Monday, July 25, 2011

moving backwards to move forward

I've hit a point in creating that I wanted to look at what I have done in the past to see which pieces I have liked enough to go back and fix or update. You learn new tricks or interesting techniques and I feel these previously released pieces might have turned out a little different if I knew then what I know now.

Things like the batter bowl from the Salt is the Fifth Food Group set . . . it's cute - in fact, I have to say it's pretty darn good for where I was at in my meshing skills at the time of its inception, but the handle has well over double the necessary polys . . . it was also intended to hold something but at the time I had no idea how to do that. Well - now I do and so, I've remeshed the handle to lower the poly count so we can raise it right back up again with things for inside the bowl . . . things like lemons or tomatoes . . . having a slot inside the bowl allows one to place pretty much anything inside it - not just these five new fruits and vegetables. Old poly count just under 1500, new poly count just over 1000. **I also need to add that my understanding of smoothing groups has jumped tenfold so this actually looks nicer. It was completely remapped too so this looks quite a bit better.

New handle and slot to make this object finally as it was envisioned
Five new fruits and vegetables to go into the slot (sorry for the sloppy merge of photos at different angles)
Comes with three styles at different tiling scales - here seen with fruits 
'New' bowl to the left - resmoothed (properly) and the new handle.
Speaking of the Salt set . . . the water glass. While I loved it originally, I have grown to hate it. I don't like it any more upon working with it more. Accursed thing. I was requested to fill it with something. I could do that sure - but I wanted for it to look real - like a bit transparent. I'd have to go through the archives to see if I mentioned the excessive head banging I did working on the edison bulbs, but there is a problem with how the game renders transparency. You can have two transparent items - adding a third causes some problems. Well - let me rephrase this. Adding a transparency to the multiplier is the problem when working with more than two transparent items. I think (think) you can have glass ad nauseum, but if you want glass, recolorable glass AND a transparency of a label over the glass? Fuck you and the horse you rode in on . . . at least - that is what the program whispered in my ear - it may have been a pick up line - I cannot be too sure - workshop has it's issues. The glass - it drove me nuts that as the camera panned out, the pattern became worse and worse and . . . where did the glass go? Playing hide and seek during my photo shoot is unacceptable! SO. Glass - less 'real' more 'visible' - pattern - it's still a bit glitchy, but that is the nature of Drizzleware (er . . . the orange pattern) and Oh yes - we have juice. Sorry - it's not transparent as I had hoped, but . . . well, you reason with the game.

Finally visible and full - all in the same file . . . fancy dancy!
The pillow. My first pillow I realized was not going to please everyone. When I went to work with it myself in game, I was so annoyed with the fact that you A: needed a cheat to place it, and B: it hovered above some chairs and sofas - worse - it could never be placed on the floor. I released a second version of the pillow that sat on the floor, but that still left the hell we know as OMSP. One More Slot Please. Or as I like to call them - OMGH - One More Grey Hair. Heidi showed me a nifty trick of being able to code something like a rug - so no cheats were necessary to place it. The hovering part . . . well - I have tested a number of things and to the best of my ability (currently) my findings are that while I can make it move up and down like a painting no problem, this blocks the ability to allow it to turn around fluidly. It seems the ALT key function can only be back and forth/around OR up/down - it cannot be your everything like Andy Gibb could. Hell - nothing could hold a chest hair to him. So after all that - it will still hover curiously over some seating. Sorry bubbies. I tried. **Further update: Even in taking the following photo I realized what a pain in the ass placing these pillows near to each other was going to be without using the cheat. So now all the pillows including the floor style in two sizes (not shown) will be recoded to not need a cheat. Why I hate the cheat - it's a necessary evil - but when you are setting up a screen shot, if you need it active, you cannot place doors and windows. Annoying to turn it on and off, on and off over and over again. My mind simply does not work that way.

15 new styles that go on the two different meshes - including simulated fur
(no animals were thought about being harmed in their creation
[you know I am an animal lover, not a fighter
{Laika! Git'da squirrels! Git'em!}])
Pretty much all the 4x3 rugs that have been released (since CB2 series one) will be re-released as a 2x3 as well. That's six (6) rugs. Sadly, with image sizes and quality, rugs released before this mesh cannot be remade entirely. Some images are higher quality while others were a stretch to get on the old meshes used. It's sad, but the clarity of those rugs I have always disliked in game and I hate to abandon them, but it's been a year or more since I collected those images and it's hard to locate them again on the off chance that they can be found larger . . . . that's like finding a grain of sugar in the salt shaker. The most recent small oriental rug had small images as well so they cannot be also made large.

Six resized rug sets in antique, blue, green, kilim and CB-tastic flavors
I am also planning on filling another request . . . the shadow box/acrylic box sets came with a light attached and while the art is pretty modern, the light fixture I think gets in the way. I am not sure if it's physically in the way or stylistically . . . regardless. This will be recompiled without the actual fixture but the light intact. If the light is not present then the glass glare is very strong and hard to see what is inside the frame. While I enjoy that sort of realism in my own game, the art really suffers - I could be putting Thomas Kinkade painting in there at that point. Muahahahah - there's a thought. Painter of light my fucking ass. That man should be shot for crimes against innocent retinas everywhere. Oh the humanity! I am still looking though my files to see if either one of these paintings will see a Series 2, at the moment it is not looking like they will.
One of the last things that I would love to redo is the male nude set. This was one of the first recolors I did and I always promised a female nude set to follow. One of the reasons it never came to light is that it is rather difficult to find a diverse selection of female nudes that are serious art. While I am still not sure why that is exactly - the female nude is far more popular a subject for artists - every search for pictures would pull up either the exact same artists every time OR would pull drawings that would more be considered pornographic in nature - not fine art. While there are arguments that all nudity could be considered pornographic in nature, I think one can usually tell the difference (quickly) by the placement of the hands. Generally speaking, in fine art, they are gracefully resting on the leg, for instance, or held away from the body. This is usually not the case for pornographic drawings, and I will let you use your imagination there. While I am still considering how to approach this project again due to the irregular nature of the 'paper' each drawing is on, the original set of 9 seemed small and that frame, while  at the time I was thrilled to death with because I was able to do anything different to the existing EA mesh, has always been a rather large distraction to me and seems clumsy when I look at it today. Blocky frame with squiggles upon it never really was my intention. We'll see if I can pull something new off.

Off to get the light off that picture . . . hope I can pull this off before weeks end. Between this, searching for work, and the mortgage song and dance (though, it looks like there is a program that is going to temporarily assist on the state level! Fingers crossed!!) I am not meshing as focused as I could be . . . .

Friday, July 15, 2011


This post was actually started two days ago so while it seems like I am preparing you, dear reader, for my upcoming set, you've probably already downloaded it or at least wanted to find out 'what was he thinking' . . . here goes:
Sometimes you think you have a set that will just keep going on . . . that is sort of how I felt with the mirror set (can be seen here and here) that I was pulling together. The first three were organic and I loved working on them - then I challenged myself with the Venetian Mirror. Sometimes a challenge is rewarding and everything you do makes you just want to create more and more. Then there is the other kind of challenge. You lose patience, you stamp your feet, you sulk and cry . . . the latter would be the Venetian Mirror. I don't know if I started it on a day that the moon was full or if Laika peed in my coffee or what . . . that mirror tore my soul up and ultimately ruined my enthusiasm for creating more mirrors for the time being. The other day I thought I would pick back up where I left off and I found myself going "I'm done. I'm DONE already." Ghaahhhd.

Luckily enough, Heidi had inspired me with a 'new' set that she has been working on, or really - reworking - she had struggled with her set too back in March (see - great minds DO think alike . . . even when it's not good). While I have this little bit of extra time on my hands, I, when not scouring the job sites for work, have been meshing to keep myself a little sane. Just a little mind you. I find myself talking to the dog a lot and expecting an answer these days.

There have been a few items that I have wanted to make and Heidi's set blended modern and classical together seamlessly that it got me thinking about those mixtures of old and new, smooth and textured, rough and refined that we both love so much. She had crafted this stunning backless sofa/bench that I had thought at some point I wanted to try to mesh something like that after seeing something in a picture with a gorgeous oversized painting . . . her version put my imaginary one to shame and will probably be in every single screen shot I ever do - but it triggered my memory of a table I had wanted to mesh. "C" tables, as they are called for their letter C shape, are a relatively new piece of furniture that have cropped up in the past few years. While they are an attractive side table, the idea is that they can slide up to your sofa and act almost like a TV tray (yup, I am showing my age there). Significantly cooler than the aluminum and plastic nightmares of yore, the "C" table has been crafted in any number of materials including exotic woods or stone atop a metal base as well as cool materials like heavy duty plastic and acrylic. Either they are on little gliders or wheels and pretty much any trendy/modern shop should have one. I saw a picture of one recently in all clear acrylic and having researched casters for chairs and tables a while back, I pulled one together from memory. After sending it along to Heidi to see what she thought, I found the picture of what I was trying to recreate and I was surprised to see that even they used a clear acrylic caster - kudos me, my Alzheimer's is not kicking in as soon as I projected. (I joke, but I am seriously preparing myself)

I have a serious lack of odd surfaces in my game. By odd, I mean - things not defined as side table, coffee table, dining table. When I make a surface (like the flour cabinet) it fills a void that I have in my own game. That said, I created an acrylic console table. You know - the tables you see in your entry way or behind the sofa? Why are there not more of these in game? They are soooo handy!

When Heidi showed me her very cool coffee table - it triggered a memory of a set of tables that I attempted to buy back in 2007 - well - one table of a 'set' of three types of tables all carved from Mango wood. For whatever reason, this table was back ordered for like six months and then they stopped carrying it. In researching it, I find that they ended up getting them back and putting them into their outlet store. FUCKERS! ( Yes, I went there). This trio of tables I wanted to make into chairs/stools. While I love the idea of them as a table, they felt more interesting as a functioning dining chair - sort of like a Chinese garden stool and I felt it was a nice compliment to Heidi's table. Her patience with me is truly a gift as I was not entirely sure how to texture something like this and she graciously walked me through the process.
The real tables - for the record, it was the one on the left I wanted.
In the middle of this set, I decided I was not done with torturing myself with items like the Venetian mirror . . . I got in my head to create a piece of quartz. No. Don't even bother to ask my goes on in the cavernous thing I call a head.

Finally, it seems no set is complete without something I own. In this case - two items. I have this bowl from Denmark that I have just adored. I purchased it in Cambridge, Massachusetts at one of the shops there that I used to haunt. The real one at some point someone put a plant in it and the soil left mineral marks that simply will not come off the surface - I think there has been a chemical change to the glaze as it almost appears to be 'baked' in. Then there is a lamp that I have threatened to mesh for a while now - it almost made it into the Mementoes set. It was a light that reminded me of a lamp I already owned in color . . . when I got it home, they were indeed alike - they were made by the same company and had the same base. This line of 'lamps' were actually sold as a medical device with a strange screw in 'bulb' that looked like a piece of pumice. The one I already had I purchased in Arizona and the dealer seriously hid when I screwed in a bulb to see if I could get it to work as a lamp. It worked just fine - so I was confident when I bought this one. I will say I struggle with this light as not every bulb works in it, but I love it and it's unusual. Changes were necessary to keep the poly count reasonable - mostly in the base which is an applied texture and in the clamping mechanism. While I probably could have lost 110 polys by going back in and futzing around, I decided to keep it at the 1310 poly count. Yup - lazy bones. I really would have loved to add the chord as that is one of the things that I find so interesting about this lamp, but that would have pushed the limits to a crazy number I would not have been comfortable with.
The real lamp
The real bowl
With all of the reflective surfaces between this set and Heidi's . . . it seemed okay to apply the four mirrors to this set. You wondered where I was going with all of this. Weren't you.

Monday, July 04, 2011

One tiny update ....

Just a tiny one - I believe the set is complete and there are 16 items in it. Fingers crossed this will be a joint release - I don't want to speak out of turn and say who just in case the speed of life decides to render one of us a speed bump . . . but I bet you can guess who the mystery creator might be :)

I like to challenge myself and that can verge on tormenting myself at the same time. While I am not a person who likes symmetry, I do believe in balance. Looking at the set there are a few uneven elements which I have tried to rectify. The fountain was the only water feature, so I wanted to add a bird bath to the mix. This had a number of revisions because what I did not realize is that the only base game water item I could clone and work around (for some reason fountains are a cranky object in workshop) was the small fountain - which has an animation? I was a little surprised as it is the base for the fountain in this set - but the animation is hidden inside the urn in that case so when the bird bath was imported in game I was a little surprised. The original shape was to evoke the feel of the obelisk and what I am calling the finial, but instead it just seemed awkward. Revision two found the base a little too top heavy so this is revision three - with a created group for water. In workshop this is a confusing looking object (as are plants or anything that requires transparency rendered), but it looks fine in game and has that movement of water which I wanted.

Goldilocks' bird bath - not too top heavy, not too angular - it's juuuussstttt right.
To balance the two cloches, and beef up the plant element I created another odd little plant. This is a favorite that I brought with me from New England - Sweet Woodruff. While I have a hell of a time trying to grow it here in Atlanta, it's an unusual looking little ground cover that does better in shady and moist areas like a woodland sort of setting. In real life I had this as a potted plant because I had no idea that it was a ground cover. When I planted it outside in Andover, Massachusetts it took off like gang busters . . . here it sort of whines a little and becomes a bit sparse looking. That said, I like the unusual - I bet you couldn't tell that - so I wanted to bring yet another favorite plant to game. This is a little high on the poly count and I probably would have approached it a different way if I was reading the term 'facet' as 'poly' in UVMapper . . . I was just a little glazed at the end of my meshing it and while I would prefer to see a lower number, I don't think it will be one of those things that people will have 10 of them on their lots. One or two high poly items are okay in a game - a house full of them with an OMSP holding 20 of them on one square is generally thought to be mildly reckless.

Two styles of clay pot - clean and mossy
Now we'll see if I can stop myself from adding something else. These large sets are sometimes a downer for people I think - like 'too much' to process and initially it can backfire and be a low download set. Hopefully that won't be the case this time around.