UPDATED! Another Fifteen-Minute Second Life Avatar Makeover: You Must Be an Angel

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:

And here is the after shot. This avatar is a perfect example of one of Ryan’s top ten tips for freebie hunting:

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)
  • Bakes on Mesh Skin: White Queen skin gift by A&A (free on the SL Marketplace)
  • 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.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Beautiful Free Ballgowns!

I just stumbled across a fabulous fashion freebie for female avatars, and I decided to use it as an excuse to write up an entire blogpost about all the places in Second Life you can pick up a full-length mesh ballgown, for free! Clip and save for when you need something for a formal, black-tie event (or even if you just feel like swanning around SL in a full-blown battleship ballgown; hey, it’s your Second Life, express yourself any way you want!)

The freebie is from the newly-rebranded store, Dead Doll (formerly known as Dead Dollz), which has set up in a brand new location and is offering a gift to celebrate. If you join the SeraphimSL.com group for free and click the panel shown below, you can pick up the simple, elegant Etta strapless gown for free:

The Etta gown comes in a fatpack of sixteen colours as shown. Here, Vanity Fair models it with a black lace bolero from United Colors (not free; I purchased the fatpack of this bolero, waiting for the perfect gown to pair it with). Sheer perfection!

Another place where you can pick up some free gowns is the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil. Up on the third floor is a large display by VIPs Creations, where in the top row of panels are three different styles of full-length gowns:

This lovely strapless gown with a subtle pattern is by VIPs Creations, and comes in four colours as shown, and even includes the shoes:

Another place to pick up a simple, classic ballgown is the generous freebie store at Hilly Haalan, where you can find this Nadia gown in fifteen colours (you will need to join the Hilly Haalan store group for free to pick up all the freebies here).

While some gowns are the right length for high heels, the Nadia gown works best with flats. Fortunately, at Hilly Haalan you can also pick up a free set of Amy flats which come in a variety of colours to match this ballgown perfectly!

Another little-known spot where you can pick up ballgowns in orange, red, and blue is !Soul, a store which has set up shop in a skybox high above the newbie orientation centre called New Resident Island (here’s the exact SLURL). If you join the !Soul group for free, you can pick up dozens of free gifts of women’s clothing, hair, footwear, and system/Bakes on Mesh skins. Everything in the store is free!

The apparel at !Soul comes in standard sizes, but ballgowns are the kind of clothing that you can easily alpha out your pelvic area and legs anyway, so they will always fit! (You might have to adjust your bust size slightly, though.)

Here is the blue ballgown from !Soul, with the optional fur stole. Looking elegant for zero Linden dollars!

Of course, you can sometimes pick up free ballgowns at the entrances to many of the finer dance establishments in Second Life, such as this gown from the newly-reopened Frank’s Jazz Club (which appears to have started up again just to try and wrench business away from the upstart Frank’s (more information here):

And, of course, there are several beautiful ballgowns to be had at The Free Dove (remember that you have to join The Free Dove group for free in order to get these freebies). Palomma Casanova, the owner of The Free Dove, has reorganized her venerable freebie store by designer, so you will have to wander around a bit to find all the ballgowns. However, there is still a small women’s formalwear section near the back entrance (SLURL):

Nearby is a display by Lurve, which features two very different gowns:

And close by, the Tiffany Designs display at The Free Dove has a couple of lovely full-length ballgowns, perfect for your next swanky soirée:

In fact, you can also pick up a couple of free ballgowns at Tiffany’s main store location (one is mesh and the other is an applier gown; no group is needed):

Take a look at the shimmering, daringly low-cut Nia ballgown in champagne, one of the free gown gifts at Tiffany Designs!

So there you have it—elegance on (less than) a dime!

Remember that the Etta ballgown fatpack gift at Dead Doll is likely a time-limited offer, and that Palomma Casanova frequently rotates the stock at The Free Dove, so please don’t delay picking up these gowns and stashing them in your inventory for your next major event. Happy freebie shopping!

UPDATED! Taking a Second Look at the Viva Full-Mesh Avatar: Why the Mesh Head and Body Wars Are Just Getting Started in Second Life

A month ago, I first wrote about the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3), available for free on the SL Marketplace. After playing around with the Kalhene Ariadna full-body mesh avatar, and documenting its strengths and weaknesses (notably, a lack of alpha sections on the HUD and support for clothing alphas), I came back to the Viva mesh body with a renewed appreciation for all the work the creator had put into it. The HUD truly is amazing, allowing you to combine both alpha sections and clothing alphas to make just about any outfit fit!

For example, here is one of my alts, who wears an Akeruka Lulu Bento mesh head (one of their early group gifts), which I have grown attached to and wanted to keep. I originally wore it with a classic, SL system body; Akeruka had provided system skins to match the entire range of the Lulu head’s available skin tones. And for a long time I was happy with that.

But today, I decided to upgrade this avatar to a full mesh body, and while I was thinking about how best to do that for an inexpensively as possible, I remembered the free Viva Bento, Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh body and decided to try that again. (I wasn’t too crazy about the head that came included with the Viva mesh body, but that is a separate attachment, and you can use literally any head with it.)

Here is what she looks like now:

The only problem I encountered was that the system skins that came with the Akeruka Lulu head were older, and as a result there were white spots at the nail bases of the mesh fingers. To fix this, I used the free set of Bakes on Mesh feet and finger fixes available at League (exact SLURL):

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Lulu by Akeruka (L$1 group gift, no longer available; the Akeruka group costs L$150 to join).

Mesh Body: the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3) from the SL Marketplace.

Skin: I used one of the system skins that came with the Lulu head in a matching skin tone, adding the League Bakes on Mesh finger fix in the pale colour, which was the closest match.

Hair: Chella by Analog Dog (I picked this hairstyle with scarf as a free gift at previous gacha event)

Necklace: Metamorpheses Temple Necklace (a gift from the 2019 BURN2 celebration of Burning Man in Second Life)

Top: Cream embroidered peasant blouse by Petite Mort (this is one of my favourite freebies, available from the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil).

Jeans: Skinny jeans from Mara’s Mysteries (a free hunt gift, no longer available).

Flats: Amy flats by Hilly Haalan (free group gift from their freebie store; the group is free to join; I found that the Viva mesh body’s flat feet are compatible with both Maitreya and Belleza flat shoes, but the Belleza ones fit a bit better so I used those)

Bag: Boho Bliss fringe bag (with hold pose) from a previous Witchwood hunt (Witchwood is the sim where the Petite Mort and Oubliette stores are located, and they regularly hold small hunts; I believe I paid only L$10 for this delightful bag!)

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$161! (L$150 to join the Akeruka group, L$1 for the Lulu Bento mesh head, and L$10 for the bag)


I am very pleased with the result of this makeover! After my experiences working with both the Viva and the Ariadna mesh bodies, I can say this: with the advent of competition from free or inexpensive Bakes-on-Mesh compatible, Bento bodies, we are getting closer and closer to the time when stores charging (and users paying) thousands of Linden dollars for a mesh head and/or body is going to become harder and harder to justify. Yes, I know it’s a bold statement; hear me out.

The Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies are just the first shots fired in a war for marketshare between the established, big-name brands (Catwa, LeLutka, Maitreya, Belleza, Signature, Slink, etc.) and the smaller, nimbler upstarts. For now, the big-name brands have better designer support and offer more options, but, as we see with the fully-featured HUD that the Viva mesh body offers, that gap is starting to narrow!

I’d strongly encourage you to take a look at the Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies on the SL Marketplace, and give them both a test run. Although they are not perfect, they do give an indication of the direction the market is moving. The days of paying L$10,000 or more for a full-body mesh avatar may be numbered!

UPDATE June 11th, 2020: The Kalhene Ariadna mesh body has just updated to version 2.0, with alpha layer support (SL Marketplace link). It now has a HUD with alpha cuts and skin shininess levels, addressing some of my most serious concerns about the product.

In these final two pictures, I have combined the beautiful head from the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body with the Viva mesh body, using one of the Bakes on Mesh skins that came with the recent Limited Advanced head group gift from Akeruka:

Looking fabulous for zero Lindens! The Viva mesh body offers many more features on their included superHUD (such as a better selection of alpha sections to choose from, five different fingernail lengths, and three foot height options), which the Kalhene Ariadna body does not have. Here I just picked the shortest nails, in a natural nail colour, to go with this makeup-free look.

One particularly nice feature is the option to alpha out the wrists but not the hands, as I did for this long-sleeved minidress (a gift from Little Fox at the recent Cosmopolitan shopping event anniversary round). Surprisingly few HUDs that come with mesh bodies allow this—even the expensive brand names!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Limited Akeruka Bakes on Mesh Bento Mesh Head

Akeruka posted the following message to their group, called [AK] Heads News & Support:

Hi ladies, since we all are in this incredible hard time because of coronavirus, we thought about giving to you all ladies a bit of happiness doing this amazing GROUP GIFT; [it] is a LIMITED head, this head will NEVER be sold after it.

We don’t know until how much time it will be as gift, we will just wait [for] the things to get better in our life.

Guys, I know you want a gift as well but we are still working on [a] beta male Advanced head. Soon more news for you guys!!!

If you are not already a member of the [AK] Heads News & Support group, it will cost you L$150 to join it. Then visit the Akeruka store (here’s the SLURL) and click on either the big poster up top, or the three smaller ones underneath it. Pay the vendor L$1, and you will receive the Akeruka Limited head package.

As you can imagine, the store is quite busy, and it might take you a little while to be able to teleport in. In a second message to the group, the owner of Akeruka added:

Ladies, the gift will stay DAYS so [you] don’t need to rush, and do not click multiple times on vendor, it will not make difference, [the] vendor is processing all deliveries, so [you] need to be patient!!

So, if you can’t get into the packed sim, use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer, or be patient and wait a few days. But please, don’t wait forever!

Also, and this is a very important point: Limited is the name of the head, but this does NOT mean this is a head with limited features. This head is Bento and fully-adjustable. The package comes with many extras and nice additions.

Instead, Limited only refers to the fact that this is a limited-time offer, and after it is over, this head will no longer be available for purchase, unlike the past group gifts of Akeruka Bento heads, which would then be placed for sale at the regular price. Once this head is gone, it’s gone.

One more very important thing about the Limited head is that it is 100% Bales on Mesh. There are no skin appliers for this head, unlike previous group gifts; there’s just a folder of system skins in eight skin tones (in versions with and without eyebrows), and a folder of tintable eyebrow, blush, and hair base tattoos.

The Akeruka skin tones have quite a range. Here is the darkest skin tone of the eight (the eyes are mesh, they are included in the package and their colour can be changed on the HUD):

And here is the lightest, which would work well for goth girls and vampires! The alien version of the eyes is also included as an option in the Limited head HUD. Included in the Limited head package is a separate teeth HUD, which gives you the options of monster or vampire teeth—a nice touch, and something to keep in mind if you do vampire roleplay in Second Life.

I must confess that I spent a quarter of an hour tearing my hear out, trying to pull a look together using this new Limited head! No matter what I did, the Limited head remained a stubborn red colour. I was obviously doing something wrong, but what?

You see, I had paired it with the Altamura Juliet mesh body I had picked up as a group gift on Valentine’s Day in 2019, adding the Altamura Omega system kit (available for L$99 at this exact SLURL) to it, so that I could apply matching body skin. (The Limited head package contains a separate box to unpack, which contains body skin appliers in all eight Akeruka skin tones for Maitreya, Belleza, Slink, and Omega-compatible mesh bodies, so you should be all set to go without having to purchase anything else, something I have always liked about the Akeruka group gifts. Other stores sometimes offer a free head, but then you have to shell out for matching body skin.)

What I did wrong was, without thinking, I automatically added the default body-and-head alpha from the Altamura Juliet package like I usually do in setting up a new head and body from scratch, completely forgetting that you need to remove all alphas for Bakes on Mesh to work! Once I took off the Altamura body-and-head alpha, and put on a body-only alpha which was part of a freebie version of the eBody Curvy mesh body which I had in my inventory, I was then able to see the skin properly on the Limited head. It just took me a while to figure out.

So, let’s take a look at our finished avatar!

This avatar is wearing:

  • Mesh Head: Limited head (L$1 group gift from Akeruka; it costs L$150 to join their group)
  • Mesh Body: Juliet by Altamura (a limited-time group gift from Valentine’s Day 2019; 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 at the full price)
  • Head and Body Skin: Akeruka skin tone 4 (part of the Limited head package; I bought an Omega System kit for Altamura for L$99 and used the matching Omega body skin applier that was also part of the Limited head package)
  • Hair: Iris by D!va (free group gift located on the other side of the wall behind the front counter; the group is free to join)
  • Dress: Kattie by Arcane Spellcaster (purchased using a free group gift card last year; at that time the group was free to join)
  • Shoes: Sonnet pumps by Hilly Haalan (free group gift; group is free to join)
  • Animation Override: Chubby Girl AO by [ImpEle] (unfortunately, this free product is no longer on the SL Marketplace). This is a nice, simple, calm, free AO with no crazy movements. The Limited head includes a complete facial animation HUD in the package. The Altamura Juliet mesh body comes with natural Bento hand animations built in.

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: L$300 (L$151 for the Akeruka head, L$50 for the Altamura group fee at the time I joined it, and L$99 for the Altamura Omega system kit)