Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Dining room looking better

Dining room looking better
Originally uploaded by Beq Janus
Now I'm making more progress. This image shows the dining room in a fully textured state, as I said in a previous post what is good today may not satisfy tomorrow but I like this look and feel content enough to move elsewhere. In this case the elsewhere is going to be the music room with the dreaded vaulted ceilings and a lot of work on textures.

Building update - mid June

dining room progress_001
Originally uploaded by Beq Janus

nearly done for now
Originally uploaded by Beq Janus

As these images show I am now getting more detail added, I have come to learn that the whole project is a series of iterations, what is good enough for now will be terrible in a few days. This was the case with the wall texture, at this time it was already clear that the texture was not good enough but I simply did not have enough source material to improve upon it. The door and partition textures were looking really good. At this point however we start to come across the most annoying SL viewer bug, but more of that later.

Build update - early June

Originally uploaded by Beq Janus
This is the view of the Bel Etage (the first floor above the ground floor, effectively the main living area). The image is shot from within the Salon or music room and towards what will become the dining room and minor salon beyond that. this floor is the most detailed of the all the floors in the house and will be the most challenging to build. Luckily for that very reason it is also the most photographed.

I am using a building tool known as SkidzPrimz whch allows me to align prims more easily. the textures you can see here aer the default textures for Skidz primz they indicate which axes are where and other useful hints.

It was at this point I really started to come to terms with what I needed to build. The vaulted ceilings are probably impossible without using many prims, one possible solution is the newly introduced "skulpty".

This next shot shows the house without the guide floorplans, the open windows reveal the interior ongoing work. A lot of people have been very complementary about this but it doesn't feel correct. Right now, at the time of blogging, I am working on a complete retexturing of the front elevation.

House progress - Late May

Originally uploaded by Beq Janus
By lat May the house shape was becoming established and the interior walls were mostly in place or marked out. I had used huge prims 20x20 for some of the walls to reduce prim count but these later proved to be less optimal as the texturing of individual floors meant an internal prim "liner" was needed. I may at some point experiment with baking huge prim textures that span the floors as this will allow me to gain some efficiencies. Prim count on this build is going to be the biggest challenge.

Early build

Originally uploaded by Beq Janus
Madness took me when I decided to reproduce a work from the Art Nouveau period and chose to try the house of Art Nouveau heavy weight Victor Horta. Its natural curves and complex build are not sitting easily in SL. The lack of photos of the house in broader publication is also an issue but then I was never one to shirk from a challenge.

This shot is a week or so in to the build. I've laid out the structure and put up some texutres for the front elevation. Each of these was built by taking a photo and in many case a number of photos and merging them to form a complete view of the given feature.

For example: the downstairs iron window bars were formed from a low resolution colour shot inconjunction with a higher resolution black and white photo, the two were first transformed to the same alignment and then the black and white shot was recoloured form the low res shot ( and the colours used in surrounding shots) to give a colourised texture. the window/shutter was deleted to give it a transparency allowing people to see in to the building. This was actaully a problem, due to a bug in secondlife viewers, but more of that in another post.

Note: This method is far from satisfactory, while the results are OK the use of different sources ineviatbly leads to tonal variation which has to be corrected, again, I'll defer that post for another time.

Hortas house reproduction - twists and turns

The skill and imagination of Victor Horta never ceases to surprise me now. I should have started this blog many weeks ago when I set out to start this project as my understanding of the task at hand is growing with each day. I shall recap...

I arrived in Secondlife in April and after a few visits found myself spending a lot of time wandering the streets of a steampunk themed sim known as New Babbage. I was drawn in by the atmosphere and the engaging characters that one found there. By mid-May I decided that it was time to settle somewhere and to build a house. Naturally, Babbage, or rather the newly opened Babbage Canals area, was my first choice. Initially I had planned on building in an Art Deco style but was steered away from this by the mayor (Shaunathan Sprocket) as this was deemed too late for the theme (Steampunk ideally finishes in the first few years of the 20th century. There are a fwe anachronisms in Babbage, like the ugly yellow building with the revolving door but for the most part it is broadly themed in keeping with the late victorian era. I rethough my position and chose to build in Art Nouveau. I few years ago I had travelled to Belgium on a short break and visited a number of Art Nouveau sotes including Horta's own house, now the Musee Horta. I was impressed with the style of the building and have remained so ever since. So naturally I (naively) decided to build a replica of this work.

Secondlife building is somewhat akin to the kids building blocks system, Lego. The builder has a limited set of basic "bricks" to use, these are known as prims. A given plot of land also has a limited number of prims available for use in building, this ensures that the online world does not grind to a halt due to a particularly complex build. It also places some interesting constraints on a builder, not all of which are clear at the outset.

The horta museum website gave may some floor plans and a few details while the web through up a number of images that allowed me to start my build. Scale was a hard thing to address, the viewpoint in Secondlife effectively requires that everything is upscaled by about 2/3rds or even double in order to look vaguely normal. My good friend Anabella was kind enough to point this out to me before I started and saved me a lot of angst.

I've posted a few images to flickr as the build progressed. I'll add those to this blog now to build the history.