Why choose Cinnamon?
If Chai is a hybrid body that uses only a partial custom UV and I can just wear my own skins with ankle blenders, why would I want to switch to Cinnamon, with her fully custom UV and a (for now) smaller selection of available skins?
This is a very good question and I have thought very long and hard about releasing this version of Cinnamon with the knowledge that this question might come up and I have a very simple answer.
Cinnamon’s custom texture template is simply better than the SL default texture template. What is a texture template? Allow me to explain!
When you are working in 3D meshes, in order to display textures such as fur, skin, stockings etc, the 3d mesh needs to have what we call a “UV map”. The UV map is the 3 dimensional mesh, but laid out in 2 dimensional space, which you then can apply a texture to so it will wrap around your 3D mesh. Imagine a bearskin rug. Normally, the bearskin is wrapped around the bear, but when someone turns a bear into a rug, they cut the skin in “seams” so that it can be laid flat on the floor. This is the exact same principle we use when we are “unwrapping” a 3D model to create a 2D UV map. I will refer to this 2D UV Map as a “texture template” in this article.
Here are a few examples of why. I have applied a checkerboard texture to the various body parts to highlight the issues.
This is the Slink Physique body
Sticking as closely as possible to the SL texture template for Physique makes using existing skin textures easy, but it also makes the pre-existing problems with the old SL avatar template really, really obvious. On the one hand, you have a beautiful mesh body without any strange pointy or flat bits, and on the other hand you have glaring texture stretch and distortion, particularly on the breasts and ankles which makes wearing patterns in those areas impossible. The difference in size between the upper portion of the template and the lower portion of the template means that textures which span both these areas can have an obvious mismatch in detail and resolution. There is also the (in my opinion) major issue of only one arm and only one foot on the template, making asymmetrical designs and alpha also impossible.
This is the Chai body:
Trying to stick with the SL template as much as reasonable with Chai has led to minor improvements in texture placement and display, but we still have the problem of stretching beside the breast, and potentially unsightly seams at the ankles and waist. While Chai has 2 feet, making asymmetrical designs and alpha possible, she still only has the one template arm from the original SL template. This means Chai has to have symmetrical arm designs, and the dreaded alpha cuts to allow you to wear asymmetrical clothing designs with her. Alpha cuts, as discussed here on Beq Janus’ blog, add a lot of overhead to the avatar, and will eventually be phased out of SL avatars altogether.
And this is Cinnamon:
Building a completely custom texture layout for Cinnamon allows me to hide the seams in much more thoughtful places where they won’t be on display to everyone when you’re wearing your tiny hotpants and croptop! The waist seam has been completely removed and placed elsewhere, and the ankle distortion and seam has been completely eliminated, allowing for intricate patterns to be drawn on the ankles like we have never been able to do before. Fishnets? Cherries? Teeny tiny little foxes? Geometric patterns like houndstooth and argyle that goes all the way to the floor? You got it! Cinnamon will handle anything you throw at her with ease and grace. Cinnamon also has 2 arms, and 2 feet on her template which means she will handle detailed asymmetrical tattoos and skin features, like scars, freckles, moles etc, as well as being able to wear asymmetrical alpha layers, making alpha cuts completely redundant.