Categories
Megu Shinonome

Gifting Megu Shinonome a 3D Model

Introduction

Something that makes Megu Shinonome is that you can actually give a gift of 3D model.

For example:

From the live casting for September 20th, 2020

This article covers information about how to create one.

Let me, first by introducing what the official website stats:

Number of mesh: 1
Number of polygons: about 5000 (You cannot use N-gons)
Number of materials: 1 to 2
Texture:
 Type: png (4096×4096 pixels)
 Only a color texture, and a shadow color texture allowed. You cannot use normal and alpha.
  File name of the texture:
 Color texture: any name you prefer
 Shadow color texture: Color texture name followed by _Shadow1
  For example:
   T_Fork.png
   T_Fork_Shadow1.png
Include files in a folder with the name pattern of OBJ_XXX (Where XXX represents your object name)
  For example:
   OBJ_Fork
Contents of the folder
 ・An obj file
 ・A mtl file
 ・Textures

Model should be made in a actual size

If you are using Blender:
When exporting to obj, use 100 as the scale. You can also magnify the object by 100 as well.
Because this converts the model in a centimeter scale, 1x would be very small.

Use a web file transfer service to send the resulting file to @meguart_otayori.

Instruction provided in the official Megu Shinonome Website

Note: the English equivalent of the screenshot above is the following:

This instruction contains the all the requirements but many may find it is difficult to start with this instruction. This article will guide you through each process.

This article assumes the following. If you do find any of the following items unclear, it is advised to find some videos or other materials covering these topics. (or you will find yourself lost in the process…)

  • General information of how to use Blender (installing, starting, reading writing, using exporters, etc.)
  • Basic modeling process. You will need to know how to transform, connect the faces. Of course, if you are to actually create something, you would need some more skills in addition to it.
  • Using UV textures. How to use the UV editor, unwrapping mesh. There will not be any advanced usage, so you just need to know the basics of it.
  • We assume that you know how to use your operating system, including installing application, how to use ZIP file, etc.

Prerequisite Items

You will need the following. You can get them for free:

  • Blender (You can technically use anything that can export an Wavefront OBJ, but these are not covered under this article.) We will be using Blender 2.90.1.
  • Krita (or some other 2D image editor. You can use the one that comes with Windows, for instance. You just need to be able to export your file to PNG format. We are not covering how to use aspect of this tool; use something you prefer.)

In addition to that, the following tool made by Makimaki is useful in confirming the correctness and scale of your model.

While Blender supports multiple platform, while the makiMeguAcce supports Windows. Because of this it is advisable to work on Windows platform. Even if you are working on other platforms, I would strongly recommend confirming your model using this tool on a machine running Windows.

Let’s Create

Environment Setup

You are subjected to some restriction on the parameters when creating a model for Megu. For example, you will have to keep yourself conscious about polygon counts while working on your model. It is useful to have this information up on your screen all the time. (This is implemented in 2.90 and onward.)

To enable this, enable Statistics from Viewport Overlays:

Statistics option

With this enabled, you will see a display like the following:

Statistics information displayed

By selecting a object, or going into edit mode, you will be seeing information about the particular object. It is useful in controlling your polygon count while you are working on your model.

Start Modeling

From here you can start modeling. You will need to remember some important restriction in modeling. That is, one object, and one texture. Therefore, it is often easiest by creating a model using low polygon counts, while connecting them together.

The model I have created, used this method, using mirror modifier:

A Takuwan-man Headset

You can also attempt to work it downward from high resolution model, using Decimate modifier, especially when you already have a model you want to use. They tend to introduce unpredictable artifacts, thus, you may have to perform some trial-and-error processes.

You will need make sure to not introduce any N-gons — always use three or four vertices in your faces.

You also cannot use vertex color, nor can you specify multiple materials. Therefore, you will have to apply an UV texture within one material. Because of this, you will have to organize faces of different colors and textures, it is useful to use Vertex Groups.

Vertex Groups

You can define a vertex group by selecting vertices and press the Assign button.

You can use the Select and Deselect button to select and unselect defined vertex groups.

General process is to create a texture atlas like below, and then assigning region for each of vertex groups as you have defined. This would be, selecting the appropriate region, unwrap it under the UV editor tool, assign the desired portion of the UV texture. Therefore, you will still have to create and define simple color as a texture.

Texture Atlas

You can use up to 4096×4096 texture.

Define this texture as the Base Color under the material:

Texture defined as the Base Color

There is a shadow color texture within the official specification, which it used to be able to assign texture to AO map in Blender, however this is no longer possible. (Inspecting the exporter code, this is always assigned “None” value, thus this seems to be deprecated.)

If you really need ot use a shadow color texture, you will have to bake this into your color texture.

Checking the Normal

It is important to ensure that your model has the normals that pointing the correct direction. Basically, this needs to be pointing toward out side of your model.

To confirm, use the following option:

Normals display option

You should see the display like the following:

The Normals, as correctly shown

These blue lines show the direction of the normals. If these are pointing to wrong direction, this would be more like following. (You can see the line pointing inward.)

The normals, pointing the wrong direction

If the normal is pointing to the wrong direction, they won’t be displayed. (Checking this with the MakiMeguAcce tool is discussed later, too.)

To ensure you have the normals pointing to the correct direction, use Recalculate Outside function, which will point the normal toward outward from your model. (Or you can also use Shift-N key.)

Recalculating Outside function

If you have part of the models showing the normals in wrong direction, you can select it and use the Flip function from the same menu to switch it.

Exporting your model as an OBJ file

Use the exporter in Blender to export your model as an Wavefront OBJ file.

Export menu

By selecting this function, you will see some export options:

Wavefront OBJ output options

You will need to make sure OBJ Objects and Material Groups enabled under this. Also specify the Scale to 100. (You can optionally adjust this scaling your model. For more information about this, please see the next session covering makiMeguAcce.)

Once you have set your export options, you can save this as a preset; makes it easy when you will be using these setting later.

After exporting, you should be a OBJ file and a MTL file. Be sure to place your texture file in the same place as you have exported.

Checking with the makiMeguAcce

Once your model is ready and exported in a OBJ file, you can check your model using makiMeguAcce. This innovative tool, created by Makimaki, removes a lot of trial and error, which makes the process more predictable.

You can display the size and texture of your model.

Just drag and drop your object file, and you will see your model displayed like the following (in the example below, “Show Megu” option is enabled.)

The makiMeguAcce showing the model

Using this, you can confirm your model is showing correctly, as well as the size is appropriate.

Statistics display

Like under Blender, this tool will also show numerical parameters of the model. With this tool, any out of parameter items are shown in red.

An example of the out of parameter

If your model has a dark texture that’s unnatural, it is likely you have the normals pointing at wrong direction. (Just like the left side of the following.) You will need to resolve it.

A model with the normals pointing at the wrong direction.

Submitting

Once you have your OBJ, MTL, and texture file ready, put those files in a folder name starting with OBJ_ followed by your object name, compress it as a ZIP file, and use web file transfer service and notify @meguart_otayori via Twitter. You should get notification once your file is successfully downloaded.

That OBJ_ of the folder name should be uppercase or it won’t be loaded. Be sure to name this correctly.

Also, you will have to use Japanese to communicate @meguart_otayori. See below for more information on this.

Conclusion

It is definitely interesting experience that Megu wears and play with your models, and I like to see more people experience that joy.

Please reach @hideki on Twitter, or megu3d-support@hidekisaito.com if you have any questions about the files to submit. Due to resource constraints, please do not forward me basic questions like how to model.

As far as my time allows, I would be happy to offer linguistic assistance in submitting your models. Please reach out to @hideki directly first, and do not include me in your conversation with @meguart_otayori without notifying me first. This will confuse both @meguart_otayori and myself.

Happy modeling!

Categories
Megu Shinonome

Two Weeks Adventure – A Story of Megu Shinonome

Introduction

If you have been following my twitter feed, you may have notice big changes in last two weeks; specifically, explosion of the posts including #東雲めぐ (Megu Shinonome) — I’m sorry if this has caused awkwardness with you.

Megu Shinonome, often referred as “Megu-chan” “Me-chan” and among others, but for the purpose of clarity, I will refer her as “Megu” in this article. I personally call her “Megu-chan” when I refer to her.

I like to talk about how things are, starting from actually describing who is Megu.

Simply put, she is a Vtuber, or “Virtual YouTuber” as some may put it (although as I will be revealing later, she is definitely more than this) and she has started her activity on March of 2018.

General activities, some are more Vtuber-type, including periodic live casting from (7:30 on weekdays, and 19:00 on Sunday JST) on YouTube. Also there seems to be evening live-cast on bilibili as well.

She is also very active in MCing many events, providing contents aimed to children, in addition to being a main actress for a VR musical, and she even creates her own contents.

Honestly, I can only describe her on so much with my relatively short tenure of two weeks as a fan, there’s an excellent article by Ishu-san, although it is in Japanese.

This article focuses more of my subjective view on why I was attracted to Megu, and become her fan (which referred as Meguroomer among Megu and her fans) in this time frame.

Meeting Megu

My first counter with Megu was through HoloModels. This is an application and technology to realize 3D model to real world, commonly called as AR, or Augmented Reality.

More simply put, this is a technology that can create something like below:

Megu Shinonome (Taken using HoloModels)

First time I used HoloModels was on September 17th, in 2019. This is the day when Senko-san (from the Helpful Fox Senko-san) which the release of model has been announced since the beginning of September. I was looking forward to this.

This model was one of the few that could be purchased from outside of Japan. (I guess there are some more you can do that these days.)

I’ve taken many pictures, from neighborhood to Barcelona, Spain.

Senko-san at Spain (Taken using HoloModels)

Then the big change struck my lifestyle. From the middle of March, because of COVID-19, I was forced to work from home. This caused me to take more routine approach of walking around neighborhood, to make sure I keep my workout level high. Having taking pictures almost everyday, eventually I wanted to try something new.

The answer was to introduce additional character in the picture, to generate more “conversational” photo. HoloModels application itself is is provided free of charge, and it actually included a free model, and that’s Megu.

The first tweet featuring Megu.
Megu and Senko-san (Taken using HoloModels)

I have known about the inclusion of this model, just didn’t take much of the notice. Maybe I took her out of the box couple of times.

With Megu in picture, this allowed more interesting expression.

I’m using certain hash tag when I post those pictures. Due to inclusion of Megu, I started using #東雲めぐ (Megu Shinonome) in addition to #仙狐さん (Senko-san) which enabled Megu’s fan, Meguroomer to take notice of my work.

Joining Fan Club

Although, currently no longer possible to join (as it is being consolidated to Gugenka Universe fan club on September 30th) there is a fan club for Megu. By joining, members were provided Megu in a summer uniform, and a model of a karaoke room; I really wanted to use a summer uniform, as it really great for summer time.

I really didn’t have to keep myself as an active paying member once I obtained those bonuses above, but beginning to think it is worthwhile to keep my membership active until September 30th. This was around July 25th, I made this decision.

Membership card of the fan club

First Fan Letter Post to Actually Talking to Megu

There is a framework in place where you assign a certain hash tag to the post, and then it is revealed at the next evening live-casting, with Megu’s comments.

I’ve posted one using HoloModels, which was received very well.

Then on that weekend, I’ve watched a VR musical which features her as a main cast.

As a event in MIKU LAND GATE β, I’ve met up with her at the Zoom guided tour — I could actually talk with her!

I went through very densely packed experience in last two weeks.

Why Megu’s Great

Fully Expressive Appearance

Megu’s live-cast features 3D model (although she has started using her 2D version, starting from 40000 subscriber celebration on August 15th), this 3D model is very expressive, and simply put, is very cute.

Something set her apart from the competition is, by using HoloModels, you can actually take her home. With this, you can feel her presence across the boundary of a screen.

Megu’s Interaction with Her Fans

Megu takes her fan very seriously. I can only imagine how hard she has to work to do this, but she replies to her fans on Twitter. Also when some name gets mentioned in her live-cast, she remembers individual details about that person. Fans would feel very happy to see the person actually remember them by their name. She does this very naturally.

Live-casting

You can check out some of her past live-casting in the archive. What you notice is that you won’t see something edgy. Sometimes she sings, sometimes she plays ad-lib “Takuwan-man” (the Pickled Radish Man) but other than that’s it is really chatting random things. This is like us vising friend’s house and talk about whatever fun, it’s really nice atmosphere.

In contrary, this means she doesn’t have to do anything flashy to attract people. It feels right at home, that’s Megu’s live-casting.

To be a Fan

Honestly, I haven’t had so much of experience being a “fan” of someone to this extent — personally, I distanced myself for that, so I would call Megu being first case.

A lot of time, fandom (particularly “idol” figures) are referred as “pseudo romanticism” — but in case of Megu, I feel this is very different. It’s more “love” in straightforward sense.

Love, is the expression Megu often use in her live-cast; she often expresses that she love certain things, being that the fan submission she receives. She doesn’t try to conceal her feeling with some alternatives, showing her true nature.

Being a Meguroomer Abroad

Being Meguroomer in the United States is actually fairly difficult. Mainly, it is time difference. Evening live-cast falls into 3AM in the morning in PDT. (2AM in standard time.)

The Musical Show was from 20:00JST, which translated to 4AM in the morning.

Having said that, while this is probably applicable to following other Vtubers, as long as this time difference isn’t an issue, I can experience just as much as I would living in Japan, and that makes me happy.

Conclusion

This is a very disorganized article, but lastly, I like to express that Megu Shinonome is someone I would recommend to check out for everyone. She’s very consistent, and also appropriate for everyone. (Gugenka, a management company enforces very strict policy to their talents.)

As I write this, I’m surpassing my third week as Meguroomer. You will be able to check out past live-casting at YouTube. I like to welcome everyone to checkout those out.

You will be in Megu’s world in no time!

See you at the live-casting!