Monday, May 30, 2011

Weaving till it hurts, or, if it ain't broke - then break it.

So, in my quest to bring diversity as well as clarity to the files that I create, I decided to try my hand at building a better mousetrap - or, better known as - remaking the 4x3 rug. I did this for better scale and image quality in game. This requires little work to the mesh - it's a rectangle. It has to do with the mapping in UVMapper. I remapped this file so that is was in better ratio to the file. The 'old' one was squished a bit because it was originally made with UVMapper free version - where you can actually shape the window to be the correct size you want (with the help of a couple of photoshop files in the correct size) and then everything can be mapped to the size you want and exported at the correct scale - no stretching or warping. That said, it was a pain to use and I am not singing its praises - just that it was easier to map at a strange size that was non-square. The pay version you cannot reshape the map - it's always a square and yes, you could use a texture to map in the correct area and then stretch your shapes to fit the square, save the map at a un-square size and presto - theoretically it would work. I haven't tried it - it seems like an exceptional amount of work - it should just be something you can do. Wah. Boo hoo. Et cetera. I know - poor little me. Oh woe.

In trying to rebuild the rug file, there was a secondary purpose. Martine requested (two links there) smaller rugs as she likes them more than the larger rugs for the intimate spaces she creates. I liked the idea of being being able to offer the same file on the smaller mesh, but the overlays would need to be completely resized to work on the old 2x3 mesh that mesh was poorly mapped by even EA's standards. Solution? Take the map from the larger rug and apply it to the 2x3. Now, I can make a suitcase victrola, but sometimes one can over intellectualize a simple problem. Resize the 4x3 original mesh, right? No - never occurred to me as I was wanting that crisp texture and I was stuck on the remap idea.

Finally after remaking the map and saving it at the 1024x1024 size that made sense (remember 1 square = 256 and there is no 768 size for texture in the game - it always doubles 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024)  a 4x3 rug would theoretically be 768x1024 for proper un-stretched texture. Of course - I wanted to try that. Problem is - TSRW(workshop) had a hell of a time trying to work with files that large. Especially a lot of them. Add in the trouble that I have with .dds files in photoshop, I now save as TIFF. Workshop converts these and it just takes that much more effort for the program and I had to save after importing every single overlay file. After about four hours of beating my head into the ground, a 22mb raw workshop file and a 9mb sim3pack export for each of the two files, I figured that it was just too big for most people's games. This morning I simply took the original 4x3 - mind you - a not broken file - and simply scaled it smaller and re-exported it from milkshape and now I have a new (if slightly larger) 2x3 rug. Honestly - it was like walking around the block to get to my mailbox because I decided to turn left instead of walking three steps forward.

 2x3 new mesh left / original resized to 2x3 right
 4x3 new mesh left / original mesh right

So really - no noticeable difference in the quality of the image (you'll note that the 'new' files are a bit brighter and that was an oversight on the original 'new' overlays - the game makes things very punchy in color so saturation levels need to be subdued to look sort of normal in the game). The thing I am a little disappointed with is that I don't like the shape of the old 4x3 which is a literal 4x3 square. The 'new' 4x3 is actually more like 2.875x4.375 (2 7/8 x 4 3/8 for the fraction minded). It was a literal enlargement of the smaller rug. If it was going to be new I wanted it to also be a newer size.

So HUGE perk to using the old mesh is that I can now go back and resize any file I made with this mesh - that means the green, blue, oversized kilim, cb2 series 1 (the above is part of series 2) et cetera can all be re-released as a small file. Tah fucking dah. Kudos me.

So the moral of this lesson - the easy way is probably the best way and for some reason I always forget this lesson when I come back to meshing.

So on a completely different note, I am struggling with a tiny bit of poison oak from working in the garden. Odd thing - it originally was one tiny comma shaped bit on my inner forearm and two tiny spots on my other forearm. Now it's suddenly, a week later, in new locations too. I don't know if Laika is giving it to me but she has had two baths and isn't allowed off leash (no, we simply do not trust her off leash or with money) so she isn't going anywhere near the stuff.

Speaking of Laika - ubiquitous shot . . . . now:

 Her last vet visit 
(she's had three for shots as we didn't know if she ever had shots, her spaying, and her stitches removed) 

She's cost us a bloody fortune.

Lastly, if you know of an office job - please let me know. I am officially a free agent now (read: unemployed). I am DONE with the luxury item line of work. After a wildly erratic run these past few years with the economy sucking, I am looking for a more stable field - emotionally and fiscally. Tired of being a starving (literally) artist and looking for a relatively drama free line of work. Creative fields, while personally rewarding, are magnets for the overtly dramatic, slacker, obscenely vain types.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Different items currently being worked on

I don't have much of a set to pull together. I finally am sitting down to work on some projects that I have wanted to work on, but they don't really fit into any sort of a theme. Of course, I have a number of paintings that I am working on and a new rug mesh that I am excited about, but these are just a few of the odds and ends that I am pulling together . . .

 Photo backdrop with three channels
This has seen a couple of revisions- one version can be seen here - I made quite a goof on the center post in that version.
The original version also had some wonky leg supports. Angles are no the easiest thing to create accurately.
 Japanese book with 13 overlays and one CASt-able version
This is the one that can be CASt - this project was a labor of love - it even has an easter egg - even though the book cannot be turned over - there is a picture on the underside as well from one of the books :)
 Suitcase victrola - this one I am very excited about . . . 
I'm going to add a couple of notes here about this - I have owned a few of these and they never were in the best working order - I still want one. This saw quite a few revisions and the case of all things was the hardest part to deal with when mapping it. It's not the most cost effective regarding poly counts - it's running around 1500 which is still within the desired levels but still, I had hoped for less. I have thought it would be fun to include a few vintage mp3 files for the person who wants music that would be authentic - this might be a bit too geeky even for me. 
Beveled mirror - sadly, it doesn't look beveled straight on . . . mirrors are also a bit strange - take a look a this:
 Mirrors only reflect so much - they don't reflect many square outside windows - no trees??
This is the actual view from the window . . . makes for taking promo shots a bit difficult when one is creating a set of mirrors.

So while I try to make some sort of set in my head with these, I might just release each on its own and screw the set. I think I learned my lesson with the Salvaged/Antique set which still has curiously low download numbers. That said, I think I could pull two more items into this and have a tiny set - an end table and photo light - both of which would be part of the growing AHWb5 series - the end table is metal and the lamp actually was the model for the stand of the vintage photo backdrop - but I have a lot of vintage lamps to choose from so I don't want to repeat myself within the same group of items. Anyway - it's late here . . . will be working on the new rug mesh in the morning - hopefully that will go smoothly - I have redesigned it a few times - it's nothing spectacular - just a mapping issue so that one overlay can be used for two meshes. It's so simply, but I can't get my head around the best way to work it up - I have done two already and neither was especially great for me and it's quite annoying that UVMapper only seems to be able to map in squares - I want to be able to map in odd shapes like 128x1024 and the like and in scale - not so it warps.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sleeps with the fishes

I haven't had much time lately to create - it's a bummer and I hope that resolves itself soon, but I have been slowly finishing a set that has been probably eight months in the making. Sad, I know. I photographed these art deco fish prints at work ages ago and I had a simple frame that felt unfinished. I finally baked up a scale pattern (yes, it was created in 3D to get the best look, then applied in photoshop) and applied it to the frame and added a leaf/seaweed ornament in the corner. Voila (or as I jokingly say vi-o-la).

 Two of the eight art deco fish prints
 Two of the four biology book plates
A quick and cheesy room to see how they look. My god I have very little nautical stuff in my game. You can just see the new runners I have been pulling together too . . . .

Not the most exciting set, but a set none the less. There are eight deco fish prints and then to round the set off I added four natural studies plates of fish. These remind me heavily of the 50s even though the prints are actually from the 20s - that deco resurgence that popped up in 50s design.

We were pleased to see the garden came back after being destroyed last year with the tree falling. Chris was more enthusiastic than I was about cleaning up and starting over but really, the gardens that were in the ground needed very little assistance - just some clover removal. He amended the soil in the raised beds and he's planted jalapeno, tomato, dill, purple basil, thai basil, curry, and okra so far. The lemon thyme, greek and regular oregano, winter savory, parsley, and rosemary all came back this year and the lavender is crazy - I have two varieties of each for english, spanish, and french. I also have an unidentified one that I think is english and I picked up one this year that is called potpourri - not sure if that falls into one of the previously mentioned categories.

Laika spent the week in a fashionable bonnet of black trimmed vinyl - a step above the hard cone she was sent home wearing from the vet after being spayed. Within a few hours she had chewed a hole in the vinyl so we had to gorilla tape it (supposedly stronger than duct tape). The poor thing nearly scratched her sides to the bone where she was shaved. It was the only area she could reach. Every time she went into her crate at night, she wore the hard cone (she nibbled a lot at night) and during the day when she joined me at work she wore the soft cone. Thankfully she had her stitches out in only a week and she is so much happier . . . well, bored I suppose as this weekend Chris has a terrible cold and I am feeling the unwelcomed tickle at the back of my own throat - it's in the low 60s and quite cold feeling here. She has been cooped up all weekend no doubt dreaming of going to work and having playtime. The dog at work I think is a bit sick of seeing her - Laika has come into her own as a rather rough and tumble kinda girl - one might even say she was a softball player in another lifetime.

Ubiquitous animal shots to follow as well as some quick shots of the garden a'la Hipstermatic and Lo-Mod apps:
 Tilt shift garden . . . .
 Okra and herbs
 Pink Geyser Gaura and oregano
 Tomatoes and curry
 Euphorbia, lavender, and yarrow
 Jalapeno and Tomatoes
Yarrow, again . . . geez.
 Even Laika likes to garden . . .
 Chris and Laika
 Pretty vinyl bonnet . . . .
 Picking up satellite in transit . . . . perhaps from the Dog Star
Happy to have the cone removed . . . .