Measure Avatars in Marvelous Designer MD4 & Earlier

This method is pre-MD5. The new version has measurement tools in the program that makes measuring much easier. Please refer to this more recent post for more information.

This Marvelous Designer tutorial is about taking measurements of your custom avatars to use in the QCAD Add-on for drafting real world patterns. It also covers the challenge of measuring the female Second Life avatar.

Script for Video

I’m very excited that so many of you are making your own patterns. However, many of you are not interested in using the MD avatars in your projects and I completely understand.
Taking one of my existing patterns and trying to make it fit your avatar is a mistake. You might as well go back to sculpting patterns in MD. One thing I learned when programming the drafting scripts was that one measurement can influence many, many components of the draft. Each line of the draft builds on the previous and one bad measurement reeks total havoc.
Several people have asked how to get good measurements of your avatars. I’m going to show you the method I used the last time I needed measurements.
Here is the child avatar from MD. I needed to create a measurement file for this. I’ll go through the steps that I used to do this. I will also put these steps and this project file on my website. You can open the project and look closely at how this works.
The first thing you need to do is make a very, very simple top. Leave openings for the arms and end the top exactly at the waist. There are two lines that must be completely straight and vertical. Those are the center front and center back lines. When you draw these, hold down the shift key after making the top point and drag down to the bottom. If you need to adjust either of these points in the future, use your up and down arrow keys. This will keep them perfectly straight.
Use the Copy > Symmetric Paste feature so that your fronts and backs are exactly the same. Adjust the pattern as necessary on the avatar. Don’t make it too tight. You are much better off having it a little loose as opposed to too tight. You can lower the opacity on the top fabric so you can see the body underneath.
If you are measuring a female with breasts, you will probably need to draw in a dart to get a better fit. Make the dart coming off the waist and ending at the bust apex. Make the front and back center neck points in the appropriate places.
Next, make a little skirt for measuring the hip area. It doesn’t matter if your avatar is male or female, the skirt works for both. The top of the skirt is exactly the same size as the bottom of the top. If you made a top with darts, remember to skip the dart width when matching the top and skirt waist sizes.
Sew the skirt to the bottom of the top, after you have it fitted in the hips.
Now use internal lines to draw on your top and skirt patterns. Keep your eyes on the 3D window and make sure the lines are in the correct place on the avatar.
Refer to the measurement instructions on my website. The post is called Measurements for Pattern Making. You can see that the illustration on the site matches the lines on the avatar exactly.
Next, you are going to make several little strips of fabric. Arrange these strips at the bicep, the elbow, the wrist, the thigh, the knee and the foot. Put them very close to the avatar. Then use a pin to pin each one exactly where you want it.
Sew the ends of the strips in a circle and then simulate. Grab the end of the strip and slowly shorten it until it is snug in place. You can even let the simulation continue to run while you do this. The length of these strips are the circumference measurements that you need.
Now create a big flat pattern. Use the avatar silhouette to size it properly to the avatar. You want it to be in the center of the body. Once you have it in place, right click Freeze in the 3DView to the pattern.
Using internal lines, draw around the silhouette. Make sure to place a point at the key point locations. You can click the pattern in the 3D window and see where the blue dot is in the 2D window.
For example, the top of this line is the waist. The second point down is the hip. To get this measurement, all I have to do is shift select the first and second lines and look in the property editor for the total distance. This would be the hip depth.
The total of the line at the top of the arm is the overarm measurement. The total of the bottom is the underarm measurement. This line in the middle is the elbow to wrist measurement.
The line from the waist to the crotch here on the far right of the pattern is the crotch depth measurement.
I drafted a very close fitting garment after taking these child measurements and it worked out great. I know this process is a little tedious, but it’s not too bad. The results are definitely worth it.
It doesn’t matter if your model is skinny, fat or an alien. This method should work when determining the measurements you’ll need to draft really great looking clothing in MD.