Wednesday, September 25, 2013

First Impressions

By Becky Shamen

Making a Good First Impression
Image Essentials

How many times has this happened to you? You're in a club, shopping, or just exploring a new sim, when, out of nowhere, an IM comes with just one word; Hi. Zooming out your radar, you find the sender has just entered chat range and is comming closer. Several things happened, before they decided to start a conversation. They probably spotted you first as a green dot, on their radar, and wanted to see who was on the sim with them. Next, they zoomed their cam in on you, from a safe distance, to check out your gender, clothing statement and face. Now, to come up with an ice breaker, they check out your profile, to see if you have any interests in common and get a better first impression of you. At the top of your profile, the first thing they see is your profile picture. It's amazing how few pay attention to this important first impression. Getting a good profile picture can be expensive. Just taking a snapshot is not enough. You need a good image editing program, like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, which are expensive to buy. Alternatively, you could hire an artist to make one for you. Don't expect to get them to do it free. They have a lot of projects going for themselves already. Many of us don't have money or enough to pay for a good profile picture. My experience with Graphic Arts starts from my grandfather, a sign painter and fine artist, and is developed through school and on the job experience. Using that, in writing this article, I am going to show you how to make a good first impression, profile pic, for FREE.

Camera Tricks
Many of us have already learned how to aim and zoom the camera. You can zoom in and rotate the camera to any point on a sim, called "Perv cam", if you know a few simple tricks to control the camera. To start, you could just turn your av in the direction you wish to view and use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. However, when you get to your back, the cam switches to mouseview, the equivalent of looking through your avatars eyes. To move the camera, without changing your av's position, hold the [Alt] key down and left click the person, object or wall (not sky) you wish to focus on. Now, as long as you keep the [Alt] down, the movement of the mouse will zoom in or out and rotate (pan), left or right, on the point selected. If you need to pan up or down, add the [Ctrl] key, while still holding the [Alt] down. Using these two keys, you can get a close look at anything you can click on. I use this trick often, when exploring new sims, to save having to walk so much. This is also very usefull for setting camera position and zoom for a good picture of yourself. Close ups make much better profile pics than full body shots.

Posing for the camera
By default, avatars are never still. To make them look alive, slight movements are added. Wearing an AO makes you look even more lifelike, but it's hard to get a good picture of a moving target. Editing appearance will freeze your av and is good for fine tuning the objects you wear, but it sucks as a camera pose. Camera studios have a selection of poses and backgrounds to use. To pose with a background from your own favorite sim, there are poses you can get for your inventory, for sale and/or free. Clothing, hair and skin show your beauty, but a good pose shows your attitude.

This is also an important part of getting a good picture. Viewers come with a selection of lighting choices. Some, like "Nirans", have a larger selection. For a good photo, you need more than just ambient light. Photographers use additional lights to remove shadows, light the background and create mood and depth. You can buy lights, but making your own is free. To make a light, first rez a sphere, or any other prim, then edit it. In the texture tab, make it's texture invisible, then open the features tab and click the box to make it a light and set it's color, intensity, radius and fall off (fading with distance). In locations where you can rez things, place the light where needed. In no rez locations, wear the light and then edit it's location. You can't edit things that are invisible, so to find and edit your light push [Ctrl]+[Alt]+T at the same time. This makes all invisible objects appear as translucent red, letting you click and edit them.

In a photo studio, there is a button that lets you select from an assortment of backgrounds. If you prefer to use a background, from in your home, favorite club, or scenic sim, just walk up to the location and turn around. If you want to use a favorite picture or image from your hard drive as a background, there are two ways to do it. You can upload the image, for $10, and make it a texture on a large box and pose in front of it. Alternatively, you can use, what the industry calls, a "green Screen", by making the box a solid green (or other color close to the color of the image that will be your background). Before adding your snapshot as a new layer, above the desired background, the green can be removed easily, then stray colored pixels can be erased individually.

Taking your best shot
Setting up the scene, pose, lighting, and camera position takes a long time. If, for some reason, you don't like the way the photo came out, when you go to work with it offline, setting up for a new shot will take a lot of extra time. Since saving the photo to your hard drive is free, try changing things and taking as many shots as it takes to get what you want. On the photo shoot for my new profile pic, I took 12 photos and ended up using the last one. You'll thank me for this tip.

Finishing up
Here is not the place tell explain how to use your editing software. That would take a whole book. What should be remembered is that profile pics are square, so you will need to crop your picture to a square, before uploading it to your profile. If you upload a rectangle, it will be squeezed to fit and ruin all your work and leave a bad impression on those that view it. As a final note, here are two free softwares that you can get on the internet, for making and editing pictures.

QAvimator is for making animations and poses, which can be uploaded to SL.

Paint.NET works like Photoshop and Paintshop Pro, but it's easier to use and free. I use it also for making clothing textures.

I hope my tips will help you make a good first impression. If you have questions, find me inworld and I'll be glad to help.

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Friday, September 20, 2013

Taralyn Gravois – Art Collector and Artist

By DrFran Babcock

Taralyn Gravois has been an avid collector of Second Life™ art since her earliest days in world. She has the practiced eye and sense of taste that compares with the major first life art collectors, and buys the work of others with zeal. Like many collectors, she never had any particular active artistic skills herself, but knew what she liked. Menubar Memorial, a renowned artist and sculptor in SL described her as one of the most creative women he has ever met.

 That is why it is so gratifying to see that she has found her artistic voice, and is the subject of a major exposition going on right now. Even more impressive is that her art is completely a creation of this virtual world. She used Second Life™ to make Second Life™ art. If you are confused, I will explain:

Many of the great artists here download their first life artwork and place it on a prim. This is not a negative thing, because there doesn’t really seem to be a way to paint in SL with the accuracy, layers and passion present in the real world. Many artists here photograph avatars and scenery in Second Life™, and their work is incredible as well.

What Taralyn did was to figure out something that no one else has done here, surely a reflection of her gift. Coincidentally, reflection and refraction are a big part of her works, in her show at the Pyramid Café. Taralyn describes her technique as building above Linden water, and then photographing the build looking up from below the water, so that abstract and impressionistic effects are created. Marlee Theas, who visited the exhibition along with me, Lauren Weyland, and Menubar Memorial ( a long-time friend of Tara’s) said that some of the works reminded her of the feeling she gets looking at Monet’s Water Lilies paintings.

Taralyn’s joy at having discovered her way of expressing art in Second Life™ was infectious, and the group that visited felt joyful and alive. That’s one of the things that art can do for us. Taralyn’s show runs until September 28, and is  a place worthy of a long and dreamy visit. The gallery is set up very much like a major art house in first life, and the painting burst out of the darkness like phosphorescent fish in an underwater paradise. Enough gushing from me…go see the show.

Visit Taralyn’s show at the Pyramid Café:

About the Pyramid Café: (in Italian)

NOTE: If you are very, very lucky Taralyn will take you to her homestead where there is what is probably the largest collection of Second Life™ art ever seen. Visitors get to walk through a giant maze-like castle with surprises and hidden rooms, and astounding art at every turn. You can see famous content creators in SL doing sketches and paintings and items that are very different from the clothing and furniture you see them create. There is also a bit of erotica, but it’s discreetly tucked away. Taralyn assured SL Newser that she is considering opening up her collection to the public, and we hope she decides to do it.

DrFran Babcock

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Becky Beholds Beauty - Finding Art in Second Life

By Becky Shamen

There is a saying that goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Technically, that saying is not a truism. Research shows that when a group of people are shown pairs of pictures and asked to pick the most beautiful or aesthetic of them, 99% will pick the same ones. The 1% will, generally, pick the others, just to be contrary. For this writer, the same can be said for art. If you give a chimp a paint brush, some might call his work 'art', but it won't be something that this reporter recommends you spend time and money to go see. In scriptures, it is written that we would know the end of days were upon us, when bad is called good. In the destination guide, in the 'Art' category, they list 108 locations, second only, in number, to shopping places. While exploring for places to include in this report, I trudge through the first 9 and nearly gave up. If this art was 'good', surely we are all about to meet our maker. I was delighted to find the tenth to be a brilliant ray of sunshine. With that, we begin our list.

Haven Gallery

There are a half dozen display areas, all connected by TP, which allows lots of space around each art piece. Even when there are others about, you have the space to contemplate the beauty, in peace. The artists displayed clearly had something to say in their works and had spent years in developing their skills. The name, Haven Gallery, is very fitting.

Artists for Second Life

This skybox gallery is huge. From the landing point, you can TP or walk to each of it's 50 exhibit rooms, with a different artist's display on each wall. Be sure to make a LM when you arrive, because there's just to much to see in one visit. I went there 3 times, to make sure I saw everything. All of the works displayed are quallity, done by seasoned artists and most can be purchased at reasonable prices. If you're looking for some paintings to dress up the walls of your home, this place is a must see. There were also a number of great sculptures available. If you want to contact any of the artists, their names are given at the top of each display wall and many provide notecards with contact information and the location of their shops. A custom portrait would look great over your fireplace and make an impressive profile pic. I wondered how they got the avatars to pose in these paintings, then discovered that some also sold poses. I was also pleased to find that the sim was free of lag.

Ub Yifu Gallery Park

You have to see this place, to believe it. When I landed here, I thought a man was chatting me up, but it turned out to be one of the sculptures they make. He even moved his head and had a group tag on. He welcomed me and said his creator could make one of me. That would be a hoot, if you walked into my house and saw a realistic sculpture of me, at the computer, writing my next Newser article. I'm sure it's more than I want to spend, but they do have other premade ones for sale. They also have Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Marylin Monroe and other stars, for $2499. And, if size matters, check out the Gulliver for $10000. There are many other sculptures and even several free ones. I've seen similar life size avatar sculptures, but this was the first time I tried to chat with them.

Petit Chat Art Gallery

This is a small shop, with paintings by Trinity Yazimoto. The paintings are mostly landscapes and very affordable. Near the landing, you can get the LM to her main shop and a catalog HUD. Upstairs, you find a painter's studio, with more paintings. I liked her style. I also got a kick out of seeing somebody with a Japanese name, who calls her shop Petit Chat, French for little cat. I like clever, when I see it.

Nitroglobus Gallery

Normally not a fan of 'modern art', the style here is a blend of Primitive and modern, which I found enjoyable. Be sure to explore all three rooms of Dido and Nitro's works, which includes paintings and kinetic sculptures.

I have been an illustrator and wood carver since childhood and enjoyed being on the viewer side for this article d'art. Perhaps I will do another in the near future.

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Monday, September 16, 2013

Commonalities LEA6

By Gemma Cleanslate

Secret Rage has a marvelous installation on LEA6. It is a soliloquy on life ... real life and Second Life that gives you much to admire and think about. It is all interactive and easy to navigate. Walk up the ramp through the water to the life path. Be sure to collect the information cards that will guide your thoughts  to more introspection as you progress along the way. Put yourself into the scene at each stop to feel the full experience and reflect on your own life.

I spent some time in the school room trying the various poses of the kids chairs, all of which brought me back to some classmates usual poses in real life and made me smile.  Commonalities is the name of the build,  and they are demonstrated. Meditating on each brings back real-life and SL memories.  I enjoyed doing it alone as I went along and would recommend that experience to everyone who visits. Some places are fun to visit with loved ones or friends but this exhibit needs some contemplation time alone , exploring the commonalities, though I did return with a companion later to share the experience.

Of her work Secret  says, "All we hear about in the news today is the differences between countries, between cultures, between people ... and how they each make this world a difficult place in which to live. It is true ~ we are not all the same .. not in geography, ethnicity or lifestyles ~ BUT ~ for all of our differences ... we are still more ALIKE than we are NOT.  Therefore, I choose not to focus on those differences.  Although some of the pieces in this show may not VISUALLY apply to everyone, the idea behind them likely does.  COMMONALITIES celebrates the things that make us a collective family...some joyous, some sad, some normal~ but every day things~ in all, they are a part of being HUMAN and things to which we can all relate."  

 I also thought of the essay by Becky Shamen that appeared in the paper the other day reflecting on life principles and connections, "The Oneness Principle." Though some of parts of the exhibit I have seen before, they are connected in a way gives a different perspective and view of  each. 

The grand opening  party was held on Saturday, 7th of September with a performance by Pol Arida , guitarist and Neal Hoffman , singer.  and I am sorry to say I missed it . Put this on your list of to do in sl so when you have a while that is your own go visit.  . 

Gemma Cleanslate

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Elusive Arcade

By Gemma Cleanslate

I have been trying for two days to get into the Country Club region to visit The Arcade. 

This is an Event at The Arcade and it is the first birthday. It is always full! This event will be here until the 30th of September, so sooner or later you may be able to get there. It is billed on the website as, “The Arcade is a brand of gacha events within Second Life, featuring some of the grid’s best content creators.” Read about gacha events here on the website

As I hung around in the air at the edge of the sim with others waiting and hoping we got a message from Archibald Gachum, who shouted, "Enter The Arcade photography contest, featuring prizes from 12 beloved brands. 1st place gets early access into our next 4 gacha events (December 2013 - September 2014)! “ in the chat. 

As I cammed in on the inside of the Arcade, I could see that the games are definitely arcade games from the past. Each game has a prize connected with it that is displayed on a small billboard next to the machines. I don’t know how much it costs to play yet, since I am still hovering on the next sim edge but it looks extremely popular and I wanted to let you all know about it so you will have time to try to enter. The build itself is worth a visit and perhaps if you are a photographer enter the contest. 

As I looked around at the three sims next to Country club I found 34 avatars hovering in the air or on the landing ship in Casablanca Bay, or Club Road and Park Drive. If you are a member of the group I read that you are granted early admission to an event.  As I left there were still 31 people inside The Arcade. Good Luck!! I will try again tomorrow! This is the first time I have written about a place to which I have never been! 

Thanks to Daniel Voyager for getting the slurl!

Gemma Cleanslate

Editor's Note: The games I noticed in a visit in June cost 25-100 Lindens each round to play. It's possible others could be higher.

Monday, September 2, 2013

DrFran’s Alt Goes Shopping and Exploring

By DrFran Babcock

DrFran won’t admit that she loves hunting for freebies, but I have no such problem. That’s why I have taken over once more to show you a few of the goodies that are around the grid for grabbing and wearing. Starting in September the Arcade Gacha will dominate the fashion and home markets, but in the calm before that storm, I will show you what I love. By the way, what I love is also some sims and places. Although the outfits I show you don’t match their surroundings much, they are the places to which I like go when I want to marvel in the wonder that is Second Life™.

 The Candy Girl Hunt

This free grid-wide hunt runs until September 15th, and has some of the cutest, sweetest (of course), and worth-keeping items I have seen in a while. My absolute favorite hunt gift was the complete, sugary pink Neko outfit from Beautiful Dirty Rich. The tail that comes with the outfit is a knockout, shiny and animated nicely, and has the touch and chat option. The corset dress is mesh and ruffled, and comes in many sizes to fit most avatars. The airs are pink and animated, too, and the boots, although I don’t favor that big foot look, really go well with the entire ensemble. In addition, there are fishnet stockings and panties. I would easily spend Lindens to get many of the parts of this outfit, but the whole thing is yours free just for finding the mesh lollipop hidden in the store.


The picture for this outfit was taken on the sim of ROCHE, one of my favorites. It has always been a place to go to when I need to relax. It has the best of eastern design qualities in that on the surface it looks very scrubby and simple, but the more you explore, the more you come to appreciate the work and attention to detail that went into building the place. You used to be able to get a free bicycle to cruise the island, but walking is just as much fun. The sim changes from time to time, but the basic message is one of stark and steely water and dilapidated buildings situated on softly rolling hills. Come for a walk and you will return, I am sure.

Plausible Body 1 – Latex

Do you know about Plausible Body? This shop has been in existence for several years, and features open pricing. Most of the items in the shop are free to buy, and the owners suggest that you make a donation at vendors that are located throughout the parcel. I suppose you can just take what you want and then leave, but I generally give a generous donation, as the quality of the merchandise warrants payment. What I like most are the basic pumps, because they are good-looking and come in a vast array of solid colors.

I picked up two outfits while at Plausible Body. The first is a classic latex catsuit, that comes in many colors, with really sophisticated shading. Latex is not that easy to recreate in Second Life™, and Roslynd Turbo has done a great job with the textures.

The other outfit is a must have for anyone who wants to travel light in inventory, but have many looks available. The Citadines outfit comes complete with a top, mini skirt, and pumps. What makes this mesh outfit such a standout is that it comes with four HUDS that allow you to change the top, the mini skirt, the shoe color, and the color of the shoe heels. With all of these options you could pack for a full week and hop all over the grid with a new look all the time. Since DrFran was busy elsewhere, I decided to take pictures in two of my other favorite sims: Kowloon and Lula.


Kowloon is based on the Hong Kong neighborhood of the same name. I have adored this sim since it was built because it is truly like a maze of streets and tunnels. You could spend hours immersed in its depths and not find your way out. More than once I have had to teleport home to find my way. The sim is a delight to explore, and things change from time to time, so it’s nice to revisit frequently. Of course, it’s a great place for photography opportunities as well.


Lula is a commercial sim that houses the shops Tres Blah and Lamb. The first time I landed there I was sure I had been transported to a small village in the south of France, and it has remained one of the best textured places in SL, in my opinion. There have been changes over the years, but the high quality of building never disappoint.


You can look good for only a few Lindens in Second Life™. If there is anything that you would like to see DrFran’s alt cover, just give a holler. Happy shopping and hunting.


The Candy Girl Hunt:
Plausible Body:
Plausible Body Blog:

DrFran Babcock