Packaging For Free Download

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So you have done it - created something that swells you with pride and you want to share it with the world, or at least the world as we know it 'Renderosity'.

Before you go further, it would be a good idea to answer these simple questions:
Would you use what you have created?
Would it benefit you in your artistic creations?


If the answer is yes to both questions, chances are you have a great 'freestuff' candidate. If you aren't sure, try a post in the appropriate forum and ask your fellow 'Renderosians' if they think it's a good candidate.

The things we offer for free do affect everyone at Renderosity. No one wants to wade through pages of free things that aren't useful!

While Poser is used as the example here,most of procedures can be applied regardless of the format or program you're using.

THINGS TO CONSIDER:

Beta testing is a "must." What will your thumbnail look like? The "read me" file - what information should it include? The download file - what format is appropriate(Zip or Exe)? Where will you host your file? Will you link to your archive directly or do you need an html portal? And finally just how do you go about listing your free item on the Renderosity Free Stuff page?

BETA TESTING
While your 'masterpiece' works fine on your computer it may not on someone else's. Before you put the file up for download I recommend you get people to test it.

If possible it should be tested on the following:
~ Lower end system, with minimal RAM and resources for both MAC and PC.
~ In Poser 4.
~ In Poser Pro Pak.
~ With people with various skill levels, new user through advanced user.

It is not always an possible to test on all the platforms. Whoever tests for you should be willing to tell you about problems and not worry about your feelings. It is better to find and correct errors before going public. Get your testers to give your creation a real work out - push your item to the limits!

PRESENTATION
You are permitted a thumbnail that does not exceed 200 x 200 pixels in size. You may use a smaller thumbnail if you wish but not larger. Many people use 56K or slower modems to connect to the Internet still, so it's best to keep things small and simple.

You need a paint or image manipulation program to create the thumbnail. (I use Photoshop, so the following instructions will be for that program; however they will translate fairly well for other image editors.)

CREATING YOUR THUMBNAIL
Set up your product in the program for which it was designed. Then render it, make sure you show all components clearly.



(We will use the tree brooch prop I have created for use in Poser.)

Set up the prop in the Poser document window, just the prop, no other figure. While it would be great to show the prop in use, remember your thumbnail size is limited to 200 x 200.

Render the item and export the image as a TIFF file (or any 'flat' format, really). Close Poser.

Open Photoshop, or your program of choice. Open the TIFF file you just exported from Poser.

Create a new file that is 200 x 200 pixels at 72 dpi. Select All and Copy/Paste the TIFF image into the new window and resize it to fit. Leave room for a title or other information, if you desire. Remember to constrain the proportions of your image as you resize (hold down the shift key in Photoshop as you resize).



Save the Thumbnail. I use the "save for the web" feature to keep the file size down.

The thumbnail is now done and waiting for the rest of the package!

THE READ ME FILE
The read me files should contain several things:
~ Clear and concise instructions on how to use the item offered for download.
~ A valid e-mail address.
~ License restrictions, if any (whether or not the item may be used in commercial or noncommercial ventures).
~ List of items found in the package.

The consensus is also that it should be called something other than readme.txt. For example, if your prop is a sword then the readme could be called something along the lines of HD-DeathSword. I used my initials in the first part of the item name.

These are all sound suggestions. Follow them where you can, however, you are giving away something for 'FREE' and should/do have the right to choose how, what and if you include these in the readme file.

FILE FORMAT: ZIP OR EXE?
EXE files are not usable on a MAC and, due to the risk of virus infection, will also be avoided by PC users so, it seems that the best way to go is with ZIP, which is cross-platform compatible.

The following are instructions for setting up packages for Poser items. You may find a technique that suits you better. You may also only need to put all the items being offered in one folder - it really does depend on what you are going to package.

Poser has its own file location criteria. Items must go into a particular folder in order for them to work with the program. This is true of anything that has an "obj" file.

Set up a hierarchy to show where your items go. All items normally go in Poser's Runtime folder, so start with that. Include subfolders which show the path to follow in Poser.

Let's pretend I have made a conforming dress. My folder would look like this:



Once the folders have been set up, I copy the files I need from my Poser folder to the newly made "Runtime" folder. I make sure to place them in the same folders they will be in Poser. The whole point of the "Runtime" folder is to make zipping the files much easier, as you will see.

I copy the Readme to the root of the Runtime folder.

In WinZip click either on the 'New' icon or choose 'File' then 'New Archive.' A screen will open. Browse to where you made the new Runtime folder and type in the name you want to call your zip file; eg., HD-Dress (WinZip adds the .zip part automatically).

Add the files to the zip. Either click on the add icon at the top or go to actions and select Add.

You may need to browse to your 'New' Runtime folder again.
You will see the zip file you have started. Open each folder that contains files, select the files and click on ADD to add the files to your zip file. Hold down the shift key (pc)to do a multi selection of files.



Repeat these steps with each of your folders until all are added to the zip file.

It may appear as though they are all in one folder in WinZip but do not let this throw you. By selecting the settings 'include subfolders'and 'save full path info' you ensure that the folder structure remains.



Don't forget to test the zip file: Unzip your new 'zip file' into an empty folder to insure that all the files are there and that the folders have indeed been retained. This step is a precautionary measure and an excellent habit to get into. (MAC's ZipIt program allows you to drop the folder onto an applescript, in the latest version, to compress it. Follow instructions from the manufacturer for use with MAC and PC.)

GETTING IT TO RENDEROSITY
You need a website, or somewhere on-line, to upload your creation and thumbnail that will allow you to link to it so other people can download it. Some free websites allow you to "remote link" to items, but these are rare.

If your file is on a host that does not allow remote linking, you will need to link to an "html file" (or web page) which contains the direct link to your freebie. Instead of the user getting your zip file when they click on the link from Renderosity, they will open up your 'temporary' html file, and THEN be able to click on the link to the zip file.

To upload your file to Renderosity, first go here:

http://www.renderosity.com/freestuff.ez

In the list of text links at the top of the page you will see an upload link, click on it. Fill out the form that appears in response to your click:

Section: Choose from the drop down menu the area your item is best suited.
Title: Give it a name and possibly a small description.
Notes: Anything relevant and helpful to others.
URL: The actual download. You can either link to your zip file or to the html page that has the download link on it.
Thumbnail URL: This is the link to the thumbnail image.
Thumbnail Nudity: Check this if your thumbnail has nudity. Be considerate. Children do surf Renderosity.
PC Type: Choose if your item is PC/Mac, PC only, or Mac only. With a zip file you
are safe choosing PC/Mac.



When satisfied with your choices, click on the preview button. This will open up a window that will show if your thumbnail is loading, and will allow you to test the download. If all of it works, click on the next button.

CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE DONE!



Helen Elizabeth Duggan

In 1994 I purchased my first 'real' computer and discovered the WWW simultaneously.

It wasn't long before I found shareware and one of my first downloads was Paint Shop Pro. I was impressed with what this program could do. Armed with my newly found 2D program and a desire to learn I have completed several courses.

The bits of paper I was given for my endeavors state that I am qualified in the fields of Graphic Design, Web Site Production and Desk Top Publishing.

Skip ahead 3 years and I discover Poser and Bryce. I was inspired with what people were doing with these programs. It wasn't long before I felt the desire to join in.

I was given Poser as a Christmas present and Bryce as a birthday present the following January. Little did I know then the joy I would discover using these two programs. Unlike Paint Shop Pro I found these programs to be less intuitive and went hunting for a support group. I found 'The Poser Forum Online' and followed it to what has now become Renderosity. It is here I am today. Still learning and still in awe of the magic people create with their Digital images.

I currently do some Illustration, DTP, Web Design work freelance. In recent years I have cut back on the workload so I am able to spend more time on my hobby of 3D art.

I believe that in each of us lives an artist. We just need to nurture and coax it. For it is often a shy being.




The Magazine Interact Forum's Back Room is the place to go for editorials, magazine excerpts, discussions, and plenty of surprises. Also, if you haven't done so yet, you can subscribe to the magazine or buy single issues.

To find your way there, go to the Magazine Interact Forum, and click on the link to the Back Room at the top.

Every couple of weeks, we'll be highlighting an article, review, or editorial from past issues of the magazine. Our fourth feature is an article from Issue #1, "Packaging For Free Download." You can view this article in all of its original pdf glory by going to the Magazine Interact Forum Back Room and going to Special Features.

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Member Opinions:
By: JohnRender on 4/16/03
An excellent article, and I hope everyone follows these suggestions... it sure would make the Poser stuff easer to use.

On small complaint, though- the author continues the "export to tiff" myth. If you're going to be editting your image in Photoshop anyway, just export the render (from Poser) as a Photoshop document.
Then, instead of "open the TIF file", you can double-click on the Photoshop image to open it.

Poser 4, Pro Pack, and Poser 5 can all export an image to a Photoshop file, so there's really no need to use the TIF file format.

These intructions should also be updated and mention the fact the Free Stuff is now moderated and the uploading person won't get the "instant gratification" of seeing their items immediately available on the website.

By: lauramb on 4/17/03
Great article ,and timely, as I hope to be able to start uploading freebees soon. An issue that has popped up for me recently involves .zip formats. I've downloaded some items only to be told that my .zip program won't open them, (if you can imagine WinZip not being able to open a file)! Thank you again for the article, Helen.

By: douglaslamoureaux on 4/20/03
Great article. I would like to add one comment. I wish that everyone would give their readme file a unique name such as readme_treebrooch_HD. Every new installation overwrites the previous readmes, and the user loses the information contained therein. I'd also like the readme to contain the author's name or pseudonym, so that I can remember who to attribute the work to when I use it in a piece a few weeks or months down the line!

By: Ethesis on 4/21/03
Have to admit that "I wish that everyone would give their readme file a unique name such as readme_treebrooch_HD. Every new installation overwrites the previous readmes, and the user loses the information contained therein. I'd also like the readme to contain the author's name or pseudonym, so that I can remember who to attribute the work to when I use it in a piece a few weeks or months down the line!" really hits the nail on the head.

The tutorial was excellent, especially explaining how people need to keep their directory trees intact. All it needed was to follow cluster group readme text naming protocols (i.e. readme_name and perhaps be a little stronger on the providing attribution information). Great work.

By: macdubhgal on 4/21/03
I have had the sdame problem with ReadMe's. My solution was to create a folder (which I call "Docs") and to cut and paste any ReadMe's created during install to that folder. That way, only my Poser, Pro Pack, and "Official" readme's end up in the Poser 4 root directory, and all my other ReadMe's are neatly organized where no Zip program knows to look for them! (So they Can't be overwritten!) Great Info in the article! Very well presented and explained. Thanks!

By: bmoritz on 4/23/03
Nicely done, but impossible for me to print out for future reference.


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