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I bought a tutorial by Winterbrose on morphing G2F with Sculptris, a free program from Pixologic, makers of the more powerful [and more expensive] ZBrush. The tutorial, despite some atrocious spelling errors that could have been easily caught with a spell check, provides the absolute basics necessary to work in the program and begin creating morphs; since I prefer written instructions, which allow me to go at my own pace, over video instructions, I am satisfied with my purchase. Already I see that it will allow me to overcome my hesitation and start experimenting.

Being relatively skilled with the D-Formers available in Daz Studio at this point, I think that I will not require a steep learning curve for Sculptris. I need only acclimate myself to the new layout and features; the principles of digital sculpting remain the same. I look forward to Sculptris' ability to manipulate mesh on a finer level than I can achieve with D-Formers; I can then achieve more detailed and sophisticated results.

I've already decided the types of morphs I would like to create: a diverse range of body types and sizes not covered by existing commercial or free offerings. For example:
  • A really fat woman. Special attention to loose flesh on upper arms, wide silhouette of thighs, projection of buttocks and effect of fat on hands and feet. I cite these areas because people who do fat morphs tend to just make those areas thicker, with little concern for the effect of weight + gravity. For example, people can have significant loose flesh and fat on their upper arms, but it doesn't bulk evenly. It tends to slide toward the inner sides and backs of the upper arms, and it kind of tucks in at the elbow, so there is often a dramatic difference in circumference between upper arms and forearms. On the forearms, fat distributes in a more even, less pendulous manner and can greatly decrease the differentiation between forearm, wrist and hand. Forearms and wrists can look more like smooth, elliptical columns, and fat can extend across the backs of people's hands and fingers. Furthermore, people's fat tends to fold and roll around their torsos and hips in ways that I haven't seen accurately represented. I'm on a campaign to represent realistic fats.
  • A woman with achondroplastic dwarfism. I've been interested in representing people with this disability since an experiment in morphing back in 2008 [done entirely with D-Formers and scaling within Daz Studio], which led to the development of Davry, steampunk vegetarian Unitarian NERD vampire with an irritating propensity to self-righteousness. Most recently, Béatrice Doucette, a tertiary in Zombieville, has the same disability. I don't think this morph will be too difficult.
  • A woman with shorter and less muscular legs due to cerebral palsy. Full-body morphs tend to give the model the same build all over the body, but plenty of people don't have the same build and proportions everywhere. For example, my sister, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, may be my identical twin, but her legs are shorter and narrower than mine because her cerebral palsy strongly affected them. I would like to make someone with her body type, as well as someone with a very muscular upper torso and arms and very slender and scrawny legs -- a physiology that would be appropriate for someone who does sports in a manual wheelchair.
modernwizard: (Default)
For those of you not up on the latest hip party game for people in their 20s and 30s, let me introduce you to Cards Against Humanity. Essentially a group form of multiple choice Mad Libs, this game features a bunch of black cards, which contain sentences with key nouns left out, and a bunch of white cards, which contain nouns or noun phrases. Each player draws a hand of 10 white cards, and then everyone gets a chance to read a black card aloud. After a card is read, players choose from their hand the white card that they think best completes the sentence. These cards are distributed to the reader anonymously. The reader reads the selections aloud and selects the one they like best. The player whose white card is chosen wins the black card. All players draw another white card to keep their hand up to 10, and the role of reading black cards passes to the next player.

In concept, Cards Against Humanity is the sort of game I love. There's no competition and no real winning or losing. The game emphasizes creativity and amusement instead of points and strategy. It's the type of game that grows exponentially more hilarious with more and more players, and it sparks very interesting side conversations when people ask or joke about each other's choices.

In practice, however, I find Cards Against Humanity very problematic in terms of content and framing. The black cards, with their framing sentences, feature mostly topical references familiar to people in their 20s and 30s. Examples include: "What does Prince insist on being included in his dressing room?" and "What does Obama do to unwind?" Fine, no big deal.

It's the white noun cards, though, that drive me up the wall. If they contained only generically amusing phrases such as "murder most foul," "inappropriate yodeling" and "licking things to claim them as your own," I wouldn't object. But no, those cards are a distinct minority. The white cards focus heavily on topics apparently considered taboo or difficult to discuss by the white, straight, cis, male, bourgeois creator, including people of color ["brown people," "the hard-working Mexican"], people with disabilities ["amputees," "Stephen Hawking talking dirty," "a robust Mongoloid," "a spastic nerd," "the profoundly handicapped"], queer people ["the gays," "praying the gay away"], fat people ["feeding Rosie O'Donnell," "the morbidly obese," "home video of Oprah sobbing into a Lean Cuisine"], gender-nonconforming people ["passable transvestites"], genocide ["inappropriately timed Holocaust jokes," "helplessly giggling at the mention of Hutus and Tutsis"], Muslims ["Allah [praise be unto him!]," "72 virgins"], poor people ["poor people," "homeless people"], old people ["Grandma," "hospice care"], child abuse ["child abuse"], rape ["surprise sex"], paraphilias ["German dungeon porn"] and crap ["fiery poops"]. I could go on, but then I'd be quoting the entire suite of white cards.

Cards Against Humanity glancingly acknowledges the problematic structure of its game by billing its audience as "horrible people." "It's as despicable and awkward as you and your friends," crows the main page of the game's Web site. Of course, below this description are various cool publications and people praising the game, so clearly the game's creators see being "despicable and awkward" as a coveted, desirable status. They quote condemnations from the Chicago Tribune ["absurd"], The Economist ["unforgivable"] and NPR ["bad"] in contrast with praise from INC ["hilarious"] and Boing Boing ["funny"]. Thus they associate criticism with old-fashioned, conservative, humorless media outlets full of old people and appreciation with the young, hip, cool crowd. To be "despicable and awkward," then, is ultimately to be cool. 

What does Cards Against Humanity's concept of coolness -- that is, their idea of rebranded despicability qua awesomeness -- entail? Basically it means laughing at anyone who's not a straight, white, cis, bourgeois, hipster dude [like the creator]. Don't try to tell me that, because the game has white cards like "white privilege," it actually critiques those who are discomfited by the concept. No, it doesn't, not when the majority of cards make marginalized people who lack privilege into punchline after punchline after punchline.

If you're still not convinced, let me break it down to you with a single example: the white card that has the phrase "passable transvestites." There is so much wrong with this card that it's hard to know where to start. Well, to begin with, clearly someone thought this phrase worthy of inclusion into the deck of white cards, meaning that someone perceived it as shocking, racy, funny and potentially ridiculous. So what's shocking, racy and entertaining about "passable transvestites?" Yeah, a gender nonconforming person who goes out in public en femme so that they avoid being clocked always makes me laugh. The stats on trans and other gender nonconforming people being harassed, assaulted and killed provide comic relief every time I read them. The outdated language on this white card -- the vexed concept of "passable," coupled with the no-longer-used, clinical-sounding "transvestite" -- signals that the game's creators are hung up on old-fashioned binaries of gender presentation, the transgression of which they find hilarious and pathetic, instead of a matter of life and death.

I can make the same points about Cards Against Humanity's treatment of people with disabilities, the prejudice against whom can be summed up in a single white card: "Stephen Hawking talking dirty." Yup, yup, of course, people who are neuroatypical, emotionally atypical and physically atypical to the extent that society doesn't really know how to accommodate them -- they're comedy gold! I mean, really -- can you imagine a man with paralysis talking dirty? First of all, he'd be doing it with the help of his computer, which is inherently hilarious, you know, because he can't really talk. Second of all, it would imply that he, despite being unable to move parts of his body, has active sexual desires and interests, which is a shock, because no paralyzed person has ever had sexual interests and agency before -- ever! They're just...like... wheelchair-bound automatons. Yeah, "the profoundly handicapped" are a gas all right. Yet again, Cards Against Humanity's decision to employee the passe and offensive term "handicapped" shows that they're not interested in mocking prejudice, but in perpetuating it.

EDIT: As rosettanettle points out in a comment on my LJ crosspost, the creator of Cards Against Humanity expressed regret for the "passable transvestites" white card, which is now no longer included in decks. This does not, however, negate any of my points. If anything, it reinforces them, since the creator's expression of "regret," which came only because he was called on his transphobia, comes across as less a regret of treasuring bigoted tenets and more a regret at getting caught. I also suspect his theatrical Tumblr photoset of him lighting the card on fire of being a self-aggrandizing performance so that he may be showered with praise about what an enlightened ally he is. Why do straight, cis, white, middle-class dudes think they deserve extra special plaudits for meeting minimum standards of decency? "Despicable," indeed.
modernwizard: (Default)
Okay, so she's in her underwear on a skateboard with no protective gear. That's awkward. Other than that, though, this is a wonderful shot with an amazing-looking model who is clearly having fun. What's not to love?

I don't know why Shutterstock labels this as "Funny Overweight Woman Skateboarding." Why is this photo amusing? Because she's in her underwear? Because she's having fun? Because she's fat? And why do the keywords include "fatty," "funny people," "crazy" and "humor?"

Oh those hilarious fat people, thinking they can enjoy themselves! They should know that they're supposed to be miserably ashamed of their disgusting flab and that they should go around completely covered in heavy, shapeless drapery all the time so that no one else has to see their grossness. Seriously...any fatty who thinks that anyone wants to see them in their underwear clearly has a mental illness.
modernwizard: (Default)
I just scored Zev0's Aging Morphs 2 for G2F on 60% off sale, which allows me to realize a long-held dream: old and/or fat digital people! Some of the morphs provide effects of aging, while others change the distribution of weight on the face. I'm gonna make everyone fat and wrinkly now!

..Well, except for Jareth. He's not fat [not in his usual form anyway]. Aging, yes. Fat, no. But digital me and Jennifer and Allyson and and Felicia and Fay and Win, plus any other mini universe denizens I develop, plus all characters for Intellectum, are gaining fats and signs of aging. Now my digital populations can start to look like my doll populations!

This is gonna be so much fun!
modernwizard: (Default)
Just in case you thought last month's anti-fat advice column from Slate's Dear Prudence was a fluke, here she is recycling the same rant for Valentine's Day.

Letter writer: "I like this guy, but he's gained 20 pounds in the past year, and he doesn't brush his teeth before bed. I'm in the health industry, so I'm very concerned. What do I do?"

Prudie: "I see you're worried about fatty there croaking from diabetes and you raising your kids alone. So give him an ultimatum: A) No kisses till he starts brushing regularly. B) Either he gets his fat ass to the gym on a slimming program and stops stuffing cake in his piehole, or you're outta there. P.S. People without teeth are hilarious. Also ugly."

This response, like last month's, reveals Prudie's hangups and preoccupations. In both cases, she assumes that the fat people in question will, if they continue their current behavior, become shamefully disabled and eventually die, probably from complications from diabetes. Then their poor wives will be alone, so tragically alone, forced to raise the kids by themselves.

It's so multiply offensive. In no particular order, there's the clueless assumptions that fat people are axiomatically unhealthy. There's the nasty, cruel jokes at the expense of people with disabilities. And there's the heterosexist idea that a single mother and kids is not a real family, but something pathetic, unnatural and inadequate.

If Prudie really wanted to give helpful advice, she should encourage the letter writer to talk to her boyfriend and find out more about his childhood relationships to dental hygiene, sugar, diabetes and food in general. She should also ask him how he's been doing in the last year physically, mentally and emotionally. The first subject could shed some light on why he has poor dental hygiene; maybe he never had toothbrushing habits modeled, or he's scared of the dentist, or there was that one time his uncle called him Buckteeth, so he has really ambivalent feelings about his mouth in general. The second subject could provide context for his weight gain; maybe he's feeling lethargic, or he's lost his appetite, or his tastes have changed, or he's eating in part due to boredom, anxiety or depression. Heck, maybe his thyroid's off!

With this information, the letter writer and her boyfriend can, if they feel so motivated, better figure out the actual contributing factors to his poor dental hygiene and his recent weight gain, instead of attacking the symptoms. They can then consult the appropriate health care providers or social supports and work from there.

I know, Prudie; I know...that's too much work. Far easier to focus on the symptoms and use emotional bribery to combat the eeeeeeeeevil fats.

Didn't anyone tell you that ultimatums never work?

modernwizard: (Default)
This is awesome! How often do you see fat, kinky, androgynous, pierced people with disabilities in stocky photos? WOOOOOO HOOOOO! What a cute pair. ^_^

EDIT: I fixed the link!
modernwizard: (Default)
This gem is from Monday's Dear Prudence, a trove of crap:

Letter writer: "I'm in my late 20s with a husband and a young daughter. My husband, who has a familial history of thyroid problems and high blood pressure, has gained nearly 100 pounds in the five years we've been married. He has developed liver problems and high cholesterol, OBVIOUSLY because he's so disgustingly fat.

"I exercise and eat healthily and encourage him to do the same, but he resists, calling me a nag. He's a grown man, but I'm so concerned about his health that I refuse to treat him like an independent agent. How can I further insult him by infantilizing and objectifying him?"

Prudie: "Fat people are gross. They're also stupid lazy slobs who don't eat right or exercise and can't perceive that their fat is killing them. KILLING THEM I SAY!

"Oh wait...you had a question there. I strongly recommend going to a 'bariatrician,' a.k.a. someone with lots of letters after their name who gets paid handsomely for bullying people into losing weight and supporting the lucrative, ultimately futile diet industry.

"I also recommend even more nagging and shaming. Project for your husband a future in which he lurches from health crisis to health crisis and where you have to take care not only of your daughter, but also his fat lazy ass. That should motivate him into the spiral of shame and self-hatred that makes people lifelong devotees of the 'bariatric' industry.

"Good luck...you're gonna need it. At the rate your husband''s going, I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up wheelchair-bound, never to walk again, because he's such a tub of lard. Then he'd be fat and disabled, and that would just be...[ralllllllphgack].

"Excuse me. On second thought, forget the 'bariatrician' and the extra nagging. Just do the world a favor and put him out of his misery now. Poison his cupcakes."

What a sad, bitter, lonely, empty life she must lead to be so full of hatred toward fat and/or disabled people.

modernwizard: (Default)
Latinworks made a series of ads for activelifemovement.org, each depicting sedentary, fat versions of childhood toys, surrounded by the detritus of junk food. The tagline is "Keep obesity away from your child." Yup...because we all know that fat is a horrible contagious disease invading from outside, and body shape and weight have nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with sitting around and stuffing your face, and, with enough willpower, you can enforce skinniness! Besides its misinformed, moralizing scare tactics directed towards weight, the version below the cut also features a problematic reshaping of a fashion doll body, a plastic icon already well analyzed for its vexed cultural messages. Nasty, misogynist, anti-fat piece of drivel.

I do want that doll, though, as well as some of the fat little Playmobil pirates seen in another ad in the series. This series makes me think that I should try again to make a fat doll. My first fat doll, Margie, came out pretty well, but I couldn't sculpt fats on her because I didn't have the right modeling compound. Now that I have some Sculpey, I can add fats to a doll's head and body!   Beware! Eeeeeeevil fats! )
modernwizard: (Default)
From Shakesville, Paul McAleer of Big Fat Blog posting...This horrid TV commercial on the Realize Gastric Band site equates the controversial stomach reduction surgery known as gastric banding with happiness, success and fulfillment. It does so with dramatized examples of 1) a fat man playing with his karate-learning kidsy and 2) a fat woman slow-dancing with her [also fat] romantic partner. The fat man in 1) says, "I want to watch my little warrior do karate" or something very similar. The fat woman in 2) says, "I want to kiss him [romantic partner] under the Eiffel Tower." 

The commercial goes on to tell viewers how the Realize Band can help them get what they want. "Ask your doctor if bariatric surgery is right for you," the voiceover encourages. The commercial concludes with how wonderful the Realize Band is, especially since you can track your success and have a support group. Incidentally, "tracking your success" is accompanied by a picture on a user's computer screen of a line graph showing a steady trend downward. We also see an animated female morphing from fat to less fat.

This ad is offensive for so many reasons. Where do I start?

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