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

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

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

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

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

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

Now on with the post.

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

What is Omega?

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

That made no sense whatsoever, Skell…

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

The two types of Omega HUD

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

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

Omega HUDs are brand-specific

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

So why would I want this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does Omega have any limitations?

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

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

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

Where to buy Omega

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

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

Second Life fashion photography for beginners

I’ve been asked by several people to post some tips for fashion photography, so I guess this is that post. Hell, I’m nowhere near the league of SL’s finest when it comes to fashion photography. I don’t spend hours in Photoshop, painting individual hairs and all that stuff. I just do what I do, it comes out pretty well, and people seem to like it.

That said, there are  some good ground rules and other tips I can pass on to anyone who might be interested in taking fashion shots (or any other kind of pic of their avatar) so read on. (And, if you’re new to my blog, be warned that I swear. A lot.)

Tip 1: Set high-resolution options for your snapshots

You’ll find this option in the Advanced menu of your viewer. You can either open that up by digging around in your preferences (depending on which viewer you use) or by toggling the CTRL+ALT+D keyboard shortcut. You want the last two checked options below: High-res Snapshot, and Quiet Snapshots. (The latter one just prevents the annoying shutter click, as well as the silly cheesy grin animation.)

When you come to taking your image, make sure you set your width in pixels to a high enough resolution, and keep ‘Constrain Proportions’ on. I usually opt for around 5000px, as below:

Set them to save as PNG. Together, these two options will remove the jagged edges around your avatar. They will also give you much more to work with if you take your images into a photo-editing program afterwards to make any adjustments.

Tip 2: Use CTRL and Zero to zoom in, not your scrollwheel

Ever wonder why you end up looking like Dory in your images?

Using the scrollwheel of your mouse to zoom in close to your avatar will result in a fish-eye lens effect. To counteract that and get a more accurate (not to mention flattering!) shot instead, get your camera reasonably close to your avatar, then use the CTRL+0 (Control and Zero) keyboard shortcut, repeatedly, until you’re as close as you need to be. (CTRL+9 will reset your camera view.)

Some examples of the difference that will make are below:

Tip 3: Get in close

You’re focusing on the fashion, so get in there and show it! If your image looks like this –

– how on earth is anyone going to see your hair or beard applier or eyes, or whatever else you’re featuring? Get up close and personal, and show off that fashion.

Secondary to that:

Tip 4: Keep the background simple

Yes, you can take gorgeous fashion shots against beautiful backgrounds, but don’t make that background too ‘busy’. Human attention spans being what they are, you don’t want anything distracting behind you. These books below? Distraction. I’m immediately trying to read the titles when I look at the pic:

I tend to favour a simple textured background. I know a lot of people love those pre-loaded photo booths that can be bought, but honestly? A basic texture or even a single-coloured wall behind you will focus the viewer’s eye on what you’re wearing. Which… is kind of the point of fashion photography.

Tip 5: Use the Rule of Thirds

Which of these looks a bit more interesting? Or even more satisfying? It’s the same pic, just cropped a bit differently.

The first is dead-centre. Yes, there’s equal space either side of the head, but that long shoulder (does it go on forever?!) on the left versus short shoulder and gap on the other side just doesn’t… feel right. However, in the second shot the Rule of Thirds is in play. The focal point—the head and its accessory—is off-centre and over on the right-hand third of the shot. The long shoulder draws the eye in a pleasing way, and there’s space to offer some text if needed. (If not, the ‘dead space’ still feels  right.)

A couple more examples of the Rule of Thirds, from my Flickr:

Sometimes the Rule of Thirds can be ignored and will even work against an image. An example would be the pic below:

That shot gains more gravitas and focus by being central. The pose is calm and centred and in control, thus the image positioning reflects that.

Tip 6: Play with Windlight

If you have the Firestorm viewer then you already have a plethora of Windlight settings at your fingertips. Play around with them! Try editing them, just moving the sun slider to see what effects you can get on your avatar’s face. Here are four examples of the exact same pose changing drastically because of the Windlight settings used:

For darker Windlights, try using a very soft (and I mean SOFT!) facelight, or some projected lighting on your avatar. You’ll get the moodiness of the Windlight, but your avatar won’t be completely obscured by it.

Tip 7: Take a LOT of images, then whittle them down

I usually take tens of images from all kinds of angles (and in multiple Windlights), then whittle them down to one or two (or, at best, half a dozen). This little lot here –

– ended up as this:

Tip 8: Try slow-motion animations

Got a Bento mesh head? Try this little trick:

(Click the set of double lines at the top of that small menu popout, and that will ‘snap it off’ so you can keep it on your screen [until you relog or close it] and not have to go hunting for it each time.)

That setting will slow down your animations (on your viewer only). It’s perfect for capturing that hint of a smile right before you break into an ear-splitting grin, or the moment when your eyelids flutter perfectly shut just before you pull a silly face. By watching each of your Bento mesh head’s animations at normal speed you can identify the moments you want to capture, then run them again in slow-motion, with your cursor poised over the ‘refresh’ button of your screenshot window. This vastly  increases the number of possible face animations (in the form of those individual little moments) that you can make use of for your images.

(The Developer menu is enabled via the Advanced menu, and—if using Firestorm—via the Advanced tab of your preferences.)

It’s also great for slowing down dances to catch some interesting moments. I did that with a set of Lady Gaga ‘Bad Romance’ dances for these images:

See this little smirk and eyebrow-raise? It’s subtle, but it’s the very start of a ‘flirt’ animation:

Tip 9: Take advantage of eye direction

Whether you use the eye-poser on your mesh head or a freebie eye-direction HUD like this one, play around with moving your eyes. You can look directly into camera, look down wistfully, gaze up into the distance. Eye direction can add a lot of character to an image. Just a couple of examples below:

Tip 10: Don’t foreshorten yourself!

Okay, so Skell has giraffe legs, so the ‘before’ image below doesn’t really work too well. But taking an image from above will foreshorten your legs to such an extent that you’re at risk of singing Oompa-Loompa-doompety-do. Angle your camera at your midriff, or—if you want to lengthen your legs a bit or give your avatar’s pose a slight air of authority—then angle it at the knees and look slightly up.

However, if you like the look of your avatar’s head or face from that higher angle, get in close (CTRL+0 again) and leave your legs out of the shot.

I’ve seen people taking photos from above that make their legs look much shorter than their torsos. That’s not a good look!

Tip 11: Ladies? Be careful where the ‘boob cut-off’ goes!

No screenshot for this one, because… well, Skell doesn’t have boobs. But a bit of advice for the ladies here, because this is something that really stands out and isn’t very flattering. When taking a head-on image of your avatar, keep an eye on where the lower edge of the image is in relation to your breasts. Either include them fully, or cut the image off just below the collar bone. If the bottom of the image is too low—well into the fullness of your breasts—it can make them look disproportionately big, because like the “does that shoulder go on forever?” thing mentioned in point 5, the brain expects the outline to continue in the same direction as the point of cut-off (if that makes sense).

Tip 12: Fuck around with your images

Aaand there’s your one swear for this post XD

Whether you just crop them using Paint or you take them into Gimp or Photoshop, whether you find Insta-worthy filters or use Pixlr (which is a free online app) play around with your images and see what else you can do with them. BUT! Don’t go too far. If you obscure your image too much, you’re back to that “how the hell can people see what you’re wearing?” thing.

Tip 13: Want to show more than one part of the look? Composite!

Photoscape is a free photo-editing program that also contains a ‘page’ function with tens of preset image-holding layouts. Choose your image dimensions, pick a layout, then drag your images across and they’ll automatically be fitted into the sections of the layout. I use this a lot when I want to show multiple shots in a single image. (I’ve been using it throughout this post, too.)

And that’s your lot. Hopefully these tips will be useful to you.

Noob Dude: A beginner’s guide to Catwa Bento mesh heads for the Second Life male avatar

Please note: This post was originally written in September 2017. I will return to it from time to time to keep it updated.


IMPORTANT UPDATE: 30th Dec 2019

The male Catwa Bento heads have just been updated to v4.5 with all-new HUDs and features, so I’m editing this post a bit more today to remove visuals of the old-style HUDs and change them out for the new-style HUDs. If your head’s Master HUD is still white and does not look like the new grey and blue style featured in this post, it’s time to update.

To update: go to the Catwa store and click one of the redelivery terminals. They are located throughout the stores and at the landing points, and they look like this. Redeliver your original purchase, open it, and the update will be inside. Watch this video for a quick guide on transferring your look from your old head to your new head. (Note: That method will only work if your ‘old head’ is v3.0 or above. Anyone on older versions will need to re-apply their skins etc manually. If you’re still rockin’ a lower version than v3.0 then damn, son; it’s time to update because you’re missing out some good stuff!)

You can redeliver from the inworld store, even if you purchase from SL Marketplace or your head was gifted to you by someone else. (Very old gifts may not show in your redelivery options. If you don’t see your head listed on the redelivery page then send a notecard to Catwa Clip and she can search her records for you.)


If you’re completely new to Second Life you should read my Absolute Basics of the System Avatar post, preferably before you get stuck into this post about Catwa Bento heads. While you won’t be using much of the system avatar if you’re looking at getting a mesh head and body, you still need to understand the fundamentals of it—such as how shapes work, etc.—in order to be able to work more effectively (and with a minimum of frustration!) with your mesh body parts.

Yeah, okay. That’s another gobful of a post title, and this one was  intended to show up much further along in the Noob Dude series, but I figured that—with the Catwa Bento mesh heads all updating to v3.0 v3.2 v4.5 and motion capture animations—it was better to get this done now  rather than later. So… welcome, to my beginner’s guide to using Catwa’s male Bento mesh heads :-)

As of December 2019, Catwa has nine male Bento mesh heads: Daniel, Stanley, Shaheen, Dino, Victor, Skell, Dude, Gac, and Travis. As a CSR and manager for Catwa I own them all, and will be using Daniel throughout this post, where I will be:

  • Guiding you through the basics of the three main Catwa HUDs: the Master, Animation, and Beard HUDs
  • Showing you what you need to know about the important blokey stuff like how the hell you tint all  of your beard
  • Explaining how to layer and avoid those mishaps where putting on facial hair takes off your eyebrows or hairbase
  • How to fix common issues such as lines or gaps where your head meets your body, eyes sometimes going white, eyes poking out a bit too far, etc
  • Covering the various free add-ons and HUDs in the Catwa store to help you save and change your looks once you’ve got them set up

Note: this is one hell of a long-arsed post, so sit down to it piecemeal or when you have time to get stuck in and figure it all out.

What you get

So we’ll begin with what you actually get in the folder, which is this:

The numbering may change, depending on updates. Always check Catwa’s Bento Updates page to see if you’re using the most current version of your head: http://www.catwa-clip.com/?p=1012

Yeah, that’s a lot, so I’m going to highlight the basics of what you need to wear to get set up, which is just the six items shown highlighted here:

In short:

  • The full alpha layer – which will make your entire system body invisible
  • The Catwa Head (SL Neck) – Use this for all  mesh bodies except the Niramyth body
  • The Rigged Eyes
  • The Master M (male) HUD – This is the one you’ll be spending most of your customisation time using
  • The Animations HUD – Initially you may want to just use this to stop the motion capture animations until you’ve customised your avatar to your liking
  • The Hair and Beard HUD

Make your life a bit easier by creating a new folder inside that main one, and dragging all of those items into it, to make them easier to find when you need them:

I call my folder ‘essentials’ because they’re the essential bits that I need

For this post, I’m going to assume that you have a mesh body. If you dont  have one, then the general guidelines will still be the same (this is, after all, a post about the heads, not the bodies). The only difference is that you’ll need to wear the alpha that states it’s for head and eyes only, and not the full alpha.

But what about the ears in that folder, Skell?

Yeah, we get a lot of questions about those ‘NoBento ears’ in the folder:

You only need to add those if you plan to wear third-party animated mesh ears (such as elf ears, etc). The NoBento ears (if you look at their full name) are intended to de-script your head’s ears so that the third-party animated ears will work. Your Catwa Bento head comes with built-in ears, which you can hide or show in the Master HUD. Not planning to waggle your elven ears to all and sundry? Don’t add the NoBento ears then ;-)

And the teeth?

Your folder contains a full head with teeth, but it also contains a ‘toothless’ version and additional teeth (which each have different options for things like gems and braces).

If you don’t plan to wear the special braces or gems teeth or any other teeth, such as the Catwa Teeth Add-on that can be purchased to give you many more options, including vampire fangs (note that the teeth add-ons are head-specific; look for your teeth size in your head’s folder and purchase the same size. Daniel – as shown above – is Size E) then always just wear the main ‘SL neck head’ and not the toothless version. You don’t need to wear the extra teeth if you’re not wearing the toothless head!

Let’s get started

So, let’s begin with the full body alpha on, Skell’s body, hands, and feet on, and OHAI I HAZ NO HED.

OK, let’s put that sucker— What the…?!

Yeah. I know. I am such  a little shit XD

That up there is what will happen if you try to put your Catwa Bento head on over the top of your usual shape. So why didn’t I tell you to wear the included shape first of all? Because most people want their mesh head to look exactly like their original shape. Aaaaand I wanted to show you that, without a bit of work, that’s not going to happen. Because of the way these heads are rigged, you need a specific base shape to begin with, which you then edit to get it looking how you want to. So shove that included shape into your new ‘essentials’ folder and put the damn thing on. (If you don’t like the body shape you can always change that later.)

This is what your ‘essentials’ folder should now look like:

The ‘essentials’ folder, now with the shape added. Important thing, that shape!

And this (skin aside, which is now different in the v4.5 update – please see the annotation for the image, because I don’t have the time to re-shoot all of these images with the updated skins!) is what your head shape should now look like:

As of the v4.5 update the default head skins no longer look like this. If you are updating and still want these skins, go to the Catwa store and pick up the new male skin HUD gift. You’ll find all of the default male skins in that HUD.

Much better. Sit back and watch for a bit as your new face mugs and flirts at you. Pretty good, ain’t it? If the animations are a bit distracting while you start figuring all this stuff out, though, they’re easily disabled. Click your animation HUD (it looks like an old movie camera) to open it, and click the stop button at the bottom of the Full Face AO section, arrowed here:

The Master HUD

The Master HUD is the main control centre for all Catwa heads. When you wear it, you’ll notice that it has five tabs along the side. I’m going to cover each of them briefly. Note that I have a few extra icons showing on mine. These are where I’ve saved certain things, such as hairbases to my HUD, for ease of use later.


IMPORTANT UPDATE: The look of the Master HUD has changed, and a couple of new things have been added. Most of the essential parts are still the same, and still in the same location. Below is a composite to show you what one tab of the old Master HUD looked like, compared to the new Master HUD.

I have edited this post to remove visuals of the old Master HUD. Any differences in use will be noted, with instructions defaulting to use of the new HUD, and old HUD actions following in brackets and italics (like this).

Please see the note at the top of this post regarding updating if you’re still using the old version. However, if you don’t want to update (for whatever reason) then everything I’m about to describe is all in the same place; your HUD will just look different than the one shown throughout the rest of this post.

Example image of the old Master HUD (left) and the new Master HUD (right)


Mouth – Hair

This tab is where you can save and apply hairbases, teeth and gums. Take note of the Blend and Mask buttons at the top left of each section, and also the Lower and Upper checkboxes in the Hair section, as well as the Clear button and the Blend slider. We’ll get to these later once we start applying extra stuff.

Quick fixes in this tab:

  • Has something turned your mouth or tongue a weird colour? Hit that ‘reset’ button to the right of the mouth section to get it back to normal again.
  • Does your hairbase look very faint or greyish? Check that the ‘blend’ slider on the hairbase section is all the way across to the left.

Alpha – Lashes – Tint – Neck Size

This is the workhorse tab, and it’s where you’ll be spending most of your time. It looks like a lot  of stuff right now but it’s really simple once you know the few settings you need to use. And, of course, I’ll be covering all of that shortly ;-)

This is also the tab where you can hide certain parts of your mesh head if you want to wear versions of those parts (such as ears and teeth) by other creators, as well as choose different lash lengths and styles. And, of course, it’s where you TINT ALL THE THINGS!

IMPORTANT: See that ‘RESET’ section over on the right of this tab? If you mess up and get completely lost, just click ‘ALL’ in that section, and it will set your head back to the out-of-the-box default, so you can start again.

Quick fixes in this tab:

  • Does your face look really shiny? Click the head icon in the Materials box so that it’s highlighted (old HUD: click ‘skin’ until it’s surrounded by a black circle), as in the image below, then click the ‘x’ under the slider beneath it, or drag the slider to the bottom.
  • Do you have a weird-coloured band of skin around your neck? Check that you have ‘off’ selected under the Body Fat/Neck Size section. (You may also need to check your mesh body’s HUD to ensure you don’t have a neck fix enabled there, too.)
  • Bits of your head not showing? Check the Show/Hide section. Everything that’s showing will have its icon sitting on a purple background (old HUD: icons will be surrounded by a dark circle), as in the image below. If you’ve lost your ears, make sure they’re highlighted (old HUD: circled) in this tab!

Eyes – Brows – Neck Tattoo

Here is where you can add your own brow appliers (assuming that you’re wearing a browless skin applier), add eye makeup such as guyliner, and also neck tattoos. As before, note the Upper and Lower checkboxes, the Blend and Clear buttons, and the Blend slider.

Quick fixes in this tab:

  • Are your brows really pale, or grey, or not showing at all? Check the blend slider in the Brows section. It should be all the way across to the left.
  • Have you tried on a hairbase applier, but you’ve got bits of it still on your neck after you’ve removed it? Hit the ‘clear’ button on the Neck Tattoo section (check both ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ boxes, and clear them both).

Blush – Lipstick

Don’t assume that, because you’re a manly man  you won’t be using this tab. If you want to wear facial hair, you’d better get cosy with the blush and lipstick tab, because that’s where you’ll be applying and clearing it if you’re not wearing the Beard HUD! Don’t think of it as actual blush and lipstick; instead, think of the location. Blush = cheeks. Lipstick = mouth.

Quick fixes in this tab:

  • Have you tried on a hairbase applier, but you’ve got bits of it still on your forehead or around your sideburns after you’ve removed it? Hit the ‘clear’ button on the Blush section (check both ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ boxes, and clear them both).
  • Have you tried on a beard applier, but you’ve got bits of it still around your lips after you’ve removed it? Hit the ‘clear’ button on the Lipstick section (check both ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ boxes, and clear them both).

Skin – Ears

The final tab, this contains premade skins by Catwa, and you can click through them to find one that you like to begin with. You can stick with one of these and buy the matching body applier from the Clef de Peau vendor in the male section of the Catwa store (note that the body skins from the Clef de Peau mainstore do not match the Catwa head skins) or you can go out and pick up demos from the many, many skin stores in SL and create your own unique look. There’s even a skin demo wing at the Catwa store, to one side of the male heads section.

Important stuff regarding this tab:

  • Skin icons with a red ‘no entry’ sign through them will apply browless skins
  • There are matches (both with brows and without) for 8 tones of Gen 1 Clef de Peau skins (only available from the vendor at the Catwa store; these will not match the body skins at the Clef de Peau store!), the three darkest tones of Signature’s Gianni body (Gianni skin matches are in the v4.5 HUD only), and three tone matches to Niramyth’s Aesthetic bodies
  • In the v4.5 HUD the default Clef de Peau skins have been updated. If you have updated and want the old skins back, please see the ‘free stuff!’ section at the end of this post for the new skin HUD gift from Catwa
  • The Materials tab appears in the v4.5 HUD only and is not in the older HUD versions. This contains two pre-made specular maps (one of which can be used to apply a subtle wrinkle overlay to age your avatar)

Quick fixes in this tab:

  • Have you changed skins but your ears are the same colour as your old skin? Click the ‘Clear’ button to the right of the Ears Tattoo tab.
  • Have you suddenly and inexplicably aged about 20 years, sprouting some impressive (and depressing!) wrinkles? Click the purple ‘x’ to the right of that ‘apply specular UUID’ button in the Materials section to remove the ‘ageing’ materials applier that you’ve accidentally added.

New in the v4.5 update: the updated Eye HUD

Another bloody good reason to update (yes, I’m going to keep nagging you about this!) to v4.5 is the new Eye HUD it contains. Not only does this have several great eye textures, but it allows you to move and resize any eye appliers that you’re using on your Catwa eyes (be they from that eye HUD or third-party ones from another creator).

The new v4.5 Eye HUD

The arrows on the left side of that HUD will move your eye appliers around. Most of us probably have a pair of eye appliers somewhere that seem to leave us in permanent eyeroll mode. Use the arrows at the bottom of the HUD to move them down. Video here to show you how it works.

Is there a weird shine on your eyes? Or are they looking black or a strange colour in certain lighting? Hit those Reset Glossiness/Environmental/Specular buttons to fix those issues. The ‘reset all’ button will put your eye textures and position back to the default.

Moving on…

With all of these tabs you get some good starter options, including hairbases and brows, so we’ll spend a few minutes playing around with them to get used to how the HUD works. First up, head back into the first tab, and click one of the icons for the hair appliers. I’ve chosen the black one:

I’m not going to re-shoot this entire post, but the male hairbases look different in the v4.5 HUD from the one shown here

Click another one to try that, but stop there. Now we’re going to get rid of it completely. To do this, you need to know where it’s applied to, so now we’re getting into those Upper and Lower checkboxes I mentioned while showing the HUDs.

Pay attention: this next bit is important!

Catwa’s Bento heads have two layers: an upper and lower. This allows for, well, as the name suggests… layering. It means that you can have a shaved hairbase over the top of a scalp tattoo, or guyliner over the top of eyeshadow. And the one thing that’s vitally important about these heads is the following:

All appliers will automatically default to the LOWER LAYER.

This is to say that, if you apply a scalp tattoo it will go onto the lower layer. If you then apply a shaved hairbase, it too will go on the lower layer… and in the process of doing so it will remove the tattoo. This is where those Upper and Lower tickyboxes come in. To fix that problem, you need to save to the Catwa Master HUD whatever you want to put on the upper layer (in this case the hairbase). You then apply the tattoo, which defaults to the lower layer. Then, you check/tick the Upper box on the Catwa Master HUD, and apply the saved hairbase onto that upper layer. By doing this, both items go onto your head, and the hairbase won’t remove the tattoo.

For a much more detailed visual walk-through of this, click here (will open in a new tab). NOTE: That linked guide still refers to the old Master HUD. I will update it very soon for the new Master HUD and will then link both versions here.

So, to clear that hairbase, check whichever layer it went onto, and hit the Clear button. Welcome back, baldie ;-)

Tinting – for hairbases, brows, facial hair, guyliner… hell, you name it, you can tint it

We’re now going to move onto tinting. One of the things I try to do when buying appliers such as hairbases and brows, is to make sure they include a white tintable version. This allows me to change my look according to whatever hair I might be wearing. If you only ever wear one colour that’s not a problem for you, but I’m a hair h0r and I’m kinda fond of changing things up.

Tinting brows

Click around in the Skin tab until you find a browless version of the default skin, like this:

And then go into the Brows tab and click until you’ve applied a set of white brows, like this:

Not seeing them? Check that the blend slider on the Brows tab of the HUD is all the way across to the left. (Check the upper layer and look, then check the lower layer and look. It’ll be one of the two.)

Now we’re going to tint those brows. Before we do that, make a note of which layer box is checked/ticked on the Brows tab – lower or upper – and then head into that workhorse of a tinting tab.


IMPORTANT: A big change in the v4.5 HUDs is that upper and lower tinting has been simplified. You now click the UPPER half of the icon to tint the upper layer, and the LOWER half of the icon to tint the lower layer. (Much easier to remember than the v3.2 HUDs, where you clicked the left side for lower and the right side for upper!)


Tinting using the v4.5 HUD

Find the brows icon and click the upper half of it if your brows went onto the upper layer, and the lower half of it if your brows went onto the lower layer. You’ll see the half that you clicked light up with a purple background, as arrowed on the left in the pic below. Next, click in the black box shown by the other arrow and your brows should turn black.

Upper brow icon highlighted

If they didn’t turn black, try checking the other half of that brow icon and clicking the black box again.

Tinting using the older HUD

Find the brows icon and click the left side of it if your brows went onto the lower layer and the right side of it if your brows went onto the upper layer. You’ll see it highlighted with a dark semicircle, as arrowed on the left in the pic below. Next, click in the black box shown by the other arrow, and your brows should turn black.

If they didn’t turn black, try checking the right side of that brow icon and clicking the black box again. Remember: (on this older HUD) left = lower, right = upper.

You can also change the colour by clicking in the rainbow panel and then clicking into the big colour box. To enter RGB colours, click the little pen icon above the rainbow panel and enter the RGB numbers separated by commas. You can save colours that you like by clicking the little black ‘save’ icon under each of the small boxes in the two rows at the bottom.

One of the most common shades to want (but the hardest to get!) is a good brown. To get a brown tint, first click in the reddish-orange part of the rainbow bar (at the top), then click in the big colour panel. Click around in there until you find a shade that you like.

Tinting Facial Hair

This is where a lot of guys come unstuck. Face fuzz can be a tricky beast. Depending on how hirsute you are, facial hair can apply to multiple layers, but mainly the cheeks (blush layer), around the lips (lipstick layer) and sometimes up to the ears (this touches on the hairbase layer). Very occasionally (and for some weird reason, since you don’t actually see  any of the beard up there) it may also apply to the brow layer. That’s a lot  of layers to check, but you’ll mostly be dealing with cheeks and lips (aka: blush and lipstick; don’t come over all macho on me now!)

Open up the Beard HUD and go into the third tab. Click around in that lower section until you find a beard that you like. Note that they all start off as white, so you can tint them. You can see that I’ve got a lot  of different facial hair appliers saved in the top half of that HUD:

The visuals of the beard and hair HUD haven’t changed with the v4.5 update

I’m wearing a nice full-face beard here:

Now you need to go back into the Master HUD and that workhorse of a tinting tab. You have two options for tinting here: the beard icon and the blush and lipstick icons together.

I’m going to give instructions for only the v4.5 HUD below. For anyone using an older Master HUD, remember: the left side of the icon is for the lower layer of the head and the right side is for the upper layer of the head. (Honestly, it’s much simpler to update, because the new HUD is easier to remember!)

Tinting a beard: using the beard icon

Find the beard icon at the bottom of the Diffuse section. If your beard went onto the lower layer of your head, click the bottom half of that icon. If it went onto the upper layer of your head, click the upper half of that icon. Then click the black box, as you did to tint your brows.

Selecting the beard icon on the v4.5 HUD. Here I have the lower layer selected (note the purple background on the lower half of the icon)

Note: if your beard goes up to your sideburns you might see a small part at the top of them that doesn’t tint. That means the top sideburn of the beard is on the hairbase section, so you’ll need to find that tab on the Master HUD and tint it in the same way.

Tinting a beard: using the blush and lips icons

Find the blush icon (it looks like blush on the cheeks) in the Diffuse section. You did remember to make a note of which layer your beard applied to, right? Click the relevant half (upper or lower) of the blush icon and then click the black box, as you did to tint your brows:

Lower half of the blush icon selected = lower blush layer of the head

That’s all well and good, but here we’re bumping up against a small issue: not all of the beard has tinted. There are white sections lingering around the lips:

Got milk? ;-)

This is where we dive back into the tinting tab and check the lips and tint those as well, Make sure you click the relevant half:

Lower half of the lips icon selected = lower lip layer of the head

Et voila.

A reminder: For a quick, all-in-one visual guide to this, click here. (As before, this image refers to the old HUD. I will update with a new HUD version soon, and link both in this post.)

Putting it all together

We’ve got a lot of this post under our belts so far, but there’s still a way to go until I’ve covered the basics. Don’t worry if it’s not all sunk in yet. Come back and re-read anything that doesn’t make sense to you, click around on your HUD and see what does what. You can’t break anything, and even if you somehow manage to screw your HUD up by deleting the scripts (or anything like that) you can always just unpack a new version or get a redelivery from the store. For now, though, I’m going to give you an example of putting everything I’ve shown thus far together.

Here’s an example of how I would put together a look comprising the following:

  • a browless skin
  • applier brows
  • a hairbase
  • eyeshadow/liner
  • facial hair

That might seem fairly simple, but look at the names and think about it. That eyeshadow is probably going to compete with the brows for position on my face, for starters.

I’m beginning with a browless skin from Swallow:

To that I’m adding a brow applier by Odeco. I’m wearing the white version and I’ve tinted it black. I’ve also clicked the Save button on the Brow section of the Master HUD to save the brow there:

Old HUD is shown here, but it would look exactly the same (except the HUD colours) in the v4.5 HUD

Next up, the hairbase (by Stealthic) and beard (by CDC Creations). Both of them white, tinted black (I’m halfway through doing that in the pic below) and both saved to the relevant sections of their HUDs: the hair to the Hairbase tab of the Master HUD, and the beard to the upper section of the Beard HUD:

This is what it all looks like together:

Now I want to add some eyeshadow by Zibska. And… uh-oh…

Yeah, it took off everything. Even the brows, although I’d put those back on by the time I took this screenshot (my bad!) That’s because I’m using an Omega eyeshadow applier – which is a cross-brand applier type that works by using a relay HUD – and it applied to the ‘whole head’ area.

How to fix this so I can wear the eyeshadow without losing my hair, brows, and beard? Well that’s the fiddly bit. Remember what I said earlier about how all appliers default to the lower layer? What we have to do is leave that eyeshadow where it is. It’s clearly using most of the lower head layers, so I need to check the upper layer and then re-apply the stuff I saved to the HUDs: the hairbase, the brows, and the facial hair. Beard first:

Note: The beard HUD visuals are unchanged from v3.2 to v4.5

By clicking the upper beard layer, the beard goes on without removing the makeup. Same with the brows and hairbase. I will have to tint them all over again (because I saved the white versions), so I have to remember to click the top half of the icons (for the upper layer) on the tinting HUD (or the right side of the icons on the v3.2 HUD).

And here it is, all done:

Omega appliers

I mentioned Omega appliers briefly in the previous section. Without going into painstaking detail, I’ll summarise thus: Omega is a cross-brand relay for many different mesh body parts. If you have the correct relay for your body and head, you can wear any applier that is sold as an ‘Omega Applier’. For example: Skell is wearing a Catwa head and Slink body, so he needs the Catwa relay and the Slink relay.

Note: the Omega relays work differently, depending on the brand and body part. With Slink, you only need to wear the Omega HUD and click it once, and Omega is installed into the body. This kind of Omega HUD is an installer. With Catwa, you have to wear the Omega HUD every time you want to apply Omega items. That kind of Omega HUD is a relay, which ‘talks’ to the body part in question and sends it the relevant textures.

Omega covers everything from skins to eyes, hairbases to brows, makeup to clothing. Here I’ve changed Skell’s Catwa Daniel rigged mesh eyes using an Omega applier from Avi-Glam. Note the purple Omega relay half-hiding behind my various windows:

Omega relays can be purchased on SL Marketplace, or at the Omega Solutions store inworld. They cost L$99 per item.

Basic Troubleshooting

One of the main issues some guys have with Catwa heads and mesh bodies is matching the neck. Be aware that it’s not possible to get a 100% perfect, seamless match. We’re talking about two different products by two different designers, after all. But there are ways to mitigate certain issues that tend to crop up. I’ll list a few problems that I occasionally see being queried in the Catwa support group, and detail the fixes that are usually suggested for them.

A small, but visible gap (ie: you can see daylight through it) at the neck line (happens most often with the Signature body)

Tips to fix this include:

  • Make sure you’re only wearing one  all-in-one alpha layer (the full body one from the Catwa head pack) and not the Signature body alpha and  Catwa head alpha.

A huge (as in several inches) gap between your head and shoulders

  • If you’re wearing any mesh body other than Niramyth (AKA: Aesthetic), make sure you wear the [SL neck] version of your Catwa head. The version that’s labelled as [Niramyth] is ONLY to be worn with Niramyth Aesthetic bodies.
  • Additionally: Aesthetic now has a special neck version that works with head brands other than their own. If your Aesthetic body still has a very tall neck that goes all the way up to your chin, it’s time to update to get the new version. Catwa stopped adding special Aesthetic fitted heads once the Skell head was released, as that was the point when Aesthetic issued their updated body with the new neck option.

Light or dark bands around your neck (happens with any body)

Tips to fix this include:

  • Make sure you’re wearing head and body appliers in the same skintone by the same designer. Don’t mix skin designers or skintones. (The exception to this would be if a store only sells head appliers and tells you that their head appliers match to body appliers from another store.)
  • Visit the skin store and get a redelivery of your body appliers. Skin designers sometimes update their body textures, and if you’ve bought a newer head applier but you’re still wearing the older body applier they probably won’t match.
  • Turn off the neck fixes on both body and head HUDs, and if you still need a neck fix, only use the Catwa one, and re-apply your head applier after enabling it.

Appliers look very faint or pale

  • Check your blend sliders. For an applier (such as brows or hairbase) to show up fully, the blend slider needs to be all the way over to the left. If it’s already to the left, slide it to the right and then back to the left (sometimes this ‘jolts’ an applier into working again). Remember to check the sliders on both upper and lower layers.

Eyes poking out through your lower or upper lids

  • Make sure your shape’s eye depth is set to 50 and this problem will go away. Also, wearing the rigged eyes for your Catwa Bento head is preferable to wearing non-rigged eyes, since the rigged ones sit at the correct depth. If your eyes don’t come with appliers and you need to use unrigged mesh eyes from another brand, please watch this video, as it will show you how to use the Catwa rigged eyes as a guide to position your other mesh eyes.

Area surrounding eyes is all-white and untextured

  • Here’s a link to a video by Catwa showing how to fix this. (However, this was a bug that has long been fixed, so if you’re still experiencing it please update your head and also your viewer!)

Face is stuck in an animation

  • Right-click your avatar and select Appearance > Reset > Skeleton. You might also want to click Appearance > Reset > Skeleton & Animations, too.

Animations won’t stop

  • Follow the instructions in the above ‘Face is stuck in an animation’ section. Additionally, go into your viewer’s menu and select Avatar (or ‘Me’) > Avatar Health > Stop Avatar Animations & Revoke Permissions. Then relog. (Also, check your AO. If it’s a bento AO you may be wearing a version of it that animates your face.)

Glossy shine on your face

  • If you look like you’ve just faceplanted into a vat of oil…

…this is what you click on the Master HUD to get rid of the shine:

Visible seams at the sides or back of your neck (happens with any body)

  • Seeing this when you wear your body and head?

Apart from checking the above fixes for neck issues, this could simply be down to the Windlight setting that you’re using. As I mentioned before, you’re never going to get a 100% perfect match, but by going through different Windlight settings you can limit those lines on your viewer. (Note that changing your Windlight settings won’t affect how others see you.)

Suggested Windlight settings for softening those lines are in the image below. My preferred one is in the Firestorm viewer, and it’s [NB] Alpine Skinlight RGB.

 

You use the Catwa Master HUD default skins, you’ve updated, and they now look different

Check the end of this post for the new free male skins HUD. This now contains the original Master HUD skins, so you can go back to your original look.

For all other troubleshooting regarding Catwa mesh heads, join the (free-to-join) Catwa Head Friends group and ask your question there. They’re an incredibly helpful bunch of people and will try to get your issue sorted out as soon as possible.

Useful Videos

The Animations HUD

All of Catwa’s Bento heads have motion capture animations, and they look incredible. I showed you earlier how to disable the full face AO if you found it distracting while you worked on practicing with your Catwa head, but now it’s time to get those animations back up and running again. Some of it is self-explanatory, and you’ll have more fun discovering what each section does through clicking and playing around with it than you will if I tell you everything about it, so I’m only going to show you a couple of bits:

Before we go into numbered detail, the four Full Face AO icons that I have switched on (the bottom row, surrounded by thick black lines) are nice, neutral ones that are great to keep on all the time. These add just a bit of natural animation to your lips, brows, and eyes.

1 is the eye poser, which is really useful for taking posed shots, especially in combination with the full face AO.

2 is the ‘broken neck’ icon. When you see the lines beside it, it’s enabled, and it will allow your neck to move fully with the animations. This makes a hell of a difference, turning this –

into this –

3 is the button to stop all of the full face AO animations (as shown earlier).

Aaaand 4? That’s the button that will make all the ladies (and gents, depending on your—and/or their—orientation) fall into a heap at your feet ;-)

Note: If you have static lips and/or eyes set, they will override the full-face AO, so if your face AO doesn’t seem to be working, check that you don’t have dark circles around any of the static eyes and lips.

FREE STUFF!

Saving the best for last, of course. In the Catwa store you’ll find several great free HUDs that will help you save those precious looks once you’ve put them together. These are all group gifts, so you’ll need to be a member of either the Catwa group or Catwa Head Friends, then wear your group tag and click the relevant small box for the group you’re in.

If you’re someone who changes his looks as often as I do, the Bento presets HUD will be a godsend. Get everything applied to all the right layers, and hit ‘Save’ on a new button on this HUD. The button will flash red and green for a moment and an image will appear above it. Once the icon has stopped flashing you can remove the HUD. Whenever you want to re-wear a saved look, just click its button on that HUD and, after a few seconds, everything will apply just as it was when you originally saved it.

As the HUD states, it’s heavily scripted, so use it in a low-lag region and remove it when you’re done.

What I do with this HUD is save one per outfit (that rules out having to remember what goes where, after all). Once I’ve set up my outfit with all appliers on my face, I click the top left circular arrow and wait for it to stop flashing. Then I minimise the HUD and remove it. I save the outfit, then copy the HUD from my inventory and paste it (as a full HUD, not as a link) into the outfit folder.

The next fantastic item (and this one really is great, especially if—like me—you have a lot of appliers) is the set of Extra Save Slot HUDs.

Another gift from Catwa, you’ll find these in the same area as the other freebies. Inside the folder you’ll find extra copiable save slot HUDs for the following:

  • beard
  • blush
  • brows
  • brows with eyeshadow
  • ear tattoos
  • eyeshadow on its own
  • hairbase
  • hairbase with blush (this one’s fantastic for saving those hairbases that go on both of those sections)
  • lipsticks
  • neck tattoo
  • lashes

The other free little bit of awesome in the Catwa store is the Skins HUD. This contains four tabs, the first of which is partially filled with lots of male skins – including the older ones that were removed from the v4.5 HUD, and three blank tabs. Here you can save all of your applier skins, both Catwa and Omega, for ease of re-applying:

Well them’s the basics. I did warn you it was long, but you’re armed and ready to go out there and look fucking awesome now. Slay ’em, dude ;-)