Trials of Eyeliner

Comes across all shy and coy, just another nancy boy

I learned something new today!

While perusing my Facebook feed, I ran across a blog that pointed me at another blog (ah what a tangled web of connections) and read a review of some of the product from a creator of Eyes. The poster received quite a bit of flak for the review from both the creator and their friends. As I was reading the comments, I discovered something I wasn’t aware of when it comes to system eyes.

The resolution of system eye textures is limited to 128 x 128. Period.

All the beautiful eyes you see out there with the intricate detail and glossy reflections and sparks of color? Those have always seemed a little dull when I see them on my avatar but I assumed it was a size issue. The advertisement always looks so fresh and bright but on my avatar, they always seemed  a little less so. If a creator is putting up advertisements at 256, 512 or 1024, of course they’re going to look sharper and more crisp than they will when ultimately on the body at 128. D’uh!

NOW I understand why people like Mesh eyes. Mesh eyes are not limited to the 128 resolution. So you can get that real crisp, bright, highly detailed texture. Well hot damn, learn something new every day. As you can see from the photo below, the right side is so much more crisp with those sparks of color and much more detail in the white of the eye. The mesh eye has a breath of life that the system eye simply doesn’t due to the 128 texture limitation.

The blog thread and voluminous commentary did get me thinking, however, about the nature of blog critique and advertisement in Second Life.

There is a very fine line of balance that creators have to strike when doing advertisements for their products: Make it look accurate and make it look appealing. The whole point of advertisement is to get people to buy your product. So you want to make the most attractive and appealing advertisement that catches the eye- makes it stand out- shows it off in its best light. On top of that, creators have to come up with a Logo/format for advertisements that don’t lose their shop’s persona but don’t overpower the image.

So you’ve got a great item- a logo- a nice layout. You pose yourself (or item, depending) and look for an angle that shows it off the best. Here’s where it gets tricky. I’m going to limit the conversation to avatar items and accessories. You find a great pose that shows off your new outfit. But damn, the shoulder is a little warped because of the pose. Well, I’ll just fix that. Its not altering the item image at all. Oh and I have to shoot it from the left because if I shoot it from the right, they’ll see the seam is crooked because of the pose. Oh but I can just straighten that up. Oh and the lighting, hm.. well I’ll just dodge and burn a little to show off I have highlights on my item.

The next thing you know, the advertisement is a highly stylized and perfected version of the actual item and not entirely accurate.

So fine- I won’t do any adjustments at all on my item. All of the “flaws” that get shown because of the pose I chose now make my creation look like its not as good and detailed. The lighting isn’t good enough to show off all those hours I spent shading until it was perfect. Now no one wants to buy it.

What’s a creator to do?

Some standard adages from the world of real life marketing should be applied here, to be honest. “Buyer Beware” floats up to the top of my list. Unlike real life clothes shopping, you can’t hold the item in your hand most of the time. With Mesh items, you can sometimes get demos to see how it will fit and move with your avatar- but they’re not usually with full texturing and other details. Don’t forget your lighting. A good creator is going to use a windlight setting that is the most flattering on whatever item it is they’re photographing. A lot of the time that will include shadows and highlight focus. Can your system handle that?

So before you cry foul on a creator for misrepresenting anything, there are two things you should think about first: 1) Second Life Limitations and 2) Your viewer / computer limitations. There are numerous second life limitations from the size of your avatar (the introduction of more or reduction of polygons in your size versus the system clothing layer for example will change the appearance of clothing at the joints and seams) to the level of detail your computer can handle. These aren’t the creator’s fault.

Now before I sound like I’m defending all creators, I assure you, I’m not. There have been COUNTLESS times I’ve purchased something, put it on, and can instantly tell that the vendor ad was complete photoshopped bullshit. My immediate thought is, “Dude, you put this much time into photshopping the advertisement, why not just do it up right in the first place?”  There is absolutely room- and a need- in the blogsphere for positive critique. I don’t mean Designer Bashing, either. Constructive criticism and thoughtful suggestions go a lot further than “omg this sux0rs”.

But hey, I’m a different breed of cat.


6 thoughts on “Eyeballin’ Critique

  1. “Dude, you put this much time into photoshopping the advertisement, why not just do it up right in the first place?”

    I have in fact SAID exactly this to a designer. She is a friend, granted, but still, I did say precisely that to her.

  2. petrvanbeeck says:

    i wear mesh eyes from FATE – LOVE THEM.

    1. I’ve put on mesh eyes in the past- i have a bunch of them actually- and never zoomed in close enough to really see the difference on myself. Color me dorkimus!

  3. Bumblebee says:

    spot on with constructive criticism! I’ve come to rely heavily on other bloggers’ critiques especially ones who do reviews for whichever designer/brand/store, for example the mesh eyes; never cared for them before until I read Strawberry’s review for Mayfly Mesh eyes, and now I’m a loyal customer ~

    1. That’s what this mesh eye is, Mayfly. I adore them! I, too, look to others for critiques and their thoughts on what they’re wearing. A style card and a photo barely does something justice really. Especially once we start photoshopping.

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