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)

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UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Freya Unisex Bento Mesh Head from Catwa!

Shots fired!

Well, Catwa has officially entered the thick of the battle of what in what I used to call the Bento Head Wars, but which I am now officially dubbing The Great Bento War of 2020. Never can I remember a time in Second Life when so many great Bento mesh heads and bodies are being made available for free or next to free!

Catwa has just released a free group gift of a Bento mesh head, called Freya! Please note that despite the name, this Bento mesh head is intended to be unisex, usable for all genders of avatars. Like all Bento mesh heads, you should be able to use the sliders to get as masculine or feminine (or non-binary gendered) a look as you desire.

To pick up this group gift, you must join either the Catwa store group (^;^CaTwA^;^) or the CATWA HEAD Friends group. Both groups are free to join.

To pick up your free group gift, you then must teleport over to the Catwa store, and click on the black circle with the name of the corresponding group:

Once you unpack it, here is what you receive:

The Freya head comes with two recommended starter shapes (“boy” male, or female) an eyebrow shaper, some talking animations, a face light, and three HUDs: a master HUD, an animations HUD, and an eyes HUD (the package comes with rigged mesh eyes).

The “BOM Skin A Makeup Alpha Pack”, when unpacked, contains a complete set of alphas in various combinations (head, eyes, body, full avatar), plus a huge set of Bakes-on-Mesh blush, brows, eyeliner, freckles, hairbases, lipstick, and neck and ear tattoos. The folder includes a complete set of Bakes-on-Mesh skins from TheSkinnery (in a range of eleven skin tones, with and without eyebrows) and a couple of skins from Deetalez (again, with and without brows).

Note that there are no male skins included in this package; if you want a male look, you’ll have to go do a little shopping around! However, if you want a female avatar, you should be able to use these included skins with any Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh body (such as the still-available dollarbie Classic body from Meshbody) to get a good look without having to buy anything else!

The “HD Lips Pack Freya” package includes high-definition lips and a lips HUD.

Here is what the Freya head looks like straight out of the box, with the included default female body shape and eyebrow shaper, default skin and eyes:

After applying my favourite Daria skin applier for Catwa heads from TheSkinnery, and adding the HUDs, here’s what we’ve got:

The HUDs on the Freya are the full-blown versions you would expect to find on the full-price Catwa heads. The eyes HUD gives you twelve different colours (here, I picked one of the brown ones). The Catwa HUDs are quite complicated, with many features, and I would strongly urge anybody who is new to them to read through the comprehensive user documentation available on their official Catwa website. There’s even a “crash course” video on Catwa Bento mesh heads by former mesh body über-blogger Strawberry Singh, now better known as Strawberry Linden since she got hired by Linden Lab!

According to the group notice that was sent out, this is a limited-time offer, so I would try to get down to the Catwa store as soon as possible! Here are the SLURLs provided in the original group notice:

As you might expect, the Catwa sims are absolutely jam-packed with avatars picking up the Freya head, so I would advise you to either wait a while for the crowds to die down a bit, or use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer to fight your way in. (Also remember that Premium accounts get priority access to sims that are full.) Good luck!

P.S. I forgot to mention that, if you are looking for some free skin appliers to use with the Freya head, there are currently generous group gifts available at both Amara Beauty and at Essences for skin appliers for Catwa Bento mesh heads. Happy freebie shopping!


IMPORTANT UPDATE May 4th, 2020: Due to extremely high demand, the Catwa store has sent out the following announcement:

CATWA GIFT UNISEX HEAD Freya
[LIMITED OFFER 3rd to 24th MAY 2020]
The gift is is NO LONGER at CATWA mainstore!
Activate any of the CATWA groups before going.
Detach meshes so you can rez quicker.
Please give chance to other by leaving the sim after getting the gift.
Gift locations:

1. Sensual Romance
2. NoYourOtherLeft
3. LV Designs

Also, I spent some time playing around with the Freya head and the dollarbie Classic mesh body from Meshbody. I found that, once I was able to match the included skin tones between the Catwa Freya head and the Classic mesh body as best I could, I was able to use the included neckfades in the Classic Meshbody package to achieve some pleasing results without any noticeable neck seam (and there are clear, step-by-step instructions on how to apply the Classic neckfades to Catwa heads).

She is looking fabulous at Frank’s Jazz Club tonight! This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Freya Bento mesh head by Catwa (free group gift; group is free to join)

Lipstick: HD Lips Pack Freya (included in the Catwa Freya head package)

Mesh Body: Classic mesh body by Meshbody (dollarbie group gift; group is free to join; more information here)

Hair: Gigi hair by Yomi (free group gift; group is free to join)

Dress: Kay dress in blue and gold by Tiffany Designs (free gift at The Free Dove; you must join The Free Dove group for free to pick up gifts there)

Shoes: Scarlett shoes in gold by Nala Design (free gift at the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil; the shoes are meant for Slink feet and I had to adjust them a bit to fit the Classic feet on this avatar, but they worked)

Animation Override: Lessie AO by GoldSquare (free group gift; group is free to join). The ankle lock, an essential add-on, is a free gift from Baby Monkey (just grab the blue bag at the reception desk).

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$1! (for the Classic Meshbody)


UPDATE May 6th, 2020: I have been tinkering around with the Freya gift head over the past couple of days, and I must say that I am impressed at just how versatile this head is! Here’s a couple of completely different looks I put together.

This princess look consists of the Freya head paired with a Maitreya Lara body, using the starter female eyebrow shaper and female shape that came with the Freya package, and the Madelyn skin applier in olive from Amara Beauty (a free gift!):

And this completely androgynous drag queen look uses the Freya head with the Altamura Romeo mesh body, with the high-definition Freya lips and some makeup from Dotty’s Secret! The male eyebrow shaper and male shape for the Freya head were a free, full-perms gift from the NoYourOtherLeft gift pickup spot listed above (just look for a large box opposite the row of kiosks).

And finally, here is a male avatar I created using the free Freya head with the dollarbie Classic male body from Meshbody. I used the same male eyebrow shaper and male shape for the Freya head from NoYourOtherLeft as my starting point, only making the jaw a little more square, and using one of the Bakes on Mesh male skins from Digital Nude Art (DNA) that I picked up here (a store which, unfortunately, appears to have now closed):

So, as you can see, you can pretty much take this free gift head and go in any creative direction you want with it! Be sure to pick up the Freya gift head before this offer expires in May 24th, 2020. In addition to the three pickup spots I listed above, you can now also buy the Freya gift head, for free, from the SL Marketplace!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Pale Beauty

I am in a resolutely foul and cranky mood this evening, for two reasons.

First, I realize that I have spent EIGHTY CANADIAN DOLLARS to change the name of one of my Second Life avatars, which, even for someone who loves SL as much as I do, is an filthy, obscene amount of money; and…

Second, I am still struggling with bouts of anxiety, depression and anger at having to self-isolate in my apartment because of the coronavirus pandemic. I started working from home March 16th, 2020, and I feel as if I am slowly starting to fall apart at the seams, and it hasn’t even been ONE FULL MONTH YET. And today Helen Branswell reports for STAT:

A modeling study on the new coronavirus  warns that intermittent periods of social distancing may need to persist into 2022 in the United States to keep the surge of people severely sickened by Covid-19 from overwhelming the health care system.

The research, published Tuesday in the journal Science, looked at a range of scenarios for how the SARS-CoV-2 virus will spread over the next five years. Those scenarios included variables like whether people who are infected develop short-term immunity — less than a year — or longer-term protection. But, overall, the research concludes it is unlikely that life will return any time soon to the way it was before the virus’ emergence.

2022? 2022?!??

And, just to add insult to injury, I have developed an ugly, painful reddish-brown rash on the backs of my thighs from spending 16-to-18 hour days perched in front of my personal computer, sitting on one of my wooden kitchen chairs, and it has has just made me even more cranky, upset and ill-tempered. (I plan to drive out to my office in the science library tomorrow, to pick up my lushly upholstered and much-missed executive office chair, praying to God that I can fit it into the back of my subcompact car, so I can bring it home.)

As a virtual hermit who largely lives his life on the internet, all of a sudden I can no longer sit for long periods in front of my computer! (So much for my admittedly unhealthy coping mechanism.) In between sessions on my PC, I lie on the sofa, with my legs propped up, rubbing a corticosteroid cream originally prescribed for my eczema on my thighs, seething.

So, no, I am NOT a happy camper today. I am not a happy camper at all.

However, I still take some small amount of pleasure from my weird little hobby of designing a complete Second Life avatar look from head to toe. So tonight, I have plunked down an avatar at the side of the (New) Frank’s Jazz Club, listening to the music stream as I lie on the sofa:

Here’s a few more shots of my avatar from the front:

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: The Limited Edition Bento head from Akeruka (L$1 group gift; the Akeruka group costs L$150 to join, and I would strongly urge you to pick up this Bakes on Mesh head before it’s gone, which comes in eight different skin tones and with matching skin appliers for Maitreya, Belleza, Slink, and Omega-compatible mesh bodies included). The beautiful mesh eyes are also included in the package.

Mesh Body: Juliet by Altamura (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 at the full price). In order to use the Serenity II skin below, I needed to buy and install the Omega system kit for Altamura (available for L$99 at this exact SLURL), as well as use the free Bakes on Mesh relay available at the Altamura store.

Skin: This beautiful pale Serenity II skin with blonde eyebrows is a Bakes on Mesh skin by Alaskametro (available for free from The Free Dove freebie store). This was my inspiration to get creative tonight!

Hair: This elegant updo is called NO.KEY and is by NO.MATCH (it was a freebie during a short period of time last year when the store was giving away a free gift each day).

Dress: This truly lovely retro Celebrate Spring! dress in opal is by steampunk/historical roleplay outfitter Cog & Fleur, and it was a free hunt prize in their recently-concluded Good Eggs hunt.

Shoes: Jai pumps by Rowne (free group gift; unfortunately, the Rowne store seems to have disappeared from the grid).

Necklace: This is an oldie but a goodie: the Glazed Heart necklace from Eolande’s (remember them? they have long since closed up shop).

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: L$300 (L$151 total for the Akeruka head, L$50 to join the Altamura group to get the Juliet body, and L$99 for the Altamura Omega system kit)

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: There Have Been Major Changes at the Free Dove!

I discovered today (while visiting The Free Dove looking for outfits and shoes to wear on the latest freebie version of the eBody Classic mesh avatar body) that the proprietor, Palomma Casanova, has made some significant changes to the layout of the venerable Second Life freebie store!

Here is a quick summary of the changes:

  • Almost all of the old freebies have been replaced with brand new items! And all the new items are modern, mesh clothing and footwear (there are no system-layers-and-flexiprims outfits to be found, with the exception of one ballgown I did find);
  • Instead of grouping items strictly by category (menswear, womenswear, jewelry, etc.), there are now many smaller tables with freebies from a single store/brand, both men’s and women’s items shown together;
  • The number of men’s freebies has increased, but you will now have to wander throughout the whole freebie store to find them all;
  • There appears to be slightly fewer free jewelry gifts than before, and definitely fewer freebie hairstyle options to choose from (but it’s still the single best collection of free hair at any SL freebie store on the grid);
  • And the lag is still absolutely terrible 😉 …so be forewarned!

For example, here is one table of free items by KingBal, both men’s and women’s freebies (including a very nice pair of hiking boots in sizes to fit various men’s mesh bodies):

This display of women’s freebies by AvaGirl includes clothes, shoes, and jewelry:

Vanity Fair paid a visit today, and here are just a couple of the outfits she was able to put together:

This schoolgirl outfit consists of three separate pieces:

  • the Emily plaid schoolgirl dress by Poème;
  • the Alice shoes with ruffled socks by Paper Sparrow; and
  • the Rina braided hair and hat combo by Lara AC.

Here we have:

  • the silver Melody ballgown by LUXE; with
  • the Lacrecia updo hairstyle by Firelight Hair (comes with a HUD with three different shades of brown).

So if you have not been to The Free Dove in a while, now would be a great time to come down, browse the new merchandise (all still free, of course!), and snap up some fabulous, fashionable outfits for yourself.