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Please be kind to me about this, but I have a freakish head. When I shaped my avatar more than ten years ago over about two hours of picky work with sliders, I didn’t try to mimic my First Life face (though I didn’t try not to, either). Instead, I just went with my gut, changing each setting until the face looked right. There was one problem, though, and that was that getting the face shape I wanted required me to have kind of a short head. It’s only a little shorter than it should be, and hair takes care of the problem, but the point is, I really wanted to have this face. Pointy chin, thin nose, and a resting expression that hints at a smile — that was what I’ve thought of as me since the day I arrived.

leaning forward

The availability of mesh heads hasn’t changed that for me. There are a lot of them, but the fact that they can’t be changed to match what I think of as my face has meant I really haven’t been interested.

catwa_head_annie_human_ad

But now there’s Bento, or there soon will be. In case you don’t already know, Bento is a new feature Linden Labs developed that in the coming weeks or months will be available in the default Second Life viewer as well as in Firestorm. You can test Bento with experimental versions of either of those viewers. Bento adds new bones to a Second Life shape, which may sound creepy at first — but it means, among other things, that you can have wings with realistic motion integrated into your body, or hands with individually moving fingers, or a mesh head that you can adjust!

A mesh head, especially a Bento one, can be more expressive than a Second Life system head, with better expressions and gestures, more control, and finer sculpting. It seems like it would be a lovely upgrade, even if it is a fashionista indulgence.

So I was excited to try a Project Bento mesh head, and when Strawberry Singh posted about the new Altamura Aggie Bento mesh head and I found out it was on sale for L$699, I decided to take the plunge. (Readers, sorry to tell you about the sale too late, in case you would have been interested!) I installed the Firestorm alpha viewer (available for free if you sign up for their testing group, because it’s not ready to be used by people who aren’t willing to test it yet), bought the new head, and went home to play with sliders.

aggie

Since I could adjust the Bento head just like I can the system head, and especially since Bento heads have more adjustment options than system heads, I thought any good Bento head should be one I could adjust to look very much like my original system face. Especially Aggie–after all, she already looks a tiny bit like me, right? And maybe I’d be able to get the face I want without having to shorten my head! Then I could wear all those beautiful Rezology and Magik hairstyles that with my current head make me look like I’ve been stuffed forcibly into Cousin It.

So, did it work? To make a long story short … no.

I was able to adjust dozens of measurements on the new head, but I was surprised at how many things I couldn’t change. The shape of the eyes is much more sultry and elongated than my eyes. I couldn’t make the nose long enough, or the mouth small enough, or the lips cheerful enough, or the chin pointy enough. Just any Bento head — even a very nice model with some similarities to my own face — isn’t going to work if I want to recreate myself faithfully.

The good news is that soon there will be a lot of choices for Bento heads, and if you’re not attached to your face looking a very particular way, you can get one of the good ones and then personalize it to Paris and back. That solves the problem of showing up at a party wearing the same face as someone else! There may even be Bento mesh head hope for me, if I keep my eyes open and find one that’s closer to my face in the ways that can’t be changed by sliders alone. We’ll have to see! But if not, I’ll be able to keep the face I already have, and that will certainly do.

What about you? Are there plans for a personalized Bento mesh head in your future?

^^^\ Kate /^^^

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