2015 was a year with many ups and downs, both in RL and SL, and there have been numerous ways in which RL affected my SL and vice versa – and not always in a favourable manner. At any rate, what matters is that I’m still around, and have managed to improve several important parts of my RL.
One of the things I describe myself as is an amateur builder; although I don’t have any proper 3D graphics skills, I do dabble in modifying all sorts of stuff I can get my hands on, provided it comes with the appropriate permissions. I might want to personalise something and make it fit in with a certain project or look I have in mind, or I might want to make it look more realistic, especially when it comes to scale; either way, I don’t usually leave modifiable things “stock”.
With Second Life prefab builds, scale is one of my pet peeves. As both I and Penny Patton have explained before (my post and Penny’s), the viewer’s default camera offsets give a skewed perspective and this leads to oversized, poorly-proportioned avatars, and we design our builds accordingly, i.e. small homes with ceilings 7 meters high, doors 5 meters tall and 2.5 meters wide, and don’t even get me started on things like staircases.
Now, many of us have bought prefab buildings at one point or another. Most of them, sadly, are made for SL’s typical gigantic avatars and waste too much virtual estate, plus their sense of place generally sucks, simply because of their proportions. A few are spot-on. Others are a mixed bag.
A case in point is the build I’m presenting today: Trompe Loeil’s Iona Conservatory. Released at January 2015’s Collabor88 event, it’s a gorgeous build, generally well-dimensioned, enhanced with materials (specular and normal maps), and I highly recommend it – it even comes at a very attractive price. It would make a gorgeous greenhouse, art studio, office, or whatever for your region.
However, it has two of my pet peeves: The entrance’s stair steps are a bit on the high side, and the doors are exceedingly tall (the handles are near my chin, and my avatar, wearing high heels, is 179cm tall; not exactly what you’d call “short stuff”).
Honestly, though, these are things that can be fixed. Being the die-hard tinkerer that I am, I set out to work on this build. First, I set out to resize the doors, as per the dimensions I gave in my scale-related post from 2014. The target height was 280cm (2.80 meters). Obviously, resizing the doors would leave a gaping hole between them and their surround. So, I needed to fill that space with something. Before resizing the doors, I noted down their width and height, as these would help me determine the “filler”‘s dimensions. Then, I set out to make (with prims, and then create the mesh with Mesh Studio) a new frame of sorts. After resizing the doors, I performed the necessary calculations for proper positioning of the various bits, and then, after creating the mesh, I imported it back into SL. Each door has its own extra frame, and the LI for each side is 7. Let’s have a look at the door frames, shall we?
Originally, the doors were set to open outwards, robbing the little porch in front of them of some useful space. I opted to rescript them with Kool Door scripts.
But the steps are still a bit high; these will be taken care of soon enough.
Now comes the interesting part. What do you do to texture this thing, especially when you don’t have the original textures? If you can’t get the creator of the product you bought to help you by providing sample textures or AO maps, you have two options: One is to take a bunch of snapshots and start working on them in GIMP or Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro or whatever; the other is to use a tool like the SL Cache Viewer to locate the textures you need in your viewer’s cache, open them in your favourite graphics app and make new textures that will fit in with your modifications. Whichever course you take, don’t even think of selling the modified textures. You must always understand that there’s a very thick line between modifying a product for your own use and enjoyment – you have every right to do that – and infringing on someone else’s work.
Now we come to a way in which prefab designers could make themselves a lot more helpful: Offering, either bundled with the build, or as an additional product (with its own price), the textures, UV and AO maps for that specific build, they could encourage people’s creativity and gain extra credit for customer service. And I do believe they’d be safe when it comes to their intellectual property, because mesh builds come with their own AO maps that are applied on the various textures, and trying to use the new, modified textures with different builds is completely useless.
At any rate, I sat down and created textures for the windows and irons of these new frames. Here’s the end result (for now):
So, that’s it for now! The stairsteps will be handled soon enough. I’ve got plans for this build, along with others. There’s this project I’ve got on my mind, and I’ve located some buildings and mesh creator kits that have caused a rush of ideas I’ve experienced only a few times before in my life.