The Greatest Blender Tutorial Ever: Oh God, It’s All Gone Horribly Wrong

It’s been quiet here, but I’ve been making slow and not very steady process in learning Blender again.

I’m signed up for a very comprehensive Udemy course, I’ve got several versions of Blender installed (and will need to update Avastar soon), and I’ve got plans for Christmas decorations at the St John shop.

But much of my Blender self-education consists of watching tutorials, some of which are helpful, many of which are not, and ONE of which is hilariously bad, strangely comforting, and actually useful.

I salute you, sir. You uploaded a cool chair without a physics model, without any attempt to create Level of Detail (LOD) files, and you have no idea how much you spent to upload your subdivided cube-chair. And at least you did it; you didn’t hold back and think “I can’t figure Blender out” and play endless games of Spider Solitaire like me. Well done, you.

Other things I’ve been tinkering around with:
CMFF mBody Mesh Body – Chip Midnight’s attempt to make a logical mesh body for Second Life is officially abandoned, but it can be used with regular mesh clothing. He responded to my request for redelivery, as I had deleted it in a purge, and remarked that he’s not really actively developing anything and has found a new career (also, well done Chip).

Ocasin Mesh Body – about as hilariously bad as the attached tutorial, it’s a very, very inexpensive mesh body with Bento-capable hands and face and absolutely enormously engorged nipples. The fingernails and toenails are pretty awful, the shape is not bad, the alphas HUD is actually quite good except that it’s rotated 90 degrees and is off to the side of my monitor (probably the creator has a very large format monitor). It was dirt cheap, about 10% of the cost of a conventionally pretty mesh avatar, whch is why I decided to ask Chip for a redelivery.

Various open source skin files and tutorials
Eloh Elliott’s Another Skin
Ferd Frederix’ Outworldz is also hosting all of Eloh Elliot’s skins plus a ton more resources for OpenSim
Splendor by Szezmra Svarog – hard to find, weird site.

Multi-Chan Hax
This bizarre Photoshop tool can be set up to work with GIMP; it requires a PSPI helper plugin and also you’ll need something to take the place of Flaming Pear’s Solidify filter if you have 64 bit as I do. I found an alternative via GIMP chat. And what do you know, once I actually read and followed the instructions, it worked. There’s also a filter called “Resynthesizer” that may do something similar.

I’m in “tinkering and dabbling” mode. I want to work on improving old crappy sculpt based products and make a dream I had come true. And I don’t need to wear a beautiful mesh bod, but wanted to have the option to dump the “oh, God, it’s all gone horribly wrong” lumpy SL avatar now and then. I don’t plan on becoming a skin artist (can’t draw, mousing is crap) but I can manage a light template mod, just for my own use.

Dhughan was busy with a project at Halloween and is working on some men’s clothing from kits; he’s a bit stalled on something but will soon be on the right track, I hope.

I’m feeling more confident now. And taking comfort that trying and failing is always better than not trying.

Carrying On

It’s been a somewhat frustrating week. But I made progress on a couple of fronts.

New hat – not really that new, I’ve been wearing it for a year, but only recently got serious about choosing the final set of textures (yes, it’s another texture change) and realizing something fundamentally dumb about how I’ve been doing things.

The new hat is called “Flutterby” and it’s got the same (old) base top hat with a texture change band and body. I really like the steampunk textures, of course, and there are some other ideas for other hats, but with a different base.

These are the body and band choices – I’ve gone this route before by photographing a simple texture organizer inworld to use as the “features” image on the Marketplace ad. It’ll look slightly different, this is just the raw inworld setup.

But due to my realization of the dumbness, I spent some time thinking about how to get around the problem, and decided that I’d have to join the rest of modern SL practice and produce a texture-change HUD. I figure that most users now probably use these for skin and outfits appliers, and after looking around a little, liked Xavier Sockington’s minimalist touch-area approach.

Some of his reviewers didn’t like that there was no resize option. But I’ve taken classes from Xavier and always got something out of them, and wanted to support his business. And although I struggled most of a day before the angels sang, I am still happy with this, although by the time I finally got it working, I was forced to knock off, pack prims away, and venture outworld to a gathering.

Note to my future self: setting this up as a duplex required touching the individual linked prims in order to get the actual link number. Separating them wasn’t a requirement, as they did have to retain their original link number rather than being recombined after being separated. This HUD gives up to 8 button options, with each button offering 8 link or face options. So you could use it to to change textures on multiple faces per button, and you can stack one on top of the other. This way, I get one for body textures, one for band textures.

You could also limit the combinations of textures to just 8 groupings per HUD. I expect builders of retexturable homes and furniture love this stuff. I got the idea from my “realization of my dumbitude” and also from the clever and beautifully textured HUD that came with my texture change patio furniture from Max Graf.

So not only did I mess about with prims, I actually dusted off GIMP and bungled around with layer files until I remembered how to select and mask and so forth, using the image of the texture organizer to stencil the HUD buttons. The textures are named in order so that they’re consistent with the button positions; in a future project, with a little scaling, it’ll be a snap to set up button textures.

Really all that’s required is to double-check the perms with some tests (my poor alts), re-check that the HUD is working (I literally took the working copy into inventory and walked out the door), and set up Marketplace and store vendors.

Of course, all this got me thinking about updating to a newer GIMP. And the dangers of filters not working.

And I set out a group gift in the shop (a mesh top hat, super simple), so that got me thinking about Blender.

Here we go again, taking online classes (Udemy this time, there was a big sale). And I pulled out some old unfinished things and had a look and a think. This time, I think I can actually finish the older projects and get over the block at last.

In the “stuff not done” column, I need to go through my MP listings, update the link to the shop (as it changed when the sim was swapped), and before that, cull old junk ruthlessly.

Although I wasn’t online at all this week, I was getting other things figured out. And thinking about fun activities (a kind of organized tour) that’s sort of fitness oriented. More on that later.

UPDATE: I had a few minutes at lunch today to check on the hat and HUD, and ermagerd, ert werks! Now thinking of getting my hair did with something modern and hat friendly.

You Never Really Leave

It’s been a busy week. After a long break, the approach of fall meant I’d have more time on the weekends for inworld activities (the typist rides her bicycle and has other summer goings-on). I was thinking of a return to my St John shop, where I’d left several projects partly completed.

Then circumstances forced some quick decisions. The sim was to undergo a complete makeover. Would I continue, or depart? Make a clean break, or a fresh start? After stopping in at the shop to take stock, it was clear to me that I wanted to carry on.

All of the parcels were to be cleared by last Sunday of all prims, but I had time on Saturday. Sim owner Gabrielle Riel provided quick videos on how to pick up prims and pack them to be easily restored, but that wouldn’t be necessary for me; I planned to put down a completely different building, in a new orientation, so my vendors and doodads didn’t have to be restored to their original positions.

The parcel was cleared and I spent some time in a sandbox getting organized, trying out some old-school building, and also shopping for textures and looking at potential candidates for the new building on the Marketplace.

Most of the week, I spent messing about with prims – I bought 4 different buildings and tinkered with them. There’s something both relaxing and focusing editing someone else’s build, but frustrating too.

I settled on an old-style building called “French Quarter House,” but didn’t like how it was oriented; there’s a back garden with a little two-story annex that I ended up rotating 90 degrees, and I’m pretty happy with it.

The other candidate was a really big 3 story “New Orleans Bar House” that really had potential, but was a small footprint AND it was no copy. After spending a couple of days trimming out unwanted landscaping and garden furniture (all of which was no copy, but I saved it), the main house was mostly copy but some no-copy element remained somewhere. Finally, I found a no-copy animation in an innocuous barrel in the kitchen, and another no-copy texture in the back bar. Voila, the entire house became “copy” when those prims were delinked.

It has some really nice elements (beautiful front balconies with topiary plants) and some really not-great exterior textures; I went so far as to copy it and start to knock it into semi detached (still fits on the parcel) but decided that it was too big a project. I could make it work (using Anywhere Doors by Curio Obscura) for the upper floors and I may still swap it out later if I need more display space. And I could still grab parts (shutters that close, landscaping, the garden furniture).

In the end, I went with the French Quarter house that I remodeled; I have office space in the back, and will have minimal vendors out in the front building. Dhughan will also share space, with his walking stick vendors upstairs. I bought some Rustica furniture after reading about Maxwell Graf’s situation on other blogs – the funky patio set will look great out back. I do need to go through the house and trim prims, make sure that some elements are set up as convex hull, etc.

The other furniture I got from Rustica is one of his Craftsman sets; it’s one of my most favorite styles and it’s right in period with the era at St John Parish. As a part of this, some older prim based furniture I’ve been holding on to forever will go back into deep storage (and a lot more of it will be binned in another burning barrel of no regrets.

It’s weird being back after so long, yet it’s so familiar. The first night I was really back, it was a Talk Like A Pirate Day event that was a Radio Riel simulcast from the NeoVictoria sim. This amazing materials-enabled seahorse showed up. I have other pictures on my hard drive, need to get them on my Flickr page. I also need to remember to use my profile feed more, it’s handy to pull photos off of there.

That was so much fun, I went back for a Circus Night and Freakshow at my friend Kitty’s place in Bayou St John. The costumes were astounding, and the music was super eclectic.

I’ve been tinkering with some build tools and figuring out what I have and what I don’t, and rediscovered that before I went on hiatus, I had gotten most of my huge and overly complicated collection of textures loaded and categorized in a Kinex texture organizer. Some have complained that the creator, Kindred Skytower, hasn’t been inworld in months, but as a recent returnee, I’m still happy with the product – it really makes it easy to find something!

I’ve reconnected with some old friends and made some new ones, made some sales, and I’m getting the building bug again. There’s a lot of mesh work that’s simply beyond my sadly outdated skills in Blender; but I did manage to make mesh last year, and by God, I can pick it back up again. I’ll never be that talented or creative, but what I can do, I’ll do. It’s satisfying to pick things back up.

It’s also satisfying to move them around and rezz them somewhere else. And then relax.

There was talk on other blogs this week (I’d more or less kept up on feeds) about fellow Oldbies coming back to Second Life; once you “get it” inworld, you can never really leave.

So I’m back, again. I’ve got a big rezz day coming up and not sure what to do about it, but I’m here.

Tweekly Digest: 06-Feb – 12-Feb

Tweekly Digest: 08-Feb – 14-Feb

Holy Crap, You Guys, I’m An Arteest Naow? #SecondLife

I won.

Congratulations to the Windlight Magazine & St. John (Riel Estates) Photo Challenge winners! They are:

1st place: Lelani Carver
2nd Place: JamieWolf
3rd Place: Sugar Vegas

Via: Windlight Magazine: Mardi Gras Photo Challenge Winners

Mardi Gras Photo Challenge - Lelani Carver_011

Yes, it’s very dark. The full size one at Flickr shows up better.

I was shocked when I got the email from Johannes1977, the Windlight Magazine publisher. I thought I might have a chance at third place or honorable mention; there were several other photographers who chose that tomb as their subject or as backdrop to a fashion shot. But that was the first one I posted, and of the two I took, it was the one that had a particular glint on the hanging golden skulls and the glowing snake eyes, because I shot using a Windlight setting for an SL day (not fixed day) and the sun was setting. That was the one, and did not even crop it or alter it in any way.

First, because it’s WINDLIGHT, and although the use of filters during shooting, and post-processing was allowed, I was pleased by that particular, ephemeral effect. Second, I could have cropped it but in the end decided against that and posted it unedited and uncropped. Apparently, my comment to that effect impressed the judges, according to what Johannes (and also Gabi) said. They were both VERY complimentary and I was blushing a lot. Yikes.

Which makes THIS particularly funny:

Winner of Flickr Windlight photo contest and banned from Second Life Official Flickr group

I, uh, may have been a little too enthusiastic when posting public relations announcements as a favor for the St John sim owner, Gabrielle Riel. I sent an apology to the Second Life Official group admin but have yet to hear back.

Meanwhile the St John floats are rolling, although there were extremely frustrating tech problems at first. It didn’t help that there were a sim full of us listening to music and dancing while Gabi and Eve Whiterose sorted it out. Earlier in the day, she was forced to close the sim for a few hours while dealing with that and other stuff.

I took a lot of pictures at both Flickr and my SL profile. I also danced, and at one point may have accidentally clicked on something on my float that made it leap forward just as Gabi was working on fixing it. So I ran and hid under the cakes table.

Fortunately, I was very small. I stayed quiet and licked frosting off my paws when I thought nobody was looking.

3 Little Mardi Gras Cheefs

Two other Dinkies kitties from St John showed up and D’OH, we all bought the same outfit; AlisonLockheart and cupcakesnatcher danced along with me. Later, I sent a snapshot to the maker of the outfit, Clover Dezno.

Then later, when all the floats were out and rolling, I spotted a new one that looked somewhat familiar.

Tomb of the Wulfenbachs

Yes, it’s the Tomb of the Wulfenbachs, from my old Steelhead acquaintance Baron KlausWulfenbach Outlander. The detail on the top of his famous airship was remarkable. There are 3 dancing poses. It was nice seeing the Baron when he showed up later (which fortunately was after Edward Pearse left; they were wearing the same Baron Samedi outfit, which would have been awkwerrrrrd).

Anyway, when you look inside the tomb, you see an image of the Baron and Baronin. That tomb does get around – in fact, it’s driving itself around St John right now until Wednesday. The Baronin is wearing a snake instead of letting it crawl around on the ground as shown in my (modest cough) award-winning photo.

Which REALLY made me laugh, because on my float, I ALSO inserted myself into art.

Paul Cezanne picture Mardi Gras with Pierot, Harlequin, and a Dinkies Kitty

There’s a story behind this. A few weeks ago, I attended an art exhibition in Second Life, supporting a friend’s DJ set. It was in an historic roleplay sim popular with Europeans, full of beautiful buildings with elegant decor (and at least one very high-fashion attendee). The featured artist asked me if I liked any of her pieces, which were all pictures of her in costume using some other well-known artist’s work as a backdrop. I did like one in particular, and said so.

She said “Good. That will be $L400, please.”

It might have been more, I can’t remember.

Not wishing to look like a piker (and a culturally deficient American) in front of my friend, I paid up, and mentioned that I also made products with artistic textures (the mesh screens). I did like her work, you see, and it was not an exorbitant amount. It was just a strong-armory amount.

“Oh, show me one, I will put the texture for the art piece on it for you.” That seemed like a better deal, so at first I passed one to her that was mod, no transfer as they normally are. She liked what it did and I think she ended up buying more kits from the maker, but then she said “Pass me a mod one that I can transfer back to you.”

Okay, lady, here you go… and she passes it back to me with her art texture on it, and it’s no mod, no copy. My object is now no mod, no copy. I probably handed it to her as no copy to prevent it from getting out full perm and protect the original maker, so I’m hoist on an artistic petard of my own making, I guess.

What a good joke on somebody (probably me). So that’s why inserting myself into art at the last minute to decorate my rather dull float made me laugh, and the Baron’s tomb made me laugh, too.

Tweekly Digest: 01-Feb – 07-Feb