Altering a character that is already textured and almost rigged...

My apologies if this is a dumb question or in the wrong forum. I feel like its the result of being a beginner and getting myself into a dumb situation, so I started it in Basics.

Anyway, I’m making a model of a parrot, essentially following Kent Trammel’s magnum opus “Piero” tutorial.

However, I have fallen victim to the ills of overexposure. I sculpted, retopoed, textured/materialed (much more complex texture/UVs than what Kent did in his tutorial), and am almost finished building the rig (it is not mirrored yet and is not parented to the mesh yet).

But in all this time, I had my nose so close to the grindstone that I never noticed that the reason my parrot looks a little bit silly is that his arms are about six “inches” too low. Honestly, I could probably play it off since it is only a personal project, but it is one of those errors that once it is noticed, you can’t unsee it and it nags and nags and nag…

Anyway, I am wondering if anyone has any tips or workflow suggestions for the repair of the mesh? I have zero shape keys that I am worried about preserving, so that is good (although the mesh should end up with the same face/vertex count, just a slightly different topology). Also, since the textures are “roughed up” by the feathers, I’m not really worried about that.

My biggest problems/concerns are as follows:

  1. Cutting off the arm and reattaching it 6 inches higher changes the topology, and the cut happens right along a UV seam. So, this is good because the arm itself can remain exactly the same in UV space…but what about where the body is rewelded to the arm? In my tests, looking at the UV layout, the new edges and vertices were ALL over the place. If I remove the seam and the re-mark it, will I lose my arm island? And will it fix the new body/weld vertices? I imagine I am going to have to spend reasonable effort re-placing things…but mainly I don’ want to ruin the large UV islands that I have already finalized.

  2. I already applied the Mirror modifier…I am worried that having to re-cut my model in half and re-mirror it will destroy my UV layout so that it no longer matches my texture map. I am playing around with it on my own to see just how awry that goes… but I wonder if anyone has any experience, strength, hope, or suggestions to share with me on how to accomplish a model split and re-mirror without destroying textures. I do have older versions before the mirror was initially applied, so that might help…but the question still stands. There is SURE to be a time in the future where I don’t have an old version and have no choice but to split and re-mirror the model.

  3. This is possibly the most discouraging: the arm rig is already complete. And it is EXTREMELY complex, more so than even Kent’s arm. Aside from the sheer number of bones and all the math I did to distribute constraint influences correctly, the entire arm relies on an external spline object for its shape, with a Hook modifier at each joint so that the spline follows the arm shape. In Edit Mode, I raised all of the arm bones and the arm spline “several inches” in the Z-axis. I then re-set each Hook modifier along the spline, so that now it’s shape is identical to how it was. However, in Pose Mode, the arm no longer moves how it used to and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. I suppose I might need to upload the before/after .Blend files to resolve the specifics of this issue (which I can do when I return home to my own computer), but the general question still stands: after moving several linked bone chains several units along one axis in Edit Mode, for what reasons might its function change, when it seems like its function ought to remain consistent, just in a new World location>

  4. The mesh is covered in three hair particle systems, linked to a feather mesh and covering the body. If I change the mesh topology, and resolve the texture/UV question above (1), then my Density/Length maps for the textures ought to also be fixed? But because of the topology change, I imagine the particle system is bound to reset, and I will have to re-comb and re-cut all three hair styles?

(5.) If I could avoid having to do any of this work, I would be a very happy person. Does anyone have anything positive or negative to say about the prospect of simply carrying on as if nothing is wrong, and then, after the armature is set up to actually deform the mesh, simply raising all of the arm bones several units, taking the mesh with it. Hopefully any wrinkles or weirdness will be covered by the feather particles? I know this is a really tacky, disgusting, lazy way to solve the problem…but does anybody have any ideas why it might not work?

Ok…sorry that was so long. Sorry if this is in the wrong place. I’m just at a loss as to what to do, and I’m experimenting with each issue and trying to sort out what might be a problem and what might not be…but I’m sure someone else has run into this same problem, and any advice would be deserving of more than the thanks I can give…