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Old 15th Feb 2006, 8:22 AM DefaultBody/Hair/Accessory Meshing Tools #1
tiggerypum
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We now have several different meshing options, which is great for everyone, but also a moving target to document. I can’t have possibly tried every kind of mesh in every program, and I can use your help in making this document more complete. Please PM me suggestions to add to this document – I just want to get this all in one place.

For an overview of a mesh and its parts, see Everything You Wanted to Know About Meshes But Were Afraid to Ask

Modifying body meshes have some parts in common with creating objects; they have a mesh, uv map, and a texture. But they also (like some select objects) have 'bone' assignments that enable them to animate in the game. This article will outline which tools can be used to modify body meshes, links to appropriate tutorials, tips for specific issues folks run into, and for those who want to know more, some of the technical details involved in working with body and hair meshes.

There are primarily 4 ways most people modify body meshes. As Maxis did not supply us with any tools to make or modify body meshes, each of these tools have specific strengths and limitations. It is important when you begin to modify a mesh that you choose the tool best suited for your end goal.

A 'mesh' which gives the sim its shape is a collection of triangular polygons connected together to create a 3D shape. The mesh file also contains the bone assignments for the points, a uv map describing how graphics are applied to the mesh, 'normals' that tell the software how to smooth your mesh's shape, and morph data for making the sim fit, fat, or pregnant.

To edit your mesh you will need Simpe, Meshtool or Wes' Milkshape Plugins, and an appropriate 3-D editor, such as Milkshape. 3DS Max or Modtool. Generally must start with a Maxis body/hair/accessory mesh that you then modify to create your new mesh, because you need the skeleton.

You must understand that each of these editing options are DIFFERENT, and have different options/features/drawbacks. Sometimes the editing you can do is limited, sometimes the choice of programs to use is limited. Some are more complex to use than others. So please read on

Quick List: Combinations of tools that can be used to edit body, hair, and accessory meshes (not all are listed)

Meshtool (obj) (Milkshape, Maya, Wings, Blender)
Wes’ Unimesh Milkshape Plugin SimPE SMD Import/Export (XSI Modtool, 3DS Max, Blender, others) SimPE Import/Export (Milkshape)
Poser Magnets (in conjunction with one of the other tools)

Click on the name in the index to see details about each one, or scroll further down this message. You can get more details about the programs needed, tips, tricks, tutorials, and so on for each.

And for completeness, outdated
Outdated Wes’ Bodychop Plugin
Outdated Wes’ plugin
Meshtool (smd) (no morphs, use the new SimPE export)

(Special thanks to Dr Pixel, Wes, Skankyboy, Quaxi, Kate at Parsimoneous, Miche, and Delphy for sharing their knowledge so freely.)
Last edited by tiggerypum : 19th Nov 2007 at 4:37 AM.
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Old 15th Feb 2006, 8:41 AM DefaultMeshtool Simple (obj files) #2
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Meshtool Simple (obj files)

Overview:

Excellent, but minor changes only. Supports fit/fat and bumpmaps. 3D editors we know work: Milkshape, Maya/Milkshape, Wings 3D (with Hellborn's Vertice Mapper), Blender (with a new plugin). Meshtool _might not work correctly_ with meshes from the Nightlife EP on, this has yet to be fully verified.

If you want to add/delete/replace parts of a mesh, this is not the tool for you. Read on to the Unimesh or SMD plugins for those options.

Get Meshtool Here:

http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=45457

Tutorial:

http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=141997

3D Editors:

Milkshape, Maya and Milkshape, ZBrush and Milkshape, Wings 3D (with Hellborn's Vertice Mapper), Blender - with a new plugin (see here )

Details:

The original Meshtool allows for the modification of meshes ONLY by moving the existing points in the mesh. Because of this, you cannot move the points past a 'bone' joint – if you were to grab the bottom edge of a short skirt and pull it below the knee, it would not animate correctly. Meshtool does support the fit/fat/preg morph, and animates well, and it supports bumpmaps. Often people use Milkshape to edit the obj file.

You can edit full bodies, tops, and bottoms (do not move the vertices at the waistline at all on tops and bottoms!). I have heard that hair works, but my one test did not display well, so test before you do a lot of editing.

Meshtool works on OBJ files, and that format file was chosen because it's supported by several 3D meshing programs. Unfortunately, it appears the format of obj files is not as consistant as had been hoped, and some programs (such 3D Max) reorder the vertices, and as such, Meshtool cannot reconstruct the new gdmc, because it doesn't know which vertex is which.

The way Meshtool works is that it reads in the data from your obj file and reads in the data from the original gdmc - it then puts in the new values for the location of the vertices and writes out a new gdmc.

Milkshape info
----------------
No special steps needed, simply edit the obj file in milkshape then run it through meshtool. While the download is free, the program is $25 to register after a month. Well worth it.

Wings 3D info
----------------
Wings 3D users can try using Hellborn's Vertice Mapper which will fix whatever changes Wings 3D makes to the vertex order. Read the thread for further details/instructions. Do a simple test before going on a long editing spree!

Blender info
--------------
You will need to use a different script to import the obj file, written by entelin, available here follow the instructions in the thread. Again, do a simple test before doing long edits.

Maya Info (from WDS BriAnna)
-----------------------------------
Edit your obj file in Maya, save it. Then open the obj file in Milkshape and save a new copy. Load that new copy into meshtool.

Zbrush info (from cdelang)
------------------------------
Follow Bri's tutorial to step 32.
(old tutorial, but here's the link: http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=43092)
Then import your mesh into Milkshape (the one you modified in zBrush). It will appear black in MilkShape, but don't panic. Go to the Materials tab and make sure there are no materials associated with the mesh. At the bottom of the tab there is a box with the word default in it, click the delete button right above it and the box will be empty. Above that there was a picture of a sphere, now the box should be blank as well. To make sure that there is no material associated with the mesh, go back to the Groups tab and make sure the word body is followed by <no material>. Also make sure that in the main tab that Auto Smoothing is unchecked. Your mesh will remain black, but export it anyway. You can call it whatever you like, but Bri says to call it mygownforimport or something close to that. So do whatever is most comfortable for you.

Now, go back to Bri's tutorial, starting with step 33. The one where you open Miche & Delphy's MTS2 Tool. Push the load button and load your newly exported mesh (the one you just saved from MilkShape), then load the original gmdc file she had you extract. Go to the Settings box: make sure the only box checked is import vertices. Uncheck the rest and push the commit button. Then save as directed.

Go through with the rest of tutorial. Open BodyShop. Your new mesh should show up under the Start a New Project tab.

The first time I saw it I was elated.......hopefully you will see it too.
Last edited by tiggerypum : 19th Dec 2006 at 11:26 PM.
Old 15th Feb 2006, 8:48 AM DefaultUnimesh Plugin (Milkshape) #3
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Unimesh Plugin (Milkshape)

Overview:

Excellent, supports full bone assignments, works for hair and body meshes. This is one of the most complete tools, supports fat/pregnancy, and bumpmaps.

Get the Unimesh Milkshape Plugin Here:

http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=122399

Useful Add-ons by Demon432:

http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=139859

Tutorials:

Beginner Tutorial: http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=142305

There are 2 more Unimesh Body Tutorials, and then a Hair Editing Tutorial. The Beginner tutorial barely shows what can be done, do all 3 to learn how to use the various features of the plugin.

3D Editor:

Milkshape Only -- Make SURE to get the newest version! While the download is free, the program is $25 to register after a month. Well worth it.

Details:

This plugin is powerful, and currently only available with Milkshape. It's wise to read the thread for the plugin to get tips on how to properly reassign the hair vertices, and how to add new objects to the mesh.

Important tips:

Before importing any meshes, make sure that 'autosmooth' is unchecked on the groups page.

All bone values must add up to 100%, or there will be slightly odd display issues in the game from time to time, like holes in the mesh.

Do NOT weld things, for those who have used other plugins. Leave the seams be and they will display fine in game. For combining new objects and getting the smoothing right without damaging your mesh, make the new part separately in a different edit, and smooth it before combining it with your mesh file. If you have an area that needs smoothing, you can also get some extra tools by demon432 that can help with that.

Some Nightlife and later meshes have a 4th bone assignment on some joints. If you want compatibilty with all games, you might need to reassign those joints. Wes has released extra plugins (currently in the thread) that will auto adjust all the bones to be 100% total, and will find all the bones with 4 assignments. Wes also wrote a little article about it here: http://www.modthesims2.com/article.php?t=128644

If you want your new mesh to have bumpmaps - start your base mesh project with a mesh that already has them, that is easiest.

Yes, you can use Unimesh to convert a mesh from one age to another - although this is not a 1 step thing, it involves getting in the proper skeleton and reworking the mesh.
Last edited by tiggerypum : 23rd Jul 2007 at 8:25 AM.
Old 15th Feb 2006, 9:13 AM DefaultSimPE - Import/Export - SMD format #4
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SimPE - Import/Export - SMD format

Overview:

Excellent, supports full bone assignments, works for hair and body meshes. One of the most complete tools, supports fat/pregnancy, and bumpmaps.

Get the SimPE Here:

http://sims.ambertation.de/
You need SimPE .56 or higher. Make sure to get all the associated files necessary for it to run.

Tutorial:

No beginner tuts at mts2. See below for tutorial/info links.

3D Editors:

XSI Modtool, 3DS Max, Blender (with plugin here ), anything that supports smd with 4 bone assignments

Details:

3DS Max:
There is a tutorial and discussion about using 3DS Max written by Jasana_BugBreeder here. (Read for info, scroll down for a downloadable tutorial). I found some of Jasana's mesh editing techniques interesting - she builds and replaces part of the mesh, instead of modifying it - one thing to say is the tutorial is thorough. Note she has important info about the Max settings in it!

Blender:
There's a tutorial by Bobcatben here

XSI Modtool (somewhat outdated):
There is a tutorial with basic info about how to use XSI Mod Tool here. It was originally written for Meshtool's SMD export, so ignore the MESHTOOL instructions, and go to the Mod Tool information. It will be updated for this new plugin soon as I find enough round tuits.
Last edited by tiggerypum : 19th Nov 2007 at 4:43 AM.
Old 26th Feb 2006, 9:14 PM DefaultSimPE - Import/Export - Milkshape 3D Ascii #5
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SimPE - Import/Export - Milkshape 3D Ascii

Overview:

This is a Milkshape format, and restricted to one bone value per vertice. Useful primarily for accessories or hair that doesn't hang below the neck.

Get SimPE here:

http://sims.ambertation.de/

3D Editors:

Milkshape only

Details:

Sorry, none yet. This is here for the sake of completeness, hopefully someone who uses it will have info to add.
Last edited by tiggerypum : 19th Dec 2006 at 11:29 PM.
Old 27th Feb 2006, 12:20 AM DefaultWes' Milkshape Plugin 2.6 (Outdated) #6
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Wes' Milkshape Plugin 2.16 (Outdated)

Overview:

This now outdated plugin (Wes wrote a new Unimesh Plugin) was Wes' first plugin for Milkshape. It doesn't support fat/pregnancy and sometimes creates messy hem shadows. Each point has only one bone assignment each, resulting in odd looking animation now and again. This was primarily used to edit hair and accessories, not recommended for body meshes.

Get Wes' 2.16 Plugin Here:

Well, you used to be able to download it, but it's been removed. Use UNIMESH, it's so much better! http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=43503

3D Editor:

Milkshape 0nly

Details:

You must use Milkshape to use this tool. It supports one bone assignment per point. You can add and delete points on your mesh. This does not support fit/fat/preg morphs. The normals on these meshes sometimes seem to bleed up onto the hems of garments, and the workaround is to add more points to the mesh and try to move the shadowed sections back below the hem. Because the bone assignments are one bone to a point, the animation is not identical to Maxis produced meshes. You must weld the boundaries to smooth over the seams in the mesh. This tool is used more for hair and accessories than for bodies
Last edited by tiggerypum : 19th Dec 2006 at 11:30 PM.
Old 27th Feb 2006, 12:33 AM DefaultWes' Bodychop Milkshape Plugin (Outdated) #7
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Wes' Bodychop Milkshape Plugin (Outdated)

Overview:

Replaced by the new Unimesh plugin. Bodychop does supports 2-3 bone weight assignments per point, and supports fit/fat/preg morph. You can add and delete points.

Get Bodychop Here:

Well, you used to be able to get it, but no longer. Use UNIMESH instead - it is SO much better!!! http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=50219

3D Editor:

Milkshape Only

Details:

I strongly recommend using the new Unimesh plugin. Bodychop does supports 2-3 bone weight assignments per point, and supports fit/fat/preg morph. You can add and delete points.

As Milkshape only could support one bone assignment per vertex, the secondary bone assignments are stored on the second body morph. This can complicate things a bit, as the first body and second (and third if there is one) body morphs must have the exact same number of vertexes, so you must either change both body morphs identically as you edit, or replace the second body with your first, move the points to make it a fat morph, and then reassign all the secondary bone assignments.

The normals behave the same way was with Wes' 2.16 plugin (some shadows). The bone assignments use fixed percentages, and animate close to how Maxis produced meshes. You must weld the boundaries to smooth over the seams in the mesh.
Last edited by tiggerypum : 19th Dec 2006 at 11:30 PM.
Old 12th Apr 2006, 6:57 AM DefaultMeshtool 3D (smd files) #8
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Meshtool 3D (smd files)

Summary:

This has been replaced with the SimPE SMD import and export, which can support morphs also.

Fully custom 3 bone assignments, pretty good normals although you might occasionally need to add some points for it to smooth some spots, but doesn't support fat/pregnancy.

Get Meshtool Here:

http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=45457

Tutorial:

http://www.modthesims2.com/showthread.php?t=118986

3D Editors:

XSI Mod Tool (look for the free version), 3ds Max cannonfodder

Details:

This option uses the smd file format, which fully supports bone assignments, thus you can add new points to your mesh and delete points. It supports editing the mesh using either Modtool (free) or 3ds Max. This tool does not support the fit/fat/preg morph, so your meshes will stay the same if the sim is fit or fat.

The original normals are not maintained with modtool edits of the smd file, and you might need to add a few extra points to your mesh if there are spots that will not smooth correctly. You must also weld boundaries (or filter points) to smooth over the mesh’s seams.
Last edited by tiggerypum : 19th Dec 2006 at 11:32 PM.
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