Ever since it was first announced prior to Easter, there has been a fair amount of bubbling anticipation in the DSD group for the release of the Dark Spot Designs Rabbit. Making use of rigged and non-rigged mesh, and with a few included variants, we take a closer look at what’s offered in the box.
Out of the Box:
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Build and Skin:
The avatar comes with male and female variants, with the option for Mature (Warning, Link is Mature) or PG skins. It’s worth noting that the avatar also comes with an alternative skin based on the purchased colours, the standard skin and the alternative offering a ‘pointed’ fur style. The standards and quality of the skin remain at a high, in keeping with the style of the most recent DSD avatars. Shading is light and well-placed, and the seams are textured in such a way that the transition between each section is not visible. The blending between the avatar skin and attachments are also effectively executed. Due to the main peices of the avatar now being comprised of one mesh peice each, there are no issues of misaligned textures or creases.
The common problem with sculpt maps was their limitation when it came to highly detailed peices, it can be difficult to achieve an intricate result without getting some form of warping or wrinkling. The use of mesh in the rabbit avatar cuts out this issue entirely. All lines, creases and surfaces are intentionally created in this case. All aspects of the build are symmetrical and well placed. The only instances in the avatar that are not some form of mesh are the flex-cone tail and the torus/flexiprim prim default hair.
As previously mentioned, this avatar is partially rigged mesh, the rigged portion being the legs and feet which blend from the knee to produce a digitigrade leg. Whilst rabbits don’t naturally walk on their toes, this aesthetic choice is not unpleasant, and users also have the option of plantigrade feet, found within the ‘accessories’ folder. The rigged version of these legs are set up in such a way that the rabbits elongated foot begins in the middle of the digitigrade leg, as is expected. The resulting attachment don’t dissapoint, and the transition from the leg to foot becomes less of an awkward, disjointed extra peice that appears to move unnaturally from the ‘ankle’ in favour of a more fluid motion that is sympathetic to most AOs. The movement also doesn’t appear to overstretch the textures and every effort appears to have been made to ensure the transition from attachment to body is without obvious overlapping, creasing or texture seams. The feet are finished with tiny recolourable and retractable claws, that are a part of the single mesh build. The toes of the rabbit have texture settings, allowing the users to choose between generic (the colour from the original pallette), black, or white tips. These same settings are available for the hand attachments.
The tail is constructed in something of a traditional way, flexible cones are arranged with semi-transparent furry textures to create the impression of a short, fluffy rabbit tail. The tail has an interactive clickable script that allows others to interact with the wearer with a few common options, ‘pet’, ‘grab’ and so on. What’s unusual about the tail is that is also holds the settings that we’ve seen in the newer DSD avatars – the ability to change the thinkness and length of the tail, along with the angle and type of flexibility. It’s possible to set the rabbit’s tail to be approximately 1.2 metres in length in total if the user wishes. This may be a useful trait for those wishing to have a creature more akin to a ‘cabbit’ as their avatar.
The hands work in much the same way as the feat in regards to customisation. The difference with these is that they are more representitive of human hands than paws, with four fingers and a thumb in contrast to the four-toed rabbit feet. The hands are set in a relaxed, open pose, and are textured to the same high standard as the rest of the attachments.
The rabbit’s head also makes extensive use of mesh, where each main aspect consists of one piece. The tongue states form one piece, the upper teeth, lower teeth, whiskers also each have a prim cost of 1. This immediately cuts the render cost, in comparison to having an avatar made with many more individual sculpted prims. The only exception to this is the top portion of the head, which is made with the head and muzzle separately, though the seam is not visible. The main portion of the head and jaw also draw from the same single texture, sourcing from different portions in order to define each area.
The muzzle and nose are unique, in that it has been created and scripted in such a way that the nostrils flare and twitch in a smooth and natural motion. For users who do not want this to occur, this animation can be disabled in the HUD. The eye-blink animation is just as smooth, with settings that allow the wearer to alter the eye states and overall expression of the rabbit’s face.The expressions that the user can tinker with also include the tongue expression and jaw state.
The eyes have several settings available. Aside from the expression and eye opening values, the wearer can also alter the colour of the eyes, either universally or independently, with extra settings for the texture type, shine, glow and pupil shape/dilation. Those of whom who want their pupils to change size according to the time of day also have this option available.
The ears are comprised of one mesh object each, and are simple effective additions to the head. Due to the range of detail that mesh can support, the creator is able to add natural folds and wrinkles to the ear without it seeming out of place or accidental. The ears have a variety of options, with the choice of positions for when the wearer is typing, or away.
Features and Heads-Up Display (HUD):
The HUD, like its predescessors is detailed, extensive, and extremely user friendly. There is a long list of customisations available in the HUD, and it can be neatly sucked away into a small icon at the top left of the users screen. Most of what can be done in the HUD has already been covered, so the rest is fairly self explanatory.
Extras: As mentioned in the beginning, the avatar comes with an alternative ‘pointed’ skin for both male and female variants. Also included is an alternative set of pierced attachments, covering the ears, head and lower jaw of the rabbit. The folder also includes a pair of plantigrade feet, with the necessary alpha layers to accommodate it.
The avatar is presented with copy and modify permissions, so that as far as customisation or modification is concerned, the user can play around with the appearance of the rabbit as much as they desire – with the included HUD options and extra pieces, it’s possible to create a distinctive look to the rabbit straight out of the box. The head is an accommodating shape and size, and allows the fitting of standard human hair attachments without too much extra tweaking.
Oken also released a set of *.PSD files containing the UV maps for the rabbit, for those wishing to create their own modifications/reskins with a simple, colour coded template.
There aren’t a great deal of rabbit avatars on the grid, and the use of rigged mesh in avatars has only recently begun to be embraced by residents. Given time, this slow transition may well become the norm and future of avatars on the grid, and I’m personally pleased at the outcome of this particular creation. I certainly hope that this offering is a sign for what’s to come, whilst I’ve enjoyed this avatar it has made me rather keen to see what else can be achieved using these building methods.