Learning #Blender with #BlenderGoon – Blender User Interface

The next video in Goon’s series goes over the #Blender user interface in a clear and logical manner. A lot of the time we tend to just jump into the middle of trying to make something in Blender without knowing what-the-hell we are doing. This video series gets us started on the right foot.

At least, at this point, I always feel positive, before the confusion sets in about which hotkey to use, or how not to fold mesh over, or how to avoid horrible horrible n-gons, and wearing out my Z key from undoing so much.

Goon (Goonther Blackcinder) is a #SecondLife resident who teaches at #BlenderSchool inworld at (SLURL) GoodVibes

There’s an active Discord group – there’s an invite link in the school landing area.

Learning #Blender with #BlenderGoon – Install Blender

I’m going to watch every one of #BlenderGoon ‘s #Blender tutorials in order, because I keep getting frustrated by my lack of grounding in the fundamentals.

Goon (Goonther Blackcinder) is a #SecondLife resident who teaches at #BlenderSchool inworld at (SLURL) GoodVibes

There’s an active Discord group – there’s an invite link in the school landing area. There are 2 schoolrooms – Goon’s and also Celestine Ghiardie has a dedicated schoolroom that’s geared more for clothing design and instruction.

This first video is a short “How to Install Blender” instructional.

Playing Around With #PBR in #SecondLife – Safety Not Guaranteed

As I’m on a sort of vacation from my RL job this week and next week, I’ve been able to spend more time attending classes, fooling around with Blender, and thinking about what I want to make for fun, for creativity, and maybe for some $Lindens.

After attending the PBR class the other day in the #BlenderSchool classroom in Second Life, I tinkered with the assignment we were given – download and install the official SL PBR viewer (which is now an RC “release candidate” version), then go to the “Rumpus Room” sims on either the main grid or the “test grid,” and do a little testing of the changes to the edit floater for adding/tweaking the PBR textures. I didn’t have a “set” with everything in the new format, but I had 4 different test textures from class, so I used those.

There’s a snapshot from my Second Life profile feed here. It gives the location of one of the Rumpus Room sims where the PBR stuff is enabled. There’s a lot of interesting stuff rezzed out that people were testing, so I took a copy of a shader ball and played around with it. There was a large “SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED” sign rezzed out in the main grid

#AltText – A Gyazo.com snapshot of a jumble of Second Life objects with various reflective materials applied, with a “Safety Not Guaranteed” sign showing in the background.

When I logged in to the “test” grid and went to roughly the same area, there was a LOT more stuff rezzed out, and many people had laid things out in an orderly way, with floating text above each object giving the different settings they used in the new PBR Materials edit floater. Other people loaded up “shader balls” with textures they added. Apparently Blender is capable of exporting a single file that contains the “set” of PBR maps, that can be dragged and dropped on objects. Or we can pay to upload each of 3 or 4 maps separately or in a batch (that’s going to make uploading textures more expensive for anyone who never got around to playing with the old “Blinn-Phong” systems that is how we’ll refer to the previous SL materials system.

Image from Gyazo

#AltText – a closeup of a slightly differently textured “shaderball” showing a golden inner color and a copper-patina outer color, next to a Second Life avatar wearing a top hat.

This picture doesn’t show the shininess of the 2 colors, but just changing the tints in the “Emissive” mask was fun. Other people were obviously working on more advanced objects in both the main and test grids. My old hat still shows the little golden glints in it from the old Blinn-Phong materials I had set up in it – there’s a bit of lacy texture that’s about as shiny-metallic as the old system could get, but as it’s just very open Victorian lace, it’s not too stupid looking.

Resources:

An approved HDRI lighting texture for testing purposes (also a couple of “node trees” for Blender in the .zip file from GitHub

Link to the PBR Materials Project RC viewer, and Release Notes

Link to the SL PBR Materials Wiki.

Link to the Firestorm viewer blog that discusses PBR/glTF

No #SecondLife #Senra #Devkits distributed yet – still learning Blender

As of right now, no SDKs (Senra development kits for the new starter avatars) have been distributed, according to Patch Linden.

We anticipate the updated versions of the bodies and heads to be released within a few weeks. In the meantime, we still have all submitted applications saved on file, and new applicants are continued to be welcomed. When the dev kit is ready for distribution, we will release it in batches, beginning with our earliest applicants. – Senra Applications from Second Life Community Board 

Okay, then. I was wondering if my application was incomplete or messed up, as I had had NO acknowledgement or response. They’re holding up the applications because, of course, some issues were identified in the bodies they did release and they have to adjust them before sending out the creator kits. Guess I still have time to figure out Blender, then. Really, I don’t plan on making clothes, just unrigged accessories, but was hoping to have the option just in case.

I’ve been making progress in Blender classes recently, because the ones that I wanted to take inworld have been held at times that I could actually ATTEND. Some of the last series of classes were held during my RL work hours, and weren’t repeated during either the evening or early morning or weekend time that I’m not logged in for work.

This class, on the coming update to Second Life’s mesh texturing pipleline, was particularly helpful. When it’s finally released, it’ll use the glTF workflow, which has slightly different terms and names for the various kinds of texture maps. Instead of being called “Diffuse” for the color map, it’s called “Albedo,” and there’s a “Metalness” and “Roughness” map in addition to the familiar “Normal” map that SL currently recognizes. There’s a 5th map called “Emissive” that we’ll have to use as a work-around for other kinds of maps. But it was so cool when I succeeded in plugging the right little wires into the correct little color-coded ports and the model lamp suddenly became all shiny.

Currently I’m attending classes through 2 different “content creator” groups that focus on teaching Blender. I still have all the old YouTube links from before, too. I’ve tried buying books, too, but most of the books out now are either outdated, or self-published crap that’s even more outdated. I got one recently from Amazon that’s terribly poor in print quality, but it included a full PDF of everything in the book, so that was a bit more acceptable.

At the “Blender School” classroom there’s a kit to make a “Blender is Easy!” button… people were pressing it a lot the other night when things were going well (and not so well). I may try to make that too.

Not sharing this to Mastodon – I already posted a similar link.

Aside

Texture Baking In Blender Cycles

This is one of the best overviews of texture baking for Blender that I’ve ever seen.

The baking system in Blender takes a lot of critiques for being unintuitive, hard to understand and error prone. In this article, I aim to untangle the confusion about baking in Blender with Cycles.

GUESS IT WOULD HELP IF I ADD THE FRICKING LINK.

Artistic Render

Blender logo with “keep calm and don’t ragequit”

The Virtual Farming Addiction: Going Lukewarm Turkey in #SecondLife

Overhead shot of a small Second Life virtual farm using the DFS system showing 19 "fields"

This farm’s “acreage” is reduced by almost half


Over the last few weeks, I’ve been “picking up” my virtual fields as they gradually reached a harvestable state – with this game, when you harvest, you get a new bag of seed of the same kind to “plant.” Prices in the game have been dropping, and I see planted, ready-to-harvest fields out for sale in the markets, so this is a way to add value and get a little more ROI. It’s still a loss based on the original purchase prices.

Some time ago I blogged about some of the really huge “reducing inventory, all must go” sales that I dropped in on, the kind of sales that could make me go in to a shopping coma. My “feed” at my.secondlife.com is full of all kinds of wacky sales that were going on.

A Second Life Dragon avatar browses the sale items, tools, and ingredients at a large sale set out in a big field

Even dragons like a good farm sale


This one even brought a dragon out from his wyrm lair to do some shopping. Wonder how it manages the trowels and cooking…

Hundreds of Second Life virtual fields set out for sale

This is less than a quarter of the fields for sale.


Meanwhile, there were many times I’d see hundreds of fields for sale. I bought a lot of fields at this one; the former owner had so many for sale that the item names numbered in the 8000 range. WHAT?

At the moment, it’s a slow process, but the goal is in sight – in October, I reduce one of my paid alts to Basic/unpaid status, and reduce holdings in Tweddle by the amount of land “tier” that represents. In March, another one of my “alts” comes up for renewal, and by then I’ll have reduced my inventory of no-copy DFS items by a lot. A LOT. I’ve already “cooked down” or “distilled” a lot of my pantry-stuff into small, marketable items that work like lunchboxes or energy banks. Those I can sell.

I’ve built a platform to set out the tools, plants, trees, fields, and ingredients that I’ve decided to sell off. These will include all the so-called “rare and collectible” things that I can’t use or consume. After trying to market stuff recently (see Starting To Get Really Annoyed #DFS #SecondLife #BAH it seems like the only notice that really brings the buyers is a “LEAVING DFS” fire sale or platform sale type of thing. I’ve got stuff that ought to sell at auctions, but they usually don’t – even priced really aggressively.

Thinking of throwing a PARTY instead of a traditional “come buy my stuff sad sniff” sale. With music and dancing. My rezz day is in later October, after all.
Second Life avatar sitting on a market stall stacked with empty inventory boxes

The platform is currently a staging area for auction stuff but will look like a Secret Garden when I get all the stuff out.

So I’m going lukewarm turkey with this “addiction harm reduction” process. Speaking of which, I’ve got crates of virtual turkey to sell off, plus one breeding pair of 0-day turkeys, whoop-de-do. Which means later I’ll have to mess around in GIMP making a marketing/sales crate texture.

But first, had to invest in some ingredients, because OMG someone left something out at a ridiculously low price in a nearly inaccessible area and…. ::slaps self:: SNAP OUT OF IT.

Anyway, I’ve managed to do the admin “marketing stuff” that is so hard for me, and the turkey crates are in the vendor and ready to go in all my locations. After reducing my holdings, though, I’ll just have my two shops in Tweddle and Steelhead Bay.

SLurl for Tweddle shop: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Tweddle/224/225/82
SLurl for Steelhead Bay shop “St Helens Dry Goods”

Starting To Get Really Annoyed #DFS #SecondLife #BAH

I’m currently planning to get out of the #SecondLife farming game #DFS, or #DigitalFarmSystems, by the end of the year. It just takes up too much of my inworld time, for very little return on investment. I’ve never been great at marketing my items, but it’s even more frustrating when the official marketing group for this inworld game sets limits on the number of posts per day. Just now I posted for the first time today, but because it was within 24 hours of my 2 previous posts, I’m now on the naughty list and have to contact a CSR person to get myself sorted out and able to post again. I risk getting banned from the group if I post on the trade channel again.

Okay, I made the mistake of thinking that I was okay to post on a new calendar day, as I posted twice yesterday. Now I have to be aware of not posting within 24 hours of the previous post(s). It’s hard enough to make myself post these little marketing blurbs selling virtual farm goods and “meals.” I’ll have to just post on the big group once a day, in the morning, and more than 24 hours from now, too.

 

Second Life inworld sales ad shows a virtual tomato plant in a bunny-shaped planter

Yes, it’s a virtual tomato planter. Shaped like a bunny.

 

Even though selling on the Second Life Marketplace means that SL will take a cut of the sales, I’ve listed some of the collectible items there again. It’s just impossible to get any traction using the inworld groups.  The most desireable one is this bunny planter thing, which is admittedly pretty cute and decorative. The newer DFS products in the “collectible” or “rare” category just aren’t that cute these days; the designers have changed a few times and the newer things aren’t floating my virtual boat.

After getting back up to speed creating my own things again, I’ll have some new mesh top hats listed on the store under my Chameleonic Possessions brand. If the DFS stuff doesn’t sell by October, it’s going up on a platform for a fire sale. I’ve already got about 15 planted, ready to harvest “fields” ready to sell. In October, I plan to reduce my virtual land holdings, as the DFS stuff is very resource heavy and requires a lot of extra “prims.”

Currently I still plan to keep a few fields and “growables,” but after hitting this roadblock this morning, and not seeing any responses to the marketing posts in the last 2 weeks, I’m really seriously re-thinking this “just step it down” strategy. It hasn’t worked before – I reduced a lot of inventory 3 years ago and then built it right back up again when I re-entered SL last year. It’s an addiction and I have to come to terms with it.

If I manage to sell off the turkey crates I’m holding, that’ll be cold turkey, right?

Second Life announces new Senra mesh body kits for content creators (application signup)

In the #SecondLife communities, content creation is a big deal, and some brands are no doubt jumping on the chance to get the devkit (developer’s creation kit) for the new Senra mesh bodies. These have been teased and rumored by Linden Lab for years; today their spokesperson Patch Linden finally made the big announcement.

Attention all talented content creators of Second Life! We have some thrilling news to share with you today.

As you may have seen in past discussions, Linden Lab is nearing completion of the first phase of one of our New User Experience projects – new mesh starter avatars. Under the “Senra” brand, these two mesh bodies and heads will be named Blake and Jamie. Blake and Jamie will be replacing the previous iterations of starter avatars to give new users a better beginner experience, with the ability to customize their avatar and create their own unique look.

In preparation for the initial rollout, we are opening applications for the developer kit to content creators. This is an incredible opportunity for content creators to take their artistic ventures to our newest users. Whether you specialize in fashion, accessories, animations, or any other form of virtual content, by incorporating the Senra brand into your creative arsenal, you can explore new horizons, introduce innovative products, and cater to a growing market of new Second Life users who are embracing their new mesh bodies.

Woot! Embracing bodies! Hugging! Dogs and cats living together! Furries feeling left out and neglected, boo! but perhaps there is something for them in the package, I don’t know yet.

Meanwhile, I’ve been tinkering with Blender slowly and have actually applied for a couple of the “big maker” devkits, and already have at least one (the up-and-coming Star Mesh Body, more on that later). Dhughan is getting ready to fuss and tut-tut his way through making some new mesh walking sticks, and I added him to the application for this SDK Senra kit as well as the applications for Maitreya Classic (the old body devkit that’s easier to get).

All we plan to do thus far is unrigged stuff, but I have a mesh apron kit from the Meli Imako brand that I may have to do custom textures on so I can sell it in the Marketplace.

There are folders in my library following the naming conventions that Patch Linden sets out in the devkit application, which I never noticed before – but according to this post on Reddit, it was believed to be an accidental or test release that may still be visible if logged in to the test grid instead of the main grid (the test grid has snapshots of your inventory but is often of older content and out of synch, depending on when you last changed your password).

Now Imma gonna have to log out of the main grid and waste time trying to get into the test grid and waste precious futzing around time. I should be making new stuff or at least getting ready to sell off old DFS cooking ingredient inventory, but no, there’s a SHINY OBJECT.

oh.

oh, my God.

No wonder they pulled these, but given the standard Linden attention to detail, I bet the horrible stretching I see on the 2 bodies is a problem.

Second Life Blake Avatar with no baked textures


This is the “male” body – note weird arm cuts and stretching

That’s pretty badly textured but…

Second Life Senra Mesh Body - Female showing terribly stretched textures over the bazooms.


Won’t someone please think of the children?

The stretchmarks over the bazooms would make a lingerie fitter weep.

Senra Avatar Mesh Topology

Clean topology, needs to be unwrapped better for BOM

Pleasantly surprised at how clean the topology is, and it’s quite light, only 28LI. I guess the legacy UV maps for BOM need to be cleaned up better (probably by pinning all the seams).

Senra Mesh side seams show stretching

Seams a mess on the side.

Then it was time to put the body (but not yet the head) on, first with my normal shape, then with the provides shapes. I stuck to the female one.

Ceeling Cat Sees Whut You Did Thar is what the T shirt says

So badly stretched you can’t read my T-shirt

It’s supposed to say “Ceeling Cat Sees Whut You Did Thar,” but the crevasse on the chest is so deep that the second line looks like it says “Whut Thar.”

Which is as good a comment as any one could make on the quality of the UV map, and the shape that I chose for this one, Shape 6.

Senra Second Life Mesh Body Jamie looks like she's had several litters too many

Can you see the new people coming into Second Life, Jamie?


The shapes were all very poorly done – the arms look like sticks, they don’t look well-proportioned, and what were they thinking letting this past QC?

Or this:

Booty, don't call me, we'll call you.

The stern of the ship appears to have taken on water.

I took more pictures, but you get the idea. I didn’t try on any of the clothes, I figure they’re competent and hide the worst features, but there is a very large number of Second Life users who require bodies that look good for fashion shoots, or look delicious unclothed. I’m not one of them, I just require a body that looks well-formed and doesn’t look like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade character gone walkabout. And I see people like that ALL the time – looking like a collection of helium balloons on a windy day – but their physics settings or something are set to antigravity. These shapes that new people are going to be given look like that feeling you get on an express elevator going up 60 floors, very draggy.

Anyway I did manage to get an idea while messing around on the test grid and threw together a photo backdrop that worked well enough that I’m going to rebuild it for my main account. If I actually Make Something New with Blender (probably tomorrow) the backdrop will be nice to have. And I did download the Meshbody Classic devkit, and had received the link for the Star Mesh Body devkit so I downloaded all of that, too. After some thought I decided to renew my Avastar license, along with their “devkit manager” bit, since I now have 2 and will possibly have 3 soon.

If I actually manage to get through the requirements of the Meshbody Classic kit to receive the more advanced kit, it’ll be a miracle. I have to create a full outfit, post pictures of it in a special Flickr group, and post it for sale on my Marketplace store. So… I’m thinking “cycling jersey and shorts,” something which I actually made long ago but forgot about.

I’ve watched way, way too many “how to do Blender” videos, too. But as the Creator once said,

“it all starts with a cube.”

Getting My #SecondLife Just In Time To Celebrate

My #FirstLife house remodeling project is finally complete, and as of a week ago or so, my big desktop computer is set up and working in its new location in a combination guest room/sewing room.

My Second Life Shop - vendors for things I created on the left and DFS on the right

So for the past week I’ve been reconnecting with friends, and even managed to make it to #RelayForLifeInSecondLife for a few hours to help with my team’s American Cancer Society fundraising.

My previously quiet #SecondLife got a lot noisier and busier, and I’ve gotten back into the long process of reducing the stuff in my inventory for the inworld #DigitalFarmSystem game/activity/pastime. I say “pastime” but really, it takes up ALL of my time inworld, because it’s easier than making new things or creating new products or learning new stuff. As I hate marketing, I’m “cooking down” ingredients into higher-energy items that can be loaded up and sold or consumed in bulk.

The big limitation here is having the time to do it and the tools to do it with, so somehow this drawing down process seems to involve buying more tools, or finding community “kitchens” where I can borrow time on those tools. For the really high-energy stuff, I needed to use “fermenters” and “stills” and the stuff I’m cooking down takes a week. This was a dilemma, as I have many weeks’ worth of stuff, and only about 7 stills and 14 fermenters (I know, right? INSANE).

So last night I stumbled into a solution. I had just found a deal on a single still (watching the prices at a specialized website run by someone who sells scripted vendor tools). I went out looking for more such deals, and rediscovered a community kitchen that had been recently announced in the DFS group chats. It’s well laid out, with at least 16 copies of each kind of tool (which is mindboggling, more on that later). There was a section with stills and fermenters – and a notice that stated that they were available to use for “short term” recipes, but that a special group was available to use them for longer term recipes, like the ones I need that are 7 days.

I IMed the owner, and she quickly set me up as the sole member of this special group, for free! Mind boggled again, I thanked and tipped her profusely, and said I’d first get “boosters” from the main store (boosters are a way to get a 25% reduction in time needed, probably a nice revenue booster for the creator IMO). I set up batches of stuff to make on both tools, boosted to take only 5 1/2 days per recipe. So that just cut the time needed to get rid of unwanted ingredients by a LOT.

I’ve loaded some lunchboxes for sale and just sold one, so that’s a good sign. I have some more reducing to do – use up various “proteins” and so on but I’ve got my “ingredients” and “pantry” items pared down to just what I can use.

I have a lot of special seasonal and “rare” things that just aren’t moving, so I’m going to set up a “Must Sell” area in my skybox area this week. And I’ve got stuff that I’ve earmarked for auctions, but that’s not moving either… the lunchboxes do.

Meanwhile, it’s nearly SL20B, the 20th anniversary celebration for Second Life. Several of my friends are exhibitors this year and I plan to have fun touring the builds. And celebrating with them, rather than incessantly farming, tending, sorting, boxing and so on. I’ve enjoyed seeing old friends the last couple of weeks and making new ones and learning new stuff. I’ve used DFS as a crutch for too long to make myself feel busy, rather than pushing myself to make something new. So this week I plan to celebrate, and make new stuff, too.

My Quiet #SecondLife

My time inworld has been limited for the past few months, due to a big #firstlife #homerenovation project that’s had me and my spouse upending our lives and home since February. My ability to get inworld has been limited, since the big desktop computer was disconnected and stored in a guestroom/dumping ground, and I’m using an older laptop with a terrible onboard Intel GPU.

This will change soon! The project is complete, although some large furniture including my computer desk remains to be moved around with actual muscle power. It’s so much easier moving, redecorating, and renovating in #SecondLife…

I managed to get inworld in the mornings to mess around with DigitalFarmSystems and even managed to breed a couple of specialty animals, but could not make it to big events like FantasyFaire      which bothered me, as I’d been looking forward to it all year.

My plan is still to reduce my participation in DFS since I’ve spent way too much real-life coin on buying gadgets and tools for it, and before the reno project started I was attempting to sell off collectibles in the various DFS auction events.With my limited insight, it seems like the bottom is falling out of the market – more and more Second Life farming and lifestyle systems are showing up, and there continue to be a lot of big “I’m leaving DFS, everything must go” announcements for yard sales. And when you check out the sale, you see that the seller has some of the newer farm systems stuff set up and active, and they’re dumping the DFS stuff. I’ve blogged and “tooted” about this on my Mastodon account. It’s also documented on my Second Life “feed” (a feature that is probably going away soon, unless I’m wrong).

Second Life Farms

My new neighbor in Tweddle, who like me picked up abandoned land and cut out a reasonable parcel for farming, is using a completely different farming system. From what I can tell, it doesn’t require “tending” or topping up energy every day. It’s possible to go every other day but you could lose some virtual livestock that way if you cut it too fine. This probably makes it more attractive than DFS for a lot of people.

Just now I’ve reduced the amount that I pay for DFS “extras” in Patreon, as part of my drawing-down process. It’s clear that I was overpaying for game resources that I just wasn’t coming close to needing, especially after picking up more than half of my fields (and more reducing is in order. A couple of months ago I bought a lot of bulk stuff in a sale on a whim; it made me realize how addictive this damn game can be when you can just buy what you need instead of spending the time growing or crafting it, and I was spending $20 a month for the extras, too.

So I have stepped down to a “maintenance dose” of stuff for $3 per month, with the goal of getting down to about 4 active fields by October. The trees and plants can stay, as they can be “turned off” and be decorative. I do enjoy the tending and to some extent, the “cooking.” But I hate the pressure to sell and market, so will keep trying to sell stuff off as I get properly “inworld” at the auctions again. I was about to do that when the renovation project took precedence.

Can’t wait to socialize and have good graphics again, too.