Mesh was officially released in August 23rd 2011.
Mesh was originally introduced to help building a better Second Life environment. It was primarily focused on architecture and object building, since softwares like 3d studio and others had a huge library of objects that could be imported to enrich that grid.
Nobody in the lab cared much for fashion designers, the system was not compatible with the avatar and, although a few items could be worn as accessories, such as belts, hats & shoes; rigging jackets and dresses was a nightmare.
If you don't believe me when I say Linden never gave a damn about clothing designers and mesh, you only have to take a look at their own history. Mesh appeared in 2011, but liquid mesh did not appear until 2013 (2 years later) and fitmesh even later than that. In the meantime, a few creators inworld developed something they would call "5 standard mesh sizes" that can still be used today. The idea was simple, wearing similar shapes in Second Life, to avoid overlapping as much as possible. The more you think about it, it's a sloppy, clumsy and ridiculous idea that killed originality and diversity in the grid, but it worked for a few years and some people who refuse to buy a mesh body still need to use this system.
Before the mesh era, fashion was very plain, but it could be far more detailed than actual mesh. Today, wrinkles have a volume, a real volume in the mesh item, but in the past most of the volume had to be applied using shadows and photoshop techniques. Wrinkles were painted and they were very easy to achieve, by using photoshop brushes, for example. If you needed rings, you could place them on the template, if you needed studs you had the freedom too. Today you can paint studs, rings wrinkles etc in the mesh template, but because mesh items have real 3d volume, painted resources look plain and painted, no matter how realistic they look on your computer screen.
Methodology for Fashion Builders Before Mesh: The Template System
Designers needed 2D templates to build clothing and applying textures. At first sight, it was a simple and creative process, but the lack of actual resources used to complicate things. A few creators released their own work under GPL license or under a creative commons license so that others could take advantage of a free and easy asset. I remember, for example, the robin template, who was broadly used and generated lots of forks and extra resources. Another creator that helped was Chip Midnight, who released another series of resources broadly used by designers in their computers. ( see attached file of the Chip Midnight's head template).
Others, more focused on the business aspect, used to sell their work on XstreetSL or Slexchange ( the origin of the actual marketplace ). It was a very lucrative business, but also very demanding for quality items. Eventually, t-shirts and small clothes became useless, when customers demanded more leather, more jeans and more realistic content. However, don't forget that the content provided by designers before 2011 was still lame, plain and painted most of the time.
The major inconvenience had to do with clothing volume, for example, jacket sides, cuffs, collars, skirts. Before 2011, it was very complicate to wear a decent skirt. The volume was achieved using flexy prims that moved around the avatar wrist, but not only it used to look cheap, also unrealistic. Skirts were built using flexy blocks and pieces that had their own agenda while moving.
The second inconvenience with clothing had to do with shoes and boots. Those were actual prim items and avatars had big feet, too big. For example, take a look at Philip Rosedale picture below wearing his famous avatar with bette shoes. It is completely unrealistic, but don't forget that, according the standards of those times, that was a cool and decent avatar, decent looking too.
Methodology for Fashion Builders Before Mesh: attaching parts
The search for volume achieved another milestone when scultpies appeared inworld. Sculpties were 3d content created specifically for Second Life. They had volume, infinite shapes and behaved like regular prims. They accepted textures and linked combinations so it was definitely a good step into the right direction. Sculpties appeared between 2007 and 2008 and they exist in Second Life, but nobody uses them any more.
With the sculpted technology, avatars left the rigid appearance of 2d to become a little more realistic. For example, I remember when I created a bunch of fantasy avatars about that time using scultpies, for example: wings, legs, arms, chains, hats etc.
Sculpties were a good step, but they couldn't be the final one, because they had too many limitations. It was difficult to link them and shrink them and more often than expected, the avatars could not adapt their shape to make them look realistic enough.
The most celebrated and realistic achievement with sculpties at that time were the flared cuff jeans. @Amigo Uriza and @Chaplin used to make a lot of money selling apparel in Second Life with that realistic touch. That realism also reached shirts (collars), t-shirts (arm cuffs) and jackets (sides).
Methodology for Fashion Builders Before Mesh: a few examples
These are a few of the templates designers used to work with to create clothing in Second Life
These templates were worked with photoshop and uploaded inworld to fit the Second Life Avatar. Something more or less like this:
Methodology for Fashion Builders Before Mesh: advantages and disadvantages
The disadvantages I already explained them before: dull textures, unrealistic volume and plain avatars. It was also complicated to achieve good products and original items, but it was possible combining a few resources and the designer's own imagination.
The main advantage was the simplicity and versatility of the system, that allowed you to combine as many layers of clothing. Also, the better the skins became, the better the clothes looked like. Let's face it, all these textures looked much better with realistic skins and combinations. At the end, it was a group effort, and not only the fashion designer's talent that reached a good quality. Let's face it, sometimes a mediocre designed could look much better with the right attachment or the right skin or even the right hair. ☺️
It was also cheaper to work with textures. The new mesh uploads are more expensive and require more hours of reali work with 3d software. It's also normal that creators ask for more money and as a result, templates are more expensive now, than 5 or 8 years ago.
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