Animation doesn’t have to always be accomplished by rigging mesh characters. Animation can also be created realistically in-world by using animated gifs. Fred Beckhusen’s Outworldz website has a tool called G2SLA.
With this tool it converts an animated .gif [lossless format for image files that supports both animated and static images.]
to an image that is then uploaded inworld. By placing this image in a prim with the Gif script, the prim then becomes the animated Gif. When converting your gif to image make sure your output is set to transparent [.png format] or you will have a white background.
I used this method to create animated fish for our virtual ocean. You can obtain free gif fish from animatedimages.org Download the gif and save to a folder on your hard drive.
With your G2SLA tool downloaded and opened on your computer, you would simply load the gif, and choose your options, then choose output. The file saves to the folder where you have the G2SLA application saved.
Photoshop 3D is an amazing tool which you can use to create many items using .png formatted images with a transparent background.
I obtain my images from Google Advanced Image Search.
Google Advanced search is the first choice when I select my images. The page has various selections for just exactly you are searching for, even commercially. This is the safest way to obtain legal images for use of publishing or selling your finished piece. Always making sure of the CC0 public domain images.
Another great resource I use is Pixabay, these are free for use - even commercially.
I wanted to create seashells so I found this great .png formatted image using the Google Advanced Image Search.
It said .png format but it wasn’t transparent background – it had a grid background, so I had to edit it and delete background so that the image had a transparent background and also the little holes in the sand dollar had to also be deleted. You need the background to be transparent to avoid these extra steps of cleaning up the image.
You can make shells or flowers for your hair this way. When you search for your images, grab a few different .png formatted images and make a file of them for later use, this saves lots of time and will keep you inspired to create the next shell or flower. Always keep a note card of where you took your images from, so if you are questioned about the use of a said image you have proof you are not infringing on rights. I keep a note in the file where my models are.
Now that we have our images let’s begin our lesson.
Open your sand dollar to your Photoshop desktop as seen in the image above.
On the right of your screen, you will see Properties Panel and down in the middle area you will see the 3d-Layer-Channel choices, make sure it is set to the 3D choice. With 3D choice selected  make sure your 3D Extrusion is selected.
Then 2-> Select Create
You will get something like this image seen below.
This is great! But, it is not exactly the shape we are seeking. If you select your sand dollar, to the right on your Properties Panel you will see a blue Shape Preset window. As seen in the image below.
Now, if you select the down arrow in the drop down menu, you will see various shape presets that you choose to change your shape. You can also set the extrusion depth. A sand dollar is not too thick so you would find the poofy shape preset I call it, click the down arrow and choose the sixth selection of the menu on the right. I use it for everything even my hair flowers. It gives it just enough poof to look real.
After you select the preset your sand dollar will look like the image below.
Now for saving and bringing in-world. On the top of your desktop-the toolbar-top of your screen, you will see File>Edit>Image>Layer>Type>Select>Filter and finally 3D select 3D and the drop down you will want to select Export 3D Layer and save the sand dollar as a .dae file to your hard drive for uploading in-world.
You can create an endless number of items like this. I made, a crab, steaks and bacon even, those were probably the first I tried! Try everything the results depend on the image and the “Shape Preset” you choose.
The last step would be to grab the original texture for texturing in-world, for me it is faster than unwrapping etc. the result is not much difference with the shells and flowers. Just edit it and apply texture and adjust to fit model.
Software has become simply amazing. Get out there and try it!
Creating jewelry for me has become quite the obsession, so much so that I feel it is now time to teach others just how amazing creating jewelry can be.
Where does my inspiration come from? I get inspiration for my design ideas from shapes of nature, including flowers, stars and hearts.
One of the key elements of designing 3D jewelry and other mesh items comes from the shape of the design — the outline. The Curve.
You can find curves in publicly available image collections.
One place to start is silhouettes, which are available online in many image collections, including SilhouetteAC, Free Vectors: Silhouettes, Public Domain Vectors: Silhouettes, Creazilla: Silhouettes, and Silhouette Garden.
Look for a black design on a white background for best results in extracting curves. It will give you a crisp clean line, which is important for extruding.
Keep in mind that you can’t just take a random picture off the Internet and use it as a guide if you plan to use the final product for commercial work. You need to make sure that the work you start with is correctly licensed. Look for CC0 and similar kinds of Public Domain or Creative Commons licenses that allow for modification and commercial use.
I purchased a commercial bundle from Silhouette Garden and the file had 7,000 items in it. For me, buying the bundle was the best choice to know I have obtained licensed commercial silhouettes.
You can also create curves from Dingbat fonts, or from Photoshop brushes. Again, check to make sure that the license terms allow for modification and commercial use.
You can also create your own shapes. The styles then become your own, exclusive to just your brand. You can use a tablet for this. I have even scanned my own shapes and designs that I have doodled.
How to extract curves from an image - I use RhinoGold. That particular software is no longer available, but the developers have released a more advanced version of it, called MatrixGold. This is a professional computer-aided design software package, and the price starts at $7,400.
This video explains extracting curves using Rhino:
If you are just starting out, and aren’t ready to invest that much in design software, Blender is free, opensource software that has a great jewelry add-on called JewelCraft.
Here is a tutorial for Blender for extracting curves.
You want to lift the outline of the shape which is called a curve from the image — this curve is what you will then extrude and model or cap.
Here is a tutorial for extruding curves in Rhino:
Once your curves are extruded, you would cap them.
This is how you would cap curves using Rhino:
And here is a tutorial for how to cap a curve using Blender:
Once the design is capped you can manipulate the shape by bending it to form bracelets or cuffs. I have created beautiful cuffs using paisley designs.
If you want to do bending in Blender you would need to use a bend modifier:
Use your imagination to envision earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
What can be added to the 3D shape depends on the piece you want to create. Earrings can have several different posts or wires, as well as chains and beads. When all added to the final piece it becomes quite unique.
Keep in mind that many designs created will need the mesh reduced, or simplified, to upload into OpenSim. Try to keep the polygon count low. Reducing means eliminating unnecessary vertices.
Here is a great tutorial explaining how to reduce mesh in Rhino.
And here is a tutorial for how to do this in Blender.
I use Rhino and it has a sweet and easy method of just typing into the command “ReduceMesh.”
But even though many of my pieces were reduced they still have high vertices count because of the intricate designs. I cannot stress enough how important it is to try to keep the polygon count low, with that said I have seen some mesh clothes and shoes in-world that exceed 95,000 vertices.
Once you dive into creating with mesh, using the different methods of creating is endless. I have had my software now for four years and still learning what all I can do with it. When in doubt “google” it.
Unwrapping and texturing your items is another lesson you can research for your program — each is different. Please feel free to contact me inworld if you ever need any help. Or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.