Welcome to the world of meshy stuffs! This kit includes a few things that are all designed to help you really learn how to use mesh in case you haven't dived into it at all yet, and are rather curious about it.
*PLEASE NOTE* In order to really get the most out of this tutorial, you need to pick up a copy of Mesh Tutorial that is offered in the store for free, or for $1L on the marketplace. If you would like to send this to a friend as a gift, please use the marketplace since you can gift it from there!
First, you have the actual model. This is in it's simplest form, what you could consider an upgraded sculpt. For this package, it's actually a square modern flare vase. While mesh is very similar to sculpts, there are also a few really important things that you need to keep in mind. The bigger you make it, the more prims it will take up when rezzed (please note this is a super simple model, so it's gotta go HUGE before you see this), the prim count will go up if you add a script and also, you are not able to show as the creator unless you actually upload the mesh. To avoid this, you can link a shadow prim last, or other prim that you create, but you may need to play around a bit in order to really get the best result with the lowest prim count for your needs.
Second, you have the UV Maps. This is the texture that you will need to save to your hard drive in order to actually texture the item if you choose to personalize it. You can even put the UV maps directly onto the mesh and see exactly how stuff really lays out on it too! This won't break anything at all!
Third, is the shade maps. These are also called ambient occlusion maps, AO maps, and a few other names. Most common in SL though is just shade maps. These are a texture that is most often applied on top of a texture created in Photoshop or Gimp that really makes your textures come to life and makes your actual creation look loads better.
Fourth, is a bunch of example textures. This will help you to look at the final textures and compare them to the shade maps and UV maps to really get a grasp of how they are made, and how they lay out on the mesh.
We strongly encourage you to pull out the mesh, stretch it smaller, stretch it bigger, and play around with the textures. By experimenting it will be much easier for you to adopt mesh into your creations and get more comfortable with it.
Just as sculpts were added long ago to the grid, mesh is simply an additional tool that you can use. There will of course be times when a sculpt is still better, but there will also be times when a standard prim is better, and also at times a mesh will work best. You will typically find that a combination will actually give you the best results overall.
Best thing to do in order to texture a mesh, is to ensure that you save all of the UV maps you need to your hard drive first. Once the UV maps are saved to your hard drive, it's time to start saving the shade maps that you need. Remember exactly where you are saving these files, and we actually recommend creating a new folder to keep them all in, so that things are easily organized.
Using the UV map, you will be able to layout the texture how you want it to look. Including colors, textures, designs, patterns, and so forth. Once you have the overall texture designed how you want, you can start playing with the shade map layer settings in order to get the look that you really want. Because UV maps have the various lines on them, you can use these to really help you to lay out a texture that looks exactly how you want. Plus, since UV maps are laid out much nicer than a sculpt texture, you avoid all of the pinched seams that you would sometimes battle in a sculpt (for example, check out the bottom of the textured vase and find the little pixie that's not pinched!).
As you are working with the UV maps, you will probably notice that the vase has more than 1 face. Just as a standard prim in SL has more than 1 face (an uncut, unhollowed cube has 6 faces) which means you can apply 1 texture per face. With a mesh, the number of faces that it has is determined by the creator of the mesh. For this vace, it actually has 2 faces, the inside of the vase, and the outside of the vase. A mesh can have up to 8 faces, which allows you to have a huge amount of freedom and flexibility in texturing the mesh.
If you are unsure of how exactly to use a shade map, we suggest you check out this tutorial that is on our webpage, it will help you to get used to using shade maps to take your textures up a notch. What to do with a shade map.
Additionally, when you are trying to adjust the scale of a texture that you want to include, it can be very useful to review this tutorial to learn some tips and tricks to improve the overall quality of your final texture. How to scale textures and use shade maps.
Overall, it's just like any tool, it requires a bit of practice, and some patience but with time, you can be texturing meshes like a master!