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Expelled from Paradise - Angela Balzac

Discussion in 'SDT Requests' started by stuntcock, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. stuntcock

    stuntcock Club Regular Staff Member Moderator

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    I've already started working on this project, so this post is mostly just to "call dibs" on the character.

    Reference Shots
    Fitting
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Implementation
    • The hairband will be a vanilla import.
    • The hair will be dynamic and will use extended physics (Loader mod). Sorry vanilla folks.
      • The hair will be much longer than it appears in the primary reference shot. I want it to be long enough to brush the ground when the character is kneeling.
    • The hair ornament will be much smaller than it appears in the primary reference shot. If we used the full size then we'd need to heavily constrain the hair in order to prevent the ornament from piercing her shoulder or skull. Hair movement is sexy, so I'd rather shrink the star.
    • The hair ornament will be drawn face-on. I'm not going to attempt any fancy perspective tricks; I'll just include a translucent alpha gradient and a subtle asterism to provide the illusion of depth. Since it's a scifi design, maybe we should call it a diffraction spike instead :P
    • The boots will be an Overwrite-enabled vanilla import because they're too small for her feet. If we loaded them conventionally then the feet would stick out through the soles of the boots.
      • If we enlarge them to realistically fit the feet, then they'd lose some of the sleek (or "robotic") aesthetic. The outfit isn't especially creative: it's a leotard with some goofy futuristic crap sprinkled on top. The parallel lines in the boots create an interesting visual contrast (versus the smooth curves and contours elsewhere in the costume) so I'd prefer to keep them as-is.
    • The arms will probably be a Loader mod due to the fancy layering requirements.
    • The gloves will probably be simplified -- the "structural" elements of the costume will end at the wrists. This is because gloves require extra work -- you need to draw additional angles for handjob mode. It's easy enough to just take the standard hands, paint them black, and call them "gloves."
    • RGB slider support: rgbFill will cover the white fabric and the rigid (plastic?) sections of the costume. rgbFill2 will cover the black trim and the gloves. It's possible to dye the glowing greenish bands on the hip, bicep, and headband... but we've run out of sliders.

    Animation Plan
    • The frontal hair strands are shown in the screenshots above. I intend to keep them fairly stiff because that's how they appear in the reference images. They don't even get ruffled during the big climactic battle scene.
      • Some of the reference images (as well as screencaps from the OVA) show blunt bangs; I'm sticking with the spiky bangs in the primary reference image because it's the only high-quality profile shot that I could find.
    • The rear hair strands will be drawn in a natural state - falling down the back as a thick (roughly rectangular) mass of hair.
    • The ornament will be drawn separately; all strands will be gathered into the ornament (to form a ponytail) via the real-time physics system.
    • The resting position (and orientation) of the ornament will be determined by physics rules. We can adjust it by altering the elasticity of various hair strands. Tightening a strand at the crown pulls the ponytail up and back; tightening a strand at the base of the skull pulls the ponytail closer to the neck. Tightening a strand in the middle (behind the ear) reduces the ornament's range-of-motion when the character is bouncing around.
      • If there's interest, I can release alternate versions of the hairstyle in which the ornament is placed higher up (to create a more "sporty" look) or lower (for a more "demure" look).
    • The hair strands tend to bow outwards whenever they're slack. We don't actually need to draw any curves.
    • Most of the effort will go into the "foreground" half of the hair. I plan to create the second twintail by simply copy-pasting the foreground strands into the DYNAMIC_HAIR_BACK layer, and then tweaking the weights slightly so that the two ornaments will drift slightly apart during gameplay.
      • The second twintail will generate a significant burden on the CPU. Since it's a barely-visible "background" element, I'll make it optional.

    Input and Collaboration
    • The hair is mine. No touchy.
    • If someone wants to trace vectors for the costume (or if you have Flash and you want to create part of it on your own) then just say so. The costume lacks physics features and so I'd be happy to share the workload.
    • I've seen a lot of variation among reference images for this character. If you want to create an alternate version (e.g. transparent leotard, or ersatz bunnysuit, or grimdark recolour) then let me know. Alternatively, just wait until it's finished -- I'll share the FLA file and you can do whatever you want with it.
    • If anyone has a clever idea for how to implement the twintails, I'm open to suggestions. We'd be looking to either apply some perspective/orientation trick which keeps both of them visible, or we'd merge them so that they can be drawn in a CPU-efficient way. Or (ideally!) we'd do both.
    • If I've overlooked some aspect of the character design, then feel free to point it out (or post additional reference images which show the missing element).

    Progress
    [​IMG]

    17 layers so far. The ponytail strands still need shading and detail. I'll probably reduce the number of segments in the long trailing sections (beyond the hair ornament) because they hurt performance.

    Added a new reference image for hair colouration and highlights, because I found the first palette to be too washed-out. The brighter yellows are less realistic but more pleasant to work with.

    Animation Sample
    [​IMG]
    (click for animation sample)

    The trailing strands need some further work. They should be roughly the same length when the hair is in its "rest" position, they should brush the floor, and they need to form a more lenticullar shape.

    The strands themselves will gain a bit more visual detail (a few streaks and maybe an overall shadow gradient) but nothing too fancy.

    Because the strands follow different paths, it's almost impossible to get all of the hairtips to coincide along a single horizontal line. This problem will be dodged via the floor-intersection feature. The strands will have dissimilar apparent lengths (which is ugly) but nobody will notice because the "surplus" length of each strand will lie along the floor.

    The frontal stuff is all static for now; I'll animate it after I've completed the rear.
     
  2. stuntcock

    stuntcock Club Regular Staff Member Moderator

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    The basic design of the twintail is done (the artwork is still rough, but it can be improved later). Refer to the Animation Sample above. I'm currently facing a bit of difficulty.

    The original hair design has poor physicality. It looks great when an artist can draw each individual frame, but when it's rendered in 3d (as in the OVA, or in MMD animation) the [scalp...star] sections behave like semi-rigid cylinders. They resist compression and torsion to an unrealistic degree -- as if the hair was very wiry (and/or tightly braided) rather than simply being loosely gathered by an ornament. This is obviously an artistic "shortcut" -- it allows the animator to focus on scene composition and character movement, instead of constantly worrying about whether the hair is clipping through the character's neck. But it still looks silly.

    I had hoped to avoid this effect by modeling the hair as separate strands with convergence. Unfortunately, this wasn't wholly effective. If you simply draw the strands and let the physics system merge them, then you achieve the desired physicality - the ponytail can bob and sway realistically. But this result clashes with the character design (and looks stupid): the ponytail falls strait down her neck and into her torso rather than extending diagonally backwards. It's necessary to add a significant amount of stiffness to the strands (or, at the very least, the top and bottom strands) in order to achieve the desired shape. Unfortunately, once you've achieved that shape you discover that the hairstyle has become very rigid. We aimed to avoid the "cylinder" effect, but we ended up reproducing it anyways :(

    [​IMG]
    The yellow circle indicates the normal resting position for the hair ornament when the character is upright. Due to the excessive stiffness of the proximal hair segments, the hair ornament shifts very little - even when the character is flipped onto her back. Flipping the character face-down does produce a significant change in appearance, but this orientation probably wouldn't occur during SDT gameplay.


    I can tweak and fine-tune the physics parameters in order to marginally improve the physicality. The goal will be to preserve the current shape (in the upright/resting posture) while allowing greater freedom-of-motion in atypical postures. But the hairstyle will probably remain fairly rigid unless we can come up with a clever "outside the box" solution.

    One approach which I explored was "use conventional physics; let the ponytail clip into the torso. Then apply a heavy angled-gravity effect to the Star itself, so that it gets pulled backward and drags the hair behind her shoulder." This approach works and it looks good in static screenshots, but it responds poorly to motion -- it generates too much of a linear bias (as if the character was facing a brisk headwind, or swimming forward through water).

    Suggestions, alternatives, or questions are welcome at this point. I'm going to pause work on the ponytail for now. When I've finished drawing the headband and animating the front strands, hopefully we'll have some new ideas which can be applied to the ponytail.
     
  3. stuntcock

    stuntcock Club Regular Staff Member Moderator

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    Boots

    The reference images give us a lot of flexibility here (which is a polite way of saying that "the design is very impractical and therefore each artist interprets it differently, resulting in very inconsistent images"). The calf portion is pretty much a direct trace, while the shoe is a compromise among several reference images. I've shrunk the heels because:
    • the standard design (cantilevered stiletto heel) means that the character's standing posture is very precarious. I've opted for something akin to a kitten heel (and anchored it closer to the rear of the sole) in the name of fictional practicality.
    • the shorter heel is less likely to poke the character in the butt during gameplay. When your shoe is pointy metal and your ass is bare, this seems like an important consideration.

    [​IMG]

    The soft grey lines in the preceding screenshot indicate the expected floor position (in kneeling and standing posture).

    As previously mentioned, the fitting uses an undersized replacement-foot. This is intended to make the character seem more delicate, and it allows us to scale down the entire shoe (which helps with the butt-poking problem). It also brings the outline into adherence with the reference images, which consistently show a foot with a minimal or nonexistent curve at the tarsus.

    [​IMG]

    The actual colouration on the shoe is a placeholder because I want to make a few tweaks to the shape. It's going to be greenish-gold; the rest of the costume will stick with the white-grey-blue-black palette.

    The costume includes many radial gradients. Therefore I'm planning not to make it RGB-adjustable. It would be possible to include rgbFill elements, but it would require a lot of extra effort (and it would support either light or dark colours, depending on which way I setup the transparencies, but not both).

    The left shoe will be rotated slightly towards the viewer, to show some details of the sole. The left thigh will also show some new elements - not because of rotation, but simply because the costume is asymmetric. In particular, there's a neat-looking extension near the left ankle. It's concealed in the standard kneeling posture, but you'll be able to see it by separating the legs with animtools.


    Hairband

    Same as above - lots of variation among the reference images. In this case, it mostly involves the size of the translucent "blade" relative to the head. However, there's also some disagreement regarding the facet pattern on the microphone -- some of the artists apparently work for Apple, since they've eliminated all of the facets and left us with a completely rounded shape.

    [​IMG]

    I've simply traced the highest-resolution image and then altered the arrangement slightly to better fit onto the SDT head. The highlight pattern is incorrect - it's based on a point-source ahead of the character. Most SDT artwork uses fully-spectrum lighting from a diffuse source above the character. At the moment it looks okay (but not great) in-game. I'll re-test it once I've added the primary hair highlights and adjust as needed.



    I'm still looking for suggestions regarding the hair. See previous post for details. Feedback on the costume is also welcome since I'll be starting on that once the boots are complete. The gloves are the lowest priority; there's a potential physics feature at the elbow but I haven't decided whether to implement it.
     
  4. Synonymous

    Synonymous Swell Supporter Content Creator

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    I'm blown away by the work and documentation especially, very impressive
    Curious to see how flash handles this in-game considering the complexity of the hair and the rest of the outfit

    -snip-

    Do you mind if I take a look at the current hair file?
     
  5. stuntcock

    stuntcock Club Regular Staff Member Moderator

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    Sent. Check your PMs.


    Torso

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Kinda finished the breast section. "Kinda" because I deliberately omitted the smallest size; the slider range is only [50...150]. Reasons:
    • the black strips on the leotard will be implemented as physics objects. Breast prominence generates tension (by stretching the endpoints farther apart), which pulls the strip into a curve along the ribcage.
      • At the standard size (~75), the strip wraps around the underside of the breast. Little of the suit material is visible below the strip. In a sense, it's behaving as "underwire."
      • [​IMG]
      • As the breast grows, the strip is pulled taut. At maximum size, the strip approaches the nipple from behind (rather than below) - it has become a bandeau.
      • [​IMG]
      • If you adjust the breast size (or character size) during gameplay, then you'll see the strips shift position. This isn't a "feature." The strips are meant to be integrated into the costume (sewn-in) -- they're not supposed to slide across its surface. But there's fuckall that I can do about it, so I'll just ask you to pretend that the costume is being re-tailored in real-time. Say the word "nanobots" a few times if you're having trouble believing it.
      • The physics simulation won't work properly without a sufficient amount of prominence-induced tension. With very small breasts, the strip falls slack. It visually detaches from the suit material and dangles into empty space. I could fine-tune the physics to avoid this effect, but it would adversely impact the behaviour with medium- and large-size breasts. I'm not willing to make that sacrifice.
    • this type of modding work involves a lot of testing and tweaking. After a while, you don't really think of the onscreen image as having any sexual connotations - it's just a fitting problem (or "it's just a physics assignment"). Even so... working with very small breasts makes me feel like a creepy pedophile, so I'm going to avoid it wherever possible.

    There's also one set of shape hints [125...150] that I need to fine-tune; the breast outline is twisting chaotically in that zone.


    Limbs

    The leotard is currently drawn entirely on the Chest layer, which makes it easy to see all of the details but carries some unwanted side-effects (for instance: the entire costume participates in the "breathing" cycle, and the shoulder-straps don't actually reach her collarbone). I need to fine-tune the shading a bit, then I'll chop the leotard into pieces and spread them out onto the appropriate layers (chest, back, under, etc). I need to review sby's Template Extension - which I've neglected thus far - because I'm feeling a bit restricted by the standard layers.

    The leotard is cropped in a highleg style; it's essentially a G-string. This is convenient because it leaves the hips entirely bare (much easier to animate). However, it feels a bit false - the high cut emphasizes the slenderness of the character and the length of the leg. This is fine for a stylized reference shot (e.g. this), but the proportions of the SDT character are a bit more realistic, and the standard kneeling posture inhibits any impression of "legginess."

    Ideally, I'd prefer to shrink the leg aperture and bring the fabric down so that it's closer to the buttocks (as shown in this reference image). It's a bit tricky to animate, because the material around the buttocks must be partially anchored to [g.her.torso] and partially to [g.her.torso.leg]. The physics implementation is feasible, but I don't yet know whether the result will be convincing. I had hoped to use a skirt as the proof-of-concept for this technique (because it's easier to implement, and it's more visually interesting due to the rippling/swaying animation pattern). But nobody (including me!) wants to trace a bunch of skirt vectors, so we'll work with what we've got.

    The big challenge here is motion. SDT physics is frictionless, so physics-enabled elements tend to bounce and sway. Such freedom is appropriate for the hem of a skirt, but it would be bizarre to see it happening with skin-tight fabric. We can curtail motion by increasing Mass and inducing high tension, but it may not suffice.

    Meh; it's an experiment. I'll keep backups. If the "cheeky" design won't animate convincingly then I'll revert to the high-leg leotard.


    The arm aperture is also oversized. That's accurate w/r/t the character design, so it will remain as-is. Clarification: the basic shape won't change. I do still need to adjust the fitting around the shoulders, trace the backpack, and incorporate the epaulet/collar section. I may implement some very mild physics rigging around the shoulders -- if you imagine that her right arm is held directly in front of the body (90° CCW), then the right epaulet might lift up a few centimeters.


    Accessories

    The black strips will be fine-tuned once they're all in place. I'll probably make them a bit thicker and add a bit of gloss.

    The thigh holster is in but the sidearm is probably out.
    • the gun uses Mass Effect-style packing. When holstered, it's barely even recognizable as a weapon. The average viewer would probably interpret it as visual clutter.
    • the thigh region is already going to be visually "busy" due to the belt (and, during gameplay, the character's hands).
    • the gun would hide some of the visual details that I'm planning to add to the holster
    • I can't find a good side reference shot of the gun (in deployed OR holstered mode).

    The backpack will be included, but the detail will be fairly low and it will be smaller than the reference version. The fullsize backpack would cause clipping with the hands-behind-back posture -- gameplay takes priority over fidelity. The backpack mostly just serves as a convenient nexus point for the black stripes -- they disappear into it, so we don't need to draw actual intersections or terminations.

    The "necktie" strip will probably be excluded, because it's effectively invisible in the side view. The gem will be included.

    The collar and epaulets will be assigned to the "Collar" slot. You'll have the option of swapping to a different collar. In that case, the "top" of the leotard will be fairly boring - just a pair of straps curving over the collarbone (similar to the WIP screenshots above).

    The two "belt" elements will be attached to the thighs. I'm not going to attempt to attach them to the hips or crotch because:
    • a rigid attachment is physically implausible
    • a non-rigid attachment is superfluous (it's a scifi outfit; stuff can float. Magnets or whatever)
    • both attachment options would be invisible in side-view

    The background half of the hairband will be included; I'm procrastinating on that (and many of the other "static" tracing tasks) because the physics work is more interesting.
     
  6. hentaisama

    hentaisama Potential Patron

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    Good Luck
     
  7. stuntcock

    stuntcock Club Regular Staff Member Moderator

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    Progress

    [​IMG]

    The boots are done. I omitted the translucent "blade" feature on the left boot because:
    • I can't draw it properly using the standard layers; it will appear on top of the leg rather than behind it
    • I couldn't find a good reference image -- the project file (FLA) includes an early attempt, but it's basically just a z-flipped copy of the blade from the right leg
    • the left blade is almost always hidden behind the left knee and the distal portion of the left thigh (also: right leg, hands), so spending additional effort here would be silly

    The perspective on the left shoe is amateurish. Many years have passed since I last did any technical drawing (and many more since my last art class) so I didn't attempt a rigorous approach (e.g. 3-point). Convergence and depth-of-field in SDT artwork has always been somewhat inconsistent - which you can interpret as either a hindrance ("where's the goddamned horizon line?") or a boon ("I can draw whatever the fuck I want!"). The particular design of this shoe is outlandish and impractical, which means that illustrators and concept artists (who, unlike me, are skilled in perspective and anatomy) tend to re-interpret it for the sake of theme, characterization, or practicality. I've seen a few artists ignore the original design entirely and just draw a platform boot or stilleto heel.

    Therefore, I feel that I can exercise artistic license. My goals were:
    • the shoe should be adapted for SDT gameplay -- the heel prominence should be moderate, and it should present a rounded/faceted shape towards the buttocks (rather than an acute edge or spike)
    • the design should be heavily faceted, as a visual counterpoise to the curves (both free-standing and form-fitting) which dominate the design.
    If anyone is annoyed or distracted by the lousy perspective then:
    • I'll share the completed FLA file; if you're good at perspective/shading/lighting then feel free to correct my mistakes
    • I'll release a "two right shoes" variant which omits the perspective stuff altogether. This version may be more useful for animtools users, because the perspective rendering will immediately look out-of-place if the leg orientation is changed (e.g. character resting on her back with legs extended into the air). This variant would also provide slightly higher runtime performance (because it's visually simpler).

    I've applied alpha blending to the outlines at the "internal" intersections of facets. This is meant to give the visual impression of soft (rounded/beveled) edges; dark outlines are still used for the exterior boundaries because they help the eye to distinguish shapes (and because it's part of the SDT aesthetic). The concept art often exaggerates the facets, suggesting that the shoes are sharp-edged; since the thighs and buttocks may inadvertently collide with the shoes during SDT gameplay, I wanted to avoid any visual impression of sharpness.

    Let me know if you think that the lines look out-of-place or if you have alternative suggestions; it's very easy to tweak the appearance of the outline strokes.



    Anatomy
    The current issue is the pelvis. I've been procrastinating on several straightforward tasks (e.g. fitting the leotard properly to the shoulders and collarbone, tracing the armlets, shading the hair strands) because I'm unwilling to proceed until/unless I can get the hips to work properly.

    By default, most of the clothing on the upper body has visual priority over the legs. This is generally appropriate -- imagine a long sweater whose hem extends past the hips. The layering policy is not appropriate, though, for a garment which fits between the legs. How does SDT handle such costumes?

    Answer: by cheating. It doesn't consistently draw between the legs and isn't fully capable of doing so. Consider the high-leg panties (this is a vanilla costume element, not a mod).

    [​IMG]
    I couldn't find the high-leg sprite so here are the side-tie panties instead.

    The garment is essentially "c-shaped" - its geometry is incomplete. It may be useful to think of it as a "tattoo" which is drawn on the upper body (specifically - the BACK and CHEST sections). The rear portion of the garment (which is assigned to the BACK) is curved, as if it was wrapping around the tailbone and disappearing into the intergluteal cleft. The BACK has visual priority over the RIGHT THIGH and therefore we do not see the right buttock during gameplay. Nonetheless, the curved shape of the panties hints at the shape of the "missing" buttock.

    [​IMG]
    This screenshot shows normal layout - the BACK layer has priority over the RIGHT THIGH. The panties will never vanish "between" the buttocks, so they are simply drawn in a way that makes them appear to taper off. Note that the tapering-off at the front is inaccurate - the panties seem to end prematurely (slightly above the pubis bone) rather than wrapping around the pelvis. This isn't a technical fault; it's just a minor artistic error by Konashion.

    Consider these two screenshots:

    [​IMG]
    The left screenshot shows the normal layout. For the right screenshot, we've elevated the RIGHT THIGH so that it has visual priority. Note that the panties now vanish into the "butt crack" - the hand-drawn taper has been replaced with a contextual effect. The latter is preferable - the garment is now behaving as if it was actually part of the scene rather than just being a weird tattoo.

    At first glance, the right-hand scenario seems ideal. We can draw clothing (e.g. thong underwear, leotard) on the BACK and CHEST layers, have the artwork fully enclose the pelvis (instead of tapering it off into an arbitrary c-shape), and when we load it in-game any "extra" material will automatically disappear as it passes between the legs.

    Unfortunately, when the character leans back ("when the thigh is extended") the outline of the buttock intrudes too far into the abdomen -- it becomes a distraction and an eyesore. I don't have a problem with the dissimilar shading (redness) or the glossy highlight on the butt cheek - these elements contribute to a sense of visual prominence. But the dark outline is unacceptable.

    It's not really visible in this shot, but the thigh also occults too much of the mons veneris. There's a notable bit of curvature at the corner of the thigh. This curved section helps to form the bone structure of the pelvis and hints at the presence of a partially-tensed illiacus muscle beneath the skin. This is often appropriate. Unfortunately, whenever the character stretches upwards and/or forwards from her kneeling position, this curved section detaches from the pelvis, looks silly, and (potentially) conceals parts of her clothing.


    Proposed solution

    [​IMG]
    Here's a quick before-and-after sketch for those who hate reading or don't recognize the terminology used below.

    • create a separate Loader mod which alters the visual ordering of SDT anatomical elements and their associated clothing layers
      • this mod would become a "suggested" accompaniment to the Angela Balzac costume, but not a prerequisite
      • if the Angela Balzac mod was loaded without this mod, then the shape/appearance of the leotard around the hips and pelvis would be a bit odd. Users can probably overlook it; this is mostly to satisfy my own obsession insanity.
      • this mod might be useful for other clothing projects which involve clothing fitted tightly around the pelvis (e.g. sling bikini)
      • this mod might be useful for gameplay scenarios which do not involve clothing fitted around the pelvis -- or even for scenarios in which the girl is completely naked. The prominent thigh and buttock may be appealing for ass enthusiasts.
      • this would not be a "set it and forget it" mod which uniformly improves the gameplay experience and can therefore remain in your load order forever. It will generate undesirable visual effects (e.g. clipping) in costume elements which it was not designed to support (notably: low-leg panties).
    • "promote" the right thigh so that it supercedes the upper-body anatomy and clothing (as shown/discussed above)
    • apply a mask, blend, fade, etc... scripted effect to the buttock outline so that it will not intrude into the abdomen
    • redraw (or mask) the rightThigh artwork to eliminate the "static" curvature at the corner of the thigh.
    • add a physics-based iliacus -- implemented as an elastic segment which is anchored to the thigh and to the upper body. Fine-tune it so that it will reproduce the old curvature when the thigh is fully flexed and then shrink/slide out of view as the thigh is extended.
    • continue work on the Angela Balzac costume with the new mod. Adjust the size/shape of the leotard so that it looks good in standard gameplay (the range-of-motion allowed by the kneeling posture). Maybe widen the rear section so that it will wrap more closely around the buttocks.

    Here's a view of the current fitting, and a mockup sketch of what it might look like with the new mod in-place:
    [​IMG]



    I appreciate the sentiment, but please TRY to participate in the discussion or contribute something. There are several elements of the costume remaining to be traced, many questions remaining to be answered, and many topics on which I've requested feedback.

    Je vous remerci, mais SVP essayez a contribuer quelque chose. Parlez en Francais si vous voulez.



    Edit: the buttock-outline fade effect is working. The new mod is tentatively named "thighMaster" because I couldn't think of a concise descriptive name and the joke was obvious.

    [​IMG]

    The remaining work (i.e. physics-based iliacus) is more technically interesting but it will probably take longer.
     
  8. hentaisama

    hentaisama Potential Patron

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    beautifull !! Good Luck

    EDIT: Sorry, i did not see your comment. Unfortunately I have not much to say and especially my English is not great. Really sorry.