Approaching Nirvana – Auto Alpha from Maitreya

As promised in my previous post, this is a more detailed description / ‘how to’ on setting up the automatic alpha system from Maitreya on your Lara mesh body.  Maitreya call their system “AutoHide”,  so I’ll call it that from now on.

Now – I am already aware that Daria is discussing Auto Hide on her excellent blog over at mesh body addicts, so please go and check that too – I think more than one take on these things is a great approach, and Daria is providing some great resources relating to mesh bodies in general, so it is well worth checking out.

I will focus a bit more on managing the method of applying the alpha – some mechanics and scripting suggestions.

What is Auto Hide?

Maitreya have provided a script that sends alpha information to the Lara body, bypassing the HUD, or the need to manually set each alpha slice using the HUD. If your mesh or prim clothing item is modifiable, you can add the script right in the clothing itself.

With the script available, and after providing a configuration notecard (which I will describe shortly), your clothing item is now able to tell the body which alpha slices to turn on. The alpha information is sent as soon as the item is attached to your body, so it is very fast.

If your clothing item is non-mod – meaning you cannot change it or add scripts to it (and this is more common) then you can add the script to a separate prim that you can wear – either as a part of your outfit, or as a HUD on your viewer – either works fine.

You could be quite creative with the outfit approach – for example, by adding a prim flower, a jewellery item, a bow or some other object that both adds to the outfit, and has permissions to allow you to add the script.

The kit Maitreya have provided is available to clothing makers, so we can expect (I hope!) clothes from many makers to come with an AutoHide scripted addition that accepts a notecard, and would hopefully come with an existing notecard to help you with any modifications you wanted to make on your own.

Maitreya have already provided a number of clothing items with AutoHide built-in, available now by using redelivery if you already owned them, or for purchase in-store with the script already included.

An AutoHide Configuration

Lets look at that notecard holding the configuration.  It does seem a little unwieldy having to use a notecard, and I have already had to consider how to manage these in my inventory.  Here are the issues I have encountered so far.

  • The notecard needs to be stored somewhere if you ever want to alter the alpha settings, otherwise you need to start from scratch because the AutoHide script eats the notecard you add to the clothing or prim. Fortunately the notecard can have any name you like, so naming your notecards the same as your outfit name and keeping them all in one folder is an acceptable solution.
  • Setting the notecard information is painful. It gets easier with practice, but really – its a pain. Maitreya have addressed this with some great and imaginative helpers – there is an applier in the AutoHide kit that will write the names of all the alpha segments right on your body, helping you identify them against the lines in the notecard. And the notecard includes descriptive words for each alpha section, to help you work things out. My wish list includes a button on the Maitreya HUD that will dump an alpha configuration to chat, so we can copy that and paste it into a notecard. Let us hope this is in development right now.

ok,  this is what the configuration looks like – I made this one for my  *LpD* – *Angela* Dress.   As you would expect, most of the alpha segments can be left turned off (skin is visible) which is represented by a ‘0’ in the note card.  The ‘1’s’ in each case are segments of alpha to be made transparent.

11111000 Belly (BE)
00000000 Upper Back (U.BACK)
00000000 Chest (CH)
00000000 Left Breast (LB)
00000000 Right Breast (RB)
00000000 Arm Left (ARM) (written backwards)
00000000 Arm Right (ARM)
111000 Lower Back (L.BACK)
011111 Groin (GR)
11111111 Bum (BUM)
00000000 Upper Left Leg (UL-A) – outer front
00000000 Upper Left Leg (UL-B) – inner front
00000001 Upper Left Leg (UL-C) – inner back
00000001 Upper Left Leg (UL-D) – outer back
00000000 Upper Right Leg (UR-A) – outer front
00000000 Upper Right Leg (UR-B)- inner front
00000001 Upper Right Leg (UR-C) – inner back
00000001 Upper Right Leg (UR-D) – outer back
00000000 Lower Left Leg (LL-A) – outer front
00000000 Lower Left Leg (LL-B) – inner front
00000000 Lower Left Leg (LL-C) – inner back
00000000 Lower Left Leg (LL-D) – outer back
00000000 Lower Right Leg (LR-A) – outer front
00000000 Lower Right Leg (LR-B) – inner front
00000000 Lower Right Leg (LR-C) – inner back
00000000 Lower Right Leg (LR-D) – outer back
00 left nipple (LN)
00 right nipple (RN)
0 neck

The above configuration will ‘turn on’  (make transparent) the elements represented by 1’s.  I wanted to let you see how that relates to the actual pattern of segments on the body, so in the picture below I have reversed the configuration so that it only shows the parts that will become transparent in the final version.  Please note, this was for information only – you do not need to ever do this. Keep in mind that this is only the rear-view ;p  the other half of the configuration is hidden here, however I show that later.AutoHide -

In this picture I have applied the alpha pattern, and you can see the relationship of the HUD slice to the section of the body with its name shown using the applier from the AutoHide kit. I have drawn some red lines to point out the connection between HUD slices and body segments, although of course you are familiar with these from setting them every time you change outfits.

AutoHide -

Adding the Configuration to the Clothing item, Prim or HUD.

This step is quite straight forward, and is performed as follows (minor building skills are required).

  • Edit the item to which you want to add the AutoHide – this can be your full perm clothing item, a prim accessory or a HUD. To edit the item, Rez it on the ground and then right click and choose ‘Edit’  from the pie menu.
  • In the edit window, you will see the top quarter is occupied by options such as move or stretch.  You can ignore these. Just below that there is a row of tabs, “General, Object, Features, Texture, Content”.  Click on Content – this is where scripts and other contents can be added to the object. (see the left side of the image below).
  • From your inventory, you need to drag the AutoHide script supplied by Maitreya, and the AutoHide configuration notecard that you have created, over into the Content tab of your object. The script is called “Maitreya AutoHide BodyFaces V2.03″ and you should add it to the object first, and only then add the notecard.
  • Within a few seconds you will see the configuration notecard disappear from the Content tab, and you will receive a chat message from your object telling you that it has completed reading the configuration.
  • You can now take (right click on the object and ‘take’) your object back into your inventory.
  • Rinse and repeat!  I found it can take a few tries to get it right.  If you are like me you will make the odd mistake, or just miscalculate which parts to hide. When you have edited your notecard, you can rez your object, open Content, and just drag a new notecard into it – everything else stays as it was. Just be careful – because your object (if it is copy permission) will be duplicated and cause confusion!  I am deleting the objects in my inventory just before taking them back, so there is only ever one for a particular item of clothing at a time, but whatever system you use, you need to be able to identify which object has the correct notecard in it.

I have shown a picture below – this is what the process will look like on Firestorm.

Dragging the configuration card to the HUD contents

AutoHide - Script and config

A word on AutoHide using a  HUD

I felt that with so many items of clothing not having edit permission, I wanted to come up with an approach to easily loading my AutoHide settings. I could have just made an invisible prim and attached it somewhere, however I worried that it might end up staying there..  if I forget to detach it it will become a useless scripted attachment. It is useless because the alpha information is only sent once, and only when you attach the object. So leaving a prim sitting on your shoulder for no benefit is pointless, and at worst adds a script to your avie.

So I decided to use a simple HUD with no controls on it. The issue still existed though – if each time I wear an outfit, I wear a HUD,  will I end up with all these little AutoHide HUDS on my viewer screen – and again, they would serve no function because they have already done their work.

So I wrote a tiny script – it is trivial – to just wait a couple of seconds after the HUD attaches, and then politely detaches itself back to my inventory.  Also,  just so that I can be sure I am loading the correct HUD, for example when wearing an outfit,  I have set the HUD to display its name. Since I name my AutoHide HUDs the same as my clothing, that lets me check that the correct HUD is loading.

I have let the duration of the “falling off” time be variable – it is easy to edit that, and I have also let the colour of the text be set easily in the top of the script.

I made my HUD quite small – in the picture below you can see it loading as a red rectangle about half way down the left side of my viewer. I have labeled it for you to make it easier to see.  It only lasts 2 seconds – I gave one to Fiona to try out and it took her a few tries to see it, as its quite quick to unload.

Wear the HUD with the AutoHide script

AutoHide -

So – finally,  I can wear the dress and its AutoHide and it will automatically set my alpha segments as I have configured them.

AutoHide -

Final Word!

AutoHide is the missing piece in the mesh body jigsaw in my opinion – it brings to mesh body wearers the same ability to wear an alpha layer tailored to an outfit that we have enjoyed in classic avatars since the introduction of mesh clothing.

However, like the process for editing those older alpha layers, the AutoHide alpha settings require a very manual process to create them. The editor of choice for creating an alpha segment pattern is of course, the alpha editor provided in the body HUD.

Lets hope that the next few updates from Maitreya deliver that editor to us with an “AutoHide Export” button that writes the AutoHide configuration out to chat, where we can copy it and paste it into a notecard.  But that tiny niggle aside, I think Maitreya have delivered us a huge new capability, and set we Lara wearers ahead of the current pack of mesh body wearers.

Thanks Maitreya!


Whims xx

PS – Anyone interested in my little Hud fall off script (or a HUD with that installed) please just contact me in-world, I’ll be happy to pass one along.

Fitting into my mesh body

Just a quick thought (which, being me, started about a month ago, but thats life!) on fit mesh clothing. With the advent of fit mesh bodies, the two immediate clothing related issues were:

  • How do I wear clothes on this thing?!
  • OMG do I really have to press all those alpha things???

I’m sure lots of others have addressed both of these questions, and indeed I made some comments regarding alphas in a previous post.  I wanted today to mention two great ‘developments’ that really go a huge way to responding to both of these questions in a fantastic way.

Firstly, I am going to just show a few fitted mesh garments that have been made specifically to fit the mesh bodies, so I did a little fashion parade in our lounge room for Fiona, and we made some pics 🙂

After thatI am going to mention the great news about alphas, although mostly I am keeping that for a second post later this week. So,  here we go – fitted mesh clothing – what is that?

Well, fitted mesh has been around for a while.  Without getting geeky, it is basically mesh clothing that conforms to your shape, by being ‘aware’ of your slider settings. Wider hips? no worries, your wiggle is intact! Larger boobs?  Your bounce is secure! And lets acknowledge that boob bounce – the one huge thing mesh body wearers are aware of is the sneak preview of boobs on every step until you either alpha out or remove your physics.

For mesh bodies, which are themselves fitted mesh attachments to your avatar, standard fit mesh clothing is not always perfect. Why is that?  Well, each mesh body creator gives us a slightly different body shape – some emphasise curves more, some less, and that means that in addition to your slider settings there is another little magic number, the ‘weighting’ or small adjustment, that the designers of the bodies make to each bone in your glorious body.

To accommodate that, the body designers let the clothing designers know what those magic numbers are, so the clothing maker can adjust the clothing shape to better fit that body.  After that, the clothes will then respond to your body slider settings +/- the offset for your specific body.

In the package, you will usually get the fitted mesh for a classic avie, one for Slink Physique, one for Maitreya Lara, another for Bellleza Venus, and so on. You might also get the standard sizes, and I see some outfits coming with multiple (curvy and standard, for example) sizes for each body type.

One thing I have noticed is that, even where a garment specifically for the body I wear is available, it is not necessarily the best fitting item in the package. Your own shape might be better accommodated in one of the other fitted sizes.  I am wearing Slink-fitting skirts made by DE on my Lara body for example, because they fit without any alpha play, so I prefer that.

So – the fashion show – and as I show you these I will mention a couple of extra points, and please read (or skip to, but you wouldn’t! ) the note on alpha setting after the show!

Blueberry ShortsThis first item is one of my favourites by Blueberry – a pair if denim shorts that I wear without any alphas turned on. Blueberry have a good range of fitted clothing now and support Slink, Belleza and Maitreya bodies as well as classic avatars. Be careful to check that your body is supported on a particular garment – and try those demos!

This second pic is showing the Tori pants from DE (Doc Eldritch). DE also have a good and increasing range of fitted mesh items for mesh and classic avatars, and also a nice range of applier undies and bras which are worth checking out.  The Tori pants come in a range of colours and support the common mesh bodies. The pair I am wearing are in a rusty red linen texture and look great with almost anything.

DE Tori pants

The Beach!  Well – its always Summer somewhere in the world, so even though the rain is pelting against my rl window right now as I head into Winter, I still need a bikini in SL!

Just Because is a fantastic clothing designer that is embracing fitted mesh and mesh avies with a new range of clothing. They have been remodelling their store and have been marking down old stock to clear it out to make way for the new, much of which is fitted mesh.

This swimwear range I first picked up a while back in (I think) my Venus body, so I was really pleased when they became available for Maitreya Lara as well. They are a mix and match system so you can buy tops and bottoms in different styles and patterns.  Frankly though, this is fatpack material, so be warned, your lindens will leak out in this store!

Just Because Swimwear

Oh – and that raises an issue!  Often a designer will update an item to include support for a new or different mesh body, or just to fix an issue. Don’t forget to check back, or to stay tuned to some of the “Friends of” groups (Such as “Friends of Maitreya Lara”) which are always good for a laugh and are the best gossip source, but also share loads of useful information, especially if you just bought that mesh body! Usually the designer will make the changes available to existing purchasers with a redelivery.

The next two pictures are showing Maitreya clothes.  They are gorgeous, and also included in the pack are fits for other mesh bodies and classic avies, so don’t avoid the store if you happen to have another brand of body than Maitreya Lara.

In this first one I wanted to make a special note of the mesh underwear. These are the set (bra and pants) that come with the Lara body, so you cant wear those with other bodies (other bodies also come with their own meshy undergarments). I have to say – I am waiting for other designers to step in and start giving us more of these fitted mesh underwear items, and if you look closely at these particular ones the attention to detail is stunning! But the big thing is, (at least this is my experience) these fit *under* quite a bit of the fitted mesh clothing. In this pic I am wearing the pants as well, and I did do a bunch of weird poses to show that the pants didn’t break through the skirt, but frankly I looked silly so you don’t get to see those!

Once more, I manage to wear these clothes with no alphas turned on, and for me thats a huge bonus. I am not a fan of walking around with nothing but air under my skirt because I had to alpha my body away – so the ability to wear well fitting clothing without alphas is high on my priority list.

Mastery leather mini and underwear

Finally, this picture is showing a pair of Maitreya skinny jeans and a DE crop sweater – one of my go to outfits for playing in the studio or out visiting. The sweater needed a few alpha tweaks, and the skinny jeans needed a lot – typically I find with jeans you want to alpha just about everything between the waist band and the cuffs, however at those points the pants should fit well and allow you to show a bit of leg or waist without having the alpha show through. However that really is fine with jeans and pants and even sweaters, since you never see into them anyway.

Maitreya skinny jeans and DE crop sweater

Alpha News

So the HUGE news in the last few days has been the release of AutoHide technology by Maitreya to support their Lara body.  What is AutoHide I hear you ask – and no, its not a neat system of concealing your shopping bags from your partner (although, please, someone needs to invent that!).  AutoHide is Maitreya’s name for their system of automatically applying the alpha to the body when you wear a garment.

Yes, let me repeat that:  You wear your jeans, and the jeans will tell your body to turn on those alpha segments automatically – you don’t need to do a thing!

I feel this is a huge breakthrough in the mesh body story – it is an idea I have personally pushed for quite a bit and I am super happy that Maitreya have got this out.  We all have our preferences, however mine have been for Lara for some time – it ticked a lot of my boxes. However with this automatic setting of alpha for clothes, the Lara has pulled even further ahead of the pack in my opinion.

The AutoHide kit and the applier developer kit are both available free from Maitreya. Actually – if you go to the Maitreya monolith (that big vendor you buy the body from), the two kits are available by clicking vendors right up near the top of the monolith.

Briefly, the system works in a very similar way to the Maitreya applier developer kit. There is a script that reads a notecard you drop into the same object with the script. The notecard contains your alpha settings, and the script converts that to a message that gets sent to the HUD/body to set alpha settings.

The script can be added to clothing that you have modify permissions for, and for other clothing you can add a prim that you wear at the same time as the clothing item. I have tried both approaches and they work wonderfully, and its very easy to do. My preference with the prim – based alpha was to attach that to my screen (like a hud) so I was aware of it, and my next step will be to put a little auto detacher script in there as well, since, once you have the alpha settings sent to the body, you really get no benefit from keeping the extra prim and script loaded.

There is a small learning curve on making the configuration notecard, however to help you with that, the kit contains an applier that ‘dresses’ your body in a grid displaying the names and numbers they have used to identify each alpha slice, and that really does make life easy.

I foresee a lively market in exchanging these configuration notecards – we do not all have to do these, and I am sure we will be seeing lots of spreading of info on these until all the clothing has been updated. Maitreya have already updated some of their clothes to natively perform the auto hide function and I assume that will continue across the range and also be supported by other designers.

I will blog a “How To” for making the auto hide configurations and using them shortly, however one final thought before I go.

Maitreya have magnificently given us a way to load the alphas, and are to be applauded and congratulated – I am sure this sets the bar for other bodies now, as this was one of the huge areas for all bodies.

However, the notecard process is a bit clunky and manual, and can be improved on. I am hoping that Maitreya are working on a new HUD button that will send the HUD alpha settings out to chat so we can copy and paste that into a configuration notecard rather than have to work it out by hand. If they do that, this will be a complete and very functional alpha setting system indeed.

Yours in Meshy Bliss



My Mesh Crisis

I want easy Alpha!!!  

I want to be able to change my shirt and not have my boobs poking out for 5 minutes while I hide around a corner somewhere fiddling with the alpha HUD on my mesh body!

I have asked – honestly, I asked over at Physique – I posted it in a flicker item and waved it about the place, I mentioned it in letters and as blog comments…  I really thought everyone would just say,  yeah yeah, thats a no brainer, we’ll do it soon!

Its been months now! As Winter has progressed through the Northern Hemisphere, SL Hospitals and crisis centres have been overflowing with cases of frost-bite around the nipples!

“What is this, some new fetish?”

I overheard one Dr saying. No!  Its the freaking mesh bodies making us all stand around knee deep in snow while trying to set the alpha settings one bit at a time, teeth chattering, mouse shaking  ….

Enough is enough! I have given myself a crash course in scripting and building, and have come up with what I believe is a very good solution. But I’m blonde, and small, and after all, whimsical, so I can’t put it here!

So I wrote it down and put it in a document Meshing About – A Mesh Alpha Memory Object and you will find that it describes in stunning detail (takes a small, whimsical bow) a solution for loading and saving mesh body alphas that allows us to use them in a very similar way to using the alpha layers supplied for mesh garments on classic avatars.

Please, mesh body makers, read this,  improve on it, make it yours, but whatever you do, please give it to us so we can all have a much better, warmer Second Life!

Yours in desperation, Whims

(who is recovering slowly but still has chattering teeth)