Noob Dude: A Style 101 for the Second Life Male Avatar – Part 2 – How to Get Dressed (Mesh Head & Mesh Body)

Current world events have seen a lot of people returning to Second Life after a long time away from it, and they’re finding that things have changed in a big way. If they left SL prior to the beginning of 2012 they have no idea what mesh is. If they left prior to the end of 2015 they have no idea what Bento is. They’re seeing confusing terms like ‘applier’ and ‘rigged’ and ‘Bakes On Mesh’. Most of all, they’re probably looking at their own avatar and comparing it to the avatars they see around them, and wondering why those avatars look so different (at least, once all of the disjointed body parts have stopped floating around and coalesced into a person). And they’re going to have a LOT of questions:

  • What’s all this new stuff? Signature? Catwa? Legacy? Genus? BoM? HD heads?
  • Why are skins in boxes that I can’t unpack?
  • I managed to unpack this box of facial hair but it only gave me a script called ‘applier’?
  • You’re telling me I have to buy separate skins for my head and  my body? WTF? A skin is a skin! There’s only one skin!

Stepping back from my near-13 years in Second Life and trying to see the grid as it is now—this time through the eyes of a returnee—I could think of a lot more questions and confusions, but perhaps the one I’ve dealt with most frequently of late in my role as a CSR for one of the biggest mesh head brands on the grid is the confusion of “How the hell do I actually get dressed in all this stuff?!” However, that’s a question that’s not only being asked by returnees, so this post—while principally aimed at those who haven’t been around for a while—is intended to help any  guy who’s struggling with all the terminology, and with how he puts it all together into a cohesive and decent-looking avatar.

While my blog is aimed primarily at male avatars some of the explanations within will help to explain terminology for anyone returning to SL, so just because this is titled as “A Style 101 for the Second Life Male Avatar” some of it may be beneficial to all genders. However, once I get into the nitty gritty of heads and bodies I will be focusing solely on male content.

Be warned: We have a lot of ground to cover and this post is going to be a LONG one, so make a tea or coffee (or grab a beer) and sit down, while Uncle Skell tries his best to summarise eight years of progress into a single blog post! I think I’m gonna need a drink or three myself, to help me get through writing this one, but I’ll break it up as much as possible so your eyes are not glazing over at walls of text…

First of all, if you’re coming back to Second Life after a long time away, then welcome back! I’m going to start by giving you a quick glossary of the terms you might not be familiar with, together with some ‘further reading’ links for some of those terms. So as not to pad this post out to a ridiculous length, I’m just going to give basic explanations in that glossary, so the links will be there to give you more information if you want a deeper understanding.


Mesh = Introduced at the start of 2012, mesh is a 3D object that—while it has not physically replaced the ability  to create using prims and the like—has all but replaced the usage  of prims and sculpts in most items in Second Life. It allows for much finer detail than prims or sculpts, it has a vastly lower LI (Land Impact; the way we now express ‘prim count’) than prims and sculpts, and it is now the primary way in which many people customise their avatars. Mesh is created using external programs, and—when worn on an avatar—its has two options: rigged and unrigged. Read more about mesh here and here.

An example of an avatar wearing full mesh head, body, hair, and outfit, and standing in the middle of a mesh backdrop.

Rigged Mesh = The best way to describe rigged mesh is to envision it being ‘pinned’ to your avatar in certain places. Rigged mesh cannot be moved or manually resized, and in most cases you can’t even select it on your avatar to even try moving it. Rigged mesh will flex and move with your avatar, so you can have an all-in-one thigh-high boot that bends at the knee and ankle when you walk, instead of a foot section, a shin section, and a thigh section, all of which ‘break’ when you walk. Rigged mesh will resize and stretch when you manipulate certain shape sliders, so those thigh boots will become longer or shorter if you change your leg length.

Note: Rigged mesh is important when it comes to choosing a mesh body. More on that later.

Unrigged Mesh = As you may guess, unrigged mesh can  be moved and resized (assuming the creator has given it those permissions). It looks the same as rigged mesh, except that it’s not ‘pinned’ to you and won’t flex and move in the same way as rigged mesh will. Example: no creator would sell an all-in-one thigh-high boot that was unrigged, because parts of it would swing out and away from your avatar when you moved!

Bento = Introduced at the end of 2015, Project Bento added lots of new bones to the avatar skeleton. These extra bones mean you can now wiggle your fingers individually, that quadruped avatars can have much more realistic legs and tails, and—with especial regard to this post—that you can customise Bento-rigged mesh heads with your system shape sliders. Read more about Bento here.

Mesh Body = A mesh body is an object that you wear over the top of your system avatar. You will first need to wear an alpha layer (the modern equivalent of invisiprims, if you remember those) to hide your system body. Most mesh bodies are sold without heads (although a very small number of creators also sell matching mesh heads) so you can either use your system head with a mesh body, or hide your system head and also buy a mesh head. Most mesh bodies are Bento-rigged (see above) so your fingers can animate in quite complex ways. Mesh bodies make use of either appliers or BoM (Bakes on Mesh) to texture them. A mesh body will set you back anything between L$2,500 and L$5,500, although cheaper variants are also available (as well as free ones that usually cannot be customised with different skins at all).

Three examples of mesh bodies: Signature ‘Gianni’ on the outside, and Meshbody ‘Legacy’ in the middle.

Mesh head = Like a mesh body, a mesh head is an object that you wear over the top of your system avatar, and you will first need to wear an alpha layer to hide your system head. Most mesh heads are sold without bodies, and they come in several variants that were developed over the years as more capabilities were added to Second Life:

  • Basic mesh heads = these cannot be edited by using shape sliders, but you can change your skin, and add facial hair, makeup, hairbases etc to them. These are the cheapest heads that you can buy, averaging at just under L$1,000
  • Frames animated mesh heads = these came along a little after basic heads, and they make use of multiple ‘frames’ of mesh that run through slightly different movements, a bit like a flip book. When running through all of those frames one after the other, the impression given is of animation. Like basic heads, these cannot be edited using the shape sliders, but you can change your skin and add facial hair, makeup, hairbases etc to them. These are the mid-range heads, averaging at a starting price of just under L$1,000 for the head alone and up to L$5,000 if you opt for all the available additional frames animations
  • Bento mesh heads = using the Project Bento system that added lots of new bones to the Second Life avatar, these heads can be manipulated using the system shape sliders. They usually come complete with realistic motion capture animations and other features. These are the highest price heads, averaging at approximately L$5,000
  • HD mesh heads = the newest kid on the block, HD heads are developed with much finer details. HD heads require special skins that are created specifically for them (skins created for other types of mesh head will look odd). These heads will usually set you back the same price as a Bento head.

Mesh heads make use of either appliers or BoM (Bakes on Mesh) to texture them.

Three examples of what you can do with mesh heads. All of these are the same head (Catwa ‘Skell’ – yes, named after me) and the same underlying shape.

Applier = an applier (as might be guessed from its name) is a way of applying a texture to a mesh body or head. Appliers come in the form of a HUD (Heads Up Display) which looks like an object (‘golden box’ icon) in your inventory, and—once added—will place a clickable image on your screen. Clicking that image will apply the relevant item to your mesh body or head. Appliers are one of two ways you can texture your mesh head and body. The other way is…

Bakes on Mesh (BoM) = Bakes on Mesh (abbreviated to BoM or BOM) is a relatively new system in Second Life. When enabled on your mesh head and body it allows any system layers that you’re wearing on your non-mesh body (your basic system body) to show on your mesh head and body. Read more about Bakes on Mesh here.

Demo = A demo is a (usually) free copy of an item, which is altered or defaced in some way. It’s offered by many stores so you can try the item on to ensure that it fits, or that you like the look of it, etc. When it comes to anything mesh—be it clothing or a mesh head or a mesh body or anything else where you have the option to try a demo—YOU SHOULD ALWAYS DEMO. That went into all caps purely because it’s vitally important. I have helped far too many guys who were impatient, who didn’t want to bother with demos, and who subsequently spent hundreds of (real life) dollars on mesh heads and bodies that ended up not being what they wanted.


One of the questions I see most often asked is “Which is the best mesh body?”

Well, ‘best’ is entirely subjective, and what is best for you may not be best for me. I’m the kind of guy who likes to have all the bells and whistles. I want to be able to customise the hell out of my avatar, so I’m happiest with a body (and head) that I can do that with. You, on the other hand, might be the kind of guy who can’t be arsed with all that crap; you might just want to look gym-toned, have a nice bit of facial hair covering a square jaw, with medium-tanned skin, and bright blue eyes. I like complexity and options out the wazoo, while you like simplicity and have a ‘chuck it on and forget about it’ attitude. Neither of those ways is wrong, and neither is ‘best’ for everyone.

That said, I’m going to point you upwards to the final point mentioned in the glossary: DEMO. The way to find the body that’s best for you is to demo them all. Demos of all the bodies I’m about to mention are completely free, and they’re all fully-featured (which means they’re not limited in any way, with the exception of floating demo signs around you or something similar).

Things you need to bear in mind when choosing a mesh body:

  • Whether it has the kind of physique that you want, or whether you can shape it to the kind of physique that you want using the shape sliders. Some bodies are more muscled than others, so you will have to work harder with the shape sliders to slim down those muscled bodies if you don’t want to look like you visit the gym every day.
  • Whether it has decent mesh clothing and applier (or BoM) support from creators. Some bodies are more popular than others, and with all mesh bodies you are going to mainly be purchasing mesh clothing that is rigged for that particular body. More on that later.
  • Do you like the options that you have with it? Is the HUD easy to use, and does it offer you what you need (be that simplicity or all those bells and whistles)? Does it have options to use both appliers and BoM?

All of those three things need to be considered in combination with each other. If you’re not fussed about clothing and only want a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a pair of sneakers then a high amount of clothing support from creators isn’t going to be top of your list. If you don’t want to bother with appliers and would like to keep using the system skins that you’re familiar with then BoM is going to be a crucial thing for you. And so on.

With that said, I’m going to give a quick summary of the ‘biggest name’ male mesh bodies in Second Life, bearing the above points in mind. I’ll list them in a vague semblance of order, but in reality there are two top dogs, one runner-up, several middle-of-the-packs and a bunch of stragglers, so I’m only going to detail the big guns below.

Signature ‘Gianni’

  • Inworld store location: Signature Body
  • Marketplace link: Not available on Marketplace
  • Price: L$4,000 (as at May 2020)
  • Physique: Very gym-toned, but not overly-muscular. Has prominent arm muscles, but these can be toned down with some shape work
  • Ease of use: Simple, but if you want complexity you also have that. The HUD has multiple alpha cuts for fitting, with both front and back of the body showing at the same time. It has a BoM button to change from appliers to BoM, and many other options
  • Clothing support: Excellent. You will always  find clothing rigged for Gianni
  • Applier support: Excellent. Almost all skin creators have appliers for Signature bodies
  • Customer service: Signature Body inworld group
  • Additional notes: Signature also sell mesh heads. Applier support for these (outside their own skintones, which match their body default skintones) is almost non-existent, but with BoM you can use any system layers on them, so applier support is less important

Belleza ‘Jake’

  • Inworld store location: Belleza
  • Marketplace link: Not available on Marketplace
  • Price: L$2,999 (as at May 2020)
  • Physique: Gym-toned but less muscular than Signature ‘Gianni’ (although it can be bulked out with some shape slider work). Has prominent inguinal crease built into the mesh, and light veining on the arms
  • Ease of use: A little less intuitive than Signature. Selecting the alpha cuts on the HUD can be a bit fiddly, and there is a ‘rotate’ button that you need to click to access alpha cuts for the back of the body. It’s not set up for BoM, but a free relay HUD is available on the Second Life Marketplace to enable BoM
  • Clothing support: Excellent. You will always find clothing rigged for Jake
  • Applier support: Excellent. Almost all skin creators have appliers for Belleza bodies
  • Customer service: Send notecard or IM to Belleza CSRs Kare (kare28) or Jaycee (xjayceex)
  • Additional notes: The Jake body comes with a skin applier for Catwa mesh heads, so if you decide on a Catwa head then you don’t need to worry about additional head appliers

Meshbody ‘Legacy’

  • Inworld store location: The Shops
  • Marketplace link: Free demo & full-priced version
  • Price: L$5,500 (as at May 2020)
  • Physique: Toned and able to go from lean to muscular. Very versatile and comes with multiple starter shapes
  • Ease of use: Trickier than Signature and Belleza HUDs. A bit of guesswork is involved when using the HUD (only the major alpha cuts are visible, and you’ll need to click to discover where the smaller ones are!), but the HUD comes with a very generous amount of defaults such as skintones and nail colours (even nail polish, if that’s your thing). It has a BoM button to change from appliers to BoM
  • Clothing support: Decent. Legacy is still a fairly new mesh body, but there’s enough clothing support out there to put a good wardrobe together
  • Applier support: Good. A reasonable number of skin creators have appliers for Legacy
  • Customer service: LiveHelp inworld group
  • Additional notes: The Legacy body comes with its own starter wardrobe of clothing—chinos, sweater, shoes, and underwear—so if you’re an ‘only needs one outfit’ kind of guy, you’re all set to go

Slink ‘Physique’

  • Inworld store location: Slink
  • Marketplace link: Slink
  • Price: L$2,250 (‘bundle’ purchase with body, hands, and feet) (as at May 2020)
  • Physique: Lightly toned and lean, but can be bulked out surprisingly well by adding about 5% to body fat. This body is great if you want a swimmer’s torso: lean with broad shoulders
  • Ease of use: Very simple to use, but has a lot of options (it’s a ‘bells and whistles’ HUD, but not complicated at all). You get two versions of the body: one already set up for BoM (this one’s called ‘Redux’) and one to be used with appliers (this one’s called ‘Classic’)
  • Clothing support: Lots of clothing was made for Slink in the past, but it’s lost a lot of support in the last couple of years as muscle boys Gianni and Jake have risen to the fore. You’ll still find some stores creating for Slink so there’s no shortage of stuff out there, but you’ll need to visit mainstores rather than do your shopping at the big monthly menswear events
  • Applier support: Middling. As with clothing, lots of skins made in the past but not so many currently. However, you can use the cross-brand Omega body appliers offered by most skin creators (read up about what Omega is here) and with the included Redux version of the body you can use any system skins, so applier support is not critical
  • Customer service: Send notecard or IM to SLink or email Slinkhelp@gmail.com
  • Additional notes: Slink is the only male body with built-in genitalia, which can be shown (or hidden) via its HUD. Granted, it may not be to your liking, and it’s not scripted to do anything, but if you’re at a nude beach and don’t want to be a Ken Doll (but you can’t yet afford to buy third-party genitalia) then it will do in a pinch. It’s also the only male body to have a built-in bulge in the mesh at the crotch, so if you’re using BoM (Bakes on Mesh) or applier pants you won’t look completely flat as if you’re tucking.

Signature ‘Geralt’

As Signature ‘Gianni’ with the following differences:

  • Physique: Gym-toned, but much more man-in-the-street than Gianni
  • Clothing support: Middling. While Geralt has clothing support, there’s much less of it than there is for Gianni

Niramyth ‘Aesthetic’

  • Inworld store location: Niramyth
  • Marketplace link: Niramyth
  • Price: L$2,799 (as at May 2020)
  • Physique: Extremely muscular, this is the gym-addicts body. If you’re after beef in SL then this is the body you want.
  • Ease of use: Can’t help you here, I’m afraid. This is the one body that I’ve not tried (since its shape has zero appeal to me). I’m unsure if it has BoM support or not
  • Clothing support: Fairly good. Quite a few designers rig for Aesthetic
  • Applier support: Very scarce, especially if you opt for a different brand of mesh head (Niramyth also sell their own heads). Catwa Bento mesh heads have default skins that match to three Niramyth tones (‘Enzo’ light & medium, and ‘Smith’ light), and Birth and Nivaro sell skin appliers for a Catwa/Niramyth combination, but that’s about it
  • Customer service: Contact Aiko Yue for customer support, or ask in Niramyth group for community support
  • Additional notes: If muscles are your thing, then the Niramyth bodies come as a complete avatar package. You’ll get a body and head, an AO (animation overrider) and a good basic set of clothing

Those are the main mesh bodies. Others include: Altamura, NX Nardcotix, Ex Machina, and Adam.


First of all you’ve got to unpack the thing! The vast majority of packed items now come in the form of either an unpacker HUD or a wearable bag or box, so right-click the object in your inventory and select ADD. You may need to click the HUD (or bag) or it may auto-unpack. Just get the bloody thing unpacked and into your inventory, then detach the unpacker ;-)

Open up the folder and—before you do anything else—look at what’s inside it. Don’t, for god’s sake, just wear the entire folder, otherwise you might be wearing two bodies and a load of boxes and/or bags! (And yes, I’ve seen that happen, only that time the guy was wearing FOUR bodies.) The main things you need to look for are:

  1. an alpha layer (inventory icon – white t-shirt with a grid pattern on it)
  2. a shape (inventory icon = a human figure)
  3. the body (inventory icon = object)

Right-click and ADD each of those things in the above order (always ADD, never WEAR, although you can only WEAR the shape).

  1. The alpha layer will render your underlying system avatar invisible. Your folder might include several alpha layers, so look at what they’re called. One called ‘full avatar’ will make your whole avatar invisible, including your head. One called ‘body’ will just render your body invisible and leave your system head showing. If you’re trying on just the body to begin with, use the ‘body’ alpha layer.
  2. The shape will give you the same shape as you see in the body’s advert. For now, use this shape while you’re trying things out. You can edit it using the system shape sliders later, but be forewarned: if you’re going to choose a Bento mesh head, you’ll need to change to a different specific shape, so don’t make too many permanent adjustments just yet!
  3. The body will… well, it’ll attach the mesh body to you. Pretty obvious, that one.

Now take a look at yourself. Are you complete, or are you missing some hands and feet? If those rather important bits are indeed missing you’ll find them in your folder, so ADD those as well. You can now get an idea of how good this body looks, but don’t take it at face value. Is it too muscular? You might be able to change that with the shape sliders. Too slim? Same thing with the shape sliders, so right-click on yourself and go into Edit Shape, just as you used to do with your system avatar. Play around with the sliders under the Body, Torso, and Legs tabs to see if you can get the body looking how you want it to.

Once you’ve messed around a bit with the shape and you’re happy that you can get your physique to look how you want, it’s time to come out of edit appearance and check out the body’s HUD. Find it in the folder and ADD it. Depending on which body you’ve chosen you’ll see something that looks pretty bloody complicated at first glance, but it’s usually common sense. Most body HUDs will have—at minimum—the following tabs:

  • Alpha cuts = you’ll know these because they will be human figures with lines on them. Clicking in these areas will mask out (make invisible) sections of your mesh body, for better fitting under mesh clothing. Your HUD might show both the front and back of your body at the same time, or it might have a ‘turn around’ button to show one or the other side.
  • Skins = you’ll know these because they will have skintone coloured boxes. Clicking these will change the skintone on your mesh body.
  • Settings/Extras = this will be at least one tab (possibly two separate tabs) for things like enabling BoM, changing nail colour, neck fixes, hiding and showing tattoo/underwear/clothing layers (for appliers) and the like. They will also all have—usually somewhere on one of these tabs—a reset button, so if you mess up completely you can restore the body to factory settings. (Make sure you locate that button before you start to discover what the HUD can do. There’s nothing like turning your entire body purple and not knowing how the hell to get back to normal again!)

Time to start clicking those buttons to see what they do. I’ll leave you to it ;-)

Update: Because I’ve just run into this yet again inworld, I’m going to amend this post to add it. At the start of this section I said the following: Don’t, for god’s sake, just wear the entire folder, otherwise you might be wearing two bodies and a load of boxes and/or bags! (And yes, I’ve seen that happen, only that time the guy was wearing FOUR bodies.) Well take a look at this:

This guy was at Akeruka. Above his head I could see a bright red ‘texture area warning’, and no wonder. He was wearing four copies of the same body!

If you’re wearing Belleza’s Jake body, you only need ONE of those. They are each different copies of the body, with different options for hands and feet. The most up-to-date one is the one called -Belleza- Jake 2.1 Bento. All of the others are older options, to be worn if you have older fitted items such as shoes or gloves/nails, since—when Belleza updated Jake—they changed the mesh on the hands and feet. Confusing for anyone, I know, especially if you’re not aware of that. And the way that they’re named makes it look as if one of those items is just the feet and another is the hands. But they are all full bodies. Here they are in the actual folder:

All four copies of the Belleza Jake body. You only need to wear ONE of these, and in most cases that would be the one at the top of the highlighted list.

Belleza isn’t the only body that has multiple copies. Signature has two options, as well: an SL Neck version and a New Neck version. Which one you wear will depend on which mesh head you’re wearing. Again, confusing as hell, but that’s why I cautioned against just wearing everything in the folder! Take your time and try each item on individually to see what it is.


Before I begin this section, I must give a disclaimer: I am a CSR and Manager for the Catwa brand. That said, I strive always to give the most impartial advice that I can, and I promise never to ‘shill’ for that brand, either here or anywhere else (such as the official Second Life forums) where I am actively giving avatar customisation help. I know Catwa heads inside and out, and I have experience with a couple of other brands, but—because of my affiliation—I must let you know upfront that I will be giving fewer details in the next section, as I don’t want (even inadvertently) to ‘favour’ any one brand, and I also don’t have enough experience with all the brands to be able to offer more than basic information. You must let the demos be your guides.

Hopefully you read the information about different types of mesh head that I gave in the glossary of this post, and you have an idea of the kind of mesh head that you want, be that based on features or price point. Below I’m going to give a brief summary of each of the main brands of mesh head. Since most brands have multiple heads I won’t list all the names, and—since all of these brands have BoM capability—while I will mention the applier support for each, please bear in mind that even for those with less applier support you can always use BoM skins.

Please note: This list will focus only on brands who have male mesh heads for sale at the time of writing this post (May 2020).

Catwa

LeLutka

  • Inworld store: LeLUTKA Mainstore
  • Marketplace link: LeLutka mesh heads are only available inworld
  • Applier support: Excellent
  • Customer service: LeLutka inworld group or send IM or notecard to CSR Sio (siobhin.shippe)

Akeruka

Altamura

GA.EG

Vista

Yes, by far the VAST majority of applier skins that you’ll find for mesh heads will be for either Catwa or Lelutka. You’ll be mostly limited to the store’s own brand skins if you choose another brand. You can always use Omega head appliers (which are few and far between for male skins) or BoM skins, but be aware that if they are not created specifically for your brand of mesh head they may not ‘map’ perfectly (textures such as the lip line and eye creases may not sit in the correct positions on the 3D mesh shape of the head).


As with your mesh body demo(s), you now need to unpack your mesh head demo(s), so ADD them from your inventory and get those boxes and bags unpacked into folders. Then—again, as you did with your mesh body—STOP and look at the folder’s contents. Depending on which head(s) you’ve picked up demos for, you might have a bewildering amount of stuff staring back at you.

The basics that you will need to ADD are:

  1. an alpha layer (inventory icon – white t-shirt with a grid pattern on it)
  2. the head (inventory icon = object)
  3. the eyes (inventory icon = object)

Once you’ve got those on, take a look at yourself. Do you already have ears on? That’s good; no need to attach any extra ears that may be in the folder. Can you see teeth? (You might need to cam inside your head to take a look.) If so, great; if not, then look for any items in the folder called ‘teeth’ or ‘jaw’ or something like that, and ADD it.

Now take another look at yourself. A good, long, hard, critical look. Do you look kinda… freaky? Scrunched-up eyes? Small chin (or a chin that juts a mile out from your face)? That means you’re wearing a Bento head, and—as you will recall from the glossary—Bento heads can be edited by means of the shape sliders. But don’t steam in right away and try to ‘fix’ that weird-lookin’ mug you’ve got going on just yet. The fix is much simpler, and it’s why I told you not to make too many permanent adjustments to the shape you wore when you tried on your mesh body.

Most Bento mesh heads will look weird if you put them on over a shape that isn’t created specifically for them. Every Bento mesh head will come with its own ‘starter shape’ that sets the perfect slider numbers for you to start customising and making it more unique to you. So go back into the head’s folder, find that starter shape, and WEAR it. Your head will suddenly look ten times better.

Sidenote: If you did make some slider adjustments to your shape that you liked on the mesh body you’ve chosen, you can easily transfer those measurements across to the mesh head shape. Simply put the body’s shape back on, and write down all the slider numbers in the Body, Torso, and Legs tab. Then put the head’s shape on, change the Body, Torso, and Leg sliders to the ones you wrote down, and save that shape with a new name. (I usually append something like “Edited for Skell” after the head’s shape name, so I know that it has Skell’s usual body measurements in it.) Once that’s done you will then be wearing a shape that has the ideal head sliders, plus your preferred body sliders.

Now you get to play around with the head shape sliders, to see how they affect your Bento head. You can change almost all of them (I think there are only three or four sliders that have no effect on most Bento heads).

Can I replicate my system head with a mesh head?

While you won’t be able to replicate your system face exactly it might be possible to replicate it close enough that it will pass your own critical inspection. Just how close you’ll be able to get depends on a number of factors, not least of which is what your system head actually looks like. If you have specific features that cannot be replicated by a mesh head, then you may get close but not quite close enough for your liking. Only you can decide whether that’s worth the work, but it is worth a try.

You need to begin with a head that has a similar base shape to your system head. For example: if you have a very pointed system jaw, you may struggle to get the same jawline from a mesh head that starts out with a strong square jaw. Don’t forget that—just as with system skins—the right skin applier (or BoM skin) and any accompanying additional appliers/BoM layers, such as makeup, freckles, age lines, etc) can alter a mesh head, to the point where ‘almost-but-not-quite’ becomes ‘well damn that’s close enough for me!’

I’ve come up with an analogy that works for me: I look at moving from a system head to a mesh head as akin to growing older in real life. My reflection in the bathroom mirror these days isn’t the same as it was back when I was 20. I’ve matured, and – while my general features are still recogniseable – I don’t look the same. In turn, Skell has just evolved and grown older in Second Life. Certain features of his mesh head (high cheekbones, generous lips, and a slightly shallow chin) are recogniseable when compared to his old system head, but then again I’m lucky in that I work for a mesh head creator and was thrilled to have her create and release a head that was inspired by and named after me.

On the left is Skell’s old system head. On the right is his mesh head.

OK, that’s enough faffing around with the shape sliders. Its time to check out the HUD(s) for your head. You will very likely have more than one HUD in that folder, but one of them will be your Master or Main or Edit HUD, so dig that one out and add it. This is the one you’ll use to customise your mesh head, and each brand’s HUDs vary greatly from each other. They will group each section differently, so—unlike with the body HUDs—I’m not going to be able to tell you that you’ll always have a specific tab for this or that. However, each HUD will usually let you:

  • change your skin
  • change your eyes
  • add extras such as hairbases, facial hair (sometimes facial hair is in a separate ‘beard HUD’), eyebrows, and things like freckles and guyliner
  • tint parts of your head or appliers that you’ve added (some appliers such as beards and brows might go on as white, so you can tint them to match any hair colour you might be wearing)
  • show and hide parts of your head (for example: you might want to hide your head’s ears if you want to wear pierced or gauged ears that you’ve bought from another store)
  • a way to activate Bakes on Mesh (BoM)
  • adjust your head’s neck size by means of a ‘neck fix’ to better fit your mesh body (please note, though, that when we get to the last part of this enormous post, I’m going to tell you that you shouldn’t need  any kind of neck fix)

Some mesh heads’ main HUDs include the animations, and other mesh heads have their animations in separate HUDs. Again, it’s all down to how that brand handles everything. Time to get stuck into that HUD and start clicking. As with the body, look for and note down where that RESET button is, in case you accidentally turn yourself into a Smurf while checking out the tinting options ;-)


Holy crap, we’re almost at the end. Kudos for sticking with me this far, but… uh… the header of this post did state that it’s the ‘Mesh Head and Mesh Body’ part of getting dressed. I would not be able to add clothing into the mix without this post being half as long again, so that will be coming later (after I’ve slept and recovered from this one!) Once the clothing post is published I’ll link to it at the bottom of this one.

So, to summarise:

  • You’ve found a mesh body and a mesh head that you like
  • You’ve checked that they meet all of your needs
  • You can edit the shape to give you the physique and the looks that you want
  • You like the HUDs and feel comfortable using them (or can imagine that—after a little bit of practice—you’ll feel comfortable with them)
  • There’s enough support from creators to satisfy your needs, both for skins, clothing, and accessories
  • You’ve tried the demos of each (both separately and together), you’ve dug down the back of the couch for those spare pennies, and you’re ready to purchase

You need to do just one more thing before you hit that ‘buy’ button. And that’s to choose a skin.

You have two options for this: applier skins and BoM skins. I’ve been using the words ‘applier’ and ‘BoM’ throughout this post, so you’re familiar with them by now, so let’s go into the nitty gritty of your choice, and just why  you will 99% certainly have to buy separate skins for your head and body (something that will be very confusing to you if the last time you bought a skin they were all-in-one).

I’ve given you a brief, but not exhaustive list of some major mesh head and body brands. Each of those brands uses a different UV map, which determines how a texture will look on that mesh body part. Because of the bewildering number of possible combinations of heads and bodies it’s much easier for creators to make separate head-specific and body-specific skins, both in applier format and in BoM format. So when choosing your skin, you need to look for the following:

Appliers

  1. a head applier compatible for your chosen brand of mesh head (e.g. Lelutka or Catwa), and
  2. a body applier compatible for your chosen brand of mesh body (e.g. Belleza or Signature)

BoM

  1. a head skin (usually in the form of a tattoo layer) compatible for your chosen brand of mesh head (e.g. Lelutka or Catwa), and
  2. a body skin (either in the form of a system skin with a blank head, or in the form of a tattoo layer) compatible for your chosen brand of mesh body (e.g. Belleza or Signature)

Both the head and body skins should be:

  1. in the same skintone, and
  2. from the same skin creator

If you do that then you will almost never need to make use of the ‘neck fix’ option in your head and body HUDs.

A hypothetical example: I have a Catwa head and a Signature body and I want to wear an applier skin by Birth. I like the lighter Tone 01 skins they have, so I pick the ‘Dakota’ head applier for Catwa in Tone 01. I add the head HUD and it looks like this:

A Catwa head applier (note the brand’s icon in the lower left, telling you which head it’s for, as well as the words ‘Catwa applier’ up the side) by Birth Skins

I want to have black eyebrows, so I click the word ‘black’ under the EYEBROWS section. The skin will be applied to my head and it will have black eyebrows. Next, I want a black hairbase, so I click the word ‘black’ under the HAIRBASE section, and a black hairbase will be applied to my head. I then decide to try the beard, so I click the words ‘heavy stubble’ under the BEARDS section. Note the word ‘tintable’ in that BEARDS header. The beard will apply white, so I will need to add my Catwa Master HUD, go into the Tint tab, and use it to tint the beard black. If I then decide I don’t want the beard, I can either remove it using the ‘clear’ button on my Catwa Master HUD for that section, or by clicking the word ‘off’ next to that BEARDS header on the Birth HUD.

Next, I add the Signature body applier HUD, and it looks like this:

A Signature body applier (note the brand’s icon in the lower left, telling you which body brand it’s for, as well as the words ‘Signature Gianni applier’ up the side) by Birth Skins

That’s a lot of options! But so far I’ve chosen black brows and a black hairbase, so let’s choose the black body hair as well. I don’t like to be too hirsute, so I’ll click the ‘black’ version of ‘trimmed light’ under the CHESTS header and the ‘black’ version of ‘small light’ under the LEGS section, and both upper and lower parts of the body skin with the relevant body hair will be applied to my torso, arms, and legs.

If I want to wear a BoM skin (which comprises system layers, either in the form of a system skin and/or system tattoos) then things are a little bit different. In order for BoM to work you need to remove any alpha layers that you’re wearing. Yes, you’re going to look a bit odd at first, but just trust me: take off those alpha layers. Now add your head and body HUDs and look for the BoM button. (Scroll through this post to find out how to activate BoM on most major head and body brands.) Click it, and watch as your underlying system layers ‘bake’ onto your mesh head and body like magic. So now—because Birth have generously included BoM skins in both the Dakota head applier pack and the Signature body applier pack—we’ll put those on.

Opening the BoM skins we see this:

A BoM head skin – in the form of tattoo layers – for Catwa heads, by Birth Skins

That’s a lot of stuff, but if you look closely you’ll see that it just has all the options that were available in the HUD. Because it’s in alphabetical order, the beards (‘BOM Beard’) are at the top, then the actual head skin (‘BOM Head’) is in the middle, and the hairbase (‘BOM Head – Hairbase’) is at the bottom. Since Bakes on Mesh allows you to stack layers you can ADD each of these. Make sure you always start with the actual head skin first, then you can ADD the hairbase and the facial hair. So I would add, in this order:

  1. BOM Head – Tone 01_BlackBrows
  2. BOM Head – Hairbase – Black
  3. BOM Beard (Tintable) – Heavystubble

Note the beard is tintable, but this one can’t be tinted using my Catwa Master HUD. I need to edit the tattoo layer itself and use the tinting box in its edit window, then save it.

Now let’s look at the body folder for the BoM skins. Brace yourself…

A BoM body skin – in the form of tattoo layers – for Signature bodies, by Birth Skins

Holy crap, that’s… yeah. (This is the one downfall of BoM: it makes your inventory explode!) But again, it’s just everything that was in the body applier HUD. So I will ADD, in the following order:

  1. Chest Tone01_blacktrail_light
  2. Legs Tone01_blacksmall_light

And I have one huge tip for you here: whatever you’re not going to use, box it up and shove the box in the folder, then delete those unused items. Or shove the original unpacker HUD or bag into that folder. You’ll have that available if you decide to turn blond one day, but you won’t have all those unused items cluttering up your inventory.

With everything added I’m ready to go, and so are you. Go out there and grab some skin demos, give them a try and find your look. Once you’ve got that look…

…go right ahead and make with that KA-CHING sound. You’ve put in the legwork and you’re gonna look fantastic. Knock ’em dead, dude ;-)


Coming soon: Part 2 – How to Get Dressed (Hair, Clothes, & Accessories)

Bloke on a Budget: Catwa ‘Freya’ unisex Bento mesh head gift & Legacy L$1 male ‘Classic’ body

I’m a spendy bugger when it comes to my avatar, my sartorial darlings. I think you’ve realised that by now, right? But at the moment there are some amazing offers around the grid; some part of the Stay At Home Club, and some simply offered by generous creators. Due to current world events, with most of us stuck at home, thousands of people are dusting off old Second Life avatars that haven’t seen the light of day for years. I’ll have a blog post up soon—the next part of my Noob Dude series—that will take you, quite literally, through how to get dressed, beginning with mesh heads and bodies. But today’s tutorial takes advantage of some limited time offers, so I figured I’d get this one out quick-sharp.

This look is made possible by those rarest of beasts: a free, full Bento mesh head and a L$1 full Bento mesh body, from two of SL’s top creators of avatar customisation products. These particular offers will not be available forever, but for those returning to Second Life, and for those who don’t yet have a mesh avatar this is a chance to upgrade for very little money indeed, compared to what a full Bento mesh avatar would normally cost you.

If you were to buy a full priced Bento mesh head and Bento mesh body from these particular creators they would set you back a total of approximately L$10,500 (US$42 at today’s LindeX rate). Right now, though, they cost you just one measly L$ for the body. The head is free. Not only that, but the head is unisex, so it will fit both male and female bodies. You might not think that when you look at the ad, but more on that shortly when I get into the list of what you will need to create this avatar.

Before I get into that, though, a couple of things:

  1. This is a blog primarily intended to help male avatars look good in SL. There are a ton of blogs for female avatars. There are a ton of always-there great freebies for female avatars. Off the top of my head I can think of one store that has something like six female mesh heads as group gifts, one that has a full female bento mesh body (that fits Maitreya clothing, no less) as a lucky board prize, and one store offering both slim and curvy female Bento bodies for L$1 each (albeit with a limited alpha HUD). In short: Second Life is a woman’s world when it comes to free and cheap avatar customisation. But right now you have a limited time chance to put together a great male base look for very little money.
  2. And addressing the men of SL directly with this second point: you’re going to have to work at this a little bit. If you were to throw money at a fully-featured male mesh avatar it would be easier, but if you want to go the freebie/cheapo route—and this one in particular—you’re going to have to get comfortable with doing a bit more than “throw it on and that’ll do”. So brace yourself for a bit of work, although I’m going to walk you through each step in enough detail that you can just follow along.

The final look, after making some shape customisation edits (since I like to be tall and lean)

OK, let’s go shopping. Most of this can be got from SL Marketplace, but you’ll need three inworld trips and you’ll also need approximately L$500 to your name for various bits and pieces. That’s about two bucks.

The head: Catwa ‘Freya’ Unisex Bento head

The body: Meshbody ‘Classic’

  • Inworld store
  • Cost: L$1 until further notice (You also need to be in ‘The Shops!‘ group and wearing the group tag when purchasing. Group is free to join)
  • When you arrive: look for the ‘free classic’ body text on the wall and click the ‘male body’ section

The shape: ArualBlues ‘NU’ Shapes for Catwa Freya [PROMO] 

  • Marketplace link
  • Cost: L$50 (promo price will end when the Catwa ‘Freya’ free gift offer ends, on May 24th 2020)
  • There are lots of great other cheap male shapes appearing on Marketplace for the ‘Freya’ head and multiple types of body. Take a look through this Marketplace search to find others. Note that the head shape is critical—it must be for Catwa ‘Freya’—whereas the body shape is less critical

The skin: 7 Deadly s[K]ins – ‘MAJOR’ Manly Monday

  • Inworld store
  • Cost: FREE (please move fast to grab this, as I’ve no idea how long it will be out for. 7DS has other similar old system skins, but they cost a small amount of money)
  • When you arrive: walk directly forward into the store. The skins are on the far left of the reception desk in front of you
  • If this skin is no longer available then there are other cheap system skins out there for men. The same kinds of ‘fix’ that we’ll be using later can also be used on those
  • Edited to add: This skin is no longer available. However, the principles outlined below in ‘fixing’ an old system skin—of which you will find plenty in inworld ‘discount’ store sections and on Marketplace—remain exactly the same. You’ll just have to figure out the RGB values required by the skin that you eventually settle on.

The jacket: A&R ‘Granada RANGER’ Leather Jacket

The pants: from Alpha Male “When the party’s over” outfit

The shoes: A&R ‘Malaga’ Formal Shoes

The hair: Modulus ‘Cole’

The hairbase: Stealthic Male Hairbase

  • Inworld store
  • Cost: L$150 (yes, the most expensive bit of this whole look, but worth it. I use this hairbase almost exclusively; it’s that good)
  • When you arrive: Walk down the stairs in front of you. At the bottom take an immediate left into the male hair section, then turn another 90° to the left. The hairbase is on a low podium at the front of that section

We’ll be using BoM (Bakes on Mesh) to put all of this on your mesh avatar, and since the skin that we’ll be using is an old system one you’re going to need some ‘fixes’ for common problems encountered when using old system skins that were not texture-mapped for mesh bodies and heads. These problems include smearing of textures around fingernails and toenails (seriously, this looks horrible until you fix it!) and dark shadows that look like makeup around the eyes (you might be fine with that or you might not; I’m going with ‘not’ for the majority of guys). To fix these issues you’ll need the following:

TOTAL AVATAR COST = L$519

Let’s get cracking. I’m going to use a lot of annotated screenshots for this post, so it’ll be easy to follow. And apologies in advance if you feel this post is too simple. I’m trying to keep it as accessible as possible, for SL veterans, returnees, and newbies.

First of all, strip off down to your absolute basics: system shape, system eyes, system hairbase, system skin. (Yeah yeah, I kept system pants on. You don’t wanna see my pubes, mate…) Do this somewhere relatively private, though. Don’t scare the locals at your sandbox of choice ;-) Then, wear the following:

  • Skin: 7 Deadly s[K]ins – MAJOR MM Taupe (system layer)
  • Shape: AB:Z ‘NU’ Catwa Freya – Classic M – Lean

From the Legacy ‘Classic’ body folder, ADD (don’t wear!) the following –

  • [BODY] Classic (m) (1.2)
  • [EDIT] (1.1)

From the Catwa ‘Freya’ head folder ADD (don’t wear!) the following –

  • CATWA HEAD Freya [Teeth A] v4.5
  • CATWA EYES RIG Freya v3.3
  • CATWA HUD Master Freya v4.5
  • CATWA HUD Animations F v3.2

Now, how you you look? Erm, well you look like a proper feckin’ Charlie if I’m honest, but we’ll soon fix that.

Not my best look, I’ll admit. Does my bum look big in this?

Maximise your Legacy ‘Classic’ Edit HUD and click the middle icon on the left (torso with paintbrush and sparkles). It may load your styles in a few seconds, or it may not. The HUD will tell you to type /style help into local chat if it doesn’t load within 10 seconds, so do that if you need to and follow the instructions on the HUD to enable Media in your viewer, then detach and re-attach the HUD. It should finally load for you.

Now we’re going to enable BoM (Bakes on Mesh) on your body. This will send your system skin textures onto your mesh body parts. In the styles tab (that middle icon on the left again!) click the menu button (horizontal lines) on the far right. In the next window that loads, click APPLY BOM on the far right:

Activating BoM on your Legacy ‘Classic’ body

All good so far. Now let’s move on to your head, but first shall we stop those animations so they’re not distracting you while you work on sorting out your face? Click the old-fashioned ‘movie camera’ icon to maximise your Catwa Animations HUD. See the thick black outlines around the ‘cat head’ icons under the Full Face AO section? That means those animations are active. Click the STOP button beneath them to stop the animations. You can then minimise and detach the Animations HUD.

Stopping the head’s animations. It’s kinda fun watching your avatar flirt with you and pull faces, but a bit distracting when you want to work on your face!

Now we’ll enable BoM on the Catwa head. Expand the Master HUD icon, go into the bottom tab and click the BoM button in the top right:

Activating BoM on the ‘Freya’ head using the Catwa Master HUD

The textures of your ‘MAJOR’ system skin from 7 Deadly s[K]ins should now be ‘baked’ (showing) on your Legacy ‘Classic’ mesh body and Catwa ‘Freya’ mesh head.

Addendum: Because I’ve been reminded of this elsewhere, please note that if at any point while activating BoM you see either your head or your body turning a bright, solid red then you’re still wearing an alpha layer on that area. Search the ‘worn’ tab of your inventory for it and remove the alpha layer.

Now we’re going to fix the neck size discrepancy. The Catwa Master HUD contains two neck sizes (male and female). All of Catwa’s full priced heads include special ‘neck fixes’ for several different bodies (or—for the female heads—neck fat percentages) but because this one is a free gift you have male and female only. That will still give you a great match to practically all mesh bodies. So go into the 2nd tab from the top, find the BODY FAT/NECK SIZE section, and click the male symbol:

Enabling the male neck fit on the ‘Freya’ head – before

Enabling the male neck fit on the ‘Freya’ head – after

OK, you’re now fully baked (at least in Second Life, if not in real life; c’mon dude, you need all your braincells for this one…) and your neck fits properly. Now let’s get to fixing the ‘girly’ bits of your face. System skins that are not especially texture-mapped for mesh bodies and mesh heads will always have some issues—usually around the eyes, and always around the fingernails and toenails—but there are stores selling ‘BoM fixes’ for those issues (Izzie’s being the main one) and we’re now going to use those.

Two important notes before we dive into the next bit:

  1. The RGB values given in the images and text below will match only to the specific skin used for this post. If you’re using a different skin you’ll have to get the RGB values for that skin yourself by clicking around in the tinting area until you have a close match. Please be aware that there is currently an issue when editing some BoM layers that causes the layers to blur or go into streaky lines when in Edit mode (this stops when you come out of Edit). I believe this is being worked on by Linden Lab, but for now if your layers blur when tinting them, you’ll just have to guesstimate, save, then check out of Edit mode once the blurring has stopped, and go back into Edit to fine-tune.
  2. If you’re returning to Second Life after a long hiatus, much has changed. One of those changes is that you can stack many many system layers and worn objects, but in order to do that you must always use the ADD option instead of the WEAR option. If you wear something, it will replace any previously worn items of that type on that same part of your head or body (example: wear a tattoo and it will replace any other tattoo in that location). If you ADD something it will put that item on top of any other previously added items of that type (example: add a tattoo and it will go on over the top of any other tattoo in that location). ALWAYS ‘ADD’, DON’T ‘WEAR’.

The first thing we’re going to fix is those big diva lashes. Sure, they’d look great on RuPaul, but I’m certain you don’t want to Sashay Away…

Flutter ’em fast enough and you could dry your laundry, though ;-)

Open the Catwa Master HUD, go into the 2nd tab from the top and click the two highlighted lash icons below. Those are the shortest lash options on the HUD (and the ones I almost always use).

Changing the Catwa ‘Freya’ lashes to the shortest versions

Now we’re going to start using those BoM fixes. First of all, open the Closed Eyes (Catwa) pack that you got from Izzie’s. Inside you’ll find a couple of object icons (those are appliers, which we’re not using for this post) and a load of ‘pink dragon’ inventory icons that denote tattoo layers. Open up the included texture to see which number tattoo might be the closest to your skintone. Just count across the layers and try the number closest to what you think you need.

The Izzie’s ‘Closed Eyes (Catwa)’ will remove that upper ‘eyeliner effect’

You may need to ADD and remove several of them until you find one that’s closest to your skintone. Always go for the one that’s closest, but slightly lighter, so you can tint it. Here I think No.7 is the closest so I’ve added that. You can see it on my upper eyelids. It’s removed all of that thick ‘eyeliner’ effect on the upper lid:

No.7 is a pretty close match, but still a little bit light. We can tint that darker.

Edit the tattoo layer and click in the Color/Tint box. Since this is such a close match I didn’t need to tint much, selecting a range somewhere in the dull red tone (large tint box) and then clicking near the top of the thin tint bar. My final RGB values were 230,217,215.

The final tinted upper eyelids

Now we’ll fix the guyliner effect that’s below the lower lid. This time we’ll use the Izzie’s Under-Lash corrector, so unpack that and take a look at the contact sheet.

No.11 looks pretty close, right?

No.11 looks close, so ADD that, and edit it to tint it. You may need different RGB values, as skin textures are of course not uniformly even. My final RGB values were 230,217,215.

And we’re almost done. Just one more fix to add…

We’re almost done. There’s just one more imperfection that we need to fix on your face, and that’s on the upper eyelid’s waterline, which looks like it has poorly-applied smudgy eyeliner on it.

No steady hand put this guyliner on! Seriously, though, it’s just something that can happen with old system skins when using them for BoM

The last fix for your face will be the Izzie’s Waterline Fix, so unpack that and add the ‘Upper Lid Natural’ one. Make sure you use the Catwa one. (Note that I’ve created folders for all the other head brands included, and put those versions in there. It saves me from hunting through lots of items to find the ones I want, since only the Catwa ones that I need are now immediately visible.) No tinting will be needed; it will just cover that smudgy guyliner:

Much better!

Now we’re going to move on to the real horror of an old system skin that’s not mapped to mesh heads and bodies. Are you ready for this? It’s your fingernails and—even worse—your toenails. I hope you’re not eating right now, ’cause…

Ew..

Those toes look like they’ve been tortured, but if you remember what your system feet look like… well, they are simply paddles. What looked okay on those kludgy things will look awful on proper mesh toes, so now we need to fix both the toenails and fingernails. As mentioned before, sometimes when you edit these tattoo layers to tint them they might blur, so keep saving and coming out of Edit to check your tints, then go back into Edit to tweak and fine-tune the colours.

Unpack your Gemini’s Parlour (GP) ‘Old Skin BoM Fix’ and add the two separate hands and feet tattoos. (You’ll be tinting each one slightly differently, so I don’t recommend adding the tattoo that’s for both hands and feet together). You now know how to edit these, so please see below for the tints and RGB values for this particular skin. (And yeah, I like my black nail polish. Don’t judge!)

Tinting the fingernail fix

Tinting the toenail fix. The black nail polish is part of the Legacy ‘Classic’ Edit HUD

That’s the fixes all complete. Now for a great tip that you may not be aware of when it comes to free facial hair: all of the Catwa Bento head demos contain a fully-functional, non-demo hairbase and beard HUD. So pick up any Catwa Bento head demo from Marketplace (I used ‘Daniel’, here), unpack it, and pull out the CATWA HUD Hair.Beard v4.5 to ADD it. Go into the Beard tab and click any one that you like. ‘Light’ means the facial hair will be a bit more faded than the ‘Dark’ options. The facial hair will always apply white, so that you can tint it any colour you want to. I’ve chosen the 12 Dark option here:

Using the fully-featured Catwa Hair & Beard HUD from any male demo, to add facial hair

Once you’ve found a style you like, you can detach that Beard HUD and open the Catwa Master HUD. We’re now going to tint that beard black. All Catwa male Master HUDs include a beard icon for tinting, but since this is a unisex HUD we don’t have that, so we’ll have to tint in two parts: the hair on the cheeks and the hair around the lips.

Important note: All Catwa Bento heads have TWO layers for every section (except skin) to allow for layering of appliers. This means that each icon in the ‘Diffuse’ section (which is used for tinting) is split horizontally into two halves: an upper and a lower. Appliers will always default to the LOWER layer, so when clicking the cheek and lip icons make sure you click the lower half. It will light up with pink behind it to show that it’s selected (and if you get pissy with me about pink not being a manly colour I’m just going to refer you to Google to research how—until relatively recent times—pink was the colour used for boys…)

First we’ll tint the cheeks:

Got milk? ;-)

Then we’ll tint the area around the lips:

Much better!

Last bit now, and that’s your hairbase. You’re currently wearing a hairbase texture that would probably work nicely with a ponytail if you wanted to look like a member of Status Quo, but let’s swap that out for the Stealthic one you bought. The Stealthic hairbase might be the most expensive part of this entire look, but it’s a fantastic one with two options: a heavier one (labelled ‘thick’) and a lighter fade (labelled ‘faded’). I’m using the dark one here. Simply add the system tattoo, edit it, and tint it black, then save it.

The Stealthic hairbase. You know how to tint this by now, so I’m not going to show you how to do it.

Lastly, let’s add the ‘Cole’ hair by Modulus.

Add the Catwa size, then look for the colour HUD that matches the hair colour you want

You may need to edit it to move it manually on your head a little bit, but if you stick with the shape as-is you won’t need to. If you want to change the colour you’ll find a HUD in the folder. ADD that and once it appears on your screen, click the colour that you want and your hair will retexture with that colour.

Example of a texture HUD

And your head and body are now all done! Time to get dressed. I’ve chosen one full outfit for just its pants, but that outfit works well all together too. I’ve also chosen a jacket and a pair of shoes. You may find that some clothing items have names after them, like Signature or Gianni or Belleza or Jake. Those names denote mesh bodies that they are fitted especially for, but sometimes you can get around that and sometimes clothing made for one mesh body works on another. Where body names are given in folders for this look, I’m wearing the ‘Signature Gianni’ versions.

For those new to working with mesh bodies, there are two ways to mask out sections of your body that may poke through mesh clothing:

  1. alpha layers – these work as they do with system bodies, but only if you’re using BoM (and only on certain bodies; not all mesh bodies have enabled BoM in the same way)
  2. alpha HUD – this is a clickable HUD that will hide sections of your mesh body when you click on it (the Legacy ‘Classic’ EDIT HUD is one of these)

Unpack the clothing items you bought from Marketplace. You’ll find them in the special Received Items (or Marketplace items) section of your inventory. ADD the boxes/bags and click them. if they unpack, great. if they don’t then you’ll need to detach them and drag them out of your inventory onto the ground (for newbies, we call this ‘rezzing’), then right-click > Open > Copy to Inventory. You will need to be in a location where you can ‘rez’ if you need to do this, so search for a Sandbox on the map view (viewer taskbar > map icon > type sandbox into the search bar) and go there to unpack/rez.

Next, ADD the clothing you want to wear, item by item. Don’t wear the entire folder, because you’ll end up wearing multiple copies of the same thing! If a body name is given, for this particular look go for the ‘Signature’ and/or ‘Gianni’ versions. If not, choose the Standard Size (S, M, L, etc) that best fits you.

First, the jacket. I’m using the ‘fitmesh’ version, as it will mould to my body. But I’ll still use the included alpha layer to mask out sections.

Next up, the shoes. The versions with socks fit best under the pants and don’t leave a big gap around your ankles. You can either add the alpha layer or use your body’s alpha HUD. I did the latter.

Lastly the pants. Note that these have body sizes. Since Legacy ‘Classic’ isn’t included in the options, I found that the Signature ‘Gianni’ ones fitted best. You’ll need to mask the legs using the body’s alpha HUD for these.

Then open your Legacy Edit HUD and click the bottommost icon on the left (looks like a torso with a checkerboard on it). This is the alpha HUD section. At the bottom you have icons to hide whole sections (arms, upper legs, lower legs, pelvis, torso front, torso back, etc) which save a lot of clicking! Then you can fine-tune by clicking in the main body part of the HUD (the human figure) to hide or show certain areas. Use the arrows at the bottom to turn the figure around so you can hide areas on the back of your body.

Using the Alpha Cuts section of the Legacy ‘Classic’ body’s Edit HUD

My final image will look a bit different to yours. That’s because I like to be tall and lean in Second Life, so I’ve edited some of the body sliders of the shape we’ve been using. I made my avatar taller, his legs longer, brought in the hip width slider and changed the knee angle to 50, and I thickened and shortened the neck just a little. I also brought down the body mass, increased the shoulder width, and reduced the ear size a tad. Everything else is unchanged. You can make your own slider adjustments as desired. Always remember to SAVE AS when editing your shape, and give it a new name, just in case you don’t like your finished results and want to go back to your original unedited shape to try again.

And you’re all done! Kudos on getting through what was a mammoth post from me. You now have a great base from which to start maybe looking for some more interesting clothing and the like. Perhaps if you decide to stick with Second Life you might want to change to a different body and head at a later date, but for now you have a great starter to get going with.

Have fun!

(Final note: Comments on all blog posts at Virtual Bloke are open for 30 days after the date of posting, after which they are turned off to dissuade spammers who like to hit ‘older’ posts.)

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 (non-Evolution) heads

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 (non-Evolution) head:

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

Activating BOM on Lelutka Evolution heads

Lelutka’s new Evolution range of heads are BoM by default, but the eyes are not. You will need to activate BoM on those specifically. To do this:

  1. Add your LeLUTKA.HUD
  2. Click the ‘eye’ icon
  3. Click BAKES ON MESH at the top

Activating Bakes on Mesh on a Lelutka Evolution head. (Shown here: male HUD)

If all went well then you should now be seeing your system eyes on your Lelutka mesh eyes.

To return to using applier eyes after using BOM eyes on your Lelutka Evolution head:

  1. Add the alpha called Alpha.Mask (BOM Head/Body, APPLIER Eyes)  that’s in the folder
  2. Re-apply your eye appliers (or click one of the eye applier options in the Lelutka HUD)

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.

All I got was roses…

You’re like a knife ’cause your looks could kill.
Hold my breath every time we kiss.
Are you feeling it?
Like I, like I feel it.

This song has been my jam  for the past few days. A Nile Rodgers-infused slow funk that’s great to have on a low repeat in the background while you do other stuff, and—having seen the gorgeous red and purple cover art—I got just a teensy little bit inspired and wanted to recreate that colour aesthetic in SL.

And then Dreamcatcher came out with THIS at Men Only Monthly:

Yeah. That’s just ‘woah’. Initially I thought it was a full corset, because the small version of the ad image that I saw on Seraphim was quite dark and I didn’t notice the gap and blood drips. That would have been enough for me, in all honesty, because the corset just leapt  out at me and made a grab for my wallet amid all the usual blokey sweatpants and hoodies etc that have become the norm at menswear events. In short: I would have bought it anyway, but after trying the demo and puzzling for a moment over why the ‘mid’ part of the corset wasn’t rezzing, I tickled my Signature’s alpha hud a bit, and then it really was  a ‘woah!’ moment.

And then the quest was on to do the damn thing justice, so here’s a little insight into The Mind of Skell when his creativity goes into overdrive and his inventory starts to groan in anticipation (or—more likely—in dread).

I had my colour palette already in mind: red and purple. Any metalwork would need to stand out against that, and—since purple is commonly associated with royalty—gold was the obvious choice, since silver would get a bit lost amid those strong colours.

The Glam Witch Decor from Florix immediately sprang to mind for a backdrop. This is a fabulous set featuring all kinds of lush furniture and decor items. I used two colours of the neon crosses, which are actually on stands, but—I love when creators allow this!—they’re editable, so I set the texture on the stands to 100% transparency and I could then have the crosses as solo floating wall decorations. The rose petals are also from that set, and if you need anything else there’s curtains, candles, couches, and all sorts included. Can’t find it on Marketplace right now (I think I picked it up at an event) so possibly check the mainstore?

Since I’d decided on gold for the metalwork I remembered this Pask Halo from Boys to the Bone. BttB is one of those stores that’s at the nosebleed edge of fashion, and I can guarantee that I’ll find there at least one insanely, intriguingly good item to just finish off an outfit.

And then my inventory exploded.

Okay, well it was my fault that it exploded, but I knew I was going to have to dig deep to find any kind of clothing that would work perfectly for this, so it was time to start unpacking my old archives of clothing layers from Sn@tch. I knew I’d find something in there that I could use with Bakes on Mesh, and—since I have a lot  of old stuff from Sn@tch—my inventory screwed up its metaphorical eyeballs and muttered I hate you, Skell…

With Bakes on Mesh, my sartorial darlings, I feel as if my creative world has blown wide open again, but sadly not with new items. I’m lucky that Skell is such an old avatar he still has amazing stuff created back in the late 00’s and early ’10s. Looking back through all of these old Sn@tch items, I found myself getting a bit wistful and pondering about how homogenised  much of SL’s fashion has become in recent years. Sure, mesh is amazing, and there’s some incredible stuff out there. But menswear has mostly gone down the pan, with a small handful of notable exceptions, and—due to specific body rigs—there’s precious little from the ladies’ department that I can wear without either breaking out Syd, or breaking out in hives when the gorgeous hairstyle that I adore and want to use only comes with big, built-in boob-bumps.

Bakes on Mesh means I can pick out some of that older stuff that still looks good, and get creative again. Putting this look together last night felt wonderfully good, as opposed to the effort that it can sometimes be to get multiple mesh items to work together well. (Want to wear those gorgeous, butt-enhancing mesh jeans, boys? Better go barefoot, then, because they won’t work with 99% of your footwear, etc.)

Anyhow. Back to the look before I start to sound too whiny. I really did dig deep for this one, finding this amazing old necklace set from Remarkable Oblivion (another standout store that I haven’t seen around for a while. They’re still extant on the grid, but I never see them at events. Time to revisit their mainstore, methinks). Not only was there a gold option that came with additional red sections, but it also had a large wooden cross, which matched the glam, semi-sacrilegiosity thing I had going on.

Hair? By .Shi, of course. Who else has sharp-cut styles that work for more out-there looks? Makeup is part old system and part new BOM. The face tattoo is from The Plastik’s old ‘Soul Ink’ set that I used so many times in the past. They’re tintable and will work with so many looks. I really need to check out the store again, to pick up some more. (They might even be in a discount section by now; who knows? That’s the beauty of Bakes on Mesh!) And the ‘new’ was picked up from this weekend’s Saturday Sale: a BOM set of eyeshadows from Adored. The finishing touches were these gorgeous lashes from Elemental and eyes from Avi-Glam. The skin is from The Plastik’s beautiful ‘Atharne’ set (one of the few skin sets I ever fatpacked, and it contains multiple appliers and—glory be!—system layers).

Credits

Corset: Dreamcatcher – Blood Roses (Gianni, Legacy)
Eyeshadow: Adored – Vibe Shadows (Electric Avenue – BOM)
Tattoo: The Plastik – Soul Ink Reloaded (Opeh)
Halo: Boys to the Bone – Pask Halo (Gold v2)
Top: Sn@tch – Sabrina Brocade Shrug (old system item)
Pants: Sn@tch – Eden Velvet Pants (old system item)
Hair: .Shi – Mod (Reds)
Skin: The Plastik – Atharne (Shizuko – multiple appliers & system)
Piercings: Catwa – Bento Rigged Piercings
Earrings: Artificial Hallucination – Loke Rigged Ear Piercings (Catwa)
Necklace: Remarkable Oblivion – Lilliam Batwing Necklace (Gold)
Eyes: Avi-Glam – Sinister Eyes* (Beast – Catwa, Omega, mesh)
Lashes: Elemental – Treasure Lashes (Catwa)
Decor: Florix – Glam Witch Decor Set
Head: Catwa – Skell* (Bento)

*review copy

Gabardine Roses

Gabardine Roses. Tortured vines. The sun has been hiding all this time.

Hotdog has done it again, my sartorial darlings. They have two new releases out at events this month, and both are exquisite. The first—and more traditionally masculine—release is the Respectable Suit, at The Men’s Dept. Containing one male and one female fit (no body-specific rigs; these suits are skinny, so don’t expect them to showcase those Gianni muscles!) they come in multiple packs, with both plain and striped options. (As per usual, I fatpacked both outfits, which allows me to mix and match).

This deserved full-on Byronic-Gothic black, of course, and a Windlight mood to match it. Both of these looks feature the SK3L3T0 Prosthetic Arms and the Bismuth Cane, by ContraptioN. There is an additional AO for the cane, also from ContraptioN—somewhat pricey at L$2000, but worth it—from which all the poses in this post ensue.

The underlying look is BOM, making use of some of the ancient system skin and makeup layers that I’ve been dredging from the sludgy depths of my inventory lately. Skin by Tableau Vivant, makeup by Pin Me Down, lipstick by M.O.C.K, and additional new BOM veins from Izzie’s. And—with the use of an eye alpha—I can still wear these applier eyes from Madame Noir.

Credits for the above look

Suit: Hotdog: Respectable Suit (one male & one female size)
Cane: ContraptioN – Bismuth Cane
Hands: ContraptioN – SK3L3T0 Series Prosthetic Arm (Gianni, Geralt, Jake, Maitreya, Slink M&F&HG, Freya)
Hair: Truth – Shadow
Eyes: Madame Noir – Ghost Eyes (Catwa, Lelutka, mesh)
Makeup: Pin Me Down – Bane**
Lipstick: M.O.C.K – Zomg It’s Gothic Dark Shadow Lip Gloss**
Veins: Izzie’s – Dark Veins (Catwa, Lelutka, Genus. LAQ, BOM)
Skin: Tableau Vivant – Hybrid**
Head: Catwa – Skell* (Bento)

*review copy
**old system layer, no longer available

The second look is what had me shrieking with delight. This, my sartorial darlings, is the Respectable Dress, by Hotdog for Anthem event. Again, it’s unisex, with one male and one female fit. And oh dear lord, do I love it. Together with the look above, I’m getting hints of a new persona for Skell (alongside the Rocker and the Gentleman Bastard) so I’m going to mull this one over a bit.

As before, it comes in a range of tonal packs, as well as a fatpack. For this look I went BOM again, with another old skin from Tableau Vivant, system eyes from Booty’s Beauty, and new BOM layer makeup from Zibska.

Dapper topper from ContraptioN, and hair from Truth. This gentleman may be in a dress, but doubtless there’s a sharp blade in the ferrule of that cane, so don’t get too close ;-)

Credits for the above look

Dress: Hotdog – His Respectable Dress (one male & one female size)
Makeup: Zibska – Ungarrat Makeup* (BOM)
Hat: ContraptioN – Death’s Mourn Top Hat
Cane: ContraptioN – Bismuth Cane
Hands: ContraptioN – SK3L3T0 Series Prosthetic Arm (Gianni, Geralt, Jake, Maitreya, Slink M&F&HG, Freya)
Hair: Truth – Eternity
Eyes: Booty’s Beauty – Soulless Eyes (Catwa, Omega)
Poses: from ContraptioN – Bento AO Gentleman’s Cane System
Skin: Tableau Vivant – Tox Skin**
Brows: Identity Body Shop – Thick Eyebrows (Catwa, Omega, system)
Head: Catwa – Skell* (Bento)

*review copy
**old system layer, no longer available

Lost in Inventory: One Avatar’s Battle Against Login Lag

This one’s probably going to be something of a ramble, my sartorial darlings…

Long ago, in my callow SL youth (July 2009, to be exact), I created a comic called Lost in Inventory. (Click the image for the full-sized version.)

Lost In Inventory

Ah, the folly of innocence. Those halcyon days when I regarded an inventory count of 25,182 items to be “too much”.

Ahahaha. AHAHAHAHAAAAA! *chokes*  Oh dear lord, that was a good one. My inventory count has now reached somewhat mythical levels, as evidenced by this response by Rhonda Huntress on a forum post entitled Inventory Cleaning, wherein someone asked “What’s your count at now?” –

I felt I needed to clarify, so…

I can joke about it, because… well, I am  something of a fashion h0r, and I shop a hell of a lot. So adding 126,114 items to my inventory over an eight year timescale—a rate of 15,764 items per year—isn’t too bad, right?

Erm, actually, looking at it in that light, yeah that is rather… um… excessive? Yeah, it is. It’s THIS excessive:

But eh, I’ve been slogging my way through it. I keep on top of deleting notecards, landmarks, unneeded scripts, and all of that other bumph. I box up (or delete) sizes of items that I don’t (and never will) wear, mainly because I don’t own those bodies and have no plan to own them.

But then someone resurrected that inventory cleaning thread, and Oz Linden was consulted on the rumour that a high inventory count can cause lag. In his reply, Oz said the following:

Note the bit that I’ve underlined. My eyes went straight  to that, and a millisecond later my brain went “Oh shiiiiiiii—”. Because—although I’ve been meticulous in avoiding having more than even a few hundred  items in one individual folder (for example: my Objects folder is immaculately sub-foldered)—my login each time can take upwards of a minute on Skell’s account. And that up there is the reason why: sub-folders also count as an item!

<insert facepalm emoji here>

I am so so so careful to ensure that my inventory is sub-foldered, BUT in doing that I make use of the system folders that we all have: Body Parts, Clothing, etc. Inside Body Parts I have sub-folders for: Mesh bodies > Brand Name > Body Name, and Mesh Heads > Brand Name > Head Name, and so on. But some of those sub-folders contain a lot more  sub-folders. So—armed with this startling new information—I took a closer look at Skell’s inventory. And I didn’t like what I saw:

Well… crap. The second number on each of those lines is the number of sub-folders.

So, since that long login is starting to worry me, it’s time to change tactics and overwrite twelve years of muscle memory. I’ve always set my inventory to have system folders at the top, but it appears that I need to move some of the sub-folders that are inside them… outside  them. And rather than having them below everything else, I’d rather have them in with  everything else. Luckily for me, I’m not someone who is all that resistant to change (leaving aside my initial reluctance to move to mesh heads, because that’s a joke in and of itself these days), so once I’ve come up with those initial folder names it’ll just be a matter of switching off that System Folders to Top option and getting used to the new folder position.

And then… there’s BOM. Has anyone else’s inventory just exploded  now that we have 30 individual makeup tattoos instead of one neat little 30-button applier HUD? I’m not knocking it; I love the versatility of BOM (and I’ll love it even more once a couple of specific skin creators update for it), but dear god my inventory was inching dangerously close to 200k as it was! Let’s just take a look at what BOM can entail. Below is one ‘head skin’ and one ‘body skin’ from Birth, in applier format:

And here is the ‘head skin’ in tattoo format:

Followed by the body skin, also in tattoo format:

Thats going to need some trying-on and boxing up of the stuff I’m not going to wear, because I’m not lugging all of that around the grid with me! Unlike many guys in SL, I change my look all the time, so there’s a strong possibility that I’ll have black hair one day and red the next. The damage limitation option for me is to just box up the versions that—based on past history—I use very infrequently (for example: Skell hardly ever goes blond) and keep the ones I’m more likely to use.

So what do I do already to try and keep my inventory in order? Because posts like this should contain some inventory-sorting tips, right?

The first thing I do is have a monthly folder structure outside of all my other folders. As a blogger, it’s crucial that I know where I got something from, so I have sub-folders for specific events, and then weekly sub-folders for everything else. Review copies, Marketplace purchases, demos, and gacha items get their own sub-folders within the monthly folder. As I shop an event I will move everything purchased from that event into its sub-folder (thereby ensuring that if I crash during teleport—which sometimes can happen when leaving a very busy location—I don’t have to dig my purchases out from my objects folder). Event demos go into a !DEMOS sub-folder for the event. I don’t unpack anything there and then, and I never demo while at the event (mainly because when I demo I can spend hours going through multiple items to see what works together).

Here’s a typical example:

After every shopping session I always—without fail—do the following for my new purchases:

  • Rename folders to get rid of all the punctuation and symbols that creators use in their branding, and I expand store names in the folder name (example: if a store called Avatar Essentials gives me a folder called ~*A::E*~ FaBuLoUs ClOtHiNg  [dear sweet mother of god, that hurt to type…] I’ll rename the folder to: Avatar Essentials – Fabulous Clothing)
  • Delete all notecards, scripts, landmarks, pose stands and other unwanted crap in the folder. The quickest way to do that is go into the Recent tab, set inventory filters to show just scripts, notecards, animations, and LMs, and delete from there. I’ll use teleport history to revisit the store, or I’ll check the creator’s profile for an up-to-date picks location or Marketplace link for their store (assuming, of course, that they actually want my money and keep their profile up to date with those links).
  • Create a ‘not worn’ sub-folder in every folder that contains body rigs and other items that I don’t plan to wear. Even if I don’t have time to box them back up, I still move the “won’t wear that” items into that folder, to be boxed up when I do get a few minutes
  • Quickly check my Trash folder to ensure nothing weird got in there (because yeah, we’ve all heard those horror stories of people who’ve managed to drag their entire clothing folder into Trash and purged it) and then empty Trash

No matter whether you’re starting with a small inventory (hello, alt!) or staring bleakly at an absolutely chaotic morass  of crap, the above small tips—performed after every single shopping session—will drastically reduce the amount of potential junk that you could be adding to your inventory.

Want some more quick tips? Open your inventory and search for the following:

  • delete
  • unpack
  • hold
  • pose
  • posing
  • adjust
  • thank

That will cover a multitude of “delete me” unpacker scripts, bag-holding unpacker animations, pose/posing/adjustment stands, and “thanks for your purchase!” notecards. Delete with extreme prejudice. You don’t need them!

Go into your Notecards folder. Scroll down to the bottom. How old is the oldest one? Right, do you still need that notice about a 50% off sale from 2012? Thought not.

How about your Landmarks folder? Is that a heaving mass of once-was-a-store-but-is-now-estate-land-for-sale? Get rid of the lot. Next time you need to visit a store, right-click an item you already own from that store, go to the creator’s profile, and visit from their picks. Once you’ve been there, use your Teleport History option from thereon in.

Now… I just need to persuade someone  to stop shopping, get off his pert-but-lazy arse, and DO SOMETHING about this.

Hmm…

Here’s my key: philosophy

A freak like me just needs infinity.

Yeah yeah, I’m late as hell on this one, since the Men Jail event closes on Jan 28th, but keep an eye on Rekt’s Marketplace store and hopefully this fantastic vest will make an appearance there if you miss it at TMJ. I’ve been so busy that I only picked it up myself yesterday, which is why I’m so bloody late posting! But damn, am I completely in love with this look. so I figured that—as well as splurging it all over Flickr—I’d chuck it here, too. For full-sized images, just click through, since I’m linking directly from Flickr for this post.

Here's my key: philosophy (01)

I do have to let you know upfront, though, that the incredible hair featured in this look is no longer available. It was a hunt prize from Exile, for Madpea’s Peatonville Asylum Game (and, for the sake of transparency, I was blogging for Exile at the time, so this was a review copy). The hair is animated with amazing flames (video here) and how I wish that Kavar Cleanslate would put it out for sale now the hunt has been over for five years, because it’s amazing.

So let’s take a gander at this whole (somewhat deliciously bonkers) look:

Here's my key: philosophy (02)

Yes, my sartorial darlings, when you look at the credits list you will see those pants listed as ‘gym leggings (latex)’. Quite apart from cringing at the (horribly sweaty) thought of wearing latex  to the gym, this is the only way you’ll get Skell into anything approaching sportswear or workout gear (although he does own one really great pair of… [deep breath] sweatpants but they’re more the fashion kind, rather than the sporty kind, because… well… *shudders*).

The eye makeup is a layered combination from Zibska (the gold eyeshadow) with some amazing running mascara and thick winged liner from La Malvada Mujer (which also includes materials). The gorgeous ears are ones I picked up last November from Pumec. Fantastic customisation HUD, with multiple colour options for skin and piercings, as well as tattoos and ear-tip tints. I may be a convert to these ones, even if they are  pixie ears…

The necklace from (A)MAZE was discovered when I nabbed this week’s Wanderlust Weekend item from them. It (and its silver sister) sat right by the WW item, and I couldn’t resist them.

Here's my key: philosophy (03)

Tattoo from This is Wrong (it’s an old one, but I still adore it) and oiled leather winklepicker boots from Hotdog (where else would offer toes like that? Love ’em). Holographic lipstick (blended to a soft fade) by Izzie’s and my trusty ‘Holy Cheekbones, Batman!’ skin (okay okay, it’s actually called ‘Toni’) by L’Etre. (Pleasepleaseplease, David Cooper, release a BOM version of that for me!)

Here's my key: philosophy (04)

Credits

Vest: Rekt – Fantasy vest w/Neck (Gianni, Jake, Legacy)
Pants: 4bidden – Gym Leggings (latex – Gianni, Jake, Legacy, Aes)
Collar: (A)MAZE – Scales Collar (gold)
Shoes: Hotdog – WinklePickers (oil leather – Gianni, Jake, Freya, Maitreya, Slink M&F)
Ears: Pumec – Mesh Ears (forest pixie)
Hair: Exile – Twisted Firestarter* (no longer available)
Colour makeup: Zibska – Weit Makeup* (Lelutka, Omega, BOM)
Black makeup: La Malvada Mujer – Bruschetta in the Eye (Catwa, Omega, BOM)
Lipstick: Izzie’s – Holo Metallic Lipstick (Catwa, Lelutka, BOM)
Eyes: Avi-Glam – Fresh Eyes* (Catwa – from April 2019 Powder Pack)
Tattoo: This is Wrong – Lotus Tattoo (male pack: Adam, Jake, Gianni, Slink, TMP)
Skin: L’Etre – Toni (buttermilk – Catwa)
Head: Catwa – Skell* (Bento)
Body: Signature – Gianni

*review copy

Catwa HD Lips Tutorial

Skell…
Yes, mate?
This is a blog for blokes…
Uh-huh. Sure is.
Lipstick tutorials?
Quitcher bitchin’. Some of us blokes wear the stuff. And you might, too, if I can gently persuade Catwa to create male HD lips that look as awesome as the female ones do.

OK, yeah. This one’s primarily going to be read by the ladies; I’m well aware of that. But many of the pretty boys out there wear Maitreya Lara with the V-Tech flat chest add-on, together with female heads, and the Catwa HD Lips are so. damn. gorgeous. that I wanted to write a tutorial for them. Because, y’know, they do stuff and people have questions about that stuff.

Where to find the Catwa HD Lips

Each Catwa female Bento head has its own unpackable bag of HD lips inside its folder, fitted precisely for that particular head. (If you have Catya then you’ll have Catya-fitted lips. Got Margeaux? You’ll have Margeaux-fitted lips.) If you’re not seeing them in your head’s folder, then it’s time to update. The HD lips were put into those folders as of yesterday (December 28th 2019) and the heads are now on v4.5. To update, go to the Catwa store, click the redelivery terminal (they’re at the landing point and dotted throughout the store, and they look like this), redeliver your original purchase, unpack it, and the update will be inside.

Want to know how to switch your look from an old version to a new version of your Catwa head, seamlessly and painlessly? Follow the instructions in this video. They will work on any Catwa Bento head—male or female—as long as your ‘old version’ is v3.0 or higher.

When you unpack the lips you’ll find these contents inside:

Contents of the HD lips bag for the Susan head.

How to wear them

You will have noticed (I hope!) when you unpacked the HD lips that a special instruction appeared on the screen. If you didn’t read it when you unpacked them, I’m going to put it here now:

Make sure that you have Advanced Lighting enabled!

You must have Advanced Lighting enabled in your viewer’s graphics preferences in order to see and work with the HD lips. Once you’ve got that set up, we can move on to using them.

The HD lips are a mesh add-on, so right-click them in your inventory and select ‘add’. Next, add the HD Lip HUD so you can start working with those beauties.

The HD Lip HUD contains a ton of lipstick presets for you to try. Just click one and it will apply to the lips:

Using the HD Lip applier HUD

You can also use the tinting option on the HUD to add other shades to the presets:

Tinting with the HD Lip applier HUD

You can use the blend slider to fade the colour slightly:

Blending using the HD Lip HUD

You might think that’s about it, but nope. There’s more to it than just that. But before we get into the other things I need to show you something that’s critically important, and that’s where the lips sit on your Catwa head.

(Yeah, I know. On your mouth. Smartarse…)

This next bit’s important, so pay attention!

Catwa Bento heads comprise three total layers: skin, lower, and upper. And the HD lips sit exactly on the lower layer. This means that—in order for there not to be alpha-glitching between the HD lips and that lower layer’s lips—the HD lips will automatically push the blend slider for your head’s lower lipstick layer to the right, which makes it invisible. We’ll get to why that’s important later in the post. For now, here’s a quick video showing you why that needs to happen. This is what the alpha glitch looks like if the head’s lower lip layer is not set to invisible:

What the alpha glitch looks like if you try to show the head’s lower lip layer.

I’m moving the lower lipstick layer’s blend slider on the Master HUD in that video, to show you what happens when it’s not set to invisible. Note the flickering and blotching. Looks horrible, doesn’t it? That’s why the HD lips will automatically move that slider for you, even if you’re not actually wearing the Master HUD.

If you try to show the head’s lower layer then you’ll see a popup warning similar to this:

If you’ve tried the HD lips, then taken them off and had a very specific lipstick applier issue thereafter, that bit about the lower lipstick slider miiiight just be making you go “Hmmm…” but we’ll get to that point in a minute ;-)

My normal lipstick appliers don’t work on these HD lips, Skell!

Nope, they won’t. You need specific HD lip appliers for these. Catwa has given you a HUD with a great many of them already included—right there in the folder with the lips. She also has five additional sets that you can purchase at the inworld store and here on Marketplace:

HD Lip appliers available to buy at the Catwa store

Many more can be found on Marketplace and inworld. I’m very fond of some of the HD lip appliers by Andore (including some available at the inworld store as group gifts). The HD lip HUD included in your folder has four tabs with multiple save slots, so you can save all of your additional purchases onto a single HUD if you want to.

 

A word of warning: Do be careful when shopping for HD lip appliers on Marketplace. I’ve noticed that there is at least one creator who is using lip art photos from Pinterest boards and turning them into HD lip appliers. Always read the reviews on these (if reviews exist) since one or two that I’ve seen have noted that the textures look blurry—as well they might, since those textures are JPGs saved from Pinterest!

Using your Master HUD alongside the HD Lips

In addition to the tint and blend options on your HD lip HUD you can also use the Catwa Master HUD to apply tints, gloss, and even other lipsticks on top of the HD lips!

There is a caveat to this, though. If you’ve been following this post carefully you’ll remember that bit about the lower layer of your head’s lipstick layer being rendered invisible by the HD lips, right? Yep, this means you can only use the upper layer option on your Master HUD to add these extra lipsticks and glosses.

To add another lipstick (or a lip tattoo) you need to have already saved it to the Catwa Master HUD. I’ll give a quick bonus tutorial for doing that at the end of this post, but for now I’m going to use this lovely free wearable ‘babygoth’ tester from Alaskametro to add an extra layer over the top of my Catwa HD lips.

First of all, apply the HD lip applier that you want on the lips themselves. I’ve applied a blue HD lip applier from the Catwa HD lip HUD:

I’m now switching to my Catwa Master HUD, where I’ve already saved the babygoth lip applier to the lipstick tab. I’m going to check the ‘upper’ box in that section (which will switch onto the upper layer of my Catwa Bento head any appliers that I now add from that lipstick section) and I’m going to click the saved babygoth applier:

Applying a saved lipstick on the upper layer of the Master HUD, over the HD lips

That looks great as it is (not quite perfect along the upper lip, mind you, but that’s down to the applier lipstick being a little bit lower than the HD lip), but what if I don’t want the lips to be that dark? What if I want to fade them a bit so that the whole thing is a darker shade of blue? I can do that by grabbing the slider on the Master HUD and pulling it to the right, which will make the upper layer more transparent. That leaves the dark babygoth overlay intact, but fades it a bit so that the underlying blue HD lip shows through more and makes the babygoth applier look blue instead of black:

Blending the applied upper layer lipstick on the Master HUD, over the HD lips

Now, how about adding some gloss to that?

Let’s add some gloss to that blue HD lip/babygoth overlay combination. I’m going into the 2nd tab on my Master HUD now. This is what I call the ‘workhorse tab’, since it’s where I do a lot of my customisation. It’s a great tab to play around in and see what you can do with it.

The Materials section highlighted below is where you can add some gloss:

You’ll first need to click the lip icon. This is split into two halves—an upper and a lower—that correlate with the upper and lower layers on the head. Since we can’t use the lower layer (remember: the HD lips have rendered that invisible!) we’re going to click the top half of the icon, which corresponds to the head’s upper layer. The glossiness slider beneath it now lights up and we can start shifting it upwards to add some shine to the upper layer of the head’s lips.

Applying shine to the upper layer of the Master HUD, over the HD lips

Note: You might not see much of the shine visibly if you’re not standing near any local lights (or wearing some kind of facelight). I’m wearing a faint projected light in the video above and I’ve changed my Windlight, to show you the shine. It’s not very visible here, but you can just make it out.

OK, I tried the HD lips but now I’ve taken them off and none of my normal lip appliers work!

This is the question we get asked the most in the Catwa support group about the HD lips.

Remember when—earlier in this post—I said ‘If you’ve tried the HD lips, then taken them off and had a very specific lipstick applier issue thereafter, that bit about the lower lipstick slider miiiight just be making you go “Hmmm…” but we’ll get to that point in a minute’? Well we’ve now reached that minute.

The HD lips—as you will recall (because I’ve bashed you over the head with it enough times by now!)—render the lower layer of your head’s lips invisible. They have to do that in order to avoid that blotchy glitching shown in the earlier short video. And since all non-HD lip appliers will—by default—go onto the lower lipstick layer, none of them are going to show up if that layer is invisible, right?

The fix for this is very simple. If you’re not already wearing it, add your Catwa Master HUD and go into the lips tab. Make sure you have the ‘lower’ button checked/ticked for the lipstick section, and drag that blend slider all the way to the left again. Voila! Your non-HD lipsticks will now show up :-)

If it’s already showing as all the way on the left, just grab it and slide it to the right and then back to the left.

Bonus Tutorial: Saving lipstick to the Master HUD

As promised earlier when I explained about layering additional lipstick over the HD lips, here is a quick tutorial showing how to save ordinary, non-HD lipsticks to the Master HUD. The same principle lies behind saving anything to the Master HUD if you want to layer it on the upper layer.

First, make sure you’re not wearing the HD lips, and that your lower lipstick layer blend slider is all the way to the left (as shown in the image above).

Next, apply your lipstick. If it offers you the option to apply to ‘lower’ or ‘upper’ choose ‘lower’.

Saving the applier to the Master HUD

Once it’s applied, go into the lips section of your Master HUD, find a blank spot with the word ’empty’ above it, and click the little ‘save’ button beneath it:

I should probably have chosen a colour other than green for that annotation, but at least it’s obvious, right? Ouch…

You may or may not see an icon appear in the ‘Empty’ box above it, but even if you don’t see that, the word ‘Empty’ will disappear. Whether you see an icon or a coloured box or nothing is entirely down to the creator of your applier and whether they scripted it to have a special icon or not. Sorry, but there is no way to add your own icon if one doesn’t exist!

Applying the saved applier from the Master HUD

To apply this saved lipstick (or whatever else you’ve saved!) to the head, you need to go into the relevant tab and check the relevant box (upper or lower), depending on which layer of the head you want to apply it to. Usually you will only need to save things that you want to apply to the upper layer, so check/tick that option, then click the box above the ‘save’ button that you clicked:

Note to self: Skell, pink and green should not be seen… >.<

So, Skell…

Yes, mate?
About those HD lips for guys…

Heh. I keep oh-so-gently giving Catwa a little nudge to get HD lips created for her male Bento heads, because it’s not just lipstick that they can be used for.

The ‘HD’ in the name stands for ‘high definition’, and the textures are exactly that. Sure, I’d love to see a few actual male-fitted lipsticks—some jet black for the goths, a bright red and a dark red for Gaga’s Little Monsters, a hot pink for the drag queens—but what about some high definition non-lipstick textures in various natural tones? Maybe a slightly chapped version for those wintry regions in SL? Small scars? A bitten version? High-def lip tattoos?

There are so many possibilities, and I think Catwa has it somewhere on her (very long!) to-do list, so hopefully us guys will see some HD lips at some point.

Bonus bonus!

Got more appliers that you want to save than you have available slots on your Master HUD? Go to the Catwa store, into the gift room, and pick up the free Extra Save Slot HUDs. They’re copiable, and some of them contain a load of bonus free appliers:

The free extra save slots HUD gifts. Sets available for both Bento and non-Bento heads. Make sure you pick up the right ones!

Got more tints that you want to save, and the six save slots on your Master HUD aren’t enough? Back to the Catwa gift room with you, and pick up the new, free tint gift HUD. Let me know if you manage to fill all of those slots, because even I would struggle to do that. (The ad image doesn’t show all the available slots.)

The free extra tint save slot gift. The ad image doesn’t show all of the available slots. There are actually 210 in the main panel, and six in the smaller tinting panel

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. Some creators have issued separate HUDs, and some have included a button to activate BOM in their head and body’s HUDs. Check with the creator of your particular mesh body parts to see how they’ve handled it. (You may need to update or get a redelivery so that you can use any updated HUD options.)

Update (Feb 2020) – Many creators are now updating to include their ‘BOM relay’ in the form of a button on their mesh head or body’s HUD. If you’re not sure where to find it on your HUD, it tends to be on the same tab as the default skin options, so I’d suggest looking there first.

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 (and, of course, put your alpha layers back on). 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 (although they do now have an Omega bridge for some limited applier use). 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 (in the form of additional wearable objects) 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. It’s best to do both, since just replacing the texture and leaving the volume slider at any value other than zero can cause alpha glitching with your mesh head.)

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.

If you’ve suddenly got two faces there’s probably only one reason for it: you’re wearing a mesh head that makes use of the BOM ‘relay’ option, you’ve taken off your alpha layers (as you’re supposed to in order to use BOM), but you’ve not actually clicked the BOM relay (or the BOM option on your head’s HUD). The fix for being two-faced (yes, I had to say it!) depends on what you’re trying to do:

  • If you want to use BOM: You need to actually click  that BOM relay or BOM HUD button (whichever your head creator is using). Remember my earlier point about BOM relays technically being just skin appliers? Well you wouldn’t expect a skin applier to apply without you actually clicking it, right? Same thing here :-)
  • If you’ve tried BOM and want to go back to not using it again: Just re-wear your alpha layers, and apply your original skin and eyes again.

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.

If you want to use BOM for your skin and other layers such as makeup or tattoos or clothing, but you don’t want your system eyes to show on your mesh eyes (in other words, you want to go back to using your favourite eye appliers) there’s a simple fix: wear an eye-only alpha layer. Many mesh head creators are issuing these to their customers (Catwa, for example, includes an alpha pack with each Bento mesh head) but you can also pick up a freebie from here on Marketplace. Just add it to your avatar and re-apply your eye appliers.

If you look like something out a horror movie, with your mesh eyes either red or black (or not even visible at all, even though you know you’re wearing them!) then you’re clearly wearing an eye alpha so that you can use applier eyes, as per the above tip. However, in order for those appliers to actually show  you’ll need to apply them again. Dig out that HUD, click to apply your eyes, and the red (or black) will go away, and those of you with invisible eyes will be able to see again ;-)


Update (April 2020) – For a quick guide on how to activate BoM on your mesh head and/or body, please see this post.


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.