createalphalayers

Cinnamon And Chai Creators Guides

About system layers in Second Life

Back in the days before mesh bodies, alpha layers were created by the clothing creators to be an exact match to the clothing they create. Cinnamon and Chai are bringing that back. We don’t offer a large selection of generic alpha layers, and we don’t offer alpha cuts except where there is no possibility for asymmetry in the alpha layer. (Chai arms)

Because Cinnamon and Chai use different UV templates, layers will be different for them. It is super easy and fast to convert one to the other using the Skin and Alpha blender file. You do not need advanced knowledge of Blender or an avastar license, simply the latest version of Blender. Follow the steps below to start creating!

You can read about how bad alpha cuts are for SL here.

Creating Super Easy Alpha Layers

Alpha layers to hide the body and prevent clipping should be made for each individual clothing item by the mesh clothing creator. This was the case before mesh bodies, and it is the case again now, as we are using the same system layer bakes on our mesh bodies. Alpha cuts via HUD were a workaround to a problem that no longer exists. With alpha layers you can create an exact match to your clothing to ensure that there are no areas that clip and no invisible gaps past the edges of your clothing. Fortunately it’s really easy to create alpha layers for both Cinnamon and Chai in a matter of minutes. 

These instructions are for Blender 2.9.

  • Open the “Skin and Alpha kit.blend” file
The skins and alpha blender file as it is when first opened.
  • The panels are explained in the gallery below. Leave all the settings and UI as default or you may have trouble following this tutorial.
  • Import your garment .obj file. It should appear exactly over the body in the kit file.
    • Save your clothing item as a .obj file
    • In the skins and alpha blend file, go to File -> Import -> Wavefront (.obj)
    • Navigate to where you saved your clothing .obj file
    • Double click it to add it to the scene.
    • If your clothing is complete and already checked to work in SL, it should import at the correct scale for the skins and alpha meshes.
Clothing object imported ready for alpha painting
  • In the outliner panel, start with only the Cinnamon mesh, and your clothing item visible.
  • Under the materials panel create a new texture for the trunk, and a new texture for the limbs. Set the texture size to 512×512 and the colour to white. Name the textures CINNAMON TRUNK and CINNAMON LIMBS. 
  • When you first open the file, the 2d panels are set to “texture editing”. In the 2d texture panels, set the current texture to the ones you have just created. I made 6 panels so you will be able to use them all for the 6 textures potentially required in this kit. TIP – Set the left column of 3 textures to Cinnamon textures and the right column to Chai textures so you won’t confuse them
To set a visible texture, press the button with the mountain and sun at the top of the 2d panel, and select the desired texture from the dropdown list.
  • With Cinnamon selected, set her to texture paint mode and turn on the xray mode.
Texture paint and xray mode
  • With a large brush and black as your selected colour, paint around the body mesh underneath the clothing, leaving white where the skin should be visible
L-R: the model with the alpha zone painted in black. The brush selection panel under the painting toolbox. The colour selection panel. The black painting as it appears on your newly created texture.
  • Turn off Xray and check the edges of your clothing. Check up the sleeves, into the armholes, down the cleavage and back etc to make sure there is no black section showing. Beware – Anywhere that is black will be invisible inworld so if you don’t want gaps, paint it white.
  • Turn off the clothing and tidy up any edges and bits of white that might still be showing where there should be black
  • Put Cinnamon back into object mode
  • Make the Chai body visible and select it. 
  • Under the materials tab, create a new texture for the torso and the legs. the colour doesn’t matter but make the size 512 by 512 as you did with the Cinnamon textures. Name them CHAI TORSO and CHAI LEGS
  • Use the right two 2D editing panels to show these 2 new textures
  • SAVE the blend file at this stage – Sometimes Blender won’t update the textures after baking and the file will need to be re-opened. Saving at this stage can help prevent this.
  • Select Cinnamon, hold down CTRL and then select Chai. Chai should be the ACTIVE object which means the name and line entry should be brightest. (If you use SHIFT to multi select, select CHAI first and then CINNAMON, which still leaves Chai as the active object)
Selecting Cinnamon, and then holding CTRL and selecting Chai will make Chai the ACTIVE object.
  • Under the bake tab (which I have made visible on the UI for this file) don’t change any of the default values I have setup, just press the BAKE button. You will likely get a warning about a circular dependency but it doesn’t matter, just wait until the bake is done.
  • If any of the textures in the UV panels change to show a different texture, you can just switch them back using the texture dropdown once the bake has finished – as I do in the above gif with the Cinnamon Limbs changing to display the Chai legs texture. You should end up with up to 4 textures for Cinnamon TRUNK, Cinnamon LIMBS, Chai TORSO and Chai LEGS displayed in the 4 UV panels.
  • Save each texture out as an image to your clothing folder. If the texture has no black paint, you don’t need to save it out (eg: the Cinnamon Limbs texture was not altered and doesn’t need to be saved for this alpha)
Saving out any altered textures for conversion to alpha channels
  • Open the files in Photoshop or GIMP and double check that there are no white artifacts in the black section 
  • copy the black and white texture into an alpha channel
    • Export the textures as 32 bit .tga
Creating an alpha channel and saving as 32 bit .tga. Anything that is black in your alpha channel will be invisible inworld.
  • Alternatively select the black section using the magic wand selection tool and hide it with a layer mask.
    • export the textures as .png
Creating an alpha channel using PNG format. Anything that is hidden and shows the checkerbox background will be invisible inworld.
  • Upload the textures to Second Life
  • Go to your clothing folder with the mesh clothing for Cinnamon and Chai. 
  • Right click and select new clothing, new alpha layer. Name it Your-brand|clothing-name|Alpha|Cinnamon

Because Cinnamon and Chai do not share any similarities between their UV template, you must name any system layers with either CINNAMON or CHAI so your customers know which version the layer is for. 

  • make a copy of the new alpha layer and rename it – change Cinnamon to Chai
  • Wear the new Cinnamon alpha layer and edit it. (Right click in inventory once worn and select Edit) Place the CINNAMON TRUNK texture into the UPPER BODY slot of the alpha and place the CINNAMON LIMBS texture into the LOWER BODY slot of the alpha. Save it.
  • Wear the new Chai alpha layer and edit it. Place the CHAI TORSO texture into the upper body slot and the CHAI LEGS texture into the lower body slot. Save it. 
  • If your alpha includes any part of the HEAD mesh, add these textures to your 2 new alpha layers in the HEAD slot.
  • Your alpha layers are DONE! Ez Pz

About Your Branding

In order for your customers to know whether you are creating for Cinnamon and Chai, you should include certain wording in your vendors, and in your product names. Please feel free to use the examples below to create names for your products that will make sense to our customers!

Product names in folders

For mesh Creations –

[yourbrand] name and colour of product [CinnChai] OR [yourbrand] name and colour of product [Cinnamon&Chai]

For skins and other textures you need to differentiate between Cinnamon and Chai or your customers will look all kinds of weird!

[yourbrand] name and colour of product [Cinnamon] OR [yourbrand] name and colour of product [Chai]

System layers can not be [Cinnamon & Chai], the UV templates are incompatible.

Vendor branding

On your vendor you should either include the pink Cinnamon&Chai logo which you can find in your kit, or you should include the words Cinnamon&Chai on your list of supported body parts.

It is recommended to use both names so that customers wearing either will know what is supported.