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Mesh!

Hi, me again.  Laura18 Streeter put me on to the best thing to hit SL since tattoo layers.  This may even eclipse tattoo layers.  MESH!

Ok, so the idea of mesh isn’t especially new.  But going to a store, buying a mesh dress, and seeing my cute little avi in it just knocked me over.  The store, btw, is Jane, and there you can find a selection of mesh dresses and skirts, jeans, and tops.

Left: curvy shape; Right: runway shape

So, let’s look at some of the particulars.  One of the first things I wanted to know was the extent to which it would change my shape.  For example, would the size of my boobs be defined by the dress?  Well, yes and no.  Pictured above are a smaller curvy shape that I have, and my tall runway shape.  First of all, I have to say that one size does not fit all.  But Jane includes a large and a small size, and between the two, I get a good fit on each avi.  Counter-intuitively, I found that my tall shape required the small size, and my shorter shape required the large size; chalk it up to the curves.  But back to my question, does the dress change my shape?  Not so much.  It adds a few extra curves to my skinny runway shape, but it comes reasonably close.

Notice also in the shot above, that the particular pose I have chosen would break most system skirts and many prim skirts.  But the mesh dress flows nicely over the avatar.  In Laura’s post, she shows mesh clothing on a variety of difficult poses.  So rather than repeat here what she has already well covered, I will refer you to her blog.   However, I was hoping that the terrible things that happen to our skirts when we sit would become an unpleasant memory.  Alas, as the pencil skirt shows below, it is possible to break a mesh skirt.

While on the subject of pencil skirts, I was really curious to see how a mesh pencil skirt would compare to a system skirt.  You know… the big-butt problem.  Shown below I am wearing one of Jane’s pencil skirts, using my regular shape (not skirt shape).  It adds a little volume to my butt, but flattens my tummy.  (Recall that system skirts bulge out on all sides, including tummy.)  So I would probably tweak my shape to narrow the butt and hips a tiny bit, but not nearly to the extent required for a system skirt.

One last caveat: You can only properly see a mesh prim (on yourself or anybody else) if your viewer supports mesh.  Second Life’s default viewer 3 and Kristen’s S21 support it.  (I shot these photos in Kristen’s S21 v 2.8.2.)  Seeing a mesh prim on someone if your viewer does not support mesh is not pretty (again, see Laura’s blog for a piccie).

A few btw’s.  The tank dress and pencil skirts are each single attachments.  They cannot be moved, rotated, etc (when I right-clicked the prim, the “Edit” option didn’t come up!).  And therefore the fit you see is as it came out of the box.  And the photos are untouched; what you see in the piccies is what I saw in my viewer.  An alpha layer is worn under the prim.  And as I was writing this, I received an update from Jane; the tank dress now includes 4 sizes: fair, luscious, petite, and plump.

Well, this can only mean one thing… I need a whole new wardrobe!!!  So, designers, *Bourbon taps her foot impatiently* what are you waiting for?

Top photo: Dress: Jane Tank Dress Crush Honey; Shoes: Phoenix Rising Buckle Flats; Left image – Skin Tuli Sayuri; Hair: HOH Elusive; Right image – Skin: Tuli Claire sunkissed; Hair: Truth Sandra marmalade streaked.

Lower photos: Skirt: Jane Pencil Skirt Eliza grey; Blouse: MEB Coral Shirt; Skin: Tuli Claire sunkissed; Hair: Lelutka Willamina fire top

Perfect Fit!

Before I launch into my topic, I should probably introduce myself.  I’m Bourbon Zenovka, and I’m a fashion model.  (Sorry if that sounded a bit 12-step.)  My point is, I am not a designer, and I feel a little awkward contributing to a blog about design quality.  I certainly cannot tell you designers how to work your craft.  However, I can bring to you the perspective from the runway, hopefully with some thoughts about the marketability of your products.  So with that, I would like to discuss fitting a garment.  I will focus mainly on attachments, but also touch on clothing layers.

How will your customer experience that delicious moment, when she unpacks the box and tries on her new garment for the first time?  Will attempting to fit it leave her frustrated, or will she be dying for your next release?

In the Bourbieverse, the ideal garment allows me to move, resize (along each axis separately!), and rotate each individual prim of an attachment.  It is SO important to have that level of control over the fit of the garment, because our shapes can be so different.  My casual observation is that at least 95% of our avatars (female, anyway) have tall, statuesque figures, so I suspect that is the shape most designers work with.  “Tall and statuesque” sounds narrowly defined, but there is a fair bit of variability.  For example, although my avatar stands a towering 2.0 meters in heels, many full-length skirts disappear into the floor when I first wear them.  Small differences between the customer’s shape and the designer’s shape can render a poor fit out of the box.  Needless to say, a designer cannot create a one-size-fits-all attachment.  However, it would probably be helpful to have a variety of shapes on hand.  You can up the odds that your attachment will be workable with your customers’ shapes, and you can make necessary adjustments before release.

Given our diversity of shapes, the customer will most likely have to make some adjustments to attachments to get a good fit. There are several ways a designer can approach this.  The simplest solution is to sell the garment (the attachment, anyway) with mod permissions.  I understand why designers are reticent to take this approach.  Truly, I am disheartened each time I hear that someone’s creation has been stolen.  So the common alternative is to build the prims with a resizing script, which Raven Haalan discussed in detail in his Sep 19 post.  However, you might be interested to know that in a recent round table among models, there was a decided preference for modifiable, rather than scripted hair.   I’m just saying.

But if you must use a resizing script, please make the item copyable and include a kill script.

 

Alpha layers can hide body parts that might break through a prim

 

There are other options to consider, too.  If you can afford to provide that level of support, offering a custom fitting, as Bax does, can give your customers a nice boutique experience.  Or what some hair designers do (Sirena and Zero Style come to mind) is to include several sizes of the item in the box.  Another option to consider is to use the alpha layers of viewer 2.  I have worn alpha layers under hair (sure beats fussing with a zillion individual prims); we will see how clothing designers will implement them.

 

Tukinowaguma includes a spec sheet for head shape

 

As a last resort, you can include a notecard that lists the parameters for the avatar shape that the item was designed around.  (Tukinowaguma does this, for example.)  Occasionally while preparing for a show, frustrated at being unable to fit a garment to my shape, I have modified my shape to fit the garment.  Using any trick in the book to fit a garment is part of what I am paid to do as a model.  But I think most customers would feel put out if asked to modify their shapes.

 

Larger nipples may peek above the décolletage

 

To this point, I have been discussing items under the customers’ control.  Clothing layers, however, are another matter; they are constrained by the avatar mesh.  Yes, I’m a big fan of décolletage, and Harper’s recent post was spot-on.  What follows is perhaps a footnote.  When designing the décolletage, be aware that all nipples are not created equal.  Nipples are painted on the skins, and some will be larger, some smaller, irrespective of breast size or shape.   If it is your intention to show some nipple peeking above the garment, well and good.  Otherwise, consider trying your garment on a variety of skins, to cover your bases, so to speak.

 

Voilà!

 

For sure, most of your customers are not going to be as anal about a garment’s fit as will be a veteran model.  But they do remember which stores sell clothes that consistently fit well and look attractive, as well as where they bought clothes that, “well, just don’t look right on me.”  During the design and construction phase, you may predispose an item for good fit, but in the end, the customer will usually be making the adjustments.  So give the customer as much control as possible over the size, rotation and position of each individual prim.  When she is finished, she will stand in front of her virtual mirror, look with great satisfaction at what she sees, and exclaim to herself, “Perfect fit!”

Resizer / Retexture Script Updates

Greetings, Raven here. I’m an SL photographer, artist, builder, scripter and gadget aficionado. I’m happy to be invited to blog here, woot! I’m going to approach my posts from the perspective of a smart designer, but not necessarily a strongly technical person. Here goes…

Jaime Resizer

Script Congestion

Ever had tp trouble? You tried to get into (or out of) a sim and tp let you down? Over and over and over again. So you started taking off huds and hair and attachments and then bammo – you could go. Why? Well, that’s because a lot of huds and hair are pretty script heavy and script heavy can cause a tp to fail. It’s not unreasonable. I was sitting in Babbage Linden’s office while folks were presenting some disturbing stats. Some avatars, upon entering a sim, caused up to a six real time second (yes, 6) lockup of the sim. Why? Because the scripts carried by the avatar took that long to load. I suspect there some filtering mechanisms on script loads in the server tp code (just a hunch :) ).

What was interesting at this particular office session was the revelation that even if a script wasn’t doing anything, it needed to be loaded into the server. It makes sense when you think about it. How would the server know if the script was doing anything or not? It made me go Hmmm.

LL has used throttling mechanisms for years that impose a real time delay on many script function calls. A call to llSetLinkTexture would cause the script to sleep for 0.2 seconds. The intent was to prevent scripts from sending things running about willy nilly and lagging the server… BUT the workaround was to create many scripts and have them each handle the request – or in the case of re-sizing or re-texturing, have each linked prim handle it’s own resize. One request per script, so no delay. It created a horrendous script load when a 250+ prim hair rig had a script per prim.

The Awesomeness of llSetLinkPrimitiveParamsFast()

In early 2010 a new function rolled onto the SL grid – LLSetLinkPrimitiveParamsFast(). It’s not for neophytes, but there is one thing to realize… llSetLinkPrimitiveParams() delays by 0.2 seconds and llSetLinkPrimitiveParamsFast() does not. It’s possible to create re-texturizers and resizers that use this function. Most pro script providers have been updating to use it.

Resizers and Retexturing scripts, properly written with the new functions (examples here and here) only need one (yes, 1) script in the root prim. LL might have created their own problem on this, but now, any designer using old resize scripts is gonna be quickly out of date.

… sooo …

Update!

This is a classic example of why you want to have an update capability in the fashion biz. I can feel for the many who have hundreds of resizable things to update, but yaknow, it’s a one-time cost. Curse LL for imposing the limit in the first place, all the way.

… and for buyers, I’d say – if it has a script in every child prim and you bought it recently – grrr. The last word comes from resizer script developers Wietse and Gwendolyn Cassini, who have posted on their xstreet listing

“Normally I would state the changes in the new version here. However LL finally came with some long awaited functions and we rewrote the scripts from scratch… I do however want to explain why we made 5.1. LL will as a lot of you know be coming with new script time limits. New functions in LSL scripting allow us now to skip having a script in each child prim. Which cuts down the amount of scripts needed in high prim objects. But also the inter script communication. This effectively reduced scripting time a thousand fold. A 200 prim object used to have a script time around 0.5 – 1 ms.. Yeah a lot i know. In the 5.1 version we clocked it around 0.008 ms. Which is a really acceptable amount as you can imagine, its freakishly low.”

(not quite the last word. If you’re using a fave resizer and haven’t gotten an update, it’s time to ask.)

How to Know

It might be confusing to know if you’re up to date or not. It’s really simple. If your resize/retexture script requires a script to be in every prim, run – don’t walk. Search xstreet for scripts that don’t require this. If in doubt, send an NC or IM the scripter and ask.

If you’re walking around with classic stuff (it’s great, I know) then *please* check to see if modification scripts are still installed. If they are, make a copy and then delete. Do this for all outfits. If the designer doesn’t have a delete option on the menu, take out a contract on them. If they have mod scripts in it and it isn’t copy, use tactical nukes. :)

The Decolletage

The word “decolletage” means a low cut neckline, and certainly in SL, the decolletage is well-liked. Everyone likes showing off their cleavage, especially with the advent of the cleavage layers and skins.

Therefore, it’s relevant to discuss how clothing makers address this area of the body. There is a neckline prevalent in SL that shows up frequently on evening dresses and other items. I am not sure how to describe it except as two circles on the boobs.

Neckline shots

It’s the default move for a shirt one wears when you take the sleeves down completely. This is what you often see when you get ruthed. It’s not attractive and structurally, it doesn’t make sense. Where do you EVER see a top like this in reality? Boo for designers who resort to this. Even if the shirt is to be worn under prims, it should not have this shape—if prims are not worn or don’t rez, no one wants to see this.

That’s why I appreciate when a designer makes a top that show a great decolletage. Here are a few examples (all lack adorning prims and are worn with the adjoining skirt system piece). Please note the excellent transition from the top to the skirt for all these pieces as well:

Neckline shots

The simple scoop neck is done to perfection by Constanza Volare and Moxie Polano. *Alchemy* Unique Hot Pink *SS* (EM) by Constanza Volare  for *Alchemy* and MP 24k Cocktail Dress by Moxie Polano for Moxie Polano’s Haute Couture.

Neckline shots

A deep V-neck, interpreted two ways, shapes both these tops from Applonia Criss and Nonna Hedges. {CHANTKARE}VIKTOR FALLBACK DRESS (PREFALL) by Applonia Criss for Chantkare and !!!Golden Girl flexy(P) by Nonna Hedges and Details by Nonna Hedges.

Neckline shots

A deep plunge with straps is not an easy piece to make but monica Outlander and Nicky Ree both pull it off for these evening dresses. Miamai_Scilla Green by monica outlander for Miamai and *DNR* Mara RFL 2010 Collection in Lavender Pink by Nicky Ree for Designing Nicky Ree.

Neckline shots

Mimikri Kit and Sascha Frangilli show a lovely decolletage with a straight cut across. Both are skilled for their lack of distortion. Mimikri – Kiku autumn/ Dress by Mimikri Kit for Mimikri and SAS – Wicked Swan Cocktail Version by Sascha Frangilli for Sascha’s Designs.

Neckline shots

An asymmetrical neckline is not easy to make on a system piece—it’s a lot easier to make one side and just mirror it to the other. Neferia Abel and Eshi Otawara take on the challenge with these pieces. -L`Abel-Anora pink valentine dress by Neferia Abel for L’Abel and Kelp Dress (Moonlight) by Eshi Otawara for Eshi Otawara.

Neckline shots

A unique neckline can make all the difference. Both these pieces have accompanying prims to decorate the bodices, but they can exist without. Sissy Pessoa and Zaara Kohime are experts with this. * Baiastice_Cotton & Satin Drap-red by Sissy Pessoa for Baiastice and Zaara : Amala Gown *Bronze* by Zaara Kohime for Zaara.

My beautiful decolletage is provided by Kira Ahn and hair is from Serenity Stransky. [dekade.] Skins  -Dahlia- sunkissed/lb/TDR #5 by Kira Ahn for [dekade.] and [!SyDS! Hair] Kyrie – Espresso by Serenite Stransky for SyDS

Seams and the avatar mesh

The Second Life avatar mesh presents certain difficulties to clothing designers.  Unless you are using solid colors on the clothing layer, there will probably be a visible line where the texture meets the seam.  There are several techniques for hiding this seam.  The use of a solid color will make the seam invisible, but without using some texture the clothing will appear flat and very unrealistic.

seam example (elymode)

seam example (elymode)

One method that is used very effectively is to have the clothing seam line up directly with the avatar mesh.  In this example, the actual point where the two textures meet is masked by the dark shading running along the length of the seam, but it’s a very thin and accurate line. Shading and stitching is used on both sides of the seam to add to the realism and give the appearance of depth.

front seam example (elymode)

front seam example (elymode)

Also notice how the wrinkles in the fabric are consistent across the seam.  This is consistent with how a real piece of fabric appears.  You will also notice that the two colors are created to appear as two different clothing pieces. This is achieved by the additional shading on the upper green layer. You’ll see this along the upper and lower edges where the green meets the blue. The same technique is used on the edges of the blue fabric where it meets the skin. A very thin black/transparent gradient along the edge of the fabric gives a very realistic 3D quality to the piece.

Lining up textures in this way requires a lot of patience and persistence, but the results are well worth it.  You only create it one time, but the creation may continue to represent you and your work for years.