Monday, December 31, 2012

Just your typical New Year's Eve.... your typical virtual world, with your typical crowd of partiers:

Wishing each of you a wonderful new year full of success and happiness!

(first picture taken by Pixellada; second picture by Ryan)

Jicerjicer Jicer: Artist and Avatarist

Meet Jicerjicer Jicer, he's one of the artists who make living in Cloud Party such fun:

Jicer has a home in the neighbourhood island of Blazing Ranch, and I decided to pay a visit to see what his art is all about.  Here are some pictures:

And, as a bonus, I took some video of the animal avatar parade outside his home.  Jicer has created all these avatars from scratch, I think they're amazing (and yes, they are actual wearable avatars):

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fritz's Creations

Fritz Maier, whom I have spoken about in this blog before, continues to surprise us with his creations:

Here's his completely renovated home (complete with pizza-eating alien plants!) in the Shiny Bay neighbourhood:,-24.5,-34.1,-1.7

And in the public park opposite, a mega dance-ball with four writhing, smoking, silver worms:

And five minutes later, he replaces the smoketrails with laserlights:

Cloud Party would be a much poorer place without exceptionally creative people like Fritz Maier.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Outfit Outlay: Orange Outfit

Tank top: EP Tank (tintable) by Estelle Parnall, 60 CC (1 CC = US$0.05)
Skirt: skirt colorchange by Mochi, free
Flats: part of the basic Outfit, free

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Gift: Get Vanity Fair Fashions for FREE

To celebrate the new year, for one week (until midnight, January 5th, 2013), all ten of my clothing items will be available for free!  Yes, FREE!

To find a list of all ten free items, search "vf" on the Marketplace.

Remember, this is only until midnight Central Standard Time (Winnipeg/Chicago time), January 5th, 2013!!

President Obama Visits Welcome Center at Cloud Party

Well, okay, not really.

From left to right: Vanity Fair, Pixellada, Obama (Jicejicer Jicer), and Fluffy.

Rant, Continued: More Griefing at Starting Island.

This morning I arrive and conversation is all about what a certain avatar has left behind on the Public Area 1 of the Starting Island, resulting in a "Too many spawned entities in area" error message:

This is the same person who was raining these same objects down on newbie avatars in the Welcome Centre, which I referred to in an earlier blogpost about this matter.

It's time that a combination of technical rules and social rules be enforced to stop, or at least curtail, these sorts of things from happening in the future.  Perhaps we need to shorten the 5 hour auto-return of created objects.  Perhaps we need to impose some sort of ban system based on internal usrerid or IP address.  Perhaps we need to give moderators special powers to combat this spam.  All I know is, we need to have some serious discussion about what to do.  If we having this problem with only a dozen or so avatars on Starting Island at a time, what is going to happen when there are 50?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I think it's high time that people STOP AND THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE DOING on the Starting Island.  Today we have had one person who spawned dozens of red horned demon balls at the Welcome Center, leading to a complaint from one visitor, a newbie who is unlikely to come back because of what he calls "griefing".  Whether or not it is actually griefing is beside the point; the point is that the Starting Island is NOT THE PLACE TO BE DOING THESE SORTS OF EXPERIMENTS.

Now, this evening, another person has set up what can only be called the Mother of all light shows, using a public building area of, you guessed it, the Starting Island.:

Someone just started it up and LEFT IT RUNNING.  Do you have any idea what this sort of display can do to slower graphics cards on slower computers?!??  Are we deliberately making things difficult for the newbies arriving on Starting Island?? 

It only takes a modicum of commons sense to realize that these sorts of activities can be better performed OFF of Starting Island.  If we repel new users because of these childish antics, then if Cloud Party fails we have nobody to blame but ourselves.  YES, we have to think of the newbie users.  How would you feel about Cloud Party if you showed up, all eager to build, only to find the public sandbox looks like this?? 

How to Create an Alpha/UV Mask for a Piece of Clothing

Sometimes you can have the following problem: A piece of clothing is letting your skin show through from underneath it.  One solution is to keep editing the clothing mesh so that it does not let any skin show through anyplace, but this can be a laborious process, and you will still come across animations that will stretch the clothing in an unusual way and your skin will still show through.

A second solution, one that we will cover here, is to make an alpha mask (also called a UV mask) which makes the parts of your body underneath the clothing transparent, so they can't show through the cloth.  (This is exactly the same way that a mesh piece of clothing is constructed in Second Life; there is a transparency layer added to the skin under the article of mesh clothing to hide the body underneath.)

So, how does one make such a mask?  well, you have to start from the Avatar Development Kit, the moswt recent version of which can be found here:

This is a zip file which you download to your computer and unzip.  The two files in which we are interested are:
  • the male body layout in a square: Male/texture/M_body_d
  • the female body layout in a square: Female/texture/F_body_d
What you need to do is to use a graphics program (any graphics program will do, like PhotoShop or Gimp) to

  1. create a new, transparent layer over top of the body layout layer; 
  2. colour that layer in black for any part of the body which you want to make transparent;
  3. leave any part of the layer white for any part of the body you want to be visible;
  4. save that layer as a separate image file (I use TARGA or TGA format, but you can use PNG or any other image format);
  5. upload the TGA file as a mask (not as a regular image);
  6. apply the mask to the article of mesh clothing;
  7. wear the article of mesh clothing to check that the mask worked;
  8. repeat steps 1 through 7 until you are satisfied with your mask.
That's the brief description.  Now I am going to go through this process step-by-step with an alpha mask for a woman's full-body leotard.  Here is what the leotard looks like without a mask:

Notice that the underarm area is particular has skin showing through as the avatar goes through the animations.  And here is what the leotard looks like with the alpha/UV mask:

Step 1: I will be using PhotoShop for this tutorial as I am most familiar with it.  I load the female body layout (Female/texture/F_body_d from the Avatar Development Kit) into PhotoShop, and then I use the Layers menu to create a new, transparent layer.

Steps 2 and 3: Then, I use a black paintbrush to color those parts of the body (the trunk, arms, and legs) in black:

Do NOT color the hands or feet in black or they will also be transparent!  Note that if you did not want a turtleneck on the leotard, you could also have left the neck part of the female body layout white as well.

In actuality the alpha/UV mask is a greyscale image: black for transparent areas, white for visible areas, and greys for anything in-between (although it can be hard to think of a reason for something to be partially transparent).

Step 4: Then save that transparent layer (and ONLY that layer) as a TARGA (*.tga) format file.

Step 5: To upload the mask, go into Build mode by selecting Build from the cell phone icon menu or by hitting the B key.  Select Library, then press the Upload button.  VERY IMPORTANT:  when uploading an alpha/UV mask, you must go to the Contents pull-down menu next to the field and select mask:

Step 6: To apply the mask to the leotard, you assign it to the Body Alpha Mask field (when you click on the empty field, a display of masks is shown.  CLick th eone you want to highlight it in orange, and click the Select button):

Steps 7 and 8:  Don't be too surprised if you find that the mask is not perfect and that you need to readjust it in PhotoShop.  Until there is a clear grid for the making of such masks, it is always going to be a bit of a guessing game (now THIS is something useful you could release, Cloud Party: the grid layouts for the female and male body layouts).  The female one would look something like this:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Freebies

Mochi has very kindly made the following T-shirt available for free for a limited time, from the Cloud Party Marketplace:

It's available in one version for men and another version for women.  Get yours today!

Free Women's Clothing from Subongo

Subongo has very kindly decided to offer his older women's designs for free via the Marketplace.  This is a collection of 3 dresses, 12 tops, 1 pair of pants, 4 skirts, and 1 pair of high-heeled shoes (note that the high-heeled shoes tend to sink into the floor a little).

To get this colourful set of women's clothing for free, go into the Marketplace and do a search for "Subongo 21 Freebize".  Then buy the item for 0 CC.  The items will all be sorted into their proper categories in your clothing inventory, and you'll be all ready to go!  Thank you Subongo!

As an added bonus, the clothes are all editable (they can be retinted, retextured, etc.).  Get creative!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How to Put a Texture on a Sign (Final Version)

In Second Life it was all so simple: just apply a texture to a prim and you were set.  Alas, in most virtual worlds, including Cloud Party, it is more complicated than that.  Today I am going to take you, step by step, through the process of putting a texture on an object, using some pre-made objects* just made available on the Marketplace by Lilli Thompson (thanks Lilli!).

STEP ONE: First, go into the Marketplace and search for "test assets":

Click on that item and you will see that it is, in fact, a collection of items:

Buy the package of objects for 0 CC (free). We'll get back to them later.

STEP TWO: Now you need a texture to put on your object.  A texture can be any image  in JPEG/JPG or PNG format.  You can either make one (using PhotoShop or some other graphics program like MS Paint) or you can buy one (some textures are already for sale on the Marketplace) or you can find your own on the Internet (remember to respect copyright rules!).  There are some great sources for copyright-free textures on the Internet, such as:

  1. Torley Linden's large set of free textures at
  2. Opensim Creations ( has many, many sets of textures which you can use for free in your projects.  Browse through the blog and see what you can find!

STEP THREE: Once you have your texture, you need to upload it.  Hit B to go into Build mode (or click the Build icon on your cell phone). Click the Upload button on the panel on the left.  You will see the following box:

Click the green plus sign and use the box to select the file from your computer that contains the texture.

Click the Upload button at the bottom.  Once it is uploaded, the box will turn green and you can then exit it by clicking the X in the upper right corner.

STEP FOUR: Once you have uploaded your texture you need to create a material which uses your texture.  In Build mode,  hit the Create button and select Material from the drop-down menu:

You will be presented with a small box in which you can title the material.  Give the material a name you will remember and hit OK.

Then you will see a bigger box,

 Click the Diffuse field, and you will see the list of textures you have uploaded.

Click on the texture you uploaded in Step Three, which will then be highlighted orange, then click the Select button, and it will fill in that field.

Then click Save to close the box and save the material.  You now have a material that contains the texture you want to put on your sign.

Note that once you have created the material you can place it on an object (as we will do in the following steps).  Whenever you update that material, the changes to the object will be seen LIVE.  In other words, you change the material and you get immediate feedback.

STEP FIVE: Stay in Build mode.  If you have exited Build mode, hit B to go back into Build mode (or click the Build icon on your cell phone).  In the panel that opens on your left, look for a palette (a group) of objects titled "test assets".  Click on that palette/group to select it.  It will then appear on your screen like this:

Click on that palette/group to select it.  It will then appear on your screen like this:

Pick the texturePlane, which we will use for our sign.  We will be placing this mesh out into the world, and then saving it as a prefab.  (The reason we do this is because then you can make multiple copies of the same sign.)  Click on the texturePlane to highlight it in orange, then drag the mouse to where you want to put the sign:

Now resize the sign by clicking on the sign in-world, using the Scale button and dragging one of the corners to increase the size:

Adjust the sign using the Move, Rotate, and Scale buttons as necessary.

STEP SIX: Click on the Object button in the upper left-hand corner of your screen:

You will see the following screen appear:

Click on the Meshes tab to open it:

STEP SEVEN: Click the Materials tab, and you will see a slot (called lambert1 here) which is where you will specify the material that is applied to the mesh:

Click the empty field, and you will be presented will a list of materials you have already created   Click on the material you created in Step Four, and it will be highlighted in orange.  Then click the Select button.

NOTE: I am picking a pink knit, but it could just as easily be the words on a sign!  A texture can be any image.

This will fill in the empty field with the name of the material you have selected, and it will apply the material to the sign in-world:

Now we will save this as a prefab, using the button "Save as new prefab":

You will be prompted to give your prefab a name.  Pick something you'll remember so you can find it again:

You're done!  At this point you should have the texture displaying properly on the sign you have created in-world, and a copy of that sign in your inventory (in a palette called "New"), so you can make duplicates.

This may seem very complicated, but it is actually a very powerful system which allows you to do things with textures and objects that you could never do in Second Life!  After a while this process will become like second nature.

Lilli Thompson explains all this in more detail in the following YouTube video:

*The reason we are using Lilli's pre-made objects is because they already have something called the UV textures assigned to them, which tells Cloud Party exactly HOW the texture will be applied to the object.  In the case of the sign object, it will make sure that the WHOLE texture is on the sign, not just a part of it.  I can't explain UV textures at the moment any better than that, sorry, I'm a clueless newbie like you!