UPDATE: An Update to Belleza came out around midnight SL time, Nov 6, 2014 (or right at the end of Nov 5). It fixes some major issues, but adds a new major issue. See the revised Belleza Section. I will also come back and re-review Belleza in the near future.
Mesh Bodies are taking off in some corners of Second Life and I’ve recently been thinking of joining in on this.
There are surprisingly few reviews on the subject.
The only one comparing them that I could find was here: The Mesh Body Reviews – Belleza vs Mesh Project vs Wowmeh (naked) – Updated
– Which is pretty good, and I suggest reading that before or in addition to my points. My plan is just to cover the concerns I still had after reading that review.
While there are more than three entries in this field; Belleza, TheMeshProject, Slink Physique, and Lena Perky are the only ones that have a ‘normal’ shape. Fusion has one that comes close (called Androgynous for some reason) – but it still has bulky limbs and a bosom with nipples that have a very strange look to my eyes (they look almost like a torus).
Lena Perky was quickly off my list because its alpha system is simply not sufficient – too large of sections for most clothes wearing. In addition if you have an AO with an animation that raises your arms above the shoulder, the bend point for the Lena Perky is the same as the default avatar
– both of which are anatomically flawed.
Slink, Belleza, and TheMeshProject do not have this shoulder issue. Each is a little different and I’m not sure who has the best anatomy.
My main concerns in a mesh body are how well will it fit my wardrobe, and my preferences in skins.
For the wardrobe we need to know how good the alphas are and how well the body parts line up with the default avatar, as your wardrobe will be worn by that default avatar even as it goes invisible. Here are the alphas for Belleza, TheMeshProject, and Lena Perky:
And here is Slink’s system:
The Belleza has the best arm and leg cuts – significantly so. The TMP is second, but has the best chest cuts.
The upper neck cuts of the TMP are very specific which allows for a mutitude of tops to be worn… You can cut out by left or right, front or back – all individually. It means a LOT of clicking around setting up outfits, but also that you can get pretty good cuts… This is by far the best alpha-cut system of the choices I have seen.
The Belleza has a flaw in linking front, back, right, and left cuts. If you have an asymmetrical outfit this is a fatal flaw. Even if not many outfits have different cuts in front and back and Belleza cannot handle this common situation.
All of these amazing cuts are wasted from so simple a requirement being missed.
Hopefully that will be addressed someday – but I suspect it would require a whole new ‘cut up’ of the ‘faces / sides’ of the object and be a major undertaking.
The Slink one just doesn’t have enough cuts, period. Its not as limited as Lena’s was – but it comes close. It is in bad need of an update to this.
When it comes to fitting the body into your clothing… TheMeshProject falls down severely… In a flaw that is so bad it is shocking this made it out of even early testing: Notice the white there – that is the TMP body’s arms. Notice where it is not – inside the main body. This means most clothing with sleeves will suffer pop-through, and if your alpha cut doesn’t line up perfectly, you will have an odd spot somewhere.
Thus the initial image in this blog article – my arms poking out.
Here is the effect on a glove that is a perfect tight fit to my alt’s normal arms:
Normal, then TMP, then TMP with the closest Alpha Cut available.
Belleza does a better job fitting into the default avatar’s dimensions: If TMP did that, the contest would be over…
Notice how absurdly large my hands are in that Belleza image. This is another benefit of Belleza and TheMeshProject over every other competitor. Both use fitted mesh for the hands – so your hand size dial works on them. This does NOT work if you use the optional ‘Slink Fit’ version of Belleza.
TheMeshProject goes a step further though, the foot size dial also works, as its feet are also fitted mesh: And here you can see that a dial setting of 50 is close to ‘Slink Size’. But Slink Size may actually be too big for proper human proportions on an avatar under 6-feet or maybe even under 6’6″… My normal foot size dial was 16. Your foot should be “the same size as the length of your forearm”.
Unfortunately while you can get as big as Slink feet, The Mesh Project feet still float too high above the Slink ones to be able to wear rigged mesh shoes (unrigged however might work) made for Slink.
Belleza feet CANNOT be resized, but also come a lot closer to slink: The brown ‘blotch’ on the left foot there is my slink foot, resting just inside the Belleza one.
This almost means “some” of your slink shoes might work.
Belleza CAN be used with an optional ‘for slink’ body letting you wear your slink hands and feet… but this body requires an absurdly high “torso and leg muscle slider setting of 50″… 50 on the Belleza does not look as ‘muscle bound’ as it does on the default SL body or on other mesh bodies – so try it before you freak out over it.
Even once you set your torso muscle to 50, the hands join wrong. The left hand has a gap and floats a distance away from the body, and the right hand is overlapped by the body:
Mesh to Body join – neck seams
If you make it past all the above concerns, your next issue is the join between the avatar and your default Second Life head (unless your avatar is Irish, in which case you can buy one of the heads from Slink or TMP that have distinctively north-west-European facial bone structure – and will then look identical in shape to anyone else using the same head).
The Mesh Project can fit perfectly to the default avatar’s head if in styling you use the ‘retrofit’ option. I have no idea what the other option does as this one works so I used it and moved on. They then have a tattoo layer to blend one of their 36 skin tones to yours. Unfortunately my avatar, using Angel Rock’s Botswana Seal (choice inspired by my slight Nigerian heritage), exists in the ‘zone of pigments’ between their tone 30, 35, and 36. But most non-African skin tones and a few African ones are covered. – You might not see it, but I find the face slighter darker than the body tone here. However the blend is very well done and should work for most people.
Belleza now mostly fits on the neck:
– I need to play with the shape dials and see if that minor seam can be fixed. This is however, workable whereas before it was so bad the item went into my “oh well” list of purchases.
With the neck fit, Belleza will get featured in an upcoming blog post by me, because the body shape… is amazing. And now I want to show that, while also discussing its remaining issues.
On my alt that bought the full version of Belleza, I used the Omega system to apply her skin to the Belleza. Pre-update this exposed massive problems. After a recent update – it is much better, but exposes that the Belleza mesh might not be colored pure #ffffff (white), or might have some shine, bump, or other attributes. I plan to review Belleza again and examine this. That said – if you got Belleza and trashed it for the bad neck, get the update. The neck is much improved now. I for some reason took my screenshots with a built in skin for contrast, so you’ll have to wait till I can show you this.
On TMP, no matter what I do to mess with the shape dials, I cannot mess up the join. It remains perfect.
On Belleza it is slightly off in the back, but good in the front.
I did not check this closely on Slink. It seems to match up at the neck, but it uses an attachment for the blend rather than a tattoo layer which is just… peculiar. The attachment comes in a pack of several for different body fats starting at 5 and moving up in units of 5 – not consistent with the standard sizing clothes system, which means more alpha cuts will need to be used to hide parts of the body made too fat as a result…
The Bosom Shape
The next issue, and the issue that cut Slink out of the running for me, is how each of these models the bosom. Slink deforms under the bosom, and this can get quite severe:
This is the bosom at 100. The deformation there is easy to see by 53, and starts at 16… it starts before the bosom even starts forming… Notice how the under-bosom shadow is moving out from the body.
Belleza is much better:
At 100 there is visible deformation, but nowhere near as bad as Slink. This starts at a dial of 55, but is not easy to see until 71.
Belleza is the ONLY one of these three to include a nipple option that adds more shape and texture detail – a major plus for belleza as skin designers often make this part of the body to look good on the ‘flat’ default avatar, meaning it will often have baked in ‘bump / shadow’ that looks less appealing on a mesh body.
TheMeshProject does the best job here, in my opinion. Here it is at size 100, just to show an extreme:
From 30-100, I was able to get usable results. Here you can see a ‘break-away’ is only just starting to happen – and the shadow is still where it belongs. At my normal 48, it looks perfect.
Appliers are now out there for TheMeshProject and Slink.
Most of what you will find is for Slink – I think its been out longest and I think a lot of merchants assume its the one to support. My concerns above make me feel this might be jumping on the bandwagon too soon. The Slink body needs more corrections than the other two…
TheMeshProject’s website, ‘themeshproject.org’ will list out a huge list of merchants supporting it. If you start going to those shops you will quickly find that many of them in fact don’t even have a single item for it. Some of them… don’t even exist. They must have left SL or something.
In fact I had exactly one successful result in the skin category: Sinful Curves. And if you search for ‘themeshproject’ or ‘tmp’ on SL’s marketplace – most of the results as of this blog posting also point to that store. That store btw, does have very good skins… But none get as dark as I desire to go.
A much better way to find “the mesh project” items is the flickr group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/themeshproject/
– because this appears to list actual things. And will lead you to merchants with more things. Once I found this group I was finding MeshProject items everywhere. But still none go as dark in skin tone as I desire to go.
I get my skins from Angel Rock and that shop has been very hesitant about supporting mesh products. Appliers have only just begun to show up for them. Which is frustrating because they are the only shop in SL that seems to make African and Asian skin tones that really look of those ethnicities, but not by using the ‘cheap photo pasted into the UV map’ trick some low-end skin shops use. The skins at Angel Rock are super high quality (and they do have some Latina and Caucasian skins as well BTW).
As for Belleza, the neck issue above means any attempt to blend one of their existing skins to your own is likely to have issues.
Using an applier means going to the Omega system and buying a device that will ‘toggle’ your Belleza to be “Omega ready” – after that any Omega applier will work on the torso and legs, but NOT the hands or feet. So Omega is really only good if you use the Slink-fit version of Belleza.
Omega also works Lena Perky if you get that, and for EvE – which I plan to review soon.
Belleza might have appliers for it soon, the developer kit is now FREE to buy in their shop, for anyone. No need to get approved. Get it, and you can updates your stuff. BUT… the UV map for Belleza feet and hands is radically different from the SL avatar, so you will need to make all new photoshop files for this…
On the other hand my favorite skin designer does have appliers for lolas and phat azz… so I can get my skin onto a Belleza… BUT… Not onto the hands or feet.
To get a skin onto the hands or feet with Belleza you need a Belleza specific applier, or to use the Slink hands / feet and set your torso muscles to 50…
Sadly I feel all of these need work. Each of them gets some things right and other things wrong. The errors are not matters of style and preference but go to the heart of usability.
Belleza has critical issues with the alpha system and slink hands.
Slink has too few alphas and a highly deformed bosom.
TheMeshProject has arms that cannot fit inside clothing.
My opinion now is that the Belleza is the most ‘ready for market’. Its issues are the easiest to work around. That is a change as of 11/6/2014. TheMeshProject having a locked developer system means a LOT of skin designers have yet to be approved to make skins for it – and the arms issue is MAJOR for anyone who… wears tops with sleeves… which is most everyone.
If Belleza fixes the seam with the slink hands… and addresses my alpha map concerns, the contest would be over. But if themeshproject opens up applier design and fixes the arms – I would call it for them. Slink… would need to fix its bosom and adjust the alpha system in the chest area.