Saturday, December 13, 2008

True North

You know how, in real life, sometimes the weirdest things happen? The same is true in Second Life. I got all fascinated with how people create tiny bits of jewelry in SL, cheating and distorting 3D objects to make them appear smaller (and prettier!) than they really are, and in doing so made a simple little wire brooch.

So here's the weird part: within a couple days, friends were asking me to make them custom pieces.

It's not like Second Life isn't festooned with jewelry. Since making my own piece I am, of course, seeing high-quality work almost everywhere. Odds are that if you know an experienced Second Life resident—and it helps if they're a girl, though it is not a requirement—they've got at least one piece of virtual jewelry made in part with microprims. Some of these pieces are designed like something on the Las Vegas strip: twirly patterns, scripted blinking lights and flashes (which I think is called "bling" in SL—it gets built into everything from signage to shoes), gemstones the size of walnuts, glitz glitz glitz. Others are more subtle, but that doesn't mean they're any lesser in quality. In fact, often the less in-your-face pieces tend to be the higher-quality work, with lots of individual detail and variation. While attention-grabbing items might catch your eye, the high quality items reward a close look.

So, for now at least, I'm kind trying to keep things simple. Little or no use of textures, no scripts, no bling. Just "pure" prims.

Here is the first commission piece, a "Polaris" pendant, here shown without a chain:

The traditional "polaris cross" is eight-pointed with a long tail; although it's a little hard to tell in these screengrabs, the secondary points are all a translucent blue that shows up nicely on skin tones. Aside from wanting a Polaris cross design, the "client"—yikes, I have clients!—wanted gold and "teal" coloring, but pretty much left the rest up to me.

I took the piece as an opportunity to experiment with building a gem. One of the weird things about opacity, transparency, and cuttin prims is that a "side" of an object can be visible from one angle, but not another. I thought there might be a way to use that to create "facets" that seemed to shift depending on nearby light sources (or the sun and moon) without having to use any textures or "bling." The result is a little larger than I might have liked—and I had to do more math than I anticipated to get things to line up—but the result works. Here's the same cross—in the same position—with SL's "sunset" lighting. See how the gem looks different?

This image also includes our old friend, the 1cm×2cm bar, for scale.

The piece was designed as a one-of-a-kind gift, and it seemed to go over well! At least, no one has put me in a cage or sent me into orbit or kicked me off their parcels over it. So I'm calling that a win.

Now on to the next pieces!


  1. I liked it :) I never realized how much work went into what looks like a "regular" gem.

    Is there a script inside that's apt to get you kicked off places?

  2. No, there are no scripts, not even "hello avatar."

    A lot of the SL gems I've seen are "ordinary" prims with custom textures. Some work better than others, but most look...well, painted-on.

  3. Thanks again, Lou! I love it! *Someone* knew I've been searching to replace a real-life polaris necklace that was a gift from my grandmother, so I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness when I first received this. It is very nice workmanship indeed, and much appreciated! (As for the size -- it isn't something I would complain about since it helps cover a certain cavernous
    area that SL has decided to bless me with. heh) CHEERS!


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