I’m a spendy bugger when it comes to my avatar, my sartorial darlings. I think you’ve realised that by now, right? But at the moment there are some amazing offers around the grid; some part of the Stay At Home Club, and some simply offered by generous creators. Due to current world events, with most of us stuck at home, thousands of people are dusting off old Second Life avatars that haven’t seen the light of day for years. I’ll have a blog post up soon—the next part of my Noob Dude series—that will take you, quite literally, through how to get dressed, beginning with mesh heads and bodies. But today’s tutorial takes advantage of some limited time offers, so I figured I’d get this one out quick-sharp.
This look is made possible by those rarest of beasts: a free, full Bento mesh head and a L$1 full Bento mesh body, from two of SL’s top creators of avatar customisation products. These particular offers will not be available forever, but for those returning to Second Life, and for those who don’t yet have a mesh avatar this is a chance to upgrade for very little money indeed, compared to what a full Bento mesh avatar would normally cost you.
If you were to buy a full priced Bento mesh head and Bento mesh body from these particular creators they would set you back a total of approximately L$10,500 (US$42 at today’s LindeX rate). Right now, though, they cost you just one measly L$ for the body. The head is free. Not only that, but the head is unisex, so it will fit both male and female bodies. You might not think that when you look at the ad, but more on that shortly when I get into the list of what you will need to create this avatar.
Before I get into that, though, a couple of things:
- This is a blog primarily intended to help male avatars look good in SL. There are a ton of blogs for female avatars. There are a ton of always-there great freebies for female avatars. Off the top of my head I can think of one store that has something like six female mesh heads as group gifts, one that has a full female bento mesh body (that fits Maitreya clothing, no less) as a lucky board prize, and one store offering both slim and curvy female Bento bodies for L$1 each (albeit with a limited alpha HUD). In short: Second Life is a woman’s world when it comes to free and cheap avatar customisation. But right now you have a limited time chance to put together a great male base look for very little money.
- And addressing the men of SL directly with this second point: you’re going to have to work at this a little bit. If you were to throw money at a fully-featured male mesh avatar it would be easier, but if you want to go the freebie/cheapo route—and this one in particular—you’re going to have to get comfortable with doing a bit more than “throw it on and that’ll do”. So brace yourself for a bit of work, although I’m going to walk you through each step in enough detail that you can just follow along.
OK, let’s go shopping. Most of this can be got from SL Marketplace, but you’ll need three inworld trips and you’ll also need approximately L$500 to your name for various bits and pieces. That’s about two bucks.
The head: Catwa ‘Freya’ Unisex Bento head
- Marketplace link
- Cost: FREE until May 24th 2020
- UPDATE: This offer has now ended
The body: Meshbody ‘Classic’
- Inworld store
- Cost: L$1 until further notice (You also need to be in ‘The Shops!‘ group and wearing the group tag when purchasing. Group is free to join)
- When you arrive: look for the ‘free classic’ body text on the wall and click the ‘male body’ section
The shape: ArualBlues ‘NU’ Shapes for Catwa Freya [PROMO]
- Marketplace link
- Cost: L$50 (promo price will end when the Catwa ‘Freya’ free gift offer ends, on May 24th 2020)
- There are lots of great other cheap male shapes appearing on Marketplace for the ‘Freya’ head and multiple types of body. Take a look through this Marketplace search to find others. Note that the head shape is critical—it must be for Catwa ‘Freya’—whereas the body shape is less critical
The skin: 7 Deadly s[K]ins – ‘MAJOR’ Manly Monday
- Inworld store
- Cost: FREE (please move fast to grab this, as I’ve no idea how long it will be out for. 7DS has other similar old system skins, but they cost a small amount of money)
- When you arrive: walk directly forward into the store. The skins are on the far left of the reception desk in front of you
- If this skin is no longer available then there are other cheap system skins out there for men. The same kinds of ‘fix’ that we’ll be using later can also be used on those
- UPDATE: This offer has now ended. However, the principles outlined below in ‘fixing’ an old system skin—of which you will find plenty in inworld ‘discount’ store sections and on Marketplace—remain exactly the same. You’ll just have to figure out the RGB values required by the skin that you eventually settle on.
The jacket: A&R ‘Granada RANGER’ Leather Jacket
- Marketplace link
- Cost: L$9 (temporary ‘lockdown’ price)
The pants: from Alpha Male “When the party’s over” outfit
- Marketplace link
- Cost: FREE (Stay At Home Club offer)
The shoes: A&R ‘Malaga’ Formal Shoes
- Marketplace link
- Cost: L$9 (temporary ‘lockdown’ price)
The hair: Modulus ‘Cole’
- Marketplace link
- Cost: FREE (permanent free gift)
The hairbase: Stealthic Male Hairbase
- Inworld store
- Cost: L$150 (yes, the most expensive bit of this whole look, but worth it. I use this hairbase almost exclusively; it’s that good)
- When you arrive: Walk down the stairs in front of you. At the bottom take an immediate left into the male hair section, then turn another 90° to the left. The hairbase is on a low podium at the front of that section
We’ll be using BoM (Bakes on Mesh) to put all of this on your mesh avatar, and since the skin that we’ll be using is an old system one you’re going to need some ‘fixes’ for common problems encountered when using old system skins that were not texture-mapped for mesh bodies and heads. These problems include smearing of textures around fingernails and toenails (seriously, this looks horrible until you fix it!) and dark shadows that look like makeup around the eyes (you might be fine with that or you might not; I’m going with ‘not’ for the majority of guys). To fix these issues you’ll need the following:
- Gemini’s Parlour – Old Skins BoM Fix – L$19
- Izzie’s – Catwa Closed Eyes – L$100
- Izzie’s – Under Eye Lashes Concealer – L$100
- Izzie’s – Waterline Fix – L$100
TOTAL AVATAR COST = L$519
Let’s get cracking. I’m going to use a lot of annotated screenshots for this post, so it’ll be easy to follow. And apologies in advance if you feel this post is too simple. I’m trying to keep it as accessible as possible, for SL veterans, returnees, and newbies.
First of all, strip off down to your absolute basics: system shape, system eyes, system hairbase, system skin. (Yeah yeah, I kept system pants on. You don’t wanna see my pubes, mate…) Do this somewhere relatively private, though. Don’t scare the locals at your sandbox of choice ;-) Then, wear the following:
- Skin: 7 Deadly s[K]ins – MAJOR MM Taupe (system layer)
- Shape: AB:Z ‘NU’ Catwa Freya – Classic M – Lean
From the Legacy ‘Classic’ body folder, ADD (don’t wear!) the following –
- [BODY] Classic (m) (1.2)
- [EDIT] (1.1)
From the Catwa ‘Freya’ head folder ADD (don’t wear!) the following –
- CATWA HEAD Freya [Teeth A] v4.5
- CATWA EYES RIG Freya v3.3
- CATWA HUD Master Freya v4.5
- CATWA HUD Animations F v3.2
Now, how you you look? Erm, well you look like a proper feckin’ Charlie if I’m honest, but we’ll soon fix that.
Maximise your Legacy ‘Classic’ Edit HUD and click the middle icon on the left (torso with paintbrush and sparkles). It may load your styles in a few seconds, or it may not. The HUD will tell you to type /style help into local chat if it doesn’t load within 10 seconds, so do that if you need to and follow the instructions on the HUD to enable Media in your viewer, then detach and re-attach the HUD. It should finally load for you.
Now we’re going to enable BoM (Bakes on Mesh) on your body. This will send your system skin textures onto your mesh body parts. In the styles tab (that middle icon on the left again!) click the menu button (horizontal lines) on the far right. In the next window that loads, click APPLY BOM on the far right:
All good so far. Now let’s move on to your head, but first shall we stop those animations so they’re not distracting you while you work on sorting out your face? Click the old-fashioned ‘movie camera’ icon to maximise your Catwa Animations HUD. See the thick black outlines around the ‘cat head’ icons under the Full Face AO section? That means those animations are active. Click the STOP button beneath them to stop the animations. You can then minimise and detach the Animations HUD.
Now we’ll enable BoM on the Catwa head. Expand the Master HUD icon, go into the bottom tab and click the BoM button in the top right:
The textures of your ‘MAJOR’ system skin from 7 Deadly s[K]ins should now be ‘baked’ (showing) on your Legacy ‘Classic’ mesh body and Catwa ‘Freya’ mesh head.
Addendum: Because I’ve been reminded of this elsewhere, please note that if at any point while activating BoM you see either your head or your body turning a bright, solid red then you’re still wearing an alpha layer on that area. Search the ‘worn’ tab of your inventory for it and remove the alpha layer.
Now we’re going to fix the neck size discrepancy. The Catwa Master HUD contains two neck sizes (male and female). All of Catwa’s full priced heads include special ‘neck fixes’ for several different bodies (or—for the female heads—neck fat percentages) but because this one is a free gift you have male and female only. That will still give you a great match to practically all mesh bodies. So go into the 2nd tab from the top, find the BODY FAT/NECK SIZE section, and click the male symbol:
OK, you’re now fully baked (at least in Second Life, if not in real life; c’mon dude, you need all your braincells for this one…) and your neck fits properly. Now let’s get to fixing the ‘girly’ bits of your face. System skins that are not especially texture-mapped for mesh bodies and mesh heads will always have some issues—usually around the eyes, and always around the fingernails and toenails—but there are stores selling ‘BoM fixes’ for those issues (Izzie’s being the main one) and we’re now going to use those.
Two important notes before we dive into the next bit:
- The RGB values given in the images and text below will match only to the specific skin used for this post. If you’re using a different skin you’ll have to get the RGB values for that skin yourself by clicking around in the tinting area until you have a close match. Please be aware that there is currently an issue when editing some BoM layers that causes the layers to blur or go into streaky lines when in Edit mode (this stops when you come out of Edit). I believe this is being worked on by Linden Lab, but for now if your layers blur when tinting them, you’ll just have to guesstimate, save, then check out of Edit mode once the blurring has stopped, and go back into Edit to fine-tune.
- If you’re returning to Second Life after a long hiatus, much has changed. One of those changes is that you can stack many many system layers and worn objects, but in order to do that you must always use the ADD option instead of the WEAR option. If you wear something, it will replace any previously worn items of that type on that same part of your head or body (example: wear a tattoo and it will replace any other tattoo in that location). If you ADD something it will put that item on top of any other previously added items of that type (example: add a tattoo and it will go on over the top of any other tattoo in that location). ALWAYS ‘ADD’, DON’T ‘WEAR’.
The first thing we’re going to fix is those big diva lashes. Sure, they’d look great on RuPaul, but I’m certain you don’t want to Sashay Away…
Open the Catwa Master HUD, go into the 2nd tab from the top and click the two highlighted lash icons below. Those are the shortest lash options on the HUD (and the ones I almost always use).
Now we’re going to start using those BoM fixes. First of all, open the Closed Eyes (Catwa) pack that you got from Izzie’s. Inside you’ll find a couple of object icons (those are appliers, which we’re not using for this post) and a load of ‘pink dragon’ inventory icons that denote tattoo layers. Open up the included texture to see which number tattoo might be the closest to your skintone. Just count across the layers and try the number closest to what you think you need.
You may need to ADD and remove several of them until you find one that’s closest to your skintone. Always go for the one that’s closest, but slightly lighter, so you can tint it. Here I think No.7 is the closest so I’ve added that. You can see it on my upper eyelids. It’s removed all of that thick ‘eyeliner’ effect on the upper lid:
Edit the tattoo layer and click in the Color/Tint box. Since this is such a close match I didn’t need to tint much, selecting a range somewhere in the dull red tone (large tint box) and then clicking near the top of the thin tint bar. My final RGB values were 230,217,215.
Now we’ll fix the guyliner effect that’s below the lower lid. This time we’ll use the Izzie’s Under-Lash corrector, so unpack that and take a look at the contact sheet.
No.11 looks close, so ADD that, and edit it to tint it. You may need different RGB values, as skin textures are of course not uniformly even. My final RGB values were 230,217,215.
We’re almost done. There’s just one more imperfection that we need to fix on your face, and that’s on the upper eyelid’s waterline, which looks like it has poorly-applied smudgy eyeliner on it.
The last fix for your face will be the Izzie’s Waterline Fix, so unpack that and add the ‘Upper Lid Natural’ one. Make sure you use the Catwa one. (Note that I’ve created folders for all the other head brands included, and put those versions in there. It saves me from hunting through lots of items to find the ones I want, since only the Catwa ones that I need are now immediately visible.) No tinting will be needed; it will just cover that smudgy guyliner:
Now we’re going to move on to the real horror of an old system skin that’s not mapped to mesh heads and bodies. Are you ready for this? It’s your fingernails and—even worse—your toenails. I hope you’re not eating right now, ’cause…
Those toes look like they’ve been tortured, but if you remember what your system feet look like… well, they are simply paddles. What looked okay on those kludgy things will look awful on proper mesh toes, so now we need to fix both the toenails and fingernails. As mentioned before, sometimes when you edit these tattoo layers to tint them they might blur, so keep saving and coming out of Edit to check your tints, then go back into Edit to tweak and fine-tune the colours.
Unpack your Gemini’s Parlour (GP) ‘Old Skin BoM Fix’ and add the two separate hands and feet tattoos. (You’ll be tinting each one slightly differently, so I don’t recommend adding the tattoo that’s for both hands and feet together). You now know how to edit these, so please see below for the tints and RGB values for this particular skin. (And yeah, I like my black nail polish. Don’t judge!)
That’s the fixes all complete. Now for a great tip that you may not be aware of when it comes to free facial hair: all of the Catwa Bento head demos contain a fully-functional, non-demo hairbase and beard HUD. So pick up any Catwa Bento head demo from Marketplace (I used ‘Daniel’, here), unpack it, and pull out the CATWA HUD Hair.Beard v4.5 to ADD it. Go into the Beard tab and click any one that you like. ‘Light’ means the facial hair will be a bit more faded than the ‘Dark’ options. The facial hair will always apply white, so that you can tint it any colour you want to. I’ve chosen the 12 Dark option here:
Once you’ve found a style you like, you can detach that Beard HUD and open the Catwa Master HUD. We’re now going to tint that beard black. All Catwa male Master HUDs include a beard icon for tinting, but since this is a unisex HUD we don’t have that, so we’ll have to tint in two parts: the hair on the cheeks and the hair around the lips.
Important note: All Catwa Bento heads have TWO layers for every section (except skin) to allow for layering of appliers. This means that each icon in the ‘Diffuse’ section (which is used for tinting) is split horizontally into two halves: an upper and a lower. Appliers will always default to the LOWER layer, so when clicking the cheek and lip icons make sure you click the lower half. It will light up with pink behind it to show that it’s selected (and if you get pissy with me about pink not being a manly colour I’m just going to refer you to Google to research how—until relatively recent times—pink was the colour used for boys…)
First we’ll tint the cheeks:
Then we’ll tint the area around the lips:
Last bit now, and that’s your hairbase. You’re currently wearing a hairbase texture that would probably work nicely with a ponytail if you wanted to look like a member of Status Quo, but let’s swap that out for the Stealthic one you bought. The Stealthic hairbase might be the most expensive part of this entire look, but it’s a fantastic one with two options: a heavier one (labelled ‘thick’) and a lighter fade (labelled ‘faded’). I’m using the dark one here. Simply add the system tattoo, edit it, and tint it black, then save it.
Lastly, let’s add the ‘Cole’ hair by Modulus.
You may need to edit it to move it manually on your head a little bit, but if you stick with the shape as-is you won’t need to. If you want to change the colour you’ll find a HUD in the folder. ADD that and once it appears on your screen, click the colour that you want and your hair will retexture with that colour.
And your head and body are now all done! Time to get dressed. I’ve chosen one full outfit for just its pants, but that outfit works well all together too. I’ve also chosen a jacket and a pair of shoes. You may find that some clothing items have names after them, like Signature or Gianni or Belleza or Jake. Those names denote mesh bodies that they are fitted especially for, but sometimes you can get around that and sometimes clothing made for one mesh body works on another. Where body names are given in folders for this look, I’m wearing the ‘Signature Gianni’ versions.
Note: The gift Meshbody ‘Classic’ body featured in this post is designed to take any clothing made for the original The Mesh Project (TMP) body. So if you find any older clothing that contains a rig for TMP, use that one and it should fit perfectly.
For those new to working with mesh bodies, there are two ways to mask out sections of your body that may poke through mesh clothing:
- alpha layers – these work as they do with system bodies, but only if you’re using BoM (and only on certain bodies; not all mesh bodies have enabled BoM in the same way)
- alpha HUD – this is a clickable HUD that will hide sections of your mesh body when you click on it (the Legacy ‘Classic’ EDIT HUD is one of these)
Unpack the clothing items you bought from Marketplace. You’ll find them in the special Received Items (or Marketplace items) section of your inventory. ADD the boxes/bags and click them. if they unpack, great. if they don’t then you’ll need to detach them and drag them out of your inventory onto the ground (for newbies, we call this ‘rezzing’), then right-click > Open > Copy to Inventory. You will need to be in a location where you can ‘rez’ if you need to do this, so search for a Sandbox on the map view (viewer taskbar > map icon > type sandbox into the search bar) and go there to unpack/rez.
Next, ADD the clothing you want to wear, item by item. Don’t wear the entire folder, because you’ll end up wearing multiple copies of the same thing! If a body name is given, for this particular look go for the ‘Signature’ and/or ‘Gianni’ versions. If not, choose the Standard Size (S, M, L, etc) that best fits you.
Then open your Legacy Edit HUD and click the bottommost icon on the left (looks like a torso with a checkerboard on it). This is the alpha HUD section. At the bottom you have icons to hide whole sections (arms, upper legs, lower legs, pelvis, torso front, torso back, etc) which save a lot of clicking! Then you can fine-tune by clicking in the main body part of the HUD (the human figure) to hide or show certain areas. Use the arrows at the bottom to turn the figure around so you can hide areas on the back of your body.
My final image will look a bit different to yours. That’s because I like to be tall and lean in Second Life, so I’ve edited some of the body sliders of the shape we’ve been using. I made my avatar taller, his legs longer, brought in the hip width slider and changed the knee angle to 50, and I thickened and shortened the neck just a little. I also brought down the body mass, increased the shoulder width, and reduced the ear size a tad. Everything else is unchanged. You can make your own slider adjustments as desired. Always remember to SAVE AS when editing your shape, and give it a new name, just in case you don’t like your finished results and want to go back to your original unedited shape to try again.
And you’re all done! Kudos on getting through what was a mammoth post from me. You now have a great base from which to start maybe looking for some more interesting clothing and the like. Perhaps if you decide to stick with Second Life you might want to change to a different body and head at a later date, but for now you have a great starter to get going with.
(Final note: Comments on all blog posts at Virtual Bloke are open for 30 days after the date of posting, after which they are turned off to dissuade spammers who like to hit ‘older’ posts.)