Hair Fair 2014

The 9th annual Hair Fair is coming up in a few weeks and the build-up has already started with a Flickr competition. The theme this year is simply “music” which is a theme very close to my heart. Here is Indra again, with my competition entry.

The Melody Lingers On

Credits
Hair: Veronica – Wasabi Pills
Skin: Enigma Tiramisu – Cupcakes
Makeup: Glamorize
Shape: model’s own
Eyes: Deep Sky, Molasses – Mayfly
Dress: Meryl – Purple Moon
Location: Club Noir, of course

For up to date info about the fair itself, there is a blog.

Furry! No, feathery!

Back in 2006, Casidy was a part time furry. Specifically, a gryphon.  I forget where the avatar was from but I put it on today and it looked so dated.  So I trawled the marketplace and found a new one by Black Feather Designs, and gave him an upgrade.

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Here’s the 2006 version

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And here’s the upgrade. Much better.  I might keep him like this.

Madison asked me why he’s wearing pants. That’s because he’s a civillised gryphon.

Quick Windlight Tutorial

The difference between a good snapshot and a great one is lighting. Fortunately in Second Life that’s easy to customise to get the best effects.   One of the most important things to get right is the balance between Sun/Moon light and Ambient light.   Compare the two images below; both showing the same avatar in High graphics with advanced lighting/shadows off.  Note the first one is spoiled by ugly shadows whereas the second makes the avatar crisp and clear.

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The reason for this is the balance between directional light from Sun/Moon, and Ambient (diffuse) light.  In the first image, the Sun/Moon light is brighter than the Ambient light (by quite a lot – I’m trying to make a point here).  In the second image, Ambient light is brighter than Sun/Moon.  Note also that if you set your Ambient light high enough, you won’t need a facelight to bleach out those nasty ugly shadows.

Now, if you are running in Ultra graphics or you have turned on Shadows, also called Advanced Lighting,  you need a different tactic, because if your Ambient light is too high it will wash out the shadows and you won’t see them.  Observe…

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As you can see, the shadows are barely visible in the first image and the whole scene looks flat and washed-out.  Bring down the ambient light and raise the sunlight, and the shadows become much more pronounced. These are good shadows, not the ugly ones we had before.

If the final image is too dark or too light, you can raise or lower the Gamma without affecting the balance between directional and diffuse light.

So how is it done? Easy.

Go to “World” in the menu, then “Environment Settings” and either “New” or “Edit”.  The image below shows the dialog box and the parts that you need to edit.

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Clicking on the coloured boxes brings up the usual RGB colour editing window, so not only can you change the brighness of the light, you can change the hue as well.  The one on the left is Sun/Moon directional light and the one on the right is ambient diffuse light. (The two similar boxes at the top affect atmospheric light; they will change your sky without affecting the light that is shining in-world).  Play around with them to try different effects and if you stumble upon something you like, give it a new name and save it.

Here is an example making the best use of Shadows in-world. Here, I used a strong Sun with a slightly yellow tint, with a grey Ambient light that was still fairly strong; that’s what makes the background look lighter as a contrast against the shadows from the tree on the avatar.

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Blast from the Past

My first avatar was born on 20 June 2006 in Nova Albion Infohub.  I used it on and off for a few months but I got bored and forgot about it, finally coming back in late 2007 with a mainly roleplay alt, and finally in August 2008 with the avatar that became my main one.  Over the years my original avatar languished, a forgotten victim of the Grand Password reset of 2009. I was pretty sure I’d lost the email address and I apparently couldn’t remember the password, and an attempt a couple of years ago to recover the account through Support failed because I couldn’t remember the name of some random friend.

A few days ago I decided to try again and this time I actually answered the security questions and I got the account back. (The kicker is, the email address on file was one I still had).

The first thing I did was take some pics, because, oh my god, this guy seriously needed a makeover.

Meet Casidy Craig…

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See those shoes? Those are system shoes. There were actually no prim shoes in his inventory at all.

Here’s a family shot with me and Madison.  He badly needs an AO too.

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A few days and a few L$ later, he’s looking much better:

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The skin is Nomine, which is due to close at the end of the month. Some skins on the marketplace are reduced to L$100 each and this is one of them; Nephilim in Apricot, with a tintable facial hair add-on, also from Nomine.  Who says elves don’t have beards? This one does, apparently.  The hair is Wasabi Pills (Orion, Gingerbread) and the shape is my own. I scrapped Casidy’s original shape because it was so awful, and made a new one based loosely on Lewis’s shape. You wouldn’t know but the face is exactly the same, only the body shape has changed.

So I took a trip down Memory Lane to Nova Albion. I don’t have a pic from Casidy’s early days here, but I mocked one up, and another one to compare, as he is now.

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And I couldn’t resist a scenic shot of the old place. It’s empty now, but it hasn’t really changed much since 2006.

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I’ve made Casidy a premium member, that’s a no-brainer since he’s grandfathered into the L$500-a-week stipend. That will help with my rent for Club Noir, if he doesn’t spend it all on new clothes.

Finally in case you’re wondering why his name is missing an “s” in Cassidy – when I first made this avatar, no matter what surname I picked from the list (remember those?) it would tell me that “Cassidy” wasn’t available. Eventually I gave up and settled for an alternative spelling, it still shortens to “Cas” and that’s good enough for me. It was only later, when I realised there was no-one in SL at all with a first name of Cassidy, I figured out that the profanity filters must have been working overtime on Cassidy’s ass.