Catwa tutorials Style 101 for the Male Newb

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.

Looking for a Catwa male HDPRO head guide? Click here.


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:

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)
  • IMPORTANT: This tab is where you activate BoM on the head. Remove alpha layers and click that BoM button on the top-right of the HUD. The first click will activate BoM on the head, and a second click of it will activate BoM on the Catwa rigged eyes that are included in the head’s folder. If you’ve not heard of BoM, then you can read more about it here.

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.


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 ;-)

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