Iris Wants to Know: Second Life Designers, How Long Does it Take You to Work Your Content-Creating Magic?

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

There's a big gap between the time and work that goes into an original Second Life item, and the time and the work that is often perceived to have gone into it. Take a look at some of the unfair SL Marketplace reviews designers often receive, and it's not hard to find customers talking about carefully crafted virtual content as though it can be slapped together in the time it takes to have a celebratory post-work pizza delivered. For some simpler creations that's not so far from the truth, but for the rest? Well...

Last week I asked Second Life consumers how much they thought went into a Second Life design, and the answers I received in the comments, over Plurk, on Twitter, and even via email varied wildly. Taking a standard piece of avatar clothing as an example, some suggested it might take a few hours while others suggested a few months. As much as time and effort involved depend on the specific item being made, it's clear that a lot of us really just don't know -- and there's no shame in that. There can be something of an aura around content creators, especially those who've found any degree of success, that obscures the reality of their work and makes it very easy to misjudge.

So now it's your turn, designers. 

Here's what I want to know: What do you make in SL, and generally speaking how long does it take you to make it? Do you think the general population of SL has a good idea of what it takes to do what you do, or do you think some of us shoppers need a serious reality check? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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This Second Life Fashion Blogger Turns Halloween Costumes into Everyday Style

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

Speaking of spooky seasonal cuties, you'll want to scope out Jade Composer's recent additions to Flickr if you're looking for some particularly adorable Halloween style inspiration.

Jade's pictures are immediately recognizable for their always adorable and often a little bit sexy avatars, placed front and centre and dipped in a lot of carefully placed details. Her Halloween pictures have been no exception, simply adding some holiday trappings (like menacing blackened claws) into the mix. Of her recent shots my favorite is absolutely the one above, which seems to take notes from guro kawaii while still managing to look ridiculously wearable. Jade Composer's October ensembles proves that you don't need to bury yourself in an over-the-top costume to get your spooky style across.

Check out "Spooky", along with Jade's other seasonally inspired fashion pics, over on her Flickr or her Tumblr.

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This Scarily Sweet Second Life Cyclops isn't a Reality... Yet

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

I'll be honest, when I saw this frighteningly cute cyclops avatar on Eilfie Sugarplum's Flickr this morning my heart skipped I beat. I was already opening Second Life, virtual wallet in hand, ready to pop over to her shop (The Sugar Garden) before I paused to read the picture's description and comments. Eilfie is know for her skins, eyes, and other assorted avatar customization items, so it was absolutely within the realm of possibility that she'd release this sweet cyclops in time for Halloween. But alas, it seems that the "Tsuclops" is just a fun snapshot edit and not the most creepydorable Halloween costume in all of SL.

At least that's how the situation stands right now, but that's not to say it couldn't change.

In the comments Eilfie clarifies that her tsuclops isn't a reality yet, but that if others are interested she would try to bring it to SL. If you'd like a tsuclops avatar of your own, be sure to check out Eilfie's original pic on Flickr and register your support in the comments. 

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Iris Wants to Know: How Long Do You Think It Takes Designers to Create Your Favorite Virtual Fashions?

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

When I read user reviews of products on the SL Marketplace, I'm often struck by how much of a disconnect there is between what customers think goes into producing an original product in Second Life and what actually does. It's a pet peeve, and something I have to struggle not to launch into a full rant about. I've even read comments that acted as though a fully modelled and textured item was little more than a sketch on the back of a restaurant receipt.

In general, there's often a tremendous lack of understanding for what many content creators actually do, even from the most respectful and reverent users buying from them. It's a big gap, and we need to bridge it.

This week, I want to hear from the consumers. I want to know how long you think it takes to develop original fashion content for Second Life. Of course it varies from item to item (and creator to creator) but lets talk about averages here. On average, how much time and energy would you say goes into a piece of mesh clothing, a skin, a hairstyle, and so on? Share your best estimates in the comments below. If you're a content creator, don't fret: You'll have your chance to respond next week!

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Iris Wants to Know: Is Your Virtual Style More Important to You Than Your Virtual Space, or Vice Versa?

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

Avatar fashion has been a priority for me since well before I ever found Second Life, so it should be no surprise that that's exactly what I gravitated towards when I started. When you give me a dollhouse, my first priority will inevitably be the dolls themselves -- that's just how I am, and I have the sim households to prove it. That's not to say I'm not interested in what my spaces look like, but usually I care about the appearance of those spaces only in relation to the "dolls," as an extension of them (or even just a backdrop.) If I'm forced to choose between character customization and home customization, I'm probably not going to humm and haw about it terribly long.

But for every fashion-focused SL user who treats their virtual spaces like one big photo backdrop, there's someone else treating it like a canvas; placing everything just so, spending hours perfecting, tweaking, and upgrading it. Even if their shoes are dated (and honestly who even cares) there's no denying that their front foyer is current and on trend.

So what about you? I know for some it will be a tough choice, but here's what I want to know: If you had to choose between virtual fashion and vitual decor, which side would you choose and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Snap Up These Tempting SL Teacups While You Can

Apple Fall Kustom9 teacups (2)
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Chalk this post up in the "Second Life designers are agonizingly talented" category, because I can't deal with the gorgeous little teacups that Apple Fall has released for Kustom9. He shared a few work-in-progress shots via Plurk earlier this week. They're almost beyond belief, and although each of the three in the set is stunning, the pearl-draped variation pictured above absolutely takes the cake.

It's no exaggeration to say that Apple Fall is one of the highest quality decor brands in SL these days, which shouldn't be any surprise if you've come across their work before. For instance, this set inspired by ancient Greece is another Apple Fall favorite of mine, as was the Breakfast at Tiffany's set they released for The Arcade a while back.

These immaculate little teacups (and loads of other items) are available at the Kustom9 gacha event [SLURL] until the end of the month, so don't dawdle if you're interested. You can also check out the full set on Apple Fall's Flickr, or visit Apple Fall on the SL Marketplace or in-world [SLURL] to see more.

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You Won't Believe What This Second Life Picture Looked Like Before Photoshop

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

Xantheanne Resident (or Xanthe for short) is a damn talented Second Life photographer with consistently gorgeous output, and her blog is practically a visual feast for any fashionista who crosses its path. It's Xanthe's latest post that's caught my eye today -- particularly for the glimpse it offers at her snapshotting skills.

"French Perfume" is dark and decadent in the post-processed pic above, but what makes it stand out even more is the unprocessed version of the picture that Xanthe shared in advance on Plurk. Exactly how much work did she do to get that shot as flawless as it is? Just take a look at her original snapshot straight out of SL:

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Here Are the Five Cutest Things You'll Find at Second Life's Favorite Seasonal Gacha Event

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

The Arcade, one of SL's most popular gacha shopping events, always has a pretty eclectic mix of items available for sale, but something about this fall's lineup is almost too cute for words. There are some stunning antique-inspired sets of course, others drawn from mermaids and princesses, still others focused on pulpy sci-fi, but for me the latest round of The Arcade is being utterly dominated by cute, and it goes well beyond the animated mesh puppy I wrote about a couple weeks ago...

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Pantone Problems: Here's Why Seasonal Color Trends Matter in Virtual & RL Fashion

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

SL fashion blog Juicybomb is typically a one-woman show, but this week Sehra Kauffman stepped up to share a pretty enlightening post about seasonal colors that applies just as much to our offline fashion choices as it does our online ones. If you've ever wondered why Pantone exists or why constantly shifting color palettes and "Forecasts" are an important part of fashion (and fashion marketing) Sehra's got your back. She explains:

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Enjoy All the Charm of a Summer Sunset in This Stunning (and Unedited) Second Life Snapshot

Nivaya Barbosa Persephone Paine
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'm a sucker for great, unprocessed screenshots, and this happy little accident shared by Nivaya Barbosa on Plurk and Flickr takes the cake. The contrast, the lighting, the depth of field, the lush colors of the environment against the muted tones of the dress -- it all just feels so natural even though typically (as most SL artists and virtual photographers know) that natural feeling is one of the most difficult elements to capture.

I will admit that I find myself wishing that her subject, Persephone Paine, was wearing a mesh head purely because they tend to look a little more realistic under indirect lighting compared to the Second Life avatar's vanilla face (like her hands and dress for example.) Then again, even the imperfections lend themselves to the overall effectiveness of this shot. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I wouldn't change a thing.

Check out Nivaya's Flickr stream for more.

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