Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gimme a Head With HAIR!

Hair in Second Life is a little like shoes...more complex than it looks at first. The first hair worn by prehistoric avatars was “system hair”. You can style this ugly stuff in the Appearance menu with sliders, and you can texture it with a picture of a real hair texture. No matter what you do, it won't look nearly as good as what most of the other avatars are wearing. It looks more like a helmet than real hair, and it doesn't have any movement to it.  System hair has the inventory symbol of a little brown wig.

What most people wear is “prim hair”, a sort of wig that is attached to your skull. Your hair may have 200 or more prims* in it. Often, these prims are “flexiprims”, a special type of prim that appears to wave when you move, or the wind blows. Flexible hair can look very realistic. You can't style or re-color prim hair...just replace it with another wig in a different color or style.

When you wear a prim hair wig, you should also wear a special type of system hair, called a “bald head”, or “baldie”, or sometimes an “eyebrow shaper”. A baldy is just a system hairstyle with the sliders set to zero to make you bald. The hair appearance sliders also control eyebrows, so different baldies will make your brows look different.

Hair stores have free demos that you can try on before buying a style. The demo will have some sort of watermark, or a big rotating sign above it saying DEMO. You can buy a style in one color, or in a “color pack” with a variety of shades.

(A note on demos.  Demos are almost always available for hair and skins, and usually for shapes, too.  More and more demos are also available for shoes.  Whenever a seller offers a demo, do try before you buy!  Lots of hair and skin looks great in the picture, but not so great on yourself.  With skin especially, it's a good idea to try on the demo and look at yourself very carefully in different lights and poses, and from different angles.  But don't wear the demo out in public!  In the store is fine, or privately at home.  But an avatar with a rotating "DEMO" sign over her head, or the word "demo" tattooed all over her face, is a sure sign of a Clueless Noobie!)

Hair can be edited for a better fit. Some hair is edited with the Build tools, while other hair comes with a re-size menu. If your hair has such a menu, make a safety copy of it first, before you edit it. When you are done using the menu and are happy with your look, use the Delete button in the menu to kill the re-size scripts. When you do, the hair will no longer be editable, but your fellow avatars will thank you for not contributing to lag with a couple of hundred active scripts in your hair.

If you get several hairstyles in the same color, you can easily create the illusion that it's your own hair, and you're just wearing it long, or up, or back in a ponytail that day.  The popular hair from Damselfly is particularly good for this; a lot of their styles look like the same hair, but simply re-styled to fit your mood.  Or you can get lots of hairstyles in lots of different colors, and keep everyone guessing!  I often change my hair color to suit my outfit, rather than the other way around.

 One creator, Sirena, has some hairstyles that can actually be restyled...worn up, or down.  Your avatar even does a little "taking your hair down" animation when you switch styles.  Natalya Zelmanov, the owner of Sirena, also has one of the most delightful SL blogs, The Mermaid Diaries, although she has not posted new material in a long time.

*”Prim” is short for “geometric primitive”, a basic shape like a cube or cylinder or sphere. Everything in Second Life is made up of these basic shapes, modified in various ways with the Build and Edit tools and linked together to form an object.

Some of my favorite hair shops!

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