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Random Content Creator Tips


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Here's a couple simple, easy, but often overlooked tips for Second Life content creators! As well as anyone who likes to customize their avatar!

Always design sculpted/prim attachments around the smallest shape possible!

This is pretty important actually. The way Second Life is set up it is exceptionally easy to stretch attachments larger, but if you're working with fine details you'll often be including prims that are either as small as possible, or very near. This means that most attachments can not be shrunk. The size you have designed it around is the smallest size avatar that attachment will fit without considerable patience on the part of the wearer.

 On the other hand, if you design around the smallest possible avatar shapes, then that attachment can be enlarged to fit any size avatar, greatly increasing the amount of potential satisfied customers you'll have.

 This is increasingly important lately as more and more avatars are shrinking down to more reasonable, human sizes.Avatars under 6' tall aren't rare anymore. Avatars about 5' tall are increasingly common, especially among women.

 When putting together an outfit, avatar, or attachment, try to design around the lowest possible Object Detail settings.

 If you've ever played with the graphics preferences, the first thing you'll notice when you turn down object detail is that a lot of your attachments may no longer fit as well as they did at higher detail settings. Sometimes with extremely embarrassing results such as body parts poking out of prim shirts, or bald spots where your head peeks through your hair.

Here's the trick.

An attachment that looks fine at low object detail settings will look fine at high object detail settings, but the reverse is not true.

 So when putting together your look, designing a new outfit or complete avatar, turn down your object detail settings while setting everything up!

 Again, for content creators, this broadens your market considerably, making your content look excellent to people no matter how powerful their computer is, or what settings they run SL at! For everyone else, it's a simple tip to help avoid embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions you might otherwise not be aware of!

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I redid my avatar shape several years ago after reading one of your many post on correct avatar size.  In doing so I realized the same issue your are bringing up here and took the time to redo all most all the attachments I sell.  While worth the effort I have to say it was a monumental pain in the $%#.  I had to use a lot of nano prim tricks to do so, and not all shapes could be done that way.  In some cases the rework took MUCH longer then the original work.  All my new work, I  do it with a avatar with a head size of zero. 

I'm a strong supporter of your correct avatar size quest.  As much as having good building practices would still be needed, it would save creators thousands of hours of rework and make all most every attachment instantly compatible with smaller avatars if LL would change the minimum prim size to 0.001   Even more importain now will all the new tiny mesh avatars.  That wouldn't solve the problem of new content being made that wouldn't scale down, but would eliminate a lot of the need to use nano prims, and rework.  I have no idea if this would even be possible (I'm not a professional programmer) but I would be great if once attached, attachments could be scaled down with less limitations, some thing like this

if (object = rezzed) scale = 0.01

if (object = attached) scale =  0.001

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Phaedra that's an interesting idea, not sure if that's a viewer to server side change that LL would need make, but I think it would have to be limited to scaling a whole object that is attached and not the individual linked prims or you end up with the the same problem, if some one edits a prime to the smallest size in an attachment preventing the rest of the object form scaling down any more.

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A couple more random tips.

 

Mesh hair creators, rig up multiple variations of each style!

Not all avatars are the same! You greatly broaden the market for your hair if you create variations for both multiple body types (ie: larger chests) and versions that allow for mesh clothing (ie: hair that doesn't fall directly against a person's shoulders, back and chest allowing for prim/mesh clothing like vests, jackets, puffy shirts).

More options = more customers!

 

Don't ever use fullbright as an alternative to proper lighting!

You can use it in combination with proper light (tho that is often still less than ideal, visually, unless you're using it for some very specific effects, but it looks pretty terrible when you walk into a brightly lit store at night, surrounded by completely lit walls, floors, furniture, yet your avatar is a nearly pitch black silhouette because there's no actual lighting.

 

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Penny Patton wrote:

Don't ever use fullbright as an alternative to proper lighting!

I have disagreed with you before on this. Using fullbright textures can be very very useful. A fullbright texture doesn't have to look all that bright, dark parts on a texture will still be dark when it's set to fullbright. You can really enhance the performance of the viewer by replacing a ton of lights with fullbright textures and it can enhance the looks aswell. These textures will have to be custom made though. Using too much custom textures will ofcourse lower the performance again, so be careful with this.

As I said before, this trick will only work when the daylight cycle is set to a short interval, day only or night only. Otherwise the lighting will be off like you describe.

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But I'm not really seeing how you're disagreeing with me.

I didn't say "people should never use fullbright prims", only that they shouldn't use it exclusively as an alternative to proper lighting. Using fullbright in combination with proper lighting can be effective in achieving certain effects, when done properly.

 Tho, as you point out, if you want to use fullbright walls and floors it limits you on ideal region windlight settings and even then I'd say the trade-offs outweigh any benefits in most cases, where the same effects can be done much more effectively with baked shadows on non-fullbright prims but with effective use of light sources. Still, even here I'd only suggest this is usually the case, but there are always exceptions.

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To show what I mean, I see a lot of shops that look like this at night.

fullbright no lighting.jpg

Fullbright walls and floors, with or without baked shadows, but with no local lighting whatsoever, leaving any visiting avatars looking like dark silhouettes inside what appears to be a brightly lit room.

 

That's just bad design on the part of the environment creator, even if there's fantastic textures with great baked light and shadow effects.

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I wouldn't expect full bright to illuminate the area, but only the prims texture, Natually the avatar will appear to show no light reflection if there is none to show. It just happens to look odd against a fullbright  textured background.

Just make adjustments to allow for a perfect illusion at night by adding light sources.

The other thing is. Some users have their settings to use only Sun and moon  and some users have their viewer set to use both projectors + sun/moon lighting.  So adding a light source may not even work for some

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Naturally. That's exactly my point, if you're going to use fullbright to give the impression of a fully lit environment, place lights so that the avatars in that environment are lit as well.

Although, and this is where I believe Kwakkelde and I disagree, I'd recommend avoiding using fullbright for that effect even with light sources as it almost never, with few exceptions, looks *quite* right or as good as a well textured environment using both baked shadows and local light sources. For example, those using deferred rendering will not see shadows cast (except the baked texture shadows of course) in such an environment.

Ambient lighting still works fine with projectors enabled, not all light sources are converted to projectorss, so at the very least you could still light avatars with local lighting in that case. The lighting is more nuanced, tho, so the use of fullbright would be more obvious than it is in non-deferred, but it would still look far better than entirely unlit avatars in a fullbright environment.

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Penny Patton wrote:

Naturally. That's exactly my point, if you're going to use fullbright to give the impression of a fully lit environment, place lights so that the avatars in that environment are lit as well.

Although, and this is where I believe Kwakkelde and I disagree, I'd recommend avoiding using fullbright for that effect even with light sources as it almost never, with few exceptions, looks
*quite*
right or as good as a well textured environment using both baked shadows and local light sources

I never mentioned the illusion of a fully lit room. What about a midnight scene where you want some small spotligts, pointed away from any place an avatar could possibly be? Spotlights pointing at walls or ceilings. You could use a real light for that and it would probably look fine. But there is an alternative to such use of local lights and that is using full bright textures. That is where I disagree with your statement.

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Erm, you specifically said  "Don't ever use fullbright as an alternative to proper lighting!". I don't know how I can interpret the "ever" any other way than I did. Especially with the letters like that, I think that's a pretty bold statement.

As far as fully lit rooms go, when people try to give the illusion of a lit room at night using nothing but fullbright textures, that will give odd results, I don't disagree with that at all.

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Kwakkelde Kwak wrote:

Erm, you specif
ically said  "
Don't ever use fullbright as an alternative to proper lighting!
". I don't know how I can interpret the "ever" any other way than I did. Especially with the letters like that, I think that's a pretty bold statement.

As far as fully lit rooms go, when people try to give the illusion of a lit room at night using nothing but fullbright textures, that will give odd results, I don't disagree with that at all.


Hah-hah! Bold! I see what you did there!

Seriously, tho, you might have missed it but there's an entire paragraph after that sentence in which I define "proper lighting" in this context and explain what I mean. That is how you can interpret the sentence correctly.


Penny Patton wrote:

You can use it in 
combination
 with proper light (tho that is often still less than ideal, visually, unless you're using it for some very specific effects, but it looks pretty terrible when you walk into a brightly lit store at night, surrounded by completely lit walls, floors, furniture, yet your avatar is a nearly pitch black silhouette because there's no actual lighting.

 I even state that it can be used effectively for certain effects, so you can probably understand my confusion.

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