Thursday, October 09, 2008

I'm calling the new skin (esoterically known as "g0") Pleiades–which spans four skin tones (pale, fair, tan, and dark) with or without freckles in seven makeup configurations named after each nymph. With a bit of luck, they should hopefully be available in-world by October 12 at the Gnubie Store and at my parcel in Lippert.


However, I've taken some stylistic and implementation departures from my earlier skins (for the tl;dr crowd–everything's painted on this time around–hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, skin tones are slightly less yellow):
  • Hair is now painted onto the skin in black, brown, red, and blonde varieties
  • Eyebrows, like hair, are now also painted onto the skin and come in the same color varieties as hair
  • Eyebrows–you only get one variety (sorry–the thinner eyebrows just weren't turning out very well, and their inclusion would have resulted in doubling the TGA face permutation from 224 to 448 files)
  • Eyelashes are painted onto the skin as well (Maea uses shorter lashes; other makeups use longer lashes)
  • I've shifted the hues of the fair, tan, and dark skin tones slightly further towards red (away from their more yellow predecessors)

Additionally, I've also somewhat departed from a Photoshop base–but this doesn't necessarily mean Gimp users will be alienated (for the tl;dr crowd–you be gettin' AIs, PSDs, XCFs shortly after I release Pleiades in-world; as for the merely curious or purely sadistic–please read on).

Pleiades skins are about an 80/20 mix of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, respectively. The great advantage to using Illustrator for the majority of work in these skins is two-fold: 1) better control over shape and color, and 2) infinitely scalable and transformable artwork without loss of quality (i.e. pixelation).

While most of the artwork is completed in Illustrator, I still rely on Photoshop to produce raster textures that transcend Illustrator's limited raster capabilities (e.g. freckles, skin texture, etc...) and to finalize adjustment layers and layer comps that produce all the makeup and skin color configurations.

However, this approach is not without its disadvantages. The main issue with utilizing both Illustrator and Photoshop is preservation and maximization of edit-ability across applications–i.e. I don't want Illustrator to simply spit out a "flat" single layered PSD (Photoshop format). Therefore when exporting from AI (Illustrator format) to PSD, every shape in the AI file gets its own layer in the exported PSD file.

Pleiades face meshes paths

There are about 370 shapes in one-half of a Pleiades' face. This creates a fairly unwieldy PSD file–which is compounded by the issues that 1) the greater majority of layers are generically named "Mesh" or "Path," and 2) it's only half of a face–so duplicating and mirroring each shape to get the other half would result in over 700 layers.


That said, unlike my earlier skin PSDs, I won't be offering the same PSDs I work with–that'd just be sadistic. Instead, I plan on distilling my currently leviathan-esque PSDs into something more usable and intuitive–in both PSD and XCF (Gimp) formats in the very near future(1).

In the unlikely scenario that you're still reading this, miffed at my reckless audacity to not actually offer the PSDs with which I work–fear not, in the following weeks I'll post exactly (in excruciating detail) how you can produce those very PSDs from the AI files that are currently available on my repository (2) (3).

(1) There are also secondary and tertiary reasons for this which tie into the discourse regarding "Instant Skin Business–Just Add Water"– 1) while I dislike offering a "crippled" product of any sort, I don't believe that some "features" of my skins are essential as a resource in modification or instruction (e.g. an entire range of pre-made makeup layers), and 2) I had planned on delaying the release of Pleiades' PSDs to allow it to establish its presence in-world as a freebie to discourage resale of either the skins or templates "as is." I hope go into more detail on these points in a future post.

(2) I suppose that for those who lack Adobe Illustrator and yet still feel inclined to undertake such an endeavor, I will also offer "raw" PSDs (prefaced with brief words of caution and trepidation, of course).

(3) Jokes aside, this is the process I go through in making Pleiades. It's more challenging than simply starting from a distilled PSD, but I really do believe that the flexibility and benefits of working in a vector format produce a better final skin (hopefully more on this in a future post also). It certainly won't be for everyone, but given motivation and patience (and, well–I guess Adobe Illustrator–although I'm still researching open-source alternatives to Illustrator), I think anyone can pull it off.
Terresa ( October 12, 2008 at 8:59 AM )

Where is your parcel in Lippert. I've been all over that sim, and for the life of me, I can't tell which one is yours.

eloheliot ( October 12, 2008 at 11:49 PM )

Oops! Sorry about that! I've added the slurl for my parcel in Lippert now.

Creamy Cooljoke ( October 13, 2008 at 2:46 AM )

You have done an amazing job on these Eloh, I can't wait to try them out *rushes off to Lippert*.

Thank you so much for your generosity too :))

Hedgie Till ( October 13, 2008 at 5:50 AM )

I'm constantly wearing your skins and LOVE them. Thank you for making it possible for everyone to look beautiful in SL!

Archan Allen ( October 13, 2008 at 11:02 AM )

Awsome as always! \o/ Thanks a lot for all!

Hellishly Gothly ( October 13, 2008 at 1:47 PM )

Hi Eloh,
Love your skins, and these new ones are just stunning!

For a free open source Vector program Inkscape may be an alternative.
Personally I haven't tried it, but know people who swear by it.

Jaydei ( October 13, 2008 at 2:10 PM )

The new skins are exquisite! Yay! As a sidenote though - I did try to open the AI files using a few different open-source programs...Inkscape and Xara (the Linux version though)...neither seemed to be able to open the files.

However, I submit that I may just be a dork and doing something wrong. ;) As always, thank you, thank you, a million times, for your hard work and generosity!

Macphisto Angelus ( October 14, 2008 at 12:32 AM )

Thanks for yet another awesome offering for Second Life.

Nimil ( October 14, 2008 at 11:53 PM )

*worships* i can't wait for the psd.. these are gorgeous

Imnotgoing Sideways ( October 15, 2008 at 4:48 PM )

Do you have any suggestions for nose shaping... I'm running it to an odd spot where the nostrils meet the cheek. There's a light zone that didn't exist on the #e #f skins that my shapes are modeled around and I'm curious how to work it out on my avatar. (T_T)

But.... Beautiful work!!! ~Holds breath for PSD/XCF files to come out!~ XD

eloheliot ( October 17, 2008 at 12:30 AM )

@imnotgoing sideways: I really messed with the nose this time around (sowwies!). You might get something less weird by changing your nose shape's upturned/downturned slider to "40" or more (alternatively, you could adjust the nose shading in the face AI file so that it's actually on the edge rather than the one CMFF grid-square inside–but that might be a little more involved >_>;;).

Daman Tenk ( October 17, 2008 at 2:10 AM )

Awesome :)

Thanks. I'll check this stuff out as soon as I can fix my Second Life PC.

Alyx Sands ( October 18, 2008 at 2:06 PM )

*waves to Immy*

Wow, Eloh-I just tried the pale freckled version and OMG-I look GORGEOUS, but still like "me"-seems whatever you changed isn't affected by my shape. Looking forward to fiddle with and try to understand the files...

Faye ( October 19, 2008 at 11:23 AM )


i Love your work, and I like the way you do it as BSD license. But the skins are notransfer. Any reason for that?


Nohae ( November 6, 2008 at 7:53 AM )

I'm getting this message when trying to download the PSDs: "This repo is too large to generate a zip. Please file a bug report."

Elisha ( November 10, 2008 at 3:07 PM )

Your skins are beautiful, and I think Pleiades is my favorite skin set out right now. Its always wonderful to see new and wonderful content that is there for everyone to use! Thank you so very much!