Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday Photoshop Tip - Fading a Poster

I'm going to be posting Photoshop video tutorials on YouTube every Tuesday.

This week, we fade a poster by showing you how to embed a CMYK image inside an RGB image, using Smart Objects.

Smart Objects are so incredibly handy, and allow you to do all kinds of things that you can't do (or can't do as easily) any other way.

Next week, we scarf the poster up, with holes, dirt, and tatters.

If there's anything you want to know how to do in Photoshop, please let me know!

Enjoy the video!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Joyous Solstice! Happy Chanukah! Miraculous Festivus! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year! Wonderful Whatever I Missed!

It's that time of year, so all of us at Livingtree, in Second Life® have gotten together and put out a box of presents for you! I'm not going to tell you what's in it, because that would spoil the surprise! But you can come and collect yours in the middle of Livingtree Island, next to the Information sign.

Just touch the box to get a folder with all the contents.

Enjoy your Holiday! And be safe and happy in RL and SL. May you have all you need, and more than a little of what you'd like, in the coming year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Mousies!

Happy Solstice!

With the Christmas orders all sent, and everything that I can possibly get done in Second Life before Christmas done, I decided to take a short break, and get some things done for the Holidays!

So, with the tree set up, the presents wrapped and under it, and all those things done, I spent Saturday evening knitting some Christmas Mousie Stocking Stuffers.

They're based on a pattern from a book, but I modified them quite a bit to make them look more like meeses should look. (Added whiskers, and gave them bead-y little eyes, front paws, and a bit more shaping.) I think they turned out beautifully, and are adorable. What do you guys think?

But it's okay, I'm going back to work tomorrow. At least half days. And I have a new Photoshop tutorial written and ready to film, as well as the normal Tuesday PS Tip, which you'll see if you follow me here or on Facebook. It's looking like a short week, but a productive one!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Photoshop Tip

I've been doing regular Photoshop Tips on my facebook Page for the last few weeks.

This week, I decided to post a tip that shows how you can get a drop shadow to apply to only one of the layers below the shadowed layer. But then it seemed easier to show than to explain, so I wound up making it into a video tip.

And then I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get it up on YouTube from within my screen casting program before I finally just gave up and uploaded it directly to both facebook and YouTube. But it's done now!

In the process, of course, I had to make a YouTube account to upload it to, so now I have a RobinWoodEnt YouTube Channel with a whole one video on it!

Now all I need to do is figure out how to set it up so that the videos are automatically posted over here, too. After all, it's all Google.

Anyway, I'm planning to make a new tutorial every Tuesday, and I'll be putting them up on my website, too. So enjoy, and I hope you'll find them helpful!

Holly Sweaters for Second Life!

If you are a resident of Second Life®, and you visit my island, Livingtree, you'll find that it's covered and snow and ice.

Keep your virtual self warm. Put on a little sweater! Like the ones I just made, based on the knit design used for this year's Holiday Bear, but sized to fit men and women, boys and girls!

The sweater has a sculpted turtleneck collar, included in 3 sizes for your convenience. (It's mod though, and a single prim, so it's very easy to adjust to your own avatar.) There's a Shirt, which makes a very thick, warm sweater, and a skirt that goes with it so that it doesn't look tucked in. Or you can wear the Jacket instead, with or without the shirt, for a sleeker look.

Available in six different colors; Black, Blue, Green, Gold, Red and White. Copy/Mod/NO Transfer (but there's a Gift button on the vendor if you want to give it to someone else.) L$100, everywhere that R(S)W clothing is sold.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm a Lynda.com Affiliate!

Over the years, I've learned an awful lot from a site called Lynda.com.

It's filled with wonderful on-line video tutorials, covering many of the programs that I use on a daily basis, including the entire Adobe Creative Suite.

I'm not sure how I would have gotten up to speed with Dreamweaver, CSS, InDesign, or half a dozen others without the training I got there.

It's not free; but for less than a dollar a day you can get all the training you can shove into your brain! For only a bit more, you can download files that allow you to follow along as you work your way through the exercises. (I highly recommend doing that; there's nothing like being able to work on the same pages that the instructor is showing you to really "get" stuff.) We're talking real education, for pocket change!

A few days ago, they started an Affiliate Program, which allows people who were recommending Lynda.com to everyone anyway (like me) to earn a bit by doing so. I signed up right away, of course, because I honestly think that they offer top-notch training, for a better variety of apps than I've found anywhere else. I mean, I really do believe in this company, and use them constantly myself.

I was accepted into the program, which is why there's now a bright yellow Lynda.com button over in the sidebar. If you'd like to see what I'm talking about, click it, and it'll take you to the Lynda.com site, where you can watch some videos for free, to get an idea of the quality. And if you decide to purchase a membership, I'll get a bit of cash for directing you there, which I'll be very grateful for.

So go take a look!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tea Sets, Doll Tea, and Bears, oh my!

It's been a busy week for me in Second Life®, and I've gotten a fair amount done!

Just yesterday, I got the 2009 Holiday Bear finished. He'll be available from now until Jan. 1, 2010.

This year, he's a chocolate brown bear with bright green eyes, warmly dressed in a Holly green knitted cap with cheek flaps and a bright red tassel, and matching scarf. The year is on the scarf in gold yarn.

Like all of my bears, this fellow has arms, legs, and head that are carefully sculpted so that they move like the limbs on a real stuffed bear, making him very easy to pose. For your convenience, there are already 5 poses in the pack, including 3 "carry" poses with animaitons, so you can hold him in your right hand, left hand, or cuddled to your chest.

Copy/Mod - NO Transfer. Please use the Gift option on the vendors if you are buying the bear for someone else. 15 prims. L$150. Available now from the Kick the Can main store, and also from XStreet SL.

I also got the Christmas Tea Sets finished, and out in the stores.

These are the updated, version 2 Tea Sets, with new, smoother sculpts, and faster more efficient scripts. (Anyone in the same group as the set can now serve tea, and clean it up.) They're seasonal, so they'll only be out for a few more weeks, too. But they'll probably be back next year.

Totally interactive, with tea that serves itself on a click. You or anyone in your group can also change the linen colors, choosing from 3 sets, with different embroidery on the napkins. Your guests can get tea to sip and a saucer by touching the teapot, and a plate of petit fours by touching the luncheon plate. Once you have a cup, you can choose from 11 different kinds of tea to drink simply by clicking on it. They're very cool tea sets. :D

Come and see them, and play with the demo, at the Home and Garden store on Livingtree, or buy them from XStreet SL. Besides the Snow Children set pictured, I also have a Christmas Tree pattern and a Christmas Sleigh pattern.

All three are also available as Doll Tea Set, in a smaller size for little hands, but with full size petit-fours, and various kinds of pretend tea (and a few flavors of real tea) in the cups. You can get those from the main Kick the Can store on Livingtree, or wherever Kick the Can toys are sold. Come take a look!

And, if all of this isn't your cup of tea, and you don't care about SL at all, there's a new Photoshop Tutorial, too; because it's Tuesday. (Or was, when I started this.) You can find that on my my Facebook page. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Photoshop Tips, and Candle Scripts!

I've started to post weekly Photoshop Tips over on my Facebook page. If anyone reading this isn't interested in facebook, and would like to have me post them here, too, let me know and I'll do that.

This week it's a Very Short Tip, because I've been working on candle scripts for Second Life® and kind of ran out of time.

And before someone points out that I'm really posting this on Wednesday morning, no I'm not! It's Tuesday for me until I go to sleep, and wake back up, and I haven't done that. So it's still late Tuesday night, local time. Very, very local, but it counts!

Anyway, the tip is about using the Bracket Keys, which are very useful in Photoshop. You can use them with the option/alt key to move up and down through your layer stack. You can use them with the Command/ctrl key to move a layer up or down in the stack. You can just use them by themselves to change Brush Size. And there, now you know the tip, but go look anyway, because I put an extra one at the end that's not about the bracket keys at all.

In my second life, I've been working on updating the scripts in my SL candles for the last few days. I'll post a picture when they're finished (I'm told it's not necessary to put a picture in every post. Please let me know if that's wrong.)

Anyway, the new scripts are much more efficient, and because of some changes in LSL (the Linden Scripting Language) over the 5 years since I first made these candles, I can cut down on the number of scripts that are required to make them work. (More things can be controlled in the Linkset, so I don't have to put scripts in as many prims.)

The new scripts also use Glow, if you want it. (You can toggle it on or off, for both the candle itself and the candle flame.)

I also know a lot more about how to make things work in SL than I did five years ago, so the candle flames look much, much better.

And some niggling things have been fixed, because I'm a better scripter than I was. So I think you'll find these candles easier to use, too!

Anyway, they're mostly done now, so I should have pictures and things posted on Thursday. Talk to you then!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Winter Holidays on Livingtree!

First; I want to apologize for not posting for so very long. I just got a new laptop, though; and perhaps now that I can write on the blog and put my feet up at the same time, I'll be better at keeping it up.

So, on to the news!

I've been working in Second Life® a lot the last few weeks; getting things ready for the Winter Holidays.

My island Sim, Livingtree, is all frozen over now, and I just finished making an Ice Castle where you can stop and warm up after skating up and down the river.

The skating is great there! You have the whole river to skate on, with various interesting things along the way; traffic cones, a barrel jump, and the Ring O' Fire, to name a few. Then, at both ends of the river, there are ice floes. Jump from one to another to hear different musical notes, or phrases of songs.

There is more coming, too! But I won't say what, because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

When you're finished skating, come into one of the rest areas.

There's tea, served in one of my new, upgraded tea sets. (If you have an old one, and you are interested in having a new one, IM me in world.) The new ones have better Sculpts (especially the spoons) and there's a small change in the scripts that allows anyone in the Group to serve tea.

Or you can help yourself to one of the other delicious, virtual snacks and refreshments. I have new things planned there, as well.

The Ice Castle was an interesting project, especially the roof. From above, it looks like a snowflake.

To keep the number of prims in the roof down, I used an in-world tool that makes a sculpt out of a collection of prims. It let me turn the 150 prims that made the roof into only six! (But the sculpt did need to be tweaked slightly in Blender to reduce the size of the bounding box.) I'll be happy to explain more, if anyone is interested. Just let me know, in the comments.

In the meantime, if you are a resident of Second Life, stop by! We'd love to see you!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Second Life Tutorials now Frameless!

As mentioned last night, I've decided to just go frameless with the various sections of my website, and then do the actual revisions after that part is finished.

That way, at least people will be able to navigate around a section, instead of having a difficult time getting to the newer tutorials.

So, the Second Life tutorial pages are done now!

There's one new tutorial there, about Alpha Channels of course, and all the old ones that weren't so old they are being retired. It took a long day's work to get it all done, but still, it was just one day, so I'm quite hopeful about doing the other tutorial sections the same way.

The best part about this is that I can add new tuts as people ask for them, or as I come up with something I really want to do, instead of just grinding away on old stuff behind the scenes for weeks on end.

So... What do you guys really want to see a new tutorial about? Let me know!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Website Revisions

I've come to the conclusion that the website revisions are taking too long. There is too much time while a section is being worked on, when some of the new pages are finished, but others aren't, and the section is in flux, and difficult to navigate.

So, after thinking it over for a while, I've decided to get rid of all the frames first, which should be relatively simple, and just move the tables and things to the new pages.

Then, when that's all done, I'll go back and revise things, and get rid of the tables.

It's not a prefect solution, but it should at least mean that people will be able to find what they are looking for relatively painlessly.

With any luck, working like this, I'll have the Second Life tutorials done in the next few days, which means that I can put up a couple of new ones that are done, but not really linked into anything.

And with any luck, the whole project will move a bit more quickly.

It's not Best Practices, but it'll be better than what's there now, and it will give me enough breathing room to not go nuts while I'm working on the rest of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wow... has it been more than 3 months?

I'm so very sorry. Life has just kind of been like this.

We've been house-hunting, and I've been working on my website, and between the two of them, I haven't had much in the way of discretionary time.

So, in the last three months (and a bit) I've made quite a few new things for Second Life®; most recently a washtub full of soft drinks, made with modo 401, Sculpt Studio, and Photoshop.

Washtub and Soda Vendor from SL

I'm inordinately pleased with how they came out. If you touch a can, you get an open can of that kind of soda that you can drink. When you "wear" it, so you can drink it, it makes the hiss-pop of a real can of soda being opened.

If you're in SL, and you want to buy a washtub, you can do so from the appropriate page at XStreet SL.

While I was at it, I also made a set of Soda can textures, so you can make cans, too, if you're in SL. I'm selling them through TRU (Textures R Us) which is why that link goes to the TRU website. The sculpt for the can is included, of course.

On other fronts, I've been working on the tutorials on my site.

It's taking some time, because I've been making videos to explain things, with short text descriptions, and then more detailed stuff in a javascript Accordion, in you want to see detailed information.

This is so, if you can use the program in question, and just want a quick description of how to do something, you can just skip the movie, and read the text, and be back at work in a minute or two.

If you want to see what I'm talking about, you can watch the movie. Or, if you want detailed instructions, or additional information, you can open the Accordion panels that deal with that specific thing.

Hopefully, it'll mean that it's not so completely overwhelming, when you open a tutorial page.

In any case, the Photoshop pages are all finished, and there are some new tutorials up there. You can take a look at the newest, which is all about Cel Shading, and is the result of a conversation at the convention I attended a month ago, on my site now.

Other tutorials will follow, and then the final section, which is Livingtree Grove, until there are no more frames and tables, no markup in the HTML, and the pages look like they belong in this century.

The other thing I've been doing since April, or, really, since January, is dealing with a bum knee.

I finally went to the doctor about it on Monday. (I know, I know, but I've always just expected things to heal on their own.) The upshot is that I've got a couple of inflamed ligaments, so I'm on massive doses of Motrin, with instructions to ice it for 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off five or six times a day, a referral to a Physical Therapy place, and a gift certificate to get orthonics to correct the "bad Q angle" caused by my "wonderfully flat feet."

Which means I've been sentenced to wear shoes. All the time. For the rest of my life. Or keep reinjuring my knees over and over, and frankly, I've had enough of that.

So I'll have a bit of extra time while sitting around with frozen peas on my knees to do things like get caught up on blogging.

See? Silver linings!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Texture Set for SL™

If you like Victorian millwork, and you're in Second Life®, you'll love the texture set I just finished!

I designed it to use as a porch for my Wheel Cottage textures, but it makes great free-standing buildings, like gazebos, as well.

Textures used on a small porch, and a gazebo

There are 30 textures here, including millwork railings, spanderels, and two kinds of brackets, both single brackets and double brackets (which work great as the inside of a box, so you can save prims on your builds.)

There's a seamless banister texture that matches the railings, beadboard for the ceiling (in two colors,) and a porch edge with either vertical siding or lattice below the facing. You also get stair edges to match, with seamless siding or lattice. And, because lattice is good, you'll also get two seamless lattice textures, one diagonal and one square, to make arbors, trellis, and windbreaks.

And of course there's gingerbread for the gable roof, both "painted on" and freestanding (with a matching shadow texture for the gable,) and a mask so you can recolor it easily in your graphics program, if you choose to do that. Or, if there's a limit to the amount of millwork you want, you can use the gable with no gingerbread decoration.

Best of all, you get sculpts to make a beautiful turned porch pillar and newel post, with shaded textures to match them, so you can have a lovely porch with surprisingly few prims. (The porch in the picture, for instance, is only 15 prims!)

All of this goodness comes with railings, banisters, spandrels, siding and lattice in either white or green. (There were too many things to put both in the same package.) If you want to recolor it, I strongly suggest buying the green, because it will give Hue and Saturation something to work with!

L$950 for the package, in either color (or splurge and get both; they look fantastic mixed!) 30 seamless, full permission textures. TRU license applies. (You're buying a license to use the textures, not the textures themselves, so you cannot resell them or give them away as textures, or on a single prim. They must be part of a build, consisting of at least two prims.)

On sale now, at TRU, and at the Texture Library in Livingtree (113, 97, 25). Come check it out!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

We can now take PayPal!

For quite some time, people have been asking me if we could take PayPal as payment at RobinWood.com, (my website.) And for just as long, I've been wanting to, but unable to figure out how to do it.

Well, tonight I found out that the shopping cart we use more or less has PayPal functionality built in. All you have to do is get the certificate from PayPal, and activate it.

So, as of several hours ago, when you put things into your shopping cart on my website, you'll find the little yellow PayPal Express Checkout button, up at the top. That's the one that takes you to the PayPal site, where you log in, authorize payment, and that's that.

If you'd rather use your PayPal credit card, you can do that, too! It's one of the Payment options, when you check out normally.

So there you go! And there was much rejoicing!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

New Teasets for Easter in SL™

I've been busy in Second Life®, since Easter is right around the corner, and I've made 3 new tea sets to grace your festivities.

One is just a fun one, called "Easter Artist," with a bunny painting Easter Eggs.

Sculpted Tea Set, shown with and without tea served

One is a bunch of flowers, featuring an "Easter Lily".

Sculpted Tea Set, shown with and without tea served

The last one, done with a young friend in mind, is cuddly "Easter Bunnies" in a clump of violets.

Sculpted Tea Set, shown with and without tea served

The latter two will also be avaiable, with other napkins, after Easter, since they would be nice anytime.

As with all my tea sets, you, or anyone in the Group the set is Set to, can click the tray to serve tea, which causes the pot to steam gently, the cups to fill with fresh, hot tea, the creamer to fill with cream, and 3 yummy iced petit fours to appear on the plate.

Click again, and it all goes away, leaving sparkling clean dishes. (Oh, if only it were that easy in RL!)

Click on the napkin, and a menu pops up, in the upper right of your screen, that allows you to choose from 3 different embroidered napkins, and changes the glass of the tray to harmonize with them.

Anyone at all can click on the pot, and recieve an empty saucer to hold in their left hand, and a steaming cup of tea to hold in their right. Click on the cup, and they'll get a menu that lets them choose from among 11 different types of tea to "drink." (Animations for all of thiss are included in the items, of course.)

Click on the plate of petit fours, and you'll get your own plate with 3 of them, to hold in your left hand.

All this seasonal goodness is only L$450, Transfer Only. Available now at the Home and Garden Store, Livingtree (85, 128, 24) or in Practical Magic, on Serenite.

There's also a Doll's version of the "Easter Artist" set, with the other tea sets in Kick the Can, and wherever else my kid's things are sold.

Come check out the demo! I think you'll like it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Art Glass One for SL™

I have a new set of textures for making stained glass in Second Life®.

15 brightly colored sheets of Art Glass

This set of 15 seamless textures is based on the Art Glass that Tiffany popularized at the turn of the last century. If you have my Stained Glass for SL book, you know how to use this.

At the moment, the license will only get you usage within SL; but if you love them, contact me if you want to use them somewhere else, and I'll see what we can do.

They are available now from TRU (search for 'glass') and at the Texture Library at Livingtree (105,90,20). L$350 for the set of 15 seamless textures. Come check them out!

Easter Egg Windchimes

For spring in Second Life®, wind chimes in large eggs with delicate, ornate kaleidoscope patterns on them, in a dozen different colors and patterns, each more beautiful than the last.

Easter Egg Windchimes, Random Play, Six Notes, Lovely Sound

Pick your favorite, or collect all twelve!

They all play a totally random series of six pure sampled chime notes. There are no repeating loops to drive you crazy here, just wonderful, relaxing chimes.

Touch the egg, and the owner can change the volume, or turn the chimes off or on. When you have turned them off, you can choose to start playing again at a new volume, or Resume at the volume you were using, so you don't have to remember what that was.

You really have to hear these to appreciate them! So come and play with the demo, in the Home and Garden store at Livingtree (85,128,24). L$125, Transfer Only, so they make perfect Easter gifts. Tuck one in a basket for someone you love.

See you in world!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wheel Cottage Textures for TRU

As I mentioned, I'm now designing textures for TRU (Textures R Us) in Second Life®.

The first 3D set is now done, and available both at the TRU store and website (look under 3D Build - New Sets) and in the Texture Library at Livingtree (105, 90, 20).

Tiny cottage showing exterior textures

It comes in two sets, for the interior and exterior of a little Victorian style cottage, with gingerbread featuring a wheel in the gable. Which is why it's called Wheel Cottage. (It doesn't have to be this tiny, of course. This is just to show the textures. Anything not included in the two packs is black.)

I tried to make the texture flexible, and easy to recolor. So, along with the gingerbread that's part of the texture, there's a gingerbread "stand alone" and a texture with just a shadow on it, so you can put the gingerbread on a separate prim, if you want. I also included a mask for Photoshop, so you can easily recolor the siding without touching the gingerbread, if you'd like to.

The windows are included with Alphas, so you can see through them, and without, so you won't have any alpha sorting issues. They also come with shutters, with curtains, with a flower box full of purple petunias, with any combination of the three of them, or just plain with nothing; and masks are included to make it simple to change the colors of anything very easily (except the petunias.) There are instructions, too, in case you're not sure what to do in Photoshop. (That's all I use, so if you use something else, I'm afraid you're on your own.)

Cottage interior

On the inside, the windows have curtains, flowers from the flower boxes outside, both, or neither; and once again the alpha and no-alpha versions are included. All the interior textures are also included with molding that runs along the ceiling, or without. So if you want to have the wallpaper extend up the inside of the gable, you can; or, if you prefer a flat ceiling, you can have that, too! Most of the inside textures you can mask yourself with just a rectangle. But there's a mask for the door, because it's slightly more involved.

Closeup through the outside window, into the inside

All together, there are 30 exterior textures and 23 interior textures, to make a very charming little cottage. L$750 each pack.

Check them out! I think you'll like them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hot off the Presses - Stained Glass Book for SL™!

I just finished the latest book in the Livingtree Lecture series, based on the weekly lectures that I give behind the Texture Tutorial in Second Life®.

This one is a 76 page THiNC Book called Stained Glass for SL™. Like all the other books in the series, there's more here than I could cover in the one-hour lecture.

Stained Glass for SL™ book cover

It starts with a discussion of how to make your own stunningly realistic stained glass panel in Photoshop.

Next, you'll learn how to painlessly make an Alpha Channel that has opaque leading and semi-transparent glass with varying levels of opacity. Techniques for doing this with a separate "leading" layer in your layer stack, with a separate "glass transparency" layer, or with nothing but a flat image of your stained glass are all covered; and you'll be delighted to know that the only selection needed for any of them is the super-easy "Command/ctrl click the thumbnail" trick.

Finally, you'll discover how to make four different kinds of Art Glass to use in the windows. (One more than was covered in the half-hour bonus session after the lecture.) When you finish you'll have Textured Glass (with any texture you want pressed into the glass,) Ripple Glass, Wispy Glass and Seedy Glass, in any color your heart desires, to use in your own windows.

(In case you don't want to take the time to make your own glass, I also have a few vendors up with various seamless glass textures in the Texture Library.)

All of this is available now, for the introductory price of L$100, in the Texture Library at Livingtree 113, 97, 25. (Book prices will all be going up in the middle of April, because there is a tremendous amount of work in one of these books.)

Come read the book for free, and buy a copy if you think you can use it!

See you there!

Too Busy to Blog...

The last few weeks have been crammed with activity for me; so much so that I'm afraid I've neglected this blog (again.)

To just hit the highlights, I've been dividing my time between my website and Second Life®, pretty equally.

On the website side, I have remade all the catalog pages, so that there are no longer frames, and there's no presentation markup. The Essay pages are about half done as well (I still need to do the Links section there,) and I'm going to tackle the Tutorial pages after that.

I've also put a Search Engine on all the revamped pages, and added a custom 404 error page so if you were linked to a page that's been moved or removed in the renovation, you won't be totally lost.

Best of all, there will be new content by early next week, if all goes according to plan, after way too long without any.

On the SL™ side, I have started to work with TRU (that's Textures R Us, in case you're not familiar with them) to sell full-perm textures in world.

At the moment, all I have is a couple of vendors of seamless Stained Glass textures (15 textures per vendor.) But I'm going to go put together a pack with some 3D Building Textures as soon as I finish this blogging. :D

I've also started to work with The Brewery, which does a lot of in-world instruction and training, and I'm going to be giving the Livingtree Lectures again, in case you missed them the first time through, or have the book and would like to ask some questions.

Pygar Bu, a young associate of mine at Livingtree, is doing Fishing Tournaments at Cheep Cheep Landing, on Livingtree every Saturday, and I've made a couple of shirts as prizes for them, with more on the way.

Finally, in SL, I've been working on the Stained Glass book (more in the next post) and I'm developing the Wrinkles and Folds lecture, to start at the beginning of April if all goes well.

So, that's what I've been up to while I haven't been blogging!

If you have any comments or questions, I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Valentine's Scripted Gift Boxes for SL™

If you're a resident of Second Life®, present presents to your Valentine in style!

Valentine Heart Gift Box

Fully scripted gift boxes use a menu system to allow you to choose from 11 different wrapping papers, 11 different color choices for ribbons, bows, or lace (depending on the box style), and 11 different colors for floating text (or none at all, if you don't like it.)

Put your own sound file and particle in the box, or use the default of a honky-tonk piano playing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and valentine heart particles.

The scripts step you through setting the name of the SL Resident who can open the box, along with a message that will appear in the floating text, and another one that will show up in Chat when the box is opened. You can also set the date, and keep the recipient from opening the present early! (No one but the recipient (and you) can open it at all, ever.)

Pack the box with presents. They don't have to be copyable, although they do have to be transferable, of course.

On the specified day, your Valentine can open the box, and when they do your message will appear in Chat, the sound file will play, and particles will shoot out in every direction. All the contents of the box will also be delivered, and your Valentine will get his or her present(s.)

Then you can choose to give them the box, as well, or pick it back up to use again and again!

Yes, this means that they don't have to Own the box to open it; they just have to be the person whose name you've set.

Available in two styles; a Heart shaped box, with color-changing lace around the bottom,(shown above) or a traditional box shape with a bow and ribbon,(shown below.) Both are Mod/Transfer (NO copy) L$100, available now from the "Gift Box and Card" vendors in Robin's Home and Garden Store, Livingtree (85, 128, 24), and in all Kick the Can stores, including the main store in Livingtree.

Valentine's Gift Box

Come play with the demos! See you there!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Work on Site Continues...

The shopping cart pages look better now, and should be easier to read too. I was able to enlarge most of the mousepoint. Some of it I haven't managed (yet) because it's generated by things I can't find in the site somewhere, and doesn't seem to respond to CSS very well. Or, indeed, at all.

The whole cart seems to be working quite well (I got an order in the middle of all the test orders I was doing today! Hope the person involved wasn't too freaked out by having pages change the way they looked in the middle.)

All the Print and Book pages have had their first face-lift, as have the Title pages that go with them. They are all in Frames still, but that will change when I decide exactly how I'd like to change it!

Still a whole lot to do, but things are moving on, and I'm learning more about what I need to do, and how to do it, every day.

(I'm working my way through the CSS and Dreamweaver courses at Lynda.com, and I'm getting better at writing code without having to look up every little thing, or leaving blank spaces where there shouldn't be any blank spaces.)

Tomorrow I'm going to be working in Second Life®. I've decided that, given my reluctance to stop doing something once I get my proverbial teeth into it, I have a better chance of getting most of the things I need to do in both SL™ and the website done by working on them on alternate days. Trying to do one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, or working a set number of hours on one, and then switching to the other, wasn't working at all.

But this seems to be doing the trick, although since I'm not working pretty much full time on SL now, I'm not going to be able to get as many things done there. Hopefully, the revamped website will make that worthwhile!

So, just thought I'd touch base, and let you guys know what's going on. Later!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fully Functional Shopping Cart!

If you tried to place an order on my site in the last few weeks, you realized that the shopping cart, she wasn't working so well after all.

This was finally brought to my attention. (The whole thing had worked, so it never occurred to me to check the second "checkout" page after the old items were added back to the cart. A mistake I won't be making again.)

Once I found out it wasn't working after all, it took me a little while, and a call to the very nice Support people, to get it working.

But it is now. At least the test orders have been going through with flying colors. So you should be able to place an order, for any book, deck, or print, and have no problem checking out on the Secure side of the cart.

If you do have trouble, please, please let me know.

In the meantime, if you placed an order anytime since the beginning of January, and you haven't heard from me, please contact me. We didn't receive any notice of your order, and don't know that you placed one.

Thanks, and enjoy the new pages!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Clothing 101 Book for SL™ Ready Now!

The Clothing 101 book, from the Lectures that I gave in Second Life® last November, is finished and ready to read at the Texture Library on Livingtree.

Product Image

You can sit there and read it for free, or you can pick up a copy to take home for only L$100.

It explains everything that I think you should know before you start to make clothing in SL.

I start by explaining the difference between texture clothing and prim clothing. Then I explain how to make clothes using the Appearance dialog, in case you don't know that.

Next, I explain what a 3D mesh, such as the one that makes all our Avatars, really is, and what a UV Map is. I talk about the 3 UV Maps that are used on our avatars, and why we only have one arm, and one foot, for texturing purposes.

After that, I discuss Clothing Layers - what goes on top of which, and how much of the AV each covers.

Then we get into the meat of the topic, as I explain how to wear a "UV Suit" (which is included in the book, using a Notecard) to design clothing. How to test for errors before you've put much work into a garment, how to get onto the Beta (Preview) Grid, so you can save Lindens as you test your work, and how to fix things when you find glitches.

Finally I show you the common problem areas on the Avatar - things that always stretch, and how to deal with them.

As a bonus, at the end, I talk about how to use repeating patterns as fabric for your clothing, by making Patterns in Photoshop®.

All of this is presented in a 42 page THiNC book, fully illustrated, with a link to my Website (so you can get the Subdivided UV "Templates" to use in your own work) a Notecard full of textures and UV/Test clothing, and landmarks to the Texture Tutorial and Texture Library where you can find other books. (Assuming you're not sitting there reading this one.)

If you're not familiar with THiNC books, they are as close to real books as I've seen in SL, with turning pages and everything. You can read them by zooming in, or, if you own the book, you can wear it as an HUD. I think it's the perfect way to publish a reference book for you to use in SL.

But come see for yourself! You'll find the book at the Texture Library on Livingtree.

See you there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Print Pages Up!

The new print pages are up, and ready to go! You can find them on my site, if you'd like to see.

They are all connected to the new shopping cart, too, although the shopping cart pages aren't pretty yet. That's the job I'm hoping to get done today.

This is the last day of the two weeks that I decided to "take off" from Second Life® so that I could really start to make progress on my site.

Having that time off has shown me a couple of things, one of which is that I really need to spend more time on the rest of my business, instead of putting nearly all my efforts into SL™.

So I'm going to be doing that.

Since I happen to know that it's very difficult for me to stop in the middle of something, particularly if it's going well, to work on something else I'm not going to even try.

Instead, I'll be concentrating on SL on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and concentrating on other things on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. So, if you want something from me in world, you'll be more likely to find me on those days.

This being a Thursday, I'm not going to be in world much today. I did finish the Clothing 101 book for the Texture Library, and that will be brought in world, published on the THiNC press, and made into a THiNC book, complete with notecards and landmarks, that you'll be able to read (and buy, if you'd like) in the Texture Library in world. There will be more detail about that tomorrow.

I'm also going to be opening Livingtree Cove, in world, for renting. Please IM me if you are interested.

The rest of today, though, is dedicated to CSS and my website! So keep checking back. After a long, long delay things are starting to move again.

And there was much rejoicing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why am I not surprised...

that getting the new Print and Book pages together is obviously going to take far longer than I expected?

As some of you might remember, I started to study CSS nearly a year ago. (The first post about it is Feb. 20. Wowzza!) I tried. I really did. But the penny didn't drop. I wrote some really easy stuff; just plain text, and it worked well. But when I tried to do more complex things, like manipulate floats, I just couldn't "get" it.

So after a couple of weeks of frustration, I wandered off, and did other things. Lots of other things.

But the site was still there, still needing badly to be made compliant, and so I decided at the beginning of this year that I was going to sit down again, and tackle CSS. I started to study it again last Wednesday.

And the penny dropped!

So now the pages really are getting made, the way they should be. :D If you'd like a Sneak Peek, go to the Print page on my site and scroll down the menu to "Songbirds" in the Oil Paintings section.

The Zoom thing, which you can see by mousing around on the picture, is a canned Javascript that I bought from Magic Toolbox, but all the rest of it I coded myself.

It took me a while to figure out how to center those buttons at the bottom without using a Table, let me tell you! But I did it, and then...

In order to show those really wonderful zooms, I had to have all the large images to use for the zoomed part, which had to include that watermark on them and the proper metadata in the File Info, for obvious reasons. So I had to make all of those.

There are 50 prints in production, at any one time. Did you know that? So I had to manipulate 49 images, on Friday and Saturday. (I haven't done the Tarot Print yet, because I'm not sure which one I want to use.)

Those are all done now.

And now I have to update 50 web pages.

I thought that wouldn't be such a huge deal. I mean, I have the template done, and it works perfectly. So really, it's just a matter of flowing the old text and graphics into the new template, right? Should only take a couple of days, right?

Umm... wrong. I had no idea how badly out of date those pages were. There are broken links, text that has to be rewritten, things I never linked at all that I should have, and endless similar problems.

Not to mention all the local formatting that has to be changed, and italics, bold, and colored text that need to be replaced with the appropriate meaningful span tags. But I am getting there. It's just not all going to be done, including the work in Excel to get the shopping cart into shape, by this time tomorrow. Not a chance. Sorry.

At the moment, I have 12 done. Which, with the books, means I have 43 to go. And that's just doing the pages that you can buy things from, so I can get the cart up the way I want.

But the good news is that I have the template, and I know what I'm doing; so even though it's not going to be finished by this time tomorrow, it should be done by this time next week!

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Everything New is Old Again...

I spoke to the Shopping Cart People, and it turns out that they can populate the cart with the old stuff. The downside is that the things I've added will be lost.

But I can put them into a CSV file, save it, let them put all the old stock back up, save that, and then meld the two in Excel, and load all the new stuff in at once. So that's what I decided to do.

Which means, as of this morning, the shopping cart is working again, and you can buy everything. I still can't ship any of it out until the end of next week, but you can buy it. :D

Monday, January 05, 2009

The New Shopping Cart...

is up!

Kind of.

After slogging through manuals, much experimenting, and a lot of testing, you can, once again, buy my books and Tarot Decks from my website.

It's not pretty yet, and you can't get anything else, and I have no clue how to make the Search or Softgoods work yet.

But, on the other hand, you will now automatically get a discount if you order more than 5 copies of When, Why ...If or the Tarot book, or more than 10 copies of The Theory of Cat Gravity. And if you order more than $100 worth of stuff, and you're having it shipped to an address in the US or Canada you get free shipping!

So it's coming along, and I'm sure I'll figure out the rest.

The thing that's troubling me the most right now is that the license says that it's an Evaluation License that expires in February. I didn't just pay almost $400 US for an evaluation license. On the other hand, if we didn't just buy a new cart last Wednesday, perhaps I should go take a look at LiquidWeb, which I didn't know existed until Friday, and which has some really impressive stats, according to SpeedTest.net.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

About the Shopping Cart...

In case you were wondering what's up with the Shopping Cart on my site, since it's not up, the answer is that it's going to be New and Improved.

We ordered a new cart on Wednesday, which was installed on Friday. Since it's essentially an upgrade to the cart that we had, I didn't realize that this meant the old one was going to be disabled. I should have realized it, but I didn't.

By the time that I did, the Shopping Cart people were gone, and they won't be back until Monday. So I can have the old one back up on Monday, or I can figure out how to use the new one over the weekend.

I was hoping to do that today, but I think I overdid yesterday, so today I mostly slept, and sat around drooling, and things like that. (Well, okay, I didn't actually drool, as it were, but I did have trouble tracking conversations, and wasn't able to figure out anything at all, although I did try.)

Since I'm not going to be fulfilling orders for a couple of weeks anyway, I decided there wasn't a huge rush, and I'm just letting it slide for the rest of today, and maybe tomorrow, depending on how much time I spend sitting around coughing.

But if you go there, and you see a notice that says we don't have a shopping cart, that's why. When all is said and done, it should be lots better. But until then, it's ... umm ... gone.