Just Me

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Problem with Clothes

My respect for Second Life ® clothes designers has increased… along with my frustration.

I’m not a computer newbie. I’ve used PhotoShop (maybe not the full extent of it, but at least the basics) for ten years or more, I’ve used computers for over twenty years, I’ve played with TGA files and web graphics and the like. And I am just pulling out my hair trying to get these darn templates aligned correctly.

The problem is that the templates are two-dimensional, while the worn clothes are three. If you just slap a texture down on the template, any faces that are away from the “front-on” view (i.e., the sides, the underneaths of things, etc.) will terribly stretch the fabric as well as any design it bears.

So it’s easy to put detail in the middle of your shirt, for example, but as soon as it wraps around the side, you will see tremendous stretch. You need to shrink the design on that part of the template so that it will be “stretched” to the normal size when rendered in SL.

And it all seems to be trial and error, and I’m still not sure how to quickly and easily stretch asymmetrical chunks of my main digital canvas. Selecting and Transform > Distort leaves gaps where the fabric pulls away from the non-selected piece. The filters do not accurate distort the area, although they can to some degree. Even with the special templates provided by master designers, who have added colored hashes to show where the edges line up with other edges, is not nearly as helpful as I had expected.

(No fault to them, all fault to me -- the next blundering fat-fingered Versace wannabe that I am… Blech.)

The best shortcut I can picture would be to load the clothes up in a 3D program like Poser or DAZ Studio, where hopefully the texture will be wrapped around the figure equally rather than distorted as it is from the 2D PSD template.

Then you could screen capture the image of the virtual dummy (wearing your texture) at approximately the right size from the flat front angle – basically making the 3D software do all the distortion for you in 3D and you are simply capturing it back to a 2D image, to upload into SL so it can reconstitute the image in 3D.

(Ummm… Did you get all that? Never mind.)

One of the resident expert designers gave a rather amusing piece of advice: “The first 500 things you create will be crap. There’s no avoiding it. So just do it, and get it out of the way.”

Sigh. Forgive my malaise, but what am I going to do with 500 pieces of crap?

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