Mermaid and merman role-play in Second Life is perennially popular (sometimes combined with pirate role-play). I have had a mermaid avatar in Second Life for as long as I can remember, although I must confess that I do not pull her out that often nowadays.
Here is what my mermaid avatar looked like before her makeover, a system-layers-and-flexiprims look cobbled together from various freebie mermaid outfits I picked up over the years (the lovely mesh tail was a recent free hunt gift from Solas NaGealai of BlueMoon Enterprise):
Well, I decided to give my mermaid one of my patented fifteen-minute avatar makeovers today, to move from a classic, system avatar to 100% mesh!
Here is what she looks like now:
This avatar is wearing:
Mesh Head: the Freya Bento mesh head from Catwa (free group gift; the Catwa group is free to join; more information here). TODAY IS THE LAST DAY YOU CAN PICK UP THIS FABULOUS FREEBIE!
Lipstick: HD Lipstick (part of the Freya package, this comes in a wide variety of colours).
Hair: this absolutely perfect mermaid hair is called Spring Briar Fae Hair, which I picked up for free at a Crazy Hair Hunt many years ago now. I combined it with a hairbase from the Catwa Master HUD, tinting both it and the eyebrows on the Freya head to match.
Choker: This beautiful golden Nefert choker is a free group gift from Poison Rouge at the current round of the Très Chic shopping event (you can join the Très Chic group for free). It hides the slight mismatch between the skin tones on the Freya head and Classic body perfectly!
Mermaid Bra and Tail: This is a freebie, too! Just join the Arata Shouten group for free, and check the group notices for this lovely gift (which was my impetus for making this blogpost). You’ll need to alpha out your legs, of course, using the included Classic Meshbody HUD.
Mermaid Animation Override: I picked up this mermaid AO as part of a free hunt gift at FallnAngel Creations many years ago. (If you hunt around at the various mermaid role-play areas in SL, you might find a freebie mermaid/merman AO.)
TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR LOOK: ONLY L$1! (for the Classic mesh body from Meshbody). Everything else was free!
You probably already know that my passionate hobby is to create a complete head-to-toe Second Life avatar look from scratch, while spending as few Linden dollars as possible! (You can find all my previous, patented 15-minute SL avatar makeovers tagged here on my blog, including this latest post).
Mesh Body and Nails: Juliet by Altamura (this was a limited-time group gift from Valentine’s Day 2019, which I turn to again and again on this blog; at the time I joined the Altamura group it was only L$50, but it now costs L$100 to join their group; this Juliet body is now for sale in-store only at the full price). In order to use the Essences skin below, I needed to buy and install the Omega system kit for Altamura (available for L$99 at this exact SLURL).
Skin Applier: The Sibyl skin applier for Catwa heads from Essences (free group gift; group is free to join; more information is available here). At the back of the Essences store, you can pick up a set of Omega body skin appliers in all eight skin tones for only L$1! (This avatar is wearing the darkest skin tone, E8.)
Hair: What you see here is a combination of a black hairbase from Catwa’s Master HUD, paired with the Pulled Back Bun hair that is already in your Second Life inventory! Just open your inventory, and scroll down to the very bottom of your inventory window to find the Library folder. It’s in Library / Accessories / Hair Design Options / Pulled Back Bun folder. It’s free, completely adjustable, tintable, and uncomplicated, and it fits well under hats and hoods, too!
Sari: This lovely sari is a free gift from the Habibi sim (just join the Habibi group for free, and click on the sign at the spawn point of this Middle Eastern themed sim).
Animation Override: Those of you who have been following the fifteen-minute SL avatar makeovers on my blog already know that my favourite freebie AO was one that was put out by a store called [ImpEle], called Chubby Girl AO. That store closed down years and years ago, but until recently this AO was still available to purchase for free from the SL Marketplace. All you had to do was add a separate hands-only AO for Bento hands (which were thoughtfully included for free with the various freebie versions of the Altamura mesh bodies) and you were all set to go! Unfortunately, this item has now been removed from the SL Marketplace, but I have provided step-by-step instructions on how to assemble your own Bento AO for only L$2!
In fact, the only thing that the Before and After avatars have in common are the earrings! These glorious Arpita earrings are by Mashooka Designs, a wonderful Indian clothing and accessories store which left the grid a long time ago, but continues on in the SL Marketplace (unfortunately, these earrings are no longer available).
TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR LOOK: Only L$150! (It cost me L$50 at the time to join the Altamura group to get the Juliet mesh body group gift, L$99 for the Omega system kit for that body, and I paid L$1 for the Omega body skin appliers from Essences to match the Sybil Catwa head skin.)
But like many others, I was curious to see if I could use a combination of the freebie Catwa Freya unisex Bento head with the Classic male mesh body from Meshbody, applying a Catwa skin applier from one of the many quality men’s skin stores on the grid (since no male skin was included with the Freya head, just female skins). Let me share what I learned with you.
So I ventured out to Birth, but I found that both of the skins I preferred looked terrible on the Freya head. It would appear most of the Birth skins are meant to work best on specific, more masculine models of Catwa male heads.
I then went over to Stray Dog, and tried on demos of dozens of skins, with mixed results, before settling on the one you see here:
Now, you might think that I needed the collar to hide the neck seam between the Catwa Freya head and the Classic body, but I was actually able to get a close match between the Stray Dog skin applier I used on the Catwa head and the skin tone of the Classic body.
This is Stray Dog skin tone 5, which matches up almost exactly with the Classic body’s skin tone 11, and the included neck fades in the Classic package make it look almost completely seamless! There are even step-by-step instructions on how to apply the appropriate neck fade to the Catwa head. It works well.
No, I needed the collar to hide this rather ugly side view of the neck:
No matter how much I fiddled with the neck sliders, I simply could not avoid a neck that was noticeably thinner at the top than at the bottom. Increasing the neck width or the neck length made the problem even worse.
Another problem was the quite noticeable bulge where the Catwa head meets the Classic body at the front (see the red arrow). It’s a much larger bulge than can be explained away by a man’s Adam’s apple. The best course of action was to cover up the area completely.
So while yes, you can select Male or Female on the included Master HUD for the Freya head to work with both male and female bodies (see the red arrow in the image below), you should be forewarned that the neck area can still look a little weird on male avatars.
So you need to keep in mind that the Freya head, while “unisex” in name, might not work very well with many store-bought male skins that would look okay on a Bento mesh head with more masculine features. So demo, demo, demo before you buy!
I used the eyebrow shaper that came with the Stray Dog skin applier package, and for my starter male shape I used the free, full-perms gift shape from the NoYourOtherLeft sim, one of the three spots where you can pick up the Catwa Freya gift head (just look for a large box opposite the row of kiosks). I made the jaw more angular and square, and the ears a little bigger; the rest I left unchanged. (I noticed in particular that it wasn’t advisable to make too many changes to the nose shape.)
Here is the overall final look for my avatar, which I am quite pleased with:
This avatar is wearing:
Mesh Head: Freya unisex Bento mesh head (free group gift from Catwa; the Catwa group is free to join; more details here)
Mesh Body: Classic male mesh body (L$1 group gift from Meshbody; The Shops! group is free to join; more details here)
Skin Applier for Head: Surman by Stray Dog (L$590 per skin tone)
Hair: the Chris hairstyle in ash blonde is a gift from Alli&Ali Hair (this freebie comes from the free hair wall at The Free Dove; I tinted it a darker brown here)
Collar: Nina unisex choke by RxK (available for free from the main floor of the freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil; comes with a HUD with four colour choices and two metal choices)
All the clothing is specifically designed for Classic mesh bodies (remember to look for The Mesh Project or TMP on the packaging before you buy):
Shirt: Pepe shirt (free gift from KingalStores, available at The Free Dove)
Jeans: Stone jeans (free gift from Dreams, available from the men’s section on the third floor of the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil)
Sneakers: Jumpov sneakers by VERSOV (free group gift; the VERSOV group is free to join; these sneakers come with a HUD that allows you to change the colour of every single part of the shoe)