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Friday, November 29, 2013

Terrain Design in Second Life- Piers Diesel Reporting...




When you purchased a plot of land or sim in Second Life, planning the layout and terrain is the next step.  It can be a chore coming up with ideas for those that do not know how to create terrain. The next option would be is to hire an expert and spend money you could be saving if you can do it yourself.




You can teleport around Second Life and visit places that has been terraformed beautifully.  Maybe ask a sim.land owner where they purchased their terrain products to help you with your design.If click  on edit and check most of the terrians you can find out who created them.
 Alex Bader owner of Studio Skye specializes in terrain products.
I spoke to Alex to get an insight into landscaping in Second Life style.



Piers. Hi Alex, Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Alex Bader. I trained as a graphic designer and I've worked in design and photography for most of my career. Living in a rural location, surrounded by hills and forest, I enjoy landscape photography (and sometimes painting too).
Piers. Can you tell us a bit about your business in SL and how it came about?
Alex Bader. I've been in SL for seven years now. I was initially fascinated by the idea of selling virtual land. It was such a crazy notion but is somehow captured my imagination. After a couple of months, mucking around in sand boxes building space craft and block towers, I bought a piece of virtual real estate on the mainland - a cliff setting - split it in two, built two villas, landscaped the plot then sold both of them - doubling my investment. From then I was hooked and soon after started Skye Estate.
The estate ended up at about 14 sims with dozens of residents - small, in SL terms but as each plot was a custom built property you can imagine the work involved.
It's always been design led - that's what I love and enjoy. There were loads of estates selling squared off plots - I made it my mission to inject a bit of natural beauty and drama into the land business.


It has to be said that making handcrafted custom properties was difficult to juggle financially but I didn’t care. It was fun and rewarding in its own way and as long as I kept buying, building and selling, it worked for me.
Then I discovered the joy of building and selling prefabs - Skye Castles was born.
Eventually it dawned on me that I really ought to be selling texture packs - so many people had asked and I usually shrugged my virtual shoulders and said "yeah, not a bad idea, I'll do that when I finish this castle!"
I looked at the textures available and realised that there was room for something a little more creative - fashion packs, jewellery sets and decorative textures - stuff that people could get excited about using in their creative projects and maybe inspire them a little.
When Mesh came along I made the decision to invest the time learning Blender - probably the best decision I've made in recent years! I totally love mesh based modelling and the possibilities it has opened up in SL and other markets is incredible. OK, it takes me forever to make products - but the opportunity to invest time in making something special is a gift worth grabbing. I get excited about it, customers get excited about it - what's not to love!?

Piers. How important is good terrain textures?

Alex Bader. If you have any sort of landscaping project,  use terrain texture to create your base – This is very important. When I started terrain design, I found myself looking for textures I could blend to give more natural variations. Sand to bright grass to rock is not so realistic. So my terrain sets all have a range of textures which blend smoothly. I also now use a lot of mesh pieces to add detail and those subtle variations provide a way of creating a sense of natural richness. Natural terrain does not comprise of four basic textures, and neither should SL terrain!



Piers. If someone wanted to terraform their land or sim what would be your 3 top tips in starting?
Alex Bader. Start with a rough plan - not too detailed, not too vague - you need a concept rather than a microscopically detailed plan.
- Start big! DO the big earthworks first - quickly hack out the shape of the whole sim. Don't get too detailed too quickly.
- Go with the flow. Once you have the basic shape, relax and let the detail work round that form. Think of the terrain as a natural form that detailed elements play off of - you often get surprising results as you encounter interesting forms close up.



Piers.  Working with mesh now for terrain do you feel this has helped improve the look and feel of terraforming or has not made any difference?

Alex Bedar, I can't over exaggerate how much difference mesh has made. I'm finishing my new tropical sim which has maybe only 20 to 30% of exposed SL terrain. The rest is mesh overlay. Full physics mesh pieces allow me to make detailed landscapes with realistic terrain detail - that avatars can walk on (quite important that!).



Piers. What's next for you and your business for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

Alex Bader. I'm currently expanding my winter range but also working on a new tropical range - I the new tropical sim will be open soon. There will be loads of tropical flora as well as a new tropical beck kit, off-sim islands and reefs, buildings, underwater feature… the possibilities are endless!

Alex’s creations are one of the best terrain product in Second Life due to the fact it looks real which to me is very important when trying to recreate anything in Second Life.
This is also proven by the amount of people who have purchased and use Studio Sky products.
To find out more about Studio Sky:


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