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MyMiniLife Item Creation Tutorial

This tutorial will cover the basics of using a 3D modeling program and a ray tracer
plug-in to create items for MyMiniLife.

Required Software
I will go through the installation process of the following programs on a Windows-
based platform. Mac OSX (10.4+) is also supported. All of this software is free to
use.

1. Google Sketchup
Download and install Google Sketchup from
http://www.google.com/sketchup/download/. The free version is sufficient. This
will be a very standard installation.
2. POV-Ray
Download and install POV-Ray from http://www.povray.org/download/. Please
choose the version for your operating system. For Windows, you will most likely
need the 32-bit version. This will also be a very standard installation.
3. SU2POV
Download SU2POV from
http://www.crai.archi.fr/RubyLibraryDepot/Ruby/su2pov.html. You will most likely
want to click on the “su2pov3” under PC Users SU2POV 3.2. Save the zip file in
your SketchupInstallPath\Plugins folder (ex: C:\Program Files\Google\Google
SketchUp 6\Plugins). Now unzip the file here. Once you have unzipped the
contents, it will create a new subfolder under Plugins named su2pov. You will
also have a file called su3pov3.rb in the SketchupInstallPath\Plugins folder.

Finding a 3D model
There are plenty of free Sketchup models available online, but here are some
royalty-free resources to get you started:

1. Google 3D Warehouse – http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/


2. Form Fonts 3D – http://www.formfonts.com/ (pay service, but also has free
models)

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Opening our 3D model in Sketchup
Now that we have installed all of our software and found a 3D model to work with,
it’s time to open it up in Sketchup to get started. If the file is already in a .skp
(Sketchup) file format, you should be able to double-click on it and open it up in
Sketchup.

Let’s take a look at the toolbar at the top and find some icons that may help us.

The icons highlighted in red will be of immediate use to us. They allow us to pan,
drag, and zoom around the 3D model. Go ahead and play with the model a little bit.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Modifying the Camera
Now, we will want to change our camera into a non-perspective projection. You can
do this by clicking on Camera at the top and then clicking on Parallel Projection.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Now that we are in a parallel projection, we will need to change the view to an ISO
(isometric) view. You can do this by clicking on Camera from the top again. Go to
Standard Views and then click on Iso.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Exporting to and rendering in POV-Ray
Now that our object is in a parallel isometric projection, we are ready to render it.
From the top, click on Plugins and Instant POV-RAY render [3.2], and then on
Image options. Please set your settings to the same as below.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Now we are ready to export our first image! From the top, click on Plugins and
Instant POV-RAY render [3.2], and then on Go. This will open POV-Ray with a
text document that should look similar to mine.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Click the big button at the top that says Run. This will begin to render your object
as an image to use with the MyMiniLife Item Creator. The image will look something
similar to this:

This image will be saved in a folder with the same name as the name of the
Sketchup file. For example, my Sketchup file is called chair016.skp. In the same
directory, POV-Ray created a directory called chair016 that contains a few files, one
of which will be called chair016.png. You will need to rename this file so we don’t
over write it when we make the other 3 rotations of this chair. I renamed this image
to chair016-1.png.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Rendering the other 3 views
Now, go back into Sketchup and select the rotate tool from the top bar. Rotate the
chair around so that it is facing another direction. To snap it into a perfect isometric
angle, go back to Camera, click on Standard Views, and then on Iso. This will put
the chair in a new isometric angle.

You will not need to reset the Image options for POV-Ray. These options will be reset
if you close Sketchup, so be aware that you will need to set them every time you
close and reopen Sketchup.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Now, click on Plugins at the top, and Instant POV-RAY render [3.2], and then on
Go. This will export the new view to POV-Ray. If it asks you to reload the file, click
yes. Select Run again and the new angle will be created.

Now, all you need to do is repeat the same steps for the other 2 angles and you will
have 4 separate images ready for the Item Creator. In some cases, you may need to
perform a Zealous Crop in GIMP to remove the whitespace around the object.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Adding the item to MyMiniLife
Now we are ready to import these into the Item Creator and make our item! Here is
a picture of it in my MiniHome!

… and we are done! That is it for the tutorial! If you would like to learn some more
advanced techniques in Sketchup, please read about using shadows on the next
page.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Advanced Technique – Shadows
If you would like to explore more features of Sketchup, one feature that would be
good to use is the shadows feature. You can get to this by clicking on Window at
the top and then on Shadows.

This will open a dialog that looks like the following:

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
Here we can see that we have a lot of options. We can turn shadows on and off and
alter quite a few different properties about them. Go ahead and turn the shadows
on to see what the effect is on your item.

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008
As you can see it added a shadow on the ground as well. You can toggle this on and
off in the Shadow Settings dialog.

When you export your item to POV-Ray for rendering, it will keep these shadow
settings and render them out with the image. This will allow you to create a large
variety of realistic looking items to sell in MyMiniLife!

Joel Poloney
MyMiniLife, Inc
8/28/2008