One underused area of the texture dialog is the ‘Bumpiness’ dropdown. This adds ‘depth’ details to your texture. The effect on an existing texture is often subtle, but can be useful to add a touch of additional realism.
Here’s an example. The box on the right has the Darkness bumpmap applied to it:
However, you can use bumps on a face which doesn’t have any texture applied to it. This can give useful effects which will display more quickly, because there is no texture to be downloaded from the server.
Here’s an example using the woodgrain bumpmap (with some colouring applied):
For an even better effect, add some shininess — you will find this in the dropdown below the ‘Color’ box. It adds varying degrees of reflectiveness to the texture.
Combining colour, bumpmaps, and shininess can create interesting results without the need to have an actual texture file. For instance, the following speaker box uses no texture files at all:
Finally, let’s take a quick look at the group of three options at the top-right of the Texture tab: Transparency, Glow, and Full-Bright.
Transparency is fairly obvious — the higher this value, the more transparent the object is. This is not the only way to make a prim (or a prim face) transparent (it can also be done using a texture), but it is the simplest.
One unexpected result (if you are new to building things in Second Life, and if you are new to 3D graphics), is what happens if you make a single face transparent. Do you get to see the inside of the object? Well, no. Second Life doesn’t actually draw the inside of prims, so if you make a face transparent, you will see right through the prim.
Moving on to Glow, this was introduced a relatively short time ago, and probably counts as one of the most abused graphic features in Second Life. Part of the problem lies in the fact that different graphic cards seem to render glow differently, so that what looks like a perfectly acceptable glow on one computer might appear like a blazing sun on another.
With that in mind, the sensible thing is to keep glow values low. Beware of anything higher than about 0.2. For most effects, values as low as 0.01 or 0.02 often give the best results.
Combining glow and transparency can yield some very nice ‘light’ effects:
Finally, Full-Bright. It might not be immediately obvious what this does, especially if you apply it during Second Life ‘daytime’. Simply, this will ignore the effect of Second Life lighting (sun, moon, or local lights), and will always display the texture at it’s actual colour values. Full-bright objects look as if they are illuminated at night, so this is a useful option for lights.
Let’s apply this to our ‘light’ from the previous example. Here’s a version without full-bright, and then with:
That concludes this initial series of tutorials on textures. I haven’t covered all the features on the texture tab, and there are still lots of other things to find out about textures, but if you are new to building objects in Second Life this should have given you enough to start with.