Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Flight Rising - Dragons!

A very dear friend has introduced me to the game Flight Rising, in which you basically collect dragons - by breeding (your own) or buying (other players') - and prettify them with custom art skins and trinkets. These are a kind of breedable but, unlike the SL breedables, they don't take up space you could better use for something else, and they don't cause lag, or cost an arm and a leg to feed. This kind of breedable I can get behind - even though they are only two dimensional and inanimate.

I thought I'd post up the dragons I have so far in my clan, as a record of its beginnings.

LIGHT DRAGONS: My clan is founded in the Flight of the Lightweaver (one of 11 elemental dragon deities); her symbol is in the background. 

Top left: MoteOfRadiance, a Guardian dragon and the matriarch of the clan; my starting dragon, whose species and colouration I could specify (which is why she is gold).

Top centre/right: Mote's mate, Maldaviant, is a different species called Mirror (all dragons can interbreed). He is pictured here both in his natural colouring (right) and decked out in a custom skin and combat apparel which I purchased for him (centre). You only customise one starter dragon; then the game provides a mate entirely at random. We got Mal. He has a surprise up his sleeve. Look what happens if I bring out his third colour, which is hidden in the basic dragons like Mote and Mal, but expressed in genetic patterns you can breed for or apply with a magic scroll:-

Mal's third colour is magenta!

There is a way you can determine how a dragon would look before you go spending money to add genes which you might not like. Actually I think he is very handsome in his crackle coat! This does mean that a pink element is being passed on under the radar to his offspring, but I checked and none of his sons have inherited magenta - probably because Mote's hidden colour is avocado (I didn't choose this bit!) and the two genes are more likely to combine to make a variation on chocolate.

Bottom row: Mote and Mal have so far raised one clutch of eggs, all sons. Two take after their mother, one after their father; species characteristics do not mix, so you get either one or the other, depending on the rarity of each parent species. I named these fledgelings WhisperingDune, OceanZephyr and Terroxor. Note that their colouration is derived from that of their parents; offspring from this pair could have anything in the blue to green range, or yellow to brown, but could not (for example) be red or black.

ARCANE DRAGONS: My friend is very keen to help me get off to a good start, and has already gifted me with six dragons from her own clan, the Flight of the Arcanist. You might notice that my dragons' eyes are yellow, reflecting their Flight, while these dragons' eyes are pink. Actually the top right dragon has yellow eyes too, so my friend must have obtained him elsewhere, as all dragons bred in your clan share the eye colour of their representative Flight.

These dragons are gorgeous, displaying some of the rarer and much sought-after genetic patterns your starting dragons lack (although there is a way to bring them out later). Their names, incidentally, are mine.

Top left: Tigraine is a Wildclaw female with striking tiger stripes. I have also added custom accents, which are like a partial skin. Like Maldaviant, her accents are based on the semi-precious mineral Jasper; Flight Rising is currently celebrating the festival of the Earth element, and artistic players are encouraged to design themed skins to be sold at these festivals. Custom skins are not inherited; they are worn like body paint, but can be taken off and put on another dragon, or sold.

Top centre: Maleficent is a Guardian female with quite different colouring to Mote's, and also the additional characteristics of shimmering scales and wings, and a body decked in gemstones. These traits can be passed along to offspring but are rare and not often inherited unless both parents possess them.

Top right: Iridian is a male Wildclaw, also of the Light flight, also possessing the shimmer and gemstone genes. Iridian thinks he ought to be Mote's mate, not Maldaviant! Wildclaws are a much rarer species than Mirrors, and he has fancier genes to boot. Unfortunately for Iridian, I won't be breeding him much to Mote because he is not very likely to pass along any of his elite characteristics, and he would be better employed elsewhere.

Bottom left: Rosalita, another Wildclaw, is extremely pretty in pink; and she has the smoke trait, producing these lovely wavy swirls all over the dragon's body. If I breed Rosalita to Iridian, there is a small chance of producing gemstone babies, but they are more likely to inherit their mother's smoke pattern, as this is a more common gene. The offspring of this couple will display a range of sunrise colours in pinks and golds, very suitable for dragons of the Light! Iridian will just have to get over Mote and start appreciating this sweet dragoness. Possibly Mote had this in mind when she invited Rosalita to the lair...

Bottom centre: Rilian, still a hatchling, is named after the prince in CS Lewis' book 'The Silver Chair' because of his markings (known as crackle). Crackle and smoke have a similar rarity so if I breed him with Rosalita (when he's grown!) their offspring will be about 50/50 smoke and crackle patterned (never both in one dragon). Rilian is a Spiral dragon, which are very long, thin and loopy in flight, and extremely energetic. He is a fosterling, helping to cement bonds between the two clans.

Bottom right: Umbraura, a fancy way of saying Shadowgold, is another smoke dragon; this time the species is Couatl. Couatls and Wildclaws are both rare species, so if I breed Umbraura to Iridian I will get a roughly 50/50 mix of offspring in both species. If I breed her (or the Wildclaws) to the more common dragons, most offspring will take after the common parent.

You can see that I am already very into this game! Through judicious breeding, I hope to be able to produce my own unique dragons as gorgeous as the ones given to me, and then I can also sell or give them to other players. It is a very strong feature of the game that breeding is statistically determined, based on dragons' existing rather than random characteristics; a system which puts FarmVille to shame with its failed sheep breeding!

~ : ~

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Secret Affair

I thought I would jump back in with this post so that, for once, an event is still going if anybody likes the look of what I bought!

The Secret Affair is not really so secret, since everybody blogs about it, but I don't follow blogs... However I do follow Lassitude & Ennui, who always seem to create something for the event, and naturally, after moseying along to get their item, I saw lots more shiny things I wanted - especially since the stalls are set out in a bewildering labyrinth of no conceivable order. It is always a beautifully designed and themed event though, with high quality and well priced goods, all of which tempts one to buy. This time, I bought over $L2000, and had to borrow against rental payments (which means putting my stipend into savings) because I have a hard and fast rule never to put extra money into SL - except for rent and very special, expensive purchases like dragons, or my castle. That slope is as treacherous as ice over hot coals.

The theme for November is Harvest Moon, which has prompted a very primal, fae and pagan theme guaranteed to whet my appetite. So, what did I buy? Well, for starters, the AF decorators' kit for the Maiden Tor stone circle which dominates the event site and is exclusive to the fair. It's based on an ancient stone monument from my own country, beautifully remade and very low prim, with an altar stone and a holy well - I don't currently have the space for it but will have to work it into a winter theme somehow. I also bought an absolutely awesome dragon skull helmet with several colour and texture options; a skirt; hair; two necklaces; and a pair of shoes.

Deer Friend. (Even though I suspect my skirt is made from their hides.)
Dancing on the Maiden Tor Altar.
Worshipping the Harvest Moon.
Dragon Torc Necklace
Harvest Moon Necklace
Golden Rams' Horn Booties!

While perusing the fair, two very generous people dropped gifts on me, a pair of horns and the wings in the first two photos. There are, inevitably, a couple of gachas at the event - and you know my feelings on gachas, particularly ones like the Junbug gacha which requires you to put together a set of different items (to make a fairy outfit) - the odds being impossible unless you're swapping with a group of friends or in the gacha groups. So I didn't play them, and was incredibly lucky to be given the two items I would most appreciate! I suppose I looked like the right person to wear them, in this avatar.

I loved the shoes so much I made a fundamental error and did not check the details before purchase. Also because the demo was L$1 and paying for demos is a cheap stunt, especially with shoes, which usually only give you one foot! - and I've never yet encountered a pair of shoes that didn't fit. Until now, because of course they're for SLink MID feet, and I don't own any. Doh! Rather than pay another L$675 for the feet, I determined to overcome this obstacle with trickery. I messed about with my own shoe template, various foot alpha masks and a couple of tortured prims to fit over the ankles, hiding the slight gap left by said alpha, and am pretty satisfied with the result. Ironically, with the skirt alpha hiding the feet as most do, all you can see is my fake ankle prims, but at least I can wear the shoes! I have to say though, with the purchasable demo and the very tiny SLink sign on the vendor (you could just about see it said SLink, but the 'mid' part was illegible) I'm not impressed with whatever was going through the creator's head. It's almost as though they intended people to make this kind of mistake. The good thing is that if I had paid attention, I might not have bought them!

You know, looking at those necklaces, it occurs to me that L&E standards are slipping. They used to make some of the finest jewellery in SL, until they jumped on the mesh bandwagon. Now both necklaces are mesh, but you would think that the Harvest Moon, with all its intricate detail, was the L&E item - their past work has been that delicate, in prim-work. If they can't do better with mesh then why are they using it..? Oh well. I still like the torc - I've always wanted a proper dragon head torc! - and it was only L$99. I'm not saying it's bad; just that I expected better from L&E. They were once the hallmark of quality craftsmanship and now any number of creators are just as good, if not better. It's sort of sad to see, and I hope they pull themselves together. Meanwhile I shall start paying attention to The Forge!

~: Fair Purchases :~

Aisling 'Aslota' dragon skull helmet
Entwined 'Arya' hair (sold in 5-colour packs)
Junbug Fae Wings in ivory (gacha prize)
L&E Dragon Torc in gold (they also have ravens)
The Forge 'Harvest Moon' necklace in gold
May's Soul 'Harvest Moon' tribal skirt
Azoury 'Siggy' booties (camel) for SLink mid feet

(All items, naturally, mesh. I'm starting to wonder if you can still buy anything in SL that isn't mesh.)

~: Also worn :~

][.Ruin.][ Skin 'Lethean': WinterStoleTheDryad'sHeart (now Devae, skin from past event)
ContraptioN Carnivorous Jaw

~ :: ~

Monday, 29 September 2014

For the HOARD! ~ Harpiya Knight

This is something of a landmark post, as it concludes my gifts and purchases for the merry month of May. I wrote most of this post about 6 weeks ago but then never got around to finishing, as I haven't been in SL much; there doesn't seem much point any more with nobody around to talk to; but I still have so much STUFF to blog! Or at least to stick up on Flickr. I might just do that from now on as there's a massive backlog to get through.

Snake Plisskin, Human Ambassador, with his assigned Protector
for diplomatic talks with the Harpy Nation
I'm showcasing three things in this post, which I assembled into a little story scenario, of sorts, with the help of a friend to pose. Another friend, Jon Nielsen; the very person who got me into SL; had sent me two gifts. The first was a build of his own, 'Silk Road', a sumptuously decorated skybox in Arabian Nights style. It isn't yet available but will be sold by Jon's Ancient Treasures, which will still have a prize up for the September Renaissance Hunt for one more day if your fancy is tickled! (Not the skybox, just to be clear.)

Jon's second gift was a set of harpy attachment parts from !deviousMind, 'Harpiya' Spirits of the Sky made for the February Fantasy Gacha Carnival, including wings, tail and birdleg boots. The textures of these make use of the new materials, which are a bit of a mystery to me, but they do make for some gorgeous effects under lighting.

The third thing was a July purchase, the PurpleMoon mesh outfit 'The White Knight' from the Month of Games event, which has beautiful flower piecework and a fine sword. This was the outfit which tempted me to the event, but as you know from a previous post, I ended up with two Chess themed outfits! Although I had to leave the skirt off to show the harpy legs, I thought this dress was the perfect complement to both the Harpy warrior and the skybox.
The Ambassador's assigned Protector makes a grand entrance.
Diplomatic guests are not permitted weapons, nor bodyguards of their own choosing, but they need not fear for their safety while in Harpy territory. Harpy Knights live by a strict code of honour and are sworn to protect whomsoever they are assigned, without personal bias. Such a knight would fight to the death, even to protect a charge who abused his diplomatic status and turned against his hosts. Their dedication to their code is as unswerving as their ferocity, but there is a cautionary note. 

Fair but deadly.

There is a chilling legend of a merchant trader who used his invitation to trespass into the Royal Quarters and steal a Harpy egg. His assigned Protector safe-guarded his passage all the way out of Harpy lands, shielding him from the furious onslaught of the Palace Guard, though she herself was sorely wounded in their flight. The robber, not knowing everything he should of Harpy ways, enjoyed the irony of the Knight's protection right to the border; where, the moment he stepped foot outside Harpy jurisdiction, and the remit of her code of honour, his former Protector turned upon him and rent him into bloody pieces for his betrayal. This was deemed a righteous action, even though the trader dropped the egg he carried and an unborn Princess of the Royal Line was killed in the name of vengeance.

This last shot shows the effect of lighting on material textures in the wings, giving them a lovely rainbow iridescence.

~ Outfit Credits ~

!deviousMind Carnival of Wonders 'Harpiya' Spirits of the Sky (from the Feb Fantasy Gacha Carnival) ~ wings, tail & bird legs or 'hooker boots' as the creator likes to call them!

PurpleMoon 'The White Knight' dress from the July Month of Games Chess section, incorporating mesh skirt, top & sleeves, gauzy flexi drapes, sword, flowered face mask and belt flowers.

Schadenfreude 'A Doomed Flock' bird skull jewellery from a past event (Taxidermia).

Grendel's Children 'Harpy' avatar head feathers (v.2) & skin, eyes & ears (v.3).

ContraptioN 'Carnivorous Jaw' toothy smile.

Puppy manicured claws (with wide range of colour options on HUD).

~ : ~

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

For the HOARD! ~ Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home...

Another of my 'Wheee suddenly I have money, I can buy things I've wanted for ages!' return to SL purchases is this matched pair of necklaces by Maxi Gossamer, only available on the marketplace. The Sybil's Ladybug Amulet comes in gold and silver with a range of scripted jewel variants, two pendant styles, and matching earrings. I saw somebody wearing it more than a year ago and although I keep a very long wish list, this was one of the few things that stood out in my memory without needing to consult it. I bought it quite early on, and took the photos back when I was modelling my Illusions antlers, but went on to post other things.

Forest spirit musing

I love the play of shadows in SL but my computer really struggles to handle them so after this set of pictures I turned them off - or my PSU would probably have blown sooner! Still I love how this photo has turned out, you can't see the jewellery very well but it's a gorgeous, introspective pose and mysterious lighting that seems to weave a story around this woodland avatar. I have a fantastic book 'Yarrow' by Charles de Lint and this avatar reminds me somewhat of the mystical semi-deity in that story.

Roses and ladybugs

A clearer shot of the necklaces (without shadows) which I complemented with a different pair of earrings so that I could show these too; they are 'yellow rose earrings' by Sebastian Dionysus, who is the partner of Stars! Stargem Winkler, and has a store next door, so naturally I browsed a little; at first wondering why two competing jewellery stores were so closely situated!

Maxi Gossamer 'Sybil's Ladybug Amulet' long & short chains

Sebastian Dionysus 'yellow rose earrings'

The avatar in these shots is my Hunter Green outfit from the 2012 colour challenge, wearing Illusions 'Dreamcatcher: Rusa' antlers and Effie hair.

~ : ~

Monday, 11 August 2014

For the HOARD! ~ Dancing with the Stars!

Or in Stars! jewellery 'Bouquet Blooms' to be precise, which was the fabulous prize for the Tiptoe Through the Tulips hunt this May. I wasn't doing the hunt, but Stars! is one of my favourite jewellery stores so of course I got the notice for this one. The set comes with a necklace and 6 pairs of earrings, with different stones to match the different colours in the necklace, so I put on one sapphire and one topaz (blue for the dress, yellow for me ;)

Stars! Bouquet Blooms jewellery
After struggling with the Tiffany outfit, I didn't feel like taking too much extra effort to showcase what could easily just be a close-up shot of the jewels, but they were too colourful for the black and white. I decided to throw on a dress at random and see how it looked, and found this 'Bluebird gown', a Boudoir group gift. Then I had a look through my Crazy Ass Hair Hunt files for something colourful and flowery, and instead found this 'Anemone' hair by Nevermind which matched the dress perfectly, and suddenly, with hardly any effort at all, I had a stunning outfit to really show off my jewels. I love when a post comes together like this, and I took the time to take a few photos and even put together a dance collage.

Perched prettily on my We're CLOSED log swing

ZOZ Slink nail polish applier 'floral solids' in 12 colours
(the dress comes with black gloves)

My favourite dance, weloveyou-girl from Sinewave
* Click to enlarge! *

Additionally, while I'm doing a Stars! post, here is the 'Iridescence' set in thunder - a gorgeous rainbow opal texture - which I purchased while I was tracking down the hunt prize. I should really have included this with the Tiffany post but I was having a trying day (the cat was sick all over child's bedroom floor and a plush toy, just as child didn't get himself to the toilet in time; it was one of those moments when you wonder just why you have either of them!) so I was rushing to post before I could settle down for what was left of the evening.

Stars! Iridescence (thunder) with Brii Tiffany outfit

This is going to make much more sense on Flickr, because I will post it first!

~ : ~

Sunday, 10 August 2014

For the HOARD! ~ Breakfast at Tiffany's

This post showcases the outfit I got from Brii Underground Wear in the May 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' hunt, as well as a mix of old and new, mesh and old style prims working in harmony. I don't take part in many hunts and I hadn't heard of this one, but a friend found this prize and I loved the jacket, so I just made the one stop.  It was a well designed clue, for which I give Brii props! The designers tried to make things in theme with the well-known film starring Audrey Hepburn, and I tried to stick with it in my choice of accessories. The Brii outfit includes mesh jacket and skirt, hat, sunglasses and shoes, also some make up which I didn't use as it's completely wrong for my face shape.

A fountain, not an erupting volcano, shot against
[TOR] Sunrise - Eye of Mowron.
The fountain was made and gifted by a friend, Xixao, back in the earliest days of SL (we graduated together from Help Island) and although it's a little primmy, I still think it holds its own against all the newfangled mesh. I'm on a retro decorating mission at the moment, to prove that there are many things made in the early days of SL which withstand the test of time, and to defend my hoarding impulses. I have the prims to do it, now they aren't being hogged by my castle! The 'Butterfly Kiss' chair is from the other end of the spectrum, a mesh design by another friend, still available at Angelic Designs.

Breakfast by the lake (Nacon's Natural 8am sky)
Another [AD] design, I just purchased this 'Solas' tall bistro set (tea things included); I've been looking for some pretty wrought iron garden furniture for I don't know how long and this seemed just perfect for breakfast by the lake, coming up on sale at an opportune moment as I got around to nearly the last of my May hoardings. The little pink bird perched on the other chair is by HPMD. My legs look pretty good in this shot, but if you look closely you can see some colour discrepancy between the legs and feet. The Tiffany shoes are very pretty but I'm afraid I have an axe to grind with shoe designers who don't provide for the full colour spectrum of skins. This is the palest the feet will go, and only 5 base skin colours were provided in the HUD, none of which were white. A white skin tone is absolutely critical for people who wear pale or exotic skins, if they are to match the feet, so I doubt these shoes will be seeing the light of day again. Somewhat amusing, given this gripe, is that the shoes have a typo so they are named peeptoe Hells!

bewildebeest 'Alma' jewellery, Free Speerit 'Elise' hair
and sky (lighting) Places - Cromac
I have got to say, I hate hair. It's an absolute pain in the **** when it comes to hats, and mesh is no good at all because you can't change it. After a great deal of dissatisfied inventory trawling and primping (modding all the bits which stick out), I rediscovered this rather charming style by Free Speerit, called 'Elise'. I have no idea if the store is still around, as the hair is rather old, and pure default prim - not even any flexis! - but it worked a treat, I didn't even have to hide any stray locks, and the pinned up look suits Tiffany reasonably well. I need to find some more hair that works with hats, as I have so many and they are always hard to fit, though the toppers I get from TMH generally perch well enough on top.

Tiffany must wear diamonds, of course, so I put on this lovely filigree jewellery, 'Alma' from a fabulous store, .( bewildebeest ). which sadly closed its doors some years ago despite her exquisite prim designs. I am using an Amacci skin, 'Oleana' from a past Peace hunt, with 'Tribal' make up and 'Ain't Me' eyes from DAMNED.

{ZOZ} 'Wild black gold' nail polish in Dalmation (SLink applier)

Finally, a close-up shot to show off the Alma ring and my nails, sporting this gorgeous and exotic nail polish from {ZOZ} which I stumbled upon completely by accident as I nipped into the Relay For Life fashion event in June. There are 12 designs in the set, for hands and feet, in a variety of animal prints including some reptilian green scales! I got the SLink mesh nails, rather than the full hands, because I'm not quite ready to go full mesh on those; 'natural' hands look perfectly fine (compared to the feet...) and their flexibility is required for certain poses and animations. I know mesh looks smoother in photos but when people are moving around, I find it makes them look a bit like animated puppets, not to mention all the issues with clothing, so I'm not very keen on mesh body parts, apart from my feet (and hair of course, and the 'additions' like nails, fangs and tails!) I am sure I am starting to look quite thoroughly retro when I go out, though the amount of mesh hair and clothing I wear probably saves me from complete disgrace. Though I will say, all this mesh caused my computer to blow up - I had to get a new graphics card to handle it, and as it turned out, the PSU (power supply unit) was no longer up to the task. I logged on a couple of days ago and it went 'phttt' in clouds of smoke... Now I have a new PSU, cooling unit and larger, quieter case - all to maintain my shiny hoard and this blog!

~ : ~

Friday, 1 August 2014

For the HOARD! ~ White Queen

This ALWAYS happens... One of my favourite stores had an outfit out for the Month of Games, which ended yesterday (sorry) - the triple theme was Chess, Clue (or as we call it in the UK, Cluedo, don't ask me why) and Candyland. Since when candy was a game genre I do not know, but there we are; or were.

The Month of Games Shopping Event
It looked as though there were some pretty fun activities over the event, including a murder hunt in the Clue zone, which I'm sorry to have missed, but I was operating on my 'don't go until last minute then you won't be so tempted to buy stuff' principle - like THAT ever works! I did buy the outfit I went for, but I have an idea how to showcase that which I haven't got around to yet, so, later.

What I ALSO bought was possibly the most expensive dress in my entire wardrobe, after spotting it on an ill-advised sweep of the vendor boards, and falling instantly in love. All the items in the Chess section were themed around the game, and I chose this "Chess" dress by Son!a in ivory, because I liked the gold accents, and that much pure white would have made me feel like a bride. It is a stunning dress, with a huge pouffe of chiffony, flexi train, a tintable fur stole, and fun but elegant attachments in the style of the chess rook, the castle.

Son!a "Chess" dress with Boudoir "Chess Queen Battle"
I also bought this beautiful "Chess Queen Battle" table set by Boudoir, with linked chairs for the opposing players. The board animates on touch to play out part of a chess game - I couldn't see an endgame, but it moved so quickly, and I'm only a chess amateur, I could have missed something; I must get Nadir to look, my hubby being a bit of a chess whiz!

I have been showing my dress off to every friend who will spare me a minute, and Suzari here immediately put on hir Illusions "Harlequin" outfit and said I needed a jester, which was awesomely apt for playing my black opponent - Game On! I have no idea of Suzari's skill at chess but it's probably better than mine, so I'd likely lose, but that's OK because jesters have a work mandate to put royalty in its place ;)

Bamboo "Chess" nails (queens)
Additionally, I picked up this fun set of SLink nail polish appliers by Bamboo, to accessorise. They come with little queens, knights or pawns, or you can have them in plain chessboard style, which I did for my feet.

And here are just a few more pics:

White Queen vs Dark Jester

"Alice, my dear, do you play?"


Necklace: "Dulce Gold" by Vintage Jewels (just purchased; members only)
Hair: "Song" in 'mad' pack by !Lamb for the June round of Collabor88
Skin and make-up featured in previous post; they looked so good I didn't bother changing.

Incidentally, Son!a wins a bunch of brownie points, because I was rather disappointed to find after purchase that the rook attachments were set at full-bright, and no-mod; and as I like to use natural lighting, and often wander about at night or in the darker windlight settings, full-bright can be as intrusive as neon. I sent an offline IM asking if she would mind resetting the textures and sending me a new copy and got them within a couple of hours - now there's service! I had been steeling myself for a snippy 'sorry, that's how I made it, like it or lump it' attitude but clearly Son!a values her customers. So now, the dress is perfect, definitely worth what I paid for it, and I suspect I may be wearing it quite a lot in between photo shoots. Obviously I like all the outfits I buy, but this one really feels 'me'. I probably ought to hunt out some shoes, I think I have just the pair from L&E...

~ : ~

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

For the HOARD! ~ Garden Party

This post showcases PurpleMoon in a double set, as not only am I wearing the gorgeous group gift gown, "Drew" in Dreams of Chocolate (mesh), I just had to buy the jewellery that was modelled with it - Lazuri "Fall Romance". This colour of dress is exclusive to the group gift (which is still available at the time of posting) but her styles are released in multiple colours. Lazuri seems to be a protégé brand as it is by a different designer but managed by PM, so her designs are recommended alongside various dresses (a cunning sale strategy!). The pearl drops on earrings and necklace have a choice of textures, but intriguingly show a different one on left and right, with lots of sparkling coloured gems to complement and up to 3 bracelets on each arm.

With the richness of the dress and jewels, I had to dress up a bit. I have an absolutely ridiculous number of hats, mostly by The Mad Hattery, but I never seem to wear them; so although it hides the hair a little, I decided to hat up for this shoot with the "Forgotten Orchid" topper.  TMH hats are hugely creative and (I think) both elegant and entertaining at the same time; this one is made in the style of a greenhouse containing a potted orchid which is escaping out of the louvred roof!

The hair is "Ophelia" by La Boheme, made for the second Crazy Ass Hair Hunt, which I also wore for my Vampire Burlesque Circus post in the 2012 Colour Challenge. It has tiny metalled flowers in the back which you can see better in that post, and is colour change scripted, but also handily mod.

Then I thought that a little something extra was needed and put on this fabulous "Wrapped" feather boa by Schadenfreude. It comes in five body hugging pieces (arm and chest/spine attachments), has detailed flexi feathers, and is tintable (of course I chose the white version for maximum modification) so I matched it to the embroidery of the dress. No lady's outfit is complete without a wrap!

I didn't want to swamp the delicate gold of the dress or jewellery with my customary gold skins, so I went with one of my {Frick} designs, "Alt Geisha Tamarind" in cream. I love the soft, painted look of her skins, all of which have beautifully designed make-up schemes; although they are more human than the scaled skins, the fantasy element suits my nature and adds variety, and I find that they stand up better to a range of lighting than some of the more photo-realistic skins on the market. (Ha ha oops, just noticed I forgot to re-tint my feet!)

This skin shows bright stars of orange behind the "Travel" petal make-up by White~Widow which seems to be turning into something of a staple. I also have on some contour blusher by Dead Apples and brass "Sweet Lips" by KOSH, along with the now habitual ContraptioN fangs. The eyes are "Caesius" in copper from the Aquamer collection by Plastik, which came with the gold skin from most of my previous posts.

As a final mention, the chairs are from the "Butterfly Kiss" set by Angelic Designs, along with her "Avalon" antique sterling wine serving tray (purchased last weekend) on an Indian summer side table by What Next, with an apple tree by ForestFloor Creations and disappearing Cheshire Cat by SHD. Because I am always finding little incidental things in other bloggers' backdrops and wondering where they are from :)

Note that I am not using one of the chair animations, I am actually posing with one of a Poseway Fashion Model set exclusive to the Couturiers Docks, which was a completely accidental purchase - it was late, I was tired, I thought I was buying the jewellery on the ad model and failed to register the significance of the pose stand in front... lol oh well. One set of poses won't break the bank, and now I'm just trying to get my money's worth out of them!

~ : ~

Monday, 21 July 2014

For the HOARD! ~ Love is in the Details

I'm back! I didn't go anywhere but I had a bit of an artistic block putting this outfit together, not helped by the disaster of SL chewing up and spitting out my castle, so I've been busy remodelling the place. It now has a waterfall grotto and a lot of alien plants, which are prime examples of how artistic people can be with raw tortured prims - from back in the day before mesh and sculpts (or even flexis!) - but also of how many prims they take up in your parcel allowance. My six Shiny Things exotic plants combine to 50 prims, so although I love them, I never really had the space for them until now. Opportunity out of crisis indeed!

I have a lot of Finesmith jewellery, because her designs are fabulous, but mostly I go for things in the sales as her prices are also pretty fabulous; but she is a very generous as well as talented designer with frequent sales and hunts. I picked up a lovely pair of earrings on sale in May last year, spun from driftwood and cubic beads and little glass hearts; now, almost exactly a year later (remember I'm still blogging my May purchases - this is not a 'what's on sale right now' kind of blog!) I finally had the cash to buy necklace and bracelet to match. I didn't bother with the ring as I don't often wear them.

I also picked up the month's group gift from my favourite dress designer, Purple Moon, and decided it would set off the jewellery very well, but couldn't quite get the hair right. This morning I decided to catalogue (i.e. photograph) my Crazy Ass Hair Hunt prizes as there are so many, and they are so varied and outlandish, that there's really no other way of remembering what they are all like; and doing this, I found the perfect complement to the outfit, a style which is both striking and simple, setting off rather than outperforming the jewellery and adding to the classic elegance of the dress.

Scenery: [AD] 'Nerissa' Forgotten Cascade and Fallingwater Cellardoor (Shiny Things) Crazy Tulip
The tulips are the least exotic of the bunch, which include animated bug eaters, spore pushers and an odd sort of serpent vine with petalled maw - I'll show them in another post. The surrounding cave and other visible plants are all from [Angelic Designs] too. It's my Go-To store!

PurpleMoon 'Aria' dress (mesh gown, flexi skirts).

Finesmith 'Love is in the Details' necklace with 
'Love Doesn't Grow on Trees' earrings and bracelet.  'Lady Saelanar' hair 
by Sky Everett Designs for CAHH 2010.

Al Vulo 'Debbie' Ohh Deer Chantilly (promo) skin
with White~Widow 'Petals' face paint and KOSH 'Sweet Lips'.

Finesmith 'Love Doesn't Grow on Trees' bracelet and 
'Illustrated' SLink enhanced nail polish (purchased in June).

I had to be artistic with this shot and cut it up a bit, because the thumb of my hand was partially obscured inside my hip, and somehow looked like I had been struck with a Withering curse; there was no way anyone short of a Photoshop genius was going to repair it.

No, really, look D:

My poor, withered thumb!
This is why a lot of people are buying mesh hands, but that just adds yet another nightmare of skin matching and position-tinkering each time I use a pose, and I've always liked how the default hands are done in SL, with a lot of animation potential. Too much mesh and we're all going to look like a clone army of shop window mannequins - if anything can be seen of us at all for the LOD lag! Don't get me wrong, I do love mesh - I own enough of it! - but it has its drawbacks. I think I'll stick with the default skeleton for a while yet, cursed thumbs and knobbly knees and elbows notwithstanding.

~ : ~

Sunday, 6 July 2014

SL Ate My Castle ¬.¬

There used to be a castle on this mound. I had to take it down. It's a fairly involved technical story which I'll explain after the photos - suffice it to say for now that SL glitched in a major way while I was trying to reduce prims, and ruined the build. It will take far too much effort to redo from scratch (which I will also explain below) and so I have torn down the whole castle, leaving just the mound. On the bright side, it has freed up 600 prims with which I think I will landscape, with various plants, water features and garden decorations. What is it they say about a crisis offering opportunity? I just know I don't have the heart right now to do it all over again, but I don't want to abandon the parcel as I have got it looking so pretty.

If you set the prim physics of certain system prims only (not sculpts or mesh) to convex hull, you can halve the land impact, which obviously in a build this large adds up to a good amount of spare prims you can reuse. I reckoned I could save at least 100 prims this way, which is well worth doing.

The first time I tried this was late at night, when I was tired, and inevitably goofed up; I fixed that problem and the next time, believe me, I took precautions and didn't make any mistakes. I first took a copy of each linkset of the castle into inventory, so that I could restore it if anything went wrong. I also edit-selected out all the sculpted parts I could detect in the linkset I was working on, because if you change sculpts to convex hull, this doubles their LI, and I am already maxed out on prim allowance. I needed to work with linksets rather than unlinking the whole castle, because it's a very complex and irregular build, and if you can't see the outlines of everything selected, you can't tell where half the prims are, or whether you've already modded them.

The first linkset I modified worked beautifully and I saved around 40 prims. Then lag, or general weekend contrariness, set in. Every prim I seemed to have selected was a simple box, yet changing the selected prims to convex hull switched the entire linkset, doubling the prim count. Trying it on a couple of identical delinked box prims, I couldn't for the life of me work out why one would halve and the other double. 

Then disaster really set in. I tried a different linkset, one not much larger, and again only chose the non-sculpted prims - but this time, the prim count went off the scale, at least above my spare parcel allowance, and the linkset was returned. No problem, I thought, I'll just restore the backup copy.

And this happened. Why in the world would it try to rez the set at 0,0,0 coordinates when I was restoring to last position?! Well, I tried several times, from different locations on the parcel (just in case it had anything to do with MY position, which is doubtful) but there was no way it was going to work. I had a huge missing chunk of castle and no way to fix it.

Why not reposition the set by hand, you may ask? Well, these aren't regular linksets, and it's by no means a linear build. A tower turret could be linked to half the ground floor and a window prim on the other side of the castle, with all kinds of pieces at different crazy angles to one another. Rezzing it any-old-how on the ground would result in a mismatch it would be almost impossible to line up - I had enough trouble doing that the night before and wasn't about to try it a second time. 

So finally, why not try re-rezzing the entire castle again from scratch? Well, when I originally put it up, I made a lot of modifications. I removed quite a few prims, and to have the capacity for the full build, I would need to take up most if not all of the items I'd set out around the parcel, as the original castle is over 600 prims; and I would need to make sure I didn't position it over the top of something. Then I'd have to redecorate my bedroom all over again, which was a nightmare job of texture re-mapping. I just didn't have the heart to go to so much effort when I'd got things looking so pretty; and it's not as though I'd been indoors much, or had guests over.

So I demolished the entire castle down to the bare mound, and have decided to eschew buildings for now; I wanted more prims so I could put out pretty garden things, and now I have more than enough to work with. The castle may be one of the most expensive and longest coveted items in my inventory, but it was also one of the primmiest and now I can take advantage of its absence. Maybe some day I'll put it back. Now I have a new project, which is making a beautiful garden. SL, LL and huge builds be damned!

~ : ~

Saturday, 5 July 2014

For the HOARD! ~ Gryphon

You all know I love dragons most; but I have a secondary spot for gryphons in my heart. I think it's the combination of big cat and eagle, both beautiful, magnificent predators, coupled with my love of chimaeras. (A dolphin is also a beautiful, magnificent predator, but a half cat, half dolphin would... well okay, I had to go and google this and I did find quite a fine fish specimen, but I prefer the aerial mix.)

I have found many fine dragon avatars on SL but for some reason, never until now did I find a satisfactory gryphon. They were all too cartoony or too chunky for my tastes. Seawolf, the makers of the sim-sized sculpt-prim dragons (I have one of the smaller versions) have done a gryphon, and done it proud. 

Soaring: Seawolf Adult Gryphon v1.2 (L$2400)
A friend had one and when I saw it, I just had to get it. The beast has interchangeable parts so you can make it the standard eagle-cat (as in the first two images), eagle-wolf or eagle-horse (hippogriff) or simply a normal big cat or wolf, with or without wings. It has very smooth, natural looking walk, run and flight motion and lots of small detail such as talkjaw, twitchy ears and idle scratching. It also has the most complex HUD I have ever seen, with several coat texture changes, eye, ear and muzzle shapes, a huge range of cool animations (chase tail, pounce, rear etc.), sounds, even hand positioning for a bipedal furry variant I didn't try out.

Nesting (nest included)

Hippogriff! (Rear hooves and horse tail; note the long ears)

Winged panther

Wolf, drinking at neighbour's waterfall (land owned by a wolf pack...)
It is gorgeous but it has a couple of issues. For one, every time you change between poses - standing to sitting or flying - the legs and wings switch out to a second set, with a script to turn the unused set invisible. This is standard practice with this kind of avatar, because you can't animate prims the way you can the default (human) SL skeleton. The problem with the gryphon is that it uses sculpts, and the load on my graphics card each time it switches is pretty intense; and I have a good computer. I get graphics lag - parts not switching out properly and leaving untidy feathers sticking out where they shouldn't be, or missing bits of limbs. I know it isn't the scripts because other observers see differently. This is obviously not ideal, but I haven't checked it since raising the LOD above 4, which might help; and it's possible I could do with a new fan for my graphics card. 

A second, more minor issue is that every time I play the sounds, there is a distinctive button click before each vocalisation, which rather spoils the effect. Not sure what is causing that but I think it may be a recording artefact they missed. I need to do a bit more experimentation and then get in touch with the creators to see if they have any advice. But on the whole I am still very happy with my gryphon and the high, but fair, price I paid for it (nearly $10 real money). I just hope any update fixes come free..!

~ : ~