Blue Mars Sandbox Body Editor

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Sandbox Body Editor is a tool for creating new bodies for avatars on Blue Mars.

Quick start

How to...

Recently added or changed features:

  • Allowed multiple "Check in Blue Mars" command, without restarting the client.
  • Added "Natural look" option for avatar faces, that reduces the forced smile.
  • Create/edit billboard commands are now in "Make Body" UI panel.
  • For complete list of new features, please see Release notes


Body editor creates geometry morph data for avatar's body shape and/or face shape, that can be applied in-game. Also, Body Editor can modify materials for avatar's skin and eyes. Body editor creates an asset.xml file, which specifies which parts of the avatar have been modified.

To make new shapes for avatar, use "Body shape" and/or "Face shape" options. In this mode, the Body Editor also needs a geometry model file in Collada format, with DAE extension. In this way, Body Editor is similar to Item and Cloth Editors, which also create Blue Mars assets from a source Collada model. However, unlike other editors, Body Editor requires the source model to comply with the Blue Mars avatar model. That model has standard body parts, such as face, eyes, body itself, eyelashes, et cetera, with standard predefined materials. (Note: hair is not part of the avatar body. To create customized hair, Cloth Editor must be used.) Basically, the source Collada model must be a geo-morph of one of the standard avatar models, provided for references in Template\Avatar\Female00\Model\Female0000\Body\Female0000_Body.dae and Template\Avatar\Male00\Model\Male0000\Body\Male0000_Body.dae. These models may be loaded into Maya, Max, Blender, or any other 3D authoring tool and modified as desired. Important: no new vertices nor polygons can be added or deleted. Also, the shapes must not be rescaled. A new edited body shape must be saved as a Collada document and used as the source model for a new avatar body or face shape. One example of such modified female avatar is located in Game\Objects\MyData\test_body\test_body_female.dae. Detailed explanations how to use this model are here. Once the new body model is created and saved in Collada format, the Body Editor takes over and converts the Collada model into a Blue-Mars asset, that can be uploaded and used on Blue Mars. Materials and textures for the new body can also be added to the body data pack.

To make materials for skin or eyes, use "Skin" and/or "Eye color" options. If no shape options are selected, the Body Editor does not need a geometry model. However, in this case, it will require that the project folder is defined explicitly, where all materials and texture files will be stored and the asset.xml file will be created.

The basic workflow for creating new body data is summarized below.

To create new shapes:

  • 1. Choose male or female avatar reference Collada model, load into Maya/MAX/Blender/..., edit and save as a Collada file.
  • 2. In Body Editor, check "Face shape" and/or "Body shape" options and specify the newly exported model in "File" field.
  • 3. Click "Process and Apply".
  • 4. Use "Weight" slider to set or change the percentage of the shape morph. 0 means the avatar will look identical to standard shape, 100 means the avatar will be completely morphed into the new target shape, as defined by Collada file.
  • 5. Run animation and clothing tests. Check the new body in-game, using "Body -> Check body in Blue Mars" command.
  • 6. Optionally, edit materials and textures. For material editing, "Skin" and/or "Eye color" options must be checked in step 2.
  • 7. When done, pack body data for upload.

To create new materials:

  • 1. Load Body Editor, select an avatar type.
  • 2. Check "Skin", "Eye color" options.
  • 3. Click "Browse" and select project folder.
  • 4. Click "Process and Apply" button. A set of requested materials and textures will be copied into the project folder.
  • 5. Edit materials.
  • 6. Check body in Blue Mars and pack when finished.


Body Editor, with loaded standard female avatar

Body Editor Menu Commands

  • Make body...
    Opens up Body Editor Dialog window, which contains a full set of UI controls for creating a wearable body.

  • Pack body for upload...
    Opens a menu of commands to prepare the body for packing:
    • Create billboard.
      When a body is placed in a shop for sale in Blue Mars, a billboard object will be placed on the shelf. That is what players will see when they click on that shelf. A billboard is a simple box shape, textured with an image of an avatar wearing a new body. "Create billboard" command will take a snapshot of the current view and will use it as a billboard texture. Billboard is required to complete the packing process.
    • Edit billboard.
      This command loads recently created billboard shape and opens up "Material Editor". Use this command if you want to change the texture. The shape of the box is standard and can not be modified.
    • "Compress geometry":
      For body editor, this option has no effect yet. You can safely leave it in default "on" position.
    • "Compress textures":
      Use this option if your zip file is larger than 512K. If you are have opted to compress textures, please also run "Body -> Check in Blue Mars" command, to check the results of texture compression. For small data packs (for example, "Eye color" only), it is better to un-check this option.

  • Capture icon
    Creates a 400x400 icon.jpg file with the current view, required for uploading your data. Before calling this command, make sure that the avatar is clearly visible and centrally located. This command can be repeated multiple times. The icon.jpg file will be overwritten.

  • Check body in Blue Mars...
    Run Blue Mars client to test how the new body looks-and-feels in the game environment. Important: when you login into Blue Mars, make sure that you are using an avatar of correct gender! You must use the "Pack" command prior to viewing your billboard in Blue Mars client.

  • Open upload page
    Open developer page After login, you can upload your newly created and the icon.jpg for Q/A testing and distribution. During uploading process, please make sure you selected "PHYSIQUE" category for your submission.

Body Editor Dialog Commands

  • Avatar
    Select between Male00 and Female00 types. An avatar will be loaded automatically.

  • Body shape
    Check this option if you are creating a new body for avatar.

  • Face shape
    Check this option if you are creating a new face for avatar.

  • Skin
    Check this option if you want to edit avatar skin materials and textures.

  • Eye color
    Check this option if you want to edit avatar eyes.

  • File/Folder
    If "Body shape" or "Face shape" options are checked, Body Editor shows "File" editable control with a "Browse" button, which works a file selector. Use this button to select a Collada file, with geometry for the new body. One sample file is provided with the Body Editor installation: MyData/test_body/test_body_female.DAE. After opening a new model file, the Body Editor sets the project folder to the location of the source Collada file. If "Skin" or "Eye color" options are checked only (without "shape" options), Body Editor renames this control to "Folder", and the "Browse" button works as a folder selector. Select or create a new folder, where material files and texture files will be stored for editing and packing.

  • Process And Apply
    This command creates a new body asset data and applies result to a loaded avatar. This command is equivalent to the following commands, executed in sequence (depending on the options): "Create shape", "Create materials", "Apply". These commands are described below. Before clicking "Process And Apply" button, an avatar must be loaded.

  • Step-by-step
    Enables a group of commands that allow to create and apply new body elements, one step at a time.

  • Create shapes
    Creates an .MRP morph file for selected avatar and Collada model. This command is enabled by checking "Body shape" or "Face shape" options. This command will overwrite all existing files, after confirmation.

  • Create materials
    Copies standard materials and textures into the project folder for editing. This command is enabled by checking "Skin" or "Eye color" options. This command will overwrite all existing files, after confirmation.

  • Load avatar
    Brings up a fresh copy of an avatar of selected gender, with default materials and clothing.

  • Apply
    Applies existing .MRP, .MTL and all textures to avatar, which must be loaded at this time. This command is useful when, for any reason, the avatar was removed and then reloaded.

  • Open folder
    Opens the project folder, which contains the model Collada file.

  • Weight
    This slider interpolates the amount of morph applied to the body shape from 0 (standard avatar) to 1 (selected model). This control is only enabled if "Body shape" or "Face shape" options are checked. The current weight value is always saved into asset.xml file in the project folder, which contains records about avatar gender, .MRP file location, weight and materials used.

  • Animation test
    To test the new body, use these buttons to run standard full-body motions. All motions are executed in looping mode. T-Pose button will put the avatar into a static position.

  • Facial expressions
    To test the new body, use these buttons to run facial expressions. All expressions (except for Neutral) are not looping.

  • Look at camera
    When this option is selected, the avatar will turn his/her head towards the camera during playback. This option takes effect when a new animation or facial expression is played.

  • Timeline slider
    This slider allows to set the animation time manually, using the left mouse button or mouse wheel. After the button is released, the animation is paused.

  • Clothing test
    Commands in this group allow to place pre-made cloth, hair and other attachments on the new avatar's body.

      • Top/Bottom/User-defined
        This selector gives a choice of cloth items to try.

      • Wear
        Use this button to put selected item on. If "user-defined" option is chosen, "Wear" button will change to "Select" button, which will open a dialog for selecting an asset.xml file, for user-defined wearable item. When selected, this item will be attached to the avatar. This command can be used repeatedly, dressing up the avatar as desired.

      • Remove
        Detaches a single wearable item from the selected location: top, bottom, or user-defined. If nothing was previously attached using "Wear" command, a currently worn item will be removed.

      • Remove all
        Undresses the avatar completely.

An example: creating and testing a new body

The Body Editor is shipped with one example of a customized female body, in Collada format. Follow these steps to convert it into a new avatar for Blue Mars.

  • Start the Body Editor.
  • Use "Body -> Make Body..." menu command. A Body Editor dialog will appear.
  • Set "Avatar" to Female00. A default female avatar will appear.
  • Use "Browse" button and select "MyData/test_body/test_body_female.dae" model file.
  • Click "Process And Apply" big button, confirm overwrite of existing files. After a few seconds, a new morph file will be created and applied. You should be able to see how the avatar changed the shape.
  • Use "Weight" control to adjust the amount of morph.
  • Use "Animation" and "Cloth test" to check out how the new body moves and if it fits well to different garments.

Note: this model is provided for illustrative purposes only.


Creating and testing a sample body model.

Editing avatar materials and textures

Body Editor allows to edit avatar's materials and textures, using "Material Editor" (keyboard shortcut 'M'), common for all Blue Mars Sandbox Editors. However, "Material Editor", used in all other Editors, does not have access to avatar's material. For example, you can't change the skin texture or eye color of a loaded avatar using the Cloth Editor, because its "Material Editor" does not "see" these materials. In Body Editor, all materials and textures used in the avatar structure are copied to the project folder, using "Process And Apply" or "Create materials" commands. "Apply" command binds these materials to the currently loaded avatar, so they become accessible via "Material Editor". The avatar materials have standard names; the files are automatically saved by the "Material Editor" during editing.


Avatar materials.

Most avatar materials make use of "AR_HumanSkin" shader, which has several specific features:

  • Custom texture map is reserved to store the color ramp from the least illuminated to the most illuminated skin tones. This texture map ensures that the avatar skin doesn't look too harsh under extreme illumination conditions. Make sure that the colors used for this texture match the diffuse map of the skin, as the resulting color will depend on both texture maps.
  • [1] Custom texture is reserved for storing textures generated by cosmetics editor. Do not use this map: it will be overwritten when the avatar is uploaded and displayed on Blue Mars;
  • Subsurface multiplier parameter controls the amount of light that returns from the skin surface due to partial translucency of the skin. Range: 0 (total absorbtion) to 1.
  • Rim multiplier enables special rim lighting effect that highlights edges of the model.
  • Rim power: controls the size of the rim highlight.
  • Specular multiplier sets the amount of light reflected from the skin. High values make the skin look oily.
  • Melanin parameter adjusts darkness of skin tone. Range -1 (white) to 1 (black), 0 is no effect.
  • Diffuse saturation sets the color intensity of the diffuse skin texture. Range 0 to 2, normal is 1.

A few things to remember about editing materials in Body Editor:

  • Before editing materials, use "Apply" button first. This command makes materials accessible for "Material Editor".
  • Both "Process and Apply" and "Create materials" commands will overwrite all material files in the project folder. Give it a brief thought before answering "Yes" in the confirmation pop-up window.
  • If editing material "from scratch" was your intention, then "Create materials" or "Process and Apply" are the correct action. All avatar material files will be reset. However, it is still possible that "Material Editor" will be using some old cached values for material settings. To flush the cache, close and re-open the Body Editor.

Avoid creating a monster, or basic DONTS during modeling

As mentioned before, the most creative work of making a new body must be done outside the Body Editor, during modeling stage. There are many modeling operations and practices, perfectly legal under other circumstances, that will result in unintended look and/or motions of the avatar. Here is a short list of things that should be avoided, while working on the mesh:

  • Add or remove vertices. The Body Editor will not be able to process the result.
  • Translate, rotate, scale the whole object.
  • Modify material names and properties. This is a wasted effort anyway, because Body Editor will use pre-defined material names. Materials must be edited inside the Body Editor, after the model is processed and applied, using "Material Editor" command.
  • Move vertices too far away from the area of the closest joint. For example, shifting knee vertices too much up, down or sideways. This operation will result in wrong-looking animations. However, what is wrong is open for debate.

If you are planning to work on avatar body and head shapes separately, please use the following images for reference. There, head and body meshes are visibly separated, to show the division line. To avoid gaps between the face and body shapes, please keep the vertices along the separation edges at their original locations.



Face/body separation lines, for male and female avatars.


To post a discussion topic, or report a bug, please use the Blue Mars Developer Forum page. Please be as specific as possible and use screen capture of troublesome cases.

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