Monday, January 29, 2007

Free At Last - I Love My New Graphix Tablet

I got a new graphix tablet. Goodbye Mr. Mouse, nice knowing you.

I am in love with my new Wacom Intuos 3 Graphics tablet. Got some new painting software too. So, I have been off exploring what I can do in the world of digital art versus what I can do on a canvas. Great, great fun. Did I mention I love it!

Lately, I have been doing portraits in SL. Kind of strange, take a snapshot of a character that all ready is an image and use it for reference for painting. Art imitates life, in this case Second Life, I guess. So, here are some of my current portraits.

Me hard at work in my workshop, which is on the third floor of Eugena and my Gallery in Clear. I have a picture of Eugena, a self portrait, a picture of Chaos in front of a Madelbrot Set and the picture of me with some of my real life art.

Birthday painting of Ms. Reina. Reina is my adopted sister from my "Shelter Family". This is an acrylic, painted with a big brush and broad primitive strokes. Sort of like Rei! :)

This is a Rez Day picture of my friend Bethany Heart. Beth is my party sister and the leader of the Merry Idiots "family" that I love to hang with. I used finer acrylic brushes and a camel hair oil brush on this painting.

This is my concert going sister Elizabeth Antonelli whom I met originally while living with the "McDunnough Family" in SL. You see Liz at many of the live concerts and she has been a great supporter and helper in Second Life.

This is my evil Step Daddy in Second Life, Filthy Fluno. Filthy is probably the most famous artist in Second Life and now oversees the Artropolis Sim. Filthy has taken me under his wing, so to speak and let's me know when I am creating Crap instead of Art. :) This picture of Filthy as a Viking Warrior was my first commission in SL!

Speaking of Dads, my real life Dad was over to my sister and my new house we are renting a couple of weeks ago and commented that we were wandering around like a couple of Zombies (mostly he was commenting on our tired, listless appearance due to a little too much partying the night before). In any case, being a good daughter I painted him this painting of his two "Zombie Daughters". What a great kid I am!

And lastly, I made another animated TGA. I made a number of these for SL "best friends" for Christmas, like, Reina/Pati, Jacek/Roe, Roy/Karen, etc. This one was for Chaos. It transitions from the Mandelbrot Set to an oil painting I did of him. I looked at the Mandelbrot Set and said, "Hey that looks like a penguin's profile." It inspired this work. I also did some new sails for Chaos's sailboat. We went sailing which is always way cool, even though this time I was lost at sea. I felt like Rose from Titanic.

Thanks for looking at the art!

Ciao for Now.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Welcome Home

Those of you who were at the Trivial Obsession last week probably know that I was unaware that the Shelter had a slogan. It is Welcome Home. While being a little embarrased about my lack of paying attention over this last few months, I found out I was not the only one lacking this important information. Why didn't I know that? Which leads to the subject of the blog: branding.

One of the things I have noticed is that in Second Life, like with all things media related, you tend to remember things that are branded. In other words you remember people and places that have spent time developing an identity through some type of trademark. So, what kind of branding works?

Well, colors obviously appear to work. When I say "Green", you think of a certain person. If it is "Purple", you narrow it down to two people. Another thing is Avis stand out. A Skeleton, Penguin, Frogg, Elephant and Puppy instantly brings five people to mind.

So what is your trademark, your brand, your handle? My logo for my clothes is my Flying Star, unfortunately easily forgetable. I am the Starr-ving Artist for my Paintings. Which again unfortunately is not just a trademark, it is the sad truth as well. :)

Now back to Welcome Home, the Shelter slogan. Would it be more memorable if it was something more like "The Puppy Pad" or "So Simple A Caveman Could Visit Here?". Or should have I just been more aware. That probably goes without saying.

Ciao for Now.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Singer Sewing Machine

So, as everyone probably knows, I spend quite a bit of time creating clothes based on my paintings. I have been lucky enough to have Eugena Elvehjem as a Business Partner and her keen photographer's eye has led to really showing our clothes off nicely in our stores. But, as you would expect, Dixie is lazy. So, I thought, I will build a sewing machine to help make my flex skirts. Sounds easy, huh. Not for the girl who mostly spent Geometry and Trig class flirting with Don Schilter, the dreamey drummer in the "Soon They Thought They Would Be Famous" high school, grunge band. So, on with the story.

I figured, it couldn't be too hard, I mean the Jacquard Loom was built 200 years ago. Without the help of modern computers. So, now that I have built the Sewing machine, I have a greater respect for that Jacquard dude! As you can see I started by building a replica of my Great Grandmothers Singer Sewing Machine. It has been handed down to my Mom, so, I played with it growing up. The "Big Red Button" and the model above the machine are my modern attachments for Second Life.

The heart of Sewing Machine is my script that creates flex dresses. It works from patterns that you create in notecards that control placement of the dress panels that make up the skirt. I chose this approach, so that once the Sewing Machine was done, I could just swap out patterns for new dresses. I have already created 4 patterns. You also place a dress panel (flexible prim) you want to create a dress from and start sewing from the dialog box that comes up when you click on the "Big Red Button".

It starts placing the dress panels around the guide that is floating above the Singer Sewing Machine. This guide is the perfect size for my hips and my still pert derriere. You can easily create a guide for any body size. Someday I may even trying automating that.

Anyway, the script corrects for the hip and butt flare by actually doing some geometry calculations (I knew those Sines and Cosines would come in handy some day). These caculations tilt the panels and lengthen them to keep a consistent hemline. Old Miss Dohse my Geometry Teacher would have been proud. Also, there is a lot of communication going on between objects rezzing and the sewing machine that allow the skirt to link itself during the sewing.

When it finishes, the dress detatches itself from the sewing machine and floats a meter above the sewing machine. You then apply your textures and colors. I usually use my painting textures as my basic input and them play a lot with the rotation and repeats of the texture on the prims. Since they are linked they apply consistenly across the whole skirt.

And the result is this Picasso Skirt that I am wearing with one of my new bustiers that I have created. It also has a small jacket and a scarf for more dressy occasions. You can create any kind of skirt with this new Singer Sewing Machine. I wonder what Great Grandma Flo would have thought of her Great Granddaughter creating virtual clothes using a virtual sewing maching based on the Singer. Now I just need to find a sound effect for that old Singer sound of the pedals going back and forth and the bobbin going up and down.

Yes, it was a pretty weird way to spend my weekend. But, hey, I was iced in :)

Ciao for now!

Dixie "Jacquard" Starr

Monday, January 8, 2007

Packaderm Panic in Exile

It was a quiet night in Exile. We had just finished a very creative and somewhat subdued Building Shelter Competition hosted very aptly by Coal Nelson. While relaxing after the competition, a number of the Shelter in Exile regulars were comparing notes on whose builds were favorite, who had the best looking clothes, who was to stand whose head, you know the regular Exile Exhale that follows most Game Shows at the Shelter. Then to everyone's suprise......

The normally mild mannered and well behaved Salvador (Sal) Dalgleish slunked away to the corner of the front porch and much to everyone's suprise, horror and shock changed into a Behemoth Bull Elephant. The Powerful Packderm would morph from color to color which insighted a panic that quickly overtook the normally composed, cool and cosmopolitan Exile crowd. Normally, we sheltered expect to be, well you know, sheltered from the terror that sometimes SL can become. But, not on this night. Salasaurus stomped around the porch sending the crowd scurrying to avoid his oversized elephantine feet.

The Sallazilla often would change the color of his rough hide to shocking colors of pink, purple and dare we say even rainbow displays to send tremors through the assembled humanity (avitaranity). He even showed his every growning power by changing his whole body into lightning, fire and even chain mail armor that stunned the huddling masses into quivering lumps of pixelated panic. Oh, won't any brave souls save us? Is all hope lost?

A couple of the bravest and quickest thinking Exhilians leapt into action. Reina Quine took it upon herself to launch a sneaky and unfortunately unsuccessful "rear" attack on the Salgantic Monster. Her ill fated attack, while quite "cheeky" only ended in failure as Sal proved impossible to her rather "anal"ytic "ass"ult. Poor Reina was lucky to escape, still purple, if not a little black and blue.

Next, Wgasa Nabob jumped into the fray. Wgasa cleverly turned himself into a mouse and tried to use the tried and true, well know fear that elephants have of mice. Again, although he repeatedly ran around squeaking it only went to prove that like so many of the things we think we know for sure, the mouse effect on elephants' was alas only another urban myth (maybe a jungle myth come to think of it). But, again we must applaud Wgasa for his bravery in face of such adversity.

The crowd was forced to call Salenstien names, such as, "Yellow", "Periwinkle" and even "Paisley" in an attempt to make him stop in fear of us really getting verbally abusive. But, as all things go in SL. The Sal attack soon was over, as we think that we tired him out having to listen to the well intentioned, yet, unruly riot that is known as the Shelter in Exile Regulars comment on his creativity, his clevernous and his patience.

Yes, Sal, you are favorite plaything in SL! :)