The Last Dove

After seeing lots of pictures of this sim on Flickr, I added the Last Dove to my list of sims to visit.  As a resident of a very rural town, and a very rural state, in many ways, this sim feels like home.

You can almost smell the wood smoke and feel the dust coating your face as you travel across the bridge into the town proper.  I love how the building on the left has a large board propping up the signage/facade of the building – like you’re walking onto the set of an old spaghetti western.

I think this house/shack is one I pass on my way to work every day – including the chickens in the road I have to dodge.  -.-

We don’t have longhorns where I live, but we do have plenty of cows and bulls.  A long ago piece of advice I received:  If you find yourself in a field with a cow or a bull, and you don’t know the difference – run.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but thankfully I’ve never had to worry about it.

There’s a lot to see at the Last Dove, so hit that tp button and go see for yourself.

VUK and Author’s Point

This fall, I made a decision that I would spend more time in SL.  I wanted to explore, practice my photography, and just generally have fun.  However, given my almost year-long hiatus from SL, I’m finding it hard to work the time for it back into my life.

Once I wasn’t spending time daily in SL, that time of course got filled up with other things – RL things.  And it’s been difficult to carve out that time in SL again, much as I want to, because things in RL take precedence.

Once school started back up, I thought I would have more free time, but I’m discovering I have less.  I haven’t taken on any extra commitments, so I’m hard-pressed to explain why my free time is suddenly at such a premium.

In any case, I do want to spend more time in SL, so I’m going to have to figure out how to do that.  I did manage to spend a little time exploring last week, visiting some sims that I discovered via Flickr.

It’s funny how some sims make me want to take a photo of everything, and other sims I find myself searching for something to take a photo of.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

So although I didn’t get a lot of photographs of some sims, they are still worth visiting.  VUK was one such sim – I did take some photos, but I’m still experimenting with my photography and I ended up with only one photo I felt was worth sharing.

I loved the windlight on this sim – grey and hazy, but it fit the landscape very well.

I also spent some time exploring Author’s Point, but I was rushed and I only took one photo.  When I came back to look at them for editing – ugh.  I was rushing and it clearly showed.  However, the sim is definitely still worth exploring, so head on over and check it out for yourself.

Inventory Bloat – Thanks, BOM!

Who has the biggest inventory?

Now that Bakes On Mesh (BOM) has hit the grid, things have changed.

While I am excited for all the old (and new!) stuff I can now wear easily with BOM and without faffing with a zillion appliers, I am NOT excited about the inventory bloat I see headed my way.

Unless you’re an old SL’er from way back, like me, you may not remember how all the system layers worked.  But we never had enough of them.  When mesh bodies hit the grid, suddenly everything became appliers (HUDs with whatever you needed to wear/apply loaded into them).  So instead of 20 thongs in 20 colors in my inventory, I had one mesh thong, and HUD that would let me change it into 20 different colors.  20 items vs 2 items was a blessing for my inventory.

But now that system layers are back with BOM, I can easily see my inventory creeping up every time I buy something.  Because some people will want the system layers, but others will still want the appliers – so creators will provide them all.  Who doesn’t want to keep their customers happy?

But that means I could end up with 24 items – the 20 BOM system layers in different colors AND the mesh item AND the HUD/applier.

I may have to become ruthless when it comes to new purchases.  I’m still on the fence about unboxing my old inventory stuff as well.  I mean, while it’s great that I can wear a skin I purchased in 2013, do I really want to?  Is it worth spending the time unboxing everything just to see?

When I box something up in RL, my rule is that I haven’t needed it in 6 months or longer, it goes.  It clearly wasn’t something I needed.  (There are exceptions, of course – seasonal clothing and decorations, things like that.)  But since my SL inventory is, in theory, infinite – maybe they can just stay in boxes for now and I can wait another 5 years for a trip down memory lane.

We’ll see.  In the meantime, I definitely have some purging to do!  If you need tips for managing your own inventory, I’ve written some tips and tricks here.  It’s still useful information. 🙂

Bakes On Mesh Series – Part 4 (SLink Redux & Final Thoughts)

It’s the final installment of this Bakes On Mesh series.  When I decided to write about my experiences with BOM, I thought I’d get one or two posts out of it.  Turns out it was more intensive than I thought – and I didn’t even cover everything! This last post will cover using the SLink Physique Redux body bundle and some final thoughts.

After all my testing with the Maitreya body, I decided to try out the SLink Redux body, since it was specifically made for BOM.  I put on the body and since I was still wearing the Glam Affair Margot skin on my system avatar, it applied that to the Redux body parts.

The head looked okay, since I was still wearing the LeLutka head.  So I just needed to check out the hands and feet.

Here are the hands as they appear with the Glam Affair skin. You can see that the nails from the system skin show under the mesh nails.

As mentioned before, included in the Redux body bundle is a fix for the hands and feet.  Here are the hands with the fix added.  You’ll notice that the shading is off – you need to tint the fix to match whatever skin you’re wearing.

The tinting is easy – I just used the color picker and matched it by eye, but of course you can find the RGB of whatever skin you’re wearing so that it will match exactly.  Keep in mind, your lighting may affect how the fix looks.

Ta-da!! Perfect hands.  Now for the feet!  The feet without any fix applied:

Again, you can see that the nails from the skin don’t match up with the nails on the mesh feet.  After wearing the included fix layer for the feet:

You can see that the nails on the feet look much better.

Now that I knew the hands and feet looked good, I turned to playing around with some of the system layer clothing I still had floating around in my inventory.  The Redux HUD also has a few things to help with issues that might arise with using system layer clothing on a mesh body.  There are buttons on the HUD that let you turn the nipples of the body on and off, as well as smooth out clothing so it looks better when applied to a mesh body.

System layers follow the UV map of the system body, so clothing that in real life would stretch across your chest, for example, may ‘sink’ weirdly when applied to your mesh body.  SLink has thoughtfully provided a button to help with this issue.

Here is a pic of a system layer shirt applied – notice the area between the breasts, where the shirt appears to be tucked behind them.

Using the smoothing button in the HUD, you can smooth the area so that the fabric looks more realistic.

You can do the same thing with two other buttons – one for your rear end, and one for that pesky camel toe! The difference is subtle, but often those subtle details make a huge difference.

I tried several other outfits, including this old system layer dress. There is a mesh panel for the dress, but the shirt and pant system clothing layers applied without a hitch.

Once I was happy with the hands and feet and I had a handle on how everything worked, I decided to try a complete outfit – with shoes and hair!

After going through everything, I realized that I had forgotten to test the rendering cost of the Maitreya/LeLutka combo versus the SLink Redux/LeLutka combo.  After all, the whole point of BOM was to try and reduce the rendering load on your computer by getting rid of extra mesh layers.

Now, I expect the Maitreya to be heavier, because the body hasn’t been updated for BOM.  So the onion layers are still there, they just aren’t being used.  I was curious, so I went back and did some testing.

Wearing the Maitreya body and LeLutka head, my render weight/ARC was 25,262.  If I remove the hair and shoes (which are mesh attachments and add to my ARC), the ARC drops to 19,772.

Wearing the SLink Physique Redux body and LeLutka head, my ARC was 21,890.  If I remove the hair and shoes, the ARC drops to 16,400.  So the Redux body is less ARC, as expected.  Keep in mind that ARC isn’t exact, and sometimes removing things in a different order will change the ARC you get.  However, I am happy with the way both the Maitreya and Redux bodies look.

I can’t wait to dig out some of my old system layer clothing and start playing around with different looks!!  If you haven’t given BOM a try – you should.  I hope this series was helpful in explaining how some of it works.  Thanks for reading!

Bakes On Mesh Series – Part 3 (Hands and Feet)

Whew! I can’t believe it’s Part 3 of this series already!  So much information – and I still think I missed some points, but covering everything would make this series even longer, so I’ll just stick to the plan.

This time, I’d like to take a look at how BOM works with hands and feet.  As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s a known issue that BOM can cause problems with hands and feet, particularly around the area of the fingernails and toenails.

Original system skins were created using the system avatar.  (Remember the hideous club feet and the permanent jazz hands?)  Because of this, when you apply old system skins to mesh hands and feet, they don’t usually match up.

Here’s a picture of the Glam Affair Margot skin and how it looks with the Maitreya mesh hands.

You can see the nails of the skin under the mesh fingernails.  Not a great look.  There are some workarounds, though they are not all perfect either.  One option is to buy tintable BOM layers (usually gloves and socks) that you can tint to match your skin.  There are a ton of them available on Marketplace, so just do some searching.  I bought the fix from SmitCo and tried them.

Here is a pic of the fix layer around the fingernails before I tinted them.  You can see that the nails look slightly better, even though the skin isn’t the right color yet.

Here is a pic of the fix after a quick tint (I didn’t take the time to go find the RGB value of the skin I was wearing, though of course your match will be better if you do that).  Not bad, and certainly not as noticeable as in the first picture.

Since I had already purchased the SLink Redux body bundle, I knew that a nail fix was included.  I decided to try it, knowing that it was made for SLink mesh hands, not my Maitreya ones. It was better, but still not great, because the nail beds didn’t line up on the pinky or index fingers.

So I still need a better fix if I’m going to use my Maitreya body with BOM and old system skins.  Keep in mind, as creators begin making new skins specifically for BOM, this issue will hopefully be addressed.

The same issue occurs around the feet.  Here’s a look at my Maitreya feet with just the Glam Affair skin using BOM.

Not attractive.  So I tried the tintable layers from the SmitCo fix I bought.  However, I could not get them to tint.  They were a grey color and I couldn’t get them to change to anything else.

I’m not sure if it’s an issue with the layers, or if it was user error.  I should have tried the SLink fix on the Maitreya feet, but I neglected to do that.  Again, however, as new BOM skins are released, it should become a non-issue.

In the last post of this series, I’ll take a look at how the SLink Redux body bundle works, along with the fixes for the hands and feet.  Finally, I’ll also try on some system layer clothing and see how it works with BOM.

Bakes On Mesh Series – Part 2 (Maitreya & LeLutka)

Since I’ve owned my Maitreya body for what seems like forever, I decided to start out my Bakes On Mesh (BOM) testing with it.  There are already tons of blog posts out there about how to use BOM, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time reviewing it all.

The Maitreya body is not BOM ready.  You have to purchase a relay in order for BOM to work (as well as making sure that you are using a BOM viewer).  The relay for the Maitreya body is free on Marketplace.

Basically, to start, take off everything.  Body, feet, hands, hair, clothes, alphas – everything.  What you’re left with is the original system avatar.  Previously, you needed to wear alpha layers to hide the system avatar.  With BOM, you don’t need the alpha layers.  Essentially, the BOM system takes the layers you wear on your system avatar and ‘bakes’ them onto your mesh parts – hence “Bakes On Mesh.” It also hides the system avatar so it can’t be seen under your mesh body parts.

Once you’re down to the system avatar, put on your Maitreya body, hands, and feet.  Add the Maitreya HUD and the Maitreya BOM relay.  (I can’t remember if you have to click the relay or just wear the first system skin, but once you apply a system/BOM skin, you don’t need to continue to wear the BOM relay.)

I was going to just take photos wearing the Maitreya body, but the deformed system head from my Bento shape was hideous, so I ended up adding the LeLutka Simone head as well to test.  LeLutka sent out updated heads that are BOM ready, you just have to click on the HUD to activate it.

Once I had all that done, I hunted around in my inventory for a system skin.  The first one I found was a skin from 2015 – DS Lyberty Spelt Quartz.  (Don’t mind my bald head – I didn’t want hair to distract from the skin!)

It actually looked pretty good.  So I tried a few more.  This is a Belleza skin from 2013 – Mya Pale BBB 1.  The make up looks good on the LeLutka head.

 

The next skin I tried was LAQ Martina was 2013.  This skin was my go-to skin for a long time.  You can see, however, the tip of the nose and upper lip area under the nose look odd.  The shading is off.  Ah, well, I didn’t expect everything to work out perfectly.

Next I tried a skin from Lumae – Fae 6 Cinnamon Plum Delight from 2015.  This skin has freckles – you can see that they applied to the Maitreya body with no problem as well.  I did try a few of the old ‘cleavage’ tattoos – remember those?  Some were better than others, so in many instances you’re just going to have to try things on and see what works and what doesn’t.

The last skin I tried was my most recent go-to skin – Glam Affair’s Margot India Dark from 2015.

After testing quite a few other skins and finding out that most worked well, I decided to try messing around with some makeup.

I have to say, this is the part that got me the most excited.  I used to have a ton of system layer makeup and tattoos.  Once mesh bodies and heads hit the grid, they’ve basically been languishing in my inventory.  I don’t know why I didn’t box them up like I did everything else.

Because BOM supports system layers, you can now once again layer makeup and tattoos – up to 62 layers, if I remember correctly.  BOM will bake them onto one layer and then apply them to your mesh parts.

For example, here is some system layer face paint I got from who knows where:

Here’s some snowy winter makeup I found:

In addition to single layers, you can add multiple ones.  In this picture, I am wearing a blush layer, an eyeshadow layer, and a lipstick layer, in addition to the system skin.  BOM applies them all to my mesh head.  The eyeshadow is a bit off, but the blush and lipstick look great.

Once I had playing around with skins and makeup out of my system, I decided to focus on what I knew would be problem areas – the hands and feet.  However, this post is long enough, so I’m going to discuss those in Part 3 of this series.

Bakes On Mesh Series – Part 1 (Preparations)

Image Source: xelerus.de

A few days ago I finally got around to trying out some of the Bakes On Mesh (BOM) features.  I have to say, I’m pretty excited about this. 🙂

For several years now, I have used the Maitreya mesh body and a LeLutka mesh head (Simone).  I know the Maitreya body is not the most viewer efficient body, but I like it.  Mesh heads have always been resource heavy because of the layers required for things like makeup.  Honestly, the heads were confusing to me, so I generally just used the makeup that was included in the HUD, because I hated having to faff about with appliers.

Also, Maitreya and LeLutka both used the Glam Affair skins in their HUDs, so I just stuck to those skins, since I could make my head and body parts match with a click of the HUD.

The amount of appliers was an issue for me as well.  Creators had to make items/HUDs/appliers for so many different bodies – I would end up deleting items for bodies I didn’t own just to keep my inventory down.

I did keep my SLink shoes, however.  Ages ago, before mesh bodies were a thing, many dancers purchased SLink hands and feet, because they looked miles better than the system avatar hands and feet.  Remember these lovely gems?

Losing consciousness . . . from the ugly . . .

Now, these are extra hideous because of the old shoe layers we had to wear with heels.  But still – hideous.

I have been watching SLink and her updates to the SLink body with the release of BOM.  My partner owns the male SLink body and since I already owned SLink hands and feet, I decided I would also splurge and get the new Redux BOM body version.

So I went to SLink and updated my hands and feet purchases and then purchased the new Physique body.  Let me tell you – there’s a lot of stuff in there!  When I tried to update my hands, I got a notice that I needed to send a notecard, because the updates had to be done manually.  So I did.

I got a lovely note back that I actually didn’t need the update, since I had purchased the updated body bundle.  The CSR also let me know that I had received a refund because they were taking into account my previous purchases.  Awesome!!  5 stars for SLink. 😀

Once I had all the pieces purchased and assembled, I was ready to sit down and start playing around with BOM.  Surprisingly, I still had a fair number of system skins in my inventory (I thought I had boxed most of them up and stored them).  I didn’t have much system clothing because I did box up most of it for storage or just deleted it outright.  I did find some pieces mixed in with my applier outfits, so I used those.

I did a first round of tests with my Maitreya body and LeLutka head.  Then I did a second round with the SLink body parts and the LeLutka head.  Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3, where I show you the results.