Fabulous Freebies V

Second Life is celebrating its 14th birthday and we’re being showered in gifts. However, I think I’ve been missing out on most of the celebration, because the webpage with an overview of the various shopping sims where the gifted designers are offering great discounts as well as some pretty sweet freebies, states that it will all end on 26 June. Upon writing this I have only visited two of sims listed on the webpage but I believe that there is quite some overlap between the four venues. Some of the goodies I found at the “Golden” venue were:

  • a rugged leather watch bracelet from Zed
  • a rustic pair of goggles from The Forge
  • a set of baseball caps from CA Mallwith various flags for those days you’re feeling patriotic
  • an “ethnic” necklace from L&B Swear

In Search of Darkness

A lot of Second Life is overly bright. Spacious virtual high-end fashion outlets with white washed walls are flooded with austere light. Trashy strip joints razzle dazzle you with an abundance of clashing colours. Fairy tale sims use ethereal windlight settings to make it all look so fluffy while tropical beaches blind you with the sun hitting the pale sand at high noon. Perhaps it is no wonder that from time to time one goes in search of darkness, such as can be found at Ironwood Hills.Ironwood Hills II blogThis sim is generally being described as a post-apocalyptic scene, but there’s no script, no written story, no set of rules that tell you how to interpret it. While you roam these strange lands, you are completely free to let your mind wander and allow your imagination to get the better of you. The blatantly ominous sound of a siren wavering in and out seems like a good warning to keep well away of this place, but the air is thick with mystery pulling you in deeper.

Several make-shift shelters with an almost homely touch to them seem to suggest that there are still people trying to live here. Possibly they are clinging on to what they once called home, trying to maintain some kind of foothold in the land of the living even if it is only in this desolate twilight zone. Perhaps this is simply their new normal.

Ironwood Hills blog - shelter

The open door to an unexpectedly bright Gothic place of worship invites you in, but rather than experiencing a feeling of safety and comfort in this church, you are more likely to feel condemned for sins you haven’t even committed yet. Whatever is being worshipped in this place, it does not have goodness at its core. There certainly is enough other evidence at Ironwood Hills to suggest that darkness rules here.

Ironwood Hills blog - worship

If you wander these lands long enough, you may come across something left behind from better times, but I can’t shake the feeling that evil has this place firmly in its grasp and even in better times it was ferociously feasting on people’s life energy. Something has devoured this town and everybody in it. Whatever it is that still seems to have such a strong hold on this place today, I feel compelled to come back and discover all its secrets.

Ironwood Hills blog - funfair

 

 

 

Am I a man or am I a muppet…

If I’m a muppet, well I’m a very manly muppet. So I went off to the newest commercial event for manly men in SL, appropriately named Man Cave.

mancave001

It’s a very manageable shopping experience with about 30 participating brands, perfect for the impatient man. You’ll find a mix of men’s apparel, accessories, tattoos, hair, beards and skins as well as some home decor items to furnish your, well… man cave obviously.

mancave002

Kalback came to the event offering a pair of jeans with rolled up cuffs ideal for those impromptu walks by the beach on balmy early summer evenings, complete with a briefs-&-belt add-on including a number of texture options. If you’re not feeling quite beach body ready yet, frankly my dear it’s all in your head. Nevertheless you can pick up a nice and easy t-shirt from Cold Ash, bringing out all what’s nice under the hood whilst skillfully hiding your wobbly bits. (But I adore your wobbly bits!)

kallback_cold-ash

Etham seems to be banking on a cold summer or perhaps they’re pleasing the peops Down Under with something warm to wear, as Oz is slowly heading for winter now. The pea coat they’ve brought to the show wouldn’t have been overkill here in Stockholm either, with the kind of chilly real life spring we’ve been having. Luckily you can always make things cosy inside, with  for example the rustic sideboard (LI: 2), frame (LI: 1) and carved deer head (LI: 3) by Anhelo, available as single purchase items or an economically priced fat pack.

etham_anhelo

There were more goodies at Man Cave that caught my attention, but I have until the 9th of July to revisit that manliest of manly events. I shall wait in the name of delayed gratification.

 

Fabulous Freebies IV

Mesh head creators Akeruka are celebrating an anniversary with the release of a female and male mesh head as a temporary group gift for one week only. You have until 22 June, 12 AM SLT to pick it up, after that the heads will be available for purchase at the normal price for Akeruka’s New Generation heads, which is L$2,999. The fee for joining the group is L$ 150.

Akeruka_Aron_first_shape

Here I’m wearing the male mesh head “Aron” with its original Akeruka skin, combined with the TMP mesh body for which you will find body appliers in the package as well as Omega and Slink appliers. I’ve made some changes to the shape that was included, but haven’t spent much time yet trying to personalise the look. The hud includes some extras like the freckles and eye makeup you can see in the picture. You will also find the option to hide your ears,  which I have done here to wear my usual Mandala mesh ears. Don’t forget to try out some different brow shapes. There is one included in the package, but a different brow shape can make a very noticeable difference.

Akeruka_Aron_wrong_shapeI always enjoy adding a new head without putting on the included shape first. So far the result of that little exercise hasn’t failed to crack me up yet and we all need a good laugh from time to time! Don’t panic if you’re a bit new to mesh heads and this is the kind of thing you are seeing when you first put on the head. Simply wear the accompanying shape and things will look much better. Naturally this will affect your overall body shape, so you will have to adjust this to get back to the preferred look for your body. It’s a good idea to have those setting stored somewhere in a spreadsheet or on a note card.

There are no animations included in the package, so if you want to be able to pull some funny faces, you will have to splash out on the animation hud Akeruka created for this head (L$2,499), or shop around for a facial AO. I noticed that while I was wearing my altered shape, the talking animation that reacts to voice was deforming my mouth. This effect was far less noticeable when I was wearing the default shape for the head. Typing also had no averse impact on the talking animation and my pretty little mouth looked normal just yap-yap-yapping away.

Akeruka_Aron_expressions_blog

CREDITS
Mesh head: “Anton” by Akeruka
Mesh Body: TMP Deluxe
Hair: “Haunting” by Stealthic
Ears: “Steking” ears, season 5 by Mandala
Eyes: “Green” by Vermeer (packages include mesh and system eyes)

Fabulous Freebies III

We’re entering the gay pride season and you can count on it that people will be throwing rainbow stuff at you whether you want it or not. I headed over to 4BIDDEN to pick up the pair of swim trunks they’re momentarily offering as a group gift, slipped into them relatively kerfuffle free and draped myself over a pool mattress to catch some rays and show of my rainbowness in all its glory.

4BIDDEN_free_rainbow_trunks

Mesh body and head: Signature
Skin: L’etrê (no longer available)
Pool mattress float by N4RS

A Signature Look

Previously I have briefly discussed my beginnings as a standard avi and my rapid progression to a mesh body and eventually a mesh head. We all know that only fools rush in, so naturally I first tried several bodies and could see the merits and downsides in all of them. I picked the one which appealed to me the most at that point and was quite happy with the TMP Deluxe body for a while. Recently there have been quite some developments in the offer of male mesh bodies and partly to keep my Flickr page looking fresh but also because I was feeling whimsical, I treated myself to some shiny new toys. Enter on scene: the Signature Gianni bento mesh body and head.

Signature-Gianni-project-01

On the left you can see the body and head worn with the shape that comes with it. The applied skin is one of 12 skin tones you will find in the styling hud for this head. There are also four beard options and eyebrow styles. You can mix and match and play with the shape till you achieve something that looks quite different from the box version without having to buy any extras. On the right you can see my result of working on the shape and using an Omega skin applier from Stray Dog which had been sitting in my inventory for a while. The original ears have been hidden in favour of a pair of separate mesh ears by Mandala. Not only do these look sharper, they also allowed me to make the ears stick out a little to add character to my avatar.

Signature-Gianni-project-02

As you can see from these pictures, dramatically different shapes can be created with this body. Again, on the left you are seeing Signature’s original shape and on the right the result  of having  loads of fun with the shape sliders.

Signature-Gianni-project-03

When you are working on your shape it’s important to look at your body from different angles after every change you make, before moving on to the next slider. What looks good in full frontal view, can look very odd from the side, but whatever you do, never forget to check out the rear view! 😉

Signature-Gianni-project-04

Make a copy of the original shape before you start working on it, so you always have something to return to in case you feel you’ve “meshed up”. Have a look around for an interesting skin to make your avatar look more unique. The head and body are both Omega ready, so you can easily use any Omega applier. I have to admit that I’m rather chuffed with my cheeky chappy, but who knows what other looks I’ll come up with next.

giphy-1

Quasi Boho Chic Retreat

A while ago I was asked by a friend to decorate a small guesthouse which he keeps available for one of his friends who tends to occasionally disappear from SL for a while and then pop up again. There wasn’t a particular briefing apart from that this time around I would be creating something for a girl.

Quasi Boho Chic Retreat 1 blog

The look that I was going for was not overly girly yet clearly feminine. The first piece I wanted to get into place was the bed. In my mind it needed to radiate warmth and nonchalance, so I went for an unmade bed with a thick duvet. A simple set of frames over the bed is ready to be filled with memories and on the nightstand a diary, a cup of tea and a vase of tulips offer clear evidence that someone is living here.

Quasi Boho Chic Retreat 2 blog

As this is a weekend retreat, obviously the girl was going to need a place to hang her clothes, like a little red dress that works for most party occasions and something in luxurious faux fur for when it’s starting to get a bit nippy. Of course there had to be shoes as well. When you feel bad and like to treat yourself, clothes never look any good… food just makes you fatter… shoes always fit. (yes I quoted a “chick flick”, live with it!)

Quasi Boho Chic Retreat 3 blog

She also needed a place to do some creative work and play her keyboard. A modern functional worktable was thoughtfully positioned by the window offering inspirational views, which makes it an ideal place to sit and stare while her mind is processing ideas.

Quasi Boho Chic Retreat 4 blog

The furniture placement in the living room leaves a clear passage to the double doors leading to the deck. Using the same flooring both inside and out, creates the feeling that the deck is an extension of the living room. The inviting sofa and chair make this a nice place for entertaining, while the casually thrown down pillow and stack of books on the floor make clear that this is also a place to get away from reality and perhaps even people.

Quasi Boho Chic Retreat 5 blog

The wallpaper and ceiling textures I created for this place evoke memories of sunsets you only manage to experience when you’re away from daily life. For those days that a warm colour scheme isn’t enough, a fireplace was installed to make this a year round retreat.

Quasi Boho Chic Retreat 6 blog

Some credits: Studio Guesthouse {Kinkardine Concepts} ● Stockholm Bed {Bazar} ● TA Majestic Clothing Rack {Tartessos Arts} ● Bright Headed Mannequin {Nomad} ● Velvet Lounge Chair {Soy} ● Dellinger Desk + Stool {Pilot} ● Anna Sofa + Chair {Lisp Bazaar} ● Mid Century Fireplace {Lisp Bazaar} ● Flutterby Deer Fauxidermy {Half Deer} ● Toronto-Living room bookshelf {Bazar} ● Pile of Books {Floorplan}

Total Land Impact of house, interior, outdoor potted plants and deckchairs: 117.

Quasi Boho Chic Retreat 7 blog

One Head. Three Faces.

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Personalisation is a funny thing. When something you truly need only comes in white, you will take it. If that same product has a ridiculous number of customisation options, many people will feel inclined to cough up a lot more cash than they initially intended to spend and that is saying nothing about how much longer it will take them to make up their bloody mind. If you stop and think for a minute you will realise that the plain old white one would have worked just fine. When it comes to Second Life however, it is very easy to understand why our avis become a personal thing, as they are a digital representation of ourselves. For some people that means that they want their avi to resemble their true physical form. Others may go down the furry route or become a vampire. Many of us just want our avi to look good, but you will rarely meet anyone in SL who wants to look exactly like everybody else.

Before I switched to mesh heads, I enjoyed the higher level of individuality that could be achieved with the classic head, a.k.a system head, a.k.a. SL head, a.k.a. just call it whatever you want! I quickly started using a mesh body, but combined it with a system head. The neck tattoo solution to blend the mesh body skin with the system skin worked very well to achieve an inconspicuous seam.

billy-second-face

Naturally I soon noticed that mesh heads were blessed with enviably smooth porcelain features whereas my little old system head looked a bit choppy at certain angles and in certain windlights. But the downside of a mesh head was that, while of course different skins could be applied to it, the underlying structure could hardly be altered at all. This finally changed when Linden Labs introduced the new “bento” skeleton, adding many facial bones to the structure. This meant that mesh heads could now be rigged in such a way that they would respond to the sliders in your shape editor. One of the first bento enabled male mesh heads to hit the market, was “Mike” by Akeruka.

billy-first-mike-head

For a long time I struggled to fade out the very recognisable features of Mike and bring something more individual to the front. Wherever I spotted this mesh head in other blogs or Flickr images, it was always with the original skin. Any other skins I tried, somehow made the liner of the eye sockets pop out and often the face looked mildly or severely pissed off at everything… That’s one way of looking at life, I suppose. By regularly coming back to this head to tweak the shape and looking out for skins and other solutions I eventually came up with these three quite different looks.

1 head 3 faces

For each of these looks I’m wearing a shape I created myself and the TMP deluxe mesh body. On the left I’m wearing the original Akeruka skin in a pale tone with a Deadwool beard. The dark somewhat longer hairstyle and green eyes help to create a pale sexy Irishman. If we’re going to talk about nationalities then I guess the one in the middle would be, a blue-eyed tanned Italian. For this look I found a skin at  The Skinnery. I was amazed at how different it makes the face look and how there’s almost no trace left of Mike. Finally for the third look I was casually browsing through my inventory and came across something with an Asian flair to it from Essences. Once you’ve applied a skin from any creator you can still use features from the Akeruka hud to add eyeliner, pigment spots, freckles and facial hair. I thought I’d try to create a fourth one, but my avi got a bit angry with me and commanded me to unplug myself from virtual life and go get some fresh air. I tried with a “why so serious?” but he was having none of that. These questionable existential multiple personality moments are troublesome!

angry billy

 

RFL Destination Hope Hunt

RFL-logo

The American Cancer Society runs a fundraising organisation named Relay For Life. Each year, more than 5,000 RFL events take place in over twenty countries and as it turns out, in Second Life as well. ‘The Inspired Dreamwalkers’ present the RFL Destination Hope Hunt. The proceeds of this grid-wide hunt will be donated entirely to RFL and the American Cancer Society. This hunt works with a passport hud and the goal is to grab the 10 L$ hunt item and also get your passport stamped at each travel destination by touching the kiosk while wearing the hud. Fill your whole passport with stamps and you win a special Prize. Head over to the starting point, get your hud and start hunting!

This is a mixed hunt and while I did visit every stop to get my stamp, I did not collect every item, cause frankly my dear I haven’t got the bosoms to fill out those frocks. Here’s what I salvaged from this hunt:

This “King” tattoo from Savage. The package also included a “Queen” version. There was no generic Omega applier but individual appliers for Belleza, Maitreya, Signature and Slink. I guess someone will find use for this.

Savage King Tattoo

From Keke I got this sweet  2-piece set of potted aquilegia. Land impact for set: 1. These can’t be separated but I think it looks better as a pare anyway.

Keke aquilegia

Mulloy injects some silliness into this hunt with this floating flamingo (land impact 2), which was the actual hunt item but a little extra gift nearby.

mulloy_floating_flamingo

I’m very pleased with these gloves by Razor. The leather texture is crisp while the metal embellishments lift the design to a higher level without being overly fussy. Versions for TMP, Aesthetic, Belleza, Maitreya and Slink are included, some of those in both male and female versions. If you are wearing these with the male TMP body, remember that you can change the hand positions via the styling hud. If you hands are in the wrong position, your fingers will cut through the gloves. Also, I’m going to assume that these will not work with bento hands.

Razor Alloy Gloves

The prize for completing the hunt is a set by Mulloy consisting of a side table, a vase with flowers, a passport and a framed picture reflecting the “Destination Hope” theme of the hunt. The image in the frame is not on a separate face, so replacing it isn’t really an option. When the four pieces of this set are linked, the land impact comes down to 3. I noticed that the flowers are separate from the vase, so you can easily reuse these in any old pickle jar you have laying around.

Mulloy-hunt-completion-gift

This was an easy hunt and I appreciated that I didn’t have to purchase each of the 40 hunt items to be able to collect the final prize, because a lot of them were oriented towards female avatars. All I had to do in those cases was click the kiosk to collect my stamp and merrily go on my way.
Happy hunting games to all and may the odds be ever in your favour.

Fabulous Freebies II

Gabriel have recently released their latest gift for members of the L’Homme Magazine readers group. Becoming a member of this group is free and browsing through this digital publication is a visual joy as well as a good way to keep tabs on what’s new in the world of male SL fashion and lifestyle.

Gabriel jacket homme magazine blog

Maroon Asymmetric Jacket: free L’Homme Magazine gift at Gabriel , includes versions for Slink, TMP and Signature mesh bodies
Gray Zips n Pockets Jeans by Jz for men, includes versions for Slink, TMP, Adam, and Aesthetic mesh bodies as well as standard sizing ones.
Mesh body and skin by TMP
Hair by lock&tuft