Real Life Build Concepts in SL

Real Life Build Concepts in SL
Old South Church ~ Boston Ma. USA

Welcome To Prim Pushers

The Information Exchange Blog for Builders and Artist who Build Architecture in the Metraverse

Thursday, September 2, 2010

UWA ~ A retrospective look back at it all

Hello All:

Well as many of you know I am involved in the UWA Design & Flagship Challenge, a yearlong monthly contest that will finish up here in early October with the final winners chosen from the monthly picks. So why it's still fresh in my mind and an ongoing project I am going to do a restrospective look back of this truly wonderful event.
First, Am I glad it's over well truthfully yes, I am it's been one long haul with many ups and downs. As any artist can tell you place a large portion of time, effort, and yourself into any project and then have it be judged by others who not all are familiar with the SL world or the application of the project you are attempting to do and there will always be mixed opinions that may not always coincide with your own.
But on the other side of the coin is experience of meeting new individuals, being exposed to different art forms and enjoying the camaraderie of the UWA group itself. Over the year the baseline of the art quality of the group as a whole was raised to a much higher level. The amount of artist participating was a true surprise, to see month in and month out well over 70 art projects being shown was a great nod to the arts in SL itself and the creative individuals behind them.
On the Flagship side it was nice to see some finally grasp the true nature of the contest and build to the requirements of the contest. To those who entered to be seen or show off their (store, club, cool build) I hope you try better the next time, I was a letdown to see these types of builds in a contest specifically designed to represent a real life project.
Over all the contest was run in very professional manner, when it was broke IM JJ and cry and it got fixed, poor JJ the effort, time and headaches as the chief janitor will never truly be paid back to this man. But to be the individual who oversees the largest In-World virtual art and design competition in the world is sort of a cool thing that I truly believe was the last thing on his mind those many, many months ago when he said let’s do a few of the buildings from the campus in world.
WITH UWA's ability to add different forms of art into the mix as the months went by may be the additional reason it had such great appeal to so many individuals, even those who where none artist but just patrons and friends of the artist, who truly enjoyed the monthly viewing. To those who sent out reminders to all about the People’s Choice Award? Why honestly let your art stand on its own, not on the marketing of yourself to others.
Finally, a plea to all to take the time and go visit the Flagships Builds that are up across the SL grid at a dozen separate Sims. This is a very generous offer by all who have given space (loss of prims, cost of hosting, possible loss of income). Having had a few builds in the contest and winning a few times it always amazed me how many individuals would say wow your build is so cool, I never saw it before, when I was at the winner’s monthly party. So take the time and you will need it to see all of them and enjoy the Flagship portion of this contest for what it is a celebration of design art and creation on a large scale.

So to UWA and all involved it’s been fun, draining, and always interesting, oh Hey JJ I have a sign that’s blocking my build can you get that moved, here’s the LM and besides that there's a .....

Good Building

Nyx

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Finally

Sorry for the absence from the blog it seems there was a delay in responding to my request to fix an error Blogger/Google was having with allowing me access. Glad to be back.

Nyx

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Texturing Part I ~ The "Lost Notes"

As promised I have been trying to track down the lost Chat log from the Burniversity Seminar on Textures held July 3rd. I was able to track down the logs for the portion I had done, but sadly the notes I had placed in chat for Infiniview and Vryl where lost. This is why I recommend to all seminar presenters to please make notes and copy and paste into chat along with voicing. The issues are crashing and not everyone can hear voice all of the time. This happen with Starship he was unable to get voice to work for him, but he had prepared notes and we have his wonderful presentation to share with every one because of it.

Well here are the chat notes from the portion of the seminar I did.......

I will state I am not a texture master by any stretch of the imagination. But, I do know how to properly apply textures correctly to a prim and making multiple prims objects look right with textures covering them appropriately. I do believe that all builders and artist should know the fundamentals of how to create a texture that may be needed to fit a unique situation as they arise during building. I have created a set of textures I call the Texture Tool Box I use to help fill in sections and create on the fly created textures from existing standard work textures.

I have a few give away with these textures, they are a set of black and white, so you can color and tint them accordingly. There are a lot of different designs and looks on them allowing you to take one and apply it and stretch it to fit the look you are trying to achieve. I created this set to help me when I needed a texture that had to fit in to a build i was working on. I have used them to make many different effects.

The best place to start is to procure a texture creating program that’s affordable and workable for you. I don’t recommend going out and spending hundreds of dollars on the latest Photoshop program if you have never made a texture before. Look on the net find free upload programs, such as GIMP or sample Photoshop or other similar programs. Try the sample ones make sure before you spend dollars you can work the program and you enjoy doing it. They can be found by doing a search for them on the net.

Next spend some time learning how they work, look at the tutorials, search the net again for lessons that are out there just look, then study and try them to make sure this is something your capable of doing. If after trying all this and you discover its not for you, then your not out the dollars you may have spent on a program.

So you have got a program learned the basics and are ready to make a few simple textures. Remember if your going to sell any thing you make with these textures you do want to make sure they are not someone else’s property. So don’t go to Google or Yahoo and start copying every cool picture or texture you see they could be and are most likely copy rights associated with them.


A sense of balance is needed when creating a texture or when texturing a build. To make a clean, balanced even texture you have to make sure the texture is centered vertically and horizontally. Use the texture program to make sure the texture is lined up correctly or if you are tiling it make sure it is looks good before you upload it to SL. The emerald viewer is great for uploading a sample texture (no $10L charge) to see if it looks right. With a sense of balance you also have to consider the edges of a texture and how they look, are they outlined is the edge dark, light, or uneven check to make sure it looks right.
If after all you have done the best you can and uploaded the texture into SL and its off a little you can always tweak the texture with a small stretch to correct the error. But in the long run you will always have to stretch that texture to make it look right. So, take your time the first time is the best in the long run.

Continuity of a texture grouping is important when making textures to be used in a build. The easiest way to do this is to have a central theme that flows through all the textures in a particular set you create. This can be done in several simple ways, color, design, secondary sections or contrast parts of the texture. This helps to give the overall look of the build a uniform feel and reduces the cluttered look that some times occurs with textures that are to similar or over used when building.
Also in continuity you want to remember that applying the same texture over a large section or a repetitive section of a build (stairs) that you do want to change the application settings so it does not look like the same texture over and over in a highly repetitive pattern. By applying a contrast to the texture settings you will achieve a more realistic look to the build.

Contrast and color tinting is a trick I use allot when making textures and tinting and shading textures I have purchased. If all the textures on the build look the same and only the SL light settings add any light character to it you are not separating your build from all of the other run of the mill builds you see in SL.
When you add contrast into the textures, your build will instantly become more attractive. Contrast and tinting can be applied to textures in several ways, when creating them or with using the UI color under cursor section of the SL viewer to color tint and match the textures. A tip to remember is that when using the UI on an existing texture it will most likely be a darker shade than the one you are matching it to so you will most likely have to lighten in a shade to make it match properly. I also take and make some sections off by a small numerical setting if the color is 120 I may make the next prim 122 and the one on the opposite 119 it gives a small variation and give the build a more realistic feel overall.

While this blog deals with creating textures, all of the tips can also address when working with existing textures. So don’t be afraid to tweak, tint , shade and color textures you have. One thing I love to do is use a texture that is not related in anyway in the world to the place I used it in the build. Wall, floor, or even metals or what ever become glass or some other type of texture. This can be achieved by using the transparency or different settings in the Edit section of the Viewer. Explore push the edges create a few that look and work good for you then save them and stick them in your Texture Tool Box.


Good Building & Texturing

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Burniversity Texture Seminar I & II

Over the last two week period Burniversity has had a wonderful series of seminars dealing with the creations of Texture's. The first week we had talks on the topics of Basic texture creation and application my myself (Nyx Breen) and specific discussion on Maps and meshes by Infinview Merit and Vryl Valkyrie discussed the basics of texturing and the steps in making seamless and tilable textures. It was a well attended seminar and alot of great information and feebees where available. At the end of the blog I wil past the links to sites that where mentioned. Sadly I crashed and lost the chat logs of the seminar but I am working on getting a copy of them.

The second portion of the texture seminar had myself and Raphaella Nighfire and Starship jefferson as guest speakers the topics discussed ranged from textures and lighting to textures for clothes and Starship them was the 10 things I wish I knew when I first started making textures. The good news is we do have the chat logs condensed of this seminar. I will post them in the blog.

I want to tahnk all of the artist for their time and gifts thay gave, Infinivie and Vryl where most kind with info and freebees, Raphaella and Starship where just as kind and giving in time effort and gifts for all who attended the Burniversity learning seminars.

As for my self it was a truly enjoyable time to work with such talented individuals and share the experiences we have in SL. All of these individuals are in world creators and earn an income from Sl, yet not one asked for or expected a thing in return. Each and every one believed i tto be a special honor to share what they love with all in Sl as I do with the time I spend at Burn U and on the blog here.

Thanks to all and hers the chat we do have from the second texture seminar at Burn U.

Nyx Breen topic textures and lighting and settings:

Hello and welcome to Burniversity and the continuation of the Texture Seminar.

After the strong response and recommendations for more on texturing we are continuing with texturing part II.

This week we will be addressing a few new subjects that are part of the texture creation world.

How to light prims after they are textured, Low lag textures, textures for clothing and 10 things you need to know about texturing.

We have some great texture artist with us this week, Raphaella Nightfire a great clothing creator who has done some wickedly wonderful things with textures for clothes and Starship Jefferson who has made one of my personally favorite sets of textures and is a master of Photoshop and the magic than can be done with it.

As I stated last week I am not a texture master but I do know a few basic rules to follow when creating and using textures in-world.

As you many of you may know I am in the UWA art and Design Challenge contest and one of my favorite builds in the UWA flagship Challenge was the design I made in January of this year. Besides the winning design the part I enjoyed the most was the use of lights and lighting/shadow effects throughout the build. From outside lighting of the build to shadows and sunbeams streaming through the upper floor windows. The build had a very real life light scheme to it and was a lot of fun to do and see especially at the midnight setting when you walked from one part of it to another.

The use of lights and lighting/shadow effects can take a build to an other level of complexity. Using the settings in the build/edit box in SL allows for many different effects. As with all things less is more with lighting effects.

There is nothing worse than a build that is over exposed with lights or even worse GLOW set to a maximum brightness effect. It looks like crap plain and simple to any one who has a good graphics card and their shaders turned on.

GLOW IS NOT GOOD set to max bright, please all glow whores read this and understand we do talk about how bad your art and builds looked with the over kill of glow on them!

In the edit/build menu the "features" tab allows you to set the effects for light on prims, You can control the intensity, radius and fall off along with the color you want the prim to be.

The intensity will control how bright it will be when you come close to the prim.

radius is how far the light will spread out and be seen.

fall off is how the light that is cast from the prim dissipates as it gets farther from the prim center.

Finally the light can have a different color than the color of the prim itself. This does allow for some great effects.

To properly see these effect you need to make sure that you Graphics settings are set to Nearby Local Lights. It also helps to have on the shaders and bump, mapping, shiny settings also. Depending on your computer and its graphics card ability will determine how High you set your quality and performance settings.
In summation this will allow you to have a multitude of light effects from color to distance and brightness a light can be seen in world.

Theres one other setting on the edit tabs

One of the best ways to get a good feel of how lights are working in a build is to walk through it and see how they look as you pass by them. I have always been an advocate of walking the build and getting a feel for how it flows over just camming it.

So take your time and make sure it feels and looks right and remember less is more when using lights in your build.


Also there was a discussion on graphic card settings in the SL viewer if you go to the Burn U LM - grab one from the notice board at the Burniversity group you will find prims with the textures settings on them.

Next came Raphaella...

Texture Seminar guest speaker Raphaella Nightfire discussing the creation of textures for clothing. As Raphella had 35 or so avatars all topless and in appearance mode we join the conversation. :)

1) What are templates?
Templates are an outline; a shape of a clothing article which the designer draws onto the avatar mesh provided in your inventory library under 'textures' then Avatar Body and Clothing Templates:

2) How to Use templates:
Locate the Avatar, Body & Clothing Templates...
Go into appearance mode, select - shirt. remove whatever you have on, then click to make new shirt - you will see a top box.. for the texture - under that a 'tint' box

In appearance edit mode, make a new shirt by selecting 'Upper Body Template'. This shows how the templates are made, with seam lines and contour lines on the actual avatar body.

I recommend you photograph your avatar in this template. It will be an invaluable reference on stretch and seams as you progress to designing clothing.

3) SAVE the templates on your hard drive. Next pull up the skirt, lower body and upper body templates click on each texture, then go to top left of your screen, click 'file' then 'save texture as' ....(name it something you will recognize and what part it is).

The textures are now available for you to start designing.

I WOULD SUGGEST.. You do a You Tube search / Second Life Clothing Designs there are lots of great tutorials and videos to watch and learn from.

4) How to get depth and 3d effects on clothing
Using the templates you can of course just lay a fabric over the template, shape using your cut tool, save that layer as eg: first shirt, upload in world and wear. But clothing is not 'flat'. It has depth and light, shade and wrinkles. These are respectively applied in layers.


You can do this by:
Applying a body shade layer over the fabric, then decrease the opacity level. Once you have the layer to the shading set, copy the fabric layer and place over the shading then use the opacity filters to get the effect you want. (applying various blending modes helps also and increases the options available to you).

So now cut the fabric to shape on the template, apply the shaders so you have the body shape under it. Next apply wrinkling or shadow layers. There are a couple of ways to applying a wrinkle or shadow layer by using the burn or dodge tool then blur it or make it opaque to the effect you want.

Or get out the premade Photo Shop brushes, you can find these by doing a Google search, there are some very good free Photo Shop brushes to be found. These apply an Alpha layer that you lay over your designs. There are some great ones for rips and tears … for grunge & jeans available.

FINDING TEMPLATES IN WORLD:

A search of 'clothing templates' in world search or on X street will offer a wide range of different selections - and price range.
Some template artists offer complete designs in layers in photo shop format. In this form, when you purchase the template in world you receive a box which contains templates for use in world, but may also offer the option to download the full layers in a photo shop format to your hard drive. In this instance, the box will contain a note card providing a download page URL and password so that the templates are delivered directly to your hard drive.

: DO NOT GO THROUGH THE SL BROWSER
go to the url; via your pc, other template artists offer the template OUTLINE, that is, the shape of the article. Many new clothing designers find these very useful as the template generally fits the avatar body neatly while allowing the new designer to add their own layers, fabric and trims to make an original article of clothing.

For the beginning designer, I recommend joining two groups which often have templates offered as gifts or on MM Boards:
Lucky Chairs for Builders
Midnight Mania for Creators
These groups also at times have offers of sculpt maps for accessories such as shoes, scarves, cuffs, pants bottoms etc.

[9:54] Nyx Breen: wonderful information Raphaella excellent we are running long so I am going to ask if there are any questions for you :)
[9:55] Nyx Breen: wonderful job thank you

At this time Starship Jefferson was the next speaker

Hello and firstly I would like to thank Nyx for inviting me, and say what an honour it is to be here. My talk is called ‘Ten Things I Wish I’d Known about Textures and their Construction when I Started Making them Three Years Ago’. Not all the ten things are techniques; some are ways of looking at things. They all took me a while to work out on my own (sometimes a very long while lol). Hopefully then, listening to my waffle will save you time when you make your own textures. I’m not an expert by any means, and there are many textures in Second Life that make me go very green eyed with jealousy. I will be very happy to take peoples’ questions at the end, or please feel free to contact me afterwards if there is anything I can help you with. Apologies if any of this is underneath your levels of proficiency, or maybe goes over your heads – it’s hard to know exactly what texturing ability to pitch this talk to. If I use technical jargon that you don’t understand then ask me at the end, or Google it at a later date.

1. The end justifies the means

What is a texture? A texture is the means by which colour, detail, and surface texture are added to a prim, or an assortment of prims. So how is this achieved? By inconveniencing electrons in order to change pixel attributes. This might sound like the most unhelpful sentence, but it is worth considering textures in these terms for a moment. A texture, like any other digital image, is composed of a grid of tiny squares called pixels. Through the use of a graphics program we are able to change each pixel’s attributes (hue, saturation and brightness) according to our whim.
When I began making textures I was always looking for the ‘right’ technique, the ‘best’ graphics program, and the ‘correct’ way to make brickwork, or glass for example. But it doesn’t matter how a texture is made, because no one is ever going to know exactly what process or program you used. There are no rules. There are many different ways to achieve the same effect. No one process is better than any other; it all depends what suits you best at the time. If you prefer Gimp then don’t listen to all the Photoshop lovers telling you that your program is second rate. All that matters is the end result. The end justifies the means.

2. There are two types of texture

All of the textures in Second Life IMHO can be divided into two groups; materials and 3D textures. Materials covers the entire range of surface textures that we encounter in real life, such as wood or rabbit fur, and some that we don’t, like dragon skin or alien flesh.
There are three ways to create textures of materials:

1. Make them from scratch

This is most commonly done by applying filters to random shapes. The internet abounds with tutorials on this subject, though some of them may not seem relevant at first. For example, there are a lot of tutorials that tell you how to achieve text effects like slime or flame, and these can be adapted for your use.

2. Adapt photographs

It is very satisfying to make textures in this way. Avoid taking photographs of surfaces that are in direct sunlight as they will have shadows and highlights which you don’t want as they will be directional. Portions of photographs can also be used.

3. Generate them with an image rendering program

Examples include the splendid Wood Workshop, which is completely free, and Filter Forge, which you can get on a month’s free trial. Textures made in this fashion often look a bit dull, so open them up in a graphics program and have a little play with the brightness/contrast, the levels, and the colour balance. Basically these programs have a range of presets and will generate a texture for you according to a limited range of controls. Their one big advantage is the time that they can save you. The disadvantage is that you’re limited by the whim of the software company.

A key element of materials textures is seamlessness. A 512 x 512 of polished wood that isn’t seamless will have a very limited range of applications when compared to one that can be infinitely tiled without producing an unsightly edge. An important ability to have as a texture creator is to be able to convert a non-seamless image into a seamless one. This is traditionally achieved through the use of the clone brush tool, and there are many tutorials on the internet to show you how. I would recommend watching a video tutorial, because it is one of those things that sounds very daunting and is hard to explain in words, but in actuality is quite simple once you get the hang of it.

3D textures are more complex than materials textures, and typically contain arrangements of materials. 3D textures are popular because they save builders prims.
There are two main ways of making 3D textures – by using photographs and from scratch. Photographs of building facades, for example, can be cleaned up and adjusted to make 3D textures. But making textures like this then you are obviously limited to what buildings are available. You can cut and paste features from one image to the next, and produce 3D textures that are composites of different photographs. Blending options will have to be used to complete the illusion. There are some outstandingly beautiful textures in SL that are made like this.

3D textures that are made from scratch are basically arrangements of materials. For example, a door texture may be composed of two types of wood and some metal on the frame and the handle. This is the way that I make textures. I’ve always thought it is a bit like dressmaking. Basically I make shapes of uniform colours, change the uniform colours into materials, and then apply blending options. Shapes can be made using the shape tools, the pen tools or the polygonal lasso. It is very important that you use good materials, in the same way that a top chef requires the best of ingredients. Either cut the material using the shape as a template, or fill the shape with the material. By using the blending options then shapes can be turned into forms. Once all the elements of the texture are completed then I finish the texture by adding clouds and noise, and usually by sharpening it very slightly, either by using the sharpen filter, or better still with the high pass.

3. Experiment! Experiment! Experiment!

This is so obvious I nearly didn’t include it. I never experimented enough to begin with because I always thought that my time was better spent ‘learning skills’. Graphics programs invariably have a feature called the ‘history’ which enables you to change your mind and revert your image back to a previous state. This means you couldn’t spoil it if you wanted. Note though, that the history’s use is limited – let’s say you applied effect A and then effect B to a texture. You might then decide that you really like effect B, but regret applying A. You would have to use the history to revert the image to a state before you applied both A and B, and apply just B again. You cannot just cancel A and carry on.

4. You can never do enough tutorials

Tutorials are like recipes. Once you’ve followed a few then you develop the ability to skim through them while noting what general principles are being used, rather than having to make each and every type of apple pie. You can never do enough tutorials. They will teach you many tips and tricks. Do tutorials that have nothing to do with textures and you will learn processes that you can then use on your textures. There are good and bad tutorials, but you can learn something from every one of them. Many tutorials employ a very destructive type of editing, in which layers are worked on and then flattened into one other. This is because the tutorial writers are very confident in their own abilities and trust themselves not to keep changing their minds about things. It is often therefore helpful for mere mortals to make duplicates of layers and hide them so that you always have undamaged versions of all the picture elements. You don’t have to stick to everything the tutorial writer says – when they say to apply certain settings to a filter, for example, then have a little play around and see what other effects that filter can produce.

5. Light and shadow will always be problematic

Textures in Second Life are actually very simple when compared with textures in computer games. Second Life has very limited light and shade capabilities. Fiddle about with the ‘sun’ setting on your viewer and observe how SL changes how it displays textures according to the time of day. You will see that it is very arbitrary and limited. Apart from this, SL has no means by which textures change according to which light sources are nearby. This has been achieved in computer games since about 1998 by using a composite of textures, or ‘maps’.

This provides both difficulties and opportunity for the texture maker in SL. When you don’t know where the nearest light source will be then where do you put your highlights and shadows? For a while I went with the vast proportion of SL texture makers and used the graphics industry standard of 120 degrees, but the problem with this is that it has quite dramatic effects – it’s like the sun in the evening when shadows are longer than during the day, and it can look really cool but problems arise when, for example, you build a house, and use textures like these on the walls. Because they all have the same dramatic directional light effect on them then they will look very wrong if you place light sources near to them. If you put a roaring log fire in the middle of the room then things won’t look right because the walls will all look like they are responding to a different light source altogether.
These days I always stick to 90 degrees, but adjust the altitude (sometimes called elevation) of the light source to 30 degrees to give the piece some depth. Most light sources in RL come from above anyway, so it’s quite a safe bet.

6. Be organised on every level

I learnt this the hard way. And I still struggle with it. When working on a texture, it is worth spending the time naming and colour coding layers, and organising them into groups. If you are making a door then it is so much easier if all the bits of door knob are in a little group named ‘door knob’ and not spread throughout the mesh of layers that a complex texture will have. 50 layers all called ‘Layer 3 copy copy’ will slow you down eventually, I promise. You may think you can just auto-select whichever one you wish to alter with the cursor, but it’s not always as easy as that.
Spend time arranging your workspace. Most graphics programs will let you load and save them. An awful lot of time can be wasted moving and resizing windows if you’re not careful.
Keeping your folders organised is important too.

7. Learn the basics

It will not be possible to make good textures without knowing at least the basics of a graphics program. Thankfully, they are all very similar and work according to the same principles. Thankfully too, you all have the internet available and this abounds with help pages on every possible tool, filter and option that your graphics program has got so Google anything you don’t understand. Tutorials are an excellent way to learn stuff. Practise and experimentation (as ever) are the key.

8.It’s all in the blending modes and blending options

Most newbie texture makers head for the filters and jazzy effects without realising that by far the most powerful tools at their disposal are the very dull sounding blending modes and blending options. Blending modes are used to determine how two layers look when they are placed one above the other. The simplest blending mode is ‘normal’, which hides the lower layer where it is covered by the upper layer, just as if you were looking down on two objects in Real Life. But there are many other blending modes which can be used to great effect. ‘Multiply’, for example shows only the dark parts of the top layer, whereas ‘Screen’ shows only the light parts. Experimentation is essential. Next time you place one layer on top of another then change the blending mode and see what happens. If you have ever made a layer semi-transparent then you have already been blending.
The blending options (sometimes called ‘layer options’) are really like special effects that you can add to a layer to adjust the way that it looks. They are very useful because you can tweak them at any stage (unlike filters), and they do not damage the image that they are acting upon. [PLEASE SEE IMAGE]
Most newbie texture makers discover the bevel and the shadow functions first. The overuse of both is a common feature to be found in textures around SL. The more textures I make, the less I have actually found myself using these. Nowadays I use gradients a lot more than I did.

9. Clouds and Noise are your friends.

These filters are often overlooked because their functions are not obvious.
They are powerful tools for making otherwise flat and cartoony images look more real and 3D. [PLEASE SEE IMAGE]As you can see, just the simple addition of clouds and noise has really started to give form to the shape. Noise looks like static on a black and white TV screen in its rawest form, and clouds look like umm clouds. They are both almost exclusively used in black and white. They should be used very sparingly. Less is always more. The top two layers of my textures are always clouds and noise, in that order, set to ‘multiply’ blending mode at a very high transparency. Clouds are always seamless, so long as you stick to image sizes that are multiples of 64 pixels. Clouds and noise are your friends

10. Textures are an art form

Texture making, like any art form, does not exist in a vacuum. Related disciplines, such as the practise of ‘faux finishing’, or replicating materials such as marble and wood with paint, have been going on for millennia. Even though you may think that making textures is some 21st century thing, then you are actually working in the grandest art tradition of all – that of tricking the eye into accepting a 2D surface as a 3D one. Realising this makes you appreciate that you can draw inspiration from a huge range of art. Scenery design, and the practise of ‘trompe l’oeil’ are not really so very different to making textures. The sets of old TV sci-fi shows were like textures because they were hand painted to look like arrangements of materials – panels and screens, buttons and dashboards for example.
You can draw inspiration from everywhere. When I started I spent far too long looking at other peoples’ textures when it would have been more helpful to have gone for a very long walk with my eyes open. You will find that inspiration sometimes comes from unlikely sources. I hope that at least some of this has made (some) sense to you. I haven't provided any links, but nothing is beyond a simple Google search. Wood Workshop, for example, is at Woodworkshop.com. Filter Forge can be found at umm Filterforge.com I'm reluctant to provide links to tutorials - there's so many you really can't miss them. I can't think of any in particular that have helped me more than any other - and I am reluctant to name them too for the reason that I would be endorsing them as the 'right' or 'best' way. Gimp is free, as is a month's free trial of Photoshop. Photoshop is best, but Gimp can do everything that all but the most advanced texture maker will need IMHO.

Thanks very much for listening.

􀀁

􀀂Hello and firstly I would like to thank Nyx for inviting me, and say what an honour it is to be here. My talk is called ‘Ten Things I Wish I’d Known about Textures and their Construction when I Started Making them Three Years Ago’. Not all the ten things are techniques; some are ways of looking at things. They all took me a while to work out on my own (sometimes a very long while lol). Hopefully then, listening to my waffle will save you time when you make your own textures. I’m not an expert by any means, and there are many textures in Second Life that make me go very green eyed with jealousy. I will be very happy to take peoples’ questions at the end, or please feel free to contact me afterwards if there is anything I can help you with. Apologies if any of this is underneath your levels of proficiency, or maybe goes over your heads – it’s hard to know exactly what texturing ability to pitch this talk to. If I use technical jargon that you don’t understand then ask me at the end, or Google it at a later date.

1. The end justifies the means

What is a texture? A texture is the means by which colour, detail, and surface texture are added to a prim, or an assortment of prims. So how is this achieved? By inconveniencing electrons in order to change pixel attributes. This might sound like the most unhelpful sentence, but it is worth considering textures in these terms for a moment. A texture, like any other digital image, is composed of a grid of tiny squares called pixels. Through the use of a graphics program we are able to change each pixel’s attributes (hue, saturation and brightness) according to our whim.
When I began making textures I was always looking for the ‘right’ technique, the ‘best’ graphics program, and the ‘correct’ way to make brickwork, or glass for example. But it doesn’t matter how a texture is made, because no one is ever going to know exactly what process or program you used. There are no rules. There are many different ways to achieve the same effect. No one process is better than any other; it all depends what suits you best at the time. If you prefer Gimp then don’t listen to all the Photoshop lovers telling you that your program is second rate. All that matters is the end result. The end justifies the means.

2. There are two types of texture

All of the textures in Second Life IMHO can be divided into two groups; materials and 3D textures. Materials covers the entire range of surface textures that we encounter in real life, such as wood or rabbit fur, and some that we don’t, like dragon skin or alien flesh.
There are three ways to create textures of materials:

1. Make them from scratch

This is most commonly done by applying filters to random shapes. The internet abounds with tutorials on this subject, though some of them may not seem relevant at first. For example, there are a lot of tutorials that tell you how to achieve text effects like slime or flame, and these can be adapted for your use.

2. Adapt photographs

It is very satisfying to make textures in this way. Avoid taking photographs of surfaces that are in direct sunlight as they will have shadows and highlights which you don’t want as they will be directional. Portions of photographs can also be used.

3. Generate them with an image rendering program

Examples include the splendid Wood Workshop, which is completely free, and Filter Forge, which you can get on a month’s free trial. Textures made in this fashion often look a bit dull, so open them up in a graphics program and have a little play with the brightness/contrast, the levels, and the colour balance. Basically these programs have a range of presets and will generate a texture for you according to a limited range of controls. Their one big advantage is the time that they can save you. The disadvantage is that you’re limited by the whim of the software company.

A key element of materials textures is seamlessness. A 512 x 512 of polished wood that isn’t seamless will have a very limited range of applications when compared to one that can be infinitely tiled without producing an unsightly edge. An important ability to have as a texture creator is to be able to convert a non-seamless image into a seamless one. This is traditionally achieved through the use of the clone brush tool, and there are many tutorials on the internet to show you how. I would recommend watching a video tutorial, because it is one of those things that sounds very daunting and is hard to explain in words, but in actuality is quite simple once you get the hang of it.

3D textures are more complex than materials textures, and typically contain arrangements of materials. 3D textures are popular because they save builders prims.
There are two main ways of making 3D textures – by using photographs and from scratch. Photographs of building facades, for example, can be cleaned up and adjusted to make 3D textures. But making textures like this then you are obviously limited to what buildings are available. You can cut and paste features from one image to the next, and produce 3D textures that are composites of different photographs. Blending options will have to be used to complete the illusion. There are some outstandingly beautiful textures in SL that are made like this.

3D textures that are made from scratch are basically arrangements of materials. For example, a door texture may be composed of two types of wood and some metal on the frame and the handle. This is the way that I make textures. I’ve always thought it is a bit like dressmaking. Basically I make shapes of uniform colours, change the uniform colours into materials, and then apply blending options. Shapes can be made using the shape tools, the pen tools or the polygonal lasso. It is very important that you use good materials, in the same way that a top chef requires the best of ingredients. Either cut the material using the shape as a template, or fill the shape with the material. By using the blending options then shapes can be turned into forms. Once all the elements of the texture are completed then I finish the texture by adding clouds and noise, and usually by sharpening it very slightly, either by using the sharpen filter, or better still with the high pass.

3. Experiment! Experiment! Experiment!

This is so obvious I nearly didn’t include it. I never experimented enough to begin with because I always thought that my time was better spent ‘learning skills’. Graphics programs invariably have a feature called the ‘history’ which enables you to change your mind and revert your image back to a previous state. This means you couldn’t spoil it if you wanted. Note though, that the history’s use is limited – let’s say you applied effect A and then effect B to a texture. You might then decide that you really like effect B, but regret applying A. You would have to use the history to revert the image to a state before you applied both A and B, and apply just B again. You cannot just cancel A and carry on.

4. You can never do enough tutorials

Tutorials are like recipes. Once you’ve followed a few then you develop the ability to skim through them while noting what general principles are being used, rather than having to make each and every type of apple pie. You can never do enough tutorials. They will teach you many tips and tricks. Do tutorials that have nothing to do with textures and you will learn processes that you can then use on your textures. There are good and bad tutorials, but you can learn something from every one of them. Many tutorials employ a very destructive type of editing, in which layers are worked on and then flattened into one other. This is because the tutorial writers are very confident in their own abilities and trust themselves not to keep changing their minds about things. It is often therefore helpful for mere mortals to make duplicates of layers and hide them so that you always have undamaged versions of all the picture elements. You don’t have to stick to everything the tutorial writer says – when they say to apply certain settings to a filter, for example, then have a little play around and see what other effects that filter can produce.

5. Light and shadow will always be problematic

Textures in Second Life are actually very simple when compared with textures in computer games. Second Life has very limited light and shade capabilities. Fiddle about with the ‘sun’ setting on your viewer and observe how SL changes how it displays textures according to the time of day. You will see that it is very arbitrary and limited. Apart from this, SL has no means by which textures change according to which light sources are nearby. This has been achieved in computer games since about 1998 by using a composite of textures, or ‘maps’.

This provides both difficulties and opportunity for the texture maker in SL. When you don’t know where the nearest light source will be then where do you put your highlights and shadows? For a while I went with the vast proportion of SL texture makers and used the graphics industry standard of 120 degrees, but the problem with this is that it has quite dramatic effects – it’s like the sun in the evening when shadows are longer than during the day, and it can look really cool but problems arise when, for example, you build a house, and use textures like these on the walls. Because they all have the same dramatic directional light effect on them then they will look very wrong if you place light sources near to them. If you put a roaring log fire in the middle of the room then things won’t look right because the walls will all look like they are responding to a different light source altogether.
These days I always stick to 90 degrees, but adjust the altitude (sometimes called elevation) of the light source to 30 degrees to give the piece some depth. Most light sources in RL come from above anyway, so it’s quite a safe bet.

6. Be organised on every level

I learnt this the hard way. And I still struggle with it. When working on a texture, it is worth spending the time naming and colour coding layers, and organising them into groups. If you are making a door then it is so much easier if all the bits of door knob are in a little group named ‘door knob’ and not spread throughout the mesh of layers that a complex texture will have. 50 layers all called ‘Layer 3 copy copy’ will slow you down eventually, I promise. You may think you can just auto-select whichever one you wish to alter with the cursor, but it’s not always as easy as that.
Spend time arranging your workspace. Most graphics programs will let you load and save them. An awful lot of time can be wasted moving and resizing windows if you’re not careful.
Keeping your folders organised is important too.

7. Learn the basics

It will not be possible to make good textures without knowing at least the basics of a graphics program. Thankfully, they are all very similar and work according to the same principles. Thankfully too, you all have the internet available and this abounds with help pages on every possible tool, filter and option that your graphics program has got so Google anything you don’t understand. Tutorials are an excellent way to learn stuff. Practise and experimentation (as ever) are the key.

8.It’s all in the blending modes and blending options

Most newbie texture makers head for the filters and jazzy effects without realising that by far the most powerful tools at their disposal are the very dull sounding blending modes and blending options. Blending modes are used to determine how two layers look when they are placed one above the other. The simplest blending mode is ‘normal’, which hides the lower layer where it is covered by the upper layer, just as if you were looking down on two objects in Real Life. But there are many other blending modes which can be used to great effect. ‘Multiply’, for example shows only the dark parts of the top layer, whereas ‘Screen’ shows only the light parts. Experimentation is essential. Next time you place one layer on top of another then change the blending mode and see what happens. If you have ever made a layer semi-transparent then you have already been blending.
The blending options (sometimes called ‘layer options’) are really like special effects that you can add to a layer to adjust the way that it looks. They are very useful because you can tweak them at any stage (unlike filters), and they do not damage the image that they are acting upon. [PLEASE SEE IMAGE]
Most newbie texture makers discover the bevel and the shadow functions first. The overuse of both is a common feature to be found in textures around SL. The more textures I make, the less I have actually found myself using these. Nowadays I use gradients a lot more than I did.

9. Clouds and Noise are your friends.

These filters are often overlooked because their functions are not obvious.
They are powerful tools for making otherwise flat and cartoony images look more real and 3D. [PLEASE SEE IMAGE]As you can see, just the simple addition of clouds and noise has really started to give form to the shape. Noise looks like static on a black and white TV screen in its rawest form, and clouds look like umm clouds. They are both almost exclusively used in black and white. They should be used very sparingly. Less is always more. The top two layers of my textures are always clouds and noise, in that order, set to ‘multiply’ blending mode at a very high transparency. Clouds are always seamless, so long as you stick to image sizes that are multiples of 64 pixels. Clouds and noise are your friends

10. Textures are an art form

Texture making, like any art form, does not exist in a vacuum. Related disciplines, such as the practise of ‘faux finishing’, or replicating materials such as marble and wood with paint, have been going on for millennia. Even though you may think that making textures is some 21st century thing, then you are actually working in the grandest art tradition of all – that of tricking the eye into accepting a 2D surface as a 3D one. Realising this makes you appreciate that you can draw inspiration from a huge range of art. Scenery design, and the practise of ‘trompe l’oeil’ are not really so very different to making textures. The sets of old TV sci-fi shows were like textures because they were hand painted to look like arrangements of materials – panels and screens, buttons and dashboards for example.
You can draw inspiration from everywhere. When I started I spent far too long looking at other peoples’ textures when it would have been more helpful to have gone for a very long walk with my eyes open. You will find that inspiration sometimes comes from unlikely sources. I hope that at least some of this has made (some) sense to you. I haven't provided any links, but nothing is beyond a simple Google search. Wood Workshop, for example, is at Woodworkshop.com. Filter Forge can be found at umm Filterforge.com I'm reluctant to provide links to tutorials - there's so many you really can't miss them. I can't think of any in particular that have helped me more than any other - and I am reluctant to name them too for the reason that I would be endorsing them as the 'right' or 'best' way. Gimp is free, as is a month's free trial of Photoshop. Photoshop is best, but Gimp can do everything that all but the most advanced texture maker will need IMHO.

Thanks very much for listening.

Once again thank you all for coming and the artist for their collective time and expertise.

Good Building and Texturing

Nyx

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When Too Good Is To Good

Sometimes it's a matter of degrees, sometimes it a matter of taste and some times its just not explainable how art can be looked at by one individuals and seen so different by another. Some believe it's in the eye of the beholder or some times it's in the eye of whats best for what serves the purpose of an individual or a group.
So as an artist you just have to learn to deal with the motivations and pressures that come into play when individuals place your art up in front of their so called collective judging eye. Just remember that too good or too different or too not the same is not too bad.

So keep building and believe in your self and not in the collective so called wisdom of the so called critiques and it all works out in the end.

Good Building

Nyx

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Burniversity Announcement

Burniversity Second Life - May 30th,2010

Well as many of you know I do enjoy participating in the world of creating and especially building be it an architectural or artistic format. So it is with great pleasure that I would like to announce that I have been asked and have accepted the position of Dean of Burniversity (I think of it more as the janitor).

My predecessor White Lebed is expanding her virtual world to new and exciting opportunities. But, White will still be assisting me as I transition into the position, so yes we will still have to genuflect as she passes by. I would like to thank all the members of the board who showed a vote of confidence at the meeting and I look forward to assisting and help the Burn world grow and become one of the premier locations and events (which there are many) in Second Life.

As I told the board when I was asked what I saw Burniversity and its relationship with the Second Life community.

Burniversity is the ongoing connection to the Second Life community during the course of the year when the main events are not under way. I see it as the outreach portion of the Burning Life experience where any individual can learn, participate and experience the creative and entertaining portion of Burning Life in a supportive, constructive learning and competency developing environment. Where experienced individuals from all faucets of the Burning Life world mentor, share and enrich all who participate.

I want to state that experience is solely based on the performance that an individual has demonstrated, it is not based on accumulated time or who knows who or what group they belong to.

As for my individual experience I had very limited in world or building skills before I rezzed into Second Life. Yet there was a natural affinity for the competencies required and I was able to transition into this process quickly. So I believe that any one can learn and grow in this medium. So that stated the Mission of Burniversity is too built upon what has been done and expanded it so that it will encompass all aspects of the Burning Life experience. So I will be asking each of you no matter what skill sets or experience levels you have attained to date to participate and share some of the experiences, challenges and expertise you have in your own fields during the course of the upcoming year.

One of the first courses of action I will be undertaking is to look at ways to increase an interactive relationship with Burniversity and the members of the group. There will be an “Idea Box” placed on the Burn U lands in a new Information Center that will be developed for up and coming events and procuring of knowledge, tools and information. I am asking anyone who has an idea or concept to please drop it in the box; it will be looked at and considered.

Second, I will be updating all the Burniversity Wiki info this will become a repository for knowledge and skill sets that will increase an individual’s experience in Second Life.

Finally, for now, I will be continuing the Artist and Builder forums that White had started on a monthly basis so if anyone has an interest in being a presenter please forward a note card on the topic and format you would like to present to the group. The more information included in the card explaining it will be helpful.

Again I look forward to the upcoming events SLB 7 – Burning Man and the many upcoming Burn World interactions in the future. Along with the time we will spend as a group at Burniversity.

As always good building and have a good time in your Second Life.

Nyx Breen
Burniversity

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Things that make you go Hmmm

As with all things in life there are the things we take for granted and there are things that make you go Hmmm. This often happens in Second Life to an extent that it may be a little more common than real life. When I first rezzed into SL and began to explore and see this truly strange, amazing, bland and boring world it slowly dawned on me that things that are common are usually taken as the norm, be it RL or SL. It gets to the point where individuals accept them as the standard. Then there seems to be a comparison based on this baseline that has been set by the collective. So the middle of the road, the common, the, it’s ok it will pass is the standard from which all things are based on in a virtual world. This seems perplexing to me, a place where flights of fancy and creativity can be let loose and nurtured to the tenth degree. Yet individuals want the common more than not, when it comes to many things that are created in virtual worlds.
My indoctrination into SL was I'm sure no different than anyone else's, I rezzed in world, was asked if I wanted to be bitten and made a vampire. Then I flew to the zyngo/gambling clubs then off to a stripper bar while visiting all the welcome places to hear 20 year olds insult everyone and think they are cool as spammers plastered the screen with visual spam. All seemed normal for a video game to me.
But slowly and surely I did discover there were other places in SL, lots of other places that had been created by individuals who saw this so called video game as something different. Not an extension of RL as a copy of the norm, the expected, the same old, same old. But, individuals who had a vision that was different. You can tell when someone has a passion for a vision and they work at it, it may not be the most technically correct build, it may have a flaw here and there, but there is a feeling that one gets when you experience it. A shared experience that this is something special, it’s different, it was from someone who took the time to find what was in them and share it with others.
To those individuals the ones who take the time to make it right, go out on the limb, out of the box and make your eyes open and your mind expand when you share their vision, I salute you. This is not limited to just a builder of buildings, the art of artist or a creator of textures or pictures. Be it a scripter or animator, the noob who’s done their first build or a gifted creator of machinima it is recognized and appreciated when it is seen. Hopefully as more and more individuals learn and master and expand their abilities in virtual world creations. We can collectively raise the bar and the norm from the real world will not be accepted as the baseline for a virtual world.
So the challenge I place in front of all the creators in virtual worlds is try it a little different take the step to expand your vision and share it with others. You may find that the shoebox build or same old same old may not be what every wants, there may be an audience waiting to share with you.

Good Building
Nyx

Monday, May 17, 2010

Can You See the Light?

One of my favorite builds in the UWA flagship Challenge was the design I made in January of this year. Besides the winning design the part I enjoyed the most was the use of lights and lighting/shadow effects throughout the build. From outside lighting of the build to shadows and sunbeams streaming through the upper floor windows,

The use of lights and lighting/shadow effects can take a build to an other level of complexity. Using the settings in the build/edit box in SL allows for many different effects. As with all things less is more with lighting effects.

There is nothing worse than a build that is over exposed with lights or even worse GLOW set to a maximum brightness effect. It looks like crap plain and simple to any one who has a good graphics card and their shaders turned on. GLOW IS NOT GOOD set to max bright, please all glow whores read this and understand we do talk about how bad your art and builds looked with the over kill of glow on them!

In the edit/build menu the "features" tab allows you to set the effects for light on prims, You can control the intensity, radius and fall off along with the color you want the prim to be. This will allow you to have a multitude of light effects from color to distance and brightness a light can be seen in world. The "texture" tab also allows you to make a prim full bright and finally the glow setting can be found here.

One of the best ways to get a good feel of how lights are working in a build is to walk through it and see how they look as you pass by them. I have always been an advocate of walking the build and getting a feel for how it flows over just camming it.

So take your time and make sure it feels and looks right and remember less is more when using lights in your build.

Good Building

Nyx

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Is it really what we see?

Lots of time what one envisions and what comes out in the final version while building in Second Life can be either a gift or a challenge to say the least. I for one am the type of builder that tends to do a lot of research and planning of the build before I begin. This does help me do the actual construction of the build in a fairly fast period of time. Yet, along the way even the best laid plans of mice and builders often go asunder. The one thing you want to do has to be changed to fit right and a new factor comes into play.
Often a new take or direction in a build design can work out if it is not allowed to change the over all concept to much. Often a new twist to the plot adds a new and exciting element into a construction.

I'll be honest as a less experienced builder, I have had a change in a build cover the whole gambit from minor tweaks in the build to total redo of concept and design. But as time and experience came into play it makes more sense to accept the small change as that alone. Let it be a small change and continue with the build as planned originally.

But, as with all things unexpected it is fun to look at it in a different light and see where it can take you if you have the time to give it a little room to develop.
I do know some builders who claim they never plan or know what they are going to build or do, Sadly most of them it appears exactly like that, not a well laid out design or concept, That's not to say that spontaneity isn't a good thing. It's a great thing, just not every one pulls it off as well as they imagine they have.

So make a plan and use it to guide you when you hit the bumps in the build and see where they may go when adding a positive element to your build.

Good Building

Nyx

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Twisted Can You Get?

What's the most amount of sides (faces to a prim) you can make from a regulation SL prim not a sculpty??

Totally Twisted

Nyx

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Whiter Shade of Pale

The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away

Only in our minds and SL can songs, dreams, or thoughts become vivid creations that interact with us as easily as a song floats through our thoughts and colors bind and blend with emotions.

As with a great song, a great build depends on the subtle nuances one applies to it, allowing it to be appreciated on many many levels. The difference of just a few degrees can be so great when applied properly to a build. So when building its important to remember the following areas where different shadings can be applied.
1- Color & Tint: Sorro Nishi advises to do the tinting out of SL off world in the program you use to create your textures. This keeps them from degrading as you change them in world. I also advise keeping one copy an original color base so you can go in several directions and not have the base color effect different tints.
when tinting in SL its advise able to use the Color under cursor controller.
2- Shadows: making and using shadows greatly improves the look and feel of your build. Multiple shadows and highlights gives a very realistic look and feel. One of my favorite tricks to do is to make multiple shadows from one source that has several lights hitting one object. Or taking and making shadows different lengths to match the design of the building architecture.
3- Highlights: such as sunbeams or lights from an outside or different source are a great effect to use.
4- SL light settings: one of my favorite builds was for the UWA Flagship challenge where I took and set every single light source to the proper radius and distance so when you walked in to the area the light would shine you could then see it.
5- Multi Layering of textures and prims: can add a truly wonderful effect when Incorporated into a build, a couple of masters at this are DB Bailey and Patch Thibaud, just visit Cetus the sim DB & Patch create on and be prepared to be amazed.
6- Mirroring: of floors walls or even ceilings does make a simple looks take on a dazzling feel, so don't just think stores and ballroom floors can only have a mirror look to it. One of the coolest mirror effects I ever saw was in a vamp castle with the effect dropped down about 30 meters it looked like you were staring in to the abyss.
7- Bias Settings: on a Prim or on a Texture will add a bit to the look you have. You do have to keep in mind with this that the less is more is better effect does come into play.
8- Edit section (Features): will allow you to make prims wiggle and move and let lights do wonderful things. Ill get into this in detail on a later blog, but please go experiment with it. Also the Mapping, Shining and Bumpiness settings in the Texture section on edit have some wonderful effects.

So when the ceiling flies away remember so can you by changing the effects, looks and settings of your builds in SL. Have fun experiment and enjoy.


Good Building

Nyx

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Is it what your really seeing?

Perspective is one of the most unique and challenging aspects of building in SL for all types of builders. Be they an artist or architectural style builder, novice or experienced at their trade it’s the one common challenging denominator we all must take a good look at now and then. If you where to Wiki it you find the simple definition of perspective as:
Perspective (from Latin perspicere, to see through) in the graphic arts, such as drawing, is an approximate representation, on a flat surface (such as paper), of an image as it is seen by the eye. The two most characteristic features of perspective are that objects are drawn:
Smaller as their distance from the observer increases
Foreshortened: the size of an object's dimensions along the line of sight are relatively shorter than dimensions across the line of sight

Well since we are in a 3D environment and our collective views are all a little different based on the settings we chose for our personal viewers. Perspective is truly in the eye of the beholder. One of the ways of truly looking at the SL world in a perspective based view is to do the following. Press the Shift - CTRL and then the R key. This will give you what is called the Wireframe view of SL, where all the outlines of the shapes are shown only. (pressing the same keys again restores the regular view of SL) If you follow back from the front of an object out to its distant view point where it all appears to meet, you get a feel for the perspective of the field of view.

This I have found is very helpful when building a large concept build on a small space size, Dusty Canning made a fabulous panorama a few months ago with trains and planes and all sorts of things and the perspective was extremely well done on the build. So for those who do not have the math figured or can't just eye ball it a simple “wireframe” view and a straight edge held along the edge lines of the front of view prims to the vanishing point where they all appear to intersect and you can get a fairly good feel for what the perspective will be from to back and down to up. Once again you must take into account the SL effect when doing perspective in SL, the view point is up and behind your avatar and all things must be built of that sight line if your going to be able to see the build with out camming up and around continuously while in world.
You can also use changes in the visual perspective to make effects that can be dramatic when building, when I have a smaller height building I will sometimes use multiple prims for the upper sections of the build and make small changes on the texture settings as the prims get higher. This gives the illusion of a greater height than what it would be with just a straight texture set on a larger single prim. Simply by adding prims to the face of a prim can give a great perception of depth to any type build you are creating. The use of effects from Trompe-l'œil to forced perspective are as old as art and buildings have been made. So experiment and give your view a new perspective as you build.


Good Building

Nyx

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What You Know About What You Don't Know

As in everything in life there's a lot you just don't know about something you do believe you know a bit about. The same holds true for what we do in SL. When I first entered the UWA Flagship Challenge I considered myself a proficient build at the upper level of the skill side of the curve. I believed my competencies where solid and I had a strong occupational fit with the outline of what the challenge was based on. Well if you have read any of my past blogs you will see that several times I have stressed the importance of research for any build you are doing. Well after having spoken about all the research I have done about Australia, it's history, it's culture and it's peoples I felt I had covered all the bases in what I would need to be successful in the Challenge. I spent a solid month of researching the materials, geography, history and culture of Western Australia before I made a single prim or texture and have done additional research on every build after that for the challenge.

So now I look back at it a half a year later and I realize that I had done a fair job but not a complete one by any stretch of the imagination. Being an American I will admit that sometimes we do have a centralist view of the world (it revolves around us) mentality. But, I will admit I did recognize this and did take the approach of I will look learn and discover what Western Australia is really about as well as I can as I sit here in Boston and do my research. Well the funny thing is here I am in a UWA Flagship Challenge that is based on designing an SL Architectural Designed concept to be used as a baseline for a Real Life Building to be constructed at the University sometime in the future. I can talk to you about architectural concepts, materials, designs and architects. Yet, as I look back in the hours and days of research I have done the only real knowledge I had of Australian architecture was of pictures and design concepts I had seen. I had not taken the time to look into the minds of the individuals who had created these masterpieces and what drove them and directed them to envision and create what they had seen in their minds eye.

So I will humbly I admit that the world of Australian Architects and their stories is one I am just finally starting to learn about so to the list of individuals I admire and learn from I like to add the names of, Cottier, Edmond, Corrigan, Hassell, Fitzpatrick, Grounds, Seidler, Murcutt. To name just a few of the many many there are to still discover.

So as the saying goes you don't know what you don't know, holds true, I for one am going to make a dent in that and learn a few new things.

Just do a google or yahoo search on the names above and dig and drill into the endless supply of information and links to many many other WA & Australian Architects that will amaze and expand your view of designs and concepts. For they have for me.

Good Building and Good Researching

Nyx

Monday, April 19, 2010

Euclid would have been a builder in SL

With the aid of a straightedge and a compass all pure geometry or building problems can be solved. The principals of geometry are constantly used when building in Second Life, be it an art creation or architectural based fabrication. The key to building a tight and proper build is to utilize the tools available to you when you fabricate a structure. In SL the use of the compass and grid lines is good for a beginning to advanced builder to use when constructing . As a novice it helps you to align your building properly and avoid later issues of off centered and odd size prims that can cause continuity and texturing challenges in the build. As an advanced builder when building with off angled and biased aligned structures, the challenge is fitting the build together properly.

I am at the point in my building experience where odd angles or no right angles at all in the build no longer pose a challenge. This is how a good builder becomes an extraordinary one, by taking their craft to the next skill level that not many builders in SL have achieved. One of the individuals I have meet through the UWA Flagship Challenge is Mcarp Mavendorf we have spent many a time discussing the different processes and techniques used to create different designs and specific sections of technically difficult builds. His use of geometry and the application of it has allowed him to create vaulted ceilings that are masterpieces not often seen in SL. Yes there are the occasional barrel vaulted ceilings the two and three section corbel and groin vaults that at first look and seem very nice but under examination are just patch jobs of prims and textures placed up to give an illusion. Mind you some look very good and achieve the effect of what the builder was trying to achieve. Yet when it comes down to a solid, geometrical solid true 4 arch rib and fan vaults nothing comes close to the math applied in his ceilings.

How does one create a form like this in SL, simple using the tools available to you! Have you as a builder really taken the time to fully explore the resources available in the simple build editor of the Emerald or SL viewers? The viewer can give you the two basic tools needed to create any thing you can imagine in SL.
One a straightedge with the use of the grid lines, snap line and so on. Two the compass will allow you to dissect a circle to create any curve you can envision or need in a build. All you are building with in SL when using basic prims, not sculpties is basic geometrical shapes and all geometry can be solved with those two tools.

The first tool in SL the straightedge is a simple one to master, as a novice builder I personally used it and prim grids to layout the basic floor plan of the builds I was creating. This was for several reasons, one to make sure I did not go over the size of the footprint was creating, two to keep things square and sized properly with perspectives and finally to get a grasp of how many potential prims I may use on the build. As a novice builder prim counts where very important I the creations I developed. I came at the process that I could make it for less prims and better textures than others where using for the same style build. I used prim grids on all axis of the builds vertical and horizontal so I understood how the build would fill the 3D space I was creating.

The other tool that a lot of builders do not utilize is the compass and the degrees it allows you to cut and slice prims in to with its help. Most individuals have a clue to the basic points of a compass - 360 degrees - 180 - 90 - 45 and so on. But the challenges is when prims are flipped or turned 45 or 90 degrees ad the numbers are not the norms as most know them. So 270 or 315 and so on start to appear on the compass, well my advise would be to take some time to review the compass and learn the reciprocals that will occur when prims are not aligned all the same.

The next step in this process is understanding the changes of degrees and angles when tapers and slices are used when building. I have been able to develop 11 sided prims with the use of the tools available to you when building. Now these are not the common prims that are used every day when building, but it is very cool to have a prim shape that makes individuals think you used a sculpty when in reality its just you twisting a prim hard. When I first started building I use to spend a lot of time twisting prims to just see what I would come up with. I have actually saved a few of the early ones in inventory and occasionally pull one out if I remember it and feel it would look good on a build. (One of the earlier blog post has some info and settings o some cool nano prim twists)

So in wrapping up my advice to all builders no matter what level you are at is to learn the tools you have available and practice with them it all helps you become better at what you do. As the saying goes the whole is greater than the parts .. when done correctly.

Good Building

Nyx

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Basic Texture Design and Creation

Having addressed the basics of SL building and gone over the fundamentals of design and craftsmanship that’s needed to make a solid build. I believe that a few words about creating textures is next in order. I will state I am not a texture master by any stretch of the imagination. I do know how to properly apply textures correctly to a prim and making multiple prims objects look right with textures covering them appropriately. But I do believe that all builders should know the fundamentals of how to create a texture that may be needed to fit a unique situation as they arise during building. In an earlier blog I go over the Texture Tool Box I use to help fill in sections and create on the fly created textures from existing standard work textures.

The best place to start is to procure a texture creating program that’s affordable and workable for you. I don’t recommend going out and spending hundreds of dollars on the latest Photoshop program if you have never made a texture before. Look on the net find free upload programs, such as GIMP or Photoshop. Try the sample ones make sure before you spend dollars you can work the program and you enjoy doing it.

Next spend some time learning how they work, look at the tutorials, search the net again for lessons there out there just look, then study and try them to make sure this is something your capable of doing. If after trying all this and you discover its not for you, your not out the dollars you may have spent on a program. Besides there are some great texture artist in world who sell textures at extremely reasonable prices.
A few stores I have always found to have great textures are TRU Textures R US - Texture ART's - Textures at Starship Jefferson - Sanctorum Textures and Designs - 3D Concepts - Skye Texture Zone - Kismet Textures - Builders Brewers - Distressed Textures to name just a few great stores. Also by joining the groups get you a few freebies and discounts on textures from the creators.

So you have got a program learned the basics and are ready to make a few simple textures. Remember if your going to sell any thing you make with these textures you do want to make sure they are not someone else’s property. So don’t go to Google or Yahoo and start copying every cool picture or texture you see they could be and are most likely copy rights associated with them.


A sense of balance is needed when creating a texture or when texturing a build. To make a clean, balanced even texture you have to make sure the texture is centered vertically and horizontally. Use the texture program to make sure the texture is lined up correctly or if you are tiling it make sure it is looks good before you upload it to SL. The emerald viewer is great for uploading a sample texture (no $10L charge) to see if it looks right. With a sense of balance you also have to consider the edges of a texture and how they look, are they outlined is the edge dark, light, or uneven check to make sure it looks right.
If after all you have done the best you can and uploaded the texture into SL and its off a little you can always tweak the texture with a small stretch to correct the error. But in the long run you will always have to stretch that texture to make it look right. So, take your time the first time is the best in the long run.

Continuity of a texture grouping is important when making textures to be used in a build. The easiest way to do this is to have a central theme that flows through all the textures in a particular set you create. This can be done in several simple ways, color, design, secondary sections or contrast parts of the texture. This helps to give the overall look of the build a uniform feel and reduces the cluttered look that some times occurs with textures that are to similar or over used when building.
Also in continuity you want to remember that applying the same texture over a large section or a repetitive section of a build (stairs) that you do want to change the application settings so it does not look like the same texture over and over in a highly repetitive pattern. By applying a contrast to the texture settings you will achieve a more realistic look to the build.

Contrast and color tinting is a trick I use allot when making textures and tinting and shading textures I have purchased. If all the textures on the build look the same and only the SL light settings add any light character to it you are not separating your build from all of the other run of the mill builds you see in SL.
When you add contrast into the textures, your build will instantly become more attractive. Contrast and tinting can be applied to textures in several ways, when creating them or with using the UI color under cursor section of the SL viewer to color tint and match the textures. A tip to remember is that when using the UI on an existing texture it will most likely be a darker shade than the one you are matching it to so you will most likely have to lighten in a shade to make it match properly. I also take and make some sections off by a small numerical setting if the color is 120 I may make the next prim 122 and the one on the opposite 119 it gives a small variation and give the build a more realistic feel overall.

While this blog deals with creating textures, all of the tips can also address when working with existing textures. So don’t be afraid to tweak, tint , shade and color textures you have. One thing I love to do is use a texture that is not related in anyway in the world to the place I used it in the build. Wall, floor, or even metals or what ever become glass or some other type of texture. This can be achieved by using the transparency or different settings in the Edit section of the Viewer. Explore push the edges create a few that look and work good for you then save them and stick them in your Texture Tool Box.


Good Building & Texturing

Nyx

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Building outside the (right) Box

One of the pleasures I have found when building in SL is the satisfaction of trying a new style of build I have not done before. With the amount of architectural styles available and the mixing of styles the possibilities are endless. You think it and it can be done in this amazing world of possibilities. I was once asked to make a Castle for a Vampire Clan that had the following themes in it; Industrial, Gothic, Asian, Mayan and Modern. As hard as it was to visualize this eclectic mix of styles at first it all came out rather sensational. The owner his clan and myself where all very happy in the end. The build was actually used in a RL music video or at least a section of it was because of how different yet comfortable the feel of the build gave to individuals who saw it.

When attempting to try something new I have found that following the basic Building Guidelines and doing the research necessary to understand what you are attempting helps in the long run. So as a way of assisting individuals in trying something new in the forms of building I am asking all builders are they willing to try and build an entry for the UWA Flagship contest that meets the Outline as described by UWA in their Flagship Challenge note card?

So I am proposing a special meeting for individuals who may be interested in discussing the outline of the build guidelines and going over some of the requirements that make a build work for this type of format. If you have an interest please give me an IM or let Jay Jay know you have an interest and we can set up a time to go over this topic.

As I have stated before I am in this contest to do my best and I will try as hard as I can to achieve that. But I am willing to talk to or assist any one interested in the UWA Flagship and what seems to and what seems not to work in the challenge.

Those of you who do not know my background in this challenge I have placed every month I have entered and have 6 out of the 12 builds in the finals todate.

Good Building

Nyx

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

God is in the Details

As with all things in life attention to details is one of the factors that makes something go from ordinary to special, this is very true when building in SL. One of the complements I do enjoy receiving from individuals about my builds is how well the textures look, the details are great. Well I do spend a lot of time when doing textures and I do love the look and feel they give when done correctly, so this is one compliment I will most graciously accept. For I do know the amount of time and effort I place into making, covering and tweaking a texture across a prim and on a build.

The Quote at the Blog heading "God is in the Details" is from Mies van der Rohe who is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of Modern architecture. He is also known for his use of the aphorisms "less is more" Both of these might as well been written with SL architecture builds in mind. For there may be no other creative medium more beholding to these to principals than Building in SL.

Often you will come come across a build be it an art piece or an architectural build and it looks good at first glance, then you start to look at it in much closer detail. Here is where the great builders set them selves apart from an adequate journeyman when it comes to building in Second Life.

The most common mistakes novice builders have are glimmer and bleed through from textures and improper prim alignment. A more competent builder will have corrected this defect but may have any one of the following texture issues not properly addressed. Bare prims on sides of a prim not facing outward, incorrect settings, alignments or stretch of a texture on a prim. Or possible even a prim size not correct causing the textures to be off when viewed as a set.

Its the small things, the attention to details that sets a great builder apart from an OK one. Ever notice how steps may not be stretched right on the horizontal or vertical face of a prim. When looking at a large expanse of prims on a wall, floor, ceiling or even steps and they look repetitive to the point it looks not natural. This is from a builder not tweaking the textures correctly. Just applying a texture to a prim face and then copying it over and over is just novice approach when building.

I remember when I was commissioned to do a re texture job of a build by a prefab company in Second Life, the thing that truly amazed the owner of the prefab company was the amount of time and effort that my partner Caren and I took when selecting and matching and applying textures correctly to their build. Then when they thought we where done we informed them that now we would tweak the build textures completely.

This is when we went through the build and corrected any small errors and changed the alignments and application of textures on multiple same facing prims to make it have a more life like look and not the same repetitive texture look every other prim or so, that is prevalent in allot of SL builds. When we where done the owner of the company had his builders come and look at a copy of the build we had textured and an original one on a side by side comparison. The look between the two builds was profound, the build that had the time spent on tweaking and apply textures in an applied random feel had a very real life look to it. Months later I spoke with the owner of the prefab company and they had adapted the same approach to texturing that they learned from us that day. She mentioned her sales of prefabs went up and she had gone back and re textured many of her prefab models to a better level than she had before.

So a simple step of looking at the details and applying a less of the same approach to texturing can make a marked difference in your builds and your bottom line.

Good Building

Nyx

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Architecture in a Virtual Reality

Having spent over a year plus creating primary architectural structures in a virtual reality, I was recently asked is it really real what I do? It's only on a screen, why would anyone pay you for what you do? They can only see it on a screen they can't touch it or feel it?

As a tool computers and the virtual world they do create allow individuals to create in ways unimaginable at an earlier time. So in turn architecture, arts and the process of creating many things will be develop at one of the fastest change curves it has ever encountered. Looking at some of the SL based architectural builds I have done they are all plausible and possible to be recreated in RL, yet remain in the realms of a virtual world. The effect of the virtual world is well documented on the results of the real world. CAD design, computer programs from the most complex to the simple Google build program has allowed access to the Virtual a common day occurrence.

Where some individuals have not made the transition is in how they perceive the virtual world. The person who asked the question "Is it real"? my response was is a movie real? is a book real? The response was yes I can see them I can touch a book and read the letters, the movie I can hold the disc and watch the production. I then asked are concepts real? are thoughts real? or for that case emotions? All of these are intangible concepts that lead to in some cases creative results. They agreed that they could be considered real.

So my point I followed up was that if its an intangible concept that's portrayed in a new medium, then it should leads one to believe that it must be real in the setting it abides in. So that a creation in a Virtual World is real in that world and has the capacity of effecting the individuals who inhabit the Virtual World or even have profound effects on individuals in the Real World. With the end results being it provides the same emotional or monetary results as other intangible creations have in the Real World even if it only exist in a Virtual World.

We are in essence not living in a separate Virtual/Real World reality but one that has combined the two into one. Where the transition from one to another becomes more subtle and more complex as this medium becomes the norm of every day life. So in conclusion what we have always been the way change comes to all. It may take a new form of displaying it self to the masses but it always occurs and we all eventually embrace change for what it is. So is it real as real as you allow it to be for sooner or later it will change again thats the one thing we do know to be real.

Good Building

Nyx

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

First Half of the UWA Flagship Challenge

First half of the UWA Flagship Challenge has 10 buildings qualifying into the finals out of a possible 12. From the ten who qualified, only five truly meet all the requirements as stated in the updated Nov 2009 UWA Flagship Challenge guidelines.
So you best read the note card for the design and RL building requirements for the challenge and good luck designing and building.

*The Prim Pusher Blog does address these requirements and has some good tips and places to do research for this specific type of build.

The Builders who qualified the first half are:
Moth Rexen
Dusty Canning
Silene Christen
Patch Thibeaud
Ivy Lane
Nyx Breen

Also two of the builds by Nyx Breen also won the Casey Cultural Awards for the reflection of the Western Australian Cultural, Historic and Lifestyle displayed in the builds or information obtained at expositions included in them.

The last half of the contest proves to be an interesting one with several RL architects stating they will enter builds into the competition.

















Sunday, April 4, 2010

Common Building Mistakes

I was recently talking to White Lebed, well known artist and curator of several art destinations in SL. We were talking about the architectural side of SL and the building of buildings in SL. One of the topics she brought up was the common mistakes individuals make when they "Build". Well having done many a building during my time in SL, I am familiar with the mistakes that occur while creating something. I may even venture to say I may have made every single mistake that's possible while creating over the time I have been in SL.

So I am going to address a few of the more common SL mistakes one can make when building. The list is in no specific order or of importance, so here goes:

*Attempting to Build with out your tag on, took a few tries when I was new to figure this one out.
*Creating to large an object on a parcel to small to support it, or rezzing a part of a build while going over the prim limit.
*Rotating an object that's too large to be turned on a small parcel and having it sent back by an auto return set to 0 by a neighbor (gezz) :)
*Not texturing a prim while creating it so that the non showing sides are bare prims (plywood texture) and having to go back and do it later when prims are linked.
*Going back to texture a bare section of a prim, when it is linked and not using the Texture Edit to texture it and texturing the whole object one texture all sides of all prims linked (yikes) did that a few too many times till I learned that one.
*Making prims different sizes along the same stretch of wall, floor, ceiling etc. Makes for a difficult texturing later on.
*Attempting to line up the axis on a single prim with an axis of an object when the object has multiple size prims attached in the group.
*Copying an important section of the build to rezz and use later and just leaving its name "object" (ok which "object" is it out of the 350 objects in inventory???
*Making a copy of an object by drag edit and its not the original prim (may be an other owner/your copy stays put, the original is dragged)- you lose the script perms or controls when edit drag copy some scripts.
*Not setting perms on prims or objects you make.
*Using a mega or an other creator prim in your build and making that the parent prim, so your not shown as the creator.
*Tinting, highlighting, shading a prim different that the prim surrounding it, so it looks off.
*Building a creation in a light setting that's not normal to most individuals in SL, I use an extremely bright light setting to build, so I always have to check to make sure not to dark for normal settings.
*Making a copy by drag edit when it is in an object and not unlinked from the object and the edit has been reset.
*Deleting here is a subject all to itself :)- Deleting platforms your working on, deleting an object behind an alpha that you did not want to delete, deleting an object rather than a prim.

Well that's a few of the more common ones that will occur as you build in SL.

Then of course you can add in advanced build technique errors, scripting or rezz box mistakes and the list just gets bigger and bigger.

Good Building

Nyx