Talk:Sculpted Prims: 3d Software Guide

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Are you sure about the "software subscriptions"? The product that Autodesk sell that is called "3DS MAX subscription" is actually an update service for people who already own the software, not a cheap purchasing option. Yumi Murakami

Well, in hindsight (I did some checking), the "$200" price tag was a 1-year licence offered by an educational resaler. However the person I met in school who got his copy of Max this way (who happens to be a Second Life resident too) was pretty satisfied with it; it's a full licence and not the "educational use only". You can keep buying 1-year licences but I don't think you get the same perks as the "subscription", which turns out to be more like $500/year.

There was also an article in Game Developer Magazine about a year ago on the trend torwards software subscriptions, I'll post it if I find it. Elle Pollack 18:29, 6 May 2007 (PDT)


The following discussions have been relocated here from Talk:Sculpted Prims.

I would like to yank this discussion thread over to the software guide page to reduce the clutter over here. If there are any objections, please say so; if not, I'll drag it over in the next day or two. Elle Pollack 18:55, 6 May 2007 (PDT)

Could be nice if we keep here for discussion and draft things for a little while, and we only move what is achieved, like Amanda's tut, to where you said ? So that the said page doesn't get cluttered :) camilla Yosuke 7 may 2007
Well the clutter can be controlled...really, this sections has about 4 or 5 different topics going and each of those could get a discussion section on the software guide talkpage, i.e. one for the Blender stuff, one for Maya stuff, etc. Elle Pollack 11:42, 7 May 2007 (PDT)
Sounds nice yes!



Blender Exports

- Eddy Stryker says he made an exporter for Blender.

-- Linkage?

i spoke with Eddy Stryker - he does indeed have a procedure for extracting sculpt textures from blender. currently it's a bit of manual labor - he's looking from someone who knows blender's scripting language so he won't have to learn it himself.  :) --Qarl Linden 13:03, 29 April 2007 (PDT)

- IIRC, I belive Blender uses Python for scripting. Eddy hangs out with enough programers that he ought to be able to find *someone* with that qualifation. :) (Jeffery Gomez is the reigning guru of Blender to/from SL projects, last I checked.) Elle Pollack 15:54, 29 April 2007 (PDT)

- Amanda Levistsky has posted a method of using Blender --Destiny Niles 09:52, 5 May 2007 (PDT)

I made a little template file to help exporting from blender without efforts. This is not an export script, but rather a file-to-start-from-and-export in-two-clicks. It has its little limitations, but it should be helpful, waiting for something more complete and friendly. So here is the blend file, and I made a little tutorial to explain : tutorial. I hope it makes sense :) camilla Yosuke 6 may 2007

I tried your template file, and it works very well. I was able to stick a lattice on the sphere, stretch it into some funny shape, then bake that texture and upload it into SL. The one thing I don't understand is how you unwrapped the sphere to get the UV map to fill a square. It's easier to understand with Amanda's tutorial (which starts with a cylinder), but you've already done that part in your blend file, so if you could maybe add a section to your tutorial explaining how you did that, that might be helpful for others too. -Ziggy Puff 6 may 2007
My intention was to provide a template which is directly usable, even if you don't know about uvs and all. For those who want to get deeper into it, Amanda's tutorial is much better done I think. But I'll try to make a little addition and corrections to explain that part. This said, I had a chat with another resident, and he found a very interesting way to build the mesh, getting progressively into detail. I think this option is real worth a tutorial, because it doesn't limit us to start from a cylinder or a sphere, and you can almost build whatever shape you want without having to deform a base mesh. I'll try to write something tonight or tomorrow camilla Yosuke 6 may 2007
Thanks. I don't think anything needs to be changed in your tutorial, I agree that it's a good write-up for people who don't want to get into the details. Maybe a link at the bottom called "If you want to know more", for the more curious readers :) New ways to make meshes would be helpful too. And you should add your link to the Tutorials section below. -Ziggy Puff 6 may 2007
Updated with sphere explanation camilla Yosuke 7 may 2007

I think we really are on the right way, I could talk with Tomha Zymurgy, and combining our ideas we are very close to be able to export almost anything with blender, provided it has no holes and its a tube topologically. I could export nurbs, meshes, metaballs, anything. The process is simple if the thing is close to convex, it needs a bit more work if there are non-convex parts. I stll have to figure out why it makes odd things at poles,and I write a tutorial to explain. Here an export of Suzanne ^_^camilla Yosuke8 may 2007

So here is the tutorial I hope this can help ^_^ Please if you don't want to follow it entirely , at least take a look at the conclusion, at the very end.camilla Yosuke 9 may 2007

Blender Previewer

Here I posted a new version of a better blender previewer, it comes without tutorial, but the tutorial below explains it good camilla Yosuke 9 may 2007

I made a little blender file to preview the sculpted prims. Basically its just a cylinder with the 2 extreme loops sized to a single point ( yes, not a sphere, to avoid blender's odd sphere projection ) with a clean spherical uvmapping. Then in edit mode I sized all the vertices to the smallest possible, approaching a single point, then I applied a displacement modifier, with RVB-XYZ as displace direction, and UV as input, using the apple texture given here as the texture for displacment map. This one is a 16x16 vertices mesh, but I assume it must be the same with a 32x32. Here is the result and the older blender file I managed to export deformations of this mesh to pictures,baking the displacment map generated like Eddy said, then previewed these with my little reciepe, it works fine :) Considering the sculpt mode , we have an awesome environment to create sculpted prims in blender ^_^ Beeing very used to use meshes instead of nurbs, that have relatively poor handling in blender so far, I don't even see the point of a script - well, this is my own and personal opinion :) Can't wait for playing with it in world, and make damn die-for-shoes ! Ty for all camilla Yosuke 2 may 2007

Camilla, hate to say this but I got an unexpected shut down on Blender when trying to run the Blender-script. : / It didn't say what kind of error or a cause. Was on AMD 4000+, ATI x1600XT with latest driver update, Window XP Home, hope that helps. --Vincent Nacon 00:07, 2 May 2007 (PDT)

--> fixed, due to using 2.42a instead of 2.43

Vincent, do you mean, when trying to open the .blend file with blender ? Or the 'uv-face-layout' export script, which I packed with the file unintentionally, and which is absolutely not needed for the preview to work.camilla Yosuke 2 may 2007

That's right, just opening the file itself. Not sure what else is there that I had to do with it. --Vincent Nacon 12:27, 2 May 2007 (PDT)

I opened it in Blender 2.42a - instant crash. Blender 2.43 - crashes when i select a Texture (using Win XP SP2/NVIDIA 7600). Which Blender Version and OS did you use ? Just like in SL, new Blender Versions lead to new Problems.--Cindy Crabgrass 13:26, 2 May 2007 (PDT)

Cindy, Camilla and I worked out to see the problem in the blender. Must have Blender version 2.43. However, I'm not sure why you are crashing when selecting texture. I'm on Windows XP and she was on Linux. Both are working well, except the normals are flip sided, which said to fix later. You should talk to Camilla if you're still crashing, she may figure out why. --Vincent Nacon 16:36, 2 May 2007 (PDT)

--> I updated the blend file with normals in the right direction ^_^ camilla Yosuke 3 may 2007

Now i managed to load it, using a special Blender Version from - must have been a Bug in 2.43 that makes it crash on some Machines. --Cindy Crabgrass 07:39, 3 May 2007 (PDT)

Blender Misc.

Wow, talk about perfect timing! For those who use or are considering using the free & open-source Blender, it just so happens that the latest Blender release (2.43) has an all-new feature that appears to be a wonderful solution for modeling sculpted prims for SL: Sculpt Mode. From the description page: "Sculpt Mode is a new mode for editing Mesh objects. Unlike Edit Mode, the model's shape is manipulated with various brushes, rather than by editing individual vertices, edges, and faces. Additionally, Sculpt Mode only edits the shape of the model (meaning vertices, edges, and polygons cannot be added or deleted in Sculpt Mode) which allows Sculpt Mode to work considerably faster than Edit Mode on denser meshes. Sculpt Mode is primarily a tool for creating organic shapes with curved surfaces rather than mechanical shapes with flat surfaces and hard edges." Can someone say free alternative to Zbrush? :O Beatfox Xevious 15:27, 1 May 2007 (PDT)


Will the Maya exporter work with Maya Personal Learning Edition? [1] --Kamilion

haven't tried it - but i believe the personal edition puts gaudy maya watermarks on images - which would definitely cause sculpties grief... but this isn't a typical rendering, so perhaps not. worth an experiment. --Qarl Linden 09:58, 28 April 2007 (PDT)
Hi, I just tried it and and it does unfortunately watermark the resulting image with the free edition. (P.S. Even so, still, WOOOT!!! :)) --Logan Bauer
This is unlikely to happen because of SL's potential commercial applications, Buuuuut..... Epic Software apparently has a standing deal where their export plugin for Unreal Tourniment 2k3 mods works in Maya PLE without the normal restructions (this may be holdover from before Autodesk bought them). Might it be possible for Linden Lab to look into a similar deal? Elle Pollack 14:58, 28 April 2007 (PDT)

Does anyone know whether sculpts made with the student/faculty edition of maya render correctly in second life. As a hobbyist on second life ( and a college prof) $289 is much easier to justify than $1999. Reginald Barrymore --Reginald Barrymore 08:10, 6 May 2007 (PDT)

The educational version of Maya forbids any commercial use of content produced and expires after two years. Yumi Murakami
The free "Personal Learning Edition" watermarks images making it good for making the sculpt maps, but if you're buying an educational licence for the full program, that should give you full functionality. Elle Pollack 09:37, 6 May 2007 (PDT)


Is there any further info. on this or on how the Blender export is done? I have an in-world friend getting miserable because they use Lightwave and nobody knows how to export from it. I looked around and found that there is a normal-map generation plug-in for Lightwave, but it's not open to modification, and it seems to be the same for ZBrush too. So just saying it's a "simple modification" is presuming a bit I think ;) Yumi Murakami

I just rezzed a pair of bright red one-prim sculptie wellies in world that was originally crafted within Lightwave's toolset. To encourage exploration, I'll drop a couple of major points rather than hand you a tightly parcelled scene. This generic layman walkthrough will require some knowledge of Lightwave, a copy of Lightwave, and imagination: - --Patchouli Woollahra 08:59, 5 May 2007 (PDT)
Here's roughly how Eddy described it to me when I asked in email a few days ago:
- Follow the directions at for creating a normal map, except select the option to use "Orco" (local position) instead of "Nor"(mals)
- "The problem with this is that it's not normalized from 0-255, and aside from doing post-processing on the image I don't know if that can easily be solved in Blender without breaking down and writing a script."
If you contact him in-world or by email (on the libsecondlife page, he's jhurlman), he can probably give more up to date details. Elle Pollack 12:16, 1 May 2007 (PDT)
Yumi - consider that the blender work by Eddy was done ONE DAY after we announced the sculpties - i do think i'm safe in saying that exporters are simple work. let's give this project a WHOLE WEEK before we get too upset about how long things are taking... ? :) --Qarl Linden 11:01, 1 May 2007 (PDT)

Misc. 3d Software Qs.

I know of three perfectly free modellers that run on many platforms: Blender, Google's SketchUp, and the open source Wings3D which I use with X-Plane. It would help the "pennyless" content makers tremendously to have exporters for these.
I'm not sure if Sketchup has the functionality required for this sort of thing. It can do plugins (Python, IIRC) , but it doesn't have much in the line of map rendering and export of non-native formats except maybe for .jpg renders is tied to having the paid "Pro" version. There might be importers for skp files into other programs. Might. Elle Pollack 12:05, 28 April 2007 (PDT)
SketchUp just has raster exports (i.e. JPEG, PNG, etc. renders) in the free version. The paid version adds exporters for AutoCAD DWG and DXF, as well as 3D Studio Max. So you can design something in SketchUp, export it to another (more expensive) program, then export a sculpt texture. However, I don't think SketchUp is really ideal for this sort of work... it has a bit of a bias towards orthogonal architecture stuff, which you can already build fairly easily with prims. -- Pablo Andalso 02:04, 5 May 2007 (PDT)

In considering programs to offer export support for, is there any chance of offering support for Caligari Truespace [2]? It is priced much more in reach for the average users than 3d Studio Max/Maya, and is not as esoteric as Blender. Cristiano Midnight 21:12, 27 April 2007 (PDT)

- these exporters are really easy to create - basically if your program has a normal-map generator (most do) it's a simple mod to make a sculpt exporter. so i challenge YOU Cristiano to make the truespace exporter.  :) --Qarl Linden 09:43, 28 April 2007 (PDT)

-- if i understand the issue right, the main obstacle at the moment would be: the displacement map is "baked" into texture which is created based on UV map associated with low resolution prim. In case of SL sculpt prims, this low res UV map is "hard coded" property of the sculpt prim as it's rezzed in SL rather than anything user would create themselves, and so the displacement map generator has to be given this exact prim with this exact UV map to use it as baking reference or Bad Things(tm) happen. Is there any chance such reference "sculpt prim" with its UV map could be provided for download, perhaps in .obj format for easy use?

- Gonna post tech specs for that sort of thing any time soon? Won't help me much since I'm not a coder, but... Elle Pollack 13:14, 28 April 2007 (PDT)

If NURBS are going to be the recommended methood of making SL objects...for about the price of a Photoshop suite ($995 for the full licence, $195 for students) there's Rhino 3D, which is made with NURBS in mind. I don't know much else about it at this point but it supports plugins and has a trial version (full functionality for 25 saves). Elle Pollack 13:14, 28 April 2007 (PDT)

whoa, no need to buy rhino, I think its overkill, besides - you can't really texture anything in it. if I read correctly, this is more like maya, in which case we're talking patch models. there are lowcost to free patch modelling programs, like A:M, hamapatch, etc. rhino doesn't function like that really, it's a great program but it's not as good for organic modelling. but this is all under the hood stuff. I suspect a polygon model made to approximate the control points and uvspace of the prim will be plenty good enough to work with - and you can sculpt it to your hearts content in a variety of low-cost programs from blender (free) to silo, hexagon, up to programs like zbrush (which would be my preferred method, as I can up and downsample the resolution). I'm guessing based on the info provided about the texture, we're talking about a low poly model limited to 64 control points. --Hypatia Callisto 14:23, 29 April 2007 (PDT)

One of the programmers responsible for Rhino is working on a tool called Moment of Inspiration. Functional beta is available online. Not sure how long it'll be useful, but it does export to .3ds, .obj, .iges, .stl, and OpenNURBs (aka Rhino3D format).
In addition, there are other NURBs-capable modelers available. Art of Illusion is an open source, Java-based hybrid modeler iirc. Ayam is another NURBs modeler that some people might prefer. -- Csven Concord 17:40, 28 Apr 2007 (PDT)

Please excuse me if i am not posting this correctly but here goes. I know very little about 3d programs so my question is. will the average SL user be able to readily use this new prim with out having to pay 1000's 0f $$ for an expensive 3d modeling program. regardds crucial Armitage

I'm working on a sculpture map exporter for MilkShape3D, which is free to download and evaluate for 30 days (with no cripples or restrictions, IIRC), and after that is only US$25 to register. --Deanna Trollop 15:34, 2 May 2007 (PDT)
Short answer: Yes, if you're willing to put in the effort to learn how.
Slightly longer answer: see the section above that discusses various free and not-so-free programs here. Blender will probably be the first to be fully supported. A tool within the SL client is planed eventually. And inevitably, there will be people offering sets of free sculpt maps to builders; new primitive shapes, assorted architectural elements, etcetera. Elle Pollack 15:41, 2 May 2007 (PDT) (who will probably merge this into the afformentioned section but leaves it to be found for the moment)

Has any work been done on a Modo exporter? For those unfamiliar with this wonderful program Lallander Parvenu 13:53, 7 May 2007 (PDT)

None that I know...I only know one other person who uses Modo though and the laws of demand and supply are in full force. Elle Pollack 09:30, 8 May 2007 (PDT)

Other Qs

Why not provide (for example) a 3DS to texture converter instead of a conversion plugin? Most programs I've seen will save and load 3DS format, so this would be just the same as writing an exporter plugin. Yumi Murakami

- If someone were to go that route, they might be better off using OBJ format, which every polygon modeler worth it's salt can export, or MDL which is less common but the files can be read as plain text like BVH (Neverwinter Nights uses it and there are some existing tools to work with it); it's closer to being a "standard" format than 3DS. I like the idea, but for programers, a lot of existing 3d suites have the ability to render textures built in, which I think would make plugins easier to write initialy.

-- the reason it's better to write an exporter is for programs which can generate a normal map from displacement painting a low polygon mesh. Most of these programs let you subdivide the model to higher resolutions, letting you displacement paint with better detail, giving you a map that can better approximate nurbs-style patch curves, rather than the blocky nature of a polygon model. (OBJ and 3DS are polygon model formats) --Hypatia Callisto 16:20, 29 April 2007 (PDT)

While on the subject of export formats, does anyone know the prefered format to export NURBS objects in? (OBJ and 3DS are both polygon exports). Elle Pollack 12:16, 29 April 2007 (PDT)

to answer this question - Rhino's 3DM format is becoming a standard in that area. But my previous statement holds - no need for Rhino for sculpties. You need a modeller that can export a normal map. Probably best would be some kind of converter to deal with Zbrush's normal maps to turn them into sculptie format. Most programs which can import/export and use normal maps can deal with Zbrush-type maps. --Hypatia Callisto 03:15, 30 April 2007 (PDT)
Well, the question is directed at figuring out platform-independent formats for those working in programs for which there isn't an export to sculpt map yet, in order to pass it along to a program (or person) that does. For polygons it's usualy OBJ.

-- you'll be looking basically at creating something like qavimator is to bvh files. But with an exporter for blender around (and I suspect this will come about pretty soon, and a manual method exists already), I doubt there'll be much need for a stand alone app. The price ranges from free to midrange to highend professional apps can be easily covered. --Hypatia Callisto 15:47, 30 April 2007 (PDT)

one problem is that no one can agree on which program is the best, which format, etc, etc. ideally i'd like to see our vibrant community develop the import/export mechanisms - they're the ones who know exactly what the want/need. --Qarl Linden 13:09, 29 April 2007 (PDT)
I would like to create an OBJ->texture converter but I'm not 100% sure on the best approach to use. At a general, conceptual level, and please correct me if I'm wrong, I envisage the conversion process to get a 64x64 textures as follows:
 - draw a sphere around the object to be represented
 - draw a 64x64 grid on the sphere (like parallels and meridans on a world map)
 - for each ray from the center of the sphere to a grid point
    -- compute the intersection of the ray with the object
 - Scale, normalize, etc to fit into 0-255 range.
I understand the process as described above, assuming is correct, is heavy and that 3d software have means to ease that conversation so exporters are preferable to converters. Nevertheless there are so many 3D programs (CB Model Pro, anyone?) able to create .obj files that I believe a converter will prove itself useful.
That said, I must confess that I still don't understand many things. It's not clear to me how normals map (that is stored into the .obj file) relates to the sculpted texture even if elsewhere in this discussion someone said that from the normal maps one can derive the texture. Any hints? --Rael Delcon 01:29, 9 May 2007 (PDT)

Just so I'm clear, Linden Lab is supporting Autodesk software first and then open source second, despite the fact that the viewer is open sourced? This is a very mixed signal. I would have thought that the open source stuff would have been done first. Is this how we should expect features to be done in the future? Cater to the minority so that process drives product instead of product driving process? --Nobody Fugazi 10:37, 5 May 2007 (PDT)
Sounds like you're very unclear. I don't believe LL supports any plug-ins at all. It doesn't even support sculpted prims yet. When it does, it probably still won't support any plug-ins, but by then the community will have them for many different platforms. The question of "Which platforms?" will be decided the same way it's always decided in open-source community projects -- coders who use particular platforms will code for them, and the order they get made will depend on the speed of the individual coders in question, and will not be determined by any official policy anywhere. --Gaius Goodliffe
The original blog posts clearly highlighted Autodesk software which is as good as a pepsi ad in a movie. As far as 'what is decided in open source communities', well - let's see, Gaius - would an open source community have started with Autodesk software when they could have started with Blender? But Deight defends below, saying Qarl knew only Maya... and I feel for Qarl. I do. But this is NOT about Qarl, this is about software available to the community for features available to the community which affect an economy where Maya users were at an almost immediate advantage. Despite what some people may think, I am fairly certain that Maya users form a minority of the SecondLife community. --Nobody Fugazi 08:19, 16 May 2007 (PDT)
Sculpted prims were made by Qarl. Qarl knows Maya best. So, when he made this he did it with Maya because that was the easiest and quickest option for him to do it. He didn't make it so that's it's impossible to use other tools, and in fact it took pretty much one day for serious progress on Blender export to come along. One week later, it's now easy to make Blender exports. Would you rather have waited for Qarl to learn Blender, make an exporter for it, and then release it? Or do you just wanna remember that Qarl just wanted to get this out as soon as it was stable, and worry about other applications later? --Deight Boccara 18:36, 5 May 2007 (PDT)
Short answer: Yes. When releasing a new feature to a diverse community, it is sensible not to treat some better than others based on their ability to use one package over another. Qarl may have made it, but the release of it to the public was probably not his decision. Would it have been horrible to wait a little while to get sculpted prims out the door in a more mature manner? That is the point. We could have waited another week or two for a more balanced release, especially with the bubbly entries highlighting Autodesk software. They sure got some cheap advertising out of that. --Nobody Fugazi 08:19, 16 May 2007 (PDT)
couldn't have said it better, Deight. --Qarl Linden 20:03, 5 May 2007 (PDT)
Perhaps you couldn't have, Qarl, but perhaps more preparation before release is in order. Just because you're good in Maya doesn't mean that the Linden Lab client base is, and demonstrating something can be done in Maya is fine and dandy - I appreciate that - but having the blog entry releasing it along the lines of an advertorial did not impress myself. The only people who seem duly impressed are defending you when in fact I am not attacking you. What I am attacking is a supposedly open source friendly company forcing the community to develop something for a feature simply because internally they do not seem to be eating their own dog food. What I will suggest to you, Qarl, is to become more familiar with open source software. Based on the belief people have in you, I have no doubt you could have learned blender - if you have not done so yet - and there could have been a balanced release which didn't seem like an advertorial for Autodesk. It is a good thing, these sculptured prims - but when they skew toward one small user group, you can expect criticism and perhaps some righteous indignation. This is not just about prims. This affects a lot of other things, and to say otherwise is myopic. --Nobody Fugazi 08:19, 16 May 2007 (PDT)