UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Cat Calm Bento Mesh Head from Genesis Lab

Genesis Lab is offering yet another steep discount on a Bento mesh head for female avatars. This one is called Cat Calm, and if you join the GenesisLab group for free, you can pick one up for only L$55, a 99% discount!

As you can see, this head has a striking, angular, chiseled appearance, with a sharp, defined jawline and high cheekbones:

The package includes Bakes on Mesh skin in six different skin tones with brown brows, light brows, and no brows options, but I decided to use a recent group gift Bakes on Mesh skin I picked up from Wow Skins instead, called Elora Bronze. Here is what the Cat Calm head looks like without any adjustments to the head or body sliders:

The cellphone HUD on the right is the Material Editor, which allows you to change various aspects of different parts of the head: tint, full bright, transparency/blend, glossiness, etc. The default head comes with an absolutely hideous white, diamond-shaped tattoo under one eye (?!??), which I immediately removed by clicking on the Tattoo button, then the reset arrow icon in the upper right-hand corner of the phone.

To the left are five of the mini-HUDs that control eyeshadows, eye colours (the mesh eyes are included in the package), hairbases, eyelashes, and lipsticks. (You can also tint and adjust all of these features using the Material Editor HUD.)

Here’s what the head looks after I made some slider adjustments to the mouth area, and with some hair (a free gift I picked up at last year’s Hair Fair called Lara Winks):

One of the things that drives me crazy is when stores do not include adequate documentation in their mesh head or body packages. There is a single notecard in the Cat Calm package that mentions a few new features, and nothing else at all! Even worse, unlike some more popular heads, I could not find a brand website with any online documentation, either, which many brands offer. It’s basically trial and error here, folks.

In particular, the included facial animation override is absurdly tiny, with lettering that is impossible to decipher, and I had to make guesses at what the various buttons did. Not impressed, Genesis Lab.

Here’s a full-length shot, after I played around with the body sliders to my satisfaction (I paired this head with the Classic mesh body group gift from Meshbody):

This is a strikingly beautiful head, and at L$55 it is a real bargain.

UPDATE June 3rd, 2020: Here’s another look, once again pairing the Cat Calm head by Genesis Lab with the Classic Meshbody group gift, and using the included Bakes-on-Mesh skin tone number 5 with brown eyebrows:

I have a little test I perform to judge how attractive a female avatar is: I plunk her down next to the dancefloor at Frank’s Jazz Club (as I have in the picture below), and I wait to see how long it takes before some male avatar hits on her. This one? I broke my old record! Less than 15 seconds! And there were two of them! (Yes, I am evil. But I don’t catfish. I just ignore their instant messages.)

I think this avatar look compares quite favourably with a Maitreya Lara mesh body/Catwa Bento mesh head combination which would set you back at least L$7,750 (and that’s before you spend any money on skin appliers, hair, clothing, shoes, etc.).

The hair, gown, gold choker, shoes, and AO were all freebies I picked up somewhere along the way. So the total cost for this entire avatar was only L$56 (just L$55 for the head, and L$1 for the body)…truly an outstanding bargain for a beautiful avatar!


Now, I do not know how long this promotion will last, so you might want to pop down to the Genesis Lab store soon (here’s the exact SLURL of the vendor panel in the store).

Another Fifteen-Minute Second Life Avatar Makeover: A Complete Head-to-Toe Mermaid Makeover for Only One Linden Dollar!

Photo by Annette Batista Day on Unsplash

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):

Mermaid: Before Look

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:

Mermaid: After Look

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.

Mesh Body: Classic mesh body by Meshbody (L$1 group gift; The Shops! group is free to join; more information here).

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!

Another Fifteen-Minute Second Life Avatar Makeover: Victorian Parlourmaid

I have an old, classic system alt in Second Life whom I decked in out in a full-blown Victorian-era parlourmaid outfit!

As a running gag, I created a custom group for her called the Prim and Proper Cleaning Service. My profile states:

I proudly role-play a properly starched Victorian cleaning maid for Prim & Proper Cleaning Services (P&P for short, ma’am/sir). Dusting, vacuuming, etc. etc.

Bring that touch of Upstairs/Downstairs or Downton Abbey to your next social event. Impress your guests! Available for hire at very reasonable rates.

(Did you know a clean sim reduces lag?)

Every so often, when I’m feeling especially mischievous, I turn on her group tag, and unceremoniously plunk her down in spots like retail stores and clubs, where she busily dusts and even vacuums (on a modern-era vacuum cleaner, no less!). Here she is at the new, upstart Frank’s Jazz Club (she used to get routinely kicked out of the old one, where I found that the gate-keepers had no sense of humour whatsover):

“Lift your feet, hun…”

So, I decided it was time to give my Victorian parlourmaid a complete makeover, from a classic system avatar to a mesh outfit. Here are the after pictures, taken in the Library at Angel Manor Estate (how very Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey!)

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: the Strong Face Bento mesh head from the Genus Project (a former group gift which, unfortunately, is no longer available)

Mesh Body: the Classic mesh body by Meshbody (L$1 group gift; The Shops! group is free to join; more information is about this body can be found here)

Skin Applier: Genus head skin applier and Bakes on Mesh body skin Brielle, from Amara Beauty (free group gift; group is free to join)

Parlourmaid Outfit: Victorian Maid Black by Melon Bunny (L$500 on the SL Marketplace)

Victorian Boots: texture-change Victorian Ankle Boots by The Mesh Cloud (L$299 on the SL Marketplace)

In fact, the only three things that the before and after looks have in common are:

Hair: Timeless hair in chestnut by *DG* Hair (which seems to be no longer available)

Maid’s Cap: from the Edelweiss Emma Victorian maid’s dress (L$600 on the SL Marketplace for the complete system-layers-and-flexiprims outfit)

Animation Override: Gown AO by Kamilah Hauptmann of Posture Is Everything (a very nice freebie for avatars under 30 days old, which I picked up at the Caledon Oxbridge new resident orientation centre; I added the Bento hands AO from the free Altamura Jenny mesh avatar body package available at the Freebie Megastore in London City)

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: L$1400 (if you don’t care about the maid’s cap, the price goes down to L$800)

Hard at work dusting at Frank’s!
These dance machines get SO dusty…
Vacuuming the dancefloor at Frank’s Jazz Club (the glitter gets everywhere!)

Yes, I am having entirely too much fun in Second Life while I practice proper social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic!

Pulling Together a Male Avatar Look Using the Free Catwa Freya Head: The Joys and Perils of a “Unisex” Head

You might remember that I was able to pull together a male look in my first blogpost about the Freya unisex gift head, using one of the Bakes on Mesh male skins from Digital Nude Art (DNA):

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)

Animation Override: Tuty’s Daily sLIFE Free Bento AO (free from the Tuty animations store)

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR LOOK: L$591 (L$590 for the Stray Dog skin applier, and L$1 for the Classic mesh body)