Furniture Meshes, Senor Style



Hello my returning students. X3 Professor Crouch here once again. This tutorial is a bit more advanced and deals with making simple furniture items for IMVU in 3ds Max.

IMPORTANT, since this is a Level 3 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 3 Tutorial:
Completed the following-
1) Read over the Level 2 Tutorial- Accessory Meshes, Senor Style
2) Understand how to build a mesh, UVW Map the mesh, basic knowledge of weighting an object, and know how to attach a mesh to the Attachment Root.
3) Have read over the Level 1 Tutorial- Basic Tools of 3ds Max, Senor Style so you understand the basic tools used for IMVU meshing.

If the above prerequisites have not been completed, please click on the links above to be redirected to the Prerequisite Tutorials. Thank you.

A 4 part tutorial:

1) Basic furniture. No seating, no standing. Just an object.
2) Simple Chair. A chair with the four basic nodes.
3) Standing around. A simple basic standing spot.
4) Complex couch. A couch with 2 seating spots and a standing spot right next to it.

In this tutorial I will go into detail on how to set up the correct skeletal structure of a simple furniture item and bring it to IMVU.

Let's get started. First the programs used in this process, but not necessarily in this tutorial:




Before we begin this tutorial, download these furniture files from IMVU.

Window Mesh - This file contains only the Root.

Chair Mesh - This file contains the Root, the Seating Node, Handle Node, Catcher Node, and Pitcher Node.

Couch Mesh - This file contains the Root, the Seating Node, Handle Node, Catcher Node, Pitcher Node, a second Seating Node, a second Handle Node, a second Catcher Node, and a second Pitcher Node.

All the terms listed above will be explained fully in the tutorial below, so fear not my students.

Now we are ready to begin. X3

Part 1: Basic Furniture

Open up 3ds Max.

Basic furniture is probably the most simple thing to construct on IMVU. So for this part of the tutorial we are going to be opening up the Window Mesh listed above.



When the file is opened you should see the window mesh and the Root. The Root is the Green Dummy Node in the middle of the window mesh. It's the main furniture skeleton and it acts as the center point when you move your furniture item around in an IMVU room. The point being is that the majority of the time you want all your furniture meshes to be as centered, in the Top View, to that Root node as you can possibly get it. I will explain later why you do not want the Root centered from any other view except for the Top View. For my more advanced returning students: the Root node doesn't necessarily have to be placed dead center of your object just take into consideration that if it is not centered scaling your object in IMVU will be slightly skewed. For those willing to take the time or are just too curious, test placing the Root outside the center of the object and bring it to IMVU and see what the results are for yourself.



As you can see IMVU has some weird Safe Frame view up on the 2 right hand panels. I am going to change this on my screen by right clicking the word "Perspective" and then moving to the word "User" and right clicking that, checking Wireframe in the Perspective view and unchecking "Show Safe Frame" in both the Perspective and User views. Further more I am going to change the User view to Front view by right clicking the word User and going down to "Views" and selecting "Front"



In the picture above I have highlighted the X-Axis in the right view. I did this because the X-Axis is directly in the center of Root node. I want to explain that in the Right or Left View if your furniture items goes below the center of the Root node then when you bring your furniture item to IMVU it will be below the floor. So if you are using this Window Mesh example to build your furniture item just don't go below the X-Axis that I have highlighted. NOTE: This applies to ALL furniture. This goes back to what I mentioned about centering your object from the Top View only. From any side view (Left, Right, Front, Back Views) the base of your furniture must be in the center of the Root Node for if you are viewing your Root Node from any of the side views then the center of the Node is where the floor of an IMVU room begins. In simplier terms, if the base of your furniture item is below the center of the Node, from any side view, then your furniture item will appear slightly below the floor of an IMVU room!



Okay so I am going to select the Window Mesh IMVU has there.



Then on my keyboard I am going to hit the "Delete" button to get rid of their mesh.



Now create a mesh you want to make. Make sure you take your mesh's UVW Map to GIMP or Photoshop and texture it. Then be sure to weight your mesh by making your mesh a skin. Skinning your mesh to the Root then properly weighting it. Remember in the previous Tutorial, Accessory Meshes, Senor Style you had to weight the object to the Attachment Node, well for furniture the same concept applies except this time you need to weight your mesh to the Root.

After that you must go through the Exporting Ritual of the IMVU Previewer:

Export the Root as the Skeleton File (.xsf).
Export the Mesh as the Mesh File (.xmf).
Export the Texture as the Texture File (.xrf).

Then go to Notepad and open up your Mesh File and switching the Materials ID from -1 to 1 (Just remember that the Materials ID doesn't always have to be 1. It's just an ID #, so any positive integer will work. If you have more than 1 mesh that has more than 1 unique texture just make sure that each mesh that has a unique texture gets a different ID # than the other meshes). Hit Save.

Derive from a furniture item in the IMVU Catalog. I like to derive off of IMVU's Retro Rug. It's cheap price allows for maximum profit.

Open up your Skeleton File (.xsf) under the Special Tab. Don't worry about typing in the bone like you did in Accessory Meshes, Senor Style. If you derive off a furniture item it should already be marked to the floor node.

Open up your Mesh File (.xmf) under the Geometry Tab.

Open up your Texture File (.xrf) under the Materials Tab.

Open up your Texture (.png/.gif/.jpg) under the Materials Tab.

Apply Changes, Save As, and finally Submit it to the IMVU Catalog. Wewt, you are done. X3

Creating a simple furniture item without any nodes is sort of like Acccessory Meshing. Pretty simple. Okay next up....


Part 2: A Simple Chair

Open up 3ds Max.

Once loaded, open up the Chair Mesh that can be downloaded above.



As soon as you have it opened it should look something like this:



Now, apart from the previous section, there seems to be a lot more dummy nodes for this furniture item then last. I will get into what each of the nodes are in this scene.



First up we have the Catcher and Pitcher Nodes. The Pitcher Node is the node highlighted on the left and the Catcher Node is the node highlighted on the right. When you hear those names together like that you might think baseball...good because they kind of act like a catcher and pitcher in a baseball game.

Pitcher throws the ball while the Catcher...well catches the ball. Same concept applies here. The Pitcher Node is the place where an avatar will stand who "throws" a hug. The Catcher Node is where the avatar will stand who is "catching" the hug. IMVU, in their example chair mesh, has these 2 nodes aligned perfectly w/ each other so DO NOT move these 2 nodes separately. If you want to move them be sure to select and highlight both of them before you move them. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT because if you do move these two nodes separately then hugs, kisses, and all sorts of twin avatar actions will be messed up when you bring your furniture item to IMVU.

As stated in the level 1 tutorial, Basic Tools of 3ds Max, Senor Style, the names of Dummy Nodes are very important as the names tell IMVU's Client and Previewer how this node is going to function. For the Catcher and Pitcher nodes in this scene they are named:

Pitcher01.Standing
Catcher01.Standing


Every part of the names above are important. Here's why:

-The first part of the names (Pitcher and Catcher). This tells IMVU that these 2 nodes are going to be Pitcher and Catcher nodes.

-The second part, the numbers (01). These aren't normal numbers as they act more like ID tags. These ID tags tells IMVU to search for the seating node that shares this same ID tag thus telling IMVU that these Catcher and Pitcher nodes are linked to the seating node with the same ID as 01.

-The last part (.Standing). This part tells IMVU that when a hug is performed the 2 Avatars are going to be standing. For Catcher and Pitcher nodes it will always be ".Standing"



Next up is the Seating Node. This node should be placed as close to in the center of your seat as possible (viewing from the Top view) for this is where your Avatar will sit down. (NOTE: From viewing in any side view the center of the Seating Node will be the spot where the Avatar's Feet will be placed when sitting. As you can see from the picture above that the Avatar's feet are horizontally centered to the middle of the Seating Node. Trust me I know how much hassle it is to have the feet as a reference point of a Seating Node, especially one that is not both horizontally and vertically aligned, instead of the actual spot where the avatar will be sitting. It frustrates me as I am sure it confuses you.)

This node's name is:

Seat01.Sitting

Just like before with the Catcher and Pitcher nodes each part of this name has a purpose:

-The first part (Seat). This tells IMVU that it will be some sort of spot where the Avatar will be placed.

-The second part, the number. This tells IMVU that it has an ID of 01 and tells IMVU to search for the Catcher, Pitcher, and Handle nodes with that same ID tag and link them all together.

-The third part (.Sitting). This tells IMVU that the Avatar will be sitting in IMVU's default sitting position. There is one other default position you can place your Avatar in, but we will get into that in the next section.



The last major component of a chair's skeleton is it's Handle Node.

The Node's name is:

Handle01

The Handle Node only has 2 parts to it's name:

-The first part (Handle). This tells IMVU that this node is a Handle Node.

-The second part, the number. This is its ID tag and will tell IMVU to search and link it to the Seating Node that shares its same ID tag.

Now I know what your thinking, what's a Handle Node and what's it's purpose? X3 Simple my pupil, it controls where this icon will be placed.



That's what the Handle Node does. It shows that small Seat Icon when you hover your mouse over a spot your Avatar can move to. Where you place the Handle Node determines where that Seat Icon will appear so you can command your Avatar to sit down. There is one more function to the Handle Node, but it will be discussed in the next section.

Those are the main Dummy Nodes of a Seating Spot. The Root is the largest Dummy Node in the scene. In the end I will show you how all 4 parts to the Seating Spot need to be linked to the Root Node. I know what you are thinking, "But wait there is one more Dummy Node in the scene called Group 2. What does that one do?" Well I will try to explain that as best I can.

For some reason, unknown to me, IMVU didn't think their Education Center would be confusing enough so they added a useless Dummy Node in the Chair Mesh example in hopes to confuse you further. The Group 2 Dummy Node does nothing, it's not even part of a Seating Spot's make-up. It's just there and it's rather annoying, but since it's grouped to the Avatar Dummy in the scene I would not delete it till after I had made my mesh.

Now this next part is up to you. You can either delete the IMVU example chair before you make your mesh or after you make your mesh. For me I am going to keep IMVU's example chair until after I build my mesh, this way I can have some sort of model to go off of.



Okay so after you build your mesh, making sure to take your mesh's UVW Map to GIMP or Photoshop so that your 3D Mesh will have color to it. Then applying the texture onto your mesh. And finally making it a skin and weighting it. It is now time to delete IMVU's chair. So highlight the IMVU chair and press the "Delete" key on your keyboard. This will get rid of the IMVU chair.



Now just one final explanation before we move to the Exporting Ritual of the IMVU Previewer. The Select by Name tool. For most furniture and especially complex furniture with a lot of pieces to it this tool becomes very helpful. Click the Select by Name tool.



This window should pop up:



First make sure the "Display Subtree" is checked. From there notice how the Catcher, Pitcher, Handle, and Seat Nodes are indented under the Root Node in the list above that check box. That means that those 4 Nodes are all linked to the Root Node and when you export your Skeleton File, aka the Root (.xsf), the 4 Nodes attached will also be exported with the Root automatically.

I am going to quickly show you how you would link the 4 nodes if they weren't linked to the Root.



Click and drag your mouse over the 4 nodes OR hold down the "Ctrl" Key and click the 4 nodes individually so they are highlighted blue like so. Then hit the Select button and all 4 of those Nodes will be highlighted.





Select your Select and Link tool. Once the tool is highlighted Yellow go back to your Select by Name tool. That window should pop up again. Select the Root and then hit Link. Ta da your 4 nodes are now all linked to the Root node and now your Root node is ready to be exported to the Skeleton File (.xsf).



Now then:

Export the Root as the Skeleton File (.xsf).
Export the Mesh as the Mesh File (.xmf).
Export the Texture as the Texture File (.xrf).

Then go to Notepad and open up your Mesh File and switching the Materials ID from -1 to 1 (Just remember that the Materials ID doesn't always have to be 1. It's just an ID #, so any positive integer will work. If you have more than 1 mesh that has more than 1 unique texture just make sure that each mesh that has a unique texture gets a different ID # than the other meshes). Hit Save.

Derive from a furniture item in the IMVU Catalog. I like to derive off of IMVU's Retro Rug. It's cheap price allows for maximum profit.

Open up your Skeleton File (.xsf) under the Special Tab. Don't worry about typing in the bone like you did in Accessory Meshes, Senor Style. If you derive off a furniture item it should already be marked to the floor node.

Open up your Mesh File (.xmf) under the Geometry Tab.

Open up your Texture File (.xrf) under the Materials Tab.

Open up your Texture (.png/.gif/.jpg) under the Materials Tab.

Apply Changes, Save As, and finally Submit it to the IMVU Catalog. Wewt, you are done with the chair. X3 Next...


Part 3: Standing Around

Open up 3ds Max. This one is going to be a quicky since you already know how to build a sitting spot, building a standing spot should be a piece of cake.

Open the Chair Mesh file from the last section.



Select the Chair Mesh and hit the "Delete" key on your keyboard. Select the Avatar Dummy and hit the "Delete" key on your keyboard. There now we are left with nothing but the Nodes.



Now I am going to enlarge the seat01.sitting node and then center the Handle01 Node as much as possible to the seat01.sitting node from the top view.



Next select both the Handle and the Seat Node and move both of them and center them as much as possible to the Root Node from the top view.



Then select both the Catcher and Pitcher Nodes. Move them till the Catcher Node is centered as much as possible to the Root Node from the top view.



Once everything is in order select the Seat Node. Go to the Modifier Tab and change the name of the Node from "seat01.sitting" to "seat01.standing". Now IMVU knows this Spot will be the Avatar Standing.



Now in the last section I had mentioned that the Handle Node has one other function and many Meshers don't seem to know of it just from some of the standing nodes I've purchased in the past. The Handle Node acts as the 1st of 2 Zoom-In points for the IMVU Camera. There are 2 Zoom-In points for the IMVU Camera: The Handle Node and the Avatar Head.

Ever purchase a standing node where when you zoom-in the camera and the camera starts to focus on the feet of the avatar then it quickly zooms upwards to the Avatar's head when the camera is zoomed all the way in? The reason that happens is that the Mesher has placed the Handle Node all the way on the floor just so that the Icon will appear on the floor. Now if you don't mind that weird zoom-in then go ahead and place the Handle Node as close to the Root Node as possible, but just make note that many, including myself, find it highly annoying. Especially when one is trying to zoom-in to view small items on your Avatar. If you want the Camera Zoom-in function to focus in on the torso like any normal Standing Spot you must place the Handle Node no lower than the Avatar's Waist. In the picture above the Handle Node is about where the Avatar's Waist is.

One thing you will have to create is a Mesh for the Standing Spot. Many Devs just make a small flat spot on the floor and some times they place the small mesh underneath the floor so that the standing spot looks completely invisible. Just don't forget to texture the Mesh and weight it. It is a hastle I understand but it is how IMVU works, unfortunately.

Now you can:

Export the Root as the Skeleton File (.xsf).
Export the Mesh as the Mesh File (.xmf).
Export the Texture as the Texture File (.xrf).

Then go to Notepad and open up your Mesh File and switching the Materials ID from -1 to 1 (Just remember that the Materials ID doesn't always have to be 1. It's just an ID #, so any positive integer will work. If you have more than 1 mesh that has more than 1 unique texture just make sure that each mesh that has a unique texture gets a different ID # than the other meshes). Hit Save.

Derive from a furniture item in the IMVU Catalog. I like to derive off of IMVU's Retro Rug. It's cheap price allows for maximum profit.

Open up your Skeleton File (.xsf) under the Special Tab. Don't worry about typing in the bone like you did in Accessory Meshes, Senor Style. If you derive off a furniture item it should already be marked to the floor node.

Open up your Mesh File (.xmf) under the Geometry Tab.

Open up your Texture File (.xrf) under the Materials Tab.

Open up your Texture (.png/.gif/.jpg) under the Materials Tab.

Apply Changes, Save As, and finally Submit it to the IMVU Catalog. Wewt, made a Standing Spot. X3 And finally...


Part 4: Complex Couch

Final section. X3 Open up 3ds Max. There will be 3 Spots to this couch, 2 seating spots and a standing spot next to the couch when we are done.



Open up the Couch Mesh that I posted a link to in the beginning of this tutorial.



I am going to back out to all 4 views, changing them to Top, Front, Right, and Perspective. Also I am turning off the Safe Frame off and making each view wireframe (was mentioned how to do this above in the Basic Furniture Section).

Create your Couch Mesh. Once you do go ahead and delete IMVU's Couch Mesh by selecting IMVU's Couch Mesh and hitting the "Delete" key on your keyboard. Make sure you weight you Couch Mesh. Make sure you texture it.



Now click the Select by Name tool. Hold down the "Ctrl" Key and select the 4 Seat Spot Nodes with the ID of 01 and then hit Select.



Once the 4 are selected Right Click in the scene and select Clone. The Clone Window should pop up. Select "Copy" not "Instant". Then hit Ok.



Move the now copied 4 Nodes over on the side of the Couch.



Now Select the cloned Pitcher Node and rename it "Pitcher03.Standing".



Select the cloned Catcher Node and rename it "Catcher03.Standing".



Select the cloned Seat Node and rename it "Seat03.Standing".



Select the cloned Handle Node and make sure it's named "Handle03".



Then I am going to enlarge the new Standing Node and center it as best I can to the Handle03 Node from the top view. Then select the Catcher AND Pitcher Nodes and center it as best you can to the Standing Node from the top view.

Finally click the Select by Name tool and just make sure that all the Seating and Standing Nodes are linked to the Root Node. Once they are you are ready for the Exporting Ritual of the IMVU Previewer.

Export the Root as the Skeleton File (.xsf).
Export the Mesh as the Mesh File (.xmf).
Export the Texture as the Texture File (.xrf).

Then go to Notepad and open up your Mesh File and switching the Materials ID from -1 to 1 (Just remember that the Materials ID doesn't always have to be 1. It's just an ID #, so any positive integer will work. If you have more than 1 mesh that has more than 1 unique texture just make sure that each mesh that has a unique texture gets a different ID # than the other meshes). Hit Save.

Derive from a furniture item in the IMVU Catalog. I like to derive off of IMVU's Retro Rug. It's cheap price allows for maximum profit.

Open up your Skeleton File (.xsf) under the Special Tab. Don't worry about typing in the bone like you did in Accessory Meshes, Senor Style. If you derive off a furniture item it should already be marked to the floor node.

Open up your Mesh File (.xmf) under the Geometry Tab.

Open up your Texture File (.xrf) under the Materials Tab.

Open up your Texture (.png/.gif/.jpg) under the Materials Tab.

Apply Changes, Save As, and finally Submit it to the IMVU Catalog. Whew, this tutorial is official complete. X3

You now know all there is to know about building basic furniture items. Congratulations.