This is a tutorial about knowing enough about eyes and lashes in Second Life to know what you are buying. Hopefully enough to avoid getting ripped off. This is not about how to make them.
I’ve run into problems buying lashes. I’ve found it very frustrating. May be this will save you some frustration and Lindens. You may also find there are some eye-lash types out you didn’t know about.
Types of Eyes and Lashes
Eyes and Lashes come in a couple of flavors. They can be made from prims with textures or made from just textures or just prims with no textures. I get annoyed that lash vendors never tell you which type they are selling. It is impossible to tell what one is buying even if you can see the package contents before purchase.
To understand the difference in types of eyes and lashes one just needs to consider most clothes. Some clothes are only a texture that is added to the avatar as a shirt, pants, whatever. The only changes one can make to this type of clothing are those in the Change Outfit or formerly known as the appearance editor.
Other clothes are made from a collection of textured prims, usually sculpties, but still prims. Those made from prims are attached rather than worn and can be edited via the Build Dialog panel to adjust position and size.
When eyes are made from prims they are usually a sphere just a little larger than the avatar’s eyes. The attached eyes easily cover the existing eyes. They attach to the avatar eye, so positioning is almost never a problem. No alpha layer or anything else is needed to hide the existing eyes, so there are seldom any alpha layer problems. Prim eyes are used when one needs to script an animated effect.
The eyes-body parts are based on a texture, which can be replaced with another texture just as with shirts and pants. The texture is edited via Change Outfit (appearance editor).
Since the fit almost never needs to be adjusted or conflicts with other attachments, it really makes little if any difference which type of eyes one is buying. Most any eyes will work right out of the box.
Lashes are a different case than eyes. There are same basic types of lashes; lashes that can be edited as part of the avatars appearance and those that are prims edited via the Build Dialog.
The Prim Lashes seldom if ever fit correctly. This means they have to be adjusted to fit, which is tedious. Plus there are problems with alpha layers rendering in odd ways. Because of the alpha rendering problems another type of prim lash has been developed. So, there two types of prim lashes.
One must understand a bit about how skins are made to understand the differences between avatar lashes and the two types of prim lashes.
Image #2 shows a Chip Midnight template for facial skin and tattoos. The inset is a blow up of the part of the template that draws the lashes (Image #3) one can edit in appearance. Technically the template is the UVMap for the Second Life avatar’s head. That is geek speak for a way to say this template shows where each bit of color (pixel) in the texture will be placed on the avatar. Unfortunately the template/UVMap cannot be changed.
While one can use tattoo layers to put lashes over the default lashes one is limited to the same shape, size, and number of lashes. There is no way to use the head skin or tattoo layers to make bigger lashes since tats use the same avatar template.
To illustrate the limitation I’ve painted a red block over the lashes to show it only changes the color, not the shape or size if the lashes. Image #3 shows the normal lashes that came with my Skin by Nomine. Image #5 shows my skin replaced with the template in Image #4 with the added red lashes. The size and shape doesn’t change, so obviously we are limited because of the template/UVMap the avatar uses.
All skins include the lashes area you see in the upper right of the template (inset enlargement Image #2). Skin makers either include color for the lashes or make the area transparent to omit lashes.
Some skin makers include a skin with lashes and a copy without lashes. While it is nice to find skins with lash and no lash versions in a single package, I don’t consider it a serious consideration. The lashes can be mostly removed in the appearance settings leaving just stubble or completely removed using one of the new alpha layer textures.
Another problem is transparency in prim lashes can create odd looking overlays with the default lashes and hair. With the addition of alpha layers to appearance, makers can solve the transparency conflict problem with the default avatar lashes. But, that does not solve the conflict with hair. Blonde hair is exceptionally problematic with Alpha Layer Prim lashes, which is most lashes.
Skin Paint Lashes
Another option for creating lashes is to paint them into the skin or into a tattoo. From a distance these look ok. From the side they may not look so good. In general the tattoos are most useful for adding makeup.
To get around the limits of the template, prims are used. There are two approaches to how prims are used. Most lashes use 4 or 5 prims, some a few more. Images #7 & 9 show a 4 prim set of lashes. One prim is used for each upper and lower eyelid and a center prim hidden behind the nose to make scaling easier.
My eyes were made to give my avatar a bit of an Asian look. It is impossible to find lashes that fit right out of the box. Or I have yet to find them. If you have the rounder Caucasian and Negro eyes then you have a better chance of finding lashes that fit. But, in general prim lashes do NOT fit out of the box.
The ability to custom shape your avatar’s eyes is wonderful. The trade off is that it is impossible for eye-lash makers to make lashes that fit everyone. So, purchasing lashes that are No Mod is not going to work well.
As mentioned earlier, a problem with prim lashes is the transparency of the texture used to make the lashes. Hair-do’s that use transparency too will have conflicting alpha layer problems. (An example of that problem is here). The lashes tend to distractingly show through blonde and light colored hair. It’s a viewer thing.
You’ve likely see the alpha layer problem most often when wearing shoes that use an invisa-prim to hide an avatar’s feet. You often see a silhouette of the prim on dance floors and other floors that use transparency.
To get around the transparency problem a few eye-lash makers have resorted to lashes made from numerious sculpties. These are usually called All Prim Lashes or No Alpha Lashes. A texture with transparency is not needed for this style of prim lashes. In many lash sets of this type there are no textures used. Image #8 shows lashes by CaTwA. I have a single lash in the set selected.
Some No Alpha Lash sets come in at 150 prims. If you are into ARC (Avatar Render Cost) you may be surprised when you find that some of the No Alpha Lashes have a lower ARC than 5 prim Alpha Lashes.
However, the No Alpha Lashes can be frustratingly difficult to fit to your eye. Sizing scripts help. But even then, eyes are hard to fit because of the HUGE variety of possible eye shapes and sizes. So, one is likely going to have to resort to manual tweaking to get a good fit.
Because of all the sizing problems it means lashes you buy MUST be Mod OK and Copy OK. Copy is needed to so you can work on a copy as you adjust fit and be able to start over, if necessary.
Fitting Eye Lashes
I know of no easy way to adjust lashes. One just jumps in and goes for it. Because adjusting is tedious mistakes will be made. That means eye-lashes must be Copy OK. Work on a copy. If a set of lashes is No Copy, don’t buy them.
A couple of years ago it was recommended that one use a manikin skin to adjust lashes. One can buy manikin skins for L$3 to several hundred Lindens. If you can find one for less than L$10, get it. Otherwise make your own. You can make simple manikin skin in SL by selecting Edit Outfit and right-click SKIN then select create New Skin. Leave the Tattoo textures empty. In the skin settings set Pigment at 10 to 15 and 0 for Ruddiness and Rainbow Color. One can also use a 128x128px 50% gray or lighter texture and drop it in the Head Tattoo window.
It is supposed to be easier to adjust the lashes using a manikin skin because the mascara and other makeup present in skins make it hard to see what one is doing. Other than this, I know of no handy tricks.
Eye-Lash Fitting Tutorials
A found this tutorial on adjusting lashes: Prim Eyelash Fitting Tutorial Redux (Jan 2010).
Another is here: Tutorial: Flutter those prim lashes! (Feb 2010)
A video tutorial is here: Fitting prim lashes
To Buy or Not to Buy?
Some of us will go to extreme lengths to look good. The editing challenge of fitting eye-lashes is not for the total noob to SL. One needs some experience editing and moving linked prim sets to adjust lashes. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it would be to adjust lashes without previously knowing how to edit prims. So, if you are new to SL, put getting good lashes at the bottom of your bucket list. Or, at least, watch some videos first.
If you are bravely buying lashes, try to find out how many prims are used. Fewer are easier to adjust. Four or five prims is typical. But, they will fit fewer eye shapes well. Six prim lashes will fit more eye shapes but be harder to adjust. The lashes made from loads of prims will fit about any eye shape but can be very difficult to adjust.
Most well made lashes are in the L$100 to $200 range. More costly lashes tend to have multiple sizes of the lashes.
Hopefully this information will help you when shopping for eyes and lashes.