Our virtual extremities have gone through some extreme changes in recent years. Shoemakers responded to the deficiencies of the avatar mesh by creating sculpted feet with shoes that we could match to our skins. The tinting methods designers employed were varied and highly idiosyncratic and tinting a pair of shoes to match could take anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, depending on our skill and the sophistication of the HUD interface. This year, with mesh rigged to fit perfectly, a few designers have taken steps to ease our pain and make our desperate clicking about in color selection boxes and frantic sliding of RGB numbers a thing of the past. Because the path of innovation is never straight, two different routes were chosen, but whichever one you take, you end up with gorgeous shoes and skin that matches.
In exploring the pros and cons of these two paths, I am going to look at Gos shoes and SLink Bare Feet with add-on shoes from another vendor. However, N-Core is also following the same path as Gos and I am sure some other shoe-makers will as well. The thing is, these are fundamentally different approaches to how to match the foot to your skins. Gospel Voom of Gos has chosen to provide the foot and shoes as one piece, the traditional way. His innovation is creating a skin color database and a scripted hud that accesses that data and applies it directly to the foot. Siddean Munro of Slink has taken another road, creating a foot that can be tinted and a free developer’s kit for skinners to customize for their skins and allowing shoemakers to use to make their own shoes to her form.
Here you can see the separate interfaces, on the left, the GOS hud, a one-stop shop for tinting the feet and the nails. On the right, the Slink nail hud and the PXL Creations applicator for the skin tint. The PXL applicator is 99L and comes separately from the hand applicator. The shoes I wore are from Steffen Garcia for Faenzo and they had a hud, to change the color of the sole and the heel of the shoes. If I wear a different skin, I will need that skin hud. For example, if I wear Glam Affair, I need to use their hud, which costs 180L and comes with both the hand and foot applicators. That’s not even getting into the nail applicators which offer a few thousand rainbows worth of pedicure options. So yes, the first time you try out the foot plus shoe, you have some running around to do. It involved a few more huds, though I didn’t have to open my browser.
So let’s consider these two paths separately.
Foot and Shoe Combination with Skin Database: This is the method chosen by Gos and N-Core. The feet are included with the shoe and are tinted by a proprietary HUD.
The pros are:
- It is easy to use.
- Only one HUD.
- No additional purchases are necessary.
- It does not depend on skinners adapting this model and providing numbers, etc.
The cons are:
- The sheath that makes the seam invisible and smooth does not like Ambient Occlusion or projectors and has a soft glow. Shutting off the sheath fixes that but leaves a tiny gap. This is an SL flaw, not a flaw in the shoe.
- Sometimes opening a web browser can stall and lag.
- Not all skins are in the database and you still have to tint it yourself. You can request they add missing skins, so it’s worth checking back later.
- Does not work with third party pedicures.
- Limited only to Gos and N-Core shoes. Gospel Voom and Claire Messenger have this ridiculous idea that they get to have a real life and are not making enough new shoes fast enough to feed the shoe hunger. Perhaps other shoemakers will adapt this method, but it’s not “open source.”
Stand Alone Foot with Skin Applicator and Add-On Shoes. Sidden Munro decided to make a mesh foot and release a developer’s kit allowing any shoemaker to make shoes to fit and a tinting kit for skinners to make huds to tint the feet. People who already have the mesh hands will be familiar with the process.
- Any shoemaker can make shoes for the feet so you do not depend on one shoemaker for all the shoes.
- Shoes without feet cost less.
- All changes are with HUDs so no need to open browser.
- Unlimited options for pedicures from third party nail applicators.
- Costs less if you buy lots of shoes.
- There is no sheath to cause bugs when shooting with projectors, etc.
- If a skinner does not make a coloring hud, you will have to tint it yourself, so it is depending on skinners participating.
- Requires purchasing a tinting HUD for different skins.
- Can require using several huds to style an outfit. One for skin, one for nails and sometimes one for shoes.
- You may have to adjust your shape to the specs in the accompanying notecard to get a perfect seamless fit.
I think the greatest impetus for expansion of the SLink method with the foot separate from the foot is the growth in third-party shoes made to fit the SLink foot and how much less it will cost consumers in the long run.
As you can see, the initial investment of foot plus skin applier plus add-on shoe is quite a bit higher than the more traditional foot/shoe single unit. That expense is recouped by the time you purchase your second shoe.
Now shoe prices vary from L188 for Intrigue’s gorgeous slingbacks at Collabor88 to L450 for the Eleganzas from Faenzo I am wearing in this post to L395 for Hucci Sandals and L350 for Slink pumps and so on. Nonetheless, they are all less than a new pair of combo shoes – which is only fair. Those feet are hard to make and time-consuming.
But it is not just the cost that will make the Add-On method transformative. It is the simple fact that 50 shoe makers can make more shoes than one or two, no matter how many hours those two work. With shoemakers freed from the hassle of making feet, they can make more shoes with more variety and suiting more tastes. They can make weird shoes, funky shoes, sexy shoes and nutty shoes. They can experiment more because they will not have to invest as much time and can release more often. One important thing to note is that although they use a developer’s kit to ensure their shoes fit the SLink foot model, their creations are as unique and original as any other shoes. The developer’s kit is not a template they retexture, it is a form they use to fit, just as the standard shapes are the shapes clothing designers use to fit their clothing. Anyway, with shoemakers freed from the hassle of making feet, I am excited to see the explosion of creativity come Shoe Fair.
Competition and innovation being what they are, it is likely that someone will come up with an alternative foot and add-on combo as well. Perhaps GOS and N-Core will make feet with the database tinting method that can fit the Add-On shoes so folks who like the simplicity of one hud can still wear add-ons. One thing I know for sure, though, is that the market for shoes in SL got a lot more exciting this year and a lot more fun. And of course, the one who dies with the most shoes wins.
Store info at Blogging Second Life
Skin: [PXL] Sophia NAT Cherry lips MEB C2
Makeup Tattoos: cheLLe – Eyelashes 3
cheLLe – Moon Dust (Clay)
[PXL] Sophia NAT Cat Eyes (tattoo layer)
Eyes: Insufferable Dastard
Mani/Pedi: Slink Enhancement Hands
Hair: >TRUTH< Siri w/Roots – quince
Clothing: [VM] VERO MODERO / Kaleidoscope V Neck Dress
Jewelry: MANDALA]Leather Feather Eearings/japanese RED
Baiastice_Triple Stars Small Leather Cuff-red- Right
[Gos] Sophia Peeptoe – Burgundy – M
ELEGANZA by Steffen Garcia, Scarlet
Slink Mesh Feet (Av Enhance) Medium M
PXL Creations SLink Feet Applier NAT