5 Questions to Ask Yourself if You Want to Be an SL Blogger

5 Questions SL Blogger
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Two weeks ago, I laid out something that had been on my mind for awhile. I shared five painfully honest questions that I think every aspiring designer should ask themselves before they dig into the world of SL fashion. But there's another side of this equation, a role in the Second Life ecosystem that comes with almost as much idolization as designing: Blogging.

I'll be the first person to tell you that blogging (fashion or otherwise) is not as glorious and glamorous as it might seem. I'll also be the first person to tell you how rewarding blogging can be, again regardless of the subject... As long as you're doing it for the right reasons.

So if you're thinking of starting your own Second Life blog, here are five questions you absolutely need to answer:

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Weekend Shopping List: This Mesh Head is so Beautiful That it Barely Looks Like an SL Avatar

VCO Mesh Head Tia
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

There's a new item at the top of my virtual world shopping list this weekend: The Tia mesh head by VCO, available at The Winter Wonderland event [Teleport link]. I already have my fair share of mesh heads, and these days the latest from The Sugar Garden has been serving me just fine. So why am I in the market for yet another? Well, when I first saw the above image of this finely-featured face from VCO I didn't entirely believe they were shot in Second Life. 

I don't mean that Tia looks hyper-realistic, however. Far from it. She looks more like a flawlessly modded Sims 3 character, or even a high-end doll, and to me that's just as appealing as realism would be.

Even if Tia's not to your liking you may want to swing by Winter Wonderland anyway, especially if you're looking for the perfect finishing touch for your virtual home...

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Check the Receipts: Here are 3 Crucial Anti-Scammer Tips for Second Life Designers

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

A Second Life designer (who asked to remain anonymous) had an interesting experience with a customer recently. Well, maybe I should say this experience was with a 'customer', because their interaction with this designer casts a lot of doubt on whether or not they ever bought a single thing from her in the past. Either way, it led to an amusing story and a few tips that most SL designers will be able to appreciate.

It starts like a lot of customer service encounters in SL start: A notecard with an explanation that an item had been purchased and lost to some technological snafu or another. it happens, and it's usually the truth. This note also came with a snippet from their transaction history to prove the initial purchase:

Septermber 13, 2014
Order #1373338995
Order Status: Delivered
Total items: 1
Order Total: L$39,998
[...]

Providing your transaction history, essentially a receipt, right when you contact a designer is a thoughtful thing to do since it saves you both time. Unfortunately it's easy enough to fake one end of this receipt, and not every designer will bother digging through their own records to confirm that a transaction is legitimate. That said, maybe you've already caught the most obvious clue that this 'customer' was trying to take our anonymous designer for a ride, and that brings me to the first tip:

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Five Questions to Ask Yourself if You Want to be a Second Life Designer

5 Questions SL Designer
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

A very nice person sent me a notecard once, asking what they needed to know to become a Second Life designer. Content creators, including fashion designers, are some of the most respected people in the virtual world, so this question is a pretty common one. At the time I sent them a few Youtube links, a few blog tutorials, and some free software suggestions to get them started, but every now and then they pop into my mind. As far as I can tell they never did open up a store like they wanted to, and I wonder if I should have given them some slightly more practical advice instead. 

What do you really need to know before you become a Second Life Designer? Well, a lot more than just Photoshop and Blender.

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Things Get Very Real When SL Users Describe Their Tastes in Virtual Hair

SL Avatar Hair header
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Last week I asked NWN readers to describe how they like to wear their virtual hair, and something about the answers really took me by surprise. It turns out that when you ask people how they like their avatar's hair, the answers sound a lot like someone talking about their real hair. Maybe that only surprised me because I framed things more in terms of flexi and mesh than I did fringe and mousse, but, well...

Here's what I mean:

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Collabor88: Don't Miss this Monthly SL Shopping Event's Most Magical Lineup Yet

Violent Seduction Unicorn Heels C88
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I don't know that I've ever been more in love with a Collabor88 line up than I am this month. This popular event (which opens its doors with fresh content on the 8th of every month) always boasts a stable of talented designers, but inspired by this month's theme they've produced some of the most eye-catching releases I've seen in a while.

Every piece at this month's Collabor88 is inspired by unicorns, either concretely or in spirit, and the end result is downright magical.

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Iris Wants to Know: How Do You Wear Your SL Hair?

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

I'm a little bit in love with the sweeping waves and swirly curls in the latest release from Second Life hair brand Magika. It's romantic but flawless, in just the right amount of disarray to look 'natural' without looking... Well, too natural. This is exactly what I want from the mesh haistyles topping off my avatar on a daily basis, but that's not the case for everyone.

My mother's a big fan of L fashion too, and our tastes in virtual hair tend to clash. For her, if a style doesn't have any flow or movement to it, it's pretty much off the table. That's not to say that's she's living in the pre-mesh past with her pixel perms, but she still certainly appreciates a dash of flexi here and there under all that mesh. A feature that's a dealbreaker for her is something I don't think I've ever even noticed among all the styles I own.

There's even more variation than that, though. I have friends who loathe chunky, "piecy" styles and others who wear them constantly. Some won't consider buying from a designer if they don't have a full range of dip-dyed texture options, while others never stray from their signature color. Even the least fashion-frenzied among us seem to be pretty picky about our avatar hair.

That's why today I want to know how you like to wear your Second Life hair? Are there features you can't live without/won't touch with a 10-foot prim pole, or are you pretty easygoing as long as you can find that perfect shade of auburn? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Here's How Alpha Map Support for Mesh Could Change the Face of Second Life Fashion in 2015

JIRA Alpha Support for Mesh

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

If you're looking for a new Second Life feature to root for in 2015 look no further than BUG-8100, a.k.a. Alpha Map Support for Mesh. In a nutshell, this proposed feature would allow for alpha maps similar to those that can be layered over an avatar to "cut" parts of it away to be used over mesh objects.

Why does that matter? Well consider mesh avatar bodies...

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Master the Favorite Techniques of Second Life's Top Avatar Snapshot Artists With This Sped-Up Vid

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

If you have a little time this weekend, you may want to spend it watching the speed editing video above from SLer Dina Dinix. She's recordered her process editing a raw snapshot to hyper-polished perfection, and while it's not exactly a detailed tutorial there's a lot that you can learn if you want to master the processing techniques popular among many SL artists and avatar photographers.

There may be a lot to learn here, but given the speed at which it's all happening there are a few steps that might be easy to miss. With that in mind, I've got a few important timestamps you'll want to pay attention to:

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The Art of Taking the Perfect SL Snapshot Has Less to Do with Photoshop Than You Think

Xantheanne When It Snows
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Xantheanne's 2nd Life (currently a little NSFW) is easily among my favorite Second Life fashion blogs, largely because of her snapshots. She's mastered the art of showing off her outfit and accessories without obscuring them under excessive post-processing or pretentious framing. Her work is clear and direct, without sacrificing lushness and detail. That's really the best any of us can hope for from fashion photography on or offline.

Following Xantheanne herself on Plurk offers a different perspective on her work, though. She occasionally posts her snapshots before she runs them through Photoshop and shares them on Flickr and her blog, and these unprocessed shots never fail to amaze me -- just not in the way you might think. To see what I mean, just take a look at the 100% raw version of the pic above:

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