Posts Tagged 'landscaping'

4Q09

As most of you know, I spent a good part of the 4th quarter working on landscaping a major project. I wish I were a better photographer. I wish I could show you everyone else’s work. I really REALLY wish I could bring you all into my world so you could experience it yourselves. The folk who built that world did an amazing job. But you will have to make do with my pictures and you will have to trust me as to the rest. Perhaps sometime photos will be released and I can direct you there.

My first assignment (after the team song) you might remember was to landscape an island overnight. I’ve already posted about that and Dale riding to be my companion in creation. I did not have my full inventory of textures at that point so I did go back at a later date and add to it. Please note the ducks. *grin* You will know you are at an authentic Ahuva build when there are ducks in the water. I learned a lot on this, as I did on everything I attempted on this project. I am quite pleased with the rocks in the water. They were one of my first attempts at creating my own texture. Yes, I see areas now where they could be improved, but as a beginning effort, they are not that bad. The chairs and table were already posted, but you can see the overall effect now. This was to be a garden social area – for relaxed meetings and a place for conversation. I had a lot of fun working with rocks. Actually, I always have a lot of fun shaping and placing rocks. And yes – I really do place every rock and plant individually and turn and rotate each one. I almost never take groups and repeat them.

We tried to make every place interesting as we figured newbies would end up all over the world – whether intentionally or not. *grin* We had many interesting sites under the water but alas – most were not my build and so I can’t show them to you here. I can tell you that the ruins and the diner were big hits. I added some benches and a tree in case anyone found themselves lost and in need of a rest as they tried to find their way back to the main action.

There were many big open spaces. There was one that I nicknamed The Great Lawn. There was another area that I thought of as the Lesser Meadow. That is what you see here. The Lesser Meadow inspired me to figure out a way to have meadow flowers. Okay – this is an area where I did indeed make clumps of flowers and copy the clumps. But uneven ground forces you to place each clump somewhat differently. I’m not sure that I like realistic terraforming anymore. *grin* I didn’t want to cram every inch with flora – life doesn’t work that way. Also, there were some nice views – I didn’t want trees blocking the sight lines. I tried throughout to balance small clumps of flowers, as you might find in rocky terrain, with larger groves of trees.

We had what we called the House of Wonders. A phenomenal build. It was intended to help people master SL keyboard and camera skills. I had the job of landscaping the outside. Again, I did not want to do monumental landscaping. The building and its patio spoke for themselves. I reused the meadow flowers. They are even MORE annoying to place on a sloping hillside, trust me. I created the benches, thinking of Greek antiquities and relics. Somehow the cool white and simplicity seemed in place with the steep mountain. Likewise just the scattered rocks and a few weeping cherry trees. When the trees were still allowed to be flexi (let’s NOT revisit that horrible decision), I imagined the sea breeze blowing up the hillside, rustling the tree limbs and the flowers.

To the side of one of the major theaters was some lawn and then a sharp drop to the sea. The theater itself was very reminiscent of Greek amphitheaters or a Maxfield Parrish picture. It made me think of romance and myth. I decided that a rowan grove was appropriate. The rowan tree has been considered magical by many cultures. Celtic tradition held that a rowan tree could offer protection against evil spirits. We all know that our computers are prone to attack by malicious malignant spirits. I did what I could to assure the success of this build. I’m not sure what my teammates would think if they knew my reasoning, but it’s too late now. The grove is planted. AND to the best of MY knowledge – all the presentations in THAT theater went well. So there, too.

This landscaping was my absolute favorite of the project. The build itself underwent several texture changes. It was originally wood, then stone and finally copper. The copper was perfect. I love copper. I have a lot of it in my fl home. Once the structures went to copper, I knew exactly what I wanted planted: fire. I wanted flowers on fire. Red. Orange. Yellow. My favorite colors for flowers. I took time with this but it went very quickly because I was so in love with it. You may not like it, but for me – this may be the best landscaping I’ve done, as far as suiting the environment and the colors. I KNOW that it was a good job because my project leader, who very rarely had any comments, actually said “This is nice”. /me closes eyes briefly in pain at “nice”. But the point was that it was worth comment. *grin* You have to learn to read between the silence.

There was much more. I’ve tried to show you the areas that were special to me in one way or another. Or, How I Spent My Autumn Vacation. *grin*

Building 101

my working nurserySo. I’ve been building. Wow. There’s a lot more to this building stuff than just rezzing a box. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I have joined the Impossible Missions Force. *grin* The Incredible Metaverse Force? The Intrepid Magicians Force? Actually, our mission is not impossible at all – there are some absolutely amazing builders/scripters on this team (present company excluded) It’s just that I keep hearing the IMF theme song playing in my head as I login to face that day’s “mission”. I rather doubt I need to worry about being captured or killed in the line of duty, but I do wonder why they were never warned of death by exhaustion and lack of sleep. *grin* I wonder if this post will self-destruct in 5 seconds?

My 2nd tree - the small chestnutI whined to you about the textures. I can’t do that anymore. I have been supplied with some magnificent textures. It’s up to me to do them justice. I started with the landscaping assignment. (Technically my first challenge was the scrum song but, sigh, no one actually wanted those results. Bigger sigh. You and I – we did SUCH a great job on those songs.) Anyway, landscaping that island went well. I was asked to make trees. Sculpty trees. I have never worked with sculpty anythings before. weeping willowSo, back to my good friend and unofficial mentor, Honour. HELP! 🙂 Crash course in tree building. Here is something that I suspect many of you will not believe or understand. I have GREAT difficulty in visualizing 3D. I know SL gives us arrows, etc. Sometimes I understand and the object moves as I suspect it will. But mostly – it is totally hit or miss. If I am not in the groove – I can over shoot my target repeatedly for 10 minutes or more. The mega rowanI just can’t SEE it. I can only see one dimension at a time. So sometimes building is incredibly frustrating. Editing is frustrating. Believe me when I say that building a 3D object is a major challenge to me visually, not just creatively and technically. So I built a tree, a weeping Japanese cherry, under Honour’s eye. Because SOMEONE needed to be able to see. *Grin*. It was not bad (you can see it front and center in the first picture above). I showed my tree. It passed El Exigente’s approval. *grin* So – the verdict was delivered: build more trees. my 3rd tree - the oakGulp. I foolishly promised 3 trees within 2 days. Tree 2, a small chestnut, was okay. Went relatively smoothly. Then, as several of you know, I was building like crazy and getting nowhere. I put up a very snarly “busy”message. Kudos to Oura here. She broke through the snarl and offered to help. She served as my eyes because I was in one of my blind to multiple dimensions states. I managed to build the frames for a weeping willow and for an oak. I got the oak done by the deadline. I had a weeping willow done. But it was “eh”. It looked good head-on, but if you camm’ed up, and looked down, oh my oh my. Anyway, I managed to get that done the DAY I said it would be done (rebuilt that foliage 4 times) but I didn’t make it by the daily team meet. So what was my reward? “Ahuva – keep building sculpty trees. And if you could do some mega-sized ones as well, that would be awesome”. Awesome. mega chestnutHow can you resist a challenge like that???? I can’t. Sigh. So, I returned to churning out trees. As you may have noticed by a prior post, *grin*, it had its ups and downs. But – I learned to build trees. I did get better. Yes – I see things that need to be fixed on the weeping willow. Yes – of course J found the one bare branch in my beautiful oak. But… I am learning, I am getting there. My mega-chestnut is, imho, beautiful. The rowan is quite spectacular, but I did have people critique it along the way. So I don’t consider it 100% “mine”. Only the mega-chestnut. That is “mine”. *grin*

ahuva's_chairsI’ve learned other things as well. That trying to build what you see in RL is not as easy as you might think, no matter how simple the form appears. I took a picture of a chair that I thought would be perfect for the first island, a social gathering space. I did indeed build something very close. Ahuva-built garden furnitureThanks to PatriciaAnne for advice about the arms. I actually stumbled on one answer as she was responding, but she saved me much time by explaining the other issue. *grin* Love you, PatriciaAnne!!! I also learned that it really makes a difference where you put the root prim. 🙂

How it looked it edit modeBadges. LOL. I am making handouts and freebies for the people, too. I am not just a gardener anymore. I worked on a conference badge. It’s not that easy to make a shape that fits about a neck. Just think on that a bit. It must curve and bend and shape. It must be a tortured prim or a sculpti. Yes – I got help learning how to do that too. *grin* But I was extremely pleased with it. I figured out the textures all myself – got the logo on the lanyard, oriented correctly. 🙂 Then I wore the badge. Edited it to position it properly. Looked fine. Came out of edit and…. oh wow. I must not have SAVED my changes??? The badge went flying through my shoulder, instead of staying positioned in front. Repeat the edit, looked fine, come out. Repeat the badge through my shoulder. how it looked when my AO took overI sat and stared. And watch as the badge MOVED. ROFLMAO. I was trying to be clever. MANY items get attached to the chest of the avatar. I wanted to put the badge someplace it wouldn’t interfere, in case the people were wearing an attachment. So I attached it to …….. my nose. *giggle* Which was fine til my AO moved my avatar’s nose. The badge followed the nose. LOL. Okay, that just wasn’t going to work. At the moment – the badge is attached to the chest. *grin* I’m hoping that will be okay for most folks. It’s those little things that get you. The kind of thing that once you “know”, you never do again. But if you don’t know, it can be quite baffling.

shadowsJust for good measure, while I was still struggling with “more sculpty trees”, I was told to add shadows for realism. I had never seen/done a shadow. I got that it was a texture, but, confession: I have been really bad at making my own textures. I spent hours figuring out how to do an alpha texture of just TEXT!!!! It can’t get any simpler than that. Sometimes I really wonder if I should have stuck to scripting. Anyway, I was up til 12:30 am the other night struggling with 2 sculpty trees (hence my Apology to Joyce Kilmer. That post has a subtitle but I suspect my life is forfeit if I print that.) I woke at 4:30am to continue working. I made 2 shadows. Look – they might not be the best shadows. But they are mine. I made them. By myself. one good, one not so good shadowBy the meeting deadline. In the picture that shows trees with shadows – the shadow on the right foreground is not mine – was given to me by a teammate. The shadow on the left distance is one of mine, layered and copied. You can see that my shadows have a way to go. But, I AM doing this. I may not be the best and there might be flaws, but I am making my deadlines and meeting my commitments. I am doing the best I can. It seems to be okay.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I have included here my chairs, tables, badge, shadows and some trees. Happy Trees to you, until we meet again!

Apologies to Joyce Kilmer

Building a tree
I think that I shall never see
A thing I hate as much as trees.
I used to love them, this is true.
But now tonight I build and rue
The day I said that I would play
At building flowers, trees all day.
I cannot quit, nor can I stop
And still my mind whirls like a top.
You’d think I’d learn, perhaps grow wise,
And not keep giving in to pride.
Poems should be the work for me.
Who thought I should be building trees?

Sleep is over-valued

clematis1/me blinks at you blearily. OMG. I am tired. “Not to put any pressure on you, Ahuva”, says J, “but do you think you could possibly landscape this entire island tonight in time for tomorrow’s meeting?” Right. No pressure. Sigh. This is not a bus – this is a steam roller. LOL. Although, I’m not sure WHY I should rise to THIS challenge. I produced not one but FOUR scrum songs. And a scrumfire around which we could sing. And NO ONE sang the scrumsongs. No one sat in the chairs around the fire. 😦 The songs weren’t even handed out. Sob. I was crushed. My work so completely unappreciated. 😦

clematis2Okay. One landscaped island coming up. But. I need scripted benches. And I really need a trellis. I really need some more textures too, because I don’t have what I WANT. Thanks to Honour, I now see flaws in textures that I used to find satisfactory. I mean – plants are supposed to have STEMS. Not the textures I’ve been given. No stems. Those babies have leaves coming right out the bottom. Big Sigh. I can’t do much about the textures overnight, but I CAN call the cavalry to the rescue for other things. *grin*

clematis3/me sends an anguished cry to Dale!!! Help!!! Scripting!!!! *grin* It’s really not fair. Showing Dale a script that needs work is like showing a moth a light. BLAM! Connection! *grin* Dale came riding in on the white horse. Scripted cushions for the benches. We were soooooo clever. The script selects a pose at random, so that we will not have all the avatars lined up in synchronized leg-crossing. 🙂 Dale built me a trellis,too! It’s a gorgeous perfect trellis. As you can see, my clematis looks okay up-close, but it’s not really working from a distance. I’ve spoken with Honour, have some ideas on what to tweak. So much to learn. 🙂 What’s truly amazing is that I think it took longer for Dale to figure out how to get into this world than it took to build the pillow, script it, and build the trellis. *grin* Dale, Ruler of Scripts!

Anyway, I was up til 1:30 am, grabbed a little sleep, got up at 6am and started in again. Please note that I have ducks. *grin* You all may snicker at my ducks, but they received specific, favorable recognition. Anyway, I believe the island passed muster.

The Bus Redux

Triumphant View under the busIt was almost a year to the day. September 2008 I threw myself under the bus – I volunteered to make trees for a conference inworld. Remember? It changed my life. It was perhaps one of the smartest things I have ever done in my life.

Well, it’s conference time again. New world, new sims, new approach. As you know if you read this blog, I have come a long way from staring at the underside of the bus. I have managed to turn a good deal of my “real life job” into virtual world work. Our company has many programs to encourage employees to learn new skills, to try out new careers. My manager, E, attended a career planning seminar. My manager is the BEST. Always. There is no one like him. I will put E up against anyone and E will always come out as the best. *grin* Anyway, he came to me and said “Hey – there’s a program where I can lend you out for a limited time. Maybe you could find someone who needs your help in virtual worlds. You may as well get credit (recognition) for the work you are doing volunteering.” I thought it was a wonderful idea and I loved how supportive he was. I contacted my mentor (yeah, my company does THAT too – we can find mentors to help us navigate life). Um, I guess I should confess….. My mentor is J. Yeah, the infamous J of conferences and gardens past. The same J who is always telling me my gardens have to go. *grin* I’m learning a lot, despite the pain. (It’s sooooooo much fun to paint J as the evil nemesis of my life. But – it’s not really true. J is incredibly helpful and supportive. But it makes a much better story the other way.) So….. I asked J “what do you think? Would this be a good idea? Do you have any suggestions where I should look?”

bambooI was thrilled. J put me on the team to build the sims for this year’s conference. LOL – oh YEAH – she wants TREES again. ROFL. OMG. I don’t think that I can count on Honour to pull me out of the fire THIS year. Actually, J is encouraging me to do more than plant trees and plants. She is encouraging me to learn to build more, do more. Build fountains. Write the scripts for various objects (sitting, etc.). Basically she is doing all that a mentor should do.

I repeat: I’m thrilled. I’m dancing on air. I’m scared. Oh yeah. Besides being beside myself with joy and the thrill of the challenge, I am really nervous. I do NOT want to let down the team. The people on this team are really really talented. This is a major project. I am playing with the “A” team here. I do NOT want to be the weak link, the one who screws up, the one who can’t do their part. While I was working out in the gym at work yesterday I asked my friend there: “Do other people feel this way, or is this a ‘girl’ thing?” Bless his soul – he looked at me and told me he’d just got a new assignment and that he felt the same. *smile* He quoted the movie “The Right Stuff” to me – said that even Chuck Yeager prays: “Don’t let me f*** this up”. So maybe some of you out there recognize how I feel. *grin*

ivyIn the meantime, my brain is spinning all the time about landscaping, textures, builds, what to do. I walk around with my camera taking pictures of botanical gardens, rock walls, brick walls, wood benches. I am looking for ideas. I am looking for textures. Honour has promised to give me a day and try to teach me about sculpties and textures and things like that. I covet her weeping willow trees. *grin* I have soooo much to learn. I don’t even know if I can turn my photos into textures – that will be part of my learning.

wooden boardsI have a growing list of what I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEED. LOL. Bamboo trees. Ornamental grasses. Better flower textures. Graceful wood benches. I’m not even going to tell you about the conversation J and I had about sculpture and art. Sigh. That will be another post. Oh yeah, what a surprise. LOL. We butted heads already. *grin* I think Honour is running a pool about how long it will be before I try to “do in” J. You may want to contact Honour if you want in on that.

But you know what? I AM going to do this. I figure for the next 5 weeks, my life belongs to this project. No social time, no sleep. Oh gee – sounds like last year. But I am not going to be the weak link. The view from under the bus can be a very triumphant view.
It aint heavy

Puttering in the Garden

trees in planters
flowers for the tableI just can’t stay out of my garden. I think about the landscaping all the time, wondering what I could change, what might make a better atmosphere. I go there when I am stressed or upset. I try out new ideas. I’m learning so much about building and textures. Building new planters, mixing flower textures calms me.

planters edging the seating areaI have not been satisfied with the look of those columns. They are still so stark, imposing. I love the climbing roses but I still needed a little more softness in the view. I decided to try adding trees again, but this time soften the trees with flowers at the roots. Just a smattering of trees – nothing too regular. I went back to the weeping cherry, graceful, light, airy, but continuing with the overall vertical theme of the meeting area.

pink clematis on trellisI wanted more color, more softness closer to the seats as well. My original thought was for large trellises covered with flowers, but I did not want to block sight lines to the speakers. So I created a small trellis with pink clematis. I brought my trial-size planter over to see how it looked. As I moved it about to check color and shape, I realized that I actually liked it as it was. I decided to bring the outer circle into the seating area by using the outer flower boxes to flank the new trellis planters. That added something new and different in both shape and color but pulled the outside in, connecting them.

new flowers for podiumI’ve also made several different planters so that I can put “fresh” flowers at the podium each week. *grin* I know, I am hopelessly out of control. I need to get some flowers and take some pictures so I can make textures so I can make MORE flowers for the podium planter. Yeah, it’s an addiction for sure. Someone has created a monster…… 🙂

My Day Job: Grounds Crew

birds' eye view

flower box and tree2Sigh. I don’t seem to have much luck with gardening for work. J gives with one hand, takes with the other. A few weeks ago I mentioned she gave me a sandbox, flowers, plants, EVERYTHING and told me to go plant. And I did. I will make this painful and sad story very short: J told me she had to take pillars2down that sim. In other words – bye, bye garden. LOL. Can you believe it????? Okay, J was totally apologetic and sorry. But still – yet another garden bit the virtual dust. This is a bit better than the first time – at least if she brings back the sim my garden will come back too.

lecternDo you read Charles Schultz’s comic strip “Peanuts”? Do you remember how Lucy will hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick? How she always PROMISES that THIS time she won’t pull the ball away? But she does. Every time. Yet Charlie Brown falls for it everytime. J went and found me a landscaping job in our virtual world. *grin* Yep, she volunteered me out to another group to landscape THEIR sim. Oh my goodness – I fell for it. They said they would love to have me landscape, I was delighted to have the opportunity. I said yes. Start the betting pool NOW, folks. How many weeks til J comes to me and says regretfully – Um, Ahuva, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but, your gardens have to go. LOL. I’m starting the betting at 4 weeks. 🙂

pillars and plantersAnyway, I have been landscaping a sim where technical meetings are held. It is a monumental build: huge 20 meter columns. Very formal – marble, columns, stark. I started off just putting some flowers at the lectern and trying to get some flower boxes and greenery up. I wanted to get something done quickly so that my client would know that I was serious about working on her sim. (The picture at the top of this blog is how the build looks at the end of today. The next 3 pictures are the first pass at landscaping.) The first flower box has something I called fire tulips (when I was given them they were called “object”, so I figure “fire tulips” is an improvement. *grin*) and yellow lilies. I used red lilies at the lectern.

close upI knew that those columns were crying out for climbing vines, however. At first I thought that I would create a texture that combined the marble and roses and I would re-texture the columns. There were a few problems with that idea. First, the columns were locked – I needed J to give me the column and she was busy. Secondly, the roses would have been flat against the pillars. Both Honour and Hell suggested building a cylinder to encase the existing columns and to put the roses on that cylinder. I did one pass that way but I used too many repeats of the texture. On further discussion with Honour, I redid the cylinder – only one vertical and horizontal repeat. The encasing cylinder is actually 3 linked cylinders. As I placed the climbing roses, I could rotate the cylinder vertically so that the texture would vary. I also rotated the cylinder horizontally so that each pillar has a different look. I’m quite pleased with the final result. I hope you are also.

peering thru the pillarThe pillars have signs on them. I wanted flowers there as well. Now one thing I learned from J was that it’s not really the quantity of prims that I use – it’s more that fact that I use so many different textures. So I have tried to use the same textures in this build, but modify them so that they look somewhat different. This is probably totally obvious to all you REAL builders out there but I was pleasantly surprised to “think up” the idea of copying and stretching the textures in a given plant and so changing the look that way: number of prims, rotation, size. I was a little stumped at first about the hanging baskets – I couldn’t figure out how to drape the flowers over the top and down the front. Honour to the rescue again. She pointed out that I should use a different style basket and the plants could grow from the basket itself. So the hanging baskets are more cascading roses, daisies and bacopa.

hanging basketI was having a very stressful day at work last week. *grin* Nothing awful – just LOTS of it. So at lunch I retreated to my virtual garden and created a second flower box. It was so amazingly soothing and fun to do. 🙂 I made this one larger than the first. I felt more yellow was needed. I love yellow in a garden – so bright and cheerful. So this flowerbox is yellow lilies and daisies.

Guest lecturerOnce the climbing roses were up, I didn’t like the look of the trees between the columns. The green was too dull. And there was too much vertical-ity, if there is such a word. So I consulted with Honour, my landscaping mentor, and pulled the trees and moved the flower boxes. I think that tomorrow I will send a note to my client, asking her to take a look. I’ll be happy to add more flowers – I’d love to stuff the whole platform with multitudes of different colored flowers. But I figure my purpose here was to enhance the meeting area, not steal attention from the presenters. I’m very interested in my client’s feedback.

Oh, and of course….. I’m waiting to hear when I lose THIS garden!! *grin*


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