Saturday, December 29, 2007

Year End...

And so another year draws to a close.. I hope everyone reading this had a good one, and I wish for you all a joyous and prosperous New Year, filled with everything you need, and more than a little of what you want. :D

We're all sick here right now, which isn't terribly surprising, considering that Michael had over twenty-two hundred kids sitting on his lap during this Santa season. (He's a great Santa, but kids sneeze, cough, drool, and otherwise share whatever they have with him.)

However, that doesn't keep me from working in Second Life, between collapsing in a heap naps, on something that I think you'll all like.

My co-worker on this particular project, Marianne McCann, has threatened me with Major Scowling if I post what I'm working on, though, and she has a Fearsome Scowl, so I'd best not do that.

I think you'll all like it, though!

See you next year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Nordic Moose Sweaters for Adults!

Between Second Life being down a good deal of the time for a couple of days, and suddenly getting sick, it took longer than expected. But the adult sweaters are finally up and ready to go!

description


I wasn't sure that they were going to work at all for a while, since guys will have to wear four pieces to really make them look the way I'd planned for them to look. So I sent them to a guy on my friend's list, and a couple from Mari's, and got feedback. The result? They think that they are great, and no, four pieces isn't too much; guys like to look good too. (Or, in the case of my friend, their wives want them to look good, and will see to it that they wear all four pieces. :D )

And besides, they look good, I'm told, without all four. Which is the way I suspect a lot of guys will wear them.

The jacket collar looked bad, though; all blurry and ugly. So I remade that with an Alpha, remade the skirts so there was more pattern that looked good when it was lengthened, and did the other small tweaks that were recommended, and they are now in the store, and ready to go.

I realized, at the last minute, that I'd made 18 colors, but none of them were brown. So I made that one, too, and now there are 19 colors of sweater, just waiting for people to pick them up.

If you'd like one, you can get it from Robin (Sojourner) Wood's AV Store, Livingtree (104, 128, 24). L$100, Mod/Copy/NO Transfer (but there's a Gift Button on the Vendor.)

See you there!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sweater Delay...

I was hoping to have the new Moose Sweater for Adults up for sale today, but it's probably not going to happen.

If you're interested, you can read the details on the Leaves from the Livingtree blog. But, basically, the Skirt fits so poorly on the Male avatar that it takes the Jacket layer, as well as the Shirt layer, to make a bulky sweater that doesn't show pants at the waist. Sigh.

Since I'm also working on Christmas presents for Mari, Pygar, and their parents (and no, I'm not saying what they are, since I know that Mari, at least, does read this blog) this is going to mean that the Sweaters won't be for sale until tomorrow.

Ah well. Worse things happen at sea, and indeed, at school (as they say.) :D

Later!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday Goody Boxes!

The Holiday Goodie Boxes are out at Livingtree. I think you'll like them. There's one for kids, and one for adults. You can pick up either or both; they're free. (Pay L$0 to get them.)

picture of the two wrapped boxes


You'll find them on the wall that surrounds the Livingtree, in the center of the Island.

Marianne McCann put in a really funny toy surprise (it's in both of them) and I put some clothing, candy, and stuff in both as well. (More clothing, in the Adult one, and less Stuff. :D ) And the best part; once you've emptied them, you can reuse the box to give something to someone else. (It's mod/transfer.)

Here's a brief glimpse of a couple of the things you'll find in there.

picture of Robin Sojourner, wearing a blue and white Moose Sweater and holding a Vigil Candle


Both the sweater I'm wearing and the candle I'm holding are new, and both are in the Goody Box for a limited time, so come and get yours!

I'm going to be doing more of the sweaters, in different colors, and putting them up for sale. I was hoping to have that all done today, but this time of year, it's hard to arrange the time!

On a totally different note; my partner, Skyia, is going through massage school, and needs bodies to work on. (She has to do 10 massages a month, and can only work on any one person 3 times during the school year.) She's incredibly good, by the way. So, if you're in my area (and if you are, and you know me, you know who you are,) give me a call, and we can arrange a time! Skyia will thank you, and your body will thank you. :D

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Boy's Cold Skin Demos

The boy's cold skin demos are up and in the stores in Second Life, wherever you can buy my Boy's Skins.

picture of boy with red rosy cheeks, on snowmobile


As mentioned before, I'm not doing all the Vendor stuff for this set unless there is some demand for them; so if you'd like one, please IM me and I'll get it for you right away. I know, that might be inconvenient, and I'm sorry for that. But I can't help but think that it's better than uploading the 86 textures required for a full set of skins (with and without freckles) and then making the 54 vendor images that would be needed.

I'd rather spend that time on other things.

Like the freebie box, which I'm going to be working on today. I'm planning some really nice goodies for that one. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow, when (I hope) it'll be done.

In the meantime, I played some with the new Windlight viewer for Second Life yesterday. It has a lot of potential, and it turns out that it's really easy to get rid of that reddish overtone that I dislike so. In fact, you can give your scenes whatever tone you want, make them as bright or dim as you'd like, and change the cloud speed and everything else.

All those things that people are complaining about are just presets. You don't have to use them, if you don't like them. Instead, you can use what you do like!

Things do look quite different under the various lighting conditions, though. It's going to be almost impossible to make anything that looks like we'd hope it would under all the possible variations.

And nothing much is going to look like it did in PS. Not that it does now; but it's about to get .. ummm... more involved. :D

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, Monday...

Yesterday was a "blind day" for me, (I wear my contacts 24 hours a day, so one day a week I take them out for the whole day to let my eyes rest. Currently, I'm doing that on Mondays,) so I didn't really log into SL at all.

Instead, I did a lot of other work that's been hanging fire; mostly stuff to do with printing pictures, and record keeping.

The orders had gotten a week or so behind, because I've been so sick, but they are all caught up now. So if you ordered something from me, you should have it by the end of the week. If you don't, please let me know.

I've decided, though, to go ahead with my idea of putting out Teaching Scripts. I'm not really a script expert, so I was a little hesitant to do that. But I've been getting scripting questions, and I had an expert look over the script.

She said it was fine, but she also said that all the orange (which is the color that SL shows script comments in) was going to make people's heads explode. :D

So there are two scripts, really. One without a lot of orange, and one with tons.

What people are supposed to do is look at the one without, and if they see something they don't understand, look at the one with. That way, the orange will really only be telling them what they need to know.

Of course, people can also just read the one with the orange if they want. But if their heads explode, it won't be my fault, because I'm also including a notecard with instructions, so they know what they should be doing!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Winter Design Luminaria!

Yesterday was a very busy day!

People have been asking for some time if I can put designs on my Luminaria, like the cut outs you see on real ones.

I'm delighted to say that, finally, the answer is "Yes. Yes I can."

The scripts are written, the tests are done, and you can now buy Luminaria with eight different Winter designs available.

picture of eight luminaria, standing in the snow


They run from a menu, so they are very low lag, and are only one or two prims each (depending on which ones you put out.

I decided to not give them actual cut-out, so that there would be no difficulty with alpha sorting issues. (You know, when two transparent things overlap, and SL makes it look like the one in front is actually in back, and vice versa.) In my tests, there was very little difference between the way they looked from the front when they were lit. When they were not lit, the one without transparency actually looked better. (part of the design was invisible against the inside, since there aren't real shadows in SL, and light goes right through stuff.)

The only place they really looked better was from the inside looking out, and face it, if you camera down to look inside the bag, you'll notice it has no candle, and no bottom, so that's going to break the illusion anyway.

If you really want them with Alphas, though, I can do it easily enough. Just IM and tell me.

So those are in all the Landscape Additions vendors, and also out in Practical Magic in Serenite.

I also got snowmen and other things out in Serenite, and was invited to put things for sale in Winterland as well..(I'm really pretty jazzed about that. :D )

Next up, the demos for the Snow Play skins for the boys, and then working on the freebie bag!

I'm also (finally) getting over the lingering infection I've had for the last six weeks or so. And there was much rejoicing.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Demos for Girls Cold Skins Out!

Several people have been asking me for demos for the Cold Weather Skins for little girls, so I got those done yesterday, and placed in all the spots where I sell my kid skins.

They aren't selling well at all. I'm not sure if this is because there were no demos, if it's because people don't think to look for them in the Skin Vendor (which, by the way, totally confuses me. Where else would they be? There are 54 of them; I can't afford the prims to put them in a dedicated vendor) or if there simply is no demand.

Well, it sounded like a good idea. :D

Because of the lack of sales, however, I no longer plan to do the whole vendor thing for the boy's skins. Instead, I'm going to put out some demo skins today sometime, along with a note that says that if any boys are interested, they can IM me, and I'll be delighted to sell them a skin.

If I sell a dozen or so, I will put them in the vendors. But if I don't, it doesn't seem to me to be worth the time that it will take to do all of that, when I could be doing something else that people DO want.

Speaking of which, there should be Luminaria with Winter Holiday designs on them later today. This is a teaser. :D

Friday, December 07, 2007

New Stuff!

So, lots going on. :D

First off, for those of you who might be reading this to find out what's going on at Livingtree, there's a new blog just for that! Since Marianne McCann and Pygar Bu will be posting there, too (it was really Mari's idea) it's likely to be updated much more often than this one. It's called "Leaves from the Livingtree," and you can find it here.

I've been working hard, and just finished the limited edition Holiday Bear for 2007 a few hours ago. It's mostly Sculpties, and I've made it so that you can move the arms, legs and head really easily, so you can pose it however you want. Full instructions are included in the package. (Or click the Info button on the vendors if you want to see them before you buy.)

picture of the new bear, from the vendor

In the last week, I've also finished skins for little girls that have rosy cheeks and red noses, so they look like they are playing in the snow. Included in the package is an attachment that lets you "See My Breath", to give the real feeling of being outdoors in the Winter.

picture of a kid in the middle of a skate jump, with red cheeks, nose, and fingers

I've also finished a Snowman kit, so you can make your own snowman from parts (or you can buy one ready-made from the same vendor if you prefer) put Livingtree under snow cover, and several other things.

See you there!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Promised Pirate Pictures!



Here, as promised, is the picture of the Sculptie Rum Bottle.

Well, two of them, really. I did change the original bottle a little to make this one; but all I did was make the body more of a square, and less of a rectangle, so it would look good with a candle in it.

Everyone who went on the Treasure Hunt, and said anything about it to any of us, seemed to really enjoy it. So that's good.

Here's a bonus picture of Marianne MaCann, who, along with her brother Pygar Bu, is actually responsible for all the work of getting the treasure hunt together. (I made the bottle, and put the shirts together with the skull and crossbones image that Mari gave me. The two kids did all the rest.) We're standing at the goal of the hunt, with the Pirate's Personal Property (otherwise knows as The Loot.)

And that's all for tonight. More about Sculpties tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sculpties...

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and, to celebrate, we're having a Treasure Hunt at Livingtree, my island in Second LIfe.

Part of the whole thing, of course, is to have a spot with plenty of piratical ambiance at the end of the hunt (X marks the Spot,) and part of that, I decided, would be to have candles in rum bottles to provide light for those who found the place after dark.

Which, of course, necessitated making a rum bottle, which, in current SL time, means a Sculpted Prim, or Sculptie.

Now, the normal method of making sculpties is to take a sphere with the proper UV Map, (one where each poly has exactly the same area, and the map is completely filled, for technical reasons,) and push and pull the vertices, or points, until you have the shape you want.

The thing is, I hate working that way. I'd rather just use SL Prims. For me, moving the vertices around is a hideous, inefficient, and just plain nasty way to work. Besides, since the only requirement is to have that absolutely even UV Map, I was pretty sure that using UV Spider in LightWave would work just fine.

So, yesterday, I made a bottle, roughly based on a Captain Morgan Private Stock bottle, and used UV Spider to generate a perfectly even UV Map. Which was a little tedious, but nothing like as horrible (for me) as making the bottle by moving the vertices. I mean, okay, it's repetitive, because you have to enter the numbers to map each row of polys individually, but the bottle looks the way I want it to. :D

So I did that, and got the map. No problems. Time spent - about 15 minutes.

And then I proceeded to spend almost 3 hours bashing my brain on various ways to get the silly thing out of LightWave.

See, there's a LW plug-in to make sculpt shaders, from the superb dStorm site (and if you use LW, and don't know about dStorm, do yourself a favor and take a look at it.) But it works with LW 9 and up, and I have LW 8. So it won't work for me.

There are, in fact, many solutions to this particular problem, using a host of 3D applications; but not a single one I could actually use. Either I didn't own the software (like Maya), or the software was free, but I haven't a clue how to use it (like Blender) or the solution requires a rigid number of polys (like Wings 3D) or it's PC only (I'm on a Mac) or I have it, but just got it recently and don't really understand how to use it (like Modo.)

By the end, I was feeling frustrated, very stupid, and ready to just give up the whole thing.

So, in desperation, I used the LightWave "Manual Method" - which is extremely clever, but still a hack that leaves you with a Sculpty that isn't centered on the axes.

Exhausted, drained, and on the last fraying thread of my proverbial rope, I logged into SL, uploaded the sculpty texture, and slapped it on a prim.

And lo and behold, the thing actually worked! Okay, it's off-center, but I knew that was going to happen. The important thing is that it's a squarish bottle, with a round neck with a bump in it, the bottle is modeled inside and out, and I didn't have to push a single vertex to make it!

I must learn Modo!

(I'll post a picture when I can. Right now, SL is offline, and I forgot to take shots last night.)

Addendum: Make that absolutely must learn Modo. I had heard that there's something in Modo called "UV Peeler" that is like UV Spider, but better... I just found it, tried it, and made the absolutely even UV Map in three mouse clicks (including the one to set the Uniformity to 100%.) So making the models will now take nearly no time at all. And there was much rejoicing.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Trying to get Ahead..

or at least, not quite so far behind!

So today I released some Halloween jammies in SL, and also re-released the Halloween Corduroy skirt that was out for about a week last October.

picture of Halloween Cat PJs

(That's my friend, Marianne McCann, modeling for the picture, by the way.)

I used the fabric I made last year, with Black Jack the Halloween Cat, for the jammies, too, so they kind of co-ordinate, which I like.

That fabric was really fun to make, by the way. I used Poser 7 to pose and render the cat, and then used Artlandia's SymmetryShop to make the fabric in Photoshop.

However, I'm delighted to report that Kona Bay Fabrics has said that I can use their fabric to make Hawaiian shirts in Second Life, as long as I credit them, and put a link to their website in the notecard with the credit. So there will be some killer Hawaiian shirts, as soon as I can get the photographs taken of the fabric. (Their fabric is stunning; but the shots on the website don't have a full repeat, and I have quite a bit of it in my "fabric stash" so I'm going to be doing my own photography. Not to mention this gives me a perfect excuse to buy as much of it as I want! Grin!)

Since I last wrote in this blog, I've also solved some problems with some scripts that I've been puzzling over for a while. I'm not going to be selling these scripts, but I do plan to sell some furniture that I'm going to be making with them, so that's going to work out well!

I'm also moving forward, albeit slowly, with my plans to buy some Void islands in SL, and put rental homes on a couple of them for people who want to live close to Livingtree. I was thinking that some homes that are large enough for families might be really nice. I plan to provide furniture, but I can lift it (or some of it,) and allow more prims, instead, for people who already have their own.

Other than that, I'm in the midst of changing my schedule around, so I'll be working mostly days for the next little while. (This is because of some RL stuff) and I'm spending some time each day at Lynda.com, studying the CS3 suite.

I'm learning Dreamweaver CS3 right now, which is good, because GoLive, which I've been using for site updates for years, isn't part of Adobe's Creative Suite any more. (They appear to be dropping the product after this release. It's not even on the front page of their website, although it's brand new.) This didn't.. ummm.. make me happy.. so I tried downloading the demo of GoLive 9. I really can't justify the expense, but I did want to see. And then I made an error, and opened my site in the demo, so I can't open it in the old GoLive any more (I was using 6). All of which means that I can either learn Dreamweaver, or hand code the updates in BBEdit.

So learning Dreamweaver it is. :D

Hopefully, as my schedule evens out after a couple of years of .. ummm.. chaos, I'll be able to update this blog more often, and also update the site and get the rest of my work done in a timely fashion.

So until next time, take care!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I've been working...

Wow. A ton of stuff has happened since I last posted.

That's the problem with too many new toys; they soak up every minute of your time.

My new island, which is called Livingtree, opened to the public on Memorial Day Weekend. Since then, it's been a fairly busy place.

I'm very happy with it, really. I built a bunch of new buildings to house my various stores, expanded the Texture Tutorial to include a Texture Library where you can read/buy books, and set up all kinds of fun places to explore and things to do.

I'm still working on it, of course, and trying to fit in other projects and things.

Most recently, I've made a set of lanterns (I needed one for the landing where we have arranged for Snap's Kayaks to be sold.)

I decided that it would be really neat if they look like the full moon when they are lit, so that's what I did. They have a menu (owner only) that lets you turn them off, light them, or set them to light automatically at dusk, and extinguish themselves at dawn.

Here's a picture of them.

picture of the moon lanterns

I did three of them, because I was enjoying myself, and got kind of carried away. The avatar is there just so you can see the scale of the things.

They are for sale in the "Gadgets" section of my AV Store. If you're in Second Life, check my Profile Picks for a tp.

The Prairie Style lamps from the Texture Library are also for sale now, with the same script in them.

Other than that, I've done Boy Shapes, several different articles of clothing, a book for the library about how to texture the insides of Hollow Prims, and various other odds and ends and bits and pieces since the island opened.

I have a million projects planned too. But I keep coming down with infections. ugh. Have to get over that somehow.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Too Many New Toys

I may never sleep again! I have too many exciting things to do.

On Thursday, my new island sim for Second Life was delivered. (Insert happy dance here.)

I had no idea how much control we have on private islands. So I spent some time playing with all of them, and swapping terrain textures, and digging down to zero with the Terrain tools just because I could. Playing on a totally empty sim, with no lag at all, was also an an amazing experience. If I was rich, I'd buy one just to put my workroom on.

On Friday, I got the new Adobe Creative Suite CS3 with Photoshop extended. I was so busy playing with my new island that I didn't install it until Saturday. (I also wasn't sure I was going to keep it, since the software and the island, together, cost as much as a new computer. Quite a nice new computer. But then I decided to go ahead.)

When I did try to install, I was horrified to find that I couldn't. The installer reported a conflict with the public beta of Photoshop CS3, and wouldn't work. So I dragged the beta to the trash, and emptied it. Big Mistake. It turns out that you need to use the Uninstaller. I was stumped until I found this blog post which explained how to get the script from Adobe to fix it.

Running the script was a little scary, because it has warnings that say if you do it wrong, you could lose everything on your drive. I was already mostly backed up from a system crash about a month ago, but I backed everything else, and it ran as smooth as silk. So CS3 is up and running.

Once that was done, I spent a couple of minutes playing with .raw files for my island. This is going to be so much fun!

And then, even though it was very late at night, I decided to just peek at Photoshop's new 3d layer.

It works like a charm, except that you can't add textures. You have to open a 3d image that already has them.

e-frontier has a free exporter for Poser 7. (It's a Python script, really,) that does this. But, as I found out after three hours of pouring over the opened files in BBEdit Lite, comparing them line for line, you must not leave any spaces in the name when you save the file. (It's the .mat file that can't have spaces in the name, but unless you want to edit it manually, just save the whole thing without spaces.)

Once I had it working, of course, I had to play with it a little, and see how much easier it really makes it. (Even though, by this time, it was no longer really late, and was more like a little early the next morning.)

It's going to save me a lot of time, I think.

The lighting is a little disappointing. I wouldn't be happy if I had gotten it primarily to use rendered models in my work. But since I got it mostly to work with the textures on those models, I'm pretty much delighted.

You can't paint directly on the models; you have to paint on the textures, and save them to see the painting updated. But since that's a single keystroke (and another to step backwards if the paint didn't land where you wanted,) it only took me a couple of strokes before I found that I kind of knew where it was going to show up while I was painting.

Updating in real time without a save would be even better, if Adobe could manage it, and painting on the model itself would be even better than that, of course. But I'll take this!

More on that later, though. For now, I have an island to play with!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'm Back!

Whew! As you can see, if you look at the previous post, I was beginning to get very busy, and very sick, in November.

It just got worse and worse, in both directions, and I had a really rough winter.

I did manage to get some stuff done, though. I expanded my stores in Second Life by purchasing land in Daikoku (the "sim" (server) next to mine,) and switched stuff around, made the old Non-Avatar store into the new Kick the Can main store for kids in Benten, and moved all the Pagan/Wiccan stuff into a new store in Daikoku that I named the Broom Closet. Then I moved the Wiccan Learning Center over there, and set up a store with various Garden Goodies, all in Daikoku as well. It was really nice to have enough prims to display everything I wanted to display. (I'd been running out.)

I made some stock, although not as much as I'd have liked, and finally got the skins for boys done a few weeks ago. If you are interested in seeing what else I did, I'm afraid that you'll have to look in the stores, because I honestly don't remember now what I did when. I'm sorry.

Then, about a week ago, a club that is renting space in Daikoku began to fill the sim. In Second Life, if (roughly) 40 Avatars are in the sim, anyone else who tries to get in is told that the sim is full, and they cannot enter. Try again later. The problem got worse and worse, and a day or two later, the sim was full virtually all the time.

On Sunday, I decided that I couldn't afford to lose the business I was losing because people couldn't get to my Daikoku stores to buy anything. I had been talking to the owner of the club since it became a real problem (4 days in a row, at that point,) and he remained adamant that he didn't intend to do anything except to continue to use all the resources for the entire sim, nearly all the time.

So I purchased an Island. It should be delivered sometime in the next couple of weeks. (Frightened Grin.) An "Island" in SL is a sim that you have all to yourself, out in the ocean. It's not really attached to the rest of SL, although it shows on a "map" as if it were. But you can only move between islands, or between islands and the Mainland, by teleporting; and you cannot see neighboring islands even if they are quite close. Really, they are all Pocket Universes. They are fairly expensive to buy, and there's also a hefty maintenance fee every month. If you have more than one Island Region, by the way, it's known as an Estate. When you order one, you get to choose the Estate Name and the Region Name. My Estate will be called Robins Wood, and the Region is Livingtree (pending approval of the names.)

On Monday I leaned on the sim border until someone left the club and I could get in, and dragged both my stores back across the border into Benten. In order to do that, of course, I had to pull all the "residential" areas that I'd set up for my friends and family; but I would have to do that to move anyway, and all of them said that they can be "homeless" until the island is set up.

On Tuesday, I spoke to the Lindens, and was told that as long as the club owner isn't using camping chairs (a way for avatars to remain in the game when their players are off doing other things, usually used as a way for property owners to artificially increase dwell, and new residents to earn pocket money,) there is nothing they can do. (He's not.) I was told that they are planning to implement a long-term solution that will allocate the sim resources according to property ownership, but that they have no idea when that will be implemented. (Years, if past performance is any indication.) And then I was told that I'll just have to live with it. Sigh.

But I'm not going to, of course, because I'm going to have my own island, and I won't be sharing that sim with any clubs, or anything else.

This is both very scary and very exciting for me; and it's going to take a lot of work to set it up. But I'm feeling much healthier, and more able to tackle such a huge project.

So that's that.

In other news, the Bella/Pella site has apparently actually gone live, and, after more than a year and a half of intermittent work, i had my first real live order that needed resizing from the website today.

So it looks like work is going to be coming in from several different directions!

And that's how things stand. With any luck at all, I'll be able to update this blog, at least several times a week, so those who read it will once again know what I'm up to. :D

See you later!