Category Archives: Second Life

Beaking it Down

Hello again! I’m back from a brief jaunt to the East Coast. While I was away, I’ve had a couple of requests to break down further the steps for using my little Sculpted Prims maker. So, I’m going to try to detail what you need to do, step by step, with the test bed.


  1. Download my testbed from my site. The current version is here: Store a backup copy in case you need a fresh copy later.
  2. Open it up in Modo 203. I have not tested it in earlier versions. You should should see my little test vase in the window. For the sake of this exercise, I’ll be referring to Modo’s default layout, so if you’re a little new to Modo, you should set your layout to match by going to the Layout menu and selecting Layouts -> “201 Default Layout” or similar.
  3. In the item list, select the “Mesh” item.
  4. Switch to polygon mode (the “3” key) and double-click on my vase to select all the polygons. Hit the delete key
  5. Model your own object or paste in your own object by using copy and paste commands from the “Edit” menu. Scale to suit (I like to see that the grid size is 10mm)
  6. Let’s assume that you have your object in place by one means or another in step 5. It’s time to make a Spherical UV map of the object. This will be the hardest step, so I’m going to try to make it as simple as possible in steps 7 through 15
  7. In the upper right, next to the Item List, is a tab for the Vertex Map List. Select this tab, and then unfold (click on the triangle) the the item labled UV Maps.
  8. Delete any UV maps already in the list by right-clicking and selecting “Delete.”
  9. Create a fresh map by clicking on the “(new map)” item under UV maps. Name it “Spherical” and make sure the type is UV Map.
  10. We are going to switch Layouts again to make it easier to work with UV Maps, to do this go to the layout menu and and select Layouts->”UV Edit” Your screen will dominated by a window for the UV Map next to the toolbar on the left and a smaller window for the object in the upper right.
  11. Select the “Create Map” tool from the upper Left. The tool properties will appear in the lower left and you will select “Spherical” from Projection Type Setting, “Y” for the Axis Setting and “Automatic” For the Settings. Don’t fool with the other things if you don’t know what they do, because you’re more likely to confuse yourself. Click once in the UV map and your object’s map should appear. Don’t worry if it looks like a tangled ball of string at this point–it’s supposed to look like that for what we’re doing. If it looks nice and flat, all the better since it means that your object has good topological parallels to sphere which will make a nice shape as a sculpie. (Spheres and Cylinders will look the best.) Hit spacebar to accept your new map. You now have a basic Spherical UV Map.
  12. To better fill up the UV space, we’re going to clean up the map a little. Select the “Fit UVs” tool and when the dialog pops up uncheck anything that is checked, especially “keep proportions”. Your map will try to fill up the upper right quadrant of the UV space
  13. If you’re very lucky (e.g. your object was shaped like a sphere or cylinder) your UV map probably fills up the square space quite nicely. If it doesn’t, it’s best to do some cleanup of the UV map so that it covers the whole positive UV space (e.g. from 0 to 1 +U and from 0 to 1 +V). To do this we’ll be selecting either vertexes or edges (e.g. use the “1” key or the “2” key select points or edges in the vertex map.) The next step is only necessary if your UV map’s edges don’t fill up the square very well.
  14. To start with select points (or edges) along the left side UV map that would, if stretched to the left make a nice left edge of the UV square shape. With these points selected, use the tool on the left under “UV Align” that looks like a green arrow pointing to the left at a vertical line of points and edges. When clicked. your selected points will jump to the left. Next, select the points along the top edge that would make a nice top edge to the map. Use the tool that looks like a green arrow pointing up. Repeat this process to make a clean right edge and bottom edge, using the right pointing align tool and the down pointing align tool respectively.
  15. Congratulations, you’re done making the spherical the UV map–again, don’t worry if the center looks confusing and there are overlapping polygons–this will get sorted out automatically when we make the map.
  16. Switch back to Modo’s default layout for now by selecting Layouts -> “201 Default Layout” or similar. Use polygon selection mode (the “3” key) and double click on your mesh to select all its polygons. With the “M” key, make sure the objects material is set to “Default”
  17. We’re now going to make sure the special textures to make a sculpie fit your object. Next to the tab in the upper left that says, “Tool Bar” is another tab that says “Render Settings”. Select “Render Settings”
  18. In the upper right, make sure the “Item List” is showing. In the list, there are three texture controls (called texture locators in Modo parlance.) They are named “Texture: Red”, “Texture: Green”, and “Texture: Blue”. Click on each of these items, and under “Render Properties” click the Autosize button once. This will fix your texture locators for your object.
  19. Now we’re ready to bake out a sculpie texture. Click on the top node of the shader tree that says “Render” and check that the Frame width and Frame Height are each 64 pixels (if you haven’t changed anything in my testbed, that’s what it will be.)
  20. From the Render Menu, select “Bake” It will very quickly make a little 64×64 pixel render. That’s it! This little splotch of color is your sculpie texture. Save this (I usually save these as a TGA file, but other format will work) and upload into SL. Create an object and make sure the type is sculptured prim. Use this little 64×64 texture and your object should snap into shape!

Getting Wired

Soren asked me about getting better eyes. I made these shots of my test kanga head to show exactly how much geometry is available in a sculpy. Here’s the head with deep eye sockets which don’t look very refined.


Now here’s the wireframe (Cmd-shft-R from the Debug menu):


As you can see, sculpies have a limited number of vertexes. Right now, capturing fine details will still have to be done with texture maps. In the future, we can hope that developers at LL can add Normal maps as well so we can create more sophisticated surfaces on top of simple wireframes.

Sculpted Prims in Modo, Part II

So here’s the testbed:


To use this testbed in Modo to make your own Sculpted Prims, you need to do the following steps:

1) Delete my test mesh and paste in your own mesh object.

2) Create a spherical map or cylindrical map wrapped around the Y axis. Make sure the map fills the UV space nicely–it should fill the space corner to corner. Sometimes “capping” tesslated spheres at the top (e.g. beveling the pole points) will make the spherical map lie flat correctly.

3) Make sure your object has the default texture. If not, adjust surfaces accordingly.

4) Autosize the Red, Green, and Blue texture locator’s. This will squish your object into cubic proportions, but you can stretch this out again in SL. I’ve found you usually get better geometry if you more evenly distributed the displacement data. If you really need to maintain proportions when baking, try to make the texture locator’s fit a perfect cube’s dimensions and try to center the object in that cube.

5) From the Render Menu, Bake the texture onto the UV Map created in Step 2. Save the 64×64 pixel image and load into SL.

If something goes wrong, try moving the object so that it is not intersected by any of the axis planes. Make sure no new lights or environments are added to the scene. The scene should be 100% dark except for the Sculpy textures in the testbed.

Sculpted Prims in Modo

I’ve been pretty busy puzzling out the new sculpted prims in Second Life. They are a pronominal leap forward in prim shape control. Since I do a lot of my modeling in Luxology’s Modo, I’ve used it as a testbed for making sculpted shapes. With Modo 203, I’ve been able to take this:


Into this in world:


I’ll be posting my testbed and instructions in a follow-up post.