I still derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from styling a Second Life avatar as inexpensively as possible, but still looking like I spent thousands of Linden dollars! Here is what I was able to create today, using as my starting point a wonderful free skin I found at the COCOAMATRIX store, called Avril:
This avatar stands out in any crowd! She is wearing:
Head: Genus Strong Face (a free gift head from the Genus Project; includes the mesh eyes shown)
I have been following the progress of the Kalhene Bento, Bakes on Mesh bodies (the Anya female body and the Alexa transgender body) for some time now, and I am mightily impressed with how often the creator issues updates. We are now at version 4.0 of the Anya body, which I have found to be nearly 100% compatible with apparel and footwear designed for Maitreya Lara mesh bodies!
Pay a visit to the Kalhene store (located opposite the N-Core shoe store), and for only L$1,795, you get not only a Maitreya-Lara-compatible Bento mesh body, with a top-notch HUD, but you also get a Bento mesh head, plus pretty much everything else you need to get started—skins, eyes, hair, a starter wardrobe, even an AO to control the eyes, head, and hands! All you need to add is a body AO and you’re all set!
Let’s draw up a side-by-side comparison chart, showing you what you get for your money: column A is the Kalhene Anya version 4.0 head and body, and Column B is the Maitreya Lara version 5.3 mesh body with a Catwa brand of Bento mesh head (the most popular combination):
Kalhene Anya 4.0
Maitreya Lara 5.3
Base Cost of Mesh Body
Petite Breast Option
Included (all clothing in the package works with it)
Flat Chest Option
Included (all clothing in the package works with it)
Implant (Large) Breast Option
Included (all clothing in the package works with it)
Not included (not sure what the extra cost would be!)
Bento Handsand Nails
Included; Fingernails come in 36 colours and patterns, and 5 styles
Included; Fingernails come in 19 colours and 5 styles
3 feet heights controlled by HUD (flat, medium, and high)
5 feet heights controlled by HUD (flat, kitten, medium, high, and point)
Bento Mesh Head
Not Included (Catwa heads cost L$5,000)
Included (5 skin tones in regular and flat-chested versions)
Included (22 skin tones)
Bikini (12 colours), dress (8 colours), shirt (4 colours), leggings (4 colours), flat shoes (5 colours, 2 styles), high-heeled shoes (5 colours, 3 styles), plus black and white pantyhose/stockings and finger rings. All apparel fits flat. petite, regular, and implant breast versions of the Anya body.
Bra and Panties by Erratic (9 colours) and Zaara (black)
L$8,848 (not including the cost of a starter wardrobe)
Comparison Chart: Kalhene Anya versus Maitreya Lara with a Catwa head
Also, because the included skin tones that come the Maitreya Lara body and your choice of Catwa head will not match, you will also have to shell out for skin appliers from your favourite skin store (or a Bakes on Mesh skin, since both Maitreya and Catwa now support BoM). You could easily spend well over L$10,000 before you’re done with the Maitreya/Catwa combination, whereas you could take that extra money and put it towards apparel, footwear, hairstyles, and Bakes on Mesh skins, cosmetics and tattoos if you opt for the Kalhene Anya mesh body.
Here’s a look at the HUD that comes with version 3.0 of the Anya body. Note that unlike earlier versions, there are now three feet heights, controllable by the HUD (instead of separate mesh bodies): flat feet, mid-height feet, and high heel feet.
There’s a pretty complete set of alpha selections on the HUD, which compares quite favourably with those of the major mesh body brands, and of course you can also use the alphas that come with the clothing you buy. If you do need a set of alphas to use with clothing that does not come with them, you can pick up a free set from Little Black Dress at this SLURL (just click on the bag on the floor).
The separate clothing HUD allows you to change the colour and style of the included hairstyle (bangs/no bangs), as well as all of the included starter wardrobe items, including the metals and gemstones on the included set of rings, the ability to show or hide the rings on each finger, and the colour and style of two kinds of shoes, flat and high (including the flats shown here; other options include sandals and pumps). Black and white pantyhose and tights (in all three feet heights and four different transparency levels) are included in the package, too.
Here’s a look at a completely styled version of the Anya mesh avatar, showing you where on the body and clothing HUDs I made selections:
As you can see, you can create and style a complete avatar look using only the elements in the Anya package! However, I also wanted to show you how this body would look with a different head and skin (the Anya head and body are separate attachments, and of course you can mix and match them with other BoM-compatible heads and bodies as you wish).
Mesh Body: Anya version 3.0 from Kalhene (L$1,695; Kalhene has a a small store located opposite the N-Core Design footwear store (here’s the SLURL)
Skin: Brielle by Amara Beauty (a former free group gift; group is free to join)
Hair: Beyoncé hair by enVOGUE (a L$1 gift from a previous year’s Hair Fair)
Gown: Azahara ballgown in red by Scandalize (which I picked up using the recent group gift of L$400 store credit; the Scandalize group costs L$100 to join, but if you hurry, you can join for free and pick up a second L$400 store credit offer! I believe today is the final day you can join the Scandalize group for free.)
Jewelry: I pulled this old set from my inventory; they came from a store that has long since left the grid!
TOTAL COST OF THIS AVATAR LOOK: L$1,696 (L$1,695 for the Kalhene Anya mesh body when I purchased it, and L$1 for the hair; the rest was free!)
UPDATE March 31st, 2021: I wanted to report that Kalhene has now released version 4.0 of the Anya mesh body! If you bought an earlier version of the Anya body, you can get a redelivery at their in-world store here; just click the large REDELIVERY sign on the wall as shown here:
Among the new features in this latest release are:
a new mesh head (version 2), with a stronger jawline, more arched eyebrows and some soft changes on the nose and lips;
three new different breast positions via deformer animations in the HUD (which works for all breast sizes: petite, regular, and implants), to give a more natural look to the breasts;
a neck fix for LeLutka mesh heads; and
new body oil materials (for the mesh body Bakes on Mesh only).
I have now been using the Anya mesh body with dozens and dozens of outfits that were designed for the Maitreya Lara body, without any issues, except for two minor ones:
sometimes, on only a few very long-sleeved shirts, there is a problem with the wrist and hand area, where the hand pokes through the sleeve; and
with a few pairs of jeans or pants, the waist of the pants is a bit wider than the waist of the body (see image, right), a problem which does not occur on the Maitrey Lara mesh body.
However, these problems are so uncommon (I have encountered them only 4 or 5 times in well over a year of testing!), that I can recommend the Anya 3.0 mesh body without hesitation if you want a Maitreya Lara-compatible mesh body at a bargain price!
Note that the alpha sections HUD seen in the version 3.0 pictures earlier in this blogpost is still available; it’s in the box marked “BOXED -Kalhene- ANYA Mesh Body V4.0 (BoM + Alpha HUD)” in the version 4.0 package, which must be unpacked separately (the alpha sections HUD looks identical to the one pictured above). Please also note that you must use the bodies in that particular unpacked folder with the alpha sections HUD! For some strange reason, the alpha HUD didn’t work with the bodies from the main folder.
No one on earth could feel like this I’m thrown and overflown with bliss There must be an angel Playing with my heart
—There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart), by the Eurythmics
Time for another one of my patented 15-minute Second Life avatar makeovers! I hope that you enjoy these transformation as much as I do 🙂
This time, I have selected an alt which I have styled as a heavenly angel (her actual, Second Life legacy name is Prayerful Vigil, quite fitting!). Here is a before shot from 2018, a classic avatar with a system-layers-and-flexiprims outfit, outfitted with the free Bento wings and sword from the Marcus starter SL avatar:
Be patient: Freebies can come and go; freebie stores like The Free Dove and Ajuda SL Brasil rotate their freebies regularly, so it’s worthwhile to visit every couple of months, just to see what’s new. It can take some time to pull together a complete look from various components picked up as freebies at different times from different stores and events.
In this case, the complete look was pulled together by patiently picking up freebies at various times throughout the past two years. I also took full advantage of the then-free Kalhene Ariadna mesh body when it was avialable! The wings and hale were the final two bits I picked up in the past week (please see the style credits below the picture for details).
This avatar is wearing:
Mesh Head: the Strong Face Bento mesh head by The Genus Project (free group gift; group is free to join)
Mesh Body: the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body (I was lucky enough to pick up the free predecessor of the current Kalhene Anya mesh body, which is now for sale for L$1,695 here; this body is compatible with Maitreya Lara apparel and footwear, and includes a Bento mesh head, not used here)
Hair: I picked this Jessi hair in goth white up from Sn@tch as a free prize in a previous year’s Trick or Treat Lane hunt
Necklace: This was a free hunt prize by Dreaming Thicket, in the Spring 2019 edition of the Twisted Hunt (which had a colour theme of gold and white, perfect for this angel avatar!)
Gown: This was also a free hunt prize in the Spring 2019 Twisted Hunt, from Appliqué Chic
Shoes (not shown): Amy flats from Hilly Haalan (free group gift; group is free to join)
Wings: golden Icon angel wings from Blueberry (I was able to pick up the Gold Pack of these wings last weekend, using the L$500 in free store credit which was in the group notices, and taking advantage of their four-day 50% Off Sale; the Blueberry group costs only L$20 to join)
Halo: Aether halo by Cubic Cherry (free gift at the current Engine Room shopping event; the event group is free to join; the halo is resizable and I made it smaller)
Sword: from the free Marcus starter Second Life avatar
Particle Effects: This is the only thing I bought at full retail price! The Valkyrie particle aura is from Cole’s Corner: animated halo, hands, and body particles in either silver or gold! (L$300; more information here, including an animated GIF)
TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR LOOK: Only L$320! (L$20 to join the Blueberry group, and L$300 for the Valkyrie aura particle effects; if you need to purchase the Kalhene Anya mesh body, the cost is L$2,015)
UPDATE Sept. 30th, 2020: I just found the perfect finishing touch for this avatar! It’s a gold wing necklace, the free gift from the MINDS booth at the 5th anniversary round of the SanaRae shopping event (here’s the exact SLURL; it also comes in a silver version). It’s beautiful, and very fitting indeed for an angel!
“After” pictures taken at the Engine Room shopping event.
The head does come with a starter skin applier in three skin tones, but if you are looking for some more skin to use with that head, MILA is currently giving away two Bakes on Mesh skin tones of their Aggie skin, which is intended for Genus and LeLutka mesh heads:
So, I decided to visit their store (here’s the exact SLURL to their group gift wall; you will need to right-click on it and select Show Map, and follow the red arrow from the central spawn point). To pick up this free gift, you must first join the Mila Poses group, which is free to join.
Here is what the darker Aggie skin tone looks like on the free Strong Face head from The Genus Project:
This avatar is wearing:
Mesh Head: Strong Face gift Bento mesh head from The Genus Project (free group gift)
Hair: Aria by D!va Hair. Join the D!va store group for free and you can pick up this lovely Aria hairstyle from the panel right behind the front counter, which comes in a full fatpack of colours, plus a styling HUD.
Mesh Body, Nails, Rings, and Shoes: the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body, version 2.4. which I picked up for free at the time. Please note the Ariadna body is no longer available, but the L$1,695 Anya mesh body by Kalhene (which is frequently updated, and simply gets better and better with each new update!) is the successor to the original Ariadna freebie mesh body. Anya is available to buy at the Kalhene store, and is fully Maitreya Lara compatible; please see this blogpost for further information. I am mightily impressed with this body, and it is a great bargain!
Dress: the Lyna dress is a free group gift from Seniha (the group is free to join).
TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR LOOK: FREE! (L$1,695 if you have to buy the Anya mesh body).