You’ve probably seen advertisements for BOM, or Bakes on Mesh, products. It’s becoming more and more popular with heads, bodies, and even some other avatar parts. This post will dig into what BOM actually is, how it impacts you, and why you want to give it a shot.
What is Bakes on Mesh?
BOM is Linden Lab’s newest avatar customization feature. Before digging too far in, let’s cover why it’s called Bakes on Mesh. “Baked” textures are multiple textures that have been combined into one. Previously this could only happen on system avatars (ones that weren’t using mesh). “Mesh” refers to imported 3D objects (ones that are not native to the grid). While mesh is used for all sorts of objects, we’re going to be talking about avatar parts here. Heads and bodies are the most popular mesh parts, but things like tails, ears, and even adult bits can be mesh too. Bakes on Mesh, at it’s most basic, means textures are combined into one and applied to mesh.
In this image you’ll notice that the visual quality doesn’t suffer between BOM and applier.
So what’s the difference?
Avatar complexity could be a post on its own. I’m just going to touch gently on it here. Linden Lab describes it perfectly on their wiki: “Avatar Rendering Complexity is a measure of how difficult it is to draw an avatar…. It is affected by your avatar shape and what you’re wearing.” Higher complexity takes longer to render in. You can imagine how that could impact performance, such as lag.
You’ve probably noticed Second Life can be slow sometimes, especially if you’re somewhere busy like a club. A part of this is multiple people with high avatar complexity. If you’re using BOM skin, tattoos, and makeup it will all load in as one texture instead of multiple. This gives you a lower complexity and means you load in faster for everyone around you. Now imagine if everyone at the club used BOM. Things would likely lag noticeably less.
BOM textures don’t use appliers, they use system layers. While that might sound a bit outdated, it’s actually really awesome. This means that as long as you’re using BOM compatible mesh, you don’t have to worry about using different appliers or Omega relays. For example, if you have a Lelutka BOM head and a Catwa BOM head you can wear the same BOM products on both. Granted, things like skins and makeup are still likely developed to look best on different heads, but you can still physically use them and see if it looks good for you.
Looking at my inventory on the right, you’ll see that the folder for the Vegas tattoo I used in this post. The three items with the squiggly pink icon are the BOM tattoos. They work with all BOM bodies and the system body. Each applier (the box icons) has those same three tattoos, however they had to make an applier for each different body they support. Can you imagine a future where creators can spend more time creating and less time making HUDs for each different product they make items for?
Back to now though! Using system/BOM products means you can easily wear multiple layers on the same area like makeup or tattoos. I’ve found myself using a black smokey eye as a base, then layering other eye shadows on top of it. That way I can still use some of the more cutesy style makeup and keep my goth feel. If you have a chest tattoo you love, and another back tattoo, then one on your tummy, you can simply wear all of them and not worry about one erasing the other. I’ll get a little more in depth on layering further down. The big important thing to take away here is… no more worrying about your new eyebrows removing your hairbase!
Okay, this is my favorite. Because your BOM textures are actual items in your inventory, they will automatically save as part of your outfit when using the Saved Outfit feature. That means you can have different skins, tattoos, makeup, etc. saved with the outfit. No more going through the hassle of sorting through appliers and skins when swapping to saved looks! It saves so much time for those of us who like to have different styles.
This also means that if you use multiple BOM heads/bodies, once you have them set up for BOM you can just swap to the other mesh and not have to worry about applying the skin, makeup, etc. It all stays just like your hair or other objects would. SO NICE!
Pros and Cons at a glance
- Lower avatar complexity.
- You get to use your system skins/makeup/tattoos.
- Easily layer your tattoos and makeup.
- No messing with appliers.
- Save your makeup/skins/tattoos in your outfits section
- Some users may not be used to system layers
- Appliers you may already own don’t work
A bit more on layering…
Because your layers are actual things in your inventory, you have a bit more freedom with them. The worn textures apply in the order you put them on. So if you put a new skin on after trying makeup, the skin may cover your makeup. This is easily remedied, though! To access your layers simply go to your Appearance tab and click on the wrench. It’ll show you all your layers right there. Clicking one will give you arrows so you can move it up and down on the list. The top of the list is the top layer and the bottom is the bottom layer. So just make sure that skin is on the bottom! You can play with the other layers as you see fit.
Note: I use the Firestorm viewer, so the instructions and image on the side are specifically from my experience. Other viewers, including the native Second Life viewer, may be a little different.
Have you made the switch over to BOM? How do you feel about it compared to applier mesh?