UPDATED! The Biggest Problem with the New Senra Blake and Jamie Mesh Bodies in Second Life (and TWO WAYS to Fix It)

I have spent my weekend testing out the new Senra line of mesh starter bodies, Blake and Jamie, which were launched in beta last week. While I think that there is a lot to like about these bodies, my investigation has led me to the following conclusion: that these mesh bodies, while nice in many ways, have a big problem.

But first, I want to talk about what I do like. I really like fact that Linden Lab has, finally, created a mesh starter avatar system that gives new users an out-of-the-box, modern mesh body, with a generous, mix-and-match unisex capsule wardrobe to get them started.

For example, here is my oldest male avatar, Morden Winkler, hanging out at the bar, listening to the music at FogBound Blues. I used an old Belleza male skin called Ewan from my inventory, and if I may say so, he looks damn good for a completely free avatar (an important consideration because, unlike the many options for women, men have relatively few free/inexpensive mesh body choices in Second Life):

The Senra bodies and wardrobes I like; it’s the heads that are giving me conniption fits. Let me explain.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, after trying on innumerable older skins on both the Blake and Jamie bodies, that they all have this weirdness to the eyebrow and upper eyelid area, such that any SLUV skin (i.e., any skin based on the standard system avatar mapping) is simply not going to work with these heads. 🙁

Morden may look great in still pictures, but watch this 8-second video and see what happens to the eyebrows on this old Belleza skin when he blinks:

You see how his eyebrows get deeper when he blinks? This problem, as near as I can tell, happens with all SLUV skins. It means that the older skins that many of us have in our inventories will be absolutely useless on the Blake and Jamie heads, no matter how much fiddling we do with the eye and eyebrow sliders (and trust and believe, I tried everything!). It’s a problem with the underlying mesh of the Blake and Jamie heads. It’s incompatible with SLUV skins.

I shared this problem on the Second Life Community forums, and someone suggested I try a Bakes on Mesh eyebrow concealer from Izzie’s (exact SLURL; it’s also available on the SL Marketplace), for L$149. It comes in a variety of skin tones to match just about any skin, and they are tintable to match any skin.*

Picture showing the Izzie’s Eyebrow Concealer on an old Izzie’s skin, Bonita

Here’s two pictures showing another old female skin I had in my oldest female avatar’s inventory, the “photorealistic” Bella Snow skin from IC Skins (a store long since vanished from the grid and the Marketplace). The picture on the left is the skin as it looks on the Senra Jamie mesh head (where the eyebrows do move when the avatar blinks). The picture on the right is the same head and skin, using the Izzie’s eyebrow concealer and the Jamie brows, taken from the hair folder in the Senra Jamie package.

You can very clearly see just how much higher up the Jamie brows sit. There is a lot of real estate between the eye and eyebrow, which is fine if that is what you want. But I set the eyebrow height slider to its LOWEST level, and they are still sky-high compared to the regular brows! I’m sorry, but this is a deal-breaker for me.

At this point, it is very clear to me that entire eyebrow/upper eyelid area on the Blake AND the Jamie mesh heads is VERY different from the SLUV used on most older skins, and it is therefore unlikely that any will work with the Blake and Jamie heads!

I do consider this a MAJOR problem with the Blake and Jamie heads, and frankly, I’d rather just use one of the free LeLutka heads I picked up at previous Christmases than try to find an old SLUV skin in my inventory that will work with it. It’s extremely disappointing; I was so looking forward to being able to use all the old skins in my avatars’ inventories with these heads.

However, the Senra line of starter mesh avatars will provide an opportunity for creators to make new skins which will work with the Blake and Jamie bodies. But part of me is also hoping that Linden lab is taking the word “beta” seriously, and listening to the feedback from users like me, and are willing to make some changes to these starter mesh avatar heads so that they do work better with older SLUV skins.

Also, please keep in mind that this is an experienced SL user talking here (almost 17 years), and most SL newbies will not be aware of this issue, not have any older skins in their inventories, and be happy enough with the Jamie and Blake bodies as they are, until they decide to upgrade the head and/or body to another brand.

I guess we’ll see, won’t we?

*I did test out the Izzie’s Eyebrow Concealer on the older Belleza Ewan skin that Morden Winkler is wearing in the top photo, and unfortunately, it does not completely cover the bottom part of that bushy male eyebrow, so I cannot use it with that skin. It’s a shame, because I really liked it a lot, and wore it a lot, back in the old pre-mesh days.


UPDATE Aug. 15th, 2023: I was discussing my frustration with using SLUV skins with other SL users on the Second Life Community forums (in this thread), when Theresa Tennyson suggested:

Strip the blink script out of the head. Think of it—when was the last time you actually noticed someone blinking in real life? The blink animation in the head is unrealistically slow, and I’m not sure, it’s even possible to have a realistic instant blink by animating bones anyway.

And I went and tested this on both the Senra Blake and Jamie mesh heads, and it works! Both Senra mesh heads are modify/no transfer, so here is how you do it, step by step:

  1. Make a copy of the Jamie (or Blake) head first, by right -clicking on the head in your inventory, then selecting Copy from the drop-down menu.
  2. Then, click on or in the folder you want to place the modified head in, right-click again, and select Paste to save it.
  3. Find a place with rez rights, like a sandbox, and drag the head you wish to modify from your inventory onto the ground.
  4. Right-click on it, and select Edit.
  5. IMPORTANT! In the first tab, change the name of the head to indicate that it is non-blink, e.g. “Senra – Jamie Head NOBLINK”. Otherwise, you’ll never know which is which! 😉
  6. Then, click on the Contents tab in the Edit window, and delete the blinking script (there is only one, you can’t miss it).
  7. Close the Edit window and take your modified, no-blink head back into your inventory.

I have tested this, and it works well! The head no longer has that slow blinking motion which seems to deform the skin around the upper eyelid and brow, but the eyes still have natural, looking around movements (you can see all the eye movement animations in the same Contents tab as the script you just deleted).

Please note that this is a solution for older, SLUV-based skins to get them to work with the Senra Blake and Jamie mesh heads and bodies, and it should not be necessary for any skins created specifically for the Senra line. In fact, one quick-working creator, Alaskametro, has already released a line of female skins for Jamie, and an associated shape (SL Marketplace link) . The skins cost L$50 per skin tone, and the (modifiable) shape is only L$10 (I used it as my starting point in the pictures below, fiddling with the head and body sliders a bit until I got my desired look).

I found it very interesting that, even with a skin designed for Senra, and using the default body shape from Alaskametro, that the inner parts of the eyebrows still deformed, ever so slightly, when my avatar blinked. So I stripped the blinking animation out of a copy of the Senra Jamie mesh head, and used the non-blink version instead.

I’m quite happy with this avatar look, and after spending only L$60 grand total, I think she would blend in seamlessly in a bar or club, mingling with other avatars wearing much pricier, brand-name mesh bodies and heads!

So now you have two different solutions to the problem with the upper eyelid and eyebrow area on the Senra Jamie and Blake avatars! Personally, I am just going to go with deleting the blink script from these heads, since I do want to be able to use older SLUV skins from my avatars’ inventories with them, and that solution is cheaper (in fact, free!) than purchasing Izzie’s Eyebrow Concealer I mentioned up top, and using the brows that come with this body, supplied by Linden Lab.

UPDATED: Second Life Releases Senra, a Line of Mesh Starter Avatars for New Users

Have you read? Editorial: Why Second Life Is the Perfect Model of a Mature, Fully Evolved Virtual World for Newer Social VR Platforms to Emulate (in case you were wondering why I still write about Second Life when there are so many other, newer metaverse platforms out there I could cover).

I plan to return to regular blogging, on a wide variety of topics, soon, so please stay tuned! Thanks. ❤️

One of the biggest problems Second Life has had to face in its now 20-year history is a high level of user turnover. Literally millions of people have signed up for an SL account over the years, and then most of them bailed soon afterwards because of the relatively steep learning curve (or for other reasons, like the fact that the platform is open-ended, as opposed to a game with a pre-set play structure).

As avatar technology has evolved over time, most veteran Second Life users opted to upgrade their default classic, system avatars with mesh heads and bodies, sold by any number of vendors seeking to capitalize on the universal desire to look as good as possible in the virtual world!

However, making the move from one of the default, classic starter avatars to a mesh head and body can often be a daunting undertaking. Two years ago, I helped a friend, who had much experience in many social VR platforms, get set up from scratch in Second Life, writing:

I thought for sure that it would take no time at all to upgrade his avatar from the classic, system options to a fully-mesh version. How wrong I was. And the experience was a real eye-opener to me, and illustrates what is still one of the biggest problems in Second Life: setting up a mesh avatar is an exercise fraught with confusion and frustration, and it’s just too steep a learning curve for people (even metaverse experts!).

In fact, Wagner James Au of the New World Notes blog compares this process to “leveling up” in an MMO game, which I think is a rather apt analogy. You can take a look at another user’s Second Life avatar in-world, and tell at a glance if they had “leveled up” or not (the hands and feet were a big giveaway), even leading in some cases to a sort of snobby “meshist” attitude towards those still rocking more dated-looking bodies.


So, in an ongoing effort to make things easier for new users, Linden Lab has provided what we call starter avatars: you can make a quick selection from a menu (either while creating your account on the Second Life website, or later on when in-world), which gave newcomers a choice of a variety of curated looks and outfits, to help them get started in their first few days of wandering and teleporting around the grid and meeting new people.

And yesterday, on August 1st, 2023, Linden Lab announced a new line of fully-customizable mesh starter avatars, called Senra. (Note that this is not he first time Linden Lab has released mesh avatars; there was a failed attempt back in 2014.* It would appear that the company has learned a few lessons from that failure in this new launch, such as including a decent-sized capsule wardrobe for these new mesh avatars, and expressing a desire to work with fashion designers to create apparel.)

First, before you do anything, please watch this well-crafted, ten-minute YouTube video by Boston Blaisdale, part of the Second Life University series, explaining how the new Senra line of starter avatars works, and how to easily get started. Please note that the instructions are different for people setting up a brand new account from scratch, as opposed to those who have already set up an account!

The Senra line consists of two completely mesh bodies: the masculine Blake, and the feminine Jamie. Both bodies, from head to toe, use Bakes on Mesh (BoM), which gets rid of the need to use Omega or another kind of applier system. Both Blake and Jamie come with six different skin tones (with matching short fingernails and toenails), 11 different colours of eyebrows (including a tintable version; these are found in the hair folder), plus your choice of 10 different eye colours.

Each body comes with a complete capsule wardrobe, consisting of a variety of tops, bottoms, dresses, footwear, and hairstyles to choose from. All apparel comes in multiple colours and/or textures, and each item comes with an alpha for your avatar to wear, to hide any part of your mesh body which might poke through the clothing.

I started with the Senra Jamie female mesh body, and I picked a somewhat curvier shape from the six included female shapes as my starting point, picking out some canvas shoes, skinny jeans, and a Senra-branded white T-shirt:

Here’s a closeup of the face. This is a definitely an improvement over the old classic, system avatar head! (I would probably fiddle a bit with the eyebrows, but for something straight out of the box, it’s beautiful.)

Here’s a dressier look with a different hairstyle (there are nine of them in total, with hairbases and/or mesh hair in nine styles, 10 colours each):

There’s a (tintable) bikini/underwear top and bottom in the skins folder, as shown below (I gave up on the included female animation override, which had too many poses with arms raised, replacing it with a less model-like AO from my inventory):

The hands, feet, and head are particularly lovely, and the six starter shapes give you a number of starting points in customizing the body to your liking; I find this body adjusts well to the body sliders, although I must confess I wish I could get a bit more arm fat/muscle on Jamie! I could take this starter avatar to any beach in Second Life, and she would fit in very well amongst all the other store-brand mesh bodies catching some virtual rays and waves!

Now on to the Blake body. Here’s what he looks like:

The male skins are serviceable. but still a little too unblemished and “pretty” for my tastes (there are no facial hair options, a surprising omission). I was also unhappy with the rather soft look to the default male head and face shape, so I spent a lot of time fiddling with the sliders to make it look less rounded and more angular, with some success:

Again, this starter avatar would fit in well in a crowd of brand-name mesh bodies at any SL event.

Now for the fun part: all of these outfits, plus many more options not shown here, plus all the footwear and all the hairstyles, are unisex! Yes, even the dresses. So, for fun, I had my test avatars switch outfits:

These starter mesh bodies let you express your gender in any way you want—especially since you can play around with the body sliders on both the male and female bodies to get just about any look you can imagine! Here’s the same two Jamie and Blake bodies as pictured above, but with completely different shapes and animation overrides (it is possible to set the sliders on Jamie’s breasts down to zero):

Now, keep in mind that the target audience for the Senra line of mesh starter avatars is Second Life newbies who are just getting started, not those of us who are more experienced users. Jamie and Blake are bodies intended to make new user set-up as painless as possible, while still giving them a modern, fully customizable mesh body with a capsule wardrobe. It is expected that most new users will eventually want to move on from Senra mesh bodies to other brands of mesh bodies on the marketplace, with much better feature sets and even more options. As an example, there are no HUDs that come with these bodies, like most name-brand ones have.

Also, all the footwear options for both Jamie and Blake are for flat feet. NO HIGH HEELS! If you want that right out of the gate, then Senra is not for you. Likewise, there are no facial hair options or tattoo options in the starter package. The starter AOs, particularly the feminine one for Jamie, are just okay, but nothing special. Again, please remember, these are intended for new users.

According to the official announcement from Linden Lab:

We’re excited to announce the launch of our new Starter Avatars! These avatars, called Senra, are a fresh mesh take on the classic Second Life avatar, with a customizable modern and stylish look. These avatars will give new residents the opportunity to get started with a mesh body and personalize their own unique look the very first time they log in to Second Life and get a taste for the endless possibilities of avatar customization available to SL Residents.

The Senra avatars come with a variety of body shapes, skins, and hair styles. We’ve also created a whole new wardrobe of clothes that are specifically designed for these avatars. There are more than a billion possible combinations, so you’re sure to find the perfect look.  The Senra avatars and clothing have been designed so that any avatar looks great with any clothing. Mix and match to your heart’s content!

We’re also pleased to announce that we’ll be providing dev kits for creators to make their own clothes for the Senra avatars. That way new and established residents alike will have plenty of ways to express themselves and create amazing new looks for the Senra avatars. 

If you’re new to Second Life, or if you’re just ready for a new look, we encourage you to check out the new Senra Avatars. We think you’ll love them!

As I said up top, I think that Linden Lab has learned from their previous mistakes in releasing a set of failed mesh starter avatars several years ago, and it looks as though they have put a lot more thought and effort into launching these new starter avatars, and creating an ecosystem so that content creators can make skins, clothing, shoes, etc. for them.

Best of all, they’re free! So try them out, and let me know what you think about them.

P.S. I forgot to mention that I have not yet had an opportunity to test out mixing and matching Senra heads and bodies with other brands of mesh heads, mesh bodies, skins, makeup, etc. My friend Dreamer Pixelmaid did report that she was able to pair a Lelutka head successfully with the Senra Jamie body, however, so it sounds promising! Here’s a picture she shared with me (see image, right):


*A little bit of SL history: the 2014 mesh starter avatars which Linden Lab launched were so bad, that many new resident welcome areas warned newbies not to use them! One glaring flaw was that you were pretty much stuck with the clothing they came with, as nobody else made anything that would fit these bodies! They died a slow, lingering death, and were eventually quietly dropped completely by Second Life, to live on in horror stories told by oldbies to newbies while roasting prim marshmallows around the pixel campfire 😉

The ill-fated mesh starter avatars Linden Lab launched in 2014 (Be afraid…BE. VERY. AFRAID! I still have nightmares about the blonde woman in the blue dress!) Hopefully, Linden Lab has learned a few lessons this time around, to avoid having the new Senra mesh avatars meet the same fate as their doomed predecessors.

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: In their official announcement, Linden Lab refers to the Senra mesh bodies as “beta,” which I assume means that there will probably still be some tweaks and adjustments made in response to user feedback. There has been much discussion about Senra on the Second Life community forums already, including a growing thread of images.

Speaking of images, Dreamer Pixelmaid has started a brand-new Flickr gallery for people to post pictures of avatars wearing the Senra Blake and Jamie bodies. You can visit it here.

UPDATE Aug. 4th, 2023: I have spent the evening playing around with some of the older skins in the inventory of my oldest male alt, and I gotta tellya, some of those old male Belleza skins look really good on the Senra Blake body! Here’ s one avatar look I was quite happy with, using the Belleza Ewan 0 tan skin with a black hairbase and some free hair I picked up years ago (click to see these images in full size):

There are only two problems: one, the fingertips will be a different colour (see image one below), so you will definitely need to use something like Sweet’s free tintable Quick Nail Cover Fix on the SL Marketplace (see image two below).

And the second problem? When he blinks, the eyebrows get slightly deeper, LOL! Something you can’t tell from my still photos… 😉 but overall, I am very happy with this final result!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The LeLutka Holiday Special, Running Dec. 20th to 30th, 2022!

Once again this year, the popular Bento head creator LeLutka has teamed up with over 50 other Second Life stores to offer you a bounty of Christmas gifts! This year, the Holiday Special runs from December 20th to 30th, 2022. However, please note that last year, all the freebies were unavailable on the final day listed on the poster advertising the event, so I strongly recommend that you do NOT wait until Dec. 30th to pick up these wonderful presents for your avatar!

Here’s a list of stores participating in the LeLutka Holiday Special. Click on the store name in the list to teleport to the store, and look for a sign saying “54 Designers”, or the Holiday Special Christmas ornaments logo shown in the picture above.

Yesterday evening, I visited all 54 stores, and I have written up a notecard with a description of each gift, along with an exact SLURL for the location of the gift in the participating store. Please note that in some cases, a sim will have a forced central spawn point, but just save the SLURL from the notecard to your SL inventory, find it in your Landmarks folder and right click on it, then select “Show on Map” from the menu which appears (see image, right). Then, all you have to do is follow the red arrow to find your present!

I also added a few notes to alert you to things like which stores do not need a group join to pick up the gift, and which stores also have other (previous) group gifts which you might want to snap up once you have joined the store group for free. For example, you can pick up the Avi-Glam presents (a nice unisex fatpack of eyes and a male skin) without a group, but did you know that if you join the Avi-Glam group for free, you can pick up eleven free group gifts?

Oh, and did I mention? ALL the stores participating in the LeLutka Holiday Special have removed their usual group join fees (if they had any). Yes, that’s right, you can join all of these groups for absolutely FREE between December 20th and 30th! So, for example, if you join Ives Beauty now, the group join is free, you can pick up the Holiday Special gift plus all the other group gifts of skins and makeup, and after the promotion ends, THEN STAY IN THE GROUP, because it will cost you L$99 to rejoin it later if there are other group gifts announced by Ives Beauty during 2023. This is the time of year to join many of those store groups which you’ve had your eye on, but couldn’t afford to join!

PRO TIP: Did you know that you can turn off the crowd of avatars around you, so all you can see on screen is you and your friends? Just select “Show Friends Only” from the World menu in the Firestorm viewer (see image, left). Poof!! They’re gone! I do this all the time, rather than have my computer get bogged down trying to render all the surrounding avatars at busy shopping events and sales in Second Life.

Anyway, getting back to the list I compiled yesterday… I am doing something a little different from what I usually do (I hope that you will indulge me!).

I went and posted that detailed list of stores, notes, and SLURLs to my own Second Life group, called the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies group (just search for “ryanschultz”, all one word, under Groups in Search, and you will find it easily). More information on the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies group can be found here. The group join fee is only L$50, and you will find it money well spent, as I often share many bargains and freebies throughout the year, which never make it to this blog!


Now let’s take a look at some of these generous gifts! The gifts from LeLutka and its sister skin store, LeLapeau, are available from one of four sims (please join the LeLutka group for free, and check the group notices for notecards with all the details). The gifts you can pick up here are:

  • the LeLutka Raven female head (version 3.1)
  • the LeLutka Quinn male head (version 3.1)
  • the LeLapeau Elsa women’s skin fatpack

Below, my SL supermodel, Moesha Heartsong, models the Raven LeLutka head, plus three of the Holiday Special gifts from other participating stores (please click on each image to see it in full size):

  • the Lacey head skin from Koonz, which comes in a full fatpack of skin tones which match Velour body skin (I chose Amber for these pictures);
  • the Venus muscular limited-edition body skin by Velour, also in Amber (which comes in both Meshbody Legacy and eBody Reborn versions; the Legacy version had some problems in the toes area on Moesha’s Maitreya Lara mesh body, but the Reborn version worked perfectly!);
  • the Gift hairstyle by Studio Exposure, which consists of a complete fatpack of hairbases, combined with a bun adorned with a large bow, which comes with a colour-change HUD.

And here, one of my male alts (who has the actual, honest-to-God, Second Life legacy name of That Guy 😉 ), is wearing the LeLutka Quinn head, plus two more Holiday Special gifts: the Andrej face skin and shape by Clef de Peau, and the Christian hairbase from Volkstone. (The body skin That Guy is wearing was a gift from last year’s LeLutka holiday event, the Eros Lite soft fit skin in the Moon skin tone, and I picked a version of the Andrej skin in the same Moon skin tone. Unfortunately, there is no male skin gift from Velour this year!) Again, please click on each image to view it in a larger size.

The final look is Lily Pond (yep, that’s her legacy name, too), who is modeling the LeLutka Raven head, plus the following :

  • The Raven shape from Holloway Beauty for the Raven LeLutka head and the Meshbody Legacy body (I used this shape as my starting point, tweaking the body sliders quite a bit, but the head shape is pretty much still the original from the Holloway Raven shape, I just made the eyes a little bigger);
  • the Raven head skin from Amara Beauty in the Chantilly skin tone (I used the matching Ipanema body skin from Velour, which was last year‘s LeLutka holiday event gift);
  • the beautiful Noel eyes from Amara Beauty (they come in a full fatpack);
  • the Christmas hairbase by Not Found, which goes with this long, long ponytail from Doux! Both are fatpacks, coming a variety of colours. You can pick up each part separately from the L’Etre/Doux and Not Found stores during the LeLutka Holiday Special event.

Please click on each picture int his gallery to see it in full size:

Happy holiday freebie shopping!