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..!

~ : ~

Friday, 4 July 2014

For the HOARD! +Half Deer+

+Half Deer+ Two Peas in a Pod Boat & Baby Sea Monster
My tranquil lily lake with peapod boat seating prop - the cushions inside are the peas! - and lake monster from +Half Deer+, waterlilies by Grendel's Children and Forest Floor trees. I have found a new store, and it's all Rudh's fault! ;) But as I get to have both a castle -and- a lake, I am very happy.

So when I came back inworld, I had a little nosey around Rudh's place to see what they'd done with it. Which is how I found the new low-prim NR trees (the purple wisteria up by the castle gate and the trees in the next shot). And I also found the most ADORABLE little sheep, so I headed to the store, +Half Deer+, to get them. At first I thought they were from D-Lab (and I'm not the only one) because they have that same rounded, cartoony cuteness; so I think I can say with certainty that anyone who loves D-lab will also love +Half Deer+!

+Half Deer+ Kerfluffles Ganache & Mr. Bubbles! <3 i="">
Aren't they the cutest? Everybody who visits wants to eat the chocolate one D: He is no copy so they can keep their greedy paws off!

Now, the sheep - actually called Kerfluffles - are in a gatcha. And yes, if you know my feelings on the subject, your eyebrows may be rising at this point. BUT! +Half Deer+ does gatchas the right way. Firstly, everything in there is the same kind of thing - they are all sheep, not some random assorted mixture of animals, or (even worse) animals and lawn furniture - so that when you want a sheep you actually get a frog, or a deck chair, and give up in disgust. Secondly, because I'm not going to be wearing them, they don't have to match my outfits and colour schemes are irrelevant. And thirdly, there is no need to collect a set, you can have just a couple or an entire flock. These kinds of gatchas, I don't mind playing.

Which means I also nabbed a couple of sets of horns from another gatcha nearby. And was really lucky to win the rare set, though actually the Black Magic horns are more 'me'.

+Half Deer+ Aventine horns 'Black Magic'
With {Frick} 'Belle Epoque' dress in brass; Schadenfreude 'August' half n half hair (with Nikitafride Carnivale hairbase); TSM Star Eyes; ::69:: OpenStar earrings and FPI Shining Gold Star necklace. And my New Trails tree for background detail.

+Half Deer+ Aventine horns 'Sweet Lolita' (rare)
Kawaii star on left horn (inset)
With Hairoin 'Pheasant Flower' Spectral (part tinted), a CHH3 hair prize; Al Vulo 'Debbie' skin (promotional version 'Ohh Deer Chantilly'); FPI Shining Gold Star earrings; TL Concord eyes; White~Widow 'Travel' eye makeup and KOSH 'Sweet Lips' in wine cream. Yes, those are my ContraptioN teeth sticking out, quite demure without the alpha mask.

Never have I put so much effort into assembling the best outfits to show off a couple of pairs of horns - gatcha horns to boot! Never mind finding the right hair, but in the Black Magic ensemble, I realised that I didn't have any kind of necklace to match the ::69:: earrings - quelle horreur! I had to do a quick Marketplace run and found this pretty star set by FootPaw Industries (necklace in first shot, earrings with the Lolita horns) which complement the stars on the horns themselves. Now I really just need a moddable, tintable hairbase I can use for those hairstyles which come without one; though PurpleMoon triumphed over Truth and Amacci to come up with one that was actually white and not just pale blonde.

+Half Deer+ Savannah Necklace [Giraffe] in natural & ebony
With my Hunter Green outfit from the Colour Challenge. My final purchase from +Half Deer+, and I had my eye on the lion necklaces too as you can imagine, but I decided that was enough for one day and beat a hasty retreat.

Now do you see why stores are so dangerous for me? };=8)

~ : ~