Off With Their Heads!

Debate
Image Source: http://www.healthbizdecoded.com

My current debate about buying a mesh head continues. 😀

I must confess, I didn’t realize just how long mesh heads have been available, or how many there actually are.

Arrival

I only recently learned about the LOGO heads, which have been around since 2012!

Of course, there’s the Slink Visage heads, the Lelutka heads, and the Mesh Project Heads.

Through one of the bloggers I follow, I heard about a free mesh head being given away by Genesis Labs.

I went and picked it up (too anime/kawaii style for me) and learned that Genesis has a range of mesh heads.

Reading through my feeds, I came across a blog post by Adira Lux comparing some mesh heads.

I didn’t know that The Sugar Garden had a mesh head either!

Proliferation

So I wondered – just how many mesh heads there are out there?

A quick trip to Google netted me results on the Snow Rabbit head, the Fiore head, and Eve now has a new head out as well.

I did a search on Flickr for mesh heads and, unsurprisingly, found a LOT of them. 🙂

*_M.birdie Story_* Yeni Mesh Head Review
Yeni Mesh Head via Flickr

All the pictures look so good, it’s hard to know which one will work the best for me.

They do photograph well, which is a major reason for most people purchasing them (me included).

However, mesh heads also have their detractors.

New World Notes had a post about ‘RBF’ and mesh heads, which featured a picture from Twitter using various mesh (and non-mesh!) heads.

I must say, I was not a big fan of the mesh heads when they first came out.

The expression of every head seemed to be a permanent sneer.

As more and more makers come out with them, the expressions and appearances offer more and more options.

Affordability

Most of the ones I have looked at purchasing come in at around the $2500L mark.

By the time you add in a possible skin purchase ($1000L), appliers ($200-$400L), and then extras like makeup ($200L and up), getting a mesh head can be a pricey affair, especially when it’s something you don’t wear every day.

Many people own more than one mesh head (choices are always good!), but I’m pretty stingy with my budget, unless it’s something I truly love and know I’ll use/wear a lot.

Use

My desire to purchase a mesh head is for use in photography.

I’ve read blogs of others who purchased for the same reason, but ended up loving them and wearing them on a daily basis.

I don’t know if that will happen with me, though I can say that I will not be wearing a mesh head to dance in.

I have the Maitreya body and I love it, but I haven’t yet been brave enough to wear it during a performance.

So many people have issues seeing mesh – when you add in a crowded performance venue and the lag that usually accompanies such a performance, it ends up being disappointing for everyone.

No one wants to spend weeks working on a routine to have it ruined because you’re a floating head to the audience while wearing your mesh body.

Add in a mesh head and you’re likely to be invisible to many in the audience.

Not the look most performers are hoping for, I’d guess. 😀

Looks

All the debate aside, I have to say that every time I see an amazing photo on Flickr, I’m tempted to go mesh head shopping. 😛

If I had an unlimited budget, I’d likely own two or three different heads.

I love the LOGO heads for the variety of expressions.

The Lelutka heads look flawless in photos.

Now I’m finding out that there are probably hundreds of different heads available in SL.

How will I ever choose?

Impulse Purchase

Once I found out about the variety of heads, I went window shopping.

I had heard about the new Eve head and wanted to check it out.

(I’m stingy, as I said, and word was it was inexpensive because it’s still in beta.)

I had considered purchasing the Eve body before Maitreya came out with theirs.

Eve Mesh Head Beta

So, because I am a creature of impulse, because the head comes with free updates, and because I love a good deal, I bought it.

😀

This is how it looks ‘out of the box.’

You can see the neck seam, but that’s because I didn’t take the time to tweak my Maitreya body to exactly match the skin tones of the head.

I just wanted to get an idea of how it would look and decide if I wanted to invest more time and money into it.

I actually really like the look of the head.

It comes with a HUD that lets you select eyelashes, eyeshadow, brow color, lipstick, hairbase, and of course, skin tones.

This is a photo I took using Xanthe’s ‘Flawlessness’ windlight (one of my favorites), with no post-editing.

I am already in love with the fact that I could cut down on my editing time and spend more time actually taking photos.

No more fixing weird lines around the mouth, no liquifying distorted nostrils, no more ‘faffing about’ as Nai would say, with eyelashes that aren’t cooperating.

Hallelujah!

Now I’m gonna have to find a second job to finance all the mesh goodness I want to buy. 😀

Affordable Dance Props – Better Gnomes and Cauldrons

I’m always on the lookout for well-made affordable props to use in my sets.

(One of my dreams is that gachas will someday offer a copy/mod option – I see sooo many cool things, but a no copy object is useless to me.)

Whether I’m looking for something specific or just looking for inspiration, one of the places I like to go is Better Gnomes and Cauldrons.

BGC StatuesIt’s a full perm store with mostly mesh items.

And they’re very reasonably priced.

There’s a little bit of everything at the store and they’ve had a couple of clearance sales recently, so I’ve picked up some really nice items at bargain prices. 😀

I’ve seen the ‘Immortal Tree’ statue used in many a dance set.

BGC PlantsIn addition to a plethora of statues, they also have plants and trees.

You can find everything from roses and tulips to fairy grass.

BGC also has new releases on a pretty regular basis, making it easy to find something new when you visit.

It’s one of my favorite places to look for mesh items, and since most everything is full perm, there are no worries about using it in a rezzer.

BGC PigsYou can find almost anything here and know that it will be good quality and usable as a dance prop.

Take these cute mesh pigs.

The alien pig is adorable, right?

And who couldn’t use a bat pig in a Halloween set?

Or, if you want something scary, you can find items like that at BGC as well.

BGC MinionsBGC has a ton of monstors, demons, and animals – whether you’re looking for something realistic or just spooky, they’ve got you covered.

These minion/shaman statues would be perfect for a scary set, and some items, as you can see, come with particle effects.

Since the items are full perm, you can resize easily for different effects.

Maybe you want an army of small minions – easy to do, since you can copy and resize the statues.

Or resize and have just one big statue.

BGC NunsThat’s what I love – having lots of options.

Maybe you’re building a church set and you want to add some people.

You can find nuns, clergy, or deities to suit your needs.

Perhaps you’re looking for something in between cute and spooky.

Goblins might fit the bill.

BGC GoblinsBGC has you covered there as well.

Pick your favorite color or mix and match.

I’ve seen these little guys used as props in several dance acts.

Even if you’re just looking for those little extra bits and bobs to help ‘flesh out’ a set, BGC can help.

BGC extrasNeed candles or books?

A map?

A globe?

A set of apothecary jars?

You can find everything you need at BGC.

If you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Better Gnomes and Cauldrons

The Secret to Shadows?

Shadows
Image Source: http://www.onebillionrising.org

Ok, people – somebody knows, and I’m not giving up til I find the answer.

*crosses arms and glares*

What is up with my shadows in SL?

Since a few recent upgrades to my computer, I’ve been running at Ultra with all the fancy shadows and lighting on and loving it.

It’s part of the reason I started taking photos in SL – because they no longer looked like the pixellated junk I’d been taking before.

However, I’ve noticed an issue, and I can’t seem to find an answer to the problem anywhere.

I’ve found a few places that mention the same issue I’m having, but I can’t seem to find where a solution is mentioned.

Up til now, I’ve just dealt with the problem by fixing it in Photoshop.

But I’m left with the feeling that there must be an answer *somewhere*.

Here’s the issue:

When I take photos, I generally wear my mesh body.

If I don’t wear my mesh body, I generally at least wear my mesh hands and feet.

Avatar feet are hideous, and although I resisted mesh hands initially, after wearing them for so long, I can’t stand the avatar hands anymore either.

I’ve had the issue in a few photos, but as I said, I just cleaned up the photo in Photoshop, or the photo was taken at an angle where the issue wasn’t really noticeable.

The other day I started to play around with using a projector to take some photos, trying to achieve some really dramatic lighting effects.

Here’s one of the shots I ended up not using:

ShadowIssues1I was really happy with the dramatic lighting and shadows I got using the projector.

Sometimes, however, I don’t notice problems.

Like the hand shadow.

Again, I usually end up either cropping out the problem area or fixing it in Photoshop.

Fixing it in Photoshop can be very time-consuming, so I’ve been trying to find a way to fix the issue when I take the photo.

Here’s a close-up of the problem area:

ShadowIssues2It may be a bit hard to see, because the photo is dark.

If you look closely, you can see the shadows of two hands – my mesh hand AND my avatar hand.

Now, I was initially confused by this, as my avatar hand is alpha’ed out, so it’s not visible.

Then I realized that the alpha just makes it invisible to me, not to the computer.

So it sort of makes sense that the computer renders both shadows.

The question is – how do I make it so it doesn’t?

Is that even possible?

I know I have seen photos by other people where the shadow in the pic doesn’t have this issue.

They could have just fixed in Photoshop (or some other photo-editor), but did they?

Is there some setting I can tweak that will save me having to do that post-processing?

In my research, I did come across an article by Honour McMillan about having issues with mesh rendering correctly.

In it, she mentions that sometimes she will derender avatars in order to get the shot she wants.

However, doing so may have unintended consequences.

The system sometimes considers mesh objects as avatars.

I’m sure someone out there with more technical knowledge than me understands why.

It does at least explain, when I go to crowded events and derender all the avatars, why other things can also disappear (like certain gacha machines at the Arcade, for example).

But back to my problem.

ShadowIssues3As you can see in this photo, there are clearly two foot shadows.

One from my mesh foot, and one from my avatar foot.

Soooo frustrating!!!

Someone please help me!!!

Any and all feedback welcome. 😀

It’s Wednesday?

Image Source: www.pinterest.com
Image Source: http://www.pinterest.com

This week has been all screwy for me.

My husband has been working crazy hours thanks to a recent storm – he got home early this morning after a 22 hour shift.

Yikes!

So while he sleeps, I blog. 🙂

And we’re supposed to get another humdinger of a storm today – lots of hail, wind, and possibly tornadoes.

Gotta love spring!

I spent most of yesterday attending a Creative Live class about using eCommerce solutions with WordPress.

I had worked with some of the add-ons for a client previously, but at the time, I was overwhelmed by it all.

After watching the class, I was struck by one thought – what the heck was I afraid of?

It’s not rocket science, after all. 😛

I am planning to use some of what I learned as I work to get my book published and available online.

So thanks Nai, for turning me onto Creative Live!

I also had a chance on Monday to try out the new mesh heads by Lelutka.

I’m torn.

On one hand, I am not a fan of mesh heads, because I think they make everyone look too similar.

Plus, they almost all seem to have turned-down, pouty lips.

Is a neutral mouth so much to ask?

On the other hand, I did like the Lelutka heads better than many I’ve seen, though I confess that the 3 different heads look almost exactly the same to me.

I love that the heads made the neck seam disappear when wearing my mesh body.

However, I just don’t see myself wearing a mesh head every day.

And with the steep price ($2500L), it isn’t worth the investment to me if I only wear it occasionally.

I must say, though, I am absolutely loving the mesh body I have.

I’ve been using it for a lot of the LOTD photos and it has reduced considerably the amount of time I spend fiddling with the pics in Photoshop.

No weird pointy bits that I need to smooth out anymore!

I have a ton of things to get done today, so I’m off to get busy.

I am debating wrapping my cars with bubble wrap to try and protect them from the giant hail they keep saying we’re going to get this afternoon. 😦

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Mesh Questions

QuestionMarksMy favorite part of writing is the feedback I get from people.

So I love it when I find a topic that generates a lot of comments. 😀

I’ve been working a lot with mesh clothing lately, and my post about whether it is good for dancing showed that it’s a very divisive issue.

Some people love it, some people hate it.

I can see both sides.

But I have so many questions about mesh.

Questions like:

  • Why doesn’t it appear until it’s fully rezzed?
  • Why doesn’t it appear if you click on it (like prims do)?
  • Why does zooming your camera waaaayy out and then back in make things appear (only sometimes)?
  • Do the specular/normal maps cause extra loading time (because it’s now loading 3 textures instead of 1)?
  • What is http texture loading and does it make things faster?
  • Why do some mesh heads rez as ginormous at first?
  • Why do mesh attachments (clothing or whatever) first rez as ‘floating’ near their avatar?
  • How do you make an applier (be it for clothing, fingernails, etc.)?
  • What effect do the number of vertices/polygons have on how fast something mesh loads?
  • Is there a difference between mesh props/decor and clothing that cause one to load faster than another?
  • Mesh supposedly improves the LI of items, so how come mesh can be worse in some instances than prims/sculpties?
  • What exactly is LOD and why do you have to set it higher in order to see certain items better/clearly?
  • Do mesh eyes have as many problems as other mesh (have you ever seen avi’s without eyes)?
  • Other than (supposedly) improving LI, what other advantages does mesh offer that you can’t get with prims/sculpties?

If you know the answer to any of these, please feel free to leave explanations/comments!

I will be investigating some of these on my own, of course, but all knowledge is appreciated. 🙂

Do you have problems/questions about mesh I haven’t mentioned/listed here?

What are they?

Mesh Mess

It's a jigsaw puzzle, right?
It’s a jigsaw puzzle, right?

I’ve been spending some time lately trying to style and dress my mesh body.

It’s more difficult than I anticipated.

Not because the actual dressing part is complicated, but because so much of my mesh wardrobe simply doesn’t work with the mesh body.

There are so many clothes that have asymmetric lines, or are strapless, or off-shoulder – using the limited alpha cuts on the mesh body HUD just doesn’t work.

And since the alpha layers included with the clothing don’t work on a mesh body, some clothing is just unwearable.

I have also been using the Omega applier system with various outfits and learning how that all works.

But I’m starting to wonder if mesh and dance really mix well.

I typically arrive at a show around 30 minutes early to give things time to cache/rez.

Even then, many times things do not rez for me.

I’ve heard lots of other people complain that dancers appear handless, footless, bald, and or as a floating head, depending on what mesh items they are wearing.

The original appeal of mesh (for me) was that my dress no longer ‘sunk’ through my legs and/or chair when I sat.

However, most mesh dresses/skirts do NOT dance well.

The dance animations stretch the mesh, making it look odd, as well as sometimes ‘breaking’ it in weird ways.

I suppose it’s a question of trade-offs.

Your skirt no longer appears to go ‘through’ your leg, but it doesn’t move/flow as real fabric (and flexi) does.

I’ve successfully worn mesh to dance (generally corsets and the like) – avoiding long skirts that ‘broke’ or looked odd.

But if half of the audience can’t see it, does it work?

How entertaining is it to watch a bald floating head for 3-5 minutes?

Is the sacrifice in performance worth the ‘better’ look of mesh?

And the rez issues are not limited to clothing, though those are usually the most apparent.

I’ve gone to shows, taken pictures, and then been astonished after seeing someone else’s pics of the same show.

How come that prop didn’t rez for me?

There was supposed to be a pendulum in that act?

Another issue is that with mesh bodies, a lot of the lingerie (and some of the regular clothing) has to be ‘applied,’ so it’s not as simple to just ‘remove’ clothing.

If you strip or change costumes in a routine, this makes things even more difficult.

What do you think – is it worth wearing mesh in a dance routine?

Boobies!

Image Source: marketplace.secondlife.com
Image Source: marketplace.secondlife.com

Ok, now that I have your attention, I have a question.

Why is no one upset about all the nakedness in SL anymore?

LL spent a lot of time updating SL and changing the way things rezzed in order to avoid the dreaded ‘bake fail.’

People were fed up with other avatar’s clothing not rezzing properly and those avatars appearing naked.

I actually found myself in that very situation once.

I was attending a class, and I was appropriately clothed.

But when I tp’d to the class, I appeared topless to the instructor.

I saw myself clothed, as did the rest of the students in the class.

But the instructor insisted that I ‘fix’ the problem, or I would not be allowed to stay.

I rebaked.

I tp’d out and back.

I tp’d home and changed clothes.

I relogged.

Nothing worked.

It was so frustrating.

I never did figure out what was wrong, but suddenly, after trying all that, the instructor could suddenly see my shirt, so I got to stay.

When the SSA project was rolled out, I thought, great!

No more issues like that.

But now, with the advent of mesh, practically every time I tp somewhere, everyone is naked til everything rezzes in completely.

Not only do people have hair floating a foot above their heads, their pants are attached to their hands, and their feet are a foot to the left of their bodies.

Their boobs, though, always seem to rez in quickly.

So I’m surrounded by a bunch of naked avis at first.

How come no one is complaining about this?

Is it just me?

Does everyone else see mesh perfectly?

I don’t have a horrid/old computer system, so I don’t think it’s me.

In fact, I know it’s not just me – see this post by Nalates Urriah (scroll down – you’ll see it).

So how come unintended nakedness was such a problem before and now it doesn’t matter?

Have we all just accepted that with mesh, rezzing is always an issue?

If that’s true, how come the mesh objects in an area often rez quickly, but clothing and such doesn’t?

I’ve gone to several different events just in the last few days, and there have been naked avis at every single one.

Is it that the problem is too big to fix?

Or is everyone just ok now with naked boobs?

Do you have problems seeing mesh?

Mesh Mouth

Image Source: softimage.wiki.softimage.com
Image Source: softimage.wiki.softimage.com

There’s been a lot of buzz the last few days over the Skin Fair opening tomorrow.

I could have gone to an early preview, but I didn’t.

Honestly, I already own a TON of skins, and I only wear one on a regular basis.

Once in a great while, I’ll go searching through them and find something for a routine, but I just don’t change my skin a lot as a rule.

So, I was really stoked when Laqroki announced they had made appliers for the Maitreya body.

I’ve just now gotten around to actually playing with them to see how they work.

I must admit, I’m not thrilled.

The hands and feet match perfectly, but I can’t seem to get rid of the line/seam at the neck, no matter what I do.

And after a day of trying on practically every mesh outfit in my inventory, it was a bit discouraging to find that only one or two items actually work.

After searching around for various fixes, I got sidetracked a bit by the mesh mouths.

PXL has released a new mouth that seems all the rage.

I’ve said before that I don’t understand the appeal of mesh heads.

To me, you end up looking the same as everyone else.

Even with different skin and makeup, the underlying structure is the same and just doesn’t seem as ‘realistic’ or unique to me as a classic avatar face.

I’ve seen some new heads on the market, and creators may be getting closer to a realistic look (complete with customizing options), in my opinion.

A mesh mouth seemed much easier to tackle than a mesh head, so I got the PXL demo.

I must say, it was more complicated than I expected.

I’m still not clear on how the HUD works (I think pieces of it are disabled for the demo, but it doesn’t tell you that in the info nc).

I wasn’t able to get a perfect skin match, but I got fairly close.

And the positioning seemed pretty good right out of the box.

But I’m not sure whether I want to take the plunge and buy the mesh mouth or not.

I like the way it looks.

But – another mesh attachment?

It’s already a major pain dealing with SLink hands/feet and all the HUDs and appliers.

When I first got the SLink hands, I was collecting nail appliers right and left.

But I rarely use any of them.

That was one of the appeals for me about the Maitreya body.

The hands and feet are all right there, and one HUD does the nails for both.

I’m just not sure I’m up for another attachment and adding another 10-15 minutes of futzing around with colors when I’m trying to get dressed.

Has anyone tried the PXL mouth?

What do you think of it?

Are there other mesh mouths that might be better?