MESH Revolution

 
     
 

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THE SECOND LIFE MESH REVOLUTION


The Mesh Revolution

THE WORLD OF MESH

We believe that Mesh was likely the single best advancement for Second Life. This we believe is certainly for the realism of the avatars themselves, but also for clothes and accessories. However, even with this wondrous event, we do think mesh can be hard to learn and work with, until one gets familiar with it. This article is our honest opinion of those of us who work at Owl and Pussycat, what we have learned by looking at least 8 different kinds of mesh avatars, and then trying to work with and perhaps also create products for their usage.

About Us
We at OnP Owl and Pussycat do not make mesh clothes directly. However, we now make a number of products that work with mesh avatars or even clothes that we think are helpful ... at least for our own usage.

SECTIONS:

Mesh Avatars Female
Mesh Avatars Male
Mesh Clothes for Women

MESH AVATARS, FEMALE

We strongly recommend SL (Second Life) females to consider mesh. Why? If for no other reason, accuracy of portraying the female breasts. Yes, of course you might say that you never intend to be naked in Second Life, and if so, perhaps you have no need of a mesh avatar or anything mesh. I could certainly see that opinion, and it would not be wrong at all. If only your face and hands are ever going to show, then perhaps mesh avatars and in fact this whole article will not help you.

However, if you are female in SL, and some days wish to be naked at least on the top, we believe that there is an issue. Breasts that come with SL female bodies, at least up to the ones we have seen, tend to be flat with perhaps some illusion of different heights due to skin coloring effects. Not all that real. One can buy, or at least used to be able to buy, just mesh breasts alone that would attach to your SL body and take over and give some realistic differences in heights on some of the breast. However, we have found for our own tastes that there usually seems to be a visible line, no matter what you do, between the breasts and the body, once again making it not only realistic, but also sometimes cumbersome to work with. And so, what is the answer for those who want more? Mesh avatars for females include breasts that often show those normal variations in height differences for the nipple area and more, while including a very smooth realistic transition between the breast area and the body. Now, of course, there is much more to mesh avatars even for SL females, however, we see the breast area realism the single most important difference.

Of course, there is more to a female body, including alluring curves and skin texturing. And some of the creators of mesh female SL bodies do a great job, in our opinion, of creating attractive and also realistic female bodies. If it were our choice, the SL females on our team would choose mesh avatars every time.

Which Mesh Avatars are Best?

That might depend what you are looking for. Are you looking for best? Or are you looking for inexpensive? Since there may be a difference between selection for those two items.

Inexpensive.

While the SL World can change, some places like TMP (The Mesh Project) the last we checked offer starting mesh bodies that are free. Yes, I just said free. These bodies have limited abilities, but I imagine are meant to get the users happy about mesh, and then they might consider the more expensive mesh body versions... hopefully from the same manufacturer. What is our opinion of free TMP female mesh bodies? Totally amazing. They are done well, or at least quite professional and decent. The last we saw TMP even gave with the free body an option of white underwear and also dresses in a few colors. One could add that if one adds high heels, which we sell for TMP and other, and add hair from someone, and get a skin, they are ready to put it all together for a very low price. It is hard to beat that value of "free." But what is the downside? The free version of TMP female bodies does not do "layers," which are clothes directly showing on the body itself, like some lingerie or swim suits or nylons. And of course, if you want this ability, you can upgrade and pay for a version that has that ability, such as "TMP Basic" Instead of "TMP free'. The free TMP version also at least before did not allow "alpha" changes to create alpha missing body areas beneath the clothes, so the body would not show through mesh clothes if there was a clothes fit problem. And so, for the right person, who can deal with these issues, a TMP free female body is quite a great start.

Best

Best becomes a matter of opinion. Some will prefer the TMP version above. Many do seem to like the Maitreya line as being flattering to women, and also as a supplier, let me add that Maitreya seems also the most trouble free we work with. But there are other fine suppliers. Belleza bodies are not bad at all, and in some ways a design difference from Maitreya that of course is up to the opinion of the customer. And of course we should not forget Slink and Slink Hourglass that are also quite nice, and preferred by a number of customers. For the four main brands we tested - Maitreya, TMP, Slink and Belleza, below are some features you might or might not care about that we found for each.

* Appearance - Good for all 4, but we found Maitreya the most flattering
* Layers Software to Make Huds - Maitreya and Belleza, optional in store
* Layers Software for Owner Usage - Slink, included with body
* Layers only by third party sales - TMP
* Includes Hands and Feet: TMP, Maitreya, Belleza
* Hands and Feet sold separately: Slink
* Works with Mesh Clothes - all
* Has Alpha capability to eliminate body areas under clothes - Maitreya, Belleza, Slink, and TMP Basic and above (but not TMP free)
* Physics move bounce ability for breasts and tummy - all
* Physics move bounce ability for bottom (butt) - TMP and Belleza yes, but Maitreya and Slink did not when we checked.

MESH AVATARS MALE

We admit that we have less knowledge of mesh male avatars. So far, we have looked into TMP free for males and also a Slink male version, which we have worked more with.

In our female mesh avatar section, we spoke of some of the issues female avatars face... where we said the biggest reason for mesh was the female breasts, making them look real and also a natural part of the body. We then said that mesh finally fixes that problem. Well, males have a different appendage. And well, not sure anyone is doing something with that the way that they solved the female mesh breast issue. But I suspect that will not bother many males who are fine with aftermarket products for that function anyway.

So, what do we see as the real issue? Clothes. We see clothes as a far larger problem for SL males than SL women. Why? Well, it seems to us that the two areas hardest to cover well without apparent tears and openings for SL avatars are arms and legs. And men seem to often wear more clothes that cover arms and legs and therefore are going to have more of a mesh clothes problem - in our opinion. Women are often sleeveless and if the women wear skirts, then even legs are not much of an issue. If women wear shorts, then legs are a lesser issue. So the difficulties are not the same. Mesh clothes we find simply works better for SL women.

And so, what does this mean? Well, again, we are we admit less learned and have less experience on Male Mesh Avatars, but for our tastes, we think the free route is less helpful. It might be hard to easily find great mesh clothes that can cover SL male arms and legs. Therefore, if one buys a male mesh avatar body that costs a bit more, yet can provide "layers" - which is like the old SL clothes that directly applies to the skin, and therefore moves with it, we feel that at least we ourselves are better off. Now the Slink male skin version that we tried seems similar to the Slink female mesh body kit in that the Slink male version also offers the owner at least the option of changing layers. Therefore, one could for example wear a layered shirt that will, by definition and plan, fit exactly over the top body. Pants for the lower body using layers are a bit more difficult since one has to think at least about a possible flair needed at the bottom - perhaps done by objects or mesh. Boxer shorts effect created using layers are also easier. And Slink, even though they charge, does provide this "layer" capability after some learning.

And so, for our tastes, we would suggest that if you are like us, try and buy a male mesh avatar that does allow "layers" that YOU the customer can actually put on and apply.

Slink goes further into colors

One odd but super advantage of Slink, for both mesh male and female avatars, is that oddly it also allows you to change the color of layered clothes that are right on your mesh body. If someone else is doing this, other than Slink I have not seen this. This is therefore something we consider a huge feature for Slink, especially for male mesh avatars. Let us say you have access to a white dress shirt with buttons and like it. Yay! Well, then, you can use the Slink color changer to change very light colors (white the best of course) to another color, such as blue, or other. This we think is a very nice touch.

TMP beach ware or naked

But if you intend to mostly use beach wear or be naked, the TMP free mesh male avatar might be a huge bargain for you. And yes, we do seem to see some mesh male avatars who do not dress that much. So that of course is an option for some, and once again, close to free.

Other Mesh Male Avatars?

There are other male mesh avatars out there. We have not tried them. Sorry. We can only report on the ones we tried. But from what we have seen in our testing so far, we suggest for male avatars to at least consider getting the capability of adding "layers" to their mesh avatar body, in order at times to cover arms and legs.

MESH CLOTHES FOR WOMEN

While once again, the journey into mesh for Second Life may be the single greatest advancement, that does not mean that it is trouble free. In fact, until an avatar gets used to mesh, it might seem very frustrating. However, in our opinion, the learning is well worth the effort for the better realism.

BEWARE THE ARMS AND LEGS FOR MESH CLOTHES!

As I point out for male mesh avatars, the problem for males is that often that their clothes covers their arms and their legs ... two areas where mesh has a hard time covering without skin showing through. I find this to be a huge issue. But likewise for females. If choosing jeans, or long sleeve sweaters, or perhaps even boots, know that some mesh creators have a very hard time getting these items to hug your avatar body and not let skin show through. Fortunately for us females, often some clothes we are wearing are sleeveless tops or skirts, which are less demanding on covering arms and legs tightly. Too bad guys.

Which is best? Mesh? Layers? Flexi?

We often hear from people that only wish to wear mesh. That is their option of course. But there are tradeoffs. The problem with the three items above, mesh, layers, and flexi, is that each has some advantages and some disadvantages. And so we at OnP Owl and Pussycat suggest that a person keep an open mind and use the best for their needs. We will look at some clothes features below:

* OVERALL CLOTHES REALISM - Has to go to mesh ... as long as the item does not have to move much at least. Mesh allows a many part outfit to look and wear seamlessly, just as one might expect in real life. And that mesh outfit can include real looking pleats or wrinkles, or clothing variations to make the clothes look far more realistic instead of an unreal smooth appearance everywhere.
* TIGHT FIT TO AVATAR BODY - Has to go to layers. While we ourselves prefer mesh - when it works - good luck some days trying to get mesh lingerie to work below a mesh dress or top or shorts or jeans. Since mesh has a size to it, unlike layers which is directly on the skin, that size of that bra or underwear can often show through the top or dress or other. And so, the easiest way to wear underwear under mesh, is to wear "layers" for the lower underwear and then mesh outer wear. Now, some customers, including us at times, still want mesh underwear below. Well, then some manufacturers are better than others. Maitreya underwear that comes with the avatar body has great mesh underwear that fit very close to the body, and therefore allow many mesh outer items to work with it. I have seen also I believe some items given with Belleza or Slink that again are designed superbly to fit near the skin. However, when I seem to look in the Marketplace for lingerie that is also close to the skin, it seems harder to find. The best seems to come WITH the mesh avatars. And so one either has to search for close fitting mesh lingerie, if you wish to wear it, or just break down and use "layers" which of course are snug.
* SWIM SUITS - Since these fit close to the body, again a person may wish to opt for using layers which are right on the body rather than mesh. But you might find some mesh swim suits that work well. Since they are swim suits and not lingerie, there likely is a better chance of fit and not interfering with outer clothes - that in this case - are likely not even there.
* SKIRT OR HAIR MOVEMEMENT - Goes to flexi. Second Life allows only a few SL objects to be flexible and move with the wind or body movement, and mesh and layers are not among them. Those objects are boxes, prisms and cones, which can each be used with design modifications into SL ladies Hair or ladies skirts or gowns. While mesh looks great standing still, and even we prefer it often, the fact is that mesh cannot move independently very well in wind or body movement. I have seen some skirt designs in mesh that are not well done and seem to act like concrete, since a real skirt would have movement, and they do not.


TRADEOFFS

When one reads the above, and selecting clothes, a person has to decide which feature is the most important to them. Then also, sometimes we all change our minds over time. For example, at one time I hated mesh hair since it seems plastered and non moving on my head while the earlier flexi hair moved much more realistically with head movements. But then again, the allowed complexity of mesh allowed the hair to bend more ways and take more shapes while some mesh hair makers were also able to add variable hair textures of color variation that gave a real appearance. So, what do I want? I want both, but cannot have both. Now I mostly prefer mesh hair, but love if the darned thing moved better... as does flexi. But I would try some of both from good manufacturers and see what you like.

thanks for reading this

- Suzie Larsen and Hunter Bronet

thanks!  Hope you enjoy our products


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