Current edition: Vol.8, No.7, October 2005

Active Worlds News

In This Edition...
World of the Month
Spooky Spots
Worlds to Watch
This Month in 1998
Mystery Location
Artist Tip: Avatars
Off World
DreamCty Needs You
Halloween in Aureus
AWEC Calendar


Building Links
Community Links










Putting an Avatar Together

Courtesy of Stacee

You've managed to make all the parts of your avatar, and now, how do you get it to come to life and move? This tutorial will hopefully help you get started. Avatars are a bit tough, so hang on to your seats. Let's see, I have my Jedi avatar ready....we'll use him as the guinea pig. hehe

Axii Rotation
First off, make sure you have all the axii of each limb placed where you want that limb to rotate. This is important. If you have the axis for the upper arm in the middle of that piece, it's going to rotate from the middle, not at the shoulder where you want it to. Also make sure that all the rotations for the axii are set to 0,0,0. Avatar should be facing forward.

Tag Names
Next step....naming the pieces. For a list of all the tags that can be used for an avatar, go here: Several more have been added for 4.x, but these listed already give great flexibility. Note: A tag does NOT have to be used for the limb it describes. For instance, say you have a snake with a tail made up of 8 pieces...and there are only 4 tail tags. Any of the other tags may be used. Just make sure that whatever tags you use are reflected in the seqs that you make to go with it. The only tag that is not transferable is the pelvis tag. This is the root of the whole avatar, and must be used as the pivotal base tag. I've grabbed my avatar and named the pieces with aw_nameofthetag. (see pic right) You might notice that not every piece actually got an "aw_" tag. Why not? Only pieces that you actually want to perform in a seq should have a tag name. The hood and cape in this case we don't want to move. Gets too messy. So we kept the tags off of them. We'll end up attaching them to other body parts that will make them move with the body, but not with a mind of their own, so to speak.

Gluing Things Together
Okay, have the axii done, and named the body parts of your avatar with tags. Now, comes the crazy part...gluing this guy together. Notice the little green cubes at the end of limbs (tips of fingers, head, feet). These little guys don't get tag names either. Their sole purpose is to let AW know that it is the end of a hierarchy. Since the piece at the end doesn't get to actually move, these little buggers are great for the job. They allow all the ones above them to do the moving, while they just come along for the ride. You don't want them showing in the final product though, so you have three options to make them invisible. 1) hide them inside the avatar, 2) turn the opacity on them to zero, 3) paint them with delete.jpg and then erase those lines of code from the .rwx of the avatar later on.

Got your little cubes in place? Still sane yet? lol Not for long. Now comes the frustrating part. Let me explain the two glue buttons we'll be using, "Glue as a Child" and "Glue as a Sibling". Think of the avatar you are making as a family. Certain members will have to listen to members that are higher, like a child to it's parent, and some will be equal to each other, like siblings. Not hard to see that you will want a hand to be a child to an arm, and that the left arm will be a sibling, or equal to, the right arm. Let's glue now, starting with a leg. Click on aw_rtankle. Then click on "Glue as child" and click on the little cube that should be near, or in, aw_rtankle. You just made the cube a child of the rtankle. Now, click on the "Object Tool" (icon looks like an arrow in Truespace). Click on aw_rtknee. You should no longer have the rtankle and it's cube highlighted. Having aw_rtknee in your possession, click on the "Glue as child" button again, then click on the aw_rtankle. Hit "Object Tool" again, click on the aw_rthip, then "Glue as child, and then aw_rtknee. Your whole right leg should be glued together at this point, and not just glued together funny, but in an actual order! Cool beans! Okay, repeat with the left leg.

Same method applies for the arms. Click on the aw_rtfingers, "Glue as child", cube. Click on aw_rtwrist, "Glue as child", aw_rtfingers. Click on aw_rtelbow.....well, I think you see where this is going. Right up to the shoulder. Repeat with the left arm.

Head time. Okay, this is where things get a bit tricky. We have a hood that we don't want to move on it's own, but we DO want it to move with the head. Click on the aw_head. Click "Glue as child", then click on the cube. Now, here's the change, click on "Glue as sibling" and then click on the hood. What did we just do? We took the head and glued the cube as a child, but, we also went and told it that we want to glue the hood as a sibling of the head, making it move together. All good! Click on the "object tool", click on aw_neck, then "Glue as child", and click on the head. Now that's done. We're nearing the home stretch.

We have all the limbs done. Now it's just the body left. Start with the top half of the body. If the back moves, we want all of the limbs attached to it to move along with the back. And don't forget here about our cape. We want the cape to move with the back. One arm greater then the other? Can the arm get along without the head? Nope, we want all the limbs to be equal, or siblings, and all of them to be subject to the back as a parent. How to do that? Click on the "object tool", then click on aw_back. Pick up the "Glue as child" gun, and click on the right arm. You just made the right arm a child to the back, as it should be. Click on "Glue as sibling" now and click on the left arm, and then click on the head, and finally, click on the cape. You just told it that you want the left arm, head, and cape to be equal with the right arm, and all of them are children to the back. Top half of body done!

Final gluing step here. Okay, when the pelvis moves, we want the legs to go with it, and we want the top half of the body to do the same. Therefore, back=left leg=right leg. All children of the pelvis. Click on the "object tool" and then click on the aw_pelvis. Pick up the "Glue as child" gun again, click on the right leg, then grab "Glue as Sibling", and click on the left leg, then the upper part of the body. Whole avatar should now be in one big piece. Booyeah! Go up and name this aw_avatar (see pic below). It's official now.

But, we're not quite done yet. One more important step, or your avatar is going to be floating around like Han Solo in transport when he got encased in carbonite. For whatever reason, and I have never learned the technical aspect of this, you need to rotate the avatar so it is laying on it's back. Exact number rotations? x=90, y=0, and z=180 (see jedi3.jpg). That rotation, coupled with the aw_avatar name, tells AW that this is no ordinary object....this is now a moving machine! >:D Save it up...we'll call this great looking guy Jedi, and then you can either zip it up as a .cob, or you can convert it into an .rwx to see what it looks like in computer language and then zip it up. Either way, it's ready to go into your OP and earned a place in your avatar.dat. Of course, not all avatars are human. But the basics apply for any avatar, it just requires a little thinking as to how you need to glue it.

Avatars are by far, one of the hardest things to make for AW. It takes a lot of practice, and sometimes, experimentation, to get the right effect for the more unusual avatars. Here's your chance to try it out. May the with you. ;)


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