Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Siyu

I wish you a very merry Christmas, a happy holiday, and a day with loved ones and friends.  I asked Masqueraderie what they wanted from Santa (Siyu Claus?) and most loved the idea of snowy antlers.  So I'm happy to offer a gift to you that you can wear all winter long.

After having so much trouble getting myself to work, antlers were a delightfully simple and joyful thing to make.  These are mesh, but resizeable and moveable.  The snow on top is a separate object, so if you like, you can turn the snow transparent and wear them as normal antlers all year 'round.

You can pick these up in the notice history of Masqueraderie, which has no entry fee.  Merry Christmas, I hope these give you joy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Unseelie Mask

In my Unseelie Masquerade post, I posted teases of the mask I wore that was subsequently awarded to Lady of the Unseelie, Yukio Ida.  Now I can happily present to everyone the mysterious and otherworldly mask of the Unseelie.

Creating this mask was an exercise in overcoming a creative block.  I pulled it like a stubborn weed out of my head, and it fought me every step of the way.  Fortunately, with my friend Selos and the freedom of Zbrush's Dynamesh feature, I put together every permutation I could until I found something that I loved.

The Unseelie mask is inspired by the delicate leather masks of more modern mask makers, and inwardly I've always associated the intricate tendrils and airiness leather allows with dark fairies.  I came up with the basic shape of the mask very quickly, but put it aside as it lacked the regal complexity I was after.  However, after trying a dozen other ideas that I didn't like anywhere near as much, I came back to it.  I decided to try and jazz it up more, but I still liked the original's sinister simplicty.  I realized with a very easy adjustment I could compromise and have both the version that was fit for the royalty of the Lady of the Unseelie and the more conservative base.

I separated the mask into two pieces, a mask and a headpiece.  They fit together so that when both are worn, it looks like one fabulous mask, but the pieces can be separated if need be to have a simpler mask or a delicate diadem.  They compliment each other but look lovely apart.

This mask is just one of the two I made for the party, but unfortunately I'm having a bit of a creative fit over the male mask.  Usually, I release the two together, but seeing as how this one is ready to go and the other still needs work, I decided not to keep you waiting.  Plus, this mask is unisex, and certainly holds well on its own.

Out now at the store
On the marketplace

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Unseelie Ball (Aftermath)

Dawn breaks and the fairies return to their realm, and I'm left to sweep up the fairy dust and clean up the spiders the drow always seem to leave behind. Another enchanting night, full of revelers and as always, amazing costumes!

The enchanting Nicole Tigwald
The magical Sonya Marmurek
The effervescent Evangeline Miles

I know what you're wondering though.  You're thinking to yourself "But Siyu, if everyone was so fabulously dressed, who could have possibly be voted to have the best costume in such a crowd?".  Well, as always it was a tough decision but the noble host of the court crowned their Lord and Lady of the Unseelie.  A consistent favorite, Aceius Hax, and the wickedly toothsome Yukio Ida were lucky enough to take home both the title, and their prizes.  The new Unseelie masks made especially for the event.
Lord and Lady of the Unseelie, Aceius Hax and Yukio Ida
The masks are as of now not complete, but I'm working on finishing the male mask and adding colors for the female one. However, they still made suitable crowns for the new Lord and Lady of the Unseelie. As always, I was dragged from my hole appreciate an excuse to socialize and spend time doing something other than work for a change. I love sharing my music with you, catching up on news and dancing the night away. I want to thank all who attended for brightening my night and making the party what it was: a success, but most of all a fun gathering of friends.

Siyu in an outfit by Evangeline Miles and wings by Violaine Villota

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Unseelie Ball 2012

As I recover from my crazy working stint, and subsequent goofing off in Guild Wars 2, October arrives and with it, my favorite season! Every year, I simply must throw a Halloween masquerade. With my elven ears, a new breed of fairies and elves of the Seelie court emerged. Elegant creatures of whimsy and fantasy capering in opulent clothes, playing at the politics of the fae. However, in the undercurrents of the fairy world there is a darker place. Where the creatures of the deeper forest hold their own court to play against those that dance in the light. The Unseelie fae...

You're cordially invited to join your fellow members of the Unseelie court in a dance of wings and gossamer. The dark fairies, the goblins, the bogarts and creatures of the vicious, mysterious night will be made welcome in the halls of Illusions. On this night, two of the court will be elected the king and queen of the dark fae, so be sure to regail yourself in your finest raiment, in case the honor fall to you! Two previously unreleased masks will be your coronations, along with 1500L Angel Cards to spend at your royal leisure.  Masks are required, what if the Seelie fae found the true identities of the Unseelie hidden in their court?  But have no fear, the mask shown in the invitation will be provided free of charge as a favor.

If we all show up looking amazing and can't see each other then what's the point?  Hopefully with a couple of guidelines we can strut our stuff and move well enough to dance!  When assembling your outfit please:

Check your Avatar Scripts

This info can be found in Place Profile->About Land->Script Info->My avatar. Check the list to see if there's any scripts you're wearing that you could delete from copiable items or remove, such as HUD's, resizers, invisiprims (switch to alphas!) etc. Your total script memory total should be as low as you can get it, under 100kb would be ideal.

Keep your prim count low

I just ask that you leave the extra fluttery petticoat layer at home, and not wear the 256 prim wings with your alpha flexi hair made of 180+ prims. Remember, you're going to be on a sim with a lot of other avatars.

Back in 2008 I did a very similar themed masquerade to this with my Goblin Masque, and it was so much fun I've been wanting to play with that theme again.  Considering that it's now been four years, it's probably fresh to most folks anyway.  I hope you'll join me there!

Illusions Unseelie Ball 2012
October 27th, 4pm SLT
Held at the Illusions Event Hall on Carnivale
Costume contest winners will be announced at 6pm SLT

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Non-Second Life Project

Despite my silence on this blog I've been working hard and steadily on a long, involved project.  Here's the unfortunate twist though... it's not for Second Life. 

Arenanet, the company behind Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, made a post a few days after my birthday announcing that they were scouting for character artists.  Creating things for Second Life is not too different from what a character artist does, and it's where I imagine myself moving on to when working on Second Life no longer becomes an option.  I've played Guild Wars for six years now and I've been watching Guild Wars 2's development like a hungry hawk, and over that time I've come to greatly admire Arenanet as a company and community of creative people.  This simply was an opportunity I could not pass up. In fact, I knew I'd never forgive myself if I didn't give it a try.

Rather than requesting a resume and portfolio, they simply issued a challenge.  Create a viable game asset based on a piece of concept art. This sort of open ended offer is perfect for someone like myself who comes from a rather unconventional professional background.  Self taught, self employed, no formal education for 3D modeling , no certificates and no "proper" job experience aside from retail.  That doesn't matter, though, when all you need to do is show what you can do.

Unfortunately, I wasn't 100% sure I could do it, as the criteria listed were just a bit beyond what I'm comfortable with.  I'm used to a luxurious budget of high polygon counts, glorious, rich texture maps full of UV space, and being able to put all of my detail directly into the geometry of an object.  But I wasn't going to let that stop me.  As I made my model I made countless revisions, reiterations, and learned a lot of new things about uv mapping and low poly modeling and spent the past two and a half months straight working on nothing else but the armor design.  As I'd get sick of looking at one thing I was able to pick a dozen other little details that needed doing, and I did each of them about four times over as I found that it had too many faces, or a UV map had to be updated, details that didn't project, a texture bleeding into other islands and on and on. Two and half months of this.

But again, I have a passion Guild Wars, and I love Arenanet, and the very idea of being able to work for them or with them was the only carrot I needed to keep going.  Every day I hadn't finished was another day I was nervous I had missed my chance, and as the days kept going by I decided to set a hard deadline for myself.  No matter what, I'd finish before the GW2 headstart launch.

Guess what?  The headstart launches tonight (13h 32min from now as of the time I'm writing this).

I finished last night.  (Album)

I sent it to them, and now it's out of my hands.  I don't even feel that nervous, because the thing I was most afraid of won't happen now.  I was most afraid that I would miss my chance, that I would pass up this opportunity without even trying.  I have faith that if I'm ready, they'll let me know, and if I'm not I will have many more months of working in Second Life to hone my skills for the next time.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's Siyu's Birthday!

The 17th is my real birthday (as opposed to my avatar's birthday which I've sadly forgotten two years in a row, now).  So, to celebrate, I've set my vendors to offer double Angel points on all purchases!  If you have an Angel card, wear it while purchasing any item in the store (excluding the bargain basement) and it will give you 20% back as points to spend on any other item in the store.  For example, purchasing an item for 500L with your Angel Card worn will give you enough to get a 100L item for free!  When redeeming your points, just side click the vendor and select "use card", and the vendor will treat it just like cash.

If you don't have an Angel Card, you can just pick one up in the atrium right next to the new releases for 0L.  No excuses to miss out on the chance to pick up something you've had your eye on!  The vendors go back to normal at the end of the day, June 18th.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Illusions in the Mesh Around Hunt!

I was approached by BellaStarr of the Ego Company a little while ago about a new hunt for only mesh items.  Normally I turn down hunts as I haven't had much luck with them and don't like to dig up the time to make an item.  But, since so many people are still shy about mesh I felt it might make an impact to show them how familiar and easy it can be to wear.  Rustling around my mesh work-in-progress folders turned up my lovely top hat that I made as a doodle, released as a holiday freebie and then never finished.  Part of what was hanging me up was a mix of wanting to work on other things, but also never being quite happy with the textures.  It was the perfect thing to pick up and give a bit of spit shine to.

The brocade top hat is an experiment with a new feature of Zbrush that allows you to use "Surface Noise" to create patterns and effects across the entire surface of your object.  While I'm not sure it's an entirely convincing brocade, I have to admit the pattern does seem to have worked pretty well and hopefully it's a technique I can use more in the future.  The hat only comes in black for now, I might later polish it up a bit more and play with the shading to release it in the store.  I especially love the velvet ribbon and how that turned out, it looks so soft and pettable!

You can find it for free hidden somewhere in the store.  The clue is M is for Murder.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A New Generation of Ears: Your Picks!

The results from my survey are in!  I'm very pleased to say that I will be able to make a good amount of you happy with the ones that were picked, because a couple of designs stood above the rest.  The results made your preferences crystal clear, and the ones I had to make were obvious.

To those who missed having my smallest ear, I'm pleased to say that the size labeled "Vulcan" did very well, with almost 60% of the respondents saying they wanted to see them made!

It's true that sometimes subtle is best. These sweet little ears will only barely poke through your hair, and are just a tad larger than normal ears. They're a great option for if you're displeased with the ears that came with your skin, or if you'd like to roleplay as a half-elf or Vulcan.  The reason I excluded them from the original six was that I was having trouble making the same base mesh that made ears like the drow and elfin as small as I needed it to be.  But since I found out it would be worth the trouble, I managed to compress it down into the pixie size that you know and love.  I think the shape turned out great!

However, the true star of the survey results was one that got everyone excited.  From a rough concept submitted by Aiorii, these blossomed into being chosen by an overwhelming majority.  With a full 40% making it their first choice out of seven, I just had to make the curly tipped ears!

They have come to life! These ears are just adorable, with a good helping of whimsy and playfulness.  It was quite obvious they were a hit and I just hope I fulfilled your hopes and expectations.  With so many people feeling passionate about seeing these made, I felt a bit nervous!  Luckily for me though, the shape came easily and turned out to be the one that gave me the least trouble.  I love how they came out, and I've been wearing them around my build spot feeling so cute.

But, now for a twist.  I said that I would only do two styles.   I said that, but what the survey results told me is that you guys really were hungry for more.  Two other styles did very well, the long "Fae" ears had a good number of responders, and the absurdly long "Poison" ears seem to have an impassioned following.  Using my brain thing, I realized it wouldn't be too difficult to reconcile these two shapes and merge them into one amazing super shape

People just kept wanting longer and longer and so here you are!  I built these alongside the old poison ear to compare and align them so everything you loved about the old ones will be reborn.  They're just as large and have a similar angle, but have a dramatically better shape.  While my sketch of the Poison ear had a downward curve, I brought the dip and upturned tip in from the fae style.  The long trail keeps the shape feeling delicate and realistic and kept it from being too unwieldy.

These are the last of the basic elven ears I'm planning on doing.  I haven't ruled out, however, doing a few completely new ears.  As I mentioned before, people seem to be really excited at the prospect of semi transparent finned mer ears, or torn and chewed up elf ears.  If I do those, they will not be in the same glorious spectrum of shapes and will mostly likely be in just one or two varieties each.  I just have to decide if I'm going to start doing jewelry first or after!  But don't worry, jewelry is definitely going to happen.

Out now at the store: 300L

Pixie Ears on the marketplace
Sprite Ears on the marketplace
Sylph Ears on the marketplace

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vote on your favorite ear shapes!

Yes, I'm still going on about ears.  I've read over your suggestions, pored over your pictures, and I've put together some concepts based on your ideas!  The results are ready for your viewing pleasure.

Come vote on what you'd like to see made! 

A lot of people have also suggested and re-affirmed my suspicions: that you guys really want torn up ears and mer/dragon ears!  I'm thinking I might do two sets of each, since I love round numbers.  Twelve sets of ears is ambitious but makes such a nice, complete sounding number...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Friends, lend me your ears!

With my set of six ears all done, I know you might have a hunger for more, which is why I want to hear what you want to see!  Before I start doing accessories, I want to make sure I'm not missing any shapes.  So, I am looking for your ideas!

I'm looking for ear "shapes" rather than "types". An ear type might be a mer-person ear, torn up ear or something like that. While those sound awesome and I do hope to get to those, they can't be a part of this set due to needing entirely new base meshes, UV's and texture sets.  So what I'm looking for are shapes, variations such as being wider, longer, curved, or pointed etc.  Send me pictures or drawings of elves and creatures that have ears that just make you happy, and feel free to sketch out some yourself!  As long as the concept is discernible it doesn't matter how good you are at drawing it.  I'll take the suggestions and make concepts of my own based on the ones sent in, and then put it up for a vote.  The top two ear shapes will get made!  And then I can get going on earrings, chains and all that yummy stuff you want to perforate your elven lobes with.  Since I don't want to delay too long on getting accessories out, I'm going to make the deadline for concepts Wednesday the 9th.  You've got a week, show me your ears!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A New Generation of Ears, Day 3: Elfin and Drow

Over the past two days I've been releasing my brandy new mesh elven ears, from the adorable Fairy Ears to the regal High Elf ears.  Now I'm putting out the final ears of this series, did I save the best for last?

The Elfin ears are an old favorite.  By far, the most popular of my ear shapes from my first series, the Elfin ears seemed to have hit the sweet spot of the right shape and size for most of the elves out there.  I feel I've captured the spirit of the originals in the new and amazing detail that mesh allows.  The new pair is a more refined shape, obviously, but sure to satisfy fans of the old ones!

Now these, though, are something new. 
While in my first series, my Drow and Poison Ears we're sadly the least popular of the collection, I'm sure these will break the mold.  The old Poison and Drow ears were stiff, with the Poison ears being almost huge for all but the bravest pixies.  These new Drow ears are a far better shape, and a fantastic way to make sure your elven pedigree is obvious, no matter what hair you're wearing.  They come up well past your head in an elegant curve, and just as well if you have a big foofy hair style. This new incarnation is sure to do this sort of elf justice now.

Even though this is my final release of the series for now, I'm certainly open to hearing suggestions for more before I start creating add-ons like jewelry and other decor.  This is the time to speak up!  If you feel I've missed a style, please do send me concept art, sketches or other material to inspire!  I'm looking specifically for elven ear shapes that could be made from the same models as these.  People have already suggested torn up ears, mer ears and a few others but they would require an entirely new mesh and texture.  So, if you have a shape you feel is missing, do let me know before I start releasing jewelry sets.  Send me a notecard or IM in world, or a PP on Plurk!

Out now at the store: 300L

Elfin Ears on the marketplace
Drow Elf Ears on the marketplace

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A New Generation of Ears, Day 2: High Elf and Brownie

Yesterday I released the first of my new generation of elf ears, the Seelie and the Fairy ears.  But that was only release two styles.  How could I possibly only release two, when my old series of ears had five different sizes?  Because there are more coming today!

First off, I noticed that a lot of people enjoy the droopy sort of elf ear shape.  It succumbs to gravity, and has a sweet sort of pathos too it.  It looks quirky but can also seem almost "gobliny" on the right person.  I'm not a fan of the ones that droop too much like animal ears, so my take on it is a sweeping curve with an almost aerodynamic feel.  If you're running through the woods you can't have those ears catching on anything!

Next up is my personal favorite:

The High Elf ears are the height of elegance.  If you wish to be an aloof, regal elf such as those in Lord of the Rings, these ears are perfect.  With delicate points and a refined shape, perhaps your home is in the fairie court rather than running with the wolves. 

Once again, these ears are HUD controlled with customizable shading and highlight layers.  You can resize, input RGB values, or use the color picker if you get a color close to yours through the thirty two different presets.  Finding a match is easy, especially with the soft blurry edge around the ear to help cover any imperfections. 

Another awesome thing is that if you purchased the Seelie or Fairy ears already, your HUD from either of those will be able to control these!  You can effortlessly transfer your saved skin tones and settings, after you've found a good match for your skin.

Another two pairs are coming tomorrow, so keep an eye on this blog and on the release notices!

Out now at the store: 300L

Brownie Ears on the marketplace
High Elf Ears on the marketplace

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A New Generation of Ears, Day 1: Seelie and Fairy

 If you weren't in Second Life before sculpts were introduced, let me tell you, it was the best kind of revolution. In 2007, it was still the early days and there were a lot of things that hadn't been made well yet.  Elf ears was one of those things, and when I made mine they were one of the very first sculpted pairs. I was absolutely delighted and amazed when they became more popular than free pancakes on a college campus, and there was a time where if I saw any elf ear on anybody it was one of mine.  Oh, those glorious days!

But, all good things come to an end, and as more people made their own pairs of ears, mine naturally fell into one of many choices.  I thought of making new ones, but as I was making a new texture for all of the dozens of colors I supported, and even doing custom skin tone matching, it was frightfully inefficient and I simply couldn't and wouldn't put myself through that again. 

However, mesh has made it irresistible to revisit them.

 Mesh allows me to put geometry exactly where I need it, making neat tight squares in all of the right places.  Sculpting in the delicate details and curves of a human ear, with an elven flare, was almost effortless compared to struggling with sculpts.  Over the past four years I've had plenty of time to stew and think about what I would like to do with my ears.  If I made that new awesome mesh shape, what would make them perfect? How could I offer everyone a perfect, seamless match without putting myself through making dozens and dozens of unique textures again for each skin?  The obvious answer was a color picking HUD.

As I was going to go with tinting for my new set of ears, I chose to customize and reskin the Encogma Advanced Color Picking HUD, as it is intuitive and had all of the control I needed.  But, the problem with items that use color picking is that with high quality textures you lose their depth when they get tinted.  They never seem natural or look as good as an untinted version because the highlights and shadows get drowned out.  This has made other people, who make tintable body matching items, have to carefully make their textures without strong highlights, making their items seem sometimes flat and dull.  But, highlights are crucial for truly matching the look of the lustrous skins that are available.  My solution?  Making the highlights and shadows customizable layers.

So, finally, we come to my new generation of elf ears.

With precision color matching, soft lustrous highlights, and customizable shadows that can also be hand tinted, playing with matching new skins should no longer be an ordeal.  Not only do you now have thorough control over your skin tone match, but you also have a little lee-way through a softly blended alpha fuzz edge around your ear.

The Seelie Ears in particular are a style that is both whimsical and wicked.  They have a curve of mischief to them, and whether that mischief is for the good fairies or bad fairies is up to you.  And speaking of fairies...
The smallest of the six different ear styles I'll be releasing in the next few days, the fairy ears are a subtle way to show others you're not just another human.  With a cute and elegant curve, you can show them off with a short bob or let the little pointed tips speak for themselves under your hair.

If you're thinking of waiting on getting these until I make my inevitable awesomely decorated earring sets, don't worry!  I plan on doing them as ear add-ons, allowing you to keep your ear and coloring without having to customize a new set for every look you might want.  Any jewelry or other add-on I do with these will be sold separate from the ears, with the possible exception of occasional "deluxe" packs.  So if you like the shape, go for it!

Another note, (because I'm so nice), is that if you purchase multiple pairs of ears, the same HUD will be able to control all of them.  You will be able to effortlessly transfer your saved skin tones and settings to any new pair of ear your purchase with your old HUD. 

So, what are you waiting for!  Try them out, there are fully scripted demo versions in the store now!

Out now at the store: 300L
Seelie Ears on the marketplace
Fairy Ears on the marketplace

Friday, April 20, 2012

Illusions @ Fantasy Faire 2012

Fantasy Faire is finally here! And as usual, despite my starting work so early I still had a last minute scramble to get everything ready in time.  Unfortunately, I was unable to finish my new release in time but at least I'm set up!  The sims this year look fantastic, so while you're exploring you can come find me on the Shifting Sands sim

Since Fantasy Faire is to benefit the American Cancer Society, I've put up some special items for RFL this year.  I've had some flops and some items that are better left forgotten at these things, but I don't think you're going to want to miss this one.

I only released my Semer/Semeret set in white, as it made a beautiful contrast with the black of the gods, however, I can't resist having more black in my wardrobe.  The metal accents really pop and black adds an air of dark mystery.  I especially love how the Semeret gown looks now, it could even be worn as an evening gown if you wanted to remove the belt.  They're up for the same prices as their white counterparts, but all proceeds of sales go to benefit the American Cancer Society.  I hope you'll come by and support a good cause, and there will be more to come!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Volto Pierrot and Pedrolina

I've been busy working on something exciting for Fantasy Faire (coming up April 21st - 29th), which distracted me from finishing and releasing a couple more mesh masks. I meant to get these out shortly after the Volto Altezza and Altezzoso, but better late than never!

There are some beautifully painted volto masks out there in the real world, with elegant patterns and creative looks, but all of them start with a simple white mask. That's what I found myself with, and so I set to work playing with designs. I did my own take on some classics, and invented some entirely new ones too.

Pierrot, as a Commedia Dell'Arte character, was a sad clown. He was the lovelorn and naive innocent who pines with unrequited love. Traditionally dressed all in white with black, his was a human face with either white makeup or a human mask. His character was more human, he was an underdog and had more flexibility than others who had set roles. One day he would be a tragic patsy, the next a crucial catalyst of action. But, he was always in black and white.

This let me play quite a bit with patterns, especially with the male version. I admit I got a little carried away, the "Tribal" and "Noh" patterns you see in the male previews (lets just say the spiky one and the dramatic one) are my having a bit of fun. The female version features changing lips, in six different patterns with a black and red option for each. It's a lot of fun mixing and matching the different patterns with the different lip styles, and it changes the attitude of the pattern entirely.

Speaking of which, for a mask like this I'm so glad I have a bit of extra space in my vendor images now. It allows you to see the various patterns at a glance when its more than just a recolor, so that even if the one the model is wearing doesn't catch your eye, one of the other patterns just might.

Out now at the store: 295L
Volto Pedrolina (f) on the marketplace
Volto Pierrot (m) on the marketplace

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St Patrick's Day!

I took a little diversion from working on my current projects to pop out a top hat for St. Patrick's Day! Whether or not you celebrate it, there's no reason to pass up a free hat. Plus, it's good practice for me!This is a brandy new top hat, not just a re-texture of an old one so it is mesh, and one object. If you haven't upgraded your viewer to be able to see it, why not? Get to it, you fabulous fashion conscious luddite!

You can find this festive verdant chapeau in the notice history of Masqueraderie, from now until the 31st.

If you're celebrating St. Patrick's Day, please do be safe and make the right decisions... or bring people with you who can do it for you ;) Have fun!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mezzaluna Puro

An oldie but a goodie from way back in the ancient days of 2007 is my Mezzaluna mask. Despite being over four years old it still has looks pretty decent, I have to say. It's exotic, beautiful, and well in need of a meshtastic remake.

The picture is a little homage to its ancestor. I think you'll notice though, that this one is a bit simpler, without tassels or chains like the first one. That's where it's earned the "Puro" in its name, this one is just the shape for those folks who like to keep things simple.

You now have the twelve color options I offer with all of my masks, instead of just being locked into purple, and this one is properly unisex! I did a special shape just for men with a more prominent brow and nose.

I have plans to make a more ornate version, but just for now I'm going to try and offer as many basic shapes of masks as I can. So the tassels and chains will come later! (wow, that sounds pretty raunchy...)

Out now at the store: 175L
Buy it on the Marketplace

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Volto Altezza and Altezzoso

When mesh first went into beta, I wanted to give it a try and see what I could do with it. The first thing that came to mind was a volto mask, because I have never been happy with my attempts to make a full face mask with sculpts. I had a lot to learn.

For about eight months all I did to play with mesh was mess around with a volto. I made literally dozens of them, starting over and over again until I could sculpt a pair of decent lips in just a few minutes. Every time I did, I learned a bit more about topology, how the polygons could work together and what to aim for.
The evolution of my topology, from left to right

You can see how the picture on the left has a lot of points and lots of "snags", parts where the lines aren't neat squares. That's the sort of thing that would get ugly if you tried sculpting on it, and would prevent a smooth and consistent surface. I finally got the hang of getting rid of those and managed to figure out how to make neat loops and keep my detail where I needed it most.

So believe me, this mask has been a long time coming.

After so much tweaking, revisions and refinement and then finally another round of neurotic scrutiny, I am very proud to share this mask with you. The Volto Altezza is an ornate and elegant visage, with a proud crown of coque feathers. Altezza is Italian for "loftiness", and "sua altezza" is an equivalent expression to "your highness". With the refinement and detail of the delicate metal work, no one will doubt that you're worthy of the title.

We can't have a fine lady without an escort though, and so a worthy gentleman had to be produced.
The most notable difference aside from the features is that he doesn't have customizable lips. I found it just far too feminine on him, so I hope you'll find the feather crown enough color. Speaking of, I've made the mask and crown separate. If you like, you can wear just the crown or just the mask, and I've even included an option for just the crown with no feathers if you want to wear something in your hair.

For the first time, I used Photoshop brushes as alphas for the details on the crown and center mask. I had to, to achieve the detail and intricacy I hoped to. I'm happy to credit the incredibly talented Coy Dreamer. I used selections from her Decorative and Floral sets as imprintable patterns on to my high detail model. I doubt I could achieve such a beautiful effect without her efforts.

When you try to create a neutral, beautiful face, it's amazing how much of a challenge it becomes. There are so many little details that our minds are especially attune to being able to detect the slightest error in, and they end up needing scrutiny and heaps of patience to fix. After all this time I'm finally happy with my work, and I have something I can be proud of for hopefully a long while. I hope to use this mask a base for other patterns and variations in the future, and I look forward to seeing where I end up next.

Out now at the store: 450L
Volto Altezza (f) on the marketplace
Volto Altezzoso (m) on the marketplace

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras 2012 (Aftermath)

Another party come and gone, though this one went a little differently than others! On Saturday, my sim suddenly stopped accepting teleports and when I crashed, I was locked out of my own sim! I kept the music going for an hour as I spoke to Lindens to get them to reset the sim. By the time it was fixed, a lot of people had had to go, and so I decided to continue the party on Sunday.

It was a very unique feeling being actually ready for my party. I felt like I twiddling my thumbs because I had done all of my last minute scrabbling to finish everything the night before. As if to make up for the trouble on Saturday, everything went perfectly smoothly for the entire night.

Part of the fun of effectively having two masquerades was seeing even more amazing costumes and outfits. Some people that had come the night before changed outfits, and more people that hadn't been able to come showed up and dazzled us. There was so much eye candy I took over 200 snapshots! It didn't help that people even did mid-masquerade outfit changes! So in the interest of keeping this blog post relatively short, here are just a couple of my favorites. You can find more on my Flickr.

Anigma Eulenberg

Sonya Marmurek

As you should probably know by now, every year we vote on the best costumes for male and female, to see who goes home with my new event masks. For the third year in a row, Aceius Hax was voted the Mardi Gras King.

Can't say I'm too surprised to be honest

His partner in this year's royalty is a newcomer to my parties, her newly minted highness Sarah Treplicki. She stood out amongst a sea of color by rocking an oldie but goodie, my harlequin set and some fab horns.
Aceius and Sarah took home the debut of a mask that's been almost a year in the making. One of the first things I tried making when I was accepted into the closed mesh beta was a new Volto mask. It was almost the first thing I did after signing the NDA and I worked on it off and on until I could get a good base mesh, and then neat geometry, and then finally start playing with shape and form. But more on that later when I actually release them, I need to do the colors first!

Considering this was my first party without needing a registered group, I did need to remind a few people to keep their prims down but aside from that it was a definite success. I think from now on I will simply remind people of the guidelines but no more need for group registration!

I had a marvelous time with everyone who could attend, my fingers are tired from chatting with all of you. If you missed it don't feel like you need to excuse yourself, stuff happens and there will always be more parties!
Myself in an outfit by Surreal LeShelle of Deviance, I coerced her into doing a recolor

See you at the next one :)

Friday, February 3, 2012


I'm making up for lost time, can you tell? I'm on a roll with traditional Venetian masks and I'm absolutely loving working with unrigged mesh. Weight painting and rigging is another matter, but I just can't get over the freedom and flexibility I now have for masks!

While I was working, I watched one of my favorite movies: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. I knew immediately which mask I had to make next.

The Naso Scaramouche is another classical Commedia Dell'Arte style of mask in the same vein as the Naso Turco. Like many traditional carnivale masks it's based off of a character: in this case, Scaramuccia or Scaramouche. His character was a dashing lady's man who was clever and witty, and always ended up turning tricky situations into an advantage. Scaramouche was first and foremost a comedian and was always well received by audiences.

For this mask, since I wanted a lot of detail but not to tax people's systems too much, I'm experimenting with it being only one sided. That means in the back it's transparent, like a plane. This is just an experiment, so please let me know how you feel about it not being able to be enjoyed "360°" like my other masks.

I had quite a bit of trouble getting the texture to a point I was happy with. I wanted it to be rather matte like papier mache, yet I couldn't get it at a point that looked crisp, matte, and had enough contrast to be interesting. I finally got it to a point that I'm happy with, but it may not be as luxurious and amazing as the rest of my textures :)~

So, only one thing needs to be asked. If you buy this mask, will you do the Fandango?

Out now at the store: 250L
Buy it on the Marketplace

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mardi Gras Masquerade 2012!

Time creeps up on you, and before you know it it's the most important day of the year. Anniversary? Birthday? Christmas? No! Mardi Gras!

Can you believe this will be my sixth annual Mardi Gras masquerade? This year, I've decided not to do my usual "event group". So there is no need to join anything, if you can come, come! There will be a free mask for the party (shown on the invite), prizes to be won, as well as exclusive event masks to be unveiled and awarded to the two people with the best outfits. The theme, as always, for Mardi Gras is purple, green and gold. Please also keep in mind that my sim is rated General, rather than Mature, and think Venice, not Rio. Because how often do you get an excuse to break out the ball gown and tuxedo and truly dress your best? Just please, when planning your outfit, keep an eye on the following so that we can all have a relatively lagless experience:

Check your Avatar Scripts

This info can be found in Place Profile->About Land->Script Info->My avatar. Check the list to see if there's any scripts you're wearing that you could delete from copiable items or remove, such as HUD's, resizers, invisiprims (switch to alphas!) etc. Your total script memory total should be as low as you can get it, under 100kb would be ideal.

Keep your prim count low

In the past I've had a solid guideline for this of 200-250, but this year with the new prim equivalency it makes things more muddled. For this party, I just ask that you leave the extra fluttery petticoat layer at home, and not wear the 256 prim wings with your alpha flexi hair made of 180+ prims. Remember, you're going to be on a sim with a lot of other avatars and please dress as if you were going to the classiest expo ever.

I've done my best to do my part at the Event Hall by making it secluded from the rest of the island, and keeping the number of unique textures, sculpts and resolution down as much as I could while still providing an elegant venue. With a collective effort we can all enjoy everyone else's outfit as well as our own, and not end up dancing with gray ghosts.

Alright, enough technical talk. I have music to find for my playlist and masks to make! I hope to see you at the Masquerade, don't miss it!

Illusions Mardi Gras Masquerade 2012
February 18th, 4pm SLT
Held at the Illusions Event Hall on Carnivale
Costume contest winners will be announced at 6pm SLT

Monday, January 30, 2012


As I'm getting more comfortable sculpting with mesh, I realized that compared to my newest creations my signature mask, (the Velodorno), was starting to look a bit dated. So, I set out to create a new one.

My signature mask is always something traditional, elegant, and with ornate and delicate curls. Making that in mesh was an interesting challenge and taught me many new things about efficient geometry and UV mapping a complex shape. But of course it resulted in something beautiful I'll be proud to put in my header.

I think you'll notice that along with this release I've changed up my vendor layout a bit. I was getting a bit dissatisfied with my other layout and wanted something crisper, cleaner and more modern. I also wanted to start showing off the mask! I won't be updating the vendors of older items, but I did go back and change my other mesh creations to this layout. It also helps add another visual cue to people who might still be unable to see mesh items that these are different.

The differences between these two masks are subtle, the most noticeable of them being that one has a nose piece and the other doesn't. I simply couldn't decide if I liked it better with or without so I compromised. The other difference is in shape: the Civetta is always more "owl" shaped (Civetta actually means owl) with a pronounced pinch in at the nose. The Columbina is a more feminine line that goes straight across the face and curls up to a taper by the temples.

Doing all of the little curls was a delight and a torture at the same time. Playing with high definition to add little flares and definition to each little taper was fun, but then facing the ordeal of UV mapping it wasn't. If you're not familiar, UV mapping is the process of trying to "unzip" a 3-dimensional object into a 2d one for texturing. Imagine a map of the world, and how it's a bit distorted because it's trying to describe shapes that are a part of a sphere. That sort of map is very simple... a map for all of these curls on the other hand, looks like this:
I wasn't even able to stack islands due to a glitch D:

That took me literally all day, but it was well worth it. I had another draft of a map that was more clumsily done, and saw a dramatic improvement in the invisibility of my seams as well as detail which is always nice to see!

I'm sure I'll get better at it as I continue, and look back at this with the facepalm of hindsight and wonder what I was thinking.

Out now at the store: 300L each
Buy the Civetta Curia on the Marketplace
Buy the Columbina Curia on the Marketplace

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Naso Turco

I've set a goal for myself to make as many masks as I can before Mardi Gras. It's a chance for me to really get more comfortable with mesh and to expand my collection of classic Venetian masks.

The first one that's been completed is one of the most instantly recognizable:

The Naso Turco is a traditional mask from Commedia Dell'Arte. There are a few different types of Naso masks (meaning "nose"), but this is one of the most iconic and popular. The Turco in the name might refer to the noble family of Verona, or perhaps to Cesare Turco, a renaissance artist. The Naso Turco has a very distinctive arching curve to the nose, as opposed to others which are perhaps shorter or more crooked.

I made a mistake in planning with this mask. I had a bit too much fun with drawing details directly onto the model and didn't think that I might want those aforementioned details to be a different color. I was playing around with it just being a solid color at first, but ended up preferring how it looked with contrasting trim.

(Still looks awesome though)

So, rather than my usual 3D trim, I decided to try an alpha overlay with this one. I think you can see in the vendor picture that it hardly suffers for it.

I went a little crazy with color options, which is another reason I had to resort to an alpha overlay for the trim. There are over thirty color options, including my usual 12 solid colors, and half and half "bicolors" of those in different combinations. They come paired with black, white, and a selection of twelve additional pairings I quite liked (such as purple and green for Mardi Gras!).

This mask is a mere 400 vertices! If you think of how sculpts are 1024 points each, it's just amazing how much detail can come out of having every point placed where it will do the most good.

I still have no affinity or skill for rigged meshes, so this is once again unweighted and freely modifiable. I certainly am getting the hang of it though and so far am just loving the freedom.

Expect more soon!

Out now at the store: 275L
Buy it on the Marketplace

Monday, January 9, 2012

I realize that I haven't released something in a while now. I had a mesh project in the works for all of December, I had hoped to complete it by Christmas and just ran into too many problems. That didn't stop me from sending out a holiday hat though!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, spent with family and friends. I decided at the 11th hour to just let it go, and enjoy the holiday without stressing over releasing it. Unfortunately, that mesh project is not the only one I've run into trouble with since then, and right now I have multiple projects in varying states of completion. That's usually how things are, but even then I usually release something in the meantime.

Since it's now creeping into January, my silent shame of incompletion has come to the point where I feel I have to address it. If you worried that I was sick or at all unwell, I'm alright! I'm just taking to mesh very slowly, and my progress was not at all helped by Skyrim or Assassin's Creed, or the holiday itself.

I have set a goal for myself to get a good selection of mesh masks released in time for Mardi Gras. I'm hoping you'll see a nice steady influx of new things as I get better and adjust to my new workflow. Expect to see some classical Venetian masks coming soon!