I made it through the rest of the Expo sims yesterday -- just one more place that I think you should check out (remember, Expo ends tomorrow!):

Mac's Original by Mac Illios [SLurl]

I did swing by Mac's main shop so I could rez a few of the builds - I didn't get far because there were a lot of folks there wanting to do the same...but I have to say, the builds were pretty awesome in person. The village set up is really cool and just perfect for instant gratification if you're setting up a themed shopping sim!


A few closing thoughts on Home Expo 2010 - first and foremost, I love that we have an expo just for home/garden/decor, and I really appreciate the awesome folks who worked so hard to put it together! Congrats and thank you to the All Stars RFL team, led by Nikki Mathieson, who made it happen -- and wow, EIGHT sims of designers!? That's amazing!

Secondly, we can't forget that this was a fundraiser for RFL, and for that reason alone, I am so happy to have been involved. I haven't yet seen a total of donations raised from the Expo, but every Linden helps, so thanks to all the shoppers who purchased RFL items, and to all the designers for giving your time and efforts to creating exclusives just for the purpose of fundraising! Great job!

Now, here's where I get a little controversial [insert dramatic music]...well, as controversial as I get, anyway. This is strictly opinion, and really has nothing to do with the Expo itself, other than the fact that the Expo is a great big venue for seeing design work from all over the grid. Having explored all 8 sims and seen what the grid has to offer, I say this:

Dear fellow home/decor designers - please stop building like it's 2006.

Clearly this doesn't apply to everyone - there were a lot of great designers at the Expo, and I highlighted several of them in my previous posts. But it's quite disheartening for me to see designers not progressing and not keeping up with the times, and there were quite a lot of those at the Expo, too. I know that not everyone has advanced skills in sculpting and baking shadows and all the fancy stuff that we see today (I know I don't!); however, there are SO many tools that are available to the average Joe -- there's just really no excuse for still doing things like we did back in the day. For example:

- Sculpts - every designer should be using sculpted prims (where applicable) in their builds. If you can't make your own sculpts, no problem! There are lots and lots of folks who make and sell awesome sculpts, full perm - it takes time and patience to find just the right sculpt for your project sometimes, but 99% of the time, it's out there! And, by NO MEANS, should anyone still be using torus cushions in their furniture. No no.

- Shading - baked lighting/shading is AWESOME. However, you have to have certain applications and specific skills, and it's not the easiest thing to do. However, that does not mean that you should be satisfied with flat textures, straight out of the box and slapped onto a prim. Most folks have Photoshop, and you can easily learn how to add some basic shading...or there's Blender or Gimp, both free, and both great tools to help you add some depth and realism to your textures. Get out there on the interwebs and do some research and some googling - there are 1000s of tutorials to help you learn some new techniques that can really make your textures go wow! I saw several designers at Expo who clearly have great skill at putting prims together...but their textures were completely flat, no depth or shading, and that just negated the awesomeness of the build for me.

*Footnote to shading: a lot of those awesome sculpt makers also include shadow maps/textures with their sculpts, so then it's just a matter of knowing your way around layers in Photoshop, etc to come out with awesomely shaded sculpts!

- Shadows - I know this one is not something that everyone looks for, but for me it makes all the difference in a piece of furniture. If I ruled SL, every piece of furniture/decor would have a shadow prim underneath it. End of story. That under-shadow is what makes the piece grounded - otherwise, it can just look like it's floating in space.

- Realistically proportioned houses - I've complained about this for almost as long as I've been blogging. ;) I hate to see SL houses that are the SL-equivalent size of a city block. 99% of the population doesn't have the prim allowance needed to fill such a monstrosity, so it just ends up a large, cold, cavernous space. Big houses are fine - those that have a natural layout, rooms that are still cozy, and lots of usable space. It's the monster glass and chrome houses that end up with 50% un-used space that just make me frowny.

- Furniture animations -- luckily, I don't recall seeing too many Expo designers still using pose balls in their furniture. Whether you pack your items full of animations, or just have a couple basic sits -- they should be embedded and menu-driven. Just say no to visible pose balls!

/endrant :)
Again, this is my opinion, and I know not everyone feels the same way. That's fine - you can state as such in your blog. ;) My request to all the home/decor designers in SL is just to be aware - look around, see what the design community is doing and how they're doing it -- stay in touch with building trends -- do your research on tools and methods -- challenge and push yourself to do things differently and to learn new methods. If you're still building in exactly the same way, with exactly the same tools, that you were in 2006/2007...then you're behind the times. It's not about a particular style, either - these practices apply to all styles: contemporary, modern, vintage, victorian, gothic, gorean, abstract, shabby, steampunk, and so forth.
Thanks for reading, for those of you who made it this far. ;) Now, fellow designers, go forth and conquer! RAWR!
Authorelle kirshner