It’s still blowing dry, powdery snow here in Toronto, but the days are slowly growing longer and with them the hope that something resembling spring will appear shortly. While winter in SL is quite pretty, having the option of renewing one’s landscape from bitter winter to tender spring with relative ease has always had great appeal to me.
It’s with that in mind that I’m happy to announce a new Cherry Tree from Organica!
Among a number of other projects on the go, this newest release has weighed heavily on my recent project list, due to amount of animation and troubleshooting that needed to take place. It’s been a few years since I last released a cherry tree, so I wanted to put together something substantial which would also reflect what tools we have at our disposal now, as far as content creation goes.
The tree is Animated Mesh, which means it is designed to sway on its own and will move naturally in its environment. It also means this tree is not resizable, although I am offering two sizes by default for your convenience. Included are Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Dead foliage options, along with the option to turn on flower particles. The tree is also fully compatible with the Winds of Change Seasonal Control Module, so foliage across a whole region or parcel can be changed with just a few clicks, rather than by individually by each tree.
It’s been a while since I discussed this project – I covered initial development for these trees in late 2017/early 2018, but they were put on the back-burner due to a shadow rendering issue that affects how shadows are rendered for transparent textures on rigged objects.
With all that said, I decided to move ahead with the Weeping Willow despite this problem because it would be unlikely that any changes be made to accommodate shader fixes on the viewer side, once they have been committed.
In the past week, easily 30-40 hrs have been put in developing new textures and revising existing animations to be more natural and appropriate to region wind speeds. I’ve also been very fortunate to work with NeoBokrug Elytis of Desolate Studio to develop an extensive feature set that I am sure you will appreciate!
So it’s with much excitement that I offer this set of Weeping Willows for your consideration:
The Weeping Willows are the first in a line of trees from Organica that will both offer Animesh support as well as built-in compatibility with the Organica Seasonal Control Module, which will allow for mass foliage change of Organica: Winds of Change-compatible products both region-wide as well as parcel-specific.
The Willows are set to animate and rustle in relation to Second Life region wind. They change texture (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Dead) on command from the included SCM, but you can also set foliage by individual tree as well if you wish.
All settings can be secured to owner, group or anyone.
A few caveats:
As an Animesh product, a compatible viewer must be used to view it properly. If your viewer has updated to 6.0 or better, you’re all set!
Due to the nature of Animesh (it snaps back to the size defined by its armature and animations), only two sizes are currently offered and this tree cannot be resized. I’ll be doing some experimentation and hopefully more sizes will be available in the future – any additional sizes to this product will be sent as a free update.
Family is up from the States this week, so there was a family dinner. I also took a bit of free time earlier today to pick up a lovely vintage table for my kitchen, which is sorely lacking in the style department.
I am overseeing and creating content for a couple of new work projects and hope to be able to talk more about them soon – in the mean time, I figured I’d touch a bit on some work in progress I’ve got in mind for an upcoming Organica release.
It’s been a *long* while since Organica offered a weeping willow. Simply put, it’s mainly because I am not real big on flexi prims being linked in to mesh and, back when I did make some, we only had alpha blending (and not masking) – so it would be common to run in to issues where some textures would overlay others in an undesirable fashion.
With those caveats in mind, I figure it’s a good time to revisit willows, because let’s face it – a naturally moving tree would be a great example of non-animal Animesh.
While I won’t touch on the rigging just yet here, I will at this point discuss my general modelling & UV layout process.
The process begins with a simple cylinder – usually with no more than 12 sides, and with the length divided a multitude of times. I usually create the UV layout for this cylinder pretty early on (even though I do later unwrap the geometry again) because multiple copies will be made of this cylinder and it’d be nice not to define seams for each and every one.
While I could probably define the shape of the geometry by moving the verts around, lately I’ve taken to adding a Bezier Curve nearby and applying the curve as a modifier to the cylinder, taking care to apply scale and location before any heavy modification takes place.
By using a modifier, non-destructive changes can be made, allowing for a considerable amount of experimentation in placement and rotation prior to committing to a final shape. In this case, I am moving various nodes in the bezier curve to direct the overall direction of the mesh.
How does one use Bezier curves?
Assuming you are already familiar with how to move, rotate, scale and extrude vertices, edges and faces in geometry, Bezier curve nodes are similar to individual vertices (although more accurately, they are very similar to NURBS nodes).
Basically, each node along a curve is accompanied by a pair of handles which control the direction of the curve directly before and after the node. They are always 180 degrees from each other. The closer these handles are to the node, the shorter the area of influence they will have.
The default bezier curve will give you two nodes. You can add nodes in between by dividing the space between the two in the same manner as you would between two vertices. You can also extrude additional nodes from the start or end of the curve.
You can either apply this curve to existing geometry (using the ‘Curve’ modifier’) or extrude some basic geometry along the curve (using the ‘Curve’ properties menu, when the curve is selected). There are some additional advanced things you can do to this extruded geometry (such as non-destructive tapering or bevelling) but for the purposes of this demo, I have only applied my curves to geometry as a modifier.
It should be noted at this point that, even at top level geometry, I do not subdivide at this point. This is important, since fixes will later be necessary to clean up the results of proceeding workflow. It’s way less hassle to redirect and merge fewer vertices than more. If smoother, more curvaceous transitions are needed, subdivisions should occur after the final UV layout has been finalized (IE: not now!)
After the trunk has been defined, I select both the mesh and the curve and duplicate them at the same time, adjusting basic position, scaling and rotation at the Object level, then editing individual branches for variety by selecting the appropriate curve and editing in edit mode.
After I am satisfied with all the branch placement, I join each branch to the main trunk using a Boolean Modifier (‘union’ setting) to create the branch geometry in the same object as the trunk and also to join it with the trunk. This leaves behind a copy of the original branch, which can either be archived to a different layer or deleted entirely.
I do this for all of the branches, then go back and check each of the joints between the branches and trunk.
Typically, use of the boolean modifier will create extraneous verts, showing the point at which each face intersected with its adjacent geometry. This is, by and large, undesirable and I will usually either merge several extraneous verts to converge on one desired vert OR i’ll select edge loops and slide them in the correct direction, taking care later to remove any remaining duplicate vertices. Checking for N-gons (polygons with more than 4 edges) should also be done at this stage.
Cleanup is done around each joint, after which I attempt another UV unwrap to achieve a nice layout that is fairly clean, not overly stretchy, correctly scaled and laid out in a convenient direction.
The overall silhouette and UV layout have been achieved. Further modifications within these constraints (additional edge loops to create more curves, for example) would be ideal at this point.
We’ll leave it here for now. Next week, I’ll discuss foliage geometry, layout and general texture creation.
Did you know I have a Patreon account? If you enjoy this content, please consider becoming a Patron! It helps me create more like it and offers a variety of rewards. Alternatively, if you like the sorts of things that I make for Second Life, drop by my Marketplace listing or my in-world stores and check out what I have to offer!
Unless otherwise noted, I (Aki Shichiroji) and this blog are not sponsored in any way. My thoughts are my own and not indicative of endorsement by any associated or discussed product/service/company.
A new set of bonsai are now available at Organica!
These flowering trees will brighten up any household or garden. 8LI at packaged size, they have individually articulated flowers and foliage for great closeup detail, all the while maintaining efficient geometry to promote viewer performance. For best results, view with Advanced Lighting Model (Materials).
Eight varieties are available separately as well as a fatpack. Mod, copy, no transfer.
Pop by today and tomorrow for Organica’s contribution this month to The Neighbourhood event!
This low LI tree includes four texture sets both as static and scripted editions, featuring green, deep red, bright red and winter foliage. All texture sets are materials-ready, and the tree is 5 LI at packaged size. Available both mod/trans and mod/copy – at the low introductory price of L$100 and L$150 respectively, this weekend only!
Drop on by and check out what else we have to offer!
Starting today and running thru ’til February 14, Organica will be participating in The House Hunt! For just L$20, you can pick up this wonderful new mesh waterfall! It features animated texture water with particles, plus materials optimized mesh. Mod/copy/no transfer. Hint: The prize can be found where fire and water meet!
Additionally, there are two other new releases this week:
This new elm features beautifully detailed textures, three foliage options, plus optional scripted version. It tree stands at 15.5 by 17 by 13m, is materials optimized mesh, and available both mod/transfer and mod/copy. Drop by the shop to see it in person, here! http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Organica/183/165/47
This set of rosebushes is a great update for every garden, offering both a highly efficient 1 LI edition as well as a 7 LI edition (per plant) featuring fully modelled rose blossoms! Each bush features detailed textures and (new to the rosebushes) is now materials optimized for a more realistic look! Check these out in person here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Organica/144/129/57
It’s been a while since I released a new tree, as well as a long while since I released a hawthorn tree, so if you were looking for one or both, you’re in luck! Standing at 19 by 16 by 17m, this flowering and fruiting tree comes in four foliage types and is accompanied by a scripted version that can switch between them at your leisure. The tree is mod/copy/no transfer and will be available for the introductory price of L$200 this Saturday as part of The Neighbourhood promotion. Pop by and pick one up now!
In other news, Organica will be participating in the upcoming Candy Faire! Keep your eyes open for another post in about a week for lots of scrumptious goodies!
New this weekend for The Neighbourhood is this new rowboat bed. Featuring both single and couples animations, it also comes with some accessories for the headboard shelf. At 2LI plus accessories at 1LI each, this is a fantastic low LI addition to anyone’s bedroom! Pick this up starting Saturday, Jan 18 in-store only for L$200.
Also, the Japanese Maple is making a return to Organica, this time as a 5LI mesh tree measuring 12x9x9m in size. It comes with four foliage options (green, bright red, deep red, snowy) plus one scripted version which allows quick switching between all four. As usual, these are available mod/trans and mod/copy in-store and mod/copy on Marketplace.
This new juniper will be offered at the low price of L$200 this weekend as part of the Neighbourhood weekly event!
It comes with both green and snowy foliage and comes with an optional scripted version which will change between the two. As with the spruce trees, this tree is optimized for use with the Advanced Lighting Model, so be sure to switch that option on in your viewer for the best effect!