Hi! My name is Unequal and today we’ll be looking at Meshing hair products including the correct methods for weighting, texturing, hair attachments and accessories. We’ll also check out the approaches to making a short vs a long hair style and some general tips and tricks to ensure your product is IMVU ready.
The IMVU studio Clothing Tool should be used when creating your hair mesh, however we can also create hair attachments using the Attachment Tool. More on that later!
Long and short hairs are predominately made the same way, but with a few changes to ensure they correctly behave on IMVU. With short hair, you’d only be weighing the entire hair to 1 bone – the head bone. We don’t need any of the hair to conform to the avatar’s body movements, just the head.
Whereas a longer or complex hair may need to be weighted to 2-4 bones. You’d want your hair to be where it needs to be and deform correctly with the moving avatar.
In either situation – your base or main hair needs to be assigned to material ID 4 to match IMVU’s appropriate identifier (otherwise known as ID number) to prevent textures appearing white or untextured on import.
For your other materials or hair sections that aren’t directly attached to your main hair, you’ll want to assign them IDs 10 and above.
(More information about materials IDs can be found in this tutorial)
Derive from either the empty female hair, or the Sofie Blonde hair base derivable for your base hair meshes.
When uploading, make sure you’re selecting Body mesh ID 1. This is the default body mesh ID for IMVU’s hair. Again for more information, you can check out the tutorial on Body Parts.
When making hair attachments, we can use the Attachment Tool.
This can include anything from hats, hair clips, glasses or even add on hair parts like a ponytail.
You’ll also want to use the attachment tool to create animated hair. Animated hair is simply an add-on hair piece attached to your main hair mesh, but uploaded separately as an attachment. These won’t involve weighing and you will not need specific material IDs as long as they are above 10. For more information on avatar attachments, check out the attachment tutorial.
General tips and tricks for Hair Meshing.
You’re going to want your hair to fit the head of course, therefore you should build to the avatars default head shape. Products in the store have also been built to match this default head, which means your hair will work with all products that have been built the same way. Your hair will look huge when meshing, however heads are often scaled smaller on IMVU and will have a direct effect on the scale of the hair.
If you’re making a shorter hair style that does not cover the neck and ears, the shape of the hair around these areas is a perfect fit to the head mesh. Following this shape will prevent any Z fighting creating an unwanted shimmering effect on IMVU.
A very important note – keep your polygon count of your hair LOW! Hairs can be extremely problematic for users trying to load into a scene due to having to load enormous hairstyles with a high poly count. You’ll also need to think about your textures for your hairstyles again increasing the size of the hair when submitting to the store, and again for Creators who may want to derive from your hair adding more textures/meshes on top.
Take your time when mapping your hairs. A slight kink in your UV can stop a hair texture from being straight and smooth. You will want your UVs to be highly customizable, and also follow the direction of the hair you are creating. Applying UV checkers to your meshes will help you see how even your UV is across the hair.
Good UVs will bring in creators who can customize and play with what is being provided, meaning more derives and more sales! After you’ve perfected your UVs, you’ll want to add in some opacity maps to remove sharp, blunt edges around the edges of your hair. For more information, check out the opacity maps tutorial.
Hopefully this kicks off your hair journey and I can wait to see what you create! Practice makes perfect!