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!