Putting your best face forward

Faces Studio has been making all kinds of impressions lately and the new release of their skin, Justin, should only increase the interest and the discussion.

Overall I really like this skin; the detail is pretty amazing, both in musculature and body hair. The skin tone is amazingly detailed, with all the faint freckles and little flaws that give a skin character and add to the impression of Justin as being a man capable of handling just about anything he needs to. I'm especially happy about the eyes, and the faint folds beneath them that manages to pull Justin out of the too young and pretty into the just old enough and bold enough.

Justin is an elegantly muscled skin, with a face that is neither too handsome or too easily dismissed. There's curve to his lips that speaks of humor (or the sudden urge to flirt), eye spacing that allows the kind of straight forward gaze some skins lack and he looks good in jeans or in something a little more upscale.

There's some highly realistic skin folds at elbows and knees which get overlooked at times because let's face it they aren't the most interesting part of a body.

The skin I tried of the four samples I received was Justin Clean hair HairBody. And I really was impressed by the application of the body hair, not only to the chest but a light dust across the back as well as along the tops of thighs and the backs of the calves. It's a skin I could comfortably wear either every day or for those "oh my god, I have to look good!" moments that include first dates and time on the side of the pool.

Left: Standard SL Midday settings. Right: AnaLutetia Avatar Opt setting

That said, I did find a couple of -- not so much issues -- as areas of the skin that drew more attention than I think the designer really wanted. I checked it under a couple of different lighting scenarios but it persisted. The most obvious is a paler shading along the chin. When you look really closely at the jaw, you can see the overlays of shadows, from a few meters back you can't but what you do notice is the paleness of it from just below the lower lip to the chin. Paler skin tends the jaw look more pronounced which I'm not sure was the intent.

The other areas are on the hands and forearms, and nape of the neck. On the arms and hands, the shading provides a musculature in keeping with the rest of the body, but it doesn't seem as finely layered as what you see elsewhere on the chest, shoulders, back and legs, kind of a shadowing that looks fine in lower light, but seems too heavy in situations with more light. The arms are also slightly paler in comparison, making the artistry (and it is artistry, no matter my quibbles) stand out rather than blend into a seamless shift of skin tone. Having talked to skin designers before, many agree that getting the hands right is difficult; hands don't have the deep valleys and rise that larger muscle groups, have so trying to define that takes time and patience.

Some of the skins have a hair base, which I am a huge advocate for. The front hairline is realistically curved to frame the forehead, a hint of whispy hairs at the peak of the line. The back however seems to dip a bit low on the sides. Not really an issue if you are going to be wearing hair over the base, but if you like the shorn look, it does draw the eye to the back of the neck. (Obviously, if you don't use the hair base, this is a non-issue.)

These really are quibbles though -- and it's easy for me to stand over here and critique someone else's hard work. I am not the artist the designer at Faces Studio is, and skin making is an art and Justin is really an excellent example of that skill and well worth the asking price.

If you want a skin with some character, personality, and some amazing detail, you should check out Faces Studio's full line and spend some time with their demos. Faces Studio also offers some innovative add-ons for skins that allow a variety of changes to a skin without having to buy a new one which is a huge bonus for anyone that roleplays or who just likes to change up their look now and then. Want to enhance the skin tone? You can do it. Need a few bruises? You can get them. Add a little aging? you can do that too. Faces Studio has a lot of ways to make that face you are wearing, really yours.

While doing some hunts with a friend, we fell into Urban Republic Co. There was actually quite a lot we liked, but you know, hunt, gotta get to the next one, move along...and while I intended to go back, I got a reminder in the delivery of their latest release in a line of themed full outfits. Jeans, t-shirt and an open plaid shirt, back carrying a subtle graphic -- in this case the outfit is called Black Guns, staking that Urban territory with disarming country boy style.

Keep in mind that I love plaid and I love open shirts and so slipping this on really was the easiest thing in the world. Collar and cuff details on the plaid are nice, not clunky and settled in to fit on the first try. T-shirt has some nice stretch and shadow folds, making it look as a well worn t-shirt should. Jeans have a nice fabric grain and the side seams, pockets, and placard details are clean and sharp, not blurred or stretched.

A note from Aizen Arentire over at [Let's Get Dirty] had me popping over to check out his shop in the Gayborhood and I liked what I saw mostly because I do love me some tank tops and Aizen has a bunch from the funny to the ironic to the hot to the just plain comfortable. The fit and detail is really nice, no blurred shoulders, nice folds and a slightly lower underarm cut which I like given that my av runs to the larger size. I'm pretty sure they are unisex, although there's none of the heavier shading under the breast area you see in women's tanks. I went with the flowered tank, just because the colors caught my idea but for only $75L, I'm going back for more.

While checking out [Let's Get Dirty], I caught sight of Energy Menswear in the same shopping district. Energy has long been a favorite of mine, although they keep moving so I keep losing them but I've always enjoyed the designs and the kind of in your face style. But it was entirely by accident that I tripped over the freebie in the shop. Just in time for the 4th of July, a date of some significance (not to mention time off and an excellent time to catch up with friends and family and eat more food than is good for you) to those of us in the USA,

You get a well done patriotic t-shirt and matching jeans -- the perfect thing for that family picnic -- just for clicking. Now that's a reason to celebrate!

Another freebie I'm glad I didn't miss is the release of a pair of Vision eyes from Photos Nikolaidis at A:S:S. I don't change eyes often, I kind of like the ones I have, but I'm tempted here. The eyes are vibrant and slightly larger than usual without traipsing into anime territory. The set Photos is giving away is a blue to teal color, and there are both traditional eyes and prim lenses. The price for both individual sets of other colors or fat packs is also pretty reasonable -- which most stuff at A:S:S is. Even if you don't want to change eyes either, I encourage you to check out A:S:S if you haven't. There's a little something for everyone there.

Other Notes:
Hair - Lelutka Seth - Coal Mine

How I spent my weekend - La Venta Eventa

La Venta Eventa is a new(-ish) weekend shopping event making the rounds, where some of my favorite designers are participating as well as a few I didn't mind being introduced to. Eleven categories of offerings from Houses to Poses, all items for $100L or less, but only from Friday Midnight to Sunday Midnight.

Weekends have become the target for a lot of specialized sales, almost too many of them to keep track of, but this one has a limited number of designers, isn't as intensive as a hunt, and by and large I found the offerings for men to be interesting and fun.

22769 never stops impressing me and the Sportsjacket outfit they offer is no exception: Cool blue tones, lightweight jacket, well detailed jeans and a playful t-shirt. Paco Pooley has a flair for style and a touch of humor in almost everything he and his partner put out for their customers. And for the price, you can't beat the look.

Twisting a bit to the side [Virtual/Insanity] offers the guys a set of black nails for La Venta Eventa, suitably goth and oh so fun. Tintable base gloves let you match to your skin tone, and really, why should the gals have all the glam of decorated nails? The pose letting you see my manicure is from Luba, also for La Venta. This is actually a face set meant for jewelry or glasses or good face shots for the ladies. There is a pose pack for men as well, equally as appealing. (Note for the Luba poses - the shop is in The Euphoria shopping district, which houses some amazing designers for men and women. The district gives points you can redeem, so join the Subscriber (no group slot) before you buy. The tier limits seem high but you might be surprised how quickly they can add up for you. )
.:*December*:. is also in La Venta, and while the necklace on offer wasn't quite my style, they are also participating in the Black Butler hunt. I'm pretty sure the glasses with their catcher are meant for the ladies but they are way fun and funky set with my goth look for the day. Topping it off is Yellow Jester's Rosary, a piece I already had in my inventory but being offered up at a deal of a price for 60L Weekends. (Edit: Designer MandyMandy MacMillan of .:*December*:. offered up that the glasses I'm wearing are modeled after those worn by a character in the Black Butler manga & anime series and are entirely meant for the guys. I completely missed the connection, so my apologies to MandyMandy.)

Not to be last nor forgotten is Entropy's very appealing Skybox called The Recluse. Designed by La Venta organizer Nae, this is an amazingly detailed hideaway for the bookish among us, but not cramped with its high ceiling and factory style widows open to let the light in. There's also a chair pack, at the regular price, but altogether, still less than $400L for both for a seriously unique skybox. The pose here is from Luba's male pack for La Venta.

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