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Inspiration for pictures on a theme

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Just lately I’ve been going through my files of virtual photography – some good, some not so good and some downright craptastic – so I thought I’d write a post on how I find inspiration for artwork.

Now you may not agree with photo competitions. Maybe you’re not sure about their fairness or even if the originators will carry through the competition if they don’t get enough entries. What I will say is that sometimes this happens, it’s SL life and in any competition of this sort you take the rough with the smooth and learn from it. On the whole, however, and especially of late, those who run photo competitions  have been making efforts to settle things down and to make them more equitable and enjoyable. For me, just joining a competition is inspiration for a start! I would like to be in with a good chance of winning, and the prize is always a good piece of bribery a good incentive. So I would suggest entering some photo competitions, not least because you’ll have a deadline in which to get the work finished but also you’ll get to know other competitors, their styles and strengths. You’ll also gain some understanding of what the judges pick as being a worthy winner.

Inspiration often comes from films or songs or novels. Sometimes I like to drag people that I know into the theme. For instance, this picture  below is a comic representation of the novel 1984.  It was a competition given by Shae Sixpence for the Model’s Workshop photographers. I started off with the avatar picture taken on a white background which I cut out and saved as a layer. Then underneath I added a background which was a combination of brushes using colours from the avatar picture. Then I added various pieces of humorous text as they came to my weird mind and put them on different layers so I could move them around a bit. Next, I drop shadowed the title and avatar. In something like this you have to think what needs to stand out the most. Here, it was the title of the ‘magazine’ and the avatar – since the text was based on the designers of the items the avatar was wearing.

Another inspiration for me is things that builders make. Sometimes I’m so enthusiastic about a particular piece of furniture that I wonder about my geek rating and how high it will go. Here the object of my adoration was a writer’s desk by Isla Gealach of ‘Cheeky Pea’.  I was also teasing my Editor at Scruplz Magazine. As a writer in first life I do know about burning the midnight oil. So that was a start – to get the lighting right. I set the world lighting on midnight and switched on the desk lamp. Lo and behold all the shadows fell just right and so I scrolled back and took a shot. All I did in Photoshop was to sharpen the newspaper on the desk a little and add my daft poem on a black background. Perfect!

Sometimes a client gives me a good inspirational idea. Saleena Hax, ace model heheh, wanted to take a photo with a city theme. Now if you are a photographer it really pays to spend an occasional day  TPing around SL and visiting various sims, taking landmarks of them, and placing those landmarks in a folder for later use. I’d visited the Manhatten sim recently and so that came to mind. Off we went and Saleena posed at an intersection of the streets where I could get plenty of the city into the photo as well as her beauteous self. And then I thought, oh yes there’s a song called ‘New York City Girl’ and so the theme progressed. Back in Photoshop I added a frame to divide the picture, recoloured it with colours from the photo, then rotated the whole show and added the text. It’s much easier to rotate your picture to add what will be text in the vertical, and then rotate it back. Lastly, I selected the avatar figure and applied a perspective shadow which is an AlienSkin 5 plug-in effect. AlienSkin EC5 series are one of my favorite plug-in sets, and with just one of those you can do some wonderful effects if shadows don’t work for you directly in SL. Go HERE and you can pick up a whole load of filters for nowt but sssh!

Finally, this picture has the most post processing on it and it’s really only for advanced photography students otherwise it’ll drive you mad. If you’re on Flickr do go and join the MasterMinds group where each week they have a photo competition where the winner of the previous week chooses the theme for the current week. It’s such fun, you’ll make a heap of friends and get good experience in working to a theme. This week it was Max’s choice and here’s his intro – what more inspiration do we need? “All people fall asleep most of the time in their lives and when we sleep we see dreams. Our dreams are very different: Mysterious, magical, light, dark, terrible. Dream, a beautiful part of human life, nobody knows what we are doing there. In dreams we live and breath. We feel love and danger. Imagine that you are in a dream. And show your imaginative dream in your pictures.”

Again, it’s another song which inspired me – R.E.M.’s ‘The Great Beyond‘ which has some really heartfelt lyrics about being trapped in an artificial world and calling out for answers from something which is perceived as having wisdom. I started off with a background landscape as asked for in the MasterMind rules, then placed my cutout avatar sitting in his rocker, sort of falling asleep and dreaming about the song. Then I added bits and pieces from the song all around the avatar, attempting to blend these into areas of the background or at least merging them. After a lot of fiddling, resizing and so forth I joined all layers together and then worked with various filters until it looked colourful and uniform. It’s a process that takes time and may not even work so please do keep an original of your merged layers. If you enjoy that sort of fiddling though, it’s very creative and some amazing pictures can result. Good luck with the fiddling!

Written by Moz Loordes

16/02/2011 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Chat, Tutorials

Writing Scripts for Modeling

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(This is a post for Model Curiosity)

Sometimes as models, we’re told to write a script for the outfit we’re going to model and to send this to the Event Co-ordinator before a show. If we’re lucky a professional may be writing the scripts. If not, we need to be aware of what’s required for reasonable script writing. It’s yet another point which might help when the Event Co-ordinator remembers that XYZ model was good in all areas last time and so might be useful again.

There are a number of ways to script clothing. A lot depends on how long the model is going to be walking on the runway. This, in turn, depends on the length of the runway circuit and how many outfits need to be shown in a certain amount of time. For instance, an example of a long circuit may be when an aspiring model is taking an exam and will be stopping and posing on various parts of the runway to test her/his abilities. A shorter circuit may be at a show where many outfits are to be presented and it’s a short up and down runway with not much time for the audience to read about the outfit and watch the models. With the longer circuits it’s necessary to say more and/or to split up the script into suitable paragraphs. The shorter the circuit, the more need for something snappy and to the point while at the same time still building the fantasy.

So, what do we need to put in a script? Well, a description of the clothing to start with. If the audience at a show sees the models unrezed because of lag, at least we’ve told them a little of what the outfit looks like. It may be that certain sculpties/attachments don’t rez in time for them, either – another reason for a description. Secondly we need to create some sort of clothing fantasy for the audience. By this, I mean that we attempt to create a scenario where the audience might be persuaded to buy the outfit because they can see themselves actually wearing it for some event or other. Or maybe we’ve piqued their interest and it’s something that appeals to them, reminds them of something they’ve dreamed about or read in a favourite novel or seen on the silver screen. This is ‘marketing the product’ and if done successfully it makes the difference between a good script and a great script and, of course, it makes sales.

Here’s an example of a long circuit script written for an exam where the students were told to say something at every pose stop. It’s about as long and rambling as you’ll get in script writing but it does contains some useful pointers.

(Introduction where the model was posing at the curtains)

XYZ is wearing the Young Master outfit designed by BareRose, Tokyo. From their men’s fantasy collection, this stunning outfit comes in a range of colours – blue, gold, red and green – all included in one set and sold at an extraordinarily reasonable price. BareRose have an enviable reputation for producing these sorts of costumes which are made with much care and attention to detail.

(Second pose spot)

Here, the Young Master outfit is shown in the red variety, a beautifully muted brocade highlighted with elements of antique gold in the shoulder, buckle and scrollwork. The leather armbands and obi waist sash have tonal qualities which complement the suit material. Frog fastenings at the collar and chest complete the look.

(Third pose spot)

BareRose is a huge, rambling but ultimately fascinating store which covers many alternative scene outfits – cyber, casual and gothic – in addition to its casual and Japanese range. June Dion has taken the trouble to think about her client’s precious time and made a website which shows every outfit complete with its own landmark that takes one directly to the vendor unit… http://barerose.xeraweb.com/index2.php

(Top pose spot facing VIP members of the audience)

The inspiration for the Young Master outfit comes from historical sources and would have been worn by the samurai warrior class as an informal costume at home, when visiting, and when at leisurely pursuits. BareRose see these costumes primarily for use in fantasy roleplay.

No weapons would normally be carried with this outfit but of course a young samurai is never off duty.

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Basically, it’s a lot of description, something nice about the designer (June Dion) and some historical notes which I hoped would create scenarios of where the audience might use the outfit. Note the repetition of the name of the outfit ‘Young Master’ so at least, if nothing else, the audience will remember it when they go to buy the outfit! Even with short scripts it’s a good idea to mention the outfit name somewhere near the start and the finish. If you’re short on descriptive words, open a Thesaurus, and endeavour to make your script stand out. Think of it as an art, as much of an art as styling an outfit is. Your art is in both the description and the fantasy.

Here’s an example of a shorter script, the more usual variety. Just a paragraph but containing descriptive points and a lot of fantasy. This was written for a House of Beningborough show:-

 

‘Zabela’ is the sort of captivating costume you might wear on a Nile river cruise back in the 1930s, it evokes that period of fashion perfectly and is as spectacular now as it was back then. XYZ wears ‘Zabela’ in black and silver silk. Cleverly designed to flatter, this gown has real film star potential! A bodice of curving stripes – typical Egyptian art deco style – is fitted to the figure as far as the knees where it flares out into a spectacular train of folds and feathers. There’s a matching feathered bustle which balances the outfit perfectly and, together with the headdress, makes for pure glamour. A confident and sensational party winner.

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Phew! I really had to restrain myself on that one. But there’s a lot to be said for brevity. The audience’s collective eye is really on the model and they may or may not be receptive to words or voice, so the shorter and more concise the description, the better. In some ways the script pleases the Event Co-ordinator more than the audience! But I jest. A recent Miamai show put on by Avenue Agency was so well scripted that the setting was already laid down by the excellent fantasy story before the models even took a step onto the runway.

Hope this has been useful. If you go to shows and the lag isn’t too bad, try to save some of the descriptions of the outfits to read later. You’ll soon see what makes a good script and then you can begin to emulate the style of writing that you admire the most.

Cheers!

Written by Moz Loordes

12/10/2010 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Modeling, Tutorials