Easy Sansar Content Creation Using Microsoft Windows Paint 3D and Blender

Several months ago I wrote about using Microsoft Windows 10’s Paint 3D program to create content for Sansar. Using Paint 3D is so easy that a child could use it to create great-looking three-dimensional content! But unfortunately, there were some problems with importing linked objects from Paint 3D into Sansar, as well as with the huge size of the imported objects.

Draxtor Despres and Vassay have worked together to create this YouTube tutorial video which explains how to use the free Blender software to fix the problems in mesh content created using Paint 3D. Drax and Vassay used this workflow to create the fun and funky content you can see in Drax’s experience, called Meet the Draxies. It’s got a wonderful cartoon-like feeling to it, which is actually very easy to recreate!

Basically, there are six steps to using Blender to fix your Paint 3D-created mesh object:

  1. Import the FBX-format file you got from Paint 3D;
  2. Rescale the object (to fix any potential size problems in the object);
  3. Decimate each part of the object (to cut down on the number of polygons in your object);
  4. Set the normals of each part of the object using the Set From Faces feature;
  5. Create UVs for each part of the object using the automatic Smart UV Project feature;
  6. Select all the parts of your object and export as an FBX-format file.

This is an excellent tutorial video, which takes you through the workflow step-by-step. My only quibble with it is that Drax doesn’t give enough information about the all-important roughness and metalness maps, which you need to include so your Paint 3D-created mesh objects look the way you want them to in your experience. (Linden Lab recently released an update to the Sansar client software, so a lot of mesh objects created before the change now have an unnatural shininess to them.)

So here is a bit more information on the metalness and roughness maps. These are just PNG-format image files, which can be as small as 2×2 pixels in size. You can create them in PhotoShop or GIMP or any graphics program. They are essentially one of the 256 shades of grey between pure black and pure white. Here’s a diagram from OldVamp that shows what an object looks like when you change the metalness and the roughness maps:

Sansar Metalness and Roughness Maps Better

Most of the time, you are going to want to use a white roughness map, and a black metalness map (the ball in the bottom right corner of this diagram). If you want something really shiny, you are going to use a black roughness map and a white metalness map (the ball in the upper left corner of the diagram). You should only use a white metalness when you want a metal object. Here’s another example of roughness and metalness maps, using a brass object:

Sansar roughness metalness brass.png

And there you go!

Medhue’s Animated Animals in Sansar

Medhue, who is well-known in Second Life as a talented creator of animals for Zooby, has brought his animated elephant from SL to Sansar! He’s also brought over an animesh horse he is currently working on in SL. You can visit them at his testing experience in Sansar:

Medhue has told us that he is not going to put products up for sale in the Sansar Store, as his personal protest against what he considers to be the too-high commision fees charged by Linden Lab. However, he has said that he is willing to create tutorial videos for Sansar. He’s already posted ten videos for Sansar creators on his YouTube channel. You can also access Sansar kits, resources, and tutorials on his website.

Sansar Pick of the Day: Orphanage of Angels

Orphanage of Angels is a new horror Sansar experience created by Sergio Delacruz.

In his description, Sergio sets the scene:

In 1961, in the St. Croce orphanage (Italy) twelve children and five sisters disappeared. Research continued in the institute and surrounding territories for two years, with no results until 1970, when, in a niche of a basement, were found several children’s bones. For that reason, the institute was renamed “Orphanage of Angels”. What happened there?

You start off in a small urban apartment in the present day. There’s a bulletin board on the wall, with old news clippings and photographs of the orphanage. As you approach the door of the apartment, it automatically opens onto a hallway leading to a glowing entrance portal. As you cross it, you are transported to the Orphanage of Angels.

Orphanage of Angels 1 18 Feb 2018

There is a truly creepy atmosphere in this experience, as you explore the abandoned orphanage, trying to figure out what happened here. The orphanage is dimly lit, and there is a thunderstorm raging outside. Occasionally a lightning flash illuminates the interior.

Orphanage of Angels 2 18 Feb 2018.png

One feature that I saw here, that I haven’t yet seen in any other experience, is the clever use of pop-up messages which appear on your screen (or in your VR headset) at certain locations:

Orphanage of Angels 3 18 Feb 2018

I won’t spoil the experience by giving too much away. Be sure to explore every part of this orphanage, and don’t forget the basement! This is a very well-done, atmospheric experience and Sergio is to be commended for this work in pulling all this together. The question is: are your nerves up for Orphanage of Angels?

Decorating Your Mark.Space Apartment

Mark.Space is a Russian company which bills itself, according to its white paper, “an open source platform for the creation of 3D- and VR- compatible online spaces (sites) and objects, powered by Blockchain”. Like Decentraland, another blockchain-based virtual world, they are issuing a cryptocurrency in an initial coin offering (ICO) called the MRK.

You can actually go and visit a browser-based demo of Mark.Space at this address:  https://demo.mark.space/, where you can point and click your way through a simulated shopping mall, among other places. There’s not much to see or do, yet. You use your arrow keys or click the mouse to move around, left-clicking and dragging the mouse to rotate your view. You do get an annoying white screen as the scene redraws every time you click your mouse to move around. It’s all 360-degree photographs.

On their Telegram chat, which I recently joined, they announced that they were having a Best Apartment contest, where they were giving out prizes to the people who had done the best job of decorating their free apartments, and sharing the resulting pictures on social media. So I thought I would give it a try.

Here’s what “decorating your apartment” actually consists of:

  1. Choosing a 360-degree photo which represents your empty apartment (walls, windows, floor and ceiling). Not a real three-dimensional space.
  2. Dropping and dragging flat images of furniture around your apartment. Yes, that’s right, there are no actual three-dimensional objects, just pictures. The menu does let you “rotate” them, which essentially means flipping the image from left to right.

Here, I shot a one-minute video of me decorating my Mark.Space apartment, so you can see for yourself:

Rather an underwhelming experience. I think I’ll check back in six months to see if anything has progressed since then. If you’re interested, you can visit my apartment in your web browser.

Outfit Outlay: Strawberry Singh Blogs (and Vlogs) the Sansar Store Freebies

Strawberry Singh has blogged (and created the following YouTube video) about the many clothing freebies already available on the Sansar Store (this last link will take you directly to the Wearables section of the Sansar Store, and sort everything there in ascending order by price, with the freebies first).

She also mentions today’s special Scavenger Hunt edition of the weekly Atlas Hopping livestream event she co-hosts with Drax. I plan to attend; hope to see you there!

Strawberry also very kindly mentions both this blog and my store on the Sansar Store, where I do have some free avatar clothing items available. Thanks, Strawberry!

Pick of the Day: Violin Tree (Plus a Sansar Store Spotlight: Galen’s Theremin)

Mikki Miles, my favourite musical instrument maker in Second Life (in-world store, SL Marketplace), has created a new Sansar experience called Violin Tree. In his description he writes:

Inspired by an 40.000 year old boneflute, found in a cave in Southern Germany, I built this island with musical instruments that are somehow familiar, but seem to have taken a bit weird development on this offshore place. It’s a work in progress, come back again! All music and sounds are produced by Mikki Miles.

Violin Tree 1 17 Dec 2017.png

You arrive on a deserted island. To your left is what appears to be a tall tower, and to your right is a tree. As you come closer to the tower, you realize that it is, in fact. an oversize, ivy-covered flute, which plays a somewhat mournful tune as you approach and stand before it.

Violin Tree 2 17 Dec 2017

When you come nearer to the tree, you see that it is growing violins! It also plays music.

Violin Tree 3 17 Dec 2017.png

As Mikki Miles says in his description, this Sansar experience is a work in progress, so do plan to come back to see new musical creations in future!

While we are talking about musical instruments, I also wanted to showcase a particularly clever musical instrument that Galen has created and scripted, called a theremin. It’s an electronic musical instrument controlled by moving your hands around it without actually touching it.

Here is a short video I made of me playing Galen’s theremin at his Metaverse Machines Showroom (you’ll need a VR headset and hand controllers to be able to do this):

Galen’s theremin and the script used to control it are both available for free in the Sansar Store:

Galen's Theremin 17 Dec 2017

Very cool! It certainly looks like we are going to have no shortage of fun, playable musical instruments in Sansar.

Sansar Spiders!

There’s an (unofficial) Sansar Discord channel, where creators are busy comparing notes and sharing their handiworks. Here’s an invite link to the server, if you’re interested in joining the discussions. And Björn has shared two amazing videos of an animated spider he has created using 3ds Max.

I asked Björn to explain how he created such realistic spider leg movement, and he replied:

It’s just bones for now. In 3ds Max there is a CAT system, it’s like a rig preset for all kind of characters from spiders to dinosaurs to humans. They are easy to animate. So for this spider, I just used a spider rig and animated it along a spline. The program calculates the foot steps automatically.

Here’s another video, a sort of spider stress test! Not for the arachnophobic!