Sunday, 25 January 2009

SL Tree - The Thinking Tree

For this activity, we had to build a tree in SL. But not just a normal common or garden tree but one as per an activity "inspired from the Second Life Manual for creative thinkers and designers created by Ian Truelove, Graham Hibbert and Steven Warburton. The Manual has been elaborated, in its RL edition, by a team from the Art and Design School of the University of Leeds Metropolitan." The choice of tree ranged from a geometree, poetree to a surrealistic tree, naughty tree .... to name but a few. I like this approach - after all, this is a major feature of a virtual world: enabling creativity. But how?

This was a first build for me and once I got into it, I thoroughly enjoyed it but actually starting it was another thing. Where to start? Well, I started with a cylinder for the trunk. I couldn't
imagine building further with the standard plywood texture, so I searched for a texture in my Inventory and found one I liked. However, despite the texture which I chose for both its visual colours and 'virtual' tactile quality, it seemed a little dull. I had a colourful trunk but how was I going to proceed to the natural continuation of a branch? I didn't find any information through my web searches on how to build a tree from scratch. Of all the sites I searched, I fell upon and really liked Dr Curtis's site. It is clear, attactive, visually pleasing and short and simple. I'd recommend it as a resource for the co-writing activity in this module. I applied lighting and the result is the above picture.

I created a double trunk and twisted it.

I started playing with other prims, features, textures and sculpting. Once I'd played a lot and discarded many, I concentrated on the positioning of the 'leaves' which requires good camera controls.

Then came the linking of the leave prims to the trunks. I quickly found that once I'd linked many individual prims, I didn't know how to edit an individual prim within the linked object. Also, once linked as an object, if I moved it slightly, one prim was not positioned correctly vis-à-vis the trunk. Arrgh!

So, I then took the approach of making 'mini' linked objects: positioning them, attaching them, changing the angle, and then linking them all together as an object.

I often sat at the top, thinking about my tree .... and it eventually became the "Thinking Tree".

Due to the way I built the leaves, it has two sections, making use of the double trunk. One section is what I call the 'Peacock Look' and the other is called the 'Flower Look'.

I definitely need a master builder to help me to build in flexibility here. With the lack of knowledge, I felt that I had to know exactly what and how I wanted to create before building. Surely this is not the case as the virtual world invites creativity? Let's see what the master builders have to say.

I then created two notecards, one using the autoscript recommended in the above mentioned resource.

As I approached the end, I realised that the plane of one trunk was still the plywood texture and no matter what I tried, I could not change its individual texture. At this point, I was coming to the end of my build and did not want to disrupt it. Ideally, I would have liked to have integrated a seat in a natural continuity using a blending texture. Another point which I hope the master builders will help me with.

Then it was time to plant. Frustration - after all that work, I could not plant it at the designated site. I was member of Group 3, and the Mentors Group but I could not plant with either of them activated! The problem was solved through the moodle forum and once I was member of a general group, I could plant!

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of my first build and should continue to build otherwise I'll forget the little building skills I have acquired.

Come by and sit on the "Thinking Tree" and enjoy the scenery!

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