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In the Arena
staff: senior moderator
Original Poster
#1 Old 21st Oct 2009 at 11:00 PM Last edited by ellacharm3d : 4th May 2010 at 7:25 PM. Reason: added Wiki link
Default Tutorial: Step-by-step Start-to-Finish HowTo mesh guide for TS3
Ok, here it is.
Something to join in the meshing tutorial frenzy, as cocomama has motivated us all to collaborate together with one goal in mind - A complete and comprehensive Meshing tutorial! yay! Go us.

Bear in mind I'm still new at meshing, so if there are errors or inconsistencies - do let me know. If you want to see certain sections, or improvements on other sections, e.g for the FAQ to go into its own file, etc. Maybe the narrative is too long (tl;dr; ?!?!) or it is too graphic-intensive? I applied it to myself as I wrote this as I hated to read documents where it tells me to do such and such but never explained why that setting was chosen or why those options were applied.

Do review and please provide feedback, suggestions and corrections. Criticisms also welcome.

=================================================
Objectives:
This tutorial takes you step-by-step through the process of creating a new table mesh from the original on the left (the 'Sunup Breakfast Table' named TableDiningQuaint) to the final outcome on the right.




Table of Contents:
70+ pages of graphics-intensive meshing guide, with each section bookmarked




I have adapted this based off of
  1. Deluxe_Design’s basic Tutorial: Meshing Objects in TS3,
  2. Jwoods’ (and Numenor, Lethe_s & IgnorantBliss) Sims 2 start to finish Object Creation Tutorial V 2.1 and
  3. WesHowe’s 3D Meshing tutorials from sims2wiki.info & www.customsims3.com (qns & ans in the forums)
  4. cocomama’s Making of : MODL and MLOD,
  5. lemoncandy’s post#6 The "textures part" in the Converting objects from TS2 to TS3-Collecting mesh and Textures with Simpe,

Why I wrote it:
Primarily, this is to document my own experiences in the meshing process, with highlighted areas where I had difficulties, how I solved them or where the solutions could be found. It's main function was to be an offline repository for when my internet connection is down (and I'd just have to have that missing info - like right nao!) and as reference when I take a break and come back to meshing a few months later and would have forgotten things.

Also, with all the threads asking the same questions on the forums over and over again, I thought I’d pretty it up and contribute and share with the community. Where possible, I’ve included the threadIDs when bits of pertinent information is first referenced, from the Meshing and Modding subforums of Sims 3 Creation and tutorials in Sims2Wiki.

Disclaimer:
Bear in mind the tools are still being developed and evolving, so screenshots may change. I also take no responsibility if installing the utilities listed and modding/meshing resulted in a BFBVFS in your game, messed up your game (because you’ll be testing with adding/removing CC), render your computer unusable, messed up your head when you get nightmares of being chased by squabling dining tables each claiming they are the original and am “The One”.

Preamble:
Pre-requisites:
  • Read Wes’ 3D Meshing tutorials – this is a MUST – these tutorials will explain all the concept and background material on Milkshape, UV mapping, etc.
  • s3oc Object Cloner (hereafter referred as s3oc)
  • A package editor for The Sims 3 game: e.g. s3pe, Postal
  • An image editing program like: Photoshop(proprietary, costly), Gimp(freeware, open-source), Paint Shop Pro(proprietary, costly), Paint.Net(freeware, open-source), etc [NB: must be able to handle png/jpg/dds picture formats]
  • DDS plug-in for your image editor of choice
  • 3D modeling program: Milkshape(trialware, cheap), Blender(freeware, open-source), Maya(proprietary, costly), 3D Studio Max(proprietary, costly), Wings 3D(freeware, open-source), etc
  • Object Plug-in for your 3D model editor of choice: like Wes’ ObjTool to import/export files into/from TS3’s .package files
  • UVMapping tool: UVMapper Classic(free), LithUnwrap(free), UltimateUnwrap 3D(cost, pay version of LithUnwrap, I think)
  • and most importantly - a conceptual idea of what you want to create and plenty of patience and perseverance

At time of writing, this tutorial uses the following tools:
Who the tutorial is for:
  • any person interested in meshing for The Sims 3 with no prior experience in modding and/or meshing;

What this tutorial will tell you:
  • how to configure your workspace for modding;
  • how to clone an object;
  • how to change its texture;
  • how to change package data – names, descriptions, STBL strings, price, thumbnails, etc;
  • how to overcome uv scaling issues;
  • how to correct common issues/mistakes;

Credits and gratitude go to:
  • Creators of the utilities used as listed above; especially –
  • Peter & Inge Jones for S3OC & s3pe;
  • Wes Howe for the ObjectTool and Milkshape plugins and his ever-present willingness to and assistance in answering all our questions;
  • DeluxeDesign, Jwoods, Numenor, Lethe_s & IgnorantBliss and other modder “pioneers” for their tutorials at MTS – for which this tutorial is based on. I’ve just expanded each part with screenshots and added my own hints & tips from my experiences;
  • Authors of the tutorials at modthesims.info and sims2wiki.info and the ever helpful fellow forum residents;
  • and last but not least Delphy and the MTS admins/moderators for creating and maintaining MTS.

Errata:
Well, nobody's perfect , some typos have been corrected as I added the tutorial into the SimsWiki, including those noted here. My apologies to all for any confusion...
  1. Typo identified in posts#69 & #71! Thanks to
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ngermana
    It's page 11, Section E.2, step 3.
    ... - in the tutorial it says "IMD", but it was actually "IMG".

Wikified!
This tutorial has now been wiki-fied!
Any new information as the tools are updated or when I decide to update it with more sections, will be in this Tutorials:TS3_Basic_HowTo_Mesh_Guidewiki.


Instructions:
  1. Download ALL the rar files
  2. remove the "MTS_ellacharm3d_???????_" so the files have same name before the .part?.rar
  3. right-click (or double-click) part1 to extract
  4. pictorial guide of the same instructions available here Game_Help:DFDD5_Extract_from_Archive#Multi-part_fileswiki
Screenshots
Download - please read all instructions before downloading any files!
File Type: rar Tutorial-Creating_New_dining_table_mesh_for_TS3.part1.rar (2.29 MB, 1649 downloads) - View custom content
Description: multi-part rar of one pdf [1of5] - download All. Rename. Double-click part1 to unrar
File Type: rar Tutorial-Creating_New_dining_table_mesh_for_TS3.part2.rar (2.29 MB, 1315 downloads) - View custom content
Description: multi-part rar of one pdf [2of5] - download All. Rename. Double-click part1 to unrar
File Type: rar Tutorial-Creating_New_dining_table_mesh_for_TS3.part3.rar (2.29 MB, 1237 downloads) - View custom content
Description: multi-part rar of one pdf [3of5] - download All. Rename. Double-click part1 to unrar
File Type: rar Tutorial-Creating_New_dining_table_mesh_for_TS3.part4.rar (2.29 MB, 1348 downloads) - View custom content
Description: multi-part rar of one pdf [4of5] - download All. Rename. Double-click part1 to unrar
File Type: rar Tutorial-Creating_New_dining_table_mesh_for_TS3.part5.rar (1.05 MB, 1300 downloads) - View custom content
Description: multi-part rar of one pdf [5of5] - download All.. Rename. Double-click part1 to unrar
76 users say thanks for this. (Who?)
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Forum Resident
#2 Old 21st Oct 2009 at 11:43 PM
Wow that looks like some amazing hard work! Thank you for doing this. Must have taken a lot of time.
Scholar
#3 Old 21st Oct 2009 at 11:55 PM
Oh, bless your heart! If this is what I think it is, it's exactly what I need! I keep reading through tutorials and coming to parts that are either completely irrelevant or don't explain in nearly enough detail what I need. One of my mom's favorite questions for me was, "Do I need to draw you a picture?" I never had the guts to answer her but the truth of the matter was, the answer was "YES!! I need pictures, and lots of them!"

I have never learned how to mesh, and it's something I have been wanting to do for a long, long time.
Inventor
#4 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 1:03 AM
Oh ellacharm3d, its beautifull and so detailed!! Its way past bedtime here, but I had to quickly read through it.
Can't wait to try it out
Instructor
#5 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 1:37 AM
I haven't looked at it yet, but if this is what I think it is...I'll give meshing for Sims 3 a try.
I've been waiting for a tut like this,what tells you exactly step by step.
Thank you so much for your hard work.

You can find more of my stuff here: http://www.blackpearlsims.com/downloads.php
Alchemist
#6 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 2:01 AM
Strong work Ella...a much needed addition to the tutorials for Sims 3 IMO.

Ooo...and if you get the chance...could you update the Glass tutorial PDF's? I added a small warning at the beginning about the bones issue that gave so many of us trouble when trying to apply glass to original meshes.

OM
In the Arena
staff: senior moderator
Original Poster
#7 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 5:44 AM
lol hardest thing was restraining myself not to include every little thing you guys found out! The file size quickly became an obstacle to overcome. Had to do some creative screencaps to lay out the steps without skipping any instructions

Thanks, for encouragement, folks.

OM, I'll edit that as I missed out one pic in your series (surprised nobody noticed ). I'll have to try out first and add my 2-cents in in little comments of tips or elaboration, if I may...
Alchemist
#8 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 5:50 AM
I'm curious what elaboration you think is necessary...I'm always interested in honing my tutorial building skills and it would help to know what you think is missing.

OM
In the Arena
staff: senior moderator
Original Poster
#9 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 6:18 AM
I'll post in that thread after I've experimented and tried it out. I have a few projects of different object types that could use a glass surface :D

This dining table tut was meant to be a stepping stone, so I didn't get too creative in changing the 1x2 tile to a 1x1 tile table or changing the table's height, shape etc; but with your glass tut - I'm keen to find out what I can and cannot change
Alchemist
#10 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 6:53 AM Last edited by orangemittens : 22nd Oct 2009 at 7:05 AM.
Ella I look forward to seeing your comments once you have read the tutorial and tried it out.

I guess I'm not clear on what you're saying...are you saying you think my tutorial needs editing and that you plan on doing this editing?

OM
In the Arena
staff: senior moderator
Original Poster
#11 Old 22nd Oct 2009 at 11:38 AM
oh, no! I meant edit it to include the pic I missed plus your warning (which is done, btw)

I'd just have my own notes/comments on the procedures based on what you've started for my own use...in a separate copy...and I'll post any findings if I find anything of significance to share
Test Subject
#12 Old 23rd Oct 2009 at 8:10 AM
Hi Ellacharm3d,

I can't open your files zipped. I'm right now at work and the secyrity is perhaps very high. I don't know. I'll try later.
Field Researcher
#13 Old 23rd Oct 2009 at 2:23 PM
Hi Ella, me too, I've been trying to open it to no avail. I downloaded all the parts many times over (it seems to go ok) but when I click part 1, I get an error message and only one picture.
I really was looking forward to dive into it, as I understand you collected a lot of info
Forum Resident
#14 Old 23rd Oct 2009 at 2:37 PM
MTS renames the files that are uploaded, so the unzipping app can't find the next file to process. Try deleting the first part of the filenames (so that it matches the ones written in the post).
In the Arena
staff: senior moderator
Original Poster
#15 Old 23rd Oct 2009 at 2:53 PM
Oh! Sorry, I forgot that part, didn't I? It is because of the numbering appended to the filename at the beginning; the WinRAR program is looking for files of the same name. Once you've finished downloading, remove the "MTS_ellacharm3d_???????_" and extract part 1 again.

I'll add this to the instructions, thanks for letting me know, guys.
Scholar
#16 Old 23rd Oct 2009 at 9:38 PM
I am just starting to read through the tutorial, and the following brings up a question.

Quote:
3D modeling program: Milkshape(trialware, cheap), Blender(freeware, open-source), Maya(proprietary, costly), 3D Studio Max(proprietary, costly), Wings 3D(freeware, open-source), etc

It was my understanding that Milkshape is the only meshing program that has the ability for converting meshes to GEOMs (thanks to Wes's plug-in), but that information sounds like there are possibly other programs that will work. Did I miss something? I would absolutely love to have the time to learn how to properly do this with a program where I'm not either on a time limit, or have to purchase to see if I possibly can make it all the way through the learning process. If I'm successful, I have no problem buying a license for MilkShape, but I am a very slow learner.

As an aside, I don't think I'd consider PSP to be a "costly" image editing program. Granted, there are now free ones available like GIMP and Paint.NET, but PSP can often be purchased for under $50, compared to PhotoShop which usually has a price tag of over $600.

BTW, I don't think I can express enough thanks for all of the work you put into putting this together. I have written tutorials and know how time-consuming and nerve-racking they are to put together. Thank you, again!
In the Arena
staff: senior moderator
Original Poster
#17 Old 23rd Oct 2009 at 10:10 PM
You need milkshape bcos that's the only one that has plugins (for now) for object meshes (I think Wes is working on a Maya plugin, too) There is a GEOM plugin for Blender by Morgade but I haven't tried that. (It is harder to learn Blender than to pick up ms3d, but I'm slowly trying).

Once in ms3d, you can save as any file that your other modeling program can open/import. I know some people use ms3d as a "bridge" only.

Know nothing abt PSP, to be honest, so I don't know how feature-rich the free version is versus the paid one, I just put it out there for wider coverage. I just hate to be needing a tool and then a dialog pop-up telling me it is only for the paid version.
Alchemist
#18 Old 23rd Oct 2009 at 10:57 PM
The complete list, as I know it, is MilkShape using my plugins and a set from the TSR Workshop (I am not sure is they are completely finished with it), and GEOM only plugins for Blender (by Morgade) and for Maya (by me). Morgade has not been around, I was hoping he would take on the Blender object plugins, we talked about it, but he is doing other things, I guess.

Many of the other programs mentioned, like Wings and 3DS Max, can work using the TSR Workshop and their .obj importer/exporter, or by using my tools and MilkShape as a file converter. Note that .obj format does not support bone assignments, so that step still needs done for most objects. As we have seen.

I know a lot of people would like free choices to work with, but the mainstays of the free software world, Blender, Wings and Anim8or are all much harder to implement plugins or extensions to than MilkShape. fragMotion and Maya are also difficult to work with, and I don't own 3DS Max, so I can't work with it.

If you like to say what you think, be sure you know which to do first.
Scholar
#19 Old 24th Oct 2009 at 6:32 AM
Quote:
I know a lot of people would like free choices to work with

Free is always nice, but I don't mind paying for software if I know it's something that I will use. I don't have a problem with paying for a license for MilkShape, but I do so hate feeling like I'm under the gun with the time-frame of learning what I need to learn with it. Thirty days trial is probably long enough for most people, but I'm not so sure it's long enough for me.

And believe me, I do very much appreciate that there are plug-ins available at all.

Quote:
Know nothing abt PSP, to be honest, so I don't know how feature-rich the free version is versus the paid one,

A complete, licensed version of PSP usually runs in the neighborhood of $50 to $80, depending on the version. The processes are laid out a bit differently, but in my eight years of using it, and following PhotoShop tutorials for a good amount of the things I've done in PSP there's very little difference in the two programs.

Someone who had experience with both programs at one point made a comparison. Their opinion was that if a person needs an image editing program for extremely professional presentations, then PhotoShop was the way to go. For making Sims content, Paint Shop Pro will do everything that needs to be done. Granted, with every new Sims game there have been new techniques to learn in PSP, but while the method is slightly different in PSP than in PS, the tools are there to do the job, and usually for a price of roughly 10% of what PS runs.

I declare, the more I read on the subject of meshing, the more questions start popping up in my fron. I barely had time to glance at Ella's tutorial today, but have to say it looks awesome, and in just the short section I got to look at already answered some questions and pointed to the answers to more of them that I've been trying to find answers to for a good long while now.
Scholar
#20 Old 24th Oct 2009 at 2:30 PM
I love this tutorial as it goes so indepth, the only problem for me is the same one as all the others. The milkshape part. It says import to milkshape, ok so which to import first? do we import them all at the same time? Or do we work on one then save and work on the next? Everyone seems to skip over a lot of the milkshappe stuff and that's where mine and probably a lot of others are having problmes, never having used milkshape before. Everyone seems to skip over the same basic milkshape stuff like importing, I know the tools but not the correct file to use first or which order I should do them in if there are say 4.

Not asking you to change anything, just a suggestion for another time if you ever feel you could to do all that again, lol. That must have taken you forever and a lot of work has been put into it, it is very much appreciated. Thanks for all your hard work

My new world is now available on my own site.prettysims.com
In the Arena
staff: senior moderator
Original Poster
#21 Old 24th Oct 2009 at 3:13 PM
Do it one by one. Just like you decompile one at a time - so, mesh one at a time and recompile one at a time.

I always work on the main one first - the all 0s one. Then reduce the poly count by deleting unimportant bits or via the directx tool for the others.

Think of them this way - they are quadruplets (a set of 4 twins/offspring) - you can only dress them one at a time, not all 4 at once (unless you're an octopus ). They are not a single entity, just a set of four that likes to go everywhere together.

Glad it is helping people..I almost chucked it bcos it grew a life of its own and became so big!
Inventor
#22 Old 24th Oct 2009 at 4:02 PM
Information from WesHowe.

...start with building a working "00000000" MLOD file. After you have that UV mapped, tested and are happy you use the mesh from it to make your "00000001" mesh.(=MODL) That mesh is a same-sized but reduced poly count version.

The MLOD files have everything to do with sunshadows. The MODL is usually group "00000001" (lod1) and it pairs with "00010001" for it's sun shadow. The other lod0 (main) file will be group "00000000" and it pairs with "00010000" for its sunshadow. But the sunshadow mesh is not the shadow, it is the other half of some sort of template the game uses to make a sunshadow by calculation... as the sun moves, the shadow changes, whereas the dropshadow stays the same.
=================================
Conclusion:
1. Make the MLOD 00000000, mesh texture UVmap and export/save that one.
2. Make the new MODL 00000001 = reduced polycount version of MLOD 00000000 use your new saved MLOD 00000000 to make it
3. Make the MLOD 00010000 = sunshadow of MLOD 00000000 use your new saved MLOD 00000000 to make it
4. Make the MLOD 00010001 = sunshadow of MODL 00000001 use your new saved MODL 00000001 to make it

More information about the MODL and MLODs here:
http://www.modthesims.info/showthread.php?t=373397
Field Researcher
#23 Old 24th Oct 2009 at 6:56 PM
Thank you! Especially for the UV-Map part.

I'm learning to mesh for three weeks now, read every tutorial, read in the forum and there are so much things I don't know yet.
Test Subject
#24 Old 25th Oct 2009 at 1:34 AM
Default File broken????!!
When I tried to expand the file, my expander says its broken. What??
Forum Resident
#25 Old 25th Oct 2009 at 2:00 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by popim123erw
When I tried to expand the file, my expander says its broken. What??

...Maybe learn to read? The answer is a few posts above you. (posts 14 and 15)
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