Creating Your Own Windlight

Hi all! This is my first post to SL Blogger’s Support and I’m so thrilled to be a member of this team. When I was applying to contribute here, I thought long and hard on what kinds of things I could possibly help the SL blogging community with. Then I saw that my fellow blogger, Lyrical Ember, had previously done a post touching on editing a windlight and I thought I’d take that a step further and show you how to create your own windlight and explain in my words what each slider does.

I’ve been running around in this gorgeous wrap dress from Valentina E. that is available at this round of The Liasion Collaborative for the last few days and since the theme at TLC this time is Safari, I’m going to walk you through how to create a safarish windlight. I’m on Catznip viewer so my tabs may be in different places than yours dependent on your viewer but all the tabs are labeled the same thing. Also, I run on medium/high graphics with local lights off so things may be slightly different and brighter if you run on high or ultra.

Safari

First, you’ll want to go to your windlights by selecting World-Environment Editor-Sky Presets-Edit Preset. I love tweaking other’s windlights but for this post, I’m going to use the default windlight so it’s completely new. Feel free to use your favorite and play with whichever one you want to though!

When I open up the default windlight to edit, you’ll see I have three tabs: Atmosphere, Lighting, and Clouds. Each control a different aspect of your windlight but I’ll start with Atmosphere first. When I think of safaris and Africa, my mind usually goes to browns and yellows so I want this sky to be brown and sort of dusty so I automatically changed the blue horizon and blue density tabs to brown tones. After I did that, I just played with the sliders. The haze sliders have a lot to do with blurring the sky out with a layer of haze. The further you increase them, the more haze you’ll have and I don’t like a lot so I just used a touch for this windlight. Then I slid the density multiplier slider just a tad because I want my sky to blend into the horizon but not to the point it’s not recognizable. The distance multiplier slider further blurs the sky into the horizon and sort of sinks it into the water so I like to keep that low too. Finally, the max altitude slider raises the haze higher into the sky. Since I want to keep my windlight even, I keep around the middle.

1Sky 1After I’m done in the Atmosphere tab, I move onto the Lighting one. Here I basically keep my settings the same for all windlights I make. I run on an older laptop and my graphics aren’t the best so I have found that keeping the Sun/Moon position at either 6AM or 6PM makes my avatar’s skin and my clothing look the best. This means there is no ugly shadows across my avatar. I am unsure if better graphics all you to move around the Sun/Moon position so feel free to monkey around with it. East Angle moves the position of the sun. If you want it in the picture, you can slide it to be directly behind you or slightly off to the side. The Sun Glow Focus and Size sliders control how bright you want your sun to be. Since I want a nighttime picture, I have decreased these. Star brightness does exactly what it’s labeled. I love stars so of course I cranked that one up. I always imagine Africa as having a vast sky filled with stars. Scene Gamma increases or decreases the brightness of your picture. I feel like this slider can be too much if it’s increased a lot so I tend to keep it around 1.0-1.20. Ambient coloring changes the atmosphere around you. I tend to think of it as the avatar’s air but I’m a little strange. Since you want to actually see yourself, I tend to keep this lighter and usually a neutral color.

2Sky 2Moving on to my favorite tab, Clouds! I love clouds and rarely do I create a windlight without them. I feel like they add a little bit of realism to my picture. Keeping with my brown theme, I change the Cloud Color to a color a little lighter than my Atmosphere ones and I increase my Cloud Density sliders to the cloud thickness I’d like. If you don’t want any clouds in your windlight, just slide the Cloud Density D slider all the way to the left and it’ll clear them out for you. Cloud Coverage controls the amount of clouds you’d like in your picture. I feel like this slider and the Cloud Density ones work hand in hand. Again, if you don’t want clouds, you can slide this one all the way to the left and you’ll have a clear sky. Cloud Scale raises the clouds higher or lower into the sky and the Cloud Detail sliders control how whispy you’d like your clouds to look. It’s a lot of fun to just mess around with these sliders to find the clouds that suit you. I like puffy, whispy clouds myself. Finally, the Cloud Scroll sliders control the direction your clouds float in. I like to keep these locked though when I’m taking a pic so I have the right amount of clouds I prefer in all of my pictures. You can do whatever you like though!

3Sky 3When I’m done messing with all of the tabs and sliders, I have one last step I take. I check to make sure that my avatar looks good under the windlight I created. Sometimes the pretty sky doesn’t make my avatar look attractive so the last thing I do is double check. When making this windlight, I noticed that it made my outfit and avatar’s skin and hair look a little more shadowy and dark than I’d like so I went back and increased the scene gamma a little to brighten it. I’ve found that either doing this or lightening the ambient a little are the easiest solutions to this problem. It does lighten the sky a little but it still keeps it basically the same.

4Sky 4Voila! You are now finished and have been given a complete breakdown of how to make your own windlight. I hope this post helps you out a little. Don’t forget to name your windlight and save it after you’re done so that you can use it again and again. Also, if you have anything to add to this post, be sure to comment below because I’d love to hear anything other blogger’s do that create their own windlights. I’m also including a handy Youtube link that the Firestorm team released showing how to create a windlight if you’re more of a auditory learner.

Phototools Windlight Tutorial

P.S. I did brighten up my picture a little bit in GIMP with curves and I think that’ll be my next blog post so stay tuned!

Getting the Most out of Your raw Shots

Hello, everyone!  I have had quite a few people ask me how I get such good shadows for my shots on my blog posts, so I have decided to show you all a little trick that makes a big difference!

I take photos in SL Beta Viewer.  I strongly recommend you click here for Strawberry Singh’s explanation on how to make sure your pictures come out perfect while using it.

Once you have your dimensions, resolution, and graphics settings squared away, you may notice that the windlight setting you are using is really great,  but needs a little tweaking to make it fabulous.

tutorial 1_002In this tutorial I am using Holy Romance by Torley.  It’s not in beta viewer yet but you can download and install windlights as you see fit.  Click here to learn more about how to download and install windlight settings. Here is my raw shot from before I edited the windlight.

Step 1: Open your environment settings so that you can make changes to your windlight.

Tutorial1

Once you open up edit preset, you should have a box pop up.

tutorial 2

Step 2:  I usually do not play with the “Atmosphere” or “Clouds” tab. The “Lighting” one is where you will find ways to edit your windlight so that it looks better for your picture.

Tutorial4

The boxes in the green circle allow you to change the tint of the sun or moon and also what sort of tint your shadows will have.  The slider in the red oval will move the sun’s position according to what time of day you would like it to be.  And lastly, the slider in the blue oval allows you to customize the angle of the sun or moon so that it can cast better light on your avatar and create better shadows.  By using the sliders in the red and blue ovals alone, I was able to create the image shown below:

tutorial 1_004

So there you have it!  That is how I create great shadows on my blog post photos and get the most out of my raw shots!  Of course, it may not look as good if you are on a computer that has difficulty with ultra graphics.  I hope that this article has been of some help to you, and happy blogging!

How’d You Do That? (Anatomy of a Photo)

You’ll never hear me asking, “How’d they do that?” because I don’t want to know. I want to get lost in the movie, the book or the artwork. I’m a firm believer in the suspension of disbelief, so you’ll rarely catch me looking for the man behind the curtain. My kids made me watch the making of the Lord of the Rings movies, and I was forever crushed by the revelation that Frodo and Gandalf weren’t sitting side by side in that wagon- it was an optical illusion. I can never watch the movies again without being distracted by the special effects that were hidden to me before.

But I am a teacher at heart, so when people ask me, “How’d you do that?” I’m more than happy to show them. If you’re like me and would rather not know, you can go here instead and look at some pretty pictures.

More often than not, people ask me where I took my pics, so that they can go there too. Sorry. Ya can’t do it. I build my own sets and then I tear ‘em down, all in a super secret exotic location. Their very impermanence is part of the fun.

The shot I posted today, “All is But a Dream Within a Dream,” started with Poe. Well, really, it started with Flutter posting her Arcade gacha prizes on Plurk:

Let me just take a moment and squeeeeee over these poses. I’m a reader and a book lover. These poses might as well be called WHISKEY NEEDS ALL THE POSES. And, as if the poses and props weren’t enough to make me feel tingly in special places, the books all feature the work of Edgar Allen Poe, one of my all time favorite writers. Be still my heart.

I found a few of my Poe books the other day, coincidentally, when I went to storage for my socks. Because of Flutter, I picked one of them up and started reading. Because of Poe, I took this photo:

So, by virtue of the transitive property, Flutter caused this photo.

Anyhow reading Poe makes me think of longing, of being pulled into the depths, of melancholy and mania. So basically just normal stuff round these parts. I wanted a Poe inspired shot, and it started like this:

That’s a test shot. I always shoot a few as I go, and this time it didn’t take long to see that this shot wasn’t really going where I wanted. See the black avatar there? That’s the Mystic Tree Man avatar from Curious Kitties. (Only 10L on the MP.) It’s mesh, so you can actually rez it whole and use it by itself, as long as you don’t mind the crucifix shape as it stands. I needed it to hop on this Del May pose, so I used an alt to wear it for this shot. (And at only 10L, that was an easy call.)

But the shape of the Tree man is very thin, so to give him a better outline, I rezzed a copy of the avatar behind my alt and moved it around until the T shape was hidden, but the body still added to the avatar. It gave him a much better overall bulk.

As for my avatar, that’s the Mist avatar again. I love the skin, but needed to lose the skirt.  In fact, I needed to lose my whole set-up. So I moved us to my old stand-by, a water sim.

Playing around with the rezzed mesh avatar until I was happy with the shape of the Tree man, I finally found a really nice organic flow between the two avatars. Then I found the windlight I knew I wanted to use. It’s one of Anan Adored’s windlight settings, and I love the way the horizon disappears. I use it often.

And I really like this shot. I could have stopped here and been happy enough.

But I have this habit of playing around with multiples. Anything that can be copied, should be copied. Apparently. So I copied the mesh avatar a few times. Which gave me this:

I used the mirror water setting, and even though you might think of Poe as dark and foggy, I think this works too.

Alittle tweaking and nudging around in Photoshop, and Voila! I have a photo.

Riveting stuff, I know. I often have people ask if they can come watch me work on a photo, and I cannot for the life of me imagine what could be fun about that. They’d mostly just see my avatar stuck in a pose with some wacky props, while I cammed around and changed windlights over and over and over and over. Getting the flu would be more fun.

Turns out the guy behind the curtain is really boring. Let’s just go back to pretending that Gandalf and Frodo were sitting next to each other and Bilbo’s ring makes him disappear.