Mesh Topics

So first you need a 3D program.  One that is very good and very free is Blender.   I recommend staying up to date with Blender to take advantage of all the new tools and things.  Get Blender here:


When learning through video, or other, tutorials, try this:
  • Watch the tutorial all the way through once. Don't worry about where things are; get through the video to see what it's about.   If the video goes too fast, pause and rewind.

  • Watch it again, this time with Blender open, and try to find all the modifiers, panels and other things the tutorial deals with and then...

  • Write down the steps and try the tutorial with your list as a checklist so you can make sure you followed everything.

  • Test the knowledge you've learned by trying to make something different than what was shown in the tutorial.  This is the true sign that you have learned something; when you can APPLY the knowledge.

  • Also remember that you are more likely NOT to find a tutorial on the exact thing you want, but you can learn from everything.  As you learn more, you will even be able to watch tutorials, particularly for modeling, that are for other programs and apply them to what you do in Blender.  Keep in mind that if you find a tutorial that does not say it is for the latest Blender, it will still be quite watchable.  While commands and panel locations can change, you should still be able to find them in most cases.

  • If you find the videos are too fast, you can pause them.  There are programs that will let you download videos from Youtube and Vimeo (places like CG Cookie allow their members to download them).  If you can download them, a useful program is VLC which has the ability to really slow down a tutorial...I can even watch speed modeling at a regular pace.

  • Wonderful basic intro to what mesh and sculpts are and the difference:

    Come back, periodically, and check this page, I'll be updating with more links as I find them.

    If you're looking for inworld classes in Second Life, check out those at Builder's Brewery:

    The following list of tutorials is using the new UI in Blender, so 2.5x and up.  There are also many great tutorials using the older 2.49 interface, but understand that it may not always be easy for you to find panels and some functions may have changed entirely. 


    The Blender Manual, otherwise known as the WIKI:

    Learn the interface:

    (Note: is what really got me understanding Blender.  Check their prices for monthly or annual citizenship which gives you access to many in-depth tutorials.  Their 2010 training series for Blender 2.5 is now available to citizens and goes into much more detail on aspects of Blender.  I highly recommend this site.)

    Recently, Blender released version 2.66 which was a very large drop; enough to prompt Blendercookie (the Blender arm of CG Cookie) to do several videos on what the new parts are:

    Blender series (part of CGCookie)

    Jason Welsh has a fine set of Blender tutorials for beginner to advanced topics.
    Please not that Jason works heavily in Maya and so his tutorials may have you work in a Maya preset for Blender.  If this becomes confusing, just choose some of the other series notated in this section of starter series.

    Neil Hirsig
    Updated for Blender 2.6



    Object Manipulation




    Great sites with general to specialized topics


    It is really important to learn to do good, low-poly modeling.  What many modelers do is to create a low poly base model and then they res it up and go to town on it with sculpting tools.  This results in a high poly mesh that is no longer efficient for Second Life.  However, you can retopologize this high poly mesh and create a low poly version of it.  You can then bake the information from the high poly mesh into the low poly one.  

    Retopology and Normals

    Retopology allows you to create a high poly mesh with incredible detail and then retopolize over it (create a low poly mesh over the high) and bake the details from the high poly to the low poly.

    Retopology and Shrinkwrap

    Retopology Workflow

    BSurfaces and Retopology


    These are tutorials that are on modeling objects.  The goal with any tutorial is to learn from it and apply the techniques to more than just the one object.

    Modeling a pair of shorts

    Model over the avatar to get it sized correctly.  Remember it will fit the avatar you model it over and others with a similar shape will probably be able to use it.

    Box modeling a Sperm Whale

    Modeling a low-poly dinosaur

    Basics of Box Modeling

    Modeling a house from a floorplan

    This one is a five parter:


    NEW Material Textures!

    The new LL Viewer, for SL, now includes the new material settings for Normals and Specular which signals a new level of detail achievable in Second Life.  I believe a couple of the TPVs have them with more (including Firestorm) to follow soon.

    Bump, Normals and Displacement

    This is a great overview of what each of these is.  The new materials we have in the LL Viewer (soon in the TPVs) are normals, specular and emission.

    The great Polycount Wiki's explanation of normals.

    Specular Maps

    Specular is the attribute which allows an object to have reflective shine.  Up until now, we have had to bake specular into our maps which means the shine remains constant regardless of light position.  Just as with normals, where when light passes over it you can see the variation of depth on the surface, light shows the variation of specular shine on a surface, such as metal or on leather.  The best specular is specific to the type of surface and amount and distribution of shine related to that type of material.

    These tutorials are not Blender specific, but can give insight into how to create your specular maps.

    UV Unwrap and Mapping

    Before you can texture, you need to UV Map your model which is a 2D depiction of a the 3D model.  There are a few outlined above in earlier sections.  In addition, this is a great three-parter:

    Great intro to UV Mapping

    From CGBoorman

    (placeholder, video unavailable at the moment.  Peter Draculic has a wonderful video on painting with seamless textures in Blender: )

    CG Cookie demonstrates the Texture Paint Layer Manager addon that Peter uses in the above tutorial:

    Baking textures from a high poly model to a low poly model.

    This shows making a low poly model and then baking the textures from the original to the new low poly model.

    Shadow Baking

    Good page on shadows (not to be confused with Ambient Occlusion)

    Specular Setup for Baking into a Texture

    Braydon Randt has a five-parter on doing a sofa for SL and in this fifth part, covers the specular setup with nodes towards the very end of the video.

    Ambient Occlusion

    Jeanie Weston explains how here:

    A good explanation of the World settings for Ambient Occlusion and others.


    Creating Planks of Wood in Blender 2.5

    This has some nice for creating some planks, uvmapping them and texturing in Gimp as well as fixing seams back in Blender.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Fixing seams in Blender

    Seam mismatch can occur anywhere where you have an island seam.  The pieces created by UV unwrap are called islands.  The outer boundary of these islands is called the margin.  This tutorial explains some ways to fix the seam mismatching.

    Working with Alphas

    It is important to understand how alphas work to avoid the white halos you can sometimes experience.  My friend, Robin (Sojourner) Wood, has a great site and this tutorial on alphas:

    Texture Stencils

    How to View multiple textures from multiple materials in Blender


    Ben Simonds is one of the Blender masters and in this article explains light using examples from various masters through history.  Great for renders, but also if you are baking full render textures, you want to look at this as well.

    and, here, provides a blend file with a 3 point light setup at Blendswap.  You must be a blendswap member to download.


    Modifier Overviews

    Mostafa Hassan

    Blender Diplom's Modifier Playlist

    Mirror Modifier

    Multires Modifier

    Solidify Modifier

    Excellent tutorial explaining how to use the Solidify modifier.  This is a great modifier for giving thickness to mesh.  Notably, it explains how to assign materials to the new surfaces being created.  This is important because for rigged clothing, you want to only have interior mesh for what is visible.

    Solidify command (faces)

    Using the Lattice Modifier

    Right now, we often need to fit a piece of mesh clothing that we originally modeled on one sized avatar to one or more size shapes.  This is because mesh fits the avatar shape it was based on best.  To help shape it to fit the new avatar size shape, but still retain its overall appearance, you can use the Lattice Modifier.  BlenderCookie has this tutorial on how the Lattice Modifier works.

    Another good one:

    Wiki page for Lattice

    Array - Blender Wiki Page

    The Array modifier allows us to duplicate a mesh such as planks for a bridge, beads going around for a necklace, a winding set of chain links.  Take the time to read this page to become familiar with the Array panel in your Editors (wrench icon).

    Columns in a circle with Spin and Array

    Modeling with Curves

    Curve Modifer



    Proportional Editing

    This tool edits with a falloff.  Good for many things including making things fit (as in for clothing over an avatar shape size).  Think of it as a magnet.  There is a circle of influence you will see when you use it.  What's in the center gets the most pull and gradually diminishes till there is no pull outside of the circle.  Good beginner explanation of how it works:

    Loop Tools

    One of the more important add-ons which you can enable in your Preferences panel.


    Aligning Vertices


    There are a number of things which can be helpful when working in Blender.  This page has some great tips:


    Machinimatrix: Home of AVASTAR
    Gaia Clary is one of the premier tutorial makers for topics regarding the making of objects in Blender for use in Second Life.  Through her work with Domino Marama, she helped make sculpts easier for us to use with Primstar.  She went on to work with Magus to bring us Avastar which allows us to animate and rig mesh for SL.  Her site is home to a plethora of information on mesh and rigging and so much more:

    I get asked what does Avastar have over rigging and weighting with just Blender, so I asked Gaia if she could write up the differences and make some comparisons.  This page is in progress, but helps to highlight some of the many useful features of Avastar:

    Working with the Avatar Workbench

    Salahzar Stenvaag has a 3 parter on the Avatar Workbench (the videos are in both English and Italian):

    Working with sizing for Standard Sizes
    This video gives you insight to using shape keys to help you create the standard sizes for your rigged clothing. It's a novel approach.  Shape keys can be used for many more things when you think abou it.


    Wiki Data

    This is a very necessary skillset you need to develop in order for your clothing to work right whether in SL or anywhere.  It can take as much time, if not more, to weightpaint than to model your clothing.  Every model is a puzzle, and while there are similarities, differences can really make you work.  Gaia has videos on weight painting at Machinimatrix.  

    This following video has rigging that is not supported by Second Life, but the weight painting information is good for anything.  Highly recommended.


    Using the Alpha Modifier in Blender 2.6, you can create an alpha for your avatar by following this tip from Gaia Clary:

    This tutorial is in Blender 2.49, though the alpha is done in Gimp, so should be easy enough to follow.


    You must tell SL what your collision surfaces are on your mesh with a mesh that is uploaded with your LOD Meshes.  I've put together a page on this important topic here:

    LoD Meshes (level of detail)

    Beq gives a pretty thorough explanation:

    Modeling the LoD Levels

    Ashasekayi (asha) Ra has done some wonderful tutorails, in this multipart video, she shows what to consider in modeling your different LoD levels rather than having SL generate the lower LoD levels.  The first video explains how to add background images in the traditional way (I, personally, recommend using empites as shown in the section after Asha's videos).  The last two show how to UV Map the chinese lantern you make.

    Adding a pivot point for a mesh door
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