Tutorial: Activating Bakes on Mesh on your mesh head and body

Update: I have given permission for this post to be translated by the wonderfully helpful people at Ayuda Virtual, so for a Spanish-language version please click here.
Actualización: He dado permiso para que esta publicación sea traducida por personas maravillosamente útiles en Ayuda Virtual, así que para una versión en Español, haga clic aquí.

Before we begin, if you’re scratching your head and muttering “What the hell is he on about?!” then for a guide to what BOM (Bakes on Mesh) actually is, plus the absolute basics of how it works, please read this post.

In the Catwa support group we receive a lot of questions asking how to activate Bakes on Mesh capability, not only on the user’s head but also on multiple types of body. We also see a lot  of misinformation, and subsequent confusion that arises from that misinformation. And—because of that misinformation and confusion—a lot of people have it in their heads that BOM is crazy-complicated.

I’m here to show you that it’s not. The simple truth about activating BOM is that, well… it’s simple. For most mesh heads and bodies it’s a matter of first removing your alpha layers, and then either:

  • wearing the special ‘native BOM’ version, or
  • clicking a BOM activation button on a HUD

That’s all it is. Sure, there are then a few other (mostly generic, in that they are the same across all brands) idiosyncrasies that it’s helpful to know about, but since I seem to have become one of the de facto  BOM-teachers in the SL blogosphere of late, I’ll see what I can do in this post to help you out.

In this post I will be guiding you—very simply and step by step—through activating BOM on the following mesh heads:

  • Catwa
  • Lelutka
  • Genus

(Got a free mesh head? See the end of this post.)


Sidenote: If you do own a brand of mesh head or body that I’m not detailing here, then why not update it to the latest version and then poke around in its HUD to see what options there are for activating BOM? More often than not, any BOM activation button will tend to be in the HUD’s tab for changing skins, so have a look in there. Another possible location is in a tab dedicated to ‘extras’, if your HUD has one of those.

I see a lot of people who are scared to mess around with their HUDs, but they’re missing out on a lot if they don’t experiment to see what those HUDs offer. Don’t rely on others to tell you exactly what to do; try for yourself! Poke those buttons and see what they do ;-)

If you’re scared that you’ll mess up your look, why not simply create a new folder in your inventory, make copies  of your head, body, and their HUDs (maybe also your mesh eyes and your shape, if you plan on playing around with those) to put in that folder, and work on those copies instead? You can then detach them and go back to your ‘safe’ original head and body when you’re done learning and experimenting.


I’ll also be guiding you through BOM-activation on the following mesh bodies:

  • Signature
  • Maitreya
  • Belleza
  • SLink
  • Legacy

(Got a free mesh body? See the end of this post.)

After that I’m going to touch on those common idiosyncrasies, how to do certain things you might want to do (such as continue wearing applier eyes with BOM), and how to fix certain common problems.

How to read this post

Scroll to the header for your mesh head and follow the instructions there. Then scroll to the header for your mesh body and do the same. It’s as simple as that. Once you’re done, scroll past the head and body info and read the generic advice section.

Note: the activation advice is not gender-specific and it will work regardless of whether your body or head is male or female. This post assumes that you will be activating BOM on both a mesh head and a mesh body. If you plan to use a system head/body in combination with a mesh body/head, then just follow the instructions for the head or body that you’re using. (Good grief, that was a mouthful…)

But before I go any further…

If you’re having any issues with BOM on your head or body of choice, PLEASE take it to the customer support option for that head or body, not to me in the comments below! I’ve just posted a quick guide here, going by what I can see on the various HUDs for heads and bodies that I own. If it’s a Catwa issue then I can help you further, as I am a CSR for Catwa, but for any of the other brands please ask that brand’s support option for further help. Thanks!


Activating BOM on Catwa Bento heads (for non-Bento heads, scroll down)

Your Catwa Bento head needs to be at least v4.5 (the current version, as at March 2020). If it’s not, visit the Catwa store and redeliver your original purchase via the redelivery terminals at the landing point. Unpack it and the update will be inside.

  1. Wear your Catwa Bento head, the rigged eyes for the head, and your Catwa Master HUD
  2. Remove all of your alpha layers
  3. Go into the Skins/Ears tab of the Master HUD
  4. Click the BOM button on the top right

Activating BOM on a Catwa Bento head. (Shown here: female HUD)

If all went well then you should now be seeing your system skin and system eyes on your mesh head and mesh eyes. For troubleshooting, please scroll to the end of the post to the generic advice section. The troubleshooting section covers: bright red head and/or eyes, missing eyes, untextured skin or a white circle covering your face, and ugly ‘poufy stuff’ on top of your head.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your Catwa Bento head:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Re-apply your skin applier and your eye applier

Activating BOM on Catwa non-Bento heads

Catwa non-Bento heads require the use of the free Catwa BOM relay, which you can pick up from the gift room at the Catwa store. You will need to be a member either of the Catwa Head Friends group (which is the official support group) or the (notices only and no group chat) ^;^CaTwA^;^ group. Wear the group’s tag and click the relevant box beneath the BOM relay ad.

  1. Wear your Catwa non-Bento head (your Main HUD is not needed for this)
  2. Remove all of your alpha layers
  3. Add the Catwa BOM Relay (you will see a small blue circle with the Catwa ‘cat head’ logo on it, at the bottom of your screen)
  4. Click the Catwa BOM relay

Watch this quick video if you need a visual guide.

Important: Bakes on Mesh will not apply to the eyes, so you will need to continue using either the Basic brown eyes included with the head, or the Catwa Omega Eyes (which will take any Omega eye appliers). Unlike the Catwa Bento heads, no eye alpha is needed for the Catwa non-Bento heads if you want to use applier eyes, since BoM does not apply to the non-Bento heads’ eyes.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your Catwa non-Bento head:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Re-apply your skin applier

Activating BOM on Lelutka heads

Note: I only have the two male non-HD Lelutka heads. I’ve no idea if the method outlined here is the same for the HD heads. I do know that the HD heads’ HUDs are different, so if you have any doubts about those, please contact Lelutka support.

Your Lelutka head needs to be at least v3.4, as the Bakes on Mesh textures were updated to the new ones in this version. You can deliver an update by clicking the button on the Settings tab of your head’s HUD.

Important: Bakes on Mesh will not apply to the eyes, which is why you need to wear a specific alpha from your folder (this is actually an eye only alpha, which means you can continue wearing applier eyes.)

  1. Wear your Lelutka head and its HUD
  2. Remove all of your alpha layers
  3. Add the alpha called LeLutka.Alpha.Head&Body.BOM  that’s in the folder
  4. Go into the Essentials tab of the HUD
  5. Click the BakeOnMesh button

Activating BOM on a Lelutka head. (Shown here: male HUD)

If all went well then you should now be seeing your system skin on your mesh head. You will need to continue using applier eyes, as system eyes will not bake onto the Lelutka eyes. (This may change in a later update, but for now this is how things stand.) If you’re seeing ‘double eyes’ then please ensure you’re wearing the correct special alpha layer detailed in part 3 of the above instructions. For troubleshooting, please scroll to the end of the post to the generic advice section. The troubleshooting section covers: bright red head and/or eyes, missing eyes, untextured skin or a white circle covering your face, and ugly ‘poufy stuff’ on top of your head.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your Lelutka head:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Re-apply your skin applier

Activating BOM on Genus heads

Important: Bakes on Mesh will not apply to the Genus eyes, which is why you need to wear a specific alpha from your folder (this is actually an eye only alpha, which means you can continue wearing applier eyes.)

  1. Wear your Genus head and its HUD
  2. Remove your alpha layers
  3. Add the alpha called GENUS Project – Eyes Alpha  that’s in the folder
  4. Go into the Cosmetics tab
  5. Click the Bakes on Mesh button

Activating BOM on a Genus head

If all went well then you should now be seeing your system skin on your mesh head. You will need to continue using applier eyes, as system eyes will not bake onto the Genus eyes. (This may change in a later update, but for now this is how things stand.) If you’re seeing ‘double eyes’ then please ensure you’re wearing the correct special alpha layer detailed in part 3 of the above instructions. For troubleshooting, please scroll to the end of the post to the generic advice section. The troubleshooting section covers: bright red head and/or eyes, missing eyes, untextured skin or a white circle covering your face, and ugly ‘poufy stuff’ on top of your head.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your Genus head:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Re-apply your skin applier

Activating BOM on Signature bodies

Your Signature body needs to be at least v4.9 (male bodies) or v2.1 (female body). Redeliver at the Signature store if it’s not.

  1. Wear your Signature body and its HUD
  2. Remove all of your alpha layers
  3. Go into the Settings tab (cog button)
  4. Click the white ACTIVATE Bakes on Mesh button if using v4.9 or the BoM Bakes on Mesh button if using v5.0

Activating BOM on a Signature body. (Shown here: male v4.9 HUD)

Activating BOM on Signature body. (Shown here: male v5.0 HUD)

If all went well then you should now be seeing your system skin on your mesh body. For troubleshooting, please scroll to the end of the post to the generic advice section. The troubleshooting section covers: bright red body, and untextured skin.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your Signature body:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Re-apply your skin applier

Activating BOM on SLink bodies

This one is the simplest of all, as SLink includes a ‘native BOM’ body in its folder. Your SLink body needs to include a version called ‘Redux’ in the folder, so if it doesn’t then redeliver at the store.

  1. Wear the SLink Redux version of your body
  2. Remove all of your alpha layers

You don’t need an image for this one, because that’s all you need to do! No clicking anything; just wear-n-go. For a more in-depth tutorial on using SLink Redux and its HUD, watch this video by SLink’s creator.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your SLink body:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Detach the SLink Redux body
  3. Wear the non-Redux version of your SLink body that’s in the folder

Activating BOM on Belleza bodies

Belleza has not yet updated to BOM capability via the body’s HUD. Instead, you can find a Marketplace link at the Belleza store, beside both the male and female bodies, which will take you to a free-to-buy BOM HUD:

The Belleza Bakes on Mesh HUD – clicking it will take you to the Marketplace to purchase. (The HUD is free to buy.) This is also located beside the female bodies in the Belleza store.

  1. Wear your Belleza body and the Belleza Bakes on Mesh HUD
  2. Remove all your alpha layers
  3. Click the Belleza Bakes on Mesh HUD

If all went well then you should now be seeing your system skin on your mesh body. For troubleshooting, please scroll to the end of the post to the generic advice section. The troubleshooting section covers: bright red body, and untextured skin.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your Belleza body:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Re-apply your skin applier

Activating BOM on Maitreya body

Your Maitreya body needs to be at least v5.0 (I suggest checking redelivery, though, as there have been several bugfix updates since the v5.0 BOM release; at the time of writing this post, Maitreya Lara is on v5.1.

  1. Add the Maitreya body and its HUD
  2. Remove all of your alpha layers
  3. In the SKIN/BASE tab of the HUD, click the BAKES ON MESH button. (The text and outline will be white once it’s active.)

Activating BOM on Maitreya Lara body

If all went well then you should now be seeing your system skin on your mesh body. For troubleshooting, please scroll to the end of the post to the generic advice section. The troubleshooting section covers: bright red body, and untextured skin.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your Maitreya body:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Re-apply your skin applier

Activating BOM on Legacy bodies

  1. Your Legacy body needs to be v1.3, so redeliver if yours is below that.
  2. Wear your mesh body and your Edit HUD
  3. Remove all of your alpha layers
  4. Click the STYLE button of your Edit HUD
  5. Then click the MENU button (triple bars) of your Edit HUD
  6. Then click APPLY BOM

Activating BOM on a Legacy body. (Shown here: male HUD)

If all went well then you should now be seeing your system skin on your mesh body. For troubleshooting, please scroll to the end of the post to the generic advice section. The troubleshooting section covers: bright red body, and untextured skin.

To return to using appliers after using BOM on your Legacy body:

  1. Wear your alpha layers
  2. Re-apply your skin applier

Mesh Head BOM Troubleshooting – bright red head

If your mesh head looks bright red after activating BOM then you’re still wearing an alpha layer that covers your head, so check the WORN tab of your inventory for any stray alphas.

Note: if your head is bright red with black lettering on it that spells out BAKED_HEAD then you’re probably using an old viewer (or old viewer version) that’s not Bakes on Mesh compatible. All major viewers are now updated for BOM compatibility. (If you’re seeing that and you’re wearing a Lelutka head that’s older than v3.4, please see the next point, below.)

Mesh Head BOM Troubleshooting – bright red head with black BAKED_HEAD text on it

This only happens on Lelutka heads that are older than v3.4, because Linden Lab changed the UUIDs for the bake textures after Lelutka had released their first BOM-capable heads. Update your head to its current version via the Redelivery option in its HUD’s settings tab.

Mesh Head BOM Troubleshooting – bright red eyes

If you’re seeing your system skin on your head, but your eyes are bright red then you’re still wearing an eye alpha. If you want to see your system eyes baked onto your mesh eyes, remove that eye alpha.

Mesh Head BOM Troubleshooting – ‘missing’ or ‘black’ eyes (even though you know you’re still wearing them)

This sometimes happens when you’re wearing an eye alpha with BOM so that you can wear eye appliers. Just re-apply your eye appliers and you’ll be able to see again ;-)

Mesh Head BOM Troubleshooting – untextured skin or a white circle covering the face

This means that your underlying system skin is only for your body, and you will need to purchase a ‘head skin tattoo’ for your face.

To explain this a bit further: because there are so many mesh heads and mesh bodies—each with slightly different UV mapping on the 3D mesh—most skin creators have opted to keep a familiar ‘separate head and body’ option for their BOM skins. This means that, instead of making a new ‘full head and body’ skin in ten tones for every possible combination of head and body (potentially hundreds of skins for every new release!) they would instead create body skins UV-mapped for each specific brand of body (which would always be the same). Then, new skin releases would comprise just add-on tattoo ‘face skins’ for each specific brand of head.

Note that some creators are not releasing body skins; instead they’re releasing body tattoos. So you might need to wear any old system skin, followed by a body skin tattoo and a head skin tattoo. Confusing? Initially, maybe, but you’ll get used to it ;-)

Mesh Head BOM Troubleshooting – ugly ‘poufy stuff’ on top of your head

That ‘ugly poufy stuff’ is system hair and it’s caused by your brow-shaper. Find that brow shaper in your inventory and edit it. Go into the STYLE tab and pull all the sliders (especially the ‘volume’ slider) down to zero, then save it. If your brow-shaper is not modifiable then you’ll need to either find or create another one, because you need to be able to edit it in order to remove that ugly stuff.

Fixing the fugly system hair – via your brow-shaper!

You can also edit that Hair Texture to be fully transparent (you’ll find a Default Transparent Texture in your inventory’s Library folders) but that can cause glitches with some hair that contains alphas, as well as with (non-skin) appliers that you may still want to wear over the top of your BOM stuff. (Because yes, you can continue to use makeup and hairbase etc appliers on any head that makes use of a BOM button or BOM relay, and have them show over the top of your BOM layers. The only appliers you can’t use in this scenario are skin appliers. See the BOM For Dummies guide linked at the top of this post for more details.)

Mesh Body BOM Troubleshooting – bright red body

This means you’re still wearing an alpha layer. Check your inventory’s WORN tab and remove any alpha layers that you’re wearing

Mesh Body BOM Troubleshooting – untextured body

This means you’re either wearing a very very VERY old system skin, or you need to add a tattoo layer ‘body skin’. Please scroll up to the Mesh Head BOM Troubleshooting – untextured skin or a white circle covering the face  section for an explanation.

Mesh Body BOM Troubleshooting – ugly textures on fingernails and toenails

This means you’re wearing a very old system skin. If you like that skin and want to continue wearing it, you’ll need to find tintable nail-hiding glove and sock tattoo layers to cover up the system nails.

Mesh Body BOM Troubleshooting – weird texture glitching when in Edit Appearance

I honestly have no idea why this happens, but rest assured that it only happens when you’re in Edit Appearance. You’ll go back to normal (well, whatever your definition of ‘normal’ is!) as soon as you come out of Edit Appearance. I’ve heard reports that it can sometimes get stuck, and that strange things can happen with it if you crash at the same time, but that’s SL for ya. My suggestion there would be first to go back to using appliers (wear your alphas and re-apply your skin and eye appliers) and then switch back to BOM. If that doesn’t work, redeliver your head and body for fresh copies. Still stuck? It could be a corrupt texture cache, so try clearing that. As a last resort, a full, clean reinstall of your viewer will fix it.


Using alpha layers with BOM

There are some special use cases for alpha layers with BOM. Some bodies will use these to mask out areas of your body so that it doesn’t poke through mesh clothing, but the use cases I’m going to detail briefly below are to do with skins and eyes.

Use case 1: continuing to use eye appliers when going otherwise ‘full-BOM’

If you have a favorite set of eye appliers that don’t have system versions then you can still use them. You need to add an EYE ALPHA to your avatar. Initially this will either turn your eyes bright red or make them completely invisible. Just re-apply your eye appliers and your eyes will be back to normal.

If you don’t have (or can’t find) an eye alpha then you can make one in just a couple of minutes. It requires no special skill, and no upload fees. Simply go to your inventory and find the option to create a new alpha layer. Where you do this will depend on which viewer you’re using. Normally you’d look for something like New > New Clothing > New Alpha Layer in the inventory menus. In Firestorm (using the default skin) this can be found in the ‘cog’ at the bottom of the inventory. You can also right-click in any folder of your inventory and create the alpha layer from the menu that pops up there. Why not do that right there in your head’s folder (if it doesn’t already contain an eye alpha)? That way it’ll start out in the correct place.

Creating a new eye alpha is simple!

Create the new alpha layer, and then right-click > ADD to your avatar. Once worn, you can edit it. Tick the little box next to the Eye Alpha window, and you’ll see it turn transparent. After that, just click Save and you’re done. (Although you might first want to rename it to ‘Eye Alpha’ so you know what it is in future!)

Use case 2: mixing skin appliers and BOM skins

In the rare cases where your skin might have an applier for either head or body, and a BOM (or system) skin for the other, you can mix and match. If you want to wear a head applier with a BOM body skin, you will need to wear either a FULL HEAD ALPHA or a HEAD ALPHA with an EYE ALPHA. This will allow you to use appliers on your mesh head, while your system body remains using the BOM skin.

In the reverse case, to wear appliers on your mesh body and BOM on your head, you will need to wear a BODY ALPHA.

It’s very unusual for a mesh body or head not to contain alpha layers to mask out what you need, but—on the offchance that yours doesn’t have that—just follow the instructions in Use Case 1 to create your own new alpha layer, but this time tick the boxes next to the sections you need the alpha for (example: just the head, or just the body) before you save it. (For a body alpha you will need to check the ‘Lower Alpha’ and ‘Upper Alpha’ boxes.)


Activating BOM on free mesh bodies and heads

Most of the time free mesh heads and bodies are not modifiable. This includes gift bodies such as the free ‘Bento fullbody’ ones by Altamura, the L$1 bodies from eBody, the group gift heads by Genesis Lab, etc. It’s very unlikely that you will have BOM options for these, as they tend to be limited to what’s on the HUD and they will not be updated any further than they are (unless it’s to fix bugs and errors).

The free bodies and heads that you can  use BOM with are the modifiable ones such as Onupup and RuthToo/RothToo. These items can be actively modified (in the sense that you can right click them and edit them, changing the textures to whatever you want). RuthToo and RothToo can be obtained already set up for BOM (if you’re really lazy!) but the non-BOM versions are very simple to set up.

Follow this video guide to learn how to edit any modifiable head and body for BOM.


Questions? Drop a comment. Every post on this blog is open for comment for 30 days from the date of posting, after which time commenting is closed in order to deter spammers who like to hit older posts.

3 thoughts on “Tutorial: Activating Bakes on Mesh on your mesh head and body

    • Hi Fernando. I answered your question on the forum with a full tutorial (including annotated screenshots and a video) showing how to successfully layer that particular hairbase and facial hair on your Justin head. Please see my post here.

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