Mesh has unbdoubtedly brought a lot of fantastic changes to Second Life and these days I don’t wear much that isn’t mesh. I haven’t purged my inventory of texture clothing (too much nice lingerie) or sculpties (too much nice jewellery) but mostly it is all about mesh. Still, I probably wear less variety of mesh than most as I have not adjusted my shapes to fit the Standard Sizing system. I am simply too wedded to having realistic, well-proportioned shapes with a natural amount of body fat. Fortunately, my staple type of clothing (gowns, glorious gowns) is quite forgiving when it comes to not being perfectly within a particular size, so I have been able to stick to my usual style of shape while still moving into mesh clothing.
Mesh body parts, on the other hand, has been a different story. Oh, the hands and the feet from Slink are of course amazing and they do fit just about any size. And I have enjoyed wearing the Visage mesh head from Slink as well, treating it just like any other face variation (just with a much prettier profile than the regular SL head can manage!) that I might make for a particular skin. But breasts, butts and bodies? None of the ones on the market have appealed to me, being far too exagerrated even at the smallest settings and clearly made to cater to a very particular look (don’t get me started on gigantic butts that require you to have hardly any belly or body fat!).
That is, until today, with the release of Physique from Slink.
The first thing I did once I got my hands on Physique was to take front and side-view shots of a couple of my regular SL shapes and then of the same shapes with Physique worn. I then alphaed out the bodies, tinted one a different colour and overlaid the shots of Physique over the shots of the regular shapes to see how much difference it was.
I was quite amazed to find that on the whole there was very little difference. Yes, Physique probably makes you a tiny bit smaller on the whole, skimming just under the surface of your regular shape. But that could easily be compensated for with a touch of extra body fat or extra muscle tone. The difference does get a touch more pronounced the larger your base shape was, so the more body fat your regular shape uses, the more you may have to compensate. On the whole, however, Physique really is very similar to the SL shape - only much, much better. The most marked deviations from the outline of the regular shape come in areas that desperately needed to be improved anyway, such as the shoulders, the line between hip and thigh and the lower belly area.
As a point of comparison, I might note that I have also tried the body from the Shops since I do like their skins very much. However, to get that body to look anything like my original shapes, I have to do a massive amount of compensating and that for me is a big negative. I am thinking I will review that one as well, perhaps with some comparison shots, but right now Physique is the clear winner for me.
My only quibbles with the overall shape of the body are relatively small. I would have preferred the thighs to be more rounded on the inside, to avoid getting a thigh gap that is fairly unrealistic if you have a bit of meat on your body. It can be largely avoided or at least minimized with less hip width (but I am not starting from what I feel is an exaggerated hip width as it is) and more leg muscle, but that isn’t always an ideal solution. In part this has been done to ensure better fit with most styles of mesh pants, but as I have pretty much given up on mesh pants anyway (too much thigh gap, too much booty). I would have opted for a more realistic inner thigh over better pant fit. That’s me being a bit selfish, though!
The other issue is the fact that the wrists and ankles are made to work with the size XS hands and feet. It doesn’t matter for the overall size of the hands and feet, it only affects the actual point of connection to the body, but it does end up looking a bit too tapered at the wrists and ankles when you have a shape with a bit more body fat and muscle tone. Unfortunately, fitmesh would apparently not be a good solution for the hands, so this may be one little concession one has to make, though I do hope that in the future we might get more versions of the body. Perhaps not one for each hand and foot size, but a at least one matching M or L would be nice as an option.
But for now, I am certainly willing to overlook that part, looking at the overall improvement that the body brings. There are so many poses—especially seated poses—that look so much better when using Physique as opposed to the regular SL body, especially when it comes to the bottom! And I finally have breasts with actual nipples, without having to get gigantic add-on breasts!
If I move away from the shape of the body to the rest of its features, the key points are that it comes with a full-featured and easy to use HUD that gives you very flexible options for alphaing out slices of the body to fit better with mesh clothing that isn’t made to exactly the same shape as the body. The HUD also controls the applier layers; tattoo, underwear and clothing. A purchase of the body comes with 6 applier skins in different tones and these also include a regular texture-layer skin so that your head will match the rest of your body. Of course, you can wear Physique together with Visage for a full mesh experience, but it works just as well with the regular SL head.
Obviously, to wear it with a regular SL head, you need to wear both a regular SL skin and the matching appliers for Physique so that head and body go together. This will naturally be a limiting factor in some cases as your favourite skins may not have appliers ready (or may never get them, in the case of older skins). I would really have loved it if Physique came with “universal appliers” and a tinting system similar to the hands and the feet, so that there’d be a chance of matching the appliers to any head even when there aren’t dedicated appliers. Of course, with the body being a much larger are than the hands and the feet, tinting would be much less successful when you’re looking at more extreme variations, but I do think it would work in quite a few cases and would widen the usefulness of the body further. I don’t see it as any real competition for skin makers who make actual appliers - those will always look better than a tinted option.
As it stands, however, you do need dedicated appliers and I am using a set from Adam n Eve. Sachi Vixen has put out appliers both for her earlier (pre-Visage) range of skins and for her Genesis line which is made specifically for the Visage mesh heads but which also can be used as regular skins and both bodies (the earlier are a bit glossier, the Genesis line more matte and with less contrast) look really great on Physique. I am wearing the palest tone of the earlier skin range and I am wearing it with the Siobhan skin and the regular SL head. I am also wearing the lovely new Serena hair from Wasabi Pills for Summerfest. My poses are from oOo Studios.
Finally, for those on a budget it should be noted that Physique itself is only L$1250—amazing for the modelling and scripting that has gone into it—and at Adam n Eve you get body appliers (which includes hand and foot appliers, so no need to buy those separately) for L$500, which then includes all tones for a particular skin range. I call that quite affordable and a great way to really get into shape in Second Life.