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Congratulations to the winners of the Twisted Thorn Texture competition!  The winning entries prove that expert texturing is neither for the faint of heart nor the non-detail oriented.  It takes skill, an artistic eye, meticulous attention to detail, time and patience.  Contestants textured a 62 prim scaled down version of the Twisted Thorn Textures main store.

  • 1st Prize ($5,000 Lindens):  Seshat Czeret 
  • 2nd Prize ($1,000 Linden TTT gift certificate):  Indira Lemaire
  • 3rd Prize ($500 Linden TTT gift certificate):  Wyn Nitely

Seshat’s first place entry paid homage to the Twisted Texture build, retaining the hallmark purple windows and using some of the same base stone as the castle that houses Twisted Thorn Textures.  She also retained  the medallions on either side of the build and the gold  trim, although Seshat has applied that to the base rather than the building itself.  What is special about this texture scheme is the choice of trim for the supports under the central tower, and the careful texturing of each face, so that the trim stands out.  The use of copper in the central structure, for the columns and cornice adds character to Seshat’s take on the challenge. 

Seshat Czeret's First Place Entry

Seshat Czeret's First Place Entry

Attention to detail pays off

Attention to detail pays off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seshat commented on her favorite elements, “I think the buttresses. The crosses, then the parallel lines, on the cream background, just add that final finishing touch of detail. It ties the whole thing together. And the same texture is used on the buttresses on the sides – if you cam into the underside of those buttresses, you see the same parallel lines. It’s a re-use of textures. The same texture is used for them and for the curved roofs. There’s all sorts of detail in this. Like, if you look at the gable’s roofs, the edges are using the ‘trim’ version of the Old Stone that forms the roof tiles, and the edges of the curved parts of the windows, and the undersides of the curved part of the windows, and the little ropey bits on the ‘steps’ under the gables, and the edges of the ‘steps’ under the gables.  There is no visible surface I didn’t put the best available texture on.  I like doing things well.” 

Seshat posted a card of the textures she used.  “It’s a way for people to learn,” she said. 

The second prize winner took a darker look at the build,  well in keeping with the Twisted Thorn name.  It has the rich hematite burnish of an Ivan Albright painting.  I asked Indira Lemaire about her inspiration.

“I’ve always loved gothic and medieval styles and architecture.”  However, it was not without challenges, ” The central portion was a problem, since I didn’t have any columns textures from Twisted Thorn, so I did some manipulation of the texture to get a result I was happy with. I offset the texture to make the border appear and make 2 columns look like one large one.” 

Second Prize to Indira Lemaire

Second Prize to Indira Lemaire

Texture manipulation created columns

Texture manipulation created columns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ability to adapt textures to various uses, to make the texture tab options work for you, allows a builder to get more mileage out of each texture in inventory.  As Seshat told me, “repeats and offsets are golden.”

And Indira’s advice for beginning builders?  “Practice. Practice, practice and more practice. I didn’t learn what I know by going to classes, though the classes are good and you should attend them if you can. If you cannot, just sit down build something basic and play with the textures and the build itself. Experiment too! I’ve discovered so much about building and texturing by experimenting. And a few things from my friends too who build. And if you can’t figure something out, just ask someone! Most builders are willing to help novices learn and become better.”

The third prize went to Wyn Nitely, who had a decidedly different take on the Twisted Thorn build.  Wyn’s entry is all light and gold, a sharp contrast to the Gothic darkness of Indira’s. 

“I wanted to do something that would be a totally different feel while still keeping the bones (2 stories – glass roofs).”  Wyn also added something no one else did . . . a clock in the central tower.  “I was lucky that I had the set with it.”

Wyn Nitely's Third Place Winner

Wyn Nitely's Third Place Winner

 

Golden Entry

Golden Entry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wyn derived the greatest satisfaction from  “the entry area because I couldn’t figure it out for the longest time.  The least satisfying were the flying buttresses; I never could get them quite the way I wanted and had to settle for plain sides on them. The buttress and support edges turned out great, just what I wanted.  The door gave the whole entry the flavour that I went with in there.”

Wyn’s initial inspiration, “light colours and not a gingerbread house,” suggested specific texture packs from TTT.  “Age of Innocence and Gold Leaf Manor were the obvious choices for main textures.”  Builders use textures in inventory like painters use a palette. “It’s amazing how you can pull things out of the back of your mind, when you’ve thousands of textures tucked in over a dozen organizers,” she said.

Wyn’s advice for beginning builders is to “start organizing your textures immediately so you can find them when you need them. My biggest problem is that I’ve never kept the TTT textures separate, so it took a full day just to gather them together.  It gets overlooked, but it’s the most basic thing that I regret. I’m still playing catch up.

Then it’s all a matter of proportion and camera controls. Which sounds funny, but without camera control and a sense of proportion you get from being able to put your camera where an avatar would be, you end up with a muddle. When I’m building a house, or other building, I walk around inside it a lot.  Do most of the building standing right inside it.” 

Her parting advice to new builders, “If you can’t build buildings and want to build, keep trying other things until you find the one that you can do.”

Both Seshat and Wyn recommended NCI for beginners.  Their free classes are excellent, and they provide great free resources as part of each class, items that become an indispensable part of your builder’s tool kit.  As Wyn said,  “I’m so grateful that I had NCI from the first day I was in-world.”

Congratulations to the three winners and to all the competitors.  Lesson learned: High quality textures can make a low prim build look very detailed.  

And if photography is your thing, the Symphony Photo Competition still has a bit over a week to run.  Get your entries in.  Submissions are posted in Symphony Square near the landing point.  Stop by and take a look!

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Today seems the perfect day to talk about a wonderful resource for all of us builders in Second Life:  Twisted Thorn Textures . . . and even more importantly, the Twisted Thorn Textures group. 

Perfect because today in the courtyard of TTT, members of the group have displayed photos for a competition offered by Nighty Goodspeed, Twisted’s owner.  Group members were invited to retexture a scale model of the Twisted Thorn Textures main store in whatever style they wished using Twisted Thorn Textures.  To avoid the traditional popularity contest mentality surrounding so many SL competitions, photos were submitted to Nighty who put them on prims arranged around the courtyard.  Members get one vote each and vote by placing a notecard in the entry of their choice.  What a great way to encourage people to choose good design rather than popularity.

A sampling of the texture competition entries

A sampling of the texture competition entries

 

Stop by today to see the photos . . . but you have to be a group member to vote.  The sim is called The Twisted Thorn. 

While you’re there, check out the shops around the courtyard, the main shop, a shop for textiles textures and another for flower and plant textures.

Here’s what I love about Twisted:

  • The weekly half price boards of some of the wonderful textures in the shops
  • Nighty’s willingness to feature the work of other texture artists in her shop
  • The bi-weekly members’ exchange of their works, all free, held in the courtyard
  • The free items Nighty and other members of the group bestow on their fellow Twisties
  • The occasional hunts around the sim for texture sets

But even more, I love the quality of the Twisted Textures and their ingenuity.  This isn’t the largest texture shop in Second Life, but you can count on high quality, and the prices seem more reasonable than others.  Packs are often quite large, offering many color options.  I especially love the exotic woods, which are my go to favorites for furniture.  There are four sets of these with around 30 plus different woods in each.  I’ve learned about wood varieties just by using these textures.  They sell for $500 Lindens each and are well worth the price.  Twisted also carries sculpt packs, which are well worth checking out.

Finally, I love the Twisted group, always so willing to help each other out.  The group chats are a repository of great information about resources for builders, a place to ask for advice in solving a technical problem or finding the best of something whether it’s animations, textures, scripts, vendors or whatever, intelligent conversation about Second Life, and the often witty repartee that gets exchanged on a daily basis with an uptick on weekends.  Group members freely share knowledge and resources with each other.  This is a real community.  Sometimes I just “listen” while I work.  Sometimes I chip in my two cents.  But whatever the case, this is one group I don’t click off, because I continuously learn from them.

With the 25 group limit, I find myself dropping groups as others appear that capture my interest, but I can’t see dropping this group any time soon . . . like never . . . because it’s more than a group, it’s a community.  I give my thanks to Nighty and all the Twisties, Thorne, Seshat, Nissa, Fort, Ludo, and the almost two thousand other members of the group.  If you are a builder or an aspiring builder, you owe it to yourself to check out Twisted Thorn Textures.

And don’t forget the Symphony Photo Competition  is still on.  See the previous entry for details!

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Mill House Water Pump and Old Wood Bucket

Mill House Water Pump and Old Wood Bucket

Ando and I both love textures that are a little rough around the edges.  Old brick with patches of moss, crumbling plaster exposing the underlying wood lathes, peeling paint on a wind weathered door – objects that have become venerable with use or have decayed through neglect – a rusty bucket, broken stone path, abandoned rowboat.  There is a name for all of these, an aesthetic.  The Japanese call it wabi sabi, which roughly translated (no pun intended) means ‘rustic beauty.’

Wabi sabi is the unsophisticated and humble beauty we associate with places in the American Southwest, with Provence and Tuscany, and, of course, with rural Japan.  It is applied to the rough-hewn object, strangely beautiful in its simplicity and humility.  Made of natural materials and by hand or by nature, of wood, stone, clay, metal, wabi sabi objects are unpretentious but able to evoke rich aesthetic feelings, a sense of the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of change.  Easily overlooked, wabi sabi objects reward the observant eye with a rich aesthetic feeling.

An oft-quoted poem by William Carlos Williams captures this simplicity and serenity.

 

so much depends

upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens

 

Wabi sabi conjures a world that is imperfect and transient, and a meditative acceptance and serene appreciation of that reality.

Honkyoku Bath House with Flute Playing

Honkyoku Bath House with Flute Playing

Ando and I notice we are not alone in this appreciation.  In a world like Second Life that can so easily present objects that look brand spanking new, a surprising number of builds have this very quality, and texture makers like Jewell Lamourfou of Distressed Textures provide ample materials for us to use to recreate the worn, the rustic, the abandoned, both natural and man-made – to recreate, in the timeless world of Second Life, the marks of time’s passage.  (Visit her shop to see an extensive collection of wabi sabi textures.)  This beauty in imperfection is an antidote to the all too perfect world of Second Life.

Detail from Lighthouse Interior

Detail from Lighthouse Interior

Visitors to Symphony will find wabi sabi elements throughout the sim.  The Lighthouse, Mill House and Honkyoku Bath House are all good examples.  Please stop by for a visit sometime soon.  And let me know what you think about wabi sabi.  Arigato.

~Cacie

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OK, OK, I know it’s been a while, but things have been busy for me! A quick update – I’m now the Senior Writer for ICON Lifestyles Magazine, having just submitted my work for the 3rd issue due out in May 1. Stop by the ICON kiosk on Symphony and subscribe – I guarantee it’s a good read!

I’ve also completed the town square on Symphony, and am in the process of setting it all up for commerce. My partner Acacia Merlin is way ahead of me on this – she’s been building like there is no tomorrow, and is rapidly filling up her store, Minuet Designs, with beautiful, inexpensive low-prim accessories for your SL home.

My store, across the plaza from Minuet Designs, is Bauen Precision Instruments. It is in many ways the opposite of Acacia’s store – expensive, high-prim unnecessaries for the home! But there’s a reason I’m proud of my stuff, and for the high prim count – these items are very detailed, realistic, feature unique handmade textures, and (I hope) are very pleasing to look at. Many items are limited editions, such as the Dagurreotype Camera, which you can actually use for photographs. Its aged lense will add a touch of antique to all your shots. (There’s even a HUD included so that you can shoot on location!) Only 20 will ever be sold. There is a display in Bauen, and if you are interested in purchasing one of these, contact me in world via IM if I’m online, or notecard if I am not, and I will give you an individually numbered camera and personalized usage instructions.

Daguerreotype Camera by Bauen Precision Instruments

What else? I just inked a deal with Catalina McCaw to create an amazing build for her on Wizard, one of her beautiful sims. I will update this blog with scenes from the project as I proceed with the building of it, so stay tuned!

That’s all for now, folks. But before I go, let me remind you to stop by Symphony any time – there are many wonders, delights for the senses, horse trails that ring the island, easy sailing/boating, hidden poseballs scattered about, and many more things to discover from the highest hills to the depths of the lagoon. If you would like an exclusive booking at the Lodge for a conference or company retreat, let either me or Acacia know in advance and we’ll set it up for you.

-Ando

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Once Ando lit the creative spark in me to build, thoughtfully guiding my work and sometimes setting challenges for me to meet, I began to fill up the lighthouse studio with things I made. I fell in love with the exotic wood textures at Twisted Thorn — there are four packs with over 30 wood textures in each, and they are amazing! — richly detailed, high resolution, lovely to work with. (I’ll be writing about Twisted Thorn in an upcoming blog.) Those textures led to an armoire, magazine holder, umbrella stand, lamp, and table. A well-done texture can spark ideas.  

Soon after my first successful project, I wanted to create a separate entity for the things I was building, but I also wanted to stay in tune, pun intended, with the spirit of Symphony. Wikipedia provided the perfect resolution . . . the third movement of a classical symphony is the minuet, which is also a lively and elegant dance. So Minuet Designs was born. It seemed perfect for the small decorative accessories for home and avatar that I was drawn to build. All that remained was to grow into it. And that meant weeks of Saturdays and Sundays practicing this new craft.

One thing led to another until, in this creative dance we seem to be doing on Symphony, Ando or I thought it would be nice to perhaps have a shop. And that seemed like a great idea because the lighthouse was becoming so full of things that it was getting harder and harder to find a square meter of space to rez a prim. I was also having more frequent texture emergencies . . . applying textures meant for new pieces on already finished ones that just happened to get in the way. Not to mention  turning the windows into table tops and the wood plank floor into stained glass by overshooting my mark in an overzealous approach to texturing. Patient Ando had to follow in my wake putting things back to rights. 

Something had to give.

As it turned out it was Ando, generous man that he is. He cleared a space on Symphony, and almost overnight put in a town square complete with a shop for me, a shop for him and a coffeeshop, just because “it feels more like a community.” A dancing fountain, working sundial, magazine kiosks, chirping sparrows and trees soon filled the square.  

 

Ando Joubert's shopping build for Symphony

Ando Joubert's shopping build for Symphony

 

Very gratefully, I moved all of my completed projects from the lighthouse to the new shop ~ Minuet. 

Some of the items for sale at Minuet

Some of the items for sale at Minuet

 

To someone who builds with prims in SL, an SL sandbox or studio is not unlike a writer’s blank page. A clean slate, empty canvas, and hopefully some new ideas to fill them soon. The lighthouse stands almost empty now, except for the armoire, which still needs the right door script. You can even get to the circular staircase again, without bumping into tables and lamps in the process. It’s an open, inviting space, just waiting . . .

For now, I’d like to invite you to visit Symphony, to browse Minuet and Bauen (Ando’s shop where you can find precision primwork items that are among the finest in SL — including a highly realistic daguerreotype camera ). Please feel free to wander the beautiful Symphony sim. It was created to be enjoyed. (Symphony 92 111 29, should get you there!)

And the coda?  

If I can do this, so can you. If you aren’t already building in Second Life and are intrigued by the possibilities . . . there is no better time than now to begin. Rez a prim . . .play! Con brio!

~Cacie

 

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Prim Doodling

The other evening I surprised Ando!

While waiting for him to show up at our appointed hour, I did not, repeat, did not . . . . drum roll . . . go shopping. Yep! You read that right. Until fairly recently, my pastime of preference was to scan the blogs and then fly about to snag the latest pair of jeans, or go on the current sim-wide holiday hunt – right now it’s all Easter eggs, or take in a fashion show or a new store build. Ando had gotten into the habit of asking on log in not what am I doing (he knew the answer – SHOPPING!!!) – but where am I doing it?

Lately, though, something has shifted. Call it a change in my learning curve (seems a bit less steep these days), a new addiction – I am seriously hooked on flow (see last entry) – or an evolution in my avatar consciousness, but I have been staying home . . . or rather, staying in the studio/workshop the Symphony lighthouse has become for me.

And engaging in my new favorite pastime – prim doodling.

Prim doodling is easy and fun and absolutely free! My Linden balance loves that last part! Here it is in a few easy steps:

First rez a prim . . . a cube is fine.

Then begin altering its shape by playing with the various sliders on the edit menu.

Twist it and torture it, change its size and rotation. Give it some siblings. Change their basic shapes from cube to cylinder or prism or torus ~ the wildest of all ~ and continue playing with the sliders. Seriously, this is a great jog to creativity! One of my prim doodles gave me a single prim object that looked like a door handle, which led me to build an entire armoire around it.  Another gave me a Market Basket, for which I used a free texture available from http://www.cgtextures.com.

Made while killing time waiting for a lucky chair to come up A

A great way to pass the time . . . and furnish your house!

It gets even more fun when you move from the edit tab to the texture tab and begin adding textures to the various faces of the prim, and tweaking those sliders as well. Try adding glow in various increments or some degree of transparency or shine. Give it color. Rotate and repeat. And use as textures anything from your own SL snapshots to metals, woods or fabric. Some are even included in your inventory’s Library. Again, all free, as you can also easily import images from outside SL to become textures (10 lindens per download) or pick up free textures from various locations in Second Life.  There are also some amazing texture shops, which will be the subject of future blogs.  And the textures, full perm, and usually bundled as sets, are well worth their cost because textures can be very versatile . . . again thanks to the edit features SL provides.  

The final tab I’ve been playing with is the Contents tab. A simple slow rotation script can give movement to your prim doodles and produce absolutely mesmerizing shapes, providing hours of creative play and relaxation.

A single prim with a slow rotation script can yield beautiful results.

A single prim with a slow rotation script can yield beautiful sculptures.

What I come up with is not great SL@art, but it is helping me become a better SL builder and providing inspiration and starting points for new projects. Give it a try! Play with your prims!

~Cacie

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I love taking a running leap into a new building project. I always feel a little rush of excitement and curiosity, once I have an idea for something to make. My latest is a wood floor lamp inspired by a really classy one I found on a Google image search. That one retails for a whopping $2,800 in Real Life! Mine will cost far less . . . considering most of the tools are free. Gotta’ love SL! I’ll probably buy some textures and a sculptie light bulb, but I doubt any of that will even come to $2.80.

Sometimes an internet image can spark an idea for a building project.

A cool project sparked by a Google search.

My previous project was a set of bangle bracelets with various metal and stone textures that allowed me to play with the texture tabs and experiment with the difference various rotations and repetitions of textures makes. Sometimes I make something to wear because it’s quicker than running all over the grid trying to find what I have in mind. The bangles were like that, as was a belt I made when the bottom of my shirt and the top of my skirt just didn’t look right without one. What’s an av with a bare midriff to do?

Each project leads to new learning and greater facility with the tools of Second Life, as long as we challenge ourselves a bit, so I’d like to share three things I’ve learned in my building journey to date.

1. Unless you are totally self-reliant or completely introverted, find someone you can turn to for help. Perhaps you have a friend who makes clothing or is a builder. Find a mentor if you can (Thanks, Ando!) . . . and your local sandbox might just offer up a likely candidate, if your friends list doesn’t.
2. Take a class. There are lots of classes on building offered through several organizations in world, and most are free. SL residents are very generous about sharing their knowledge with others. To find classes go to Search and click on the Events tab. Scroll down to Education and hit search. You’ll see a wide variety of classes, with weekends tending to have more offerings than weekdays. And YouTube offers lots of tutorials on Second Life building, many done by the incomparable Torley Linden.
3. Pick a project that is just a wee bit beyond what you’ve tackled in the past. The best projects for growing as a builder are neither too easy nor too difficult. They strike a balance. Here’s where “flow” comes in.

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, the author of  the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, says that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand. In an interview with Wired magazine, Csíkszentmihályi described flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

You can see a great talk on flow here:  http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html

Somewhere between your skill and the challenge of the project, you’ll find the magic of flow. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur. But when it does, it sure feels great and it’s one of the benefits that can come with learning to build in Second Life.

So, go with the Flow!

~Cacie

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