Monday, July 01, 2013

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Allegory Malaprop Breaks Down Everything You Need to Know About SL's New Alpha Options

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Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Although Materials have definitely stolen the spotlight, they're not the only fashion innovation that's come with the latest Second Life viewer. Creators now also have much more control over the use of alphas, which badass virtual fashion designer Allegory Malaprop outlined recently in a post on her blog. Here's what you need to know, in a nutshell:

Remember alpha flicker, the awful jittery effect you get from overlapping alpha textures on prims? It's a problem that's plagued SL designers, photographers, and consumers for longer than most of us can remember. There are finally tools available to combat this irritating effect, but making use of them can be more than a little confusing if you're going in without much background knowledge.

Allegory covers a lot of helpful info about how to access the new alpha mask options, as well as some tips on how to make the most of them and avoid some of the brand new problems they can cause when misused, so I'd seriously encourage you to read her blog for more details. These new options for alphas might not be as noticeable or as groundbreaking as Materials, but I suspect it will become just as vital for designers to understand and make use of them wisely in the future.

(Photo credit: Allegory Malaprop)

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Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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Arcadia Codesmith

The alpha bug is a major reason I threw up my hands and stopped making stuff in SL. I figured they would never address it.

Dammit.

Adeon Writer

I'm more exited about the new alpha system than I am materials.

Sadly, like all wonderful features to come from the lab, they are pointless until half a year later Firestorm supports it properly.

I don't even use Firestorm, and I'm not bashing, but it's a pity even I have to wait for using new features until their ~75% usage rating can see it properly. :(

EhrmanDigfoot

@Adeon, I agree, and I think we should always build with the default viewer in mind, emphasizing deficiencies in TPV's. The default viewer has worked so well over the past year or so and especially well this past month.

I'm generally acquainted with alpha-blending issues, the distinction between 1 bit and 8 bit masks, and the problem with gradients, nevertheless I could not understand most of the observations Malaprop was making in her blog post. Hopefully we can write a clearer introduction to these new features and add it to the wiki eventually. In any case, I'm excited to finally try my hand at mesh foliage.

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