Updated: 21st August 2019
I put this together as a resource for myself and friends as a guide simply because I couldn’t find any guides that actually talk about the process. There is a lot on this page to digest so take your time and if you have any questions feel free to connect with me in SL. For those men who come across this, YES, this is mainly targeted for women. In saying that the process is similar.
Images of me – Click Show top Left: My SL shape values are record here and provide an example of changes I made to obtain my individual look. I have created templates for both females and males, feel free to take copies of these and customize them for your own use.
This page is bias towards certain bodies and heads, simply because its based on my preferences and I have no interest in been objective when it comes to bodies/heads I just did not like.
I try to keep myself within certain parameters, I do go more into this on my Tips Tricks & Hints page.
Script, Memory Usage & Complexity (ARC): Script count generally sits around the 75 mark +/- 10 at times and my memory usage sits between 3 – 4 MB.
Complexity – for the purpose of simplicity I do try and keep between 60k – 85k.
Max limits I self impose on myself mainly due to venues/events that use auto ejection are 100 scripts, 5MB memory and an ARC no greater than 130K.
My top 10 bullet points when updating to a mesh body and/or head:
- The best advice anyone can give is NOT, you should buy this body or this head. It should be, listen to others and then do your own homework. DEMO DEMO DEMO what appeals too you is the key. Then buy what you feel is the best fit for yourself. Others (including myself) will always have some bias.
- Upgrade to Bento bodies and heads, bypass pre-bento.
- If still a classic avatar the upgrade path I would recommend is mesh body first, use it for awhile and then mesh head. You can do mesh head 1st then body however the learning curve for heads is far greater than it is for bodies.
- Use resources like StrawberrySingh or MBA, you will find plenty of written and video reviews, take note of their critics as they are fairly object with minimal bias.
- Don’t just demo the well known bodies and heads that everyone uses, demo a wide variety from different creators. Popularity does not always equal quality. The same goes for skins. Often skin creators with limited number of skins are far better quality than those with lots of skins.
- If you go down the Omega path make sure the body/head combo you purchase is fully Omega compatible. Some bodies do not support Omega and some heads only support cosmetic layers, so be careful.
- Look for skins that also have a “No Brows” option. You may just want to use brow options in the head’s HuD or even 3rd party brows.
- Use the same skin tone from the same creator for both body and head. You really shouldn’t need to use a “Neck Fix” or “Neck Blender” anymore. If your neck line is not blending its often due to other reasons. For example, poor skin quality, bad body/head combination (some are better than others), body fat settings between shape/body/head, graphic settings, Windlight settings and SL just been plain wonky.
- When your demoing, adjusting shape, applying new skins or cosmetics use either “CalWL” or “Nam’s Optimal Skin and Prim” as your Windlight setting.
- Finally, don’t get upset on how others see you, you have no control over the hardware or graphical settings they use.
Mesh Bodies: I demoed Altamura, Belleza, Maitreya, Signature and Slink bodies. I dropped Signature and Slink fairly quickly, I just didn’t like the bodies. I was impressed with Altamura and could see its potential, but decided I wasn’t going to take a risk on it in terms of my 1st mesh body. This left me with Belleza and Maitreya, the decision here was a bit more difficult as I did like the alpha segmenting and HuD more on the Belleza body over Maitreya. In the end I decided on Maitreya Lara, this was mainly based on the fact that the body seemed to rez quicker and the HuD felt more responsive. I have since purchased an Altamura body as an alternative to Maitreya.
Most bodies come with a starter shape and you do need to use this at first. You can keep your current shape, I discus editing shapes later in the Head upgrade section.
Regardless of which body you do eventually purchase, make sure its the one that you felt was the overall best fit for you. I also recommend you buy auto hide kits when they are available and learn how to use them. I do provide details of how I use the Maitreya AutoHide kit here. Note: some clothing has auto hide built in.
Most mesh bodies are seeing updates to now include bento hands. Don’t listen to people who say you “must upgrade” your AO immediately to a bento AO. If its your partner saying it, get them to pay for it, it may change their mind. My partner used a none bento AO for ages, did I care, NO. The fact is its way lower on the priority list and can be done later. Besides most body HuD’s will allow for hand animation cycling, its not true movement but it is a cost effective interim option till you do lash out on that new AO.
Additional comments for Men: Everything above applies as well for men. I would say Belleza and Signature are the better male bodies followed by Slink. Other options to check out are Adam, Altamura and Niramyth. If I had to pick and this is certainly bias on my part, I would say Belleza Jake would be what I would recommend to males.
Bento Mesh Heads: Firstly, before I even start. I hear all the time from people that they won’t go Mesh head cause they cannot look similar to their current classic system look. To some point that is true, you will never get a perfect match. However, with bento heads you can adjust them via “Edit Shape”. Some react better to sliders than others, its all about playing and spending the time to see what you can do to obtain that look your after. Which is also the hard part, that is why it is important to spend a lot of time demoing different heads with different skin appliers.
I demoed Altamura, AK, Catwa, Fiore, GA.EG, Genesis Labs and LeLutka. I dropped Catwa cause I didn’t like the over all package, Genesis Labs was not an option cause full Omega support was a key requirement for me and at the time they only supported makeup layers. AK and Fiore had me hooked however I found them lacking with the other 2 front runners. In the end it came down to GA.EG and Lelutka. I went with GA.EG for my primary account and Lelutka for my ALT account. Since then I have purchased both Altamura, LAQ and have demoed Genus.
Update 2019: If I was going prioritize from 1st to last, my choice would be GA.EG then Genus or LAQ, followed by Altamura or Lelutka.
Unlike mesh bodies, mesh heads do introduce a need to make changes to ones shape. Generally the first thing you need to do when acquiring a mesh head is to start with the default shape that comes with the head, sometimes there are several starter shapes so choose the one you like best. You have 4 options here;
- By far the simplest. Go with the starter shape and then edit it to your liking.
- A slightly more involved option. Go with the starter shape and transfer your current Body, Torso and Leg slider values from your old shape to it.
- The more involved option. Is to transfer the Head, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth and Chin slider values from the head starter shape to your current shape.
- The final option is to create and maintain your own FULL perm shape.
For those wanting to create your own FULL perm shape, its fairly simple and anyone can do it. Firstly you need to write down all those slider values for the Body, Head, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, Chin, Torso and Legs. Either write them on paper or grab a copy of the google spread sheet I have a link too at the top of this page. Once you have all that recorded, its time to create your own shape.
Even though you can do this from any folder I suggest you do it at the Body Parts folder. Right click the folder and select “New Body Part” then select “New Shape”. Make sure you have the correct sex set. Simply update each slider value with what you wrote down. Once done save and give it a name. You now have your own full permissions shape. If you are going to share this shape with others make sure you alter the next owner permissions and only give them a MOD/COPY version.
To create your own Full perm brow shape write down all the slider values from the brow shape that comes with the head. Now select “New Hair” and update the slider values followed by save and give it a name. Now you have your own full permissions brow shape. Note: Your also going to need to apply a texture, I suggest you use a full alpha texture.
For my decision process when I decided what head to go for, I created my own shapes for each head I demoed and then applied various demo skin appliers. I then tweaked each demo to see how much the sliders effected the head. Looking for when things clipped, for example teeth clipping through the lips etc. I spent a significant amount of time on this process of tweaking as the goal here was to purchase a head that I could get the look I was after. In my case I managed to do this with several heads, what tipped the scale for me was the HuD. I ultimately purchased the package I felt was the best overall package for me, you need to do that for yourself and not go with what others say.
Additional comments for Men: AK, Catwa, GA.EG and Leltuka tend to be what most guys I know talk about or use. Personally I think the GA.EG and Leltuka male heads are way better.
Update 2019: Its possibly also worth checking out Genus.
Body/Head Appliers: Its important to obtain body and head appliers from the same skin designer as this does minimize neck line issues. When it comes to appliers there are generally 2 options;
- Purchase specific appliers for your body and/or head
- Purchase Omega appliers for your body and/or head
I tend to go with a combo of specific for body and Omega for head.
You may ask “what is Omega”. In essence its a universal applier system that allows you to apply appliers to a large variety of bodies and heads that support Omega. For more info I suggest you head over to the Omega Solutions website.
Purchasing the various Omega System kits can be done at stores that sell Omega based appliers via affiliated vendors. You can also purchase the kits direct from the Omega Solutions Marketplace store or at a discounted prices from the Omega Solutions in-world store.
Upgrade Examples: The following examples are just a few to give an idea of associated estimates on cost, the examples are bias to certain creators. I may add Altamura and Genus options in late 2019 or early 2020.
- Maitreya or Belleza body with GA.EG bento head using GA.EG, Ae, Pink Fuel (Logo) or Ritual skin appliers. Relevant Omega System Kits required: $6.5K – $7.5K
- Maitreya or Belleza body with LAQ bento head using LAQ, Ae, Pink Fuel or Ritual skin appliers: $8.5K – 9K
- Maitreya body with Lelutka bento head using Glam Affair skin tones in the body/head HuD’s. $7K
- Belleza or Signature body with either Evan or Damon GA.EG Bento head using GA.EG Hugo body skin appliers. Relevant Omega System Kits Required: $6.5K – $7.5K
- Belleza or Signature body with Damon GA.EG Bento head using Nivaro Omega or VYC Homme appliers. Relevant Omega System Kits required: $7.5K.
- Belleza or Signature body with Andrea Lelutka bento head using Clef De Peau , Tableau Vivant or VYC Homme appliers: $9K