Intermediate Building - making a handbag

Most builders work with a combination of dragging by eye and putting numbers in on the tabs in the edit window. They also, almost subconsciously, move their camera a lot. Moving the camera duplicates what many craftspeople will do when working - they move their heads, turning, twisting and stretching, and sometimes their whole body so they can see what they're working on from various angles. Before you dive into serious building in Second Life you probably want to spend a fair amount of time learning what the various prim shapes and their simple alterations (cut, hollow, shear, twist etc.) look like (you can find a bit more on this by reading the building page) and playing in-world with the prims. You can also read more about the camera controls, but again you will want to practise this skill in-world.

You should also consider, just like most designers, architects and artists, how other people achieve what they do. You can always right-click on someone else's build and choose "Edit" from the pie menu. Although, unless they're kind enough to let you modify it, you can't determine what the precise prim parameters are (if you can modify it, you can read the numbers off in the object tab), you should be able to see what prims are used where and be able to analyse that to get an idea of what prims let you make what shapes.

You should also remember, of course, that even if you don't create your own textures, textures can do surprising things. You can make a 1-prim iron-bound rough-looking door with a spy-hole, complete with rivets, gouges and the like if you can find, or make, the right texture for it. If you are going to become a serious builder you will want to acquire as many textures as you can, and you may want to invest the time to learn Photoshop, The GIMP or similar to make your own textures.

A Handbag!For the rest of this page, we will concentrate on the steps in making this handbag. It is far from perfect, but it shows a number of the techniques, and some of the perils of using them, that can help you build more quickly.

  1. For this bag, I started with a cylinder and then:
    1. I rotated it so the axis of the cylinder was horizontal - this gives a bag with nicely curved sides;
    2. I stretched it by eye to give it a reasonable looking curve and length to the bag. At this point I was not looking at the size, but I usually find it better to work big and shrink to size for things like this.
  2. From the cylinder, and with the ruler in local mode, I:
    1. Shift-dragged the cylinder a half-length along the local Z-axis (the blue arrow);
    2. Then converted the prim type to a sphere;
    3. Cut the sphere in half (you may need to play with the B and E path cut variables to get the right cut to do this). Cutting the sphere didn't achieve anything in this particularly case, but if I was going to build an open and closed version, the cut sphere would let me hollow the ends and have the bag appear to have a internal cavity.
    4. Noted that, in terms of the design, resizing the sphere might make it more attractive, as might using other shapes (a torus perhaps?) but this is an un-resized sphere giving moderately big puffy ends.
  3. With one "end" done, shift drag the end along 1 unit on the local z-axis to the other end of the bag. If you haven't bothered to cut your sphere, you'll have it right already. If, like me, you've cut it, rotate it over 180° so it makes the other end. If you resized your end-sphere you might need to drag it a different amount.
  4. With the bag part completed, a handle is necessary. Straps are more awkward, but doable too, but this bag only has a handle. To make the handle:
    1. Rez a torus by the bag.
    2. Rotate it so the hole in the torus points the right way for the space for the fingers.
    3. In no particular order:
      • Resize the torus to look right in proportion to the bag. You will want it quite a lot thinner than the bag, and in this case it is about 1/3 of the length of the cylinder, but you can have it any size you want. I also flattened it somewhat so the curve looks comfortable for the fingers.
      • Change the hole size. It starts at 0.5 by default (so the curve of the ring is the radius of the torus - there is no central hole, but a dimple. As you DECREASE the Y-hole size the hole gets bigger - you are actually adjusting the radius of the circle/ellipse that is spun to make the torus in relation to the whole. Playing with the X-hole size will let you thin the torus and make it more circular - it has a different effect to shrinking along the X-axis but a similar one. Play until you're happy!
      • Cut the torus to fit. You may need, depending on what rotations you have used, to cut at 0.25 and 0.75 to get the half-curve for the handle
  5. Add the strap:
    1. First duplicate the cylinder of the body of the bag "up" (toward the handle) a little.
    2. Check "Stretch both sides" and make it smaller long its z-axis so the strap appears to be a suitable width. This will also keep it central in the bag overall.
    3. In some order, probably cycling between them until it looks just right:
      • You will want, probably by eye, to make the strap a bit bigger than the cylinder in both the X and Y directions, so it follows a similar curve, but not quite the same one. You will also, in combination with this, want to adjust the position so the strap appears to come from an anchor point on one side, go over the top of the bag, and down the other side to the buckle, or where the buckle will be in fact.
      • You will want to hollow the strap so you can, if you look closely, peer under it. You may need to tweak the size and position again.
      • You will want to cut (and probably rotate to a good angle) the strap - this time no option because you need the end to the strap to feed through the buckle.
  6. For this buckle, rez another cylinder. I resized very much by eye, then got the relevant position values from the strap and entered them directly into the buckle position values (made sure it was centred very quickly and easily), and with stretch both sides checked again, stretched and rotated so it looked good.
  7. The "spike" part of the buckle is a box prim, shrunk and positioned similarly.
  8. A couple of hollowed, shrunk cylinders for eyelets on the straps and done.
  9. Link the parts, and you're away - except for textures of course!
  10. The textures here were rather quickly selected, rather than custom designed. I was building this in a class as a demonstration, and running out of time. With custom textures you would get a better outcome, almost certainly. However, they do show one issue nicely. If you look closely, the textures for the ends and the body of the bag don't match well. Working on curved surfaces like this is awkward - some shapes particularly spheres and torii don't have particularly nice maps and getting textures to match to other surfaces is quite complicated. It is not impossible, but it's not a 5 minute job either. Similarly the strap texture is a general one, a texture with "holes" for the eyelets could be made.

This bag wouldn't win any design awards of course. But it was put together in about 15 minutes, whilst explaining what I was doing as I went along, which slowed me down. Creating the custom textures, if I had needed to do that, would probably have take a while longer - maybe a couple of hours, as would creating a precise fit to a real-world design. However, as we were going along it was possible to change things quickly and easily. For example, the initial buckle was a square, but the class preferred a round buckle - no problem, just change the prim type and play with the rotations to make it look good. Adapting on the fly is quite easy in Second Life, which is attractive if you're trying out a design plan.

I am not in any way affiliated with Linden Lab. This site advertises my work within their virtual environment. Valid CSS!

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional The terms Second Life, Linden Lab and SL are trademarks belonging to Linden Lab. No infringement of their trademark is intended. Usage here is nominative.


Learner's Materials
1 Walking (etc.)
2 Talking (etc.)
3 Shopping (etc.)
4 Interacting
5 Searching
Teacher's Materials
1 Conduct
2 Good approaches
3 Poor approaches
4 Changes in approach
5 Assessment in SL
6 Assessing a project
7 Assessing learning
Specific Tutorials
1 Building
2 Int. Building
3 Camera Controls
4 Groups
5 Land
6 Limits of SL
7 Scripting
8 Textures

Join Second Life
Read my blog