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.