Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A New Generation of Ears, Day 1: Seelie and Fairy

 If you weren't in Second Life before sculpts were introduced, let me tell you, it was the best kind of revolution. In 2007, it was still the early days and there were a lot of things that hadn't been made well yet.  Elf ears was one of those things, and when I made mine they were one of the very first sculpted pairs. I was absolutely delighted and amazed when they became more popular than free pancakes on a college campus, and there was a time where if I saw any elf ear on anybody it was one of mine.  Oh, those glorious days!

But, all good things come to an end, and as more people made their own pairs of ears, mine naturally fell into one of many choices.  I thought of making new ones, but as I was making a new texture for all of the dozens of colors I supported, and even doing custom skin tone matching, it was frightfully inefficient and I simply couldn't and wouldn't put myself through that again. 

However, mesh has made it irresistible to revisit them.

 Mesh allows me to put geometry exactly where I need it, making neat tight squares in all of the right places.  Sculpting in the delicate details and curves of a human ear, with an elven flare, was almost effortless compared to struggling with sculpts.  Over the past four years I've had plenty of time to stew and think about what I would like to do with my ears.  If I made that new awesome mesh shape, what would make them perfect? How could I offer everyone a perfect, seamless match without putting myself through making dozens and dozens of unique textures again for each skin?  The obvious answer was a color picking HUD.

As I was going to go with tinting for my new set of ears, I chose to customize and reskin the Encogma Advanced Color Picking HUD, as it is intuitive and had all of the control I needed.  But, the problem with items that use color picking is that with high quality textures you lose their depth when they get tinted.  They never seem natural or look as good as an untinted version because the highlights and shadows get drowned out.  This has made other people, who make tintable body matching items, have to carefully make their textures without strong highlights, making their items seem sometimes flat and dull.  But, highlights are crucial for truly matching the look of the lustrous skins that are available.  My solution?  Making the highlights and shadows customizable layers.

So, finally, we come to my new generation of elf ears.

With precision color matching, soft lustrous highlights, and customizable shadows that can also be hand tinted, playing with matching new skins should no longer be an ordeal.  Not only do you now have thorough control over your skin tone match, but you also have a little lee-way through a softly blended alpha fuzz edge around your ear.

The Seelie Ears in particular are a style that is both whimsical and wicked.  They have a curve of mischief to them, and whether that mischief is for the good fairies or bad fairies is up to you.  And speaking of fairies...
The smallest of the six different ear styles I'll be releasing in the next few days, the fairy ears are a subtle way to show others you're not just another human.  With a cute and elegant curve, you can show them off with a short bob or let the little pointed tips speak for themselves under your hair.

If you're thinking of waiting on getting these until I make my inevitable awesomely decorated earring sets, don't worry!  I plan on doing them as ear add-ons, allowing you to keep your ear and coloring without having to customize a new set for every look you might want.  Any jewelry or other add-on I do with these will be sold separate from the ears, with the possible exception of occasional "deluxe" packs.  So if you like the shape, go for it!

Another note, (because I'm so nice), is that if you purchase multiple pairs of ears, the same HUD will be able to control all of them.  You will be able to effortlessly transfer your saved skin tones and settings to any new pair of ear your purchase with your old HUD. 

So, what are you waiting for!  Try them out, there are fully scripted demo versions in the store now!

Out now at the store: 300L
Seelie Ears on the marketplace
Fairy Ears on the marketplace

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