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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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