This past week saw a quiet aloft blog but a really busy build team. We brought the interior to life with the addition of texturing. I actually believe that texturing is the most difficult part of building within Second Life -- to make something look great and be low-lag (inefficient textures use is actually one of the worst causes of lag within Second Life) takes creativity, skill and smarts. Custom texturing is extremely time consuming but it separates a great build from an only-decent one.
Two examples below show how textures make all the difference in the creation of an immersive space:
Sometimes you need to combine both clever prim work and texture work together to accomplish a difficult effect. Because everything in Second Life is made out of blocky primitives, organic shapes can be quite difficult. You cannot prim creased sheets, so Cory and Makaio combined forces to make the below effect. It is actually quite difficult to come up with a texture that makes a flat box and a few cylinders look like wrinkled cloth.
When it comes to texturing, the devil is truly in the details. Details that differentiate a build include knowing when to add shadow effects (Linden Lab added local lighting to Second Life, but there is not much in the way of shadow rendering), knowing how to age a texture and when to add "noise" to prevent a flat or plastic look, and designing textures that do not over-repeat a pattern thus shattering the immersion. Smart execution in texture application is also important, such as paying attention to how textures sit on every side of a prim, checking for the pattern-repeat problem, using the repeat and offset settings appropriately, and double-checking texture size to avatar size (many make the mistake of leaving their texture patterns too big because they work with the camera zoomed out).
Speaking of details, one of my favorite touches in the kitchen is a very faint reflection effect cory placed underneath the aloft bags (I happen to like how she did the aloft bags as well, but that's another topic). If you look at the image below, you can just make out a faint reflection in the countertop. This actually is not a texture effect -- rather it is accomplished by mirroring the prim bags (making a copy and flipping them upside down under the counter) and making the counter-top faintly transparent. The illusion is shattered if you expect to see your avatar reflection, but if done subtly, I believe it can be a nice touch.
-- Giff Constable aka Forseti Svarog