Saturday, April 21, 2012

Learning how to create and manage 3d props.

I used a bunch of tools and so far ac3d is the best modeller that I have found.  It lets you easily form complex 3d shapes and work with meshes to modify the thing you are building.  The coolest feature is the ability to draw a line and then rotate that line around an axis to create a 3d shape.  If you draw a line segment or two for each section that you want to have a different material then once you rotate it you can assign all the textures to each part and it immediately looks great.

I created a first cut at a brown paper bag.  Today I want to make it morphable to fold up and crumple.  Looking at doing that in either poser, or hopefully find a much simpler tool that can import a couple of obj files and generate the poser file without needing to run a big 3d program.  If it can do it by command line, even better.

Evidently all you need is the prop you want morphed in the base default pose, and then an obj file for each of the morphs you want to be able to do and there is a diff created inside the poser file for each set of points that are different.  Way too complicated for a human to work with.  These files are millions of lines long.  Still nice that they are ascii though, because it lets you fix it when things go wrong.

I have been editing the file paths in .obj and poser files (pp2) that are broken in some of the prop files I have been using.  After the 20th time of "texture whatever.jpg not found would you like to browse" it motivated me to just fix the problem.

Basically Poser and Daz have the concept of relative paths.  If you give a pathname of Runtime:Texture:Blue:ReallyCoolImage.jpg, then it will look through every Runtime/Texture directory that you have configured it to know about looking for the folder named Blue with the ReallyCoolImage.jpg file in it.  Thanks to this site for the info on how to do this.

The way you have to install and mix together all the props and characters and hair is a nightmare.  None of the installers you get from vendors are just simple zip files, they are all execs that want you to manually click 6 times and type a file path to install.  When it installs it just scatters readme's everywhere.

I am going through all the Daz Windows prop installers that purchased or gotten from their site for free over the years and installing them one at a time to h:\u on my hard drive.  This creates a Runtime and Readme folder.  If there is a Texture installer I install that to h:\u as well.  h:\u is really the u folder in my home directory, but it saves a lot of typing.

Once it is installed I rename the Readme's folder to ReadMe, move everything that is not a Runtime into the ReadMe folder, including the Template.  I move to the Readme folder and create a new folder that is the name of the Package with vendor id.  I move all the docs and pictures into this folder.

If there are Expansion Packs for the item, I go ahead and run the installer and create a readme folder of the name of the package and put all the read me's for each expansion pack into it's own folder so I can tell at a glance of the Runtime/Readme/ folder what is installed in that runtime.

If you vendors and hobbyists want to make life easier on us poor slobs trying to use your props, please adopt the following convention for your ReadMe files:

Runtime/ReadMe/VendorName/ProductNameAndId/All your stuff that has been scattered around wildly before goes here.

It sure would be great if you just released your product as a zip file that unzips right into a Runtime folder as well.


The reason I am going to all this work is because I am creating set of zip installers that I am grouping by topic.  This way I can move zip files around to manage my content and then just regenerate all my Runtime folders on demand.  Once the folders are regenerated I can just rsync that content to any other computer I own.

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