With Mesh bodies now becoming more common, the term “Fitted Mesh” has become misunderstood. The intent of fitted mesh was to allow further deformation detail to clothing or mesh avatars using your sliders. Originally, mesh would only conform to certain sliders, Fitted Mesh changed that. For the most part, it eliminated the need for multiple sizes and conformed better to your actual shape. However, it wasn’t the best name to call this new feature. It gave people the impression clothing items were going to fit, without alphas or avatar adjustments. It is after all called “Fitted Mesh”. However, even in the SL wiki about fitted mesh there is a note about using alpha masks for best results. Now with Mesh bodies, you will see logos on clothing items that have been fitted for these bodies. So it should fit that body without adjustments or alphas right? Yes and no. It really depends on the item and/ or the intent of the designer. Some items are easier to rig than others and sometimes the designer wants the item to move a little different than the body. Designers use 3D models outside of SL to fit clothing items around these bodies and to see how the bodies react to shape controls and movements. However, not all of these bodies are available to us in a 3D format. So that makes for a lot of guess work. They are all different in shape and how they react to shape sliders. The intent is getting a garment as close as you can to the general shape of the mesh body you are working with. Having the 3D model, the designer can create mesh clothes around that model. Even matching the weights (the stuff that makes it move) identical to the model itself. This is a big help and on a lot of designs can in fact eliminate the need for alphas. Even this however is not a perfect science. You are putting clothing mesh over a body mesh. The clothing mesh will have wrinkles, folds, belts, studs, laces… I could go on, but you get the idea. Sometimes those weights on the mesh body won’t work well for the clothes. For those items that can be created without the use of alphas, maybe it’s time for a new term. That’s a discussion for another day.
So you buy a pair of pants and they fit your body perfect without any alpha. YAY! Fitted Mesh. They are actually a little bigger, they have to be. If your goal is to use no alphas, the garment will be larger in some areas as you see in the transparent picture. Some areas require more space than others for movement. They look fine as can be seen in the solid picture. I’m using pants here but the same goes for any garment. Certain areas will be larger than your actual body if the goal is no alpha usage. To achieve this, you essentially need a size 8 pant to fit a size 6 body. I’m glad this isn’t the case in RL.
So you buy a pair of pants, it says fitted mesh for my mesh body but my skin is sticking out. It’s not Fitted Mesh! BOO! Actually these are, and in this example they more closely fit your actual shape in certain areas and respond the same as the item above with slider controls. It doesn’t make these pants any better than the ones shown above. It also doesn’t make them any worse. They are both rigged identical. However, be careful and look closely. If your shape is going far outside of the clothing item, to the point when you activate the alpha cuts and you don’t even look like you anymore then that item probably isn’t for you.
Here are the two versions side by side. One is using alpha cuts, the other is not. They are both Fitted Mesh and both have been fitted to the intended mesh body.
Let’s look at an example now of how a designer may have created a dress intended to use alphas.
So you buy this dress, it says fitted mesh for my mesh body but my skin is sticking out. It’s not Fitted Mesh! BOO! Actually it is and this was intended.
Notice the curve of the hip on the Mesh body in this position?
Here is that dress if I wear to make it identical to the bodies Fit Mesh properties. Which would in fact fit perfect without any alpha usage.
Here is how I made it. You can see the skin sticking out. Why did I do that?
Because when you use a alpha cut and hide the skin, you can see it makes the dress curve much cleaner and shapely. In this case, it was intended.
See the difference it makes?
This isn’t always the case, it’s an example. All Mesh bodies move a little different, they all have their own characteristics. One body may be fine in this area but have another area where you want a dress to move smoother. My point is, the designer may have intended the use of an alpha in this case.
So, just because you need to use your alpha cuts, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been fitted to a particular mesh body. There are a many reasons why you may need to use the alphas. These Alpha cuts were designed in part by the mesh body creators with what I have explained in mind. Always try the demos! Everyone is different. If it’s an issue where it just doesn’t fit correct, and alphas don’t help, send the designer a message, show them the issue, there could be a easy solution. If not, then it helps designers know where they need to make adjustments for the next item they are working on. There are lots of bodies out, some with and without 3D kits for designers. There are thousands of shapes and poses. Personally, I try to get an item as close as I can for the majority. It doesn’t always work. Designers are always learning and something they made yesterday may have a different process today. If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.
DoC Eldritch, DE Designs