Hot air balloons have a very distinct shape and as one of the main features of the fortress I wanted them to look good. So the best way was to make a sculpti as I couldn’t achieve the look using the prims in second life. So produce the shape in maya to then import as a sculpti into second life.

I would have to use a mega sculipti for the main land balloon and was concerned about textures warping and stretching, so Annabeth showed me how to bake a texture in maya to then import it into second life. This ment that i could test my texture on my model in maya before uploading it to second life, saving Lindens and time. I could adjust the presets in maya to get the texture right and then expo both the model and tailored texture. I baked the texture out at 2048 pixels as the texture would be going on a mega sculpti and I was concerned about any distortion being highly visible because of its size.

Having seen how textures wrap around spherical prims I knew how a was going to approach the texture. Hot air balloons have lines of material that gather to a point at the top, exactly how a texture wraps its self around a sphere prim in second life.

So ill i need to do was put my textures as stripes in photo shop and they would mould in second life very similar to how a hot air balloon would actually look.

The balloons are made out of metal so I chose different textures and colours to achieve the striped look but kept to bronze, copper and gold metal colours, for the illusion that the balloons are metal. To further add to that illusions and the pre war theme, i added some bullet holes and scratches to the texture so it seemed like they had been under attack at one point and as they are metal cavorite balloons they don’t deflate.

Once i  had imported it onto my model I was very excited, it looked fantastic. So I baked it out and uploaded to second life.

There were a few problems with the sculpti. It turns out that the size of the model in maya does have an effect when uploading it. In the preview window when uploading the sculpti some tended to squash into what looked like an invisible box. But with a bit of trial and error we found a solution. Before exporting the model from maya the model needed to be shrunk right down and then exported and it would appear as intended in the preview window. Another problem was the size and dimensions of the mega prims used for he sculpti. I used the same mega prim annabeth gave me for  the land with the dimensions 30 x30 x 40. This fitted the land perfectly but when I applied the balloon sculpti to it, it seemed to squash the balloon so it didn’t have the same circumference

After discussing it with Annabeth we tried a new mega prim with different dimensions, 30 x 40 x 30 and that solved the problem the balloon filled out in the right dimensions.

The baked texture looked fantastic, exactly how I had imagined it and really made the fort come to life. The bullet holes and scratches look great and because I uploaded it with a high pixel count they don’t look to stretched and out of focus. The only thing was they looked very static in the air and balloons tend to sway and move in the wind. So Annabeth suggested a very slow rotation script to give them a little movement. The rotation is at 0.3 in speed, only very slightly noticeable ,  I didn’t want to put anything higher as it would be to noticable and I would have to apply it to the whole of the fort as they are all attached to each other and that would be very complicated.

Initially i have  designed the islands to be held up by one big balloon each but it took too much away from the islands details so i applied the sculpti to 10 x 10 m sculpti and added two balloons to each island at slightly different heights, different texture repeat and opposite rotation to stop them  all looking the same.

To attach them to the island i used a chain texture with an alpha channel. The rims of the balloons need neatening and something for the chains to attach to. The same with the chains attaching to the ground, they need anchors or something.

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