August 1, 2015

New skin from PixyStix - Odine

Skins are really hard to for me to comment on because they are sooo tied into your shape. A skin that looks awesome on one avatar can look like a mess on another. So I'm always pleased when I see a skin that can be worn on different shapes without losing the intended feel. Such is the case with Odine from PixyStix -- a skin made for the Mesh Body Fair in Second Life.

Odine is not to my personal taste but there are a lot of avas in SL who love this look. Waifish. Slightly pouty mouth. Smooth skin, no blems. Innocent with a touch of naughty. If you wear the included shapes with Odine, you see what the designer was going for immediately. On my shape, I look a bit vacuous and lost lol (I'm tweaked for Asian facial characteristics) but still the look comes across.

PixyStix offers Odine with appliers for just about every mesh body you can think of as well as regular SL avatars. You'll need add-on eyelashes though if you choose to use Odine with an SL body. They aren't painted on the skin.

Pricing varies with packs and skin tones (5 available).

SLURL to PixyStix main store: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cola/134/79/1699

Viewer Managed Marketplace comes to my Second LIfe

Oh goodie. VMM. Just what I was waiting for .... not. So today my SL Marketplace items got auto-migrated over to my viewer -- which in my case is Cool VL Viewer (thanks Henri for all you do). Seems to have gone painlessly -- nothing got flagged, all my items showed up. But uggh, My Inventory is really not where I want to see all that junk.

Sigh, but I suppose it makes sense. Now I just have to figure out how it all works. :P

July 23, 2015

$1L Hybrid Mesh Formal with Appliers

Chiaro di Luna by Lamu Fashion (front view)
So I've been on a mesh tear lately since I bought the Maitreya mesh body "Lara" last week. Mostly it's been a huge learning curve trying to figure out how appliers work and what types of outfits work with mesh bodies and what don't. More on that in another article.

For now, I'm presenting Chiaro di Luna, a really nice formal from Lamu Fashion that's only $1L on the Second Life Marketplace. The amazing thing is that it comes with separate appliers for Belleza, Body TMP, Omega/Lolas, Maitreya and Slink Physique mesh bodies. That's some work!

In addition to the top & pants applied to the clothing layer, there is a mesh dress panel and two conventional flexi prims that make up the foot's lower lace ruffles.

The total effect is quite realistic inworld and movement of the flexis is what you would expect from quality work.
Chiaro di Luna by Lamu Fashion (back view)

I'm sure the designer (Lamu Freidman) is giving this away so you'll look at her other work. Although I tried to visit her inworld store, I crashed twice. Anyway here's the SLURL to Lamu:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Serena%20Fortuna/200/178/3001

And here's a link to the dress on SLM:

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Lamu-Fashion-Gown-Chiaro-di-Luna-Gift-Included-Appliers-forTMPOMEGASLINK-PHYSIQUEMAITREYABELLEZALOLAS-TANGO/7408960

There's a bit of keyword spamming going on with the item title but I suppose we can forgive that since it's only $1L and well done.

July 15, 2015

Hair Fair 2015 in Second Life - The Horror of Mesh - UPDATED

I really feel bad making a post like this since I know how hard creators work at their craft. However, I have to say that this year's Hair Fair just left me feeling underwhelmed. Everyone's doing rigged mesh, which is cool in that the hair contours to your head and body. And it moves with you. However, it just looks, uh, plastic.

For reference, let's start with a blast from the past. Here we have Philip Linden aka Philip Rosedale rocking an early prim hair plus spikey system hair look on the left. Philip 2.0 is to the right, again with the basic prim hair deal.


So now let's see what we get from the hair fair. I don't mean to pick on Exile because in general, they make good stuff. But here's their Hair Fair 2015 gift. It really doesn't look like we've progressed all that much in terms of realism,


So Jill seems OK (sorry but Jack is just too, uh, precious and contrived for me). But let's look at the hair as actually worn in Second Life (and without Photoshopping or other stuff). It just looks flat. And as someone commented to me in SL today, that's the problem with most straight mesh hairs! They don't have any shine (maybe some coconut oil??). Still, to Exile's credit, this is one of the better freebies at the Fair.
Jill by Exile


Does it get better? No not really. I intended to pay $L for at least a few hairs just to make sure I was donating to the cause (Wigs for Kids) and it wouldn't be just a gripe about the freebies. 

So honestly, here's the BEST mesh hair I could find out of all the Hair Fair sims. It's Grace by MINA. It actually looks lots better in the photo than it does in-world. Here's the package photo. Note how spikey the pieces look -- and while the part that goes across the face LOOKS wispy and natural in the photo, it doesn't look nearly as good in-world.
Grace by MINA (blonde)
And here's Grace being worn on me -- not that I'm any great fashion model but I just want to show how most mesh hairs end up looking. No detail. Stiff. Stringy. Primmy. 

I think this is not so much a designer issue so much as it is a mesh issue. In the rush to rigged mesh, we end up with hair that looks like old school fixed prim hair with the ONLY advantage being that the wisps and strands don't intrude on your body.
Grace by MINA (chocolate)
For comparison, here is a typical prim & flexi Damselfly hair from 2012. This one's called Pya and it's been my go-to casual hair for years. Yes, the hair strands fly into your body but, it seems to me that the detail and subtleties of the textures and flexi wisps more than makes up for any "advantages" that rigged mesh offers (at least in the way most are implemented).
Pya by Damselfly
I also bought hair from Calico, Tameless and Blueberry.

First here's Hila by Blueberry -- again, rigged mesh. Note that we really haven't advanced THAT much with rigged mesh because the hair strands still go through the prim collar on my shirt. And again, we have that ropey, strandy look of mesh that just looks like someone used Play-Doh.

Hila by Blueberry
Next up is Piper by Calico. I really, really, really wanted to like Piper because some of my very first hairs were by Calico and at the time, they were very good. But, here's what rigged mesh does. Again big huge clumps and no real detail in the strands. Sigh. Seriously? But OK Calico, you got my $L because of memories. :)

Piper by Calico
My one surprise was Despina by Tameless. It's a gift hair with all colors included plus a colorable hairband (via HUD). But look at the detail! The wisps don't occlude your face and because it's an old school flexi hair, it moves naturally. So WTG Tameless. (And yes, I have a few of their hairs and goodies in my inventory from a few years ago. They still rock.)
Despina by Tameless
Now please creators, don't think I'm picking on you. I think it's just a limitation of mesh that you're dealing with. And really, these are examples of some of the BETTER mesh efforts. There were so many god-awful ones at the fair, I was actually wondering why a designer would even bother with mesh.

But don't let this stop you from donating to the cause Wigs for Kids. You can do so by clicking boxes throughout the Hair Fair or by going directly to the organization at the link above.


UPDATE: Added inworld photo of Jill hair by Exile with commentary.

June 28, 2015

Currency exchanges fight back against Linden Lab

From Hypergrid Business....
A week ago, Linden Lab announced that third-party exchanges have to stop offering Linden dollars, which will effectively put all or most of them out of business.
Exchange operators are now asking users to sign a petition to keep them alive. So far, this petition has already garnered 600 signatures.
Read the full article here:

http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2015/06/currency-exchanges-sign-petition-to-keep-us-alive/

June 12, 2015

Some more changes to Second Life Groups

In addition to increasing the number of groups Premium residents can have (from 42 to 60) and reducing chat lag, Linden Lab has also made a few other changes to Second Life Groups "under the hood" so to speak. One affects the loading of Group member lists for very large Groups (those over 5000).

Inara Pey has a good deal of information on it here: Changes to Second Life Groups Explained

A new Snickers

I know I know. Not very catchy title is it? At first I thought "Snickers is dead" but that was too much drama queen stuffs. Then I tried "Old Snickers is dead, long live new Snickers" but that's just icky.

New Snickers - Amelia Skin by Aeva
So you're left with the prosaically stupid "A new Snickers". What does it mean? Well for me it was a bit traumatic. After 4 years of pretty much the same look (a skin and shape I made myself), I started playing around with the whole mesh avatar thing, appliers and all that stuff. (Noooo I'm not doing Lolas Tangos.)

That process led me through a merry adventure of demo skins, a couple of different trial avatars and new shapes. Plus I already had to break down and buy
SLink feet since my fave designer (Inga Wind) is now supplying most of her outfits with really cute shoes that are designed for the SLink high footsies.

Old school SL bikini so you can see  new skin. Click for full size
pinup picture.
So in this whole process, I came across a skin that looked cool from the pictures and was available as a discontinued item on SL Marketplace.

I absolutely fell in love with Amelia by Aeva. It's not a current skin in her line but was on SL Marketplace (and was cheap) so I snagged it.

Amelia has the sort of eyes I've always wanted plus a nice, natural skin tone similar to the skin I had made in Photoshop. Plus it comes with multiple cleavage looks from none to over the top, three different colorations and brow/freckles options. Shown is mid-cleavage with brow and freckles.

I made a few tweaks to my shape including, sigh, bigger boobies to fit more of the mesh outfits I've been wearing, some facial changes and a little more fat and muscle here and there. Voila, you have the new Snickers!

My next adventure will be fooling around with mesh avatars. I've already experimented with one which I plan to write about soon and I'm looking around for others to play with. (Creators feel free to contact me for this project.) :)

So what do you think? Any suggestions?

I've thrown up pics of my old skin (face and same bikini) so you can get an idea of the changes. Not huge mind you but enough that it seems like some fresh air to me. As usual you can click on the image to see the full size photo.

Old skin & shape


Old skin - Snickers Rose Tan 8d

Old skin - Snickers Rose Tan 8d