In this tutorial you will learn some unique ways to use stitch types with your sculpties, such as making sculpt ends that are a line instead of a single pinch point.
What are Stitch Types?
Stitch types determine how Second Life interprets the edges of a sculpt map in order to render your sculpted prim.
Plane stitching is like a square piece of cloth, or like a sheet of paper. When you select this stitch type, Second Life does not assume that any of the edges of your sculptie will touch each other.
You can manually put the edges together yourself, but Second Life will not try to “fill in” between the seams. This can be useful for things like landscape sculpts and table cloths.
Cylinder stitching is like wrapping that cloth around and sewing two sides together, to make it into a tube. We can still bend and stretch the tube however we want, but now two sides MUST remain together.
When you use this stitch type, if the left and right edges of your sculptie don’t touch, Second Life will automatically fill that information in so that they do. However, the top and bottom may remain open. You can, of course, close the top and bottom manually (which is something that I do OFTEN! Keep reading.)
Imagine that we stretch the cylinder so that it’s really tall and skinny, then bend it around into the shape of a donut so that the top and bottom meet. This is like “Torus” stitching in Second Life, where Second Life assumes that the left/right, and top/bottom sides will be stitched together.
If you use this stitch type and the edges of your sculpt don’t meet, once again, Second Life will attempt to fill in between the edges anyway.
Sphere (default) Stitching
Lastly, instead of making a torus, imagine taking the cylinder and pinching the top and bottom into a single point. This is Sphere stitching, and is the default stitching in Second Life. It assumes that the top and bottom of your sculpt map will come to a single point.
If you use this stitch type, even if the top and bottom of your mesh are something other than a point, Second Life will FORCE them into a point anyway. This is the main reason why sphere stitching is often not the best stitch type to use.
Using Stitch Types
You might be looking at this information and wondering what the point is. After all, many people seem to get along fine with just the default sphere stitching. Maybe you can see a use for some of them, like making loop-type objects with torus stitching, or landscapes with plane stitching, but are there that many uses for these other stitch types?
But really, the value in these other stitch types isn’t in their obvious uses. It’s in the ability to take advantage of these open edges to do things that you might not at first think of. Take, for example, this collar from a tuxedo set that I bought:
The tuxedo that this came with was in all other respects fantastic. But you can see how the front ends of the collar are all wrinkled up, like crumpled paper. Now look at a shirt collar that I made for one of my own outfits:
The ends of my collar aren’t perfect, but they don’t have the crumpled look. The crumpled ends are a result of the stitch type used to create it. The first collar uses the default sphere stitching. My collar uses cylinder stitching. Let me show you.
In order to make a shirt collar from this, we need to curve it in two directions. First, to make the arch of the collar, then to curve it around the neck. These two curves make collars a particularly interesting challenge for a sculptor.
So lets think about stitch types. Default stitching is Sphere stitching, which forces the ends to pinched to a single point, so lets do that to the ends of the mesh.
Now lets create the arch of the collar. Switch to the side view, looking at the new stitched ends. Select all of your vertices (tap A) and place the 3D Cursor (that circle thing with the cross-hairs) somewhere below the mesh (place it by left-clicking inside the 3D window.)
Now press Shift-W to Warp the mesh around the 3D Cursor.
You can already see a problem. Because all of the end vertices come to a single point, instead of a nice arch the ends look something like the image above.
We could try using a few edge loops to push around the edges and force the ends into arch, like the image on the left. That’s what the creator of that tuxedo set did and that’s where the crumpled edges on that first collar came from, so it ends up looking kinda ugly, not to mention the wasted edge loops.
So what can cylinder stitching do for us? We may not want the ends of the collars to pinch, but we also don’t want them open, showing off the invisible inside.
I’ve already told you that we can force a cylinder’s ends closed. For example, we could manually pinch them off, like sphere stitching, but that doesn’t do us much good. But what if we close off a cylinder in a way that we COULDN’T do with sphere stitching?
Here, instead of pinching the ends off to a point, we only pinch them in one direction, creating a seam – a line of vertices. This still effectively closes off the ends, but in a much different way than what we could get with sphere stitching. Look what happens when we curve the mesh.
Now we have a much nicer, clean edge to work with. If we bake this sculptie and import it into Second Life, if we select Cylinder stitching on the new sculptie, we will also get this line seam.
Aside from collars, this sort of straight-line edge can also help with texturing. Look at these two beveled cubes. The one on the left has default sphere-type stitching. The one on the right was built to use cylinder stitching. This makes for a much nicer texture layout.
If you aren’t convinced yet at the power of different stitch types, let me show you a few examples. I won’t tell you exactly how they’re done or why I used the stitch type that I did. Instead, look at them and try to figure it out for yourself. As always, I’m not an all-knowing expert. You may see a better way to do things than what I’ve done, but this may give you some ideas anyway.
Think outside the box. There are tons of ways to use stitch type to your advantage, to create shapes that you normally couldn’t create, or to clean up a mesh that has nasty ends or texturing issues. If you do something particularly neat, you might consider showing it off in the new forums.