I’m covering the most recent five episodes in a lump A) because I’m way behind and B) because they are all covering related topics. Boston Blaisdale has been very busy. From June 9th to July 14th he’s put up five more tutorial videos in the Second Life University series.
As with the other Second Life University videos, highly details tables of contents can be found in the descriptions, including timestamped links into the videos.
7 – How to Modify Your Avatar’s Skin
If it were me, I’d title this How to Modify Your Skin. Could I be overidentifying with myself… I mean my avatar? In this 11 ½ minute video, Boston presents the details about changing skins.
Focusing on avatars with mesh heads and bodies, he goes through:
- New purchase to apply skins and tattoos
- How to blend skin tones
- FAQ: Layering, compatibility
- BoM vs. appliers
- Tips: Low-cost alternatives
- Not Found (male and female skins)
- Stray Dog (mens’ skins)
- leLapeau (premium skin brand for LeLutka, male & female, other vendors have matching body skins)
- Vegas (tattoos)
- Vendetta (men’s skins)
- Trés Beau (look for L$60 sales)
Some of the key tips you’ll find in this tutorial include:
- Shop for face/head skin first
- Be sure to match compatibility for the head you are wearing
- Use demos!
- Compare tones
- Use personal lighting to see the demo in various lighting conditions
- Next the associated body skin
- Match the body tone to the face/head tone you selected
- Match body type you are wearing to the skin you purchase
- Try any neck blend/fade layers included
- Edit appearance and use Edit Outfit Parts to reorder BoM layers if things aren’t looking right
- Check layer types included when shopping for skins: BoM, appliers for body types, special requirements such as EVO X
Boston also goes over some of the trickier details of working with mesh heads/bodies and skins.
He makes quick mention of having to have a system skin on, what alpha to use if you are using a mesh body, head, and eyes. The concept of stacking layers on top of the skin, such as makeup, tattoos, and other add-ons is then presented.
Use of tattoo layers as skin and the various options vendors use for skins: tattoo layers vs. system skin layers for head and body are gone over along with some of the advantages of each.
With several examples, the options that might be contained within a skin pack are discussed. Brow and browless as common options. Separate layers for ears. Levels of “fitness” in skin styles, i.e., how the shadows and highlights reveal or deemphasize musculature, cleavage.
A quick note about add-ons to be aware of: body hair variations, vein detail. Tattoos sometimes come in various intensity (darkness) levels.
Some skins are included in the package when you buy a mesh body or head. This can be a good option when you’re just starting out.
Weekend sales. They’re common in SL and a number of skin vendors offer steep discounts over weekends. (Use the demos!)
8 – How to Update your Avatar’s Body with Signature Gianni Mesh Body
In episode 8 of the Second Life University series of videos, Boston Blaisdale gets right down to the business of wearing and managing a mesh body, specifically, the Signature Gianni model. (This is ideal for you guys out there! Finally something that’s not all about us 😉)
I’m so glad to see this series of tutorials coming out. A mesh body, and increasingly a mesh head, is becoming essential for a normal Second Life. I’ve talked a number of people through getting started with them and it’s uphill work, particularly if they are using a different brand of body. Now I can point them to these videos and they’ll quickly find most of what they need to know.
In a little over eight minutes, Boston goes over:
- Having your alpha layers set up right
- Wearing the body (and all of its pieces)
- The basic skins included
- Customizing your shape using the shape editor
- Creating and saving shapes
- Using the Gianni body HUD
- Shine & Colours: gloss, tinting, BoM settings
- Hands & Feet: poses and animations for hands
- Alpha & Layers: alpha adjustments and save slots
- Settings: resetting scripts, redelivery, updates, link to manual
Bits of advice: Use the demos! (he really can’t stress that enough) and look for clothes compatible with the body brand and type.
9 – How to Update your Avatar’s Body with Maitreya Lara Mesh Body
Episode 9 is your just shy of nine-minute introduction to all things Maitreya. The Maitreya Lara body is certainly one of the most popular, so I’m glad to see the next tutorial focusing on it.
Shop: Maitreya Mainstore
This tutorial really starts with the basics, illustrating how to search for the store, locate the correct result and teleport there. Once there, how to find the vendor for the demo and full versions of the Lara body. How to unpack the purchase and how to first wear your new mesh body and how to activate BoM.
From there he moves into changing the skin and editing the shape as from earlier tutorials. In fact, a clip from the Gianni tutorial is repurposed for this one.
The difference between applier and BoM skins is discussed as is the need to change up alphas when you change to non-BoM skins.
Next comes a quick dash through the HUD interface.
- Selecting skin tones, tinting, adjusting materials for ALM effects (see the wet look effect!)
- The alpha page in the HUD is presented for hiding bits sticking through clothes
- Hands/Feet for nails, foot shape, etc.
- Misc section for resetting scripts and redelivery
Have to say, these videos are short but packed! This one has everything a new resident needs to know to get started with her new Lara body. In each of the last three videos I’ve learned something and I’ve been using a mesh body for years!
10 – Legacy Male Mesh Body
Episode 10 is another one for the guys out in Second Life. This tutorial is all about the male mesh body from Legacy. Again, this is ideal for new residents. It starts off with the fundamentals including how to find and navigate to the shop using search.
Once at the shop we see:
- The big choice! Regular vs. athletic body
(Boston’s recommendation is for the regular body because of greater clothing compatibility)
- Use the demos!
(I’m detecting a theme here, and it’s a good one)
- Wearing the new body and HUD
- Different ways to setup the body: BoM vs. appliers
(BoM is the more popular)
- Applying skins, other BoM layers
- Outfits included with the body
- Editing the shape using the sliders
- How to use the separate materials editor
- Setting up for appliers instead of BoM
- How to activate hand animations and static poses
- Using the alpha control
- Nail decoration
11 – Legacy Female Mesh Body
Two in one day! Episode 11 is the female side of the last one, going over how to use the Legacy female body. A little over nine minutes long, this tutorial starts off at the same place as the others, searching for and navigating to the Legacy main store.
Things start in earnest once we get to the shop. Topics covered include:
- Three choices this time: feminine, perky, and a body designed for pregnancy
- Use the demos!
- How to wear your new mesh body
- Bakes on Mesh (BoM) vs. Appliers
- Things to know about combining mesh heads and bodies
- Using the HUD
- Activate BoM
- Adding skins and layers
- Using the sliders to edit shape
- Using the advanced material editor
- Changing between BoM and applier setup
- Controlling the body alpha
- Nail decoration
- Hand animation and poses
- Foot shape for flats to stilettoes
Getting Down to Brass Tacks
The question I nearly always get from new residents when the topic of upgrading their bodies comes up is, how much does all this cost? Embarrassingly, I’ve often had to answer “um, I don’t remember.” Which is unhelpful and sounds idiotic. So today I made the rounds of the shops for the bodies covered and a couple of mesh head vendors and collected a few prices.
As of even date, here’s what you can expect to part with for an upgraded mesh body and head.
- Gianni Body: L$3,900
- Alice Body: L$3,490
- Lara Body: L$2,750
- Male: L$5,000
- Female: L$5,000
- LAQ (women), HUD plus 1st head: L$3,000 (additional heads L$1,500)
- LeLutka (men and women): L$3,990
- Catwa (men and women): L$5,000
- Signature (men): L$3,490
By way of example, I’m almost always going about in a Maitreya Lara body with a LAQ head. So, to make a new me would start out costing L$2,750 (body) + L$1,500 (HUD) + L$1,500 (head) for a total of L$5,750. Clearly, you can spend more if you like. The pricier options above would set you back L$10,000 for a mesh head and body.
Is it worth it? Not to be annoying but, it depends. If while in Second Life your avatar is you, then it is absolutely worth it. Mesh bodies and heads provide a much more realistic human image projected into the virtual world of SL. If, on the other hand, your avatar is just a vehicle for your point of view as you explore the grid, then an all-mesh avatar may not offer you much return for your L$.
Keep in mind that, with patience, you can spend a lot less. From time to time, vendors have sales with steep discounts. In particular, I’ve seen LAQ and LeLutka have very attractive discounts.