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.


  1. Finally someone seeing this just as I do. Mesh can not by far compete with the old flex from Truth and many others. I went to Truth after the hair fair because I wanted to see some good hair too (I always ignore the newer hair from Truth because these days, he too has gone for dough instead of hair on your head).

    Anyway.. I was totally unpleasantly surprised that he had all the flexi hair on discount. I really hate that because that means he must be planning to take the flexi out of the stores soon. And that where it was the only shop for me with a good assortment of flexi hair to choose from. I simply took like 30 of those old hairs in a color range that I always have. So I was kinda forced to stockpile a little on old, but good looking hair.


All thoughts are welcome.