Wow. Love those light and shadow effects in the new SL viewer. Lots of fun to play around with, and the results are smashing. Just shot a new comic strip using them for the first time, and voila! Vanilla came out looking like a rock star, especially in that new hairdo.
After looking back through my flickr archives at some early photos, I couldn’t believe how far we’ve come. When I say ‘we’ I mean the combined efforts of Linden Lab, skin designers (in this case, Ethan74 Rumpler of Mojo), hair designers (Mirja Mills of Zion), sunglass makers (Rohal Schnyder of Role Optic) and last but not least, myself.
I’ve been tweaking avatars for almost four years now and think it’s safe to say we’ve moved beyond the cartoon stage of SL avatars, and won’t have to worry about passing through the uncanny valley as you might in other MMOs, or as in many 3D rendering programs. It’s now possible to have an avatar that looks and feels ‘real’; that is, alive.
What I’ve learned through all of this is that it’s not so much about realistic detail as it is about subtle and creative nuances: artistic modeling through the appearance mode or sculpting with numbers; and now, using dynamic lighting effects to bring the life and personality of the avatar out of the shadows, so to speak.