Silas

Blessed Samhain and Happy Hallowe’en, my sartorial darlings.

I’ve had this year’s look put together for weeks now, so you may have already seen it make an appearance in my Flickr sidebar. (Hallowe’en starts on October 1st for Skell, so that’s something of a given anyway.)

Thanks to Second Life’s amazing creators I was able to creep even myself out this year. Credits will come at the end of the post, which—for once, and unusually for me—won’t be too wordy.

Before I get to the accessories, I have to put in a word about the dress. Rigged for Belleza Jake only, it’s by Boys to the Bone, and is a group gift at the store. While Skell has worn drag before, I’m very picky about what kind of drag I put him into (mainly nothing too femme, and definitely no boobs!) This Morticia Dress was a no-brainer. Flat-chested, with a deep neckline and a hint at… shall we say ‘masculinity’ at the crotch, it’s about as far from girly as it’s possible to go while wearing a frock.

There’s a lot of accessorising in this look, so check the credits at the end of the post for everything. For now, I’m just going to focus on one other store: ContraptioN.

Skell’s faithful companion (animated, and with a hilarious ‘head-smack’ option, should you choose to activate it, as well as a ‘tending’ animation that has it grooming your hair) is what scares the crap out of me every time I log in while wearing this outfit, mainly because my camera is behind it, and it’s the first thing to rez… RIGHT IN MY FACE. Which means it’s doing its job ;-)

The mask, too, is by ContraptioN, and it’s what sparked this entire look. In fact, this is one of those rare outfits that came together sweetly and easily. When I wanted something on Skell’s hands I remembered the gloves by NOCHE that I’d recently picked up. And the glittery nails by Artificial Hallucination fitted perfectly over the gloves. Crown by Azoury, tons of old piercings by Cerberus Xing, a cloak by Cureless RedLabel, and the final accessory of a thurible (again, by ContraptioN) and the look is complete.

Oh, and Silas.

“Hello, little fella. Want a lift?”

Silas was one of three posed spider deco items available from NOMAD during Fifty Linden Friday a few weeks back, and I couldn’t resist him, because I knew he’d be perfect for this look.

“There you go. Comfy?”

I’m not sure that Companion enjoys sharing their ride, though…

He looks sensitive, master. It’s such a shame that so many mortals are terrified of spiders…

Oh for the love of…

“Silas, would you stop being such a bloody drama queen?!”

Credits

Dress: Boys to the Bone – Morticia Dress (group gift – Jake only)
Head: ContraptioN – The Faceless (M&F, includes BOM blend layers)
Crown: Azoury – Coup de Sort
Hair: Sintiklia – Shay (fitted male – monochromes)
Gloves: NOCHE – Bill Essential Gloves (Gianni, Jake, Legacy M)
Nails: Artificial Hallucination – Crystal Nails (Jake, Slink M&F, Maitreya)
Cloak: Cureless RedLabel – Donatien Manteau (M&F sizes)
Lower face chains: Cerberus Xing – Deepforge Chains (gold)
Upper face chains: Cerberus Xing – Chained Deceit (gold)
Necklace: Maxi Gossamer – Sister Catrina Muertos Necklace
Brows: Glam Affair – Deco Eyebrows Black (no longer available)
Accessory: ContraptioN – Ritualist’s Thurible
Companion: ContraptioN – Ride of Delusion
Tattoo: Wild Roots – Wild Roots Tattoo (multiple appliers, system tattoos)
Skin: Tableau Vivant – Vincent (platinum – old system skin)
Backdrop: Paparazzi – Gothic Castle Backdrop
Spider: NOMAD – Spidey

Bakes on Mesh ‘for Dummies’

A month ago I wrote a post called Get Baked – A Quick Beginners’ Guide to Using Bakes on Mesh. In the light of the questions I’ve seen since Bakes on Mesh (BOM) came to more residents’ attention, I’ve realised that I need to strip that post way back: right to the absolute basics, in fact. So here—in a loving pastiche of the ‘Dummies Guide’ books—is Bakes on Mesh for Dummies.

In writing this post I am by no means inferring that you’re a dummy if you don’t understand Bakes on Mesh. We’ve all seen those For Dummies books around, and many households own one or two (hell, I own a couple of them), so I figured it might be a fun way to cover the basics. Older SL residents will have an understanding of what system layers—the thing that BOM makes use of—are, but newer residents who came in once mesh was in full swing might have no clue what us old farts are on about ;-)

To that end, I’m going to cover some of the basic questions I’ve been seeing in the mesh head group that I’m a CSR for. Comments on my blog are normally closed automatically after 2 weeks, so if you have any basic questions—ones that are not specific to a particular mesh head or body brand—then send me (Skell Dagger) a notecard inworld and I’ll do my best to add them to this post.

BOM stands for ‘Bakes on Mesh’. This is a new (optional) avatar customisation feature recently added by Linden Lab (the owners and creators of Second Life). You’re going to start seeing a lot of items at events and in stores that are labelled as ‘BOM’, so now’s the time to look out for that if you want to try it out.

BOM is a special way of putting the system layers that you’re wearing on your underlying system/’classic’/starter avatar onto any third party mesh body parts that you’re wearing. The ‘bakes’ part of it comes from the fact that compositing multiple avatar textures into a single texture is called ‘baking’.

System layers are ‘painted on’ looking textures that are added to the basic avatar that we all have underneath our mesh body parts. If you take off your mesh head, your mesh body, and your alpha layers then what you have underneath it all is your system avatar.

System layers have special icons that look like clothing items or actual body parts. They look like this in the stock Linden Lab viewer:

And like this in the Firestorm viewer:

BOM works by putting special ‘bake’ textures onto your mesh body parts. There are two ways to do this (which we’ll get into shortly), but if you’ve seen people wandering around with brightly-coloured textures on their body that have lettering on them, you’re seeing BOM in action (but—because you’re not using an up-to-date viewer that has BOM capabilities—you’re not seeing those people correctly).

This is what a mesh body looks like—to someone not using a BOM viewer—when it’s textured with the BOM ‘bake’ textures. Note that Skell’s head and hands are not textured. There’s a reason for that, which—again—we’ll get into shortly:

And here are the main ‘bake’ textures, in a single block:

Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of it. How BOM will work for you depends entirely on what the creators of your mesh head and body have done to support it. So you’ll need to check—either their social media, or their group notices, or their support options—as to what they have done. There are two possible basic options:

  • Native BOM support
  • BOM relay support

We’ll get into those next.

Native BOM is not an official term, but it’s one that I’ve coined to mean that the body or head is already set up to use Bakes on Mesh, and you don’t need anything additional—such as a relay HUD—to get it to work.

Scroll back up to the image of Skell with the weird textures all over him. He’s wearing a Catwa head (which does not have native BOM support; instead it requires a BOM relay – which is explained in the next section), the BOM version of a Signature body (which does have native BOM support), and the non-BOM versions of the Signature hands.

In short: any mesh body part that has native BOM support will be pre-textured with those special ‘bake’ textures. You don’t need to do anything with it; your underlying system layers will automatically be ‘baked’ onto your mesh body parts.

In the section above I explained that Skell’s Catwa head needs a BOM relay. BOM relays are how some creators have dealt with Bakes on Mesh. Pay attention to the next bit, because—if your mesh head and/or body need a BOM relay—it’s critical to understand how this specific type of relay works. I’m going to put it in bold text, just to make sure it sinks in ;-)

A BOM relay is literally just a skin applier that applies those BOM ‘bake’ textures to your mesh head and mesh body. That’s all it is. We’ll get into why this is so critical to understand a bit later in the post (if you want to know now, scroll down to the ‘Can I still use appliers with BOM?’ section). For now, I’m going to re-state it, as this is one thing many people are finding difficult to understand: a BOM relay is a skin applier, and the skin that it applies comprises nothing but those ‘bake’ textures. (It may also include an eye applier texture, so that your system eyes will bake onto your mesh eyes.)

Like any other skin applier, you simply add the BOM relay HUD, then click it to apply the textures.

If your body and/or head have native BOM support then you need to wear a version of the body/head that doesn’t have native BOM support. Most creators who are offering these ‘native BOM’ bodies and heads also include a ‘non-BOM’ version in the same folder. Remember: native BOM is pre-textured with the ‘bake’ textures and you can’t remove those from that kind of mesh body or head.

If your body and/or head use a BOM relay then all you need to do is re-apply your original skin and eye appliers. Remember: a BOM relay is literally just a skin applier (and possibly an eye applier), so—just as you change any other skin or eye appliers by applying new ones—that’s exactly how you ‘change out of’ BOM on mesh body parts that use a BOM relay.

BOM is entirely voluntary. If you’re not interested in using it then you don’t have to. It’s just another option that we have for customising our avatars.

The only thing that is recommended is updating to a BOM-capable viewer—whether you intend to use it or not— because otherwise you’re going to see a lot more ‘broken’ looking avatars around!

Leading on from the above, if people look weird (covered in bright textures with lettering on them) then you’re not using a BOM-capable viewer. Most of the major viewers now have BOM support, so it’s time to update!

Here we come back to the way that BOM is utilised on your mesh head and/or body: whether it’s native BOM support or a relay. And—as before—you need to check the documentation for your particular body part of choice, as I can only cover generic possibilities here. I’ll cover two of those possibilities (with brand examples) below:

  • Slink Redux body: the ‘redux’ version of Slink’s bodies are a single-layer, native BOM example. Whereas the ‘classic’ version of the body had four layers (nicknamed ‘onion skin’ layers, from the fact that they are literally four copies of the body, each closely layered on top of the other) – skin, tattoo, underwear, and clothing – the ‘redux’ version has just one layer: skin. And that skin is pre-textured with the BOM ‘bake’ textures. You cannot use any appliers whatsoever on the ‘redux’ bodies. You can read more about why Slink has taken this route here at their website.
  • Maitreya Lara body: Maitreya has opted to keep the ‘onion skin’ layers and is using a BOM relay. You can use any other appliers on top of this (as well as layering system stuff beneath), but you cannot use a skin applier. If you use a skin applier then—since the BOM relay is a skin applier in its own right—you will simply replace the BOM ‘bake’ textures on your body and BOM capability will stop. You can read more about why Maitreya has taken this route here at their website.

Mesh heads will work in the same way. If they have been reduced to a single layer, pre-textured native BOM version then you cannot use any appliers on them. You will only be able to use system layers. However, if they are making use of a BOM relay then you can use the BOM relay so that your underlying system skin bakes onto your head. You can then layer up to 59 other system layers onto your underlying system head (the total is 60, of which your system skin counts as 1) on top of that (yes, you can layer 59 lots of makeup if you really want to!) and then add up to 2 more (depending on your mesh head brand) non-skin appliers on your mesh head.

As explained above: skin appliers (which are only usable on a mesh body or head that does not natively support BOM and instead uses a BOM relay) will ‘block’ any underlying system textures. Think of your mesh head and body as a big window. BOM lets you see through the ‘glass’ to the underlying system textures. A skin applier acts like a thick coat of paint on that glass, blocking your view. Other appliers (makeup, tattoos, hairbases, etc) just add nice details on top of the system textures, but skin appliers are like blackout curtains and hide the system layers completely.

If your fingernails look bad then trust me: your toenails look a lot worse! You’re wearing an old system skin, created pre-mesh. These were mapped to go on the system avatar only, and the nail textures were invariably awful. This is especially so for the feet, since—on the original system avatar—those were solid ‘paddles’!

To fix this you need a tintable pair of nail-hiding gloves and socks. There are lots to be found on Marketplace—some free and some not—as well as in some skin creators’ stores. Just add them to your avatar, then edit them and tint them as close to your skintone as possible.

This one’s a doozie, and it’s actually pretty hilarious. That stuff is the original old ‘helmet head’ system hair that was all avatars had way back in the beginning. Bloody horrible, ain’t it? So why are you seeing it now? That’s all down to the ‘brow shaper’ you’re wearing under your mesh head, and here’s why:

What we now call the brow-shaper used to be called a ‘bald cap’ or ‘bald base’. Pre-mesh head we all used these not only to shape our system brows but also to remove the fugly system hair. If you edit your brow-shaper (assuming it’s modifiable) you’ll notice several tabs. The ‘style’ tab is the one you need to look at. This is where you can fix the fugly hair forever, by simply pulling the ‘volume’ slider to zero and saving the brow-shaper. (Your other option is to replace the hair texture in the box at the top of the tab with a transparent texture, of which you have one in your inventory’s Library > Textures folder.)

So why’s it happening? Well, when mesh heads became a thing, we all started wearing alpha layers that completely hid our system avatars, so we forgot all about that fugly system hair (it’s hidden by alphas, after all). Some creators got a little bit lax and stopped either replacing the hair texture with a full alpha one, or didn’t set that volume slider to zero, focusing instead on just changing the brow sliders. Now that we have to remove our alpha layers in order for BOM to work we’re suddenly seeing that ‘helmet head’ again. I’ve given you a simple fix up above, but you’re now seeing which creators forgot those other settings!

This one’s a simple fix: you just need to remove the alpha layers that you’re wearing to hide your system avatar beneath your mesh.

This is where things start to get a bit complicated. There could be several reasons behind this:

  • check that you’ve not tinted either your mesh head or body in the past (yes, tinting still works, even if you’re using BOM and system layers!) Look in the HUDs for both your head and body for a tinting option. If you see one, click it and—when prompted for RGB—enter 255,255,255 (that’s with commas and no spaces). Do this for both head and body, just to be sure.
  • make sure that both your head and body support BOM, either natively or via a BOM relay. If you only have BOM on your body (for example) then you’ll be wearing two different skins: your system skin ‘baked’ onto your mesh body, and your applier skin on your mesh head.
  • check that the system skin you’re using isn’t one that has only a head or body texture, with you expected to use appliers for the non-textured part. There are two sub-reasons why this type of skin exists:
    1. long before BOM was released some creators released body-only system skins. These were intended to be worn by those who wanted to keep their system avatar body but wear a mesh head (for which they would buy an additional head applier). The head texture would be either completely white or black or some other solid colour. The corresponding version for that is the head-only textured system skin, to be worn by those who wanted to keep their system head but wear a mesh body (for which they would buy an additional body applier). The body texture for that one would be either completely black or white or some other solid colour.
    2. the other reason is a new one where some creators are expecting people to use BOM on their body and appliers on their head, and it’s a bit beyond me as to why. I suspect that creators are still in the mindset of having one single set of body appliers while their head appliers are what they put out as new releases. Before mesh became a thing, we’d buy an entire skin (since system skins can’t be ‘split’ like mesh body and head appliers are). And—in the earliest days, before system tattoo layer makeup became a thing—single makeup skins would be sold. You’d buy a head-to-toe skin that came complete with one full set of makeup, and a different head-to-toe skin for another full set of makeup.
      • a small addition to reason 2 up there is that some creators are planning to use head tattoo layers to release their different head versions. That is: you buy a system skin that has a fully-textured body mapped to your mesh body of choice (e.g. Maitreya Lara) but with a plain (mostly blank) head in the same colour as your skintone. You then purchase a head system tattoo layer that is the equivalent of your Catwa/Lelutka/LAQ/etc head applier. This is then added on top of your system skin, and it’s quite an ingenious way of working: keeping both the familiar ‘separate head and body’ thing going while using the classic system skin.

BOM doesn’t mean that mesh clothing will go away. We’re still going to want 3D clothing and accessories, after all! What it will be is a great addition and/or replacement for applier clothing. Let’s say you have a pair of knee-high engineer boots, but you can’t find a single pair of mesh jeans that fit inside them, or any that stop at the top of the boots (unless they’re sold with the boots). You can simply use system layer jeans, which will just look like skintight pants tucked into those boots. (Granted, for some bodies that will mean your pants are painted up to and into your buttcrack (!) or you end up with serious cameltoe, but some bodies are already including special ‘smoothing’ layers to mitigate that.)

Why do I say that it’s a great replacement for appliers? System layers don’t suffer from the same ‘alpha-glitching’ issue that applier layers do. If you’ve ever tried to put a tattoo on your body’s tattoo layer and then some lacy lingerie or anything else with an alpha layer (partial transparency) onto your body’s underwear or clothing layer then you’ll know what I mean by ‘alpha-glitching’. It’s where the two partially-transparent layers clash against each other and—because Second Life uses the OpenGL system—the ‘z-buffer’ issue that OpenGL suffers from is unavoidable unless you change the blending on one of those layers to ‘mask’ (which causes its own issues with some textures, making them look blocky and horrible).

Or maybe you have a long, feathery hairstyle that always seems to remove part of your applier top underneath it. That’s an alpha ‘halo’ around the mesh (needed to get those feathery textures!) glitching with the semi-transparent areas of your top. (And the top doesn’t even need to be showing any of the transparent areas; if the texture applied to it has any transparency—even on an unseen section—it will throw out that annoying glitch.) ‘Alpha halo’ hair can also remove slices of eye makeup and brows if it hangs over those areas of your face.

With system layers you can pile on the partially-transparent stuff and never worry about the alpha glitch again. A tattoo together with lacy lingerie and then a strappy top with ragged holes torn into it? An absolute flickering (or partially non-existent) nightmare with appliers, but a perfect, complete breeze with system layers and BOM.

I’ve seen this question crop up a lot, especially from longtime residents who remember what system skins used to look like. And yes—if you wear old system stuff—it’s very likely that it won’t look as good as your applier stuff. BUT creators are already bringing out gorgeous system skins that map perfectly and look wonderful when baked onto mesh body parts. They’re using the techniques that they’ve learned for mesh heads and bodies and are applying those techniques to creating new system items. I’ve seen stunning skins and beautiful makeup, all on system layers baked to mesh body parts.

Do be alert, though. Some creators are selling old system skins as ‘BOM skins’. Always always always try a demo, and—in the case of a skin—look closely at the hands and feet. If you’re seeing distorted nail textures on your mesh then the creator is packaging old system skins up as new BOM skins.

And that’s it for this post, my sartorial darlings. I hope it proves useful and has answered some of the more basic questions that you might have. It’s taken me several cups of tea and the better part of an entire morning to get this written up, and I know I’ve probably not covered every eventuality. I’m happy to come back to this post and add further questions and answers to it, but only if they are generic Bakes on Mesh questions. If you have a query such as “How do I get BOM to work on XYZ head brand?” then that’s not a generic question: it’s brand-specific and you’ll need to ask in that brand’s support group or check with the creator/their customer support representatives.

Just smile

Smile though your heart is aching.
Smile even though it’s breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by.

Just a short one today, my sartorial darlings. I’ve long admired Joaquin Phoenix’s body of cinematic work, but his portrayal of the Joker is blowing minds around the globe. And Gac Akina of Stray Dog has paid homage to his stunning performance with an incredible skin applier for Catwa heads that is out at the current round of The Mens Dept.

It features several applier options: Phoenix’s own face as Arthur Fleck (a truly astonishing piece of work when you wear the included shape—which works best on Catwa’s ‘Daniel’ head). But, of course, it’s the makeup that makes the Joker, and you also get two versions of that when you buy the skin: makeup with blood, and makeup without blood.

So it was the ‘makeup without’ version that I opted for in my own homage to one of the promotional images from the movie.

Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile.
If you just smile.

Credits

Skin: Stray Dog – Joaquin (Catwa)
Suit: V8 & BRII – Joker Complete Outfit (Gianni, Slink, Jake, Adam, TMP, Aes)
Hair: Tram – G0220 Hair (HUD A – tinted)
Eyes: Avi-Glam – Vivid Eyes* (pearl – Catwa, Lelutka, Omega)
Head: Catwa – Daniel* (Bento)

*review copy

“I’d like to thank the Academy…”

Well. This is awkward.

I’m an Englishman, my sartorial darlings. I don’t do that whole ‘self-promotion, shouting from the rooftops’ thing. But, apparently, it’s the done thing to make a post when you’ve been nominated for The Bloggies in Second Life.

So here I am, shuffling awkwardly, wringing my fingers a bit, and mumbling something self-effacing and unintelligible. Good Lord, I mean… what?!

I’m honoured, truly I am. This came as a complete surprise to me, since I really don’t put myself out there all that much, in the manner of self-promotion. I’m quite happy to coast along, doing my own thing, thumbing my nose at restrictive rules, and skating merrily along the sidelines. But it appears that some of you won’t let me do that, and want to drag me out a bit more into the limelight, you glorious, evil little bastards ;-)

Fair do’s. I did submit this blog to Linden Lab’s Second Life Blogger Network. And I did get an early feature (the Omega ‘Bite Size Tutorial’ post) on their blog feed. And then the Firestorm changelog page for their Bakes on Mesh release linked to my Beginners’ Guide to Bakes on Mesh, and holy shit my stats haven’t recovered since.

So, um, yeah. I have been nominated for Best Tutorial Blogger (for this blog) and Best Review Blogger (for my Flickr account). My sincere thanks to those of you who nominated me, and if any of my sartorial darlings feel so inclined as to want to vote for me, you can do so here. (You will need to scroll down and click the ‘vote here’ button in order to see all categories, including the ones that I’m nominated for.)

And now I’m going to bury this post with another one, while I sidle off-stage, internally screaming the only question my brain can come up with right now:

WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO WEAR?!

Update: A quick edit to show my eventual outfit. Since the menswear stipulation for The Bloggies Gala was ‘black tie’ (honestly, that’s rather boring for me) I took Billy Porter’s tuxedo gown look from the Oscars as my inspiration, and Syd got an outing. Congratulations to all the winners!

Noob Dude: Bite Sized Tutorials Part 1 – Omega: What It Is & How It Works

Welcome to the first in a series of bite sized tutorials, each of which will cover a specific aspect of avatar customisation within Second Life. As with all of my posts, these are written primarily for male avatars, so any mesh bodies and heads, etc mentioned will be those specifically for men, but the basic principles will be the same no matter your avatar’s gender. All that will differ is the capabilities of your own preferred mesh body parts and their HUDs.

As usual, I will be writing with newbies in mind, but you don’t have to be a newbie to have questions that you feel awkward about asking. I’ll try to go as in-depth as I can, and cover all those ‘obvious questions’ that everyone feels they should know (but might not).

In this post you’ll see several words used that you may or may not be familiar with. So here’s a quick glossary before we dive in:

  • HUD: This is an object that you add from your inventory. It will place a clickable HUD (Heads Up Display) onto your screen.
  • Applier: This is a HUD that can be clicked to apply (hence the name) textures to your mesh body parts. These textures can be anything from skins to hairbases to makeup to eyes, etc.

Now on with the post.

We’ll begin with a word that you’ve probably seen plastered all over Marketplace, or been told that you need to use if you have a mesh body, or seen advertised next to a mesh head: OMEGA.

What is Omega?

Omega is a product created by Chellynne Bailey of the Omega Systems store. While it’s a brand in its own right, Omega is not the name of an actual skin or makeup etc applier; rather it’s a cross-brand ‘translator’ that allows you to use any appliers created using its scripts on any brand of mesh body part, as long as you have the corresponding Omega HUD.

That made no sense whatsoever, Skell…

Yeah, tell me about it. I’ve been trying for months to come up with an equivalent RL analogy for what Omega is. It’s “sort of like” generic medicine instead of Advil; it’s “sort of like” buying unbranded printer ink refills instead of Hewlett Packard branded refills, etc. In all honestly, the best thing I can do is guide you through how to use it, and that way it should make sense a bit better.

The two types of Omega HUD

Omega comes in two flavours: installer and relay. They act as follows:

  • an installer is a HUD that needs to be worn just once and clicked. It will install Omega compatibility into the relevant mesh body part that it’s for, and you can then remove the HUD. You will only need to re-wear the installer HUD if you either redeliver a fresh copy of the mesh body part, or make a copy of it, or if it’s updated, so hang on to the HUD
  • a relay is a HUD that you need to wear every time you want to make use of Omega capabilities on your mesh body parts. This HUD acts a bit like a remote controller, telling the body part which of the textures in the applier HUD needs to be worn

Omega HUDs are brand-specific

Omega is not a single “buy one and it works on everything” HUD. Each Omega installer or relay is coded to work specifically with a certain mesh body part brand. So, for example, if you have a Catwa mesh head and a Belleza mesh body then—in order to use, let’s say, an Omega skin on them—you will need the Omega HUDs for Catwa and Belleza.

So why would I want this?

Let’s say that you have a Lelutka mesh head and a Belleza mesh body. You’ve found a great skin that has a Lelutka head applier, but the store only has body appliers for Signature. Well you’d be out of luck, because Signature body appliers won’t apply to your Belleza body. But next to the Signature body appliers they also have Omega body appliers, and that means you’re in luck. With the Omega installer HUD for Belleza you’ll be able to wear that Omega body applier.

Now let’s move on a few months, and you’ve decided to change your mesh body. You’re now wearing the Signature body, so you might think Oh, I’ll go back to the store and buy the Signature body appliers. Nuh-uh. You don’t need to pay the full cost for the Signature body appliers; you just need the (much cheaper!) Signature Omega installer HUD, and you’ll be able to wear the Omega body appliers that you bought previously.

This cross-brand ability is the beauty of Omega: it saves you money by allowing you—for the much lower cost of a small HUD—to wear the same appliers on multiple brands of mesh body part, and this makes it incredibly versatile.

Let’s look at another example: you have a GA.EG mesh head and you want to buy some facial hair. While GA.EG is a fairly large brand in Second Life, it doesn’t have anywhere near as many brand-specific appliers created for it as the bigger brands such as Catwa and Lelutka, so your choice would appear to be far more limited, right?

Not so. Pick up the GA.EG Omega HUD (this one’s a relay, so you’ll need to wear it each time you want to put any Omega applier on your GA.EG head) and start hunting for Omega applier facial hair. The market is now wide open to you, as there are many more creators including Omega facial hair appliers than there are GA.EG-specific appliers.

As before, let’s move on a few months and you’ve decided to change to a Catwa mesh head. You now know what to do in order to keep wearing that great Omega facial hair that you bought for your old GA.EG head, right? Yep: just pick up the Omega relay for Catwa and wear it while applying that facial hair.

Does Omega have any limitations?

Yes, one or two. There are a few brands of mesh body parts that don’t have any Omega support, mainly because they stick to their own proprietary method of applying textures. To find out if your mesh body part brand is supported, search for the brand name at the Omega Systems Marketplace store. Make sure you look for the brand name and not the body name. For Signature’s Gianni body you need to search for Signature, and for Belleza’s Jake body you need to search for Belleza, etc.

Another limitation is that I wouldn’t really recommend it for skin appliers that go on your head, unless the applier states that it works best on a specific brand of head and you happen to have that brand. Each brand of mesh head differs in the way that its texture mapping goes onto the 3D shape of the mesh, and creators will usually map to the mesh head brand that they use. An Omega head applier that was originally mapped to a LAQ head would probably not look 100% right on a Lelutka head. The texture of the upper lip might go outside (or inside) the 3D shape of the mesh, the eye creases might not sit correctly, etc.

Mesh heads are more complex than mesh bodies, so the only issue you might have with Omega body appliers might be a slight offset in the placement of nipples, for example. Much less noticeable than lips and eyes (unless you have people regularly ogling your nips, in which case I say more power to you..!) So I would recommend Omega for any skin appliers for your body, as well as any ‘accessory’ appliers, such as facial hair, scars, freckles, eyes, makeup, hairbases, etc.

Where to buy Omega

Omega HUDs can be purchased from the Omega Solutions Marketplace store. However, here they do cost more than at the inworld store, where they’re even cheaper if you’re a member of the inworld group. You can redeliver any Omega purchase—be it from the inworld store or from Marketplace—at the redelivery terminal in the lobby of the inworld store. This is extremely useful when there are updates to the HUDs.

For much more in-depth information about Omega, visit their website: http://slpoweredbyomega.com/

Nothing but the fire

Age, my sartorial darlings. It creeps up on all of us, slowly but surely. For most of the twelve years that I’ve been a resident of Second Life, Skell has resided permanently in his mid 20s (26 being the age that he seemed stuck in, inside my head).

As I’ve noticed the fine lines and the grey creeping into my real life bathroom mirror reflection I guess I’ve become a bit more relaxed about letting Skell grow older in SL. Well, temporarily at least. And it’s possible to age gracefully in SL, with none of the accompanying crap that tends to go with it IRL. Creaky knees? (Well, okay, thanks to a youthful injury my knees have been creaky IRL for decades, but eh.) Aches and pains? Well…

OK, hang on a second. I’m not that old, damn it. And this is far too maudlin an intro to a post wherein Skell simply looks… distinguished.

There was no way on earth that I was missing the new Engine Room event, organised as it is by one of my favourite creators in SL: Walton F. Wainwright (faust.steamer) of [ContraptioN]. The build itself is worth a visit alone, but I went there primarily to empty Skell’s wallet on eight or so items that really caught my eye (plus several gachas, god help me). Prime of those were two more offerings from one of my other favourite creators in SL: HaydenAragon of Hotdog.

Since Hotdog first appeared on my radar at The Mens Department last August, I have been a faithful customer. Amid the depressing miasma of sweatpants, sweatshirts, sweatshorts, hoodies, tank tops, and sportswear that so many of the major menswear events are swamped with, both Hotdog and [ContraptioN] are breaths of fresh (well, maybe slightly ferric-tinged and a bit fusty) air.

Knickerbocker glory, and nary a cherry in sight

The Spencer Jumper comes with rigs for Gianni, Jake, Maitreya, Slink M&F, and Venus. Three options are at the event: plain (shown here), striped, and tartan. And, of course, the fatpack of all three (which is what I invariably end up buying). On each HUD there are 10 colours each for sweater and tie, and eleven for the shirt.

The Knickerbockers come with the same rigs and plain, striped, and tartan options. They come with socks and shoes included, so no need to try and find something that works with them. The HUDs – generous as ever – contain 10 colours for the knickerbockers, 11 colours each for the shoes and socks, two colors for buttons, and two for shoe laces.

“.. yet his leg excels all men’s ” – Shakespeare, via Juliet’s nurse, knew the value of a well-turned calf to Elizabethan sensibilities

Regular readers will know that I don’t smoke IRL, but Skell is a smoker. Avatar personality and quirks are things that one of these days I’ll get around to pulling my thoughts together for a blog post, but for now it should suffice to know that he’s happy to puff away on a cigarette, a cigar, and—on this rare occasion—a pipe. And this one is a classic beauty from KOPFKINO. It comes with several variants (both male and female) including Bento animated, static (for poses) and one to be held in the mouth. KOPFKINO also have a set of (male only; sorry ladies!) Bento smoking poses that can be used with the static version, which I’ve used in the header image and the one above.

My Grandad would have loved (and worn) this, and by extension I love it, too

I started this post by rambling on about age, so I’ll close with it too. I’ve relied on these fantastic wrinkle appliers by Izzie’s on several occasions in the past. With multiple options in the HUD (I’m wearing the full ‘all wrinkles’ set here) and versions for light and dark skintones, you can add years to any skin. Here I’ve got them laid over a beautiful smooth skin by L’Etre.

Lastly, there’s no beating Mister Razzor when it comes to salt-and-pepper facial hair. This Luigi set does also come with both black and tintable versions (Catwa and Omega) but it’s the ‘grey-headed’ version that I love here. And the salt-and-pepper tone from Exile’s greyscale HUD for the hair reflects a bit more what I see in that real life mirror these days.

The Engine Room event runs until October 20th. Seraphim gallery here.

Credits

Shirt & vest: Hotdog – Spencer Jumper (plain: Gianni, Jake, Slink M&F, Venus, Lara)
Pipe: KOPFKINO – Smoking Pipe
Hair: Exile – Relentless* (greyscale)
Wrinkles: Izzie’s – Face Wrinkles (Catwa, Lelutka, Logo)
Facial hair: Mister Razzor – Luigi (grey-headed: Catwa, Omega)
Eye appliers: Avi-Glam – Elysian (fjord: Omega, mesh, system)
Skin: L’Etre – Toni (buttermilk: Catwa)
Pose: KOPFKINO – Smoking Pipe Bento Poses (male)
Head: Catwa – Skell* (Bento)

*review copy

Second Life scammers and their tactics: A Virtual Bloke special post

Is it too good to be true? You bet it is…

If you’ve been active in any Second Life group—especially one for mesh heads or mesh bodies—for any length of time then you’ve probably seen people saying things like this:

  • I received an item earlier from “giftcatwa” that said it was an update. I didn’t think anything of it and accepted the item, thinking there was an update to my head. However, I just looked back the account “giftcatwa”, that sent it to, was just created today. Is this fake? and should I be worried thats I accepted the object?
  • just got a item from “catwaOffer” is this a real catwa bot? “CatwaOffer has given you this object: CATWA HEAD (gift)”
  • i just got this [16:31] Second Life: catwaupdate has given you this object: Re-delivery CATWA HEAD update
  • I need to tell some one about this its called catwagifts tried to tap into my lindens it says catwagifts Resident
  • hello, what happened when i got the item from eventcatwa in my inventory but not opened…so just delete or maybe save my linden to a friends?
  • Hi everybody, a question. I just received an object called CATWA HEAD Update from an avi called CatwaHeadStore… is this a scam?
  • is that latest CatwaHeadUpdate really from Catwa?

All of those came in to the Catwa support group over the long Easter weekend last year. Other groups for mesh heads and bodies were also being hit by these fake names, and they all had something in common: THEY’RE SCAMS.

These scams come in fits and starts—usually when school is out, or during public holidays, or times when you might expect sales and gifts, such as Black Friday—so I thought that I’d highlight some of them here as a kind of ‘buyer beware’.

For tips and tricks on how to check for legitimacy, and how to report scammers, read through to the end of the post.

Scam #1: The ‘update’

The first kind of scam you might encounter is the one that’s an ‘update’ to your mesh head or body. This is a bit of a screwy one, since many creators do just send their updates out of the blue. It’ll usually happen the second that you wear their item, or when you log in wearing that item. For example: in the past few days Signature updated their Gianni body to include a Bakes on Mesh version, and when I logged in while wearing that body the update was immediately sent to me.

Since I’m a CSR for Catwa, I can tell you here and now: For your security Catwa doesn’t send any updates out automatically. You have to manually update at one of the store’s redelivery terminals. (You can bookmark the webpage to save you from having to visit the store each time.) Any gifts must be collected in person from the store. If in any doubt, always check the profile of the person who gave you the item. Chances are it’s a one day-old throwaway account. CATWA CLIP is the owner of Catwa store.

However, there’s one thing to look out for when rezzing or wearing these updates to unpack them, and that’s the debit warning box. It looks like this in the stock Second Life viewer:

And like this in the Firestorm viewer:

I’ve used a legitimate vendor there, which I would expect to request permission to debit my account. But if you ever see that YELLOW text pop up, READ IT. No update or mesh head or body ‘gift’ will ever ask for permission to access your L$ balance.

Also, if you’re being offered an ‘update’ to a mesh head or body that you don’t even own? Yeah, ditch that bitch.

Scam #2: The ‘free gift’

This one crops up a lot. You’re out minding your own business, shopping or clubbing, or exploring, when all of a sudden some account with a name vaguely related to a mesh head or body store offers you a ‘free gift’. It’s usually a ‘Bento mesh head’, or a ‘free mesh body’.

Guess what? The only ‘gift’ in that is for the person giving it to you, if you rez the object and grant it debit permissions. Delete it with extreme prejudice.

Scam #3: The limited time (today only!) ‘discount’ mesh head or body, only buyable from a vendor in a sandbox (or after joining a group that costs L$)

This one is fairly recent, and it often starts at the creator’s actual store. Someone posing as a manager, an assistant, or a customer service representative (CSR) will approach you in a professional manner (sometimes in person, sometimes in IM), asking if you need any help. They will then tell you that there is a limited time discount on all the items you’re considering (mesh head or mesh body), but it’s “not at the mainstore”. They’ll then offer to teleport you to a specific vendor where you can take advantage of this amazing offer.

That vendor will—more often than not—be in a sandbox. Suspicious yet? Here’s an anonymised chat log that was reported to the Catwa group recently of just such an ‘offer’:

Scammer: Hi, how may i help you today?
Customer: just looking for a new head
Scammer: oh okay
Scammer: remember today they are only 4500 instead of 5k today only
Customer: omg i didnt know that
Customer: i love the bento one
Customer: [head name]
Scammer: okay, I’ll tp you to one in a sec
Customer: i am there
Scammer: its not here at the mainstore
Scammer: one sec
Customer: im trying [head name] on here at the main store
Scammer: do you wanna buy the [head name] head for the 4500?
Customer: i think so
Scammer: okay, I’ll tp you to a terminal
Customer: thank you

Luckily, in that case, the customer became suspicious and contacted one of the genuine CSRs. They didn’t fall for it, but it was close. And I’ve seen ‘offers’ that are ‘better’ than that. Here’s another. This one was hanging around at the Catwa store, with a full-body alpha on, and an ‘Assistant’ group tag, sending IMs to everyone in the store. This scam was a little different, because people were being told that—if they joined a specific group (for a fee, of course)—they could get deep discounts on mesh heads and bodies:

Customer: is it true that there are some discount on head 3599 instead of 5k
Customer: [14:46] Scammer: well remember when you buy through the group you will get the head for only 3599 instead of 5k
Skell Dagger: No that’s not true, [Customer].
Customer: this person has send me this IM pretend that but send me another group so was asking if this is true or a scam
Customer: oh thank you very much

When challenged, the scammer bit back, and then blocked me. Wonder why?

Scam #4: The unmissable Marketplace-only offer, at marketplace.altervista.org

It’ll be something similar to that URL: a clickable link to an absolutely unmissable offer on the Second Life Marketplace. It’ll be pasted in a group by a perfectly trustworthy-looking account (usually several years old) but just HOLD YOUR HORSES THERE. Look at that link more closely. Does that look like an official Second Life web address to you?

Thought not. That’s ’cause it ain’t. It’s a phishing attempt, and if you click it then you’ll find that—oh dear—you appear not to be logged into Marketplace. Enter your Second Life login credentials, though, and your name will be the next one to start spamming groups with those links…

Scam #5: The skimmer

Always ALWAYS ALWAYS pay close attention when purchasing anything, especially if it’s something expensive like a mesh head or body. There is a very pernicious and nasty kind of scam—known as ‘skimming’—where an avatar will stand close to a vendor while wearing an invisible ‘payable’ object. You’ll think you’re paying L$5000 to the vendor for that lovely Bento mesh head that you’ve got your heart set on, but—once the money’s left your account—no mesh head arrives in your inventory. You’ve just paid that skimmer the money instead.

Sometimes lag can cause the name on the ‘pay’ box of vendors not to show up. If that ever happens, cancel the purchase and try again. Keep trying until you see the name of the person you’re paying. It’ll be a clickable link, so—if you’re not sure who owns the store—click the link. It will take you to the profile of the person you’re about to pay. Do you see their store listed there, together with info about how to contact them, etc, as you might expect from a creator in Second Life? Or is it some rando’s account?

Scam #6: “Having trouble buying? Give me the money and I’ll buy it as a gift for you”

This can happen as a run-on from the skimmer, only in this case the skimmer’s invisible object is blocking you from paying, so that nothing happens. They then ‘helpfully’ offer to purchase the item as a gift for you, if you pay them the money.

Think you’re gonna get that gift? Ha! Nope.

Scam #7: “I only need a few more store credits to buy the XYZ add-on. If you give me the money to buy the item you want I can get it as a gift for you, and I’ll get the credits I need.”

Um, no. They’ll get the credits and your money, and you’ll get a big fat nothing.

Scam #8: “Want to buy a gift certificate from me? I just broke up with my gf/bf and it was going to be a gift for them”

No. Just no. Even if that is an actual gift card item, there’ll be no money left on it. And you don’t want someone else’s sloppy seconds gift card, right?

Scam #9: You’re struggling to get your avatar sorted out, and someone offers to do it all for you if you allow them access to your account

This is a huge risk, and it’s recommended that you do not do this. Here’s what Linden Lab have to say about allowing someone else to have access to your account by giving them your login details:

You are solely responsible for all activities conducted through your Account whether or not you authorize the activity (except to the extent that activities occur because someone gains access to our system without using your identifiers and password).

You are solely responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your password and for restricting access to your Internet Device. You are solely responsible for any harm resulting from your disclosure, or authorization of the disclosure, of your password or from any person’s use of your password to gain access to your Account or Account Name. You will immediately notify us of any unauthorized use of your Account, password or username, or any other breach of security related to the Service. At no time should you respond to an online request for a password other than in connection with the log-on process to the Service. Your disclosure of your password to any other person is at your own risk.

We will not be liable for any loss or damage (of any kind and under any legal theory) to you or any third party arising from your inability or failure for any reason to comply with any of the foregoing obligations.

Your password and its confidentiality are what protects your inworld content, your account, and any information associated with your account.

Scam #10: “hey nice avatar…im new to this game and saved 238 of those linden things from a contest and camping…im trying to get this skin/shape combo for 700…i feel bad for asking but can you please lend me 462 so i can get it?…if not thats fine too…just seems nobody wants to help me out”

Oh bless. It’s kevin1234, or is he tony756 today? Maybe chris833, or jason761? He’s become something of a ‘pet’ to us at Catwa, but he’s an annoying pet nonetheless. Don’t fall for it. He’s got a damn sight more than 238 of ‘those linden things’ in his pocket.

So how can you beat the scammers?

By being vigilant. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it seem too good to be true? A Bento mesh head (usual price L$5000) completely free and out of the blue, without having to join the store’s group and no group notices of an offer? Suuure…
  • Did you just request a redelivery before that ‘update’ came through? Or did you just add the mesh body or head that the update is for (or log in wearing it)?
  • Does that Marketplace link look legit? The real Marketplace link is: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/
  • Is the avatar giving you that ‘update’ or ‘gift’ a brand new, one day-old account?
  • Are you being asked to join a group that costs L$, just to get a ‘special discount’ on a mesh head or body? Or are you being offered a teleport elsewhere—somewhere other than the mainstore—to pay for a ‘special offer’ item?
  • Is the person offering the ‘discount’ or ‘special offer’ an actual CSR or manager for the store? Look up the store owner’s profile, and you’ll always see their managers and CSRs listed there, if they have any—either in the main ‘about’ section of their profile or somewhere in their picks section. Not seeing the ‘assistant’ tag-wearing person who’s making this unmissable offer listed there? Get the hell outta Dodge, pal.
  • If you accepted the item, simply delete it. If you rezzed or wore it to unpack it then—as long as you didn’t click ‘allow access’ on that yellow debit warning popup—you can just delete it.
  • If you did click ‘allow access’ to the debit warning popup, change your password immediately at the Second Life website, and then file a support ticket here. If your money is taken, then Linden Lab can usually manage to get it back to you after an investigation.
  • Abuse report the avatar who gave you the scam item. How you do this varies from viewer to viewer, but you can usually get to it via their profile. File the AR as ‘fraud’ and explain what happened.

Stay safe out there, my sartorial darlings.

Get Baked – A Quick Beginners’ Guide to Using Bakes on Mesh

Update: Need a simple guide to the absolute basics? Check out my Bakes on Mesh ‘for Dummies’ guide.

The long-awaited Bakes on Mesh has just finally been released into the main Linden Lab viewer, and a lot of people are asking a lot of questions about it. Mesh head and body groups are being inundated with queries about it, and—as a CSR for a major mesh head brand myself—I decided to spend the weekend testing it out.

Before I get started, please note the date of this post: 1st September 2019. Bakes on Mesh has only just been released, support for it (in the form of new system layer clothing, skins, makeup etc) is still very very sparse indeed, and I fully expect a lot more support to be forthcoming. Also, this post will be written primarily with male avatars in mind, as my blog is about menswear and style for men in Second Life, but these basics should cover any questions you ladies might have, too. (Although please bear in mind that I’m new to this, too, and what I’ve written below is only what I’ve discovered this weekend while using it, and summarised as best I can.)

This post will be peppered with various links, so I’ll summarise them all at the end.

Update: Since linking to this post on the official forums, some of the below words have been amended after correction by those more experienced than myself in the matter. Since I believe in visible corrections, rather than just erasing what is wrong and ‘covering it up’, I’ve just struck through my own words and added the revision, with attribution and a link to the post wherein the corrections were made.

Before you begin

First you need to determine if your mesh head and/or body natively support Bakes on Mesh (BoM). To do this, redeliver the items, or check the creators’ group notices and/or other social media such as blogs, Facebook, and Flickr. (Please don’t ask in the support groups, as they’re all getting inundated with questions about BoM! The creator will let you know when an update is ready.)

Some creators are updating their existing products and including additional BoM-compatible versions. Other creators are using scripting to add a BoM layer to their existing products. Others will not be backdating their current products, but instead offering BoM-compatibility going forward in new products.

However, in ALL CASES—as long as they have Omega support—you can still use BoM on any creator’s products right now, without waiting for updates! More on that in a bit.

If your head or body’s creator has installed native BoM support into their items then—when you wear them using a viewer that does not support BoM— you will look something like Skell does below:

This is how to tell if your mesh body and/or head natively support BoM, but you MUST check this in a non-BoM viewer. This is also how everyone else who is not using a BoM viewer will see you!

If you don’t see that, then you’re going to need the workaround that I mentioned a little while ago, and that is in the form of a new Omega HUD, which can be purchased here on Marketplace for L$125. It’s unisex and works for both male and female avatars.

You will also need the Omega relay or installer for your current mesh body parts. Go to the Omega Systems Marketplace store (or their inworld store) and search for the brand. If yours is an installer, you’ll need to click it once to install Omega compatibility into your mesh body part. If it’s a relay, you’ll need to wear it any time you want to use an Omega applier (in the case of this post, you’ll only need to wear a relay initially, while setting up BoM).

Next, you will—of course—need a BoM-compatible viewer. At the time of writing this post Firestorm doesn’t yet have it (although the beta branch does) so I used the stock Linden viewer (and boy, was I reminded why I never normally use that one…)

OK, ready to go ahead?

Quick checklist before we begin:

  • your mesh head and body are natively BoM-compatible, OR
  • you have (and are wearing) the Omega BoM HUD, plus the relevant Omega installer/relay HUDs for your mesh head and body, AND
  • you’re using a BoM-compatible viewer

Let’s get started :-)

First up, are you seeing red? Take off your body- and head-hiding alpha layers. You don’t need them with BoM.

Not my most fashionable look, I’ll admit…

If your mesh head and/or body offer native BoM support then your underlying system layers will already have baked onto those mesh body parts. Whatever system skin you’re wearing will now show up on your mesh avatar. Now is the time when you realise that—for all this time—you’ve been hiding some ancient monstrosity under your mesh! To get rid of that all you need to do is change your system skin. Simple as that.

Used below: Signature ‘Gianni’ body and Catwa ‘Daniel’ head. The ‘Baked Skin’ HUD is the Omega BoM HUD. This is a quick tour through some of my old system skins (yes, I kept a lot of my old ones, and I had some really odd and wonderful ones. I left the first bake to show in the video, so you can see how long it takes to bake down onto the mesh, but after that I skipped the actual bake and just showed the skins once baked.

System skin testing

If nothing has changed, because your mesh head and body don’t offer native BoM support then you need to add the Omega BoM HUD that you’ve puchased. Make sure that you’re also wearing the Omega relays for your mesh head and body (or have installed Omega into them). Click the Omega BoM HUD, and—after a second or so—your underlying system skin will bake onto your mesh body parts. (Keep that Omega BoM HUD on for a while as you dig through your system layers and try them on; sometimes you might need to give it another click to rebake everything again.)

Yeah, I’ll let you laugh. Just this once :p

And that’s the basics. You’re now using BoM! Be aware, though—as mentioned before—anyone not using a BoM-compatible viewer will see you with those strange coloured text blocks all over you. SL is going to look very weird for a bit (at least until all viewers have BoM compatibility and everyone has switched to those viewers), but then it looked weird for a while after Bento (‘melting faces’ for those not using Bento viewers), and after mesh was introduced (big blocky shapes for those not using mesh viewers).

So what next?

Now the fun starts. Those of us who are SL packrats will be unpacking our old system skins, hairbases, tattoos, and makeup and trying it all on. Not all of it will work, and a lot of it will look (un)surprisingly awful. Old system textures—no matter what size they were uploaded in—always ended up at 512px, and mesh avatars are capable of 1024px. That delicate tattoo that you used to love may well look disappointingly blurry.

Revision from Theresa Tennyson: “Skins, tattoos, etc. that had their textures uploaded at 1024×1024 will display at full resolution on mesh bodies (and currently on the system body, for that matter.) A skin is just like an applier – it’s a texture delivery system. The reason they used to display at 512 x 512 was that was the maximum resolution of the bakes provided by the baking service; however, that’s now been changed to 1024 x 1024.”

You might find that skins from one particular creator work better than those from another creator. For me, the ones that looked consistently good—about 90% of the time—were my old Tableau Vivant skins.

However, be aware that—because these are old system skins and weren’t created specifically for mesh topography—there may be small imperfections. Nipples might not sit in the correct location, or—as below—you may see little patches of odd colour:

Those of us who don’t have system layers to dig through, keep an eye on your favourite creators. Many of them—such as makeup creators, in particular—have been adding BoM layers in their products for a while now.

Some little details you need to know

Old system skins were designed and mapped to the original, pre-mesh avatar. That avatar had clunky fingers, and… well… paddles for feet. Those finger and toe textures are not going to map prettily onto your mesh hands and feet.

What I expect will happen for future system skins is that either creators will map them correctly for mesh bodies (but they might need to be body-specific in that case, or they might be like Omega body appliers are now) or they will include hand and feet appliers.

But what can you do about older skins? Those of us who are ancient enough to remember when prim nails came about might have a tintable nail-hiding system glove that we can use. And—as I just searched on Marketplace—someone has already created a new one! So pick up this fingernail cover layer if you want to use old system skins. Just add the glove layer, edit it, and tint it as close to your skintone as you can. (There’s also a sock layer from the same creator here.)

Guess what I’m doing below? I’ve layered my favourite old system tattoo hairbase (with those long Midge Ure-style sideburns) together with my Stealthic applier hairbase. So glad to have those sidies back!

Layering and how it works

This is more for the newer residents of SL: the ones who never used system layers. Something very important that you need to know is that depending on which layers they are, system layers sometimes stack in the order they were added.

Some layers stack as their names suggest: tattoo will always go beneath underwear; underwear will always go beneath clothing.

Revision from Theresa Tennyson: “Tattoos, etc. do stack in the order they’re worn in, but if you go to “Edit My Appearance” and click on a tattoo, etc. in the list of the items you’re wearing arrows will appear – clicking on those arrows will move that item up or down in the stack, and when you save what you’re wearing as an outfit that order will be remembered.”

(Y’know, I’ve spent 12 years in SL and every day is still a lesson to me. I had no idea about moving stacked layers like that…)

However, in the case of makeup—for example—the layers will stack in the order you added them. If you’re going to wear three different eyeshadows then you’ll get an entirely different look if you add them in 1, 2, 3 order than you would if you add them in 3, 2, 1 order.

But, oh… you can stack. Boy, can you stack. See this below? EIGHT sets of makeup. And not an alpha glitch in sight.

And—as mentioned on that image—if I changed my head to a different one, the bake would immediately go onto that (assuming I’d already got BoM sorted out on it, either natively or via the Omega BoM HUD). No more re-applying! And no more trying to remember which applier HUD you used, because you’ll still be wearing the layers!

Here’s a quick video showing those eight system tattoo makeup layers going on one by one:

OK, Skell, this is fucking AMAZEBALLS. Surely there’s got to be some cons to weigh against those pros?

Yeah, there are some.

  • You’re going to look ridiculous to others not using a BoM-compatible viewer, until all viewers have caught up. Give it about a year.
  • Your inventory will—I’m afraid to say—probably explode. You know that 30-colour applier HUD you’ve got for XYZ thing? For BoM that will turn into 30 separate items. So a 30-shade lipstick HUD will become 30 individual lipstick tattoos. Get organising and filing that inventory now
  • You may or may not be able to use appliers and other things such as materials/specular shine on your mesh body/head. This depends on the body part’s creator. BoM as it stands right now does not have materials support at all (although Linden Lab have it on their radar as a possbility for the future). Some mesh body parts will keep an ‘onion skin’ layer for adding shine, some may not change the ‘onion skins’ at all, and some will remove all but the single base BoM layer (therefore you won’t be able to add any shine whatsoever). Revision from Theresa Tennyson: “Materials don’t need to go on a “layer” – they can go directly onto the base mesh. It’s possible to have the visible “diffuse” texture of a mesh face set by BOM and the specular and normal maps set by appliers on the same face.”
  • Some of your favourite stuff will not update. Many creators have a huge back catalogue of items, and it would be a hell of a lot of work to expect them to update it all to include BoM layers.
  • If your mesh body updates to remove alpha cuts from its HUD, you’ll need to use alpha layers (which will hopefully be included with your clothing) to mask sections of your mesh body beneath mesh clothing. While there will no doubt be some ready-made sets of alpha layers available on Marketplace (from years ago) not all of them will work for more specific use cases.

And finally…

As someone who works in support inworld for a major mesh brand, I have one small plea: Please don’t ask continually in creators’ support groups for “when will your products be updated to BoM?” As mentioned, updating to BoM involves more than a simple flick of a switch. Linden Lab had it in the works for well over a year (closer to two, in fact), and then released it very suddenly: one weeks’ notice, and BOOM – it was live on the grid and in the viewer. In our support group we are literally being asked every ten minutes or so when BoM updates will be coming. Your favourite creator will let you know when their updates are ready. And you can, of course, already use BoM on all Omega-supported products using the method outlined above. No need to wait for updates!

Have some pretties, with eight makeup layers. Link summary will be at the bottom of the post.

Link summary

Legacy

“So you abandon us for eight months, and then you come back to write nice things about something you always bitched about in the past? WTF, Skell?!”

Yeah, this is going to be a difficult post to write, and—from the second I made the purchase decision for this—I was thinking OK, now how the hell am I going to justify this?

But, y’know, I’ve not shied away from eating my words in the past, and I won’t do so now. So, my sartorial darlings, here—from one of the biggest and most vocal critics of The Mesh Project— comes a review of the new Legacy body by The Shops.

Let’s get the cons out of the way first, because oh boy there are many, and I almost gave up on this body in frustration before I managed to even see it. But I’m nothing if not a stubborn fucker, and if I set my mind to doing something I’ll damn well do it.

We start with the demoing experience, which is… an experience. Quite literally.

While ladies can pick up a demo of the female Legacy body from either Marketplace or the Catwa store, gents don’t have those options. There is no male body demo on Marketplace, and none at the Catwa store (and I happen to know that Catwa did ask, but—for whatever reason—there is no male demo of the body outside of the mainstore at the moment).

ETA: The male demo is now on their Marketplace store at last.

Shopping at The Shops has always been a bit of an eye-gouging, all-white ordeal, but it now takes hold of your camera and teleports you all over the bloody place. First of all, you have to accept an experience, before you select either the male or female body. You’re then teleported back and forth until you land in the demo room. So click that ‘Try’ on the wall in front of you, and see what happens.

If you’re using a pre-animesh viewer you’ll receive an error message telling you that your viewer isn’t capable of running a specific, required runtime script. At least, that’s the error I was getting when I visited while using the pre-animesh Firestorm viewer. So backup and update your viewer and try again.

Did I mention that you need to remove all attachments before you try the demo? I took off everything but my head, and still all that I saw was the white demo rings around Skell’s body. Nothing else rezzed, so I teleported home and then back. And, of course, then had to go through the whole experience-related rigmarole again. Clicked the ‘Try’ link again, and glory be, finally the body rezzed.

And within two minutes, after a good cam around myself, I’d made up my mind. Because this body, my darlings, is fucking gorgeous.

I’ve been forced to give up my Slink body because hardly anyone is creating for it anymore. And I still missed the slenderness it gave me, the lean swimmer’s torso and broad shoulders that I had with it. I switched to Signature Gianni—mostly because that and Belleza Jake are the main bodies being created for by the majority of designers these days—but, despite working for ages to slim down the body to something more approaching my taste, those bulgy deltoids still caught my eye. And Jake and I have never quite seen eye-to-eye, despite my trying to get along with him, so…

I was wearing my skinnied-down Gianni shape when I demo’d the Legacy body, and it was nigh on perfect even with that. I’m wearing it in these shots, but I’ll probably tweak the shoulders just a little.

It also comes with nine starter shapes to play around with. If you’re wearing a Bento head you should always be wearing a shape that’s created for that head, but try those shapes anyway, and—if you like any of them— write down all the slider numbers on the Body, Torso, and Legs tabs, then transfer them to your mesh head shape.

Yes, there are some issues. I’ve not been playing around with this much, but I’ve noticed a couple of issues, as follows:

  • Tiny cracks just above the armpits and above the edges of the lower abdominals when above 1000m height inworld. The creators are already aware of this, according to their blog, and it’s being investigated.
  • The ‘camera’ icon on the main ‘Edit’ HUD can seriously fuck up your main camera view. My camera was completely screwed until I realised I must have clicked that setting while testing the HUD. It took several relogs and a lot of messing around with debug settings before my camera was under my control again and pointing in the way I wanted it to.

The body comes with a very generous HUD. Multiple skins, tons of nail polish options (yes, even for the guys; nice to have black polish on both finger and toenails from the very start).

The alpha section of the HUD is tricky to work with, as the cuts aren’t marked on it, and some of them are fucking tiny and wafer-thin. You have some major cut lines visible, but have to guess where you’re clicking. But the selection of cuts is pretty good. Between those and the deformers you should be able to get most clothing to work.

Ah yes, those deformers. Those can’t be demo’d, so you’ll only get them when you purchase the body. I didn’t really need them with the Gianni clothing I was wearing (jeans by Riot and a shirt by Mossu), but decided to try them anyway. I don’t know how they work, but it appears that they rez another upper or lower (depending which you selected) body over the top of your actual body, then… reshape it? It’s hard to explain, but what I saw was the glitchy flickering of another skinned body appearing over the main Legacy body for a few seconds until the deform worked. This doesn’t seem to affect your avatar complexity, though; the body is surprisingly low-CI, and script usage is a minimal 64kb.

One thing I really loved was the alpha export option. Get your alpha cuts all set up, then click ‘export’ on the HUD. You’ll get a popup asking you to enter a name for the export, so do that (I named mine after the outfit I was wearing). Click OK and a second later a box will rez in front of you (named whatever you just called it). Take it into inventory, and add it to your outfit folder. Next time you wear that outfit the alpha cuts will be automatically set. (The alpha HUD is tiny and invisible, but it appears you do have to keep wearing it, so that’s one HUD slot you’ll lose. Unless I was just being hit by lag, because when I detached the alpha HUD the body was reset.)

The body comes with a basic set of clothing: chinos, a sweater (slim and loose versions) and shoes, in several colours, as well as a pair of black briefs (featured in this post).

I’ve found three creators who have thus far made male skin appliers for Legacy: Birth, Stray Dog, and Vendetta. I’ve been wearing Birth’s gorgeous body appliers (in tone 01) and their Dakota head applier for Catwa throughout this post. Below is an image of that, plus two quick shots of tone 04 in both the Stray Dog and Vendetta skins:

Update: Clef de Peau now also have Legacy body appliers for men (in their ‘tight’ set only at the moment; this is the toned body applier). Currently out at the July round of Kustom 9, they should go into the CdP mainstore after the event ends.

Update: Not Found also now have legacy body appliers for men.

The neck fit against my Catwa ‘Skell’ head was damn near perfect, which was a pleasant surprise.

So yeah. Those were some crunchy, tasty words. This is a new team of people, and they’ve got rid of many of the things that irritated the hell out of me regarding The Mesh Project, so I decided to give them a chance again. I’m glad that I did. Yes, the body is much more expensive than any other one out there (L$5,000) but if you’re feeling flush and willing to give it a go I’ve at least given you a few guidelines above for things to take care of (updating your viewer and removing attachments) before you demo it.

Further information

Credits

Skin: Birth – Dakota (tone 01)
Hair: Stealthic – Like Lust
Facial hair applier: CDC Creations – Beard 46 tintable (Catwa, Omega, Signature)
Eye appliers: S0NG – Nobu Eyes (Catwa)
Piercings: Artificial Hallucination – Loke Rigged Ear Piercings (Catwa)
Head: Catwa – Skell*

*review copy

Catwa ‘Dude’ male Bento mesh head

“I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. That, or His Dudeness … Duder … or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”

Just a quickie today, since I have some good news for you virtual blokes out there (and for the virtual ladies with virtual male alts).

I hope you’ll be able to log into Second Life on Friday 23rd November, my sartorial darlings, because Catwa Clip has a real treat for you. Her new male Bento head—named Dude—will be released on that day, and from 00:01hrs SL Time to 23:59hrs SL Time on that day only it will be half price.  That’s a Catwa Bento head for just L$2,500 instead of L$5,000. Buy from the inworld store and you also get store credit to put against future purchases.

UPDATE: The half price offer is now over.

Here’s my quick take on ‘Dude’, with a few tweaks of the shape to personalise him:

Dude has a lower lip to die for, and at half price for Black Friday 2018 he’s a steal.

IMPORTANT: Be aware that this head has some tweaks made to the rigged eyes to make them sit further forward in the head, so your old Catwa bento shapes will not look their best on it. (Try ’em and you’ll see what I mean.) Make sure you begin with the included starter shape, which you can then edit to suit you. I have Skell’s body numbers written down in a file, so every shape that I get has those changed immediately, before I begin work on the face.

Here’s the ad image for Dude:

Image by Catwa Clip

You can pick him up from the Catwa store starting this Friday 23rd November. The limited time half price offer on this head runs from 00:01hrs SL Time on Friday 23rd November until 23:59hrs SL Time on the same day. After that the head will return to its full L$5,000 price. Remember: the times are for Second Life Time, not your local timezone, so check the time in your viewer!

UPDATE: The half price offer is now over.

If Dude is your first Catwa Bento head, check out my Noob Dude – Beginner’s Guide to Catwa Bento Mesh Heads for the Second Life Male Avatar post, to get you set up and started :-)

Credits for my image

Head: Catwa – Dude* (Bento)
Skin applier: Birth – Miller (T1)
Hair: VoltHair – Enzo (B&W)
Shirt: Contraption – Scholar’s Bound Waistcoat
Ears: L’Etre – Olympe Mesh Ears
Facial Hair: CDC Creations – Beard 46 Tintable
Eye appliers: Avi-Glam – Elysian Eyes (fjord)
Brow appliers: Identity Body Shop – Thick Brows
Eyeshadow: Zibska – Noir Pack 13

*review copy