“Carmen” Mistress Dress Release

This release is a little unexpected; after all, for the past few weeks I’ve been talking of nothing but the horribly named “Dominatrix Formal” outfit.

I’ve got to a fairly advanced point with the DF outfit, far enough to have uploaded a test mesh with full textures to see how it plays in-world, but I’ve been spending a lot of time with it and I needed a little change of pace to keep me in the game.

Luckily a friend, coincidentally named Carmen, mentioned that she wanted a full-length skin tight dress so I decide to try another speed build and see how it turned out.

How did it turn out? Well, not speedy, for one thing. I made a mistake with the mesh build that required me to go back, fiddle around in Lightwave, and then re-upload everything. I also had an attack of dissatisfaction with the textures and decided to tweak them a little. This tweaking revealed a bug in my texture generator code that required even more time to fix. So what we have here is the slowest speed build in history.

In the end, though, I quite like what came out:

CarmenDressBlog

I’ve included two sets of textures with the release so you can strut around in latex or leather as the mood takes you. The above picture includes a purely gratuitous shot of my pink-latex-covered bottom. You’re welcome.

This build also raised the question of zips. I was going to leave the leather version with no obvious way of donning or removing it – a lot of the time I figure that I’m making fantasy gear in a virtual world and don’t actually have to worry about little things like how on Earth anyone would get into it. This time, for some reason, I decided that a zip down the back of the leather textures was vital.

In the past I’ve tended to acquire texture zippers from readily available stock imagery but, with the recent ludicrous ToS changes from SL and the general inconvenience of fiddling scaled bitmaps into the exact position I need, this time I decided to sort it out properly once and for all.

I took a little time in Illustrator to draw a basic zip runner and create a custom brush that looked like zipper teeth. With this I can lay out a zip on a texture in pure vector graphics and then export it at any resolution I need. A little touch up in Photoshop with some gradient fills blended over the top and it looks convincingly like a silver metal zip. I can even easily make zips that follow wandering curved paths, so look for more of this stuff in future!

VectorZips-01

All in all this has taken longer than I’d planned but it’s sorted out a few problems in my workflow, made me fix some bugs in my software and finally got me to create some vector assets that I’ve been badly needing for some time. Not a bad trade off, I think.

Work on the Dominatrix Formal outfit (seriously, if anyone has a better idea for a name let me know!) continues. After a test upload to the grid it’s back into the workshop for tweaks to the mesh and textures. Stay tuned.

Dominatrix Formal – Progress 02

Getting to a point where it’s worth updating you all with this project has taken a bit longer than I’d hoped. This is partially because it’s a complex build and partially because I’m lazy.

No small part of the delay is down to my somewhat foolish decision to include a corset in the design – seriously, who has the time to fiddle all those laces into position? After I did the seemingly endless laces up the front of the knee-length pony boots I swore that ever after everything I made was going to use zips.

It’s like the evolution of fastener technology in a microcosm, only driven by my lazy desire not to have to fiddle six thousand vertices into position rather than genuine technological development.

I’m not entirely happy with the end result of the laces – too many vertices and polys, but much has been learned and next time it’ll be better. I also got into a deep diversion to do with knot theory when I was making the knot in the laces and was, in fact, fifteen hundred lines of code into a program that would output smooth 3D geometry for parametric knots when I realised I’d gone so far off the deep end that I was looking up at the colossal squid. I’d also been using the word “knot” so much that it had lost all meaning.

In the end I just bashed together a few polys that look enough like a knot that it would satisfy and got on with building the rest of the mesh. One day I’ll disappear into some mathematical tangent and only surface when I’m old, grey, and in possession of a proof of the Poincaré conjecture.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Illustrator making the bump maps for the various parts of the outfit and a load more time watching progress bars while I render out all the texture layers. I’m expanding the texture range a little this time and trying out a satin effect – I’m still fiddling with the details but I think it’s looking pretty good now.

DominatrixFormal2

 

This picture shows the current state-of-play. Rendered textures applied to the low-poly model; satin for the shirt and tie, leather for the corset and skirt. Excuse the rather loud colour for the shirt; I needed something that contrasted.

So, where does it go from here? There’s still some more work to do on the texture layers and then they’ll go into production. It’s looking like I’ll be producing and uploading nearly three hundred separate textures for this model(!) so once more I’ll be thanking God for the bulk upload feature. Then there’s the production of the normal and specular maps for the ALM support.

The low poly mesh is going to go back into Lightwave for some more vertex-bashing to produce the standard sizes and then those are going into Blender for rigging.

Still lots to do but progress is being made. Stay tuned 🙂