Here are the new, rigged fetlock feathers. I think they look a lot better than the old flexi prims did and they will not take up an attachment slot. Hooray!
I’m quite pleased with myself today!
I believe, at this moment, I’ve fixed all the annoying nagging little things I didn’t like about the avatar and all the bugs.
It works, it looks great.
- The eyes turn perfectly in their sockets.
- I touched up the body’s texture so it was more exact around the eyes.
- The eyelids blink, the expressions work, animations are coming out the way I want.
- The mane works as well as can be expected in SL (basically it works like clothing does, when it is a combination of a rigged part and flexi parts, which means not flawless but a good illusion.)
I do need to add the feathering to the feet, but you know, I’m really leaning toward just making them a rigged shape and calling it good. I used to do them as flexis but I don’t think the movement added that much to the models and there are issues with trying to make them an attachment that I just don’t want to deal with (and it’s nice to leave the attachment points empty for other things.)
So, I’ll do that, and then back to the animations.
Then I’ll switch over to working in the main grid instead of the beta grid, which is where I’ll build the AO’s final form and re-assemble the avatar.
Then I’ll enter into test mode, and after I run it through Aladar’s alpha test, you all can help with the Beta if you want. This will mean you can buy the avatar, but there will be no documentation other than a brief notecard, there will probably be problems with it, and you can tell me what those are so I can fix them (and without anyone getting irate about there being bugs at this stage, right???)
Then I’ll write up the new documentation, translate it into a few languages, package it up, and away we go!
(Then I’ll add other stuff… like a riding saddle/vehicle, tack, texture options, etc. but really they can wait for a later phase.)
Things are moving along nicely again. The HEAD volume bone seems to animate the brow sufficiently. I wish I had a more effective result when it moves, but when you rig a face to bones instead of relying on morphs for expression, you have limitations, and that’s what we have to work with in SL. Still, the expressions are there if not as animated as I would like under regular conditions.
I redid a few things like the eyelash texture to look nicer. It was worth taking the time – they look great. I also rigged the eyelids to move with the eyebones so they shift with the eyes, which is a more finished result.
So far everything looks good to just get back to cranking out animations, so I’ll do that for the rest of the day.
So after trying many things, I attempted to un-rig the brow from the aSkull attachment… and instead, rigged it to the HEAD volume bone.
Works fine, no skewing. BUT. When I make an animation for it, it does not play until I STOP the animation. So, I have to tell it to play, then tell it to stop, and it runs. Weird. Maybe something’s going on with the Beta Grid.
Anyway, I’m going to run with this because the volume bones are basically useless with a non-human form. I’ll just have to be sure to make a list of things one should not change with dials or attach to in the owner documents.
I didn’t work on the avatar for about two weeks for various reasons (mostly having to do with needing to do taxes, birthdays, other jobs, etc.) But I’m back on the case. Right now I’m dealing with a bit of an inexplicable issue.
Remember the brow that went all wonky early on, then fixed itself for no reason? It’s wonky again. For no reason that I can determine. Now, I know that the lovely folks that make Avastar will always inform us that if we try weighting the attachment points, all bets are off and it can break things. However, without weighting attachment points, I really can’t make the avatar expressive so I have to take the risk. The problem is that the brow is weighted to the aSkull attachment point, and when I wear it, the eyebrows are yanked to the left by about a foot.
It’s really similar to how weighted attachments points always start by being weirdly skewed, but the moment you animate them, they snap to normal. Only in this case, animations don’t cure it. That’s the weird part. I mean, the mouth and lips that I weighted look just as wonky before I apply an animation, but then voila, they are fixed when they animate. Why not this one?
I’m currently doing really, really boring things that involve going down a problem-solving flow chart to try to figure out this problem. Technically, I could just plow past this by taking the brow functioning away and not allowing some of the really cool facial expressions I had made.
I don’t want to do that, but it is an option. If I can’t figure this out by Monday, that is the option I’m going to take, because you all have been waiting long enough and getting a mostly functional thing out is better than no thing at all. And, I can work on the issue again later after release.
But, I know that expressiveness is key to an avatar so I’ll do my best to figure it out by Monday. I’ll let you all know how it goes.
I’ve been plugging along and forgetting to blog about it.
Anyway, eyes are reshaped and textured and work pretty well. Not perfectly – when they move, they don’t always sit in the eye socket the way they should, but that has a lot to do with the trickiness of Second Life. I can get them to look fine in say, 3DS Max. I don’t think I care though – they’re good 98% of the time in and SL you often have to shoot for that general impression of correctness.
The mane crest was redone also, looking good. I suggest to anyone making a mane for this avatar with flexies, to attach the middle parts to the crest and then wear the crest on the neck; wear the front parts and forelock on the head, and the back parts on the chest. They should overlap well when the neck moves. Just fiddle with the parts so they don’t stick out too badly most of the time.
Back to doing animations again. I had a little sort of flicker-glitch that happened with my recent animations, and I came to realize it was some kind of error with the IK’s, for those of you who run into this. There’s probably a way to flat out fix it, but I just did a quick workaround where I just export the animations directly from the blue SL bones instead of from the green pose bones. I’ll care more about getting to the bottom of it another time.
So, now I just need to do all the animations, and then I’ll work more on the AO.
While messing with some of the more extreme animations like rearing, I decided I really wasn’t satisfied with a couple of the setups. I altered the mesh form slightly around the neck, reducing the thickness of the bottom of the crest a bit and lengthening the back, and redid the weight paint on the neck. While the model now doesn’t have QUITE the extreme massive baroque look it did before on the neck (and believe me, this is a subtle change), he now looks right in the extreme poses and a rider won’t look like they’re being pushed back onto the croup.
While I was fiddling with the mesh, I went ahead and built the mare version for later. She will need slightly different props and animations but I had to build her anyway, so it was a good time to do it and set it aside. She looks elegant but still like a baroque Friesian.
This does of course mean that I am redoing the walking animation and some of the others. Bummer, but that’s part of the process. Each time I do it, it goes faster anyway because I remember what I ended up doing the last time. I also have to rebuild the mane crest to fit the new neck. That’s fine, I was going to adjust it anyway. I’ll probably do that today.
I have a first draft of the HUD appearance done. Leaving that alone for now. I have a functional HUD that I’m testing inworld but it looks really cheap because I don’t care about applying its appearance yet.
So, currently I am building and rebuilding animations, redoing the mesh for the crest and eyeballs (and redoing the UV maps and textures for the eyeballs), and re-coding the eyelids to sit in their new positions a little better.
After that stuff is all done, I’ll make the HUD pretty and functional, and then I’ll run some alpha testing through my helper Aladar. After that, I’ll sell a few models to some selected testers in my group, people who don’t mind beta testing for me and reporting issues without getting freaked out by errors and stuff that is going to be replaced by prettier stuff (like improving the mane.)
Hopefully not too much longer…. 🙂