Thanks to everyone who attended the Mesh Body and Mesh Head introductory workshop!
As promised to those who were at the workshop (and for those of you who couldn’t make it), I’m putting out some ‘class notes’ to cover the information we talked about. You can also watch my introduction to mesh bodies video and other tutorials here.
Don’t forget, I have videos and lots of information on the meshbodyaddicts.com website, and at the MBA Sim in the form of the learning centre signs. You can find the sim by clicking here.
How do mesh bodies work?
A mesh body is technically an attachment. It doesn’t change the core of your avatar, which is the SL system avatar – we’re just wearing an alpha to hide that sl avatar, and putting a mesh body with a nicer look on top of it! If you’re not sure how to put your mesh body on, look at this tutorial here.
Mesh Bodies consist of the main mesh body, hands, feet and ‘layers’. Layers are basically copies of the bodies (albiet slightly smoother, to allow textures to sit on them to look more ‘clothing like’. Most mesh bodies have three layers – a tattoo layer, an underwear layer and a clothing layer, all of which are usually cut off at the hands/feet and the waist to allow for an upper layer area and a lower layer area.
Now when it comes to wear mesh instead of appliers, it’s important to remember that we’re still wearing our system body (just alpha’d out underneath), because this means that although we look different on the outside, the core of our avatar is still the SL Avatar. This means that normal mesh, fitmesh clothing for the SL Avatar (ie. normal fitmesh) and other attachments (lolas, handbags, whatever you like) will still treat us as though we are using just the core SL Avatar, because they can’t ‘see’ the mesh body we’re in. This means that any standard rigged items will be rigged to that SL System Avatar. Note – a rigged attachment is an item (hand bag, clothes, whatever) that the creator has told to attach itself to a part of the system avatar.
This can make it difficult if the mesh body you buy is too different to the SL System Avatar, because you will find that most rigged attachments/items will ‘cut into’ your body. The same rule applies for standard mesh clothing – it is rigged to the SL System Avatar, so depending on your mesh body, might be much harder to fit because your body will ‘poke through’.
How do I put skin on my body? What about applying clothes like system layers?
Because your mesh body is a mesh attachment, you won’t be able to use system clothing or the normal skins for your body anymore – because remember, your system body is now ‘hidden’ under your mesh body! The only exception to this is if you are still using a system head (which you can do with mesh bodies, most mesh bodies are neck down only, so your face will stay the same unless you use a mesh head). If you’re using a system head, then you can still use your system skins and makeup on your head, but not your body.
So how do you put skin on your mesh body? Well, you’ll need an applier. An applier is basically that has a script inside it, telling it to put the texture on your mesh body. Each mesh body will have their own appliers, so if you want to keep the skin you already have, you’ll need to go to your skin creator’s store and see if he/she sells an applier for your mesh body, in your skin tone. This applier is basically the skin texture in a hud with a script – so when you’re wearing your body, put that HUD on and click it, and bam, your skin is now on your mesh body!
In addition to being able to put skin on your mesh body, most mesh bodies have extra ‘layers’ – typically a tattoo layer, underwear layer and clothing layer. These three layers allow you to apply multiple applier clothing/tattoo items at once. To use applier clothing, well they’re quite similar to skin appliers – they’re a hud containing a texture and script. You can buy appliers for your mesh body at most stores these days, just check the item you want to buy contains an applier for your mesh body type.
What’s Omega then?
Omega appliers were created to be ‘universal appliers’, meaning, you could buy a clothing item with only one applier in it (omega), and know it would work on most bodies. This saves time for designers, because they only have to make one applier.
This has worked very well, with most mesh body creators agreeing to make their bodies ‘omega compatible’.
So how did they make a universal applier? Well the system sl body has what is called a ‘uv’ map (which is basically a 2d image of the body made flat, so designers can draw and create on it). Think of it like peeling your skin off and laying it out flat (gross I know, but it makes sense that way). The original system body’s uv map isn’t all that great to be honest, and every peice of mesh has its own uv map, so some designers have elected not to try and stretch the sl uv map around their bodies. Those that have however (Such as Belleza, Slink, Maitreya, Eve, Tonic, ebody, Adam, Signature and so forth) have made omega appliers quite popular, but they’re not always perfect, because remember the shape that these maps were created for were the system bodies – and the system body’s breasts/butt etc are far less curvy than a mesh bodies, so some slight alignment issues can come up. Also some specific parts of mesh bodies (such as Maitreya’s nails) are not omega compatible.
So how do you use an Omega applier? Well it’s no different to any other applier (ie. you attach the HUD then click the ‘apply’ button and the clothing appears), however you first need to buy the omega kit (not for all bodies, so check if your body is Omega compatible and/or if it already has Omega preinstalled). These sell for around 99L, and you only need to buy it for your body once. You then either wear the omega installer and press ‘install’, then remove it, or you wear a relay (bodies such as Maitreya require a relay) when you’re using Omega appliers. Either way, you can find out more at the Omega website.
Once Omega is installed or your relay is on, just add the applier hud for the item you want to wear, and click it to apply!
Why do my appliers vanish sometimes when I’m wearing more than one layer at once?
In SL, we know what alphas are. What we don’t usually know is that there are several ‘types’ of alphas – that being Alpha Blending (a type of alpha that is used when making ‘sheer’ clothing items because it allows creators to choose sheerness levels between 1 and 8 for example), and Alpha Masking (a type of alpha that only really has two settings – completely invisible or solid). Now Alpha Blending is great, but when it comes to graphics cards and multiple alpha layers – well that’s where we get that annoying ‘glitch’ that always happens just as you land in a crowded sim… minus your applier pants 😛
Because each layer of your mesh body is typically, another copy of your mesh body laid over the top of it (think bubuskha dolls) but made invisible, this multiple alpha issue occurs, because you have too many alpha blending layers on top of each other!
So, since all mesh body layers are ‘Alpha Blending’ type (with the exception of the skin layer, which has no transparency in the layer to glitch with) – most creators now have a built in ‘Mask Mode’ button, which for all intents and purposes, is simply a way to help avoid the glitching issue where possible. By switching a layer to mask mode, you’re turning off the ‘alpha blending’ function of that layer, so the glitch stops, however depending on the item you try and ‘mask’, it might also look awful. Tattoos, sheer clothing etc. will typically look terrible with mask mode on – because by turning mask mode on, you’re telling the layer to be either totally solid or totally transparent. This means that the part of the layer with the clothing/tattoo on it will make all solid parts totally solid, and all semi transparent parts, totally transparent. Honestly, mask mode is really only most effective when used with clothing appliers for clothing items that have no sheerness in them – if there’s any bit of transparency in the item, it will look awful. You can see examples here.
What is fitmesh?
Well to solve the problem above, designers created fitmesh! Basically, fitmesh is a mesh clothing item that is made to fit your Mesh Body. By this I mean, instead of being ‘rigged’ to the system SL body like standard mesh, it’s specifically weighted and rigged to your mesh body instead. This is why there are so many sizes of fitmesh (ie. one of most body types), because each mesh body has its own shape and weights.
With fitmesh clothing, if you make your body shape have bigger breasts, bigger butt or whatever, the clothing will move WITH the sliders you use to edit your body. Just be careful to always demo, not all fitmesh designers are the same, and some fitmesh fits better than others (it requires a lot of skill to make fitmesh) so be prepared to demo any items before you buy them. This is also partly because not all Mesh Body makers are sharing the necessary 3d files with designers that are required to make these clothing items fit seamlessly (which is fair enough but at the same time frustrating). This means that many designers are doing the best they can to get as close a fit as possible, but it’s far from perfect, so always demo items that claim to be fitmesh for your mesh body!
How do mesh heads work?
Mesh Heads are like mesh bodies – they have multiple layers (typically), and you need appliers to put makeup etc. on them. The big question with mesh heads is typically ‘can I adjust it to look like me?’ and the answer really for now is no. There is a feature coming (called bento) to SL that will let you do this, but for now, you can’t adjust mesh heads other than sometimes the length slider to squish/stretch the head.
To wear a skin on your mesh head, you need an applier made for that head. There are also ‘omega’ appliers for mesh heads out there, but these are a little more unreliable than mesh body omega appliers, because of just how intricate mesh heads can be. Always demo both your head and skins for it before choosing a mesh head.
As for animations, blinking etc. some mesh heads have these features, some don’t. You can read the reviews on this website to find out more about what heads have what features, but when you demo you’ll be able to see what animation huds etc. the head comes with.
Why do my eyes look weird with a mesh head? What eyes should I use?
Now eyes are a weird thing – they do actually have a ‘bone’ in the sl body, that’s what makes them look around the way they do. The key is to firstly, use the shape that comes with your mesh head – this shape is designed to put those bones in the right place (ie. sticking out of your eye sockets, if you were to look at it in a program like blender). If your mesh head doesn’t come with a shape, then before you use your mesh eyes and hide your system eyes, go into edit appearance with your mesh head on and try and line up the eyes as best you can with the eye sockets of the mesh head. Some of the more common sliders to adjust are:
- Eye spacing
- Eye depth
- Head Length
- Head Stretch
Once you’ve done this, you can add your mesh eyes and right click – edit on them to move them in to the perfect place. I like IKON’s eyes for this, but just be aware that the HUD that comes with it keeps the eyes still, so can be misleading. I generally adjust my eyes while they’re moving around to get a better idea of positioning. If all else fails, you can always lock your eyes into place looking up/down/whatever using the free Anypose Expression hud. I also use the Kitty Loves Milk fix Huds quite a bit, which allow you to add ankle/neck/eye etc fixes to stop movement in these body parts.
Note – Some mesh heads have an ‘eye AO’ in them, meaning that they make your eyes move. You can turn off this AO on heads like Catwa (in the main hud) but some mesh heads you can’t, so that’s why it’s better to adjust the eyes while they’re not locked in position using a hud or lock.
I hope this has helped – if you know of any good tricks, tips or explanations, feel free to comment and add them!