Monday, September 12, 2011

Makeup – Skins vs. Tattoos

Since the introduction of the Tattoo layer, putting your perfect look together has become more complicated…or at least, it CAN be, if you think about all your additional choices. And in the latest viewers, you can wear multiple tattoo layers, compounding the problem.

In the beginning was the skin. The system skin. This rather unappealing integument has one advantage that all the later innovations lack: The makeup can be adjusted with the Appearance sliders. There is only one little problem…it all looks pretty hideous. These days, nobody bothers with system skin, with one very minor and rare exception: A few skins are made with semi-transparent areas so that you can adjust the skin or lip tone with the Appearance sliders.

The more usual case is that the skin(s) you buy are non-modifiable textures. Skins are generally purchased in packs, so that you can either have several skin tones in one makeup, or (the way I usually buy skins) several makeup “looks” in one skin tone. The better skins are quite expensive, because they represent many, many hours of skilled work in Photoshop to create a realistic look. This is the situation we had until recently, with “famous name” skin creators like Belleza, Curio, LaQ, and Redgrave selling us our skins. We might have six to ten makeups in a pack, giving us enough range for a daytime and an evening look, and a color range that let us coordinate with our clothing or our mood.

So…along came Tattoos. Tattoos let you paint any part of your body…and it didn’t take long for clever creators to realize this meant eyes, lips, and cheeks as well as body tattoos. In short, makeup had just been separated from skin…or at least, one could overlay a tattoo of a preferred lip color over the lips of a skin.

But an odd thing happened. The people making tattoo layer makeup were (mostly) a different crowd from the ones making entire skins. I’m all for creativity, enterprise, and entrepreneurs finding new market niches…but from my point of view, this development has some downsides.
  • The tattoo makeup creators tend to be slightly less skilled Photoshop artists. As a result, the makeups are (usually) less subtle. That’s OK if you want the Painted Slut look, but not so great if you want something less dramatic.
  • I have to go to more places to assemble my arsenal of looks. I would much rather put together a package of items designed by a single creator to work in harmony with each other.
  • The tattoos can (like wearing a different maker’s skin) change the shape of my facial features.
The other thing about tattoo layer makeup is that in most cases you buy eye makeup, or lips, or cheeks – each is a separate tattoo. If you want to wear more than one, you can (if you have one of the latest viewers). I’ve found at least one store, CCD, that sells a “full face” makeup tattoo, which is convenient if nothing else.

So, Second Life skin artists – why aren’t YOU jumping on the tattoo bandwagon? I’d like to be able to come into my favorite skin store, pick out a skin with the tone, lip shape, eye shape and curve and muscle contouring I like, then stroll over to the makeup counter and pick out makeup looks of my choice that are designed to work with my choice of skin. The only maker I’m aware of that works this way is Second Skin Labs…and they were doing it with an “orderable options” system, long before tattoo layers made it easy.

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