Apr 072012
 

If there’s one thing a lot of us want in SL, it’s a little place to call our own. Previously, I’ve given you a tutorial to make a very simple little 10m skybox to get changed in (and live in, if you want!) but that method doesn’t give you much leeway for decorating the walls; it’s more of a one-texture-all-over kind of thing.

To that end, here is a slightly more detailed tutorial for building a small skybox home of your own. This one is adaptable to any size, although I’ve only worked with a 10m box. It allows much greater texture customisation of the walls, and I’ve included a really nifty little hint about how to save prims, which is something we all want to do when we own land. Every land parcel only allows you so many prims, so every few you can shave off here and there gives you more to put towards something else, like furniture :)

Today’s guide will show you how to make a bright spring hideaway, full of gorgeous colour. I’m also going to show you a few cheap (and free) decor items that go nicely with this spring hideaway, and over the next few months I hope to be able to re-use this hideaway, re-texturing and re-furnishing it to show you different ideas.

Hop behind the cut, and let’s get stuck in to building!

We start, as with anything, with a prim. Make the x and y dimensions 10m (or anything you like; if your plot is big enough then 20m gives you a nice, roomy skybox!)

Next, add a texture. Mar’s using these Free Grunge Shaded Textures, by Texture Shop on Marketplace. Just drag the texture that you like across into the left-hand Texture window:

NOTE: Your viewer may not look like this. I’m using Firestorm with the Phoenix skin, but all of the buttons should be similar and obvious, no matter what viewer you’re using!

Next, click the ‘magic wand’ button and check ‘copy selection’. Then, click the top of your newly-textured, selected prim:

Another, identical prim will appear on top of it. Click that prim to select it, then click the ‘arrow’ button in the edit window. Check ‘stretch’ (and make sure that ‘stretch both sides’ is UNchecked!) –

It doesn’t matter whether you pull the red or green box, but drag one of them to the opposite side, to form a low ‘wall’ along one side of your bottom prim, like this:

It’s a good idea at this point, to move your avatar onto that bottom prim, so you’ll be inside the box while you’re making it.

Now you’re going to raise that low ‘wall’ prim into a tall wall prim! Grab the blue box at the top and drag it up.

HANDY TIP! While you’re pulling the blue box up, drag your mouse slightly sideways as well as up. It might take a bit of practice, but you should see what looks like a graduated ruler, and you’ll find you can ‘snap’ the prim you’re stretching very accurately to the guidelines on that ruler. Here, Mar’s stretched it up to 6m, which is a good height that works for most SL avatars.

To save us having to treat each wall the same, we’re going to get rid of that nasty texture flicker you sometimes see on SL buildings, before it has the chance to happen! Check the ‘select face’ button in the edit menu and click the tall, thin ‘side’ of your wall. You should see a stretched white ‘target’ appear on it, like this:

Once you have that face selected, use your camera controls to move your view around to the other end of the wall. Hold down the Shift key and click that face, too. You should now have both ends of the wall selected:

In the edit window, click the ‘texture’ box (yours will be holding the texture you put on the original prims; to save screencaps mine’s already holding the transparent texture!) and – in the new ‘texture picker’ box, type the words default transparent texture. This texture will show in the window below, so click its name and click OK. The two end sections of wall that you selected will now be transparent:

Go back to your floor prim again and repeat the whole process, but this time drag the wall across to the opposite side to the one you just created:

HANDY TIP (Phoenix and Firestorm users only) – The Phoenix and Firestorm viewers have a special tool in the edit window, called Align. You’ll find it in the ‘arrow’ tab, under the ‘select face’ radio button. This is a really fast way to duplicate a prim and set it precisely against the opposite end of your floor prim. Here’s how to use it:

1. Hold down the Shift key with your wall selected, and drag your mouse in the opposite direction. You’ll see a duplicate wall appear.
2. Select that duplicate wall.
3. Hold down the Shift key and click the floor prim. You should have the duplicate wall prim outlined in blue and the floor prim outlined in yellow.
4. Check the ‘align’ radio button. You’ll see rounded double arrows surrounding your build.
5. Click the arrows that are behind your original wall (the ones that face the end of floor where you want your new wall to be aligned to).
6. Your new wall will instantly be aligned to the opposite end of the floor.

Now it gets a little bit tricky. Make sure you have both walls selected (not the floor!) and hold down the Shift key while dragging them upwards a bit. You should see two duplicate walls appear above the originals, like this:

Make sure you keep those two new walls selected! Release the Shift key and hold down the Control key (Command key on a Mac) and hit ‘Z’. This will shove the duplicate wall prims back to the same location as the original walls. They’ll look like they’ve vanished, but they haven’t, so keep them selected!

Now comes the fab bit! Release the Control/Command key (but make sure you still have your duplicate walls selected) and check the ‘rotate’ button in the edit menu:

The red, green and blue arrows will change into what looks a bit like an orrery. You’re going to rotate those two wall prims clockwise by 90°, and – just as you pulled your mouse slightly sideways when you stretched the prim – try to do the same thing when you rotate. Again, it takes a bit of practice, but you should see a nifty little ‘compass’ against which you can ‘snap’ the prims you’re rotating. Your original walls will be aligned either North/South or East/West, so you want your new wall prims to be rotated to the other direction, to fill the gaps. Hard to explain, but just play around and you’ll see!

Phew – you can let go now!

The final thing our new skybox needs is, of course, a roof! Edit one wall and go back into the ‘magic wand’ button. You should still have ‘copy selected’ checked, so click the TOP of that wall you have edited:

Another wall will appear on top of it, and we’re going to stretch this to cover the entire skybox. So, check the ‘stretch’ radio button (make sure that ‘stretch both sides’ isn’t checked!) and drag it across to the opposite wall (remember to pull slightly sideways to find that grid, and you’ll easily find the 10m or 20m mark – however big you made your original floor prim) –

It looks a bit odd, but remember how you put the transparent texture onto the edges of the wall, so they didn’t flicker when they overlapped with the walls that you rotated into place? Well, now you’ve stretched that texture out and you’re just seeing the side of your big roof covered in transparency!

It’s easy to fix, though. With the whole roof prim selected, just click the ‘texture’ panel to bring up the texture picker window. Because four of the prim’s sides are still textured with colour and only two of the sides are transparent, the coloured texture should automatically be highlighted in the picker window. Just click it and the transparent sides should now be properly textured:

Much better! Now all you need to to is check the ‘stretch’ radio button and pull that blue box down so the roof is a nice thin, flat prim, rather than a giant box!

Now we’re going to link all the bits together. Hold down the Shift key and click each prim (there should be six in total: a floor, a roof, and four walls) and then hold down Control (or Command) and hit ‘L’ to link them. (You might have noticed that the Firestorm viewer I’m using has handy link and unlink buttons right there in the edit window, too.)

NOTE: It’s always a good idea when building skyboxes and houses to select the floor prim (or one of the floor prims if there’s more than one) last. This then becomes the ‘root prim’, which is what will align to whatever you’re going to rez the object on eventually. Make the ceiling the root prim and you might find most of your building embedded in the ground, as the ceiling rezzes on the floor! The root prim is always the one highlighted in yellow once the building is linked. All other prims are highlighted in blue.

Now you can give your skybox hideaway a name! But we’re not done with it yet! At the moment, because it’s made from six prims, you’ll need to have six prims available on any land you want to rez it on.

This next tip will only work in viewers based on Viewer 2 and Viewer 3 code. Older viewers based on 1.23 code (such as Phoenix) won’t have this ability.

With your new skybox selected, head into the Features tab and look at the bit that says ‘land impact’. That’s another way of saying “this is how many prims that this object uses up when you rez it”. Currently it says six. Now look a bit further down to where it says Physics Shape Type. This is the smart stuff! Right now it says ‘prim’:

There’s a teeny little dropdown menu next to where it says ‘prim’ Click the down-facing arrow and choose Convex Hull from the list, and watch what happens to the Land Impact…

It goes down to just THREE, meaning that – despite the building still comprising six actual prims – it will only take up three prims when rezzed. Now that’s brilliant!

BE WARNED! This works best on flat, straightforward cube prims. Never ‘convex hull’ any scripted prims, or hollowed/cut prims, because you might see the Land Impact skyrocket UP (especially in the case of scripted prims) and – if you’re already edging close to your prim limit your object might be returned to you! Some other prims can also be Convex Hulled (I’ve been able to get it to work on cylinders, and on some sculpted prims, too. Just experiment to see what affects the Land Impact favourably).

So how does this thing work, exactly? The best way I can think of to explain it is this: You can hollow a cube because, technically, it’s already ‘built’ with a hollow inside. It’s kind of like Schrödinger’s Prim: it’s both solid and hollow at the same time until you actually use the hollow tool to make the hollow visible. Convex Hull closes that invisible hollow. You can still make a visible hollow in the prim, but you wouldn’t be able to walk through it like you could a normal hollowed prim, because the hollow is invisibly solid.

Told you it was hard to explain!

So here we are inside our new skybox, and it’s time to decorate – whee!

You can apply Convex Hull to any modifiable object to bring down its prim count. This is one of the pretty pictures from the free Tutti Fruiti Set by Lisp Bazaar on Marketplace. Each picture comprises three prims (picture, frame, and shadow). The frame is sculpted, but it’s a simple sculpt and takes to Convex Hull quite well. It’s only saved me one prim (down from three to two) but every prim saved is a prim you can put towards something else!

If you can make linksets with even numbers or prims then it works even better! Let’s say the frame on this picture is a normal prim (not sculpted). By itself, each picture would only go down to two prims (from the original three). But if we linked two three-prim pictures together (making a six-prim linkset) we could Convex Hull that down to THREE prims, whereas two unlinked pictures would be four prims when Convex Hulled. (With the sculpted frames that won’t work, but you’ve still made a small saving!)

Mar’s used a fabulously fun texture on one wall, from this freebie set of Dots Fabrics textures, by DoiT Textures on Marketplace. It really brightens the whole thing up! And she’s used some different textures from the grunge set (mentioned earlier) so the inside walls, floor, and ceiling are less uniform in colour. The table and chairs are from the L$10 Candy Brights Chair and Table Set by Lisp Bazaar on Marketplace (I love that store – so many great cheapie items!) – containing six chairs with three sits in each, and the table. The cheerful jug of sunflowers is another Lisp Bazaar item: Sunflowers in a Cornflower Blue Jug (L$10) –

I got a price wrong in the next picture – sorry! The pictures are FREE, not L$10. They’re from the set of five Tutti Fruiti Pictures by – again! – Lisp Bazaar. The Boho Sofa (with 10 sits for two avatars and colour-change everything!) is another fab L$10 item, the blue Painter Coffee Table is just L$1 (I made it a bit bigger for the pic) and the funky little Spotty Teapot lamp is another freebie!

So, for a little bit of effort and L$31 you can have a gorgeous little sunshiny hideaway. Go forth and build!

Edit: Sorry, peeps. Getting comment-spammed to hell on these latest three posts, so I’m disabling comments on them.

 

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