Sunday, November 12, 2006

What a week!

It's been a really busy week for me, and next week will probably be even worse; so if I don't post for a few days, you'll know why.

I'm still not over the grundge, although the Infection of the Week appears to be the common cold now. Is it a good sign that it's getting more ordinary and seasonable? I dunno.

But work won't wait forever, so I've been working on getting Little Girl Shapes out for sale. (I get asked about them quite a bit, and I can take a hint. :D )

I've made seven of them, two sizes each for kids of European, African, and Asian ancestry, and an extra just because I really like the way she came out. (I've given her Hispanic coloring in the Vendor Images, but really, you could make either of the other European faces Hispanic as well, or that one blond and blue-eyed, and they'd all look fine.)

Here's the one I'm calling Rosie.

picture of a little girl shape

I also have Ashley, Jessie, Li-Lian, Megan, Meiko, and Raven.

They are all Mod, so people can play with the sliders and make their own unique face without trying to figure out how to squash the AV body into a reasonable kid form.

I'm using a new vendor too, which allows people to buy a gift for someone, and have it delivered automatically; perfect for No Transfer items like these.

Anyway, we'll see how it all goes.

(For those of you who might not know about SL, we have Avatars that are different shapes. You wear a shape just like you'd wear a t-shirt. So, in SL, you can lose weight, gain height, get a nose job, or even change your gender by moving some sliders around and clicking a radio button. And that's before you start adding prims! You can be anything in SL, and many people are.)

Besides that, I've been starting to revamp the entire Texture Tutorial in Second Life.

I've learned some interesting things about Flexi Prims, and how they affect the maps. For instance, the Box shape doesn't have any more points than it ever has (one at each corner) unless you make it flexi. Then, of course, it has to or it couldn't flex. But I didn't realize that it didn't otherwise.

Because the Cylinder does. And it totally wrecks the nice job I'd done figuring out how to make maps that with spokes that looked like straight spokes on a cone. Ah well. It's really a net gain for everyone, because the extra points keep the map under some control on cones so it doesn't split all over the place. It just kind of wobbles a little in six different "heights" instead. But that means that patterns without strong vertical lines look fine on cones now even if they aren't flexi.

Planar Mapping is also highly amusing on Flexi prims; especially the Prism, especially if it's Tapered. If you are in SL, give one the "bounce" of jello, and take a look. I laughed myself silly, but then, I'm easily amused.

And we're just beginning to get ready for a House Inspection that's scheduled for Nov. 20. The inspection is really to make sure that our Landlady is keeping the place in habitable shape. But, of course, we feel like it's us that are being inspected; and we're making an effort to not only do the Deep Cleaning that I usually do only when I move, but to fix everything that we've been letting slide for the last six years.

For instance, today we hauled out the ladder and changed the light bulb at the top of the basement stairs that can't be reached, and isn't really needed. (There's plenty of light there, from the two rooms and the door to the glassed in porch that all open onto that stairwell.) I can't remember the last time that light worked; I think it's been several years. :D

But it will be nice to have it all done, and just in time for the holidays, too!

Other than that I've been writing a tutorial that I hope to get up on my website Some Day Real Soon Now, and the usual answering forum questions/getting orders out/coping with e-mail and phone calls, and all the rest of the madness that constitutes a normal day around here.

And life goes on...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New Kid's Clothes

Sorry that it's been a week since I've written.

I woke after writing my last post, and logged into Second Life to find that the person who had offered me vending space in Nox months ago had returned everything I had there; so there are no Goth skins in world after all. It seems that she changed her mind, and I didn't know it because I was unable to reach her to make sure it was still okay before I put things there. So I went ahead, assuming that the old invitation was still open, and it wasn't. Sigh.

Still, even though it was my own fault, it was very discouraging, and between that and being sick again (sore throat and bad cough this time,) I didn't get much done for a few days.

However, I'm feeling a bit better now, and I've managed to get some Kid's Clothing finished! These are based on the same "pattern" as the Halloween outfit I did, but instead of having a picture on the front, they have a butterfly applique.

This is what the "Purple and Pink" one looks like.

picture of the pink and purple outfit

I also did one in a Red Kaleidoscope pattern, a a Blue Geometric pattern, and a Dark Blue with White Flowers on it, (If you want to see the Pink and Purple full size, it's here.)

I made all the fabrics for these with Artlandia's SymmetryShop. The more I use that plug-in, the more I like it. I had a ball making these, especially the Red Kaleidoscope one. In fact, I probably have something like 40 patterns based on the "seed" for that one now. (I haven't counted.) It's like using a real Kaleidoscope. Every time you tweak something, another beautiful pattern emerges, and I find that I want to save them all!

Anyway, if you are interested in these, there's a post on the SL Forums saying where they are. But you can find them in the normal three places where I sell kid's stuff. (If you are reading this, and want them but can't find them, IM me in world - Robin Sojourner - and I'll be delighted to drop a landmark on you.)

In slightly different news, Bella is getting a new router that will be installed at the end of the month, and will allow them to cut the "stained glass" plexi-glass into any shape at all! If you want a dog, for instance, it will cut you a dog! So, starting some time in December or January, you should be able to buy my Faux Stained Glass to hang in your very own windows. That's the Plan, anyway.

And that's about all I've been doing this last week. Well, that and taking NyQuil, and having Weird Dreams. But that's all that I imagine interests anyone reading this! :D

That's it for today. If you live in the US, don't forget to get out and vote!

Later!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Goth Skins Up in Second Life

I got the first of the Goth Skins up in Second Life at Intemptesta Nox last night.

It's just one makeup choice at the moment. I was trying to get several done in time for Halloween; but I've been sick, and the person I'm collaborating with, (who'll be doing the design work, since she's involved with Goth stuff, and I'm not,) has been too busy with her Real Life to do any. So last night I decided to go ahead, put the one I have done into vendors, and let it go at that for now.

Because some of the people who do Goth stuff also do whiteface (especially in Second Life, where it's so very easy to do,) I've added a new color, called "Salt", to the skin tones I offer. The same makeup is also available on my Cream skin, since some of the Goth people in SL won't wear white skins, preferring to distance themselves from the Vampire crowd.

Anyway, this is what it looks like, with dots over the naughty bits, since this is a Family Friendly blog. (I put an M on the dots, to mean that they are Mature content. But don't they look just like Goth 'm&m's?)

White Goth Skin, full length view

Here's a close-up of the Makeup, in case you'd like to see that as well.

Close up of the Goth Makeup

So that's done, at least for now.

I was still a bit under the weather yesterday, so, except for the skin, I mostly just went to Halloween parties and things in SL.

Which was fun, but isn't terribly productive. :D

More later!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Didn't Get Much Done Today...

The lack of sleep that I've been getting most of this week finally caught up with me today, and I wound up sleeping most of the day. Sigh. I had so many plans, too!

I did manage to get the Halloween Cat Wallpaper thing up on my website. It's here if any of you want to grab it.

Other than that, though, I did a lot of nothing. Which is good, I suppose. Every now and then, they tell me, it's good to take a day off.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halloween Outfit

I got the Halloween outfit for Second Life Girl Kids finished today. It was really fun to do; I think I will enjoy this as much as Real Life sewing for little girls.

This is what it looks like, all ready to celebrate Halloween! (I'm standing in front of some of the rides at Thrills Ville, an amazing build that changes seasonally.)

Halloween in Second Life

I used Artlandia's SymmetryShop to do the fabric. It's the first time I've really used it for production stuff, and I love it. It makes it so simple to do fabric that really looks like fabric. Probably because it's designed to actually do fabric. (I did use it once before, to make some fall fabric for the Hawaiian shirts, but I was really just playing around then, and didn't much care how long it took.)

On a frustrating note; I was going to use the Warp tool in Adobe Photoshop CS2 to get the cuffs for this. (You can't tell in this picture, but they are a style known as "lettuce," which means that they are kind of wavy, and finished with satin stitch. Which, of course, has to match over two discontinuous seams on this avatar.)

I did the waistband for the skirt quite successfully with that method and Smart Objects, which means that I don't have to go into LightWave and burn a texture to the SL UV Map to match it perfectly over the seams.

But it can't be done on the wrists, because the map is so poorly laid out that there's a deep jag there. The Warp Tool in PS CS 2 is a new feature, and doesn't have the ability to add points to its "mesh" (yet. I have hopes.) So it can really only do fairly smooth curves. Not deep jags. Sigh. It would have been so easy if it could have worked, because I can't burn a transparent layer.

Ah well, at least I have LightWave, so I can get the totally seamless fabric. Best not to complain. :D

So I got this done, and posted to the SL New Products Forum, and fixed some broken vendors in Serenite, and other odds and ends of housekeeping and networking in Second Life.

And that was about it today. (I didn't post yesterday, because I didn't get much of anything done yesterday. They decided to cut down 4 trees on our block, starting about the time I finished the Long Post, and climbed into bed. Which was not only heartbreaking for me, but quite effectively kept me from sleeping until it was after one pm. So I got no rest, and was pretty useless. Sigh.) More tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Long Catch-Up Post

It's been a very long time since my last post; and I'm truly sorry about that. It was just more than I could handle for a little while there, and then I got the flu.

I did manage to keep up with orders, and got some custom windows done for Bella/Pella (which I can't post without asking them,) and a few other things.

I'm way behind on my work for Second Life; but here's what's been happening.

The Fall Makeup for the skins is kind of on hold right now, while I finish all the other stuff I have to do.

I was going to do some Goth skins, but I admit that I know absolutely nothing about it. I got one done and showed it to a friend of mine in-world who happens to be Goth herself, and she was very kind about it. (She only suggested a couple of tweaks. I hope to have them done, and that one ready for sale, by next weekend at the latest.)

Then I showed her a website that advertised Goth makeup, planning to do something similar, and her only comment was "Oh good lord!" Yes, apparently it was that bad. Well, how was I to know? :D

She tried to educate me for a couple of hours, but there's a lot to learn. Finally she said, "Can I just design it?" and I said, "Sure!" So we're going to collaborate on that. She's drawing the makeup on a screen shot of the face, and I'm going to put it on a nice, pale skin I made. Well, okay, some of it is going on a dead white skin, but my friend tells me that's not everybody's favorite, so some is just going on a pale skin.

All of this happened a couple of weeks ago, but then I got really sick, and she had something come up in her life, as well, so that is also on hold for a little while.

In the meantime, since I was too sick to draw (it looks horrible if I try, and I just have to go back and re-do it later,) I spent the meager time when I wasn't lying flat on my back playing with designing clothing for little girls in SL.

I've always liked to sew dresses for little girls, so this seems like a natural direction for me to go. I did a couple of very simple A-Line skirts, and hope to have them out this week.

I also did two new Fall Hawaiian shirts, and then couldn't deal with the Vendor end of things. But with any luck, I'll manage that this week, too.

On a related topic, when I wasn't feeling well enough to sit downstairs at my computer, I sat in the living room with the laptop, a throw, and a cup of hot tea (it's getting very cold in Michigan,) and looked at some of the graphic software ads that came in my mail.

I got the Bryce 6 for $6, even though I don't use Bryce much any more, because I still do support the tutorials, and it was six dollars! In order to do that, though, I had to sign up for the DAZ Platinum Club. And that led me to Content Paradise where they are having an "upgrade now, and get Poser 7 for free" sale.

It's been ages since I used Poser for anything but making animations for SL, and I've never used it to render with, because, frankly, the render capabilities weren't very good. But hey, I was sick, so I went to the e-frontier site and took a look at Poser 6.

I was amazed! Ambient Occlusion! Subsurface scattering! Skin shaders! Image-Based Lighting! Shadow catching! Wow! This might even be useful. So I bought it yesterday. And spent the whole evening figuring out how to make it do what I wanted it to do.

And then I started to design Halloween fabric for the kids clothing mentioned above. (I can't use fabric that's already been designed without permission, so I have to design my own. That's why it takes me so long to do stuff. If I could just use the fabric that's out there, I'd have a lot more done, but it's all copyrighted. Sigh.)

As part of that, I needed to make a central design with the Halloween Cat that I'm using for the motif. So that's what I did. I had great time doing it, and Poser 6, while it still has some of the stuff that always drove me nuts about the program, has fixed a bunch of the rest. I should have upgraded ages ago. :D

So, anyway, I got the design mostly done, and Michael asked to have it as a desktop background. So here it is, in the 800x600 size that he needs for the projector that he's using at work. You guys can grab it too, if you want, although if you want larger sizes, they should be at my site later today.

For now, as always, I need to crash. :D

Here you go, though! (It's exactly twice as large as it looks here.) Jack, the Halloween cat, using the DAZ millennium cat, the Hat and Pumpkin from "Boo!" and the Cell Shading in Poser 6, with a bit of Post work in Painter and Photoshop.

Halloween screen saver 800x600 pixels

That's it for now. With any luck, I'll be back tomorrow with more.

Thanks, everyone, for your patience!

Robin

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Vendors up in Benten

I've finally gotten the new vendors up in the store in Serenite, and my main AV store in Benten.

I think they look pretty good, and they are certainly easier to use (now the initial set up has been done.) With any luck, my customers will like them too.

This is what they look like, in Benten (which is PG, so the images are family-safe for this blog, as well.

picture of the new vendors

I actually got them done day before yesterday, although I didn't get them arranged in the store until yesterday. (I had to move stuff around so they'd fit.)

Most of yesterday I spent working on a new crystal ball for Second Life. When you look into it, you can see a hillside covered with rocks, grass, and primroses. As you watch, 8 different kinds of butterflies pop out of the flowers, fly up into the air, and then go back down where they vanish into the undergrowth.

Of course, the butterflies are actually particles, so they don't so much fly as.. ummm ... get shot stiffly into the air, turn abruptly, and dive back down, all without a single wing beat. But hey, there are 8 kinds, and they are quite pretty anyway. And we have to work within the constraints of the system. :D

Many thanks to my friend Lily, who gave me the script that made the multi-sprites possible.

Of course, now that I have done that one, I have all kinds of thoughts for more, in the same vein. And I think I might do some wings, too, if I can find a script that will let me actually move them.

Goodness knows I have the textures!

And I have to make makeup, because it's Fall now, and the Summer makeup on all those skins is suddenly out of date.

So much to do, so little time! :D

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Back Home

This is the final post about my Dad.

We drove out to see him on Sunday, as mentioned in the last post, because the Doctor said to get there as soon as we could. So we drove for 12 hours straight, stopping only to use the facilities and grab food which we ate while driving.

But it was worth it. We got there in time, while he was still alert and able to talk with us.

By that time, the results of the echo-cardiogram were in. It turned out that the mitral valve stenosis had progressed until the opening, which had been at 60% of normal during his last checkup, was down to the size of a pencil. Basically, his systems were shutting down.

We moved him into the Hospice in the same hospital on Tuesday, around dinner time, and he slipped away while he was sleeping on Tuesday night, just before midnight. Michael was there with him, and he died so very peacefully that Michael, who had looked away from the bed to check something for my younger sister, didn't realize he had died.

The funeral was on Friday.

So, we're home now. Sad, but peaceful, since he's with my Mom again, and no longer in any distress at all.

Thanks for all your concern and support. We deeply appreciate it.

Robin Wood

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Out of Town

My Dad took a turn for the worse last night, so we're leaving as soon as I finish typing this, and will be gone for several days to a week.

During that time, I probably won't have internet access, so I'm afraid that I won't be answering any comments, e-mail, or other communication.

Thanks for your well-wishes and patience, and I'll let you know when I'm back.

Robin

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Kids Skins are Done!

After working on them for Way Too Long, I've finally finished the Kid's skins, and put them out for sale in my booth in Inner Child and at Playland Mall.

There are eight flavors, like there are with all the skins I do. If you want to see face shots of the skin flavors, or read the blurb or get the links to the stores in SL, all of that info is on the Second Life Forum site, here.

I put these into a new kind of vendor, designed by my friend Shadow Weaver and someone else (whose name, I'm ashamed to admit, I don't recall.) The scripts are supplied, and you design your own vendor. The Kid's Skin Vendor looks like this.

picture of the new vendor, which looks like a chalkboard from an elementary school

The vendors are wonderful! You can assign things to Categories and Sub Categories, and the Customer can pick from them, so you can put a huge number of things in the same vendor without requiring someone to stand there clicking for an hour!

This vendor, for instance, uses 19 prims (plus 1 for the chalk tray, and 8 for the images above the board that hold the Demo skins,) to sell skins in 8 skin flavors and 5 brow flavors. That's 34 skin packs, at the moment (the lighter brow colors aren't available in the darkest skin tones, since they never sell anyway,) and will be many more. But you can find the one you're looking for in a couple of clicks!

To do that with "normal" 3 prim vendors, I'd have to use 24 prims, minimum, and the vendors would be overloaded very quickly, and so much clicking required that people would be likely to get discouraged, and just leave.

The skin vendor setup in Serenite uses 64 prims to do the same thing; and is so confusing that people often accidentally buy the wrong skin. It also takes a bunch of typing to update, while this one just requires me to drop the new items for sale into the vendor! Much easier!

It's hard to tell in the .jpg, but the selected category and subcategory are written in yellow chalk, while the rest are in white chalk. Which looks very effective, in person!

As you can tell, I'm pretty excited about them. They are going to make my Second Life a whole lot simpler!

Update on my Dad

For those of you who have expressed concern about my Dad, thanks so much. It really means a lot to me.

This update is for you.

It turns out that, as well as the bleeding ulcers, he has pneumonia. We just found that out a few minutes ago, and I'm editing the post that I'd finished writing just before the phone call, to cut to the end result (now that we have one.)

To backtrack a bit; on Thursday, he was moved into the Critical Care Unit, which isn't all bad, since it means that he's getting the kind of care he needs.

His abdomen was badly swollen, and he was having a great deal of trouble catching his breath, or oxygenating when he did. They put him on a BiPAP machine to help him breathe, and his blood oxygen levels would plummet into they had to remove it for meals and things. (Not that he's eating much, because he really feels, in my sister's words, "putrid.")

For the last several days they've been running all kinds of tests. We found that it's not an embolism, not an infection, and not any kind of perforation in his heart or bowel. We know that although his arteries are a bit narrowed here and there (he's 83, after all,) it's not enough to cause these symptoms, and the vascular surgeon says that the blood supply to his extremities is fine. His EKG is normal, although he might have slight damage to the right side of his heart, due to the edema. So no, it's not congestive heart failure.

He does have some fluid in the bottom of his lungs, and in his abdominal cavity. They drew that out today, and he's feeling much better, and resting more comfortably. They've even been able to take him off the BiPAP and put him on the regular oxygen mask, and his blood oxygen levels are in the high nineties.

The doctors say the prognosis looks good; he's a very sick man at the moment, but should recover.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Life Intrudes...

I haven't gotten as much done as I'd hoped the last few days, (it being Sunday night around midnight as i write this, no matter what the date says.)

On Thursday, a few hours after my last post, I got a call from my younger sister saying that our 83 year old father had just been taken to the hospital. Tests confirmed that he was bleeding internally, and yesterday they found that he has ulcers in his colon, probably as the result of taking Naprosyn for his arthritis.

But they gave him an MRI today, and they're keeping him in the hospital, and he's having a hard time keeping food down, or breathing.

So, of course, I've spent a great deal of the last few days on the phone with one person or another, and trying to figure out if we need to make the 750 mile trip to see him right now.

I've been trying to work, in the corners of time I have, and have managed to get some of the Vendor shots done for the Kid's Skins. I was going to do more tonight, but by the time I got off the phone with my stepson and daughter-in-law, the grid was down.

With any luck, I'll have pictures for you tomorrow.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Too Busy for Pictures ...

The last few days have been very busy and productive; too busy to manage to get shots of the things I've been working on, and post them, I'm afraid. Maybe I'll carve out some time to do that tomorrow.

But ... I have the Kid Skins for Second Life all finished; just have to make the Vendor Shots. (I'd hoped to get some of them done tonight, and post them here, but SL was down when I tried to get in to make them. Sigh.)

I've also finished the Winter Tree for the Stained Glass. That makes all four seasons for that one design.

A great deal of this week has been spent on the Glass stuff. There's quite a bit of good news there. Some I'm not sure I can tell you until the General Announcements are made next week.

But the thing I can share is the news that my Bella Boss has told me they can start printing the Faux Stained Glass on acrylic, fabric, and a couple of other substrates, for people to purchase to hang in their windows. This isn't the same thing as the Pella Decorative Panels that go "between the glass." This is just for hanging by a chain or something.

But it will give those who are interested a way to have some art that will hang in the window and provide a measure of privacy while still allowing light into the room. Anyway, I'll be posting a couple of images here, and lots more on my website, as soon as I have a few moments to spare.

Right now, all the work has made me very tired, and I'm gonna go crash.

Later!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

So much for the last 4 days!

The DVDs are being burned now.

Finally.

Note to Self: in future, be much more careful about saving the layered Photoshop files of everything. That's what CDs and DVDs are for.

In my last post, I mentioned that the glass for Bella might take longer than expected.

I had no idea.

The PDF files of all the glass took longer than expected, mostly because of all the Container glass that hadn't been included in the set I'd sent to Bella earlier; but weren't too horrible. However, the finished print-resolution files were lots bigger than I thought they'd be, so I made low-resolution copies, and e-mailed them sent by deadline.

Then I turned to getting the Glass files all tidied up, so I could put them on the same DVD as the pdf files to send to the other artists who are working on the project. Which turned out to be a far, far larger task than the "flattening and renaming" I thought it was going to be.

By the time it was all over (which it nearly is, except for burning the last DVDs,) I had spent 3 full days - nearly 40 hours, the way I work - finding the old glass, or recreating glass I couldn't find, organizing the files, and getting everything all set. I wound up staying up until noon on Saturday working on it, and then crashed for 12 hours.

When I woke up (around midnight, for those who are counting,) I set to work putting the DVDs together. In the process, of course, I decided to back up all the old files, from before the "tidying," and remove them from my hard drive. And, of course, I found a bunch of the files I'd had to recreate during the previous 3 days! If I wasn't so tired, I'd be rolling around laughing. :D

As it is, I'm just going to remember, in future, to back up the old files first, whether or not I think I have time to do that. Becuase you don't know what you'll find when you start to dig into the Ancient Places.

Part of this, of course, is because I've been working on this stuff now since last November. And when I started in November, I had no idea that the project was going to go on this long, turn out to be this big (or wait so long before it started to pay! :D )

But that's where I've been, and what I've been doing for the last few days, in case you were wondering if I'd gotten sick again.

No. Although, I have to say at this point that it's not my fault if I haven't! :D

I probably won't do much other work today, but with any luck, I'll be back to a more-or-less normal schedule on Monday.

Until then!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tuesday, Aug. 22

Well, okay, it's Wednesday now. But it got too late to write this last night, so I'm doing it now. :D

For the first time in a long time I felt half-way decent yesterday, so I got a fair amount done. A lot was "around the house" stuff that's been shockingly neglected the last few weeks. But some was actual work.

I now have seven of the "flavors" for the kid's skins finished, with only the darkest flavor, Cocoa, still to go. I'll post some pictures later. That's the second hardest part of making any skin set mostly finished, though.

It's not a simple matter of changing the Hue and Saturation of course, since everything has to be balanced and changed to make each skin work. This time wasn't as hard as the last, because I did have the set of "Sylvia" skins to work from. So they went fairly quickly, and I should be able to have the last one done sometime later today. Tomorrow at the latest, if the work for Bella takes longer than expected.

Bella needs contact sheets of the various glass textures and panels I have finished. Since I'm the only one who has all of that stuff, I'm the one who needs to make them. I thought it was going to be a really quick job. (Just pick Contact Sheet II from the Automate menu in Photoshop) but when I took a look last night I realized that I have some glass in the "Container" set that Maureen at Bella was working from that I didn't have in the samples I sent to Krista, and that will have to be made in the larger sizes first.

Don't ask me why I didn't just make it in those sizes when I made it for the Containers. I have no idea.

I'd also like to make the Winter Tree design, (the other 3 seasons are done,) so I might be busy with Glass for most of the day today.

The contact sheets aren't due until Thursday, though, so I'm not worried about getting them done. (I love Automate > Contact Sheet II.)

So, that's that. I'm going to go do a spot of weeding in my horribly neglected garden, and then back to the Pixel Mines!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What Happened to Friday?

The flu-virus-whatever-it-is thing that I've been fighting got acute again sometime on Thursday, and I mostly slept through
Friday and a good deal of Saturday. I remember clearly that we got a carbon monoxide monitor, just to make sure that we're not being poisoned (we're not; it reads zero.) And I seem to have gotten some work done, but not much.

I still need to go over the Stained Glass that Adele sent, and make sure that it's as good as it looks at first glance. (Sorry that I haven't done that yet, Adele; I'll get it done Sunday with any luck at all.)

The first Kid skin has been finished, and kid-approved by Mari; so all that remains to be done for those is to balance them for the other 7 skin colors, make them all, and get vendors done. I'm afraid that it won't be finished this weekend after all; but I'll do what I can.

And I did order the Quilting software. :D

But other than that, all I've done since the last post was sleep, and surf the net in a desultory fashion.

Hopefully, I'll have more (and better) news tomorrow!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Booth at Inner Child

My friend, Marianne, got me a booth at Inner Child Depot (Booth D9, if anyone wants to look at it.) Thanks, Mari!

The booth is really necessary for selling skins; but the thing about a booth is that you have to have something in it, or it makes the mall look bad and is bad for everyone's business.

So I spent a good deal of Wednesday (when I wasn't just chatting to one person or another) pulling stuff together to place in the booth.

Some of the stuff is just slight revisions of stuff I already had; kid-sized versions of the Dragonfly Pixie Wings, the Beach Pail, and so on. (Thanks again, Mari, for suggesting those!) Some of it was new, but really easy, such as the Basketball. I did that texture for the Texture Tutorials, and just had to slap it on a sphere and size it properly. (Although there was a humorous moment when I nearly used the circumference of a real ball as the diameter of the SL ball. Talk about being out of scale!)

But I actually did some work for the new Doll Cradle that I made. The cradle itself went together in minutes, of course, and I managed to use the demo of the Quilt Software I'm thinking of buying. The rest of the texture took a little longer, because I got kind of carried away, as I tend to do.

But I'm fairly pleased with the result.

picture of the doll bed

What do you think?

I also made it Modifiable, so that people who buy one can resize it to fit their doll, lift the quilt, put the doll in the bed, and lower the quilt again. So you can actually play with the thing. :D

I was thinking of putting a script in it, so it will rock; but then I realized that I could do that, but I don't know any way to make the doll rock along with the cradle. A stationary doll with the cradle rocking around it wouldn't look quite as convincing, I think. But if anyone knows how to get around that, I'm open to suggestion!

The quilt looks good; and it also occurred to me that I could use the software to make quilt patterns for the Stained Glass. That would make it worth-while enough to justify, I think. So I'm probably going to go ahead and buy it.

I also thought about taking the baseball texture that I used in Forgotten Toys and making a couple of baseballs (an old one, and a new one.) I did some work on that, such as removing the trademarks and things from the baseball cover, but got distracted and decided to wait on that one and get the cradle done instead.

But it's quite possible that there will be a few more balls and another pair of wings or so before this time tomorrow.

So, I put all this stuff out in my 25-Prims-Allowed booth, and found out how few 25 prims actually is! Turns out that I had to contact the Mall owner and have my allotment increased to 50, and that's without the skin vendors in there at all! So I'll probably have abbreviated versions of various things at Inner Child, and set up a Kids Store on some of the land that I just purchased next to my main Benten store.

And that's the news for today! Thanks for reading it. :D

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Media of the Month Club....

That's what I need to join...

See, I was working on the kid's skin again today, and realized that I wanted to put a little bit of embroidery on the built-in pants. Now, I could just do the embroidery, scan it, and plunk it onto the image (I have the technology.) But I was feeling lazy today, and wanted to just find a Photoshop plug-in that would make something that looked exactly like stitching. (And yes, I could use a Brush, but the stitches become smaller in both width and height as the size decreases, and I wanted to width to remain constant, like thread does. So I tried using stitches that were all the same size, and masking them to get the effect of changing width, but it didn't look real. :D)

So I got on the web and looked.

I didn't find any.

But I did find a piece of Quilting software for the Mac (and PC, by the way,) called Quilt Pro 5 that lets you apply embroidery designs to the quilt blocks, and shows them in 3D. Unfortunately. it looks like it only uses pre-loaded designs from Amazing Designs. If there was a way to load your own that would be wonderful; and it would probably also be mentioned in the spiel, which it isn't.

The more I looked at the software, though, the more I thought that this is something that I might be able to use in Second Life. I could make quilts and put them on ... something. Yeah, that's the ticket! I could make them look like real quilted pieces really easily. (I could also do that without this software, of course, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun!)

And then I started to notice that a whole bunch of fabric manufacturers had given permission for their fabric to be used for the blocks in the software (for fairly obvious reasons, since once you've planned the quilt with a certain fabric, you're going to want to buy the same stuff to make the real quilt.)

The next thing I knew, I was wandering around the web looking at really sumptuous, beautiful fabric. (The material at Kona Bay, for example is stunning. I'm going to have to write them, and ask for permission to use it in SL.)

I think I need to learn to quilt, in my copious free time. :D

And yes, I did get everything done for the new kid's skin but the knees. I did them 3 times, but they kept coming out wrong, so I decided to stop for a while, and just look at more fabric. And write this blog. :D And maybe figure out if I can really justify getting another piece of software.

After which, I'll have to justify learning how to quilt. :D

Robin

Robin Wood needs to figure out how to put more time into each day.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saturday, August 12

I'm afraid that the bug, whatever it is, is back in full force. The fever is back, and I've been spending most of my time sleeping. So I didn't get much done today.

I made a new batch of Meditation Tarot Decks, but that's it.

Hopefully, there will be more (and better) news tomorrow.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Thursday, Aug. 10

I'm afraid that I'm still not over whatever it is I've been fighting. I know this is probably getting boring for you (imagine how it is for me! :D ) but I slept a great deal of the day today.

However, I did manage to get some useful stuff done. I did a commissioned Freckle skin for a customer in SL that was ordered yesterday. And I managed to get the first of the three Avatar maps for the Kids finished! (All SL AVs have 3 maps; Head, Upper Body, and Lower Body.)

So, this is what the face for the a little girl looks like.

picture of SL Girl

As I thought, this wasn't too hard; just a matter of making the cheeks a little more rosy, making the shadows a little lighter, and doing new eyebrows. Except for the teeth. I knew I'd have to make new ones, because it totally ruins the illusion when a six year old smiles with a mouthful of adult teeth.

But the mesh doesn't have teeth, of course; it has a half-ring that teeth are painted on, and no way to change the height of that ring. So, since baby teeth are shorter than adult teeth, there was room left over at the bottom of the ring. Painting it dark didn't work, since the ring actually slightly overlaps the bottom lip when the avatar smiles. I wound up making the extra space kind of pink, and that meant that I had to paint a palette, inside the mouth, too. But I think it turned out okay.

Here's what the goofy Avatar smile looks like, with this skin and shape.

picture of SL Girl smiling

I'm going to do a skin with at least one front tooth missing, too; because that's what happens whey you're a small child. :D

So that's it for today. I got well into the Upper body, too; but the hands and elbows need more work still, so I'm not going to post any of that just yet.

Maybe tomorrow, if all goes well!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Moving Right Along (again)....

I've been busy since the last post; and too tired by the time I collapse to write. (That's why I missed a couple of days.)

The glass is done, and safely sent off, and I'm turning back to Second Life, and some of the stuff that I've been working on there.

As some of you know, I've been doing Skins for the Avatars. By skins, I mean actual skins; you know, fake epidermis. :D

Most of the skins in Second Life have a lot of makeup on them. In fact, almost all the women's skins have some makeup. At least, when I was looking for one, I didn't find one that didn't (although I haven't looked at every single skin in world, so I can't say categorically that none of them do.)

But I don't wear makeup in Real Life, and I didn't want it in Second Life either, so I designed a skin for myself, and it kind of grew from there. Most of the skins I sell have makeup, because most of the women (or people playing women) in Second Life want it. But I also include a skin without any, for the few like me, who don't want it.

A few days ago, I was approached by Marianne McCann, who plays a child in Second Life, and asked about making skins for SL Kids.

So I've spent the last couple of days, when I wasn't working on other things, learning about SL Kids, and why an adult would choose to play a child in a place like Second Life.

Marianne herself says it best. She wrote a wonderful notecard, explaining all of it. In the essay, she reminds the reader of the Twilight Zone episode, "Kick the Can" and explains that's what the SL Kids are doing ... letting their Inner Child out to play.

So I did, and had a blast! I recommend it to everyone; even if you don't want to be a six-year-old all the time, it's lots of fun to take a break as one. (Like I'm doing, here. :D )

Picture of Robin as an SL kid in a tree swing.

So I'm now prepared to do skins for kids. (Among other things, I had to see how the skins fit on a kid, so I would know where they need to be altered.) They don't need much, so I hope to have them done soon.

If there are any adults playing children in SL for immoral purposes, they are a tiny minority. If any do exist, though, I'm not inclined to make stuff for them. So the skins I'm making will have underware built in. (That will probably take longer than any of the rest of the tweaks. :D ) For use in bathing suits, and stuff like that, where underware might show, I'll make a version of the skin, to sell in each package, that is as anatomically accurate as the average little girl's doll. Which is to say, totally blank.

Just in case any of you were worried. :D

With any luck at all, I'll have some pictures for tomorrow.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Makin' Glass!

Today, I made glass!

Well, not real glass; faux glass for the Bella/Pella project.

In order to do the faux stained glass windows, (which we make in Photoshop,) we have to have faux glass to drop into the faux leading (which we make in Illustrator.) When I was first approached about this project, I was just going to use Spectrum Glass (which is allowed, if you credit them.) But when I realized the scope of the thing, I also realized that I couldn't use their images. For one thing, I couldn't figure out how to credit them correctly. And for another, the images were just going to be too small to use.

So I decided to photograph glass; or rather, to ask my boss (who had the right kind of setup) to photograph glass for me. But, due to a number of technical problems, that didn't work out either.

Eventually, I decided to make my own glass, in layers, so that I could easily change the colors, and have an unlimited supply of exactly the kind of glass I wanted. Which sounds great, huh? For some of the types of glass, that was very easy to do. Textured glass, for instance, was simple. All I had to do was use the Texture tools in Photoshop.

But some of it was much more difficult. Translucent glass, for instance, which looks like it has clouds and strands of different, slightly blurry, colors proved to be ... ummm ... challenging.

So challenging, in fact that I've been trying to figure out how to do it without spending a week on each piece since last November!

I'm delighted to say, after only 10 months, I think I have it figured out. :D

Take a look. The glass on the top is the stuff I just made; the glass on the bottom is photographs of real glass, courtesy of Spectrum Glass. (Ooooh! They have a new type of glass! I just saw it when I was making sure the link worked. If you do glass, check it out! It's called "Spirit".)

picture of the shirt

To do this, I used a combination of hand drawing and two filter packs; the Twisting Pixels PixelCreation filters, and a couple of filters from the Corel KPT Collection.

While I was at it, I made several colors. Besides the green and red shown above, I did five more. From these I think (I hope) I can make a lot of other colors in a fraction of the time, by adjusting the Hue and Saturation of various layers of strands and clouds. (I hope so, because these puppies took about an hour each to do, since they are fairly large, and the some of the filters take a while to run.) As an example, I made the brown on the bottom by changing the H&S of the orange.

Here are some details of the glass.

6 colors of faux glass

So, that's what I've been up to today! Tomorrow, I plan to make .jpgs of these, and any other glass I get done by "quittin' time," and package them all up to send to Bella so that prospective customers can choose the type of glass they want in their windows.

Later!

Robin

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The T-Shirts are (Finally) Finished!

Goodness knows it took me long enough, but I finally have 18 T-shirts finished, tucked into bags, and placed in vendors in my AV Shop and at the Gordian Knot men's shop.

Here's the finished publicity/vendor image.

picture of the shirts

(If you want to see that full size, it's here.)

I'm doing something a little different with the vendor this time, mostly because taking all those pictures takes so much time (something I have very little of.) I'm using a normal, 3 Prim vendor; but the "Forward" and "Back" buttons are the image above, split over two prims (cubes, for those who haven't been to Second Life) that meet in the center, with another prim on top of them (in the middle) that allows you to look at just the designs from the t-shirts, and pick which one to buy.

This not only makes my life easier, but since the actual changing images don't need to have as much information in them, I was able to make them 256x256 pixels. So, hopefully, the whole thing will work more quickly, and people will be able to spend more time shopping, and less waiting for things to rez.

We'll see, I guess.

If you'd like to see what all 18 images look like, you can click here.

By the way, the Flamingo is one of the windows I made for the Bella/Pella thing. So, if everything works out as well as it should, you'll be able to get that design in a window, too!

The Greenman and Leafy Pentacle are also perennial favorites, so I decided to put them on shirts. And the spiral was in yesterday's post, of course.

Anyway, that's that!

People have begun to ask about skins for kids and men. (And some of the "asking" has gotten quite ... forceful. :D )

I wish I had good news about those projects, but I'm afraid that I don't.

They will both take longer than I had hoped, because they both need more work than they should. There is no excuse for a mesh that doesn't have the elbows, knees, etc. in the same place, no matter where the sliders are; but that's what we have to deal with. Sigh.

I'll probably do the kid's skin first, since, although the market is much smaller, it will take only a fraction of the work. The men's skin will need so much work that I'm now thinking it won't be ready until early fall.

Sorry, guys, but it's just a huge task. Nearly as bad as starting from scratch, to determine where things are supposed to go! And, of course, everything will need to be redrawn. It'll probably take me 80-100 hours, and that time has to be squeezed in among all the other things (including small stuff, like eating and sleeping.) So it's just going to take a while.

Thanks for your patience!

Later!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Moving Right Along ...

I'm doing some better today (my fever was almost back down to normal, and I only slept half the day. :D )

At any rate, I managed to get 18 t-shirts made, in various colors, and I even got the screen shots done, so I can put the vendors together tomorrow. Hopefully! (If the weather holds, and the crik don't rise, as they used to say.)

I've been reworking some old knotwork I did ages ago to use on these shirts, as well as doing new stuff just for them. Today, among other things, I made an old spiral design (that might be familiar from the front page of my Tarot Book) into a gem-studded medallion. I'm really very happy with the way it turned out, so I'm gonna show it off.

A Celtic Spiral Medallion

Like this, of course, it looked too much like a shield that was stuck on the front of the shirt; so I put a texture on it so it would look like it was printed there. But I'm going to be using it on other things, too, I think. It's too good to use just one place.

By the way, I did this using a combination of the built-in Photoshop Effects, hand painting (for the round cabochons,) and Super Blade Pro from Flaming Pear. If you haven't seen their plug-ins, and you use Adobe Photoshop (or anything that reads plug-ins in that format,) then I highly recommend that you take a look at them. I have several. They aren't expensive at all (Super Blade Pro is $30 US. The most expensive single filter they have costs $35 US, and their most expensive bundle is $50. If you've priced many plug-ins, you know just how reasonable that is!)

And they work really, really well. I love 'em, as I've said.

Oh, by the way, that design is copyrighted, of course. So please don't just grab it and use it without permission. If you really need it for something, write to me, and make your case. I might give you the permission you need. Thanks.

So, that's all for me for tonight! More tomorrow!

Robin

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Under the Weather

I'm afraid that the flu thing I've been fighting has won another round. Sigh.

I slept most of the day today, so, once more, I haven't gotten anything done.

The shirts will have to wait until tomorrow.

At this point, I'm hoping to have them up for the weekend. With any luck!

Later!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Back to Work!

It turns out that the reason I was so tired on Sunday was that the flu I thought I was over had one more blow to deliver before leaving. So I slept most of the day Monday, and didn't get a single useful thing accomplished.

I was doing better today, so I was able to get the Untucked Shirt template for Second Life completed. At least, I think I did.

Here's what it looks like (on a Greenman shirt, this time.)

picture of the shirt

I might do one final tweak and remove the highlight where the dark shadow was before I put the shirts together, make the vendors, and so on (which ought to happen tomorrow.) I mean, it really looked like that when I had my partner model the shirt, to see how it hung in the back. But that doesn't mean that I'll keep that wrinkle if I don't find it aesthetically pleasing!

On a slightly different note, it's possible that I'll be doing a custom window for Bella/Pella sometime very soon! That would be great! Getting the stuff together for it pointed out that we need to have a folder/webpage full of the various types of "glass" that I've made, though.

For anyone reading this who doesn't know about the Bella/Pella project, I've been working designing faux stained glass windows, which will be printed on Plexiglass to (hopefully) use as "between the glass" panels in Pella's Designer Windows since last November.

I got the job when my boss at Bella saw a tutorial about making Stained Glass in LightWave on my website. As I began to get into the swing of making the windows, I realized that I was also going to have to make my own "faux glass" to go in them.

So I've been doing that, and have amassed a fair collection of various glass types, based on currently available art glass, and stuff that I haven't seen, but needed for the windows I'm designing. Being able to create any kind of "glass" you need gives a huge design advantage!

But I'll probably spend at least some time tomorrow making a package of glass types that can go to Bella for the website. I'll post a couple here, too, so you can see what I'm talking about.

And that's about it for today!

More tomorrow.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday, July 30

For some reason, I was very tired today, but I did manage to get the T-Shirt for Second Life to the first Testing stage.

It still needs quite a bit of tweaking; but at least there aren't any seams, and I finally figured out a method that works to accomplish that. Now all I have to do is remember exactly what I did, for the next time! :D

But, this is what it looks like so far.

picture of the shirt

I'll probably take out the heavily shaded fold on the left in the back, and I still need to do a bunch of work on the hem, and add more highlights, and all of that stuff. But it's looking fairly good. With any luck, I'll have some up to sell by the middle of this next week.

I wanted to make it unisex, which put quite a few constraints on the shading; but hey, that's a price I'm willing to pay.

So, that's it for me for today! There should be more progress to show tomorrow.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Saturday, July 29

Okay, it's not the most imaginative title in the world, but it'll have to do.

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, titles aren't my strong suite.

And I'm afraid, besides having the most boring title on any blog anywhere, I don't have anything else for you today, either.

It was one of those days that I spent with my family, and doing other things that kept me away from the computer; so I didn't get a single thing done all day long.

Ah well. Days like this happen.

Better luck tomorrow.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Blind Day

Today was a "blind day." Well, every Friday is, really. (I know, it looks like I'm posting this on Saturday morning, but, for me, it's very late Friday night. It's not the next day until I've gotten some sleep. :D )

My eyes aren't very good. By which I mean to say that I have about two and a half inches of useful vision from my uncorrected cornea. Which means that I wear contact lenses. Since I hate not being able to see, I wear "extended wear" contacts, and just leave 'em in for six days of the week. To keep my eyes from suffering, this means that I have to leave them out for a minimum of 8 hours, one day a week.

I'd really like to keep what vision I have, so I actually leave them out between 12 and 24 hours. Which means, one day a week, I'm confined to wearing spectacles. The problem is that the specs don't begin to correct my vision. When I wear them, I can see about 8 inches. Which is better than 2.5, but not good enough to see the computer screen without craning my neck and hurting my back, as I try to shove my face up close enough to make out the pixels.

The specs also hurt, since they are so thick that the lenses protrude past the little bumps that are supposed to rest on my face, and cut into my skin. (And yes, they are some kind of Ultra Thin Plastic.) Which means that I tend to just take them off, and walk around holding them as a "badge of blindness" so my family knows that it's pointless to ask me to look at anything.

Anyway, because of all this, I refer to the days without contacts as "blind days." At the moment, the "blind days" are happening on Friday. So, on Friday, I tend not to get much work done.

Hey, we all need some time off!

I did manage to get the other two parts of the tutorial I was writing up on the Second Life Forum. And I heard from the person that I wrote them for. He was able to do what he wanted to do, after working his way through the first part. So that's something!

I also managed to figure out how I'm going to get the wrinkles I want on the untucked t-shirt I'm making for Second Life. The problem, of course, is that the map is discontinuous over the waist, for some reason known only to the Linden who made it. I would like to just remap it in LightWave, (like I did for the fabric,) draw on the remapped version, and then Burn the drawing onto the model.

But the difficulty is that LightWave doesn't burn those maps with transparency, and I want to be able to adjust them to suit the color of each shirt.

And then it occurred to me; I could put the white highlights on black, and set them to Screen, and the dark shadows on white, and use the Multiply blending mode, and it would all work. So I did some tests, and it does!

I don't have anything that looks good enough to post here yet, but with any luck I will tomorrow.

So, see you then!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Here we go!

After thinking about it for quite a while, I've decided to join the rest of the planet, and keep a blog.

I've been really busy, doing all kinds of things, but that's not easily visible from looking at my website. Updating the website every day is difficult; but not updating leads people to think that I'm not working, or ill again, or something of that nature.

Hence this blog.

It will allow me to easily (I hope) let everyone who is interested know what I've been up to, what stuff is in the works, and how things that they are waiting for are progressing.

So, ummm... today I set up a Blog on Blogger. Maybe tomorrow I'll set up the link from my website. :D

I also did a couple of custom skins for Second Life, a three-part tutorial, also for Second Life, about putting holes in the free T-Shirt Template I made for the avatars there, and worked some on some new T-shirts to sell in my SL store. So, all in all, it's been a Second Life kind of day. :D

The first part of the tutorial is posted on the Second Life Design and Texture forums. You have to be a resident of Second Life to see it, though.

But it's very late now, or, more accurately, no longer early in the morning, and I haven't been to bed yet. So, ummm, I think I'll go fall down. More later!

Robin