fascinated by your work to notice such a minor thing.



Okay now I want to move the hammer head on it's side again, so I am going to rotate it 90 degrees on the Y-axis.



From that position I am going to rotate it on the Y-Axis -27 degrees so that it lines up with the hand and arm of the avatar.

And the last rotate:



I like to give a slight angle to my weapons just so that it fits more snugly in the avatars hand, so I am going to rotate along the X-axis about -4.5 degrees.

You may have to move your object up a bit again because of the tilt, just so it once again fits as snugly into the avatars hand as possible.

And that's it for part 1 of this tutorial. Now comes the part I have been eagerly waiting for to explain.


Part 2: Exporting Ritual of Create Mode



X3 Alright, the part above was the easy part. This part scares most new mesher away because no one seems to have a decent step by step tutorial on what exactly one must do to bring their item to IMVU. This ritual can be very confusing when not explained properly. So my pupils, get ready for an in-depth and properly explained section to bringing all your basic items to IMVU. Won't find this information in IMVU's Education Center.

Ah I am sure most are familiar with this picture found in one of the accessory tutorials in the Education Center:



Like a foreign object, you know is supposed to be important and yet no one will give you a straight answer to what exactly its purpose is or how it is used.

This small object used to frustrate me the most back when I was first starting out. I'd ask and get the same response, "It is the skeleton to all your items." That's dandy, just one problem, "How does it become the skeleton?"

Okay so to begin explaining. X3 The Accessory Skeleton is made up of well 2 cubes. The outer most, larger cube is what IMVU calls the Attachment Root, while the inner most, smaller cube is called the Attachment Node. This is about all of what the Education Center will teaches us, while down below is what I will teach you about it:



As you can see IMVU did in fact make a completed Attachment Root and Node for you already, so no worrying about making one.

As IMVU puts it, these 2 cubes make up the bone for your mesh. As true as that may be, that piece of information is useless if one doesn't provide the details of how you attach it to your mesh in the first place.



Now the tool we are going to use it the Align Tool. So highlight, by clicking, on the outer most cube which is the Attachment Root.

We want to make sure that it is the correct Align Tool though. So if you have anything that looks different from the button above, click and hold the button down till a small drop menu pops down. Don't release the mouse yet.



Drag the mouse over the top align option in the menu then release the mouse.

Now I want to show you the skeleton bone of the avatar in which we are going to align the Attachment Root to. It's a small, crystal shaped bone in the avatar's wrist. This bone is called the "rtHand" bone. (NOTE: Not all IMVU accessories will be attached to this bone!!! For things like facial glasses, the Root will probably be attached to a bone in the avatar's head, while a belt mesh would probably be attached to a waist bone in the avatar.)

There is a crystal shaped bone in the left wrist of the avatar as well called the "lfHand" bone. Just a small tip for those of the readers who are left handed people. =P

Now with the Align Tool selected and the Attachment Root highlighted click the "rtHand" bone with your Align Tool.



A small window should pop up giving you align options. You want to make sure the Align Position X, Y, and Z are all checked. You want to make sure both pivot points are selected. And finally you want to make sure the Align Orientation X, Y, and Z are all checked. Then hit "Ok"

That wasn't too hard, but dreadfully confusing if not explained properly.

Next up we focus in on the mesh. As we are going to transform it into a Weighted Object. Sort of like Pokemon Evolution. X3

o.0 What's this, your Mesh is evolving.........congratulations your Mesh became a Weighted Object.

So select the the hammer, then go to your Modify Tab.



Go to your Modifier List Selector and scroll down for a "Skin". Select it. This process is sometimes known as skinning a mesh, in more formal terms it is referred to as Weighting. X3 Pretty easy, but we have to edit the skin just a bit so I shouldn't say we have Weighted the Mesh just yet.



Underneath your list you should see an "Add" button. Select it and a window should pop up.



Look for the bone named Attachment Node. The Node is the inner most cube. Select the Node and hit "Select".

Underneath the Modifier list you should see an "Edit Envelopes" button.



Select it, then right underneath that uncheck Envelopes and Cross Sections and check the Vertices box.

This will allow you to select the vertices of the hammer.



So, with your mouse drag a dotted square over your entire object, then release the mouse. This should create small white cubes over each vertex of your object.

Under you Modifier List, scroll down till you see a section named Weight Properties.



Uncheck Normalize and Rigid Handles and check Rigid. Then set the Abs. Effects to 1.0. This should turn the small white cubes, around your vertices red.

You just successfully created an Weighted Object that can be exported to IMVU. =3

Now to introduce the two powers of Create Mode: .xmf and .xsf. X3 Only 2 files make up a simple object in IMVU.


The Power of .xsf


Select your Attachment Root, the outter most cube. It's important that we export the skeleton bone first.



Go up to "File" and click "Export"



Down below make sure you chose Cal3D Skeleton File. Then name your file and be sure to type in the file extension ".xsf" otherwise it will save as a ".csf" file and ".csf" files are not compatible with IMVU. Then hit "Save".

The Cal3D window should pop up looking like this:



Just hit "Finish"


The Power of .xmf


Now highlight the hammer.



Go back up to "File" and click "Export"



Select Cal3D Mesh File, name it and be sure to type in a file extension ".xmf". Then hit "Save"

The Cal3D Window should pop up again except it'll look like this:



Make sure that your Attachment Root Bone is the skeleton the Cal3D Exporter is going to attach the mesh to.

Once everything is in order hit "Next".



Leave as is, hit "Next"



"Next"



And finally "Finish"

I suggest you save your 3ds Max project by going up to "File" and "Save As.."

After that you are completely finished with 3ds Max. X3 You can now close 3ds Max!! Almost done!



Next up we are going to head over to Notepad. This part is important. Open up Notepad. Go up to "File" and click "Open"



Make sure you select "All Files" then search for you ".xmf", your mesh file, and open it up.



Notice how under materials it has a -1. Well we want to change that.



Change it to a 1. Then go up to "File" and click "Save". NOT "Save As..". Just "Save". (NOTE: The number we changed is like a Texture ID tag. If you have more than one mesh that has more than one unique texture you want to make sure that the first mesh with the first texture to have a Materials ID of 1 and the second mesh with the second texture to have a Materials ID of 2 and so on and so on. However in this tutorial we don't have to worry about that for we just have 1 mesh with 1 texture.)

X3 Pretty easy but really important for Create Mode to understand.

You can go ahead and close Notepad now, we are done with it.


Entering Create Mode


It's time to head to IMVU's Create Mode.

I suggest deriving from IMVU's Glasses King Golden (Product ID: 669).

Now then once in Create Mode you will see an option that looks like the following:



Click "Derive a new Product" in which you'll see the second window in the image above. Just input the Glasses King Golden's Product ID in the text box near the bottom of that window then hit "Derive"



When the Editor Tab opens up and you are now able to work with the product go under the "Meshes" tab then under the first mesh which should be the
"Mesh 0/Male03_Anime01_Accessory_Glasses" mesh and click "Add .XMF" and search for your xmf mesh file. Open up your file.



Next go over to the "Config" Tab. In the Attachment Node text box you are going to have to manually type in the bone in which you attached the Root/Node to from 3ds Max. Recalling then from our previous steps, the bone we attached the Root to was the "rtHand" bone and as such that is what we type in. Then click "Add .XSF" and browse your computer for your xsf skeleton file you made earlier and open up that file.



Once you have that in place you just need to add your image file.



Go back to the "Meshes" tab and under the new "Mesh0/Hammer Mesh" section click on the Texture where it says "Add" and browse your computer for your texture that can be done in GIMP, Photoshop, or any image manipulation program of your choosing. Open up your texture file.

AND FINALLY, hit "Apply Changes" up on top.



Once it looks good, go up and "Save". And last but not least click "Upload" to get your product to the IMVU catalog.

=3 You did it! You're done! You just made your mesh and brought it to IMVU!!!

Good luck out there future great meshers. Professor Crouch signing off...