Linden Lab® Avatar Shapes
Linden Lab® provides quite a few free avatars in the Library part of your Inventory. You can mix and match various pieces of these avatars to get started with creating your own custom look. The pictures on this page show the various avatars in the Library so you can see the differences in the shapes and skins, and how they combine to make the avatar. The model is wearing the accompanying Eyebrowshaper and/or hair, too.
To access the Linden Lab® outfits, open Inventory. You’ll see two main folders, Inventory and Library. The Library folder contains all of the things provided by Linden Lab® for you to use in Second Life®. Open the Clothing folder in the Library to see the folders with outfits. When you drag an outfit folder onto your avatar, you will be wearing everything in the folder, and a copy of the folder and its contents will appear in your Inventory, in your own Clothing folder. Once you have done that for several (or all) of the Library outfits, you can mix and match whatever pieces you want.
Modifying Avatar Skins
You can make your own skins, but the ones that I’ve tried making look terribly crude. You really need to use a graphics program like Photoshop or Gimp to get good results. I don’t know how to do it, so I can’t explain it. Try out the free skins from the Library, and the other free skins that are included in this package. Remember that the shape that you wear will alter somewhat how the skin looks.
Modifying Avatar Shapes
Unlike skins, avatar shapes can be customized by the average user in Second Life. The shape and skin combined give the avatar its appearance.
You can modify any of these shapes by wearing the shape, right-clicking on it in Inventory and clicking Edit, then using the sliders to adjust each body area. Make sure you save the altered shape as a different name. The skin that you choose will alter somewhat how the shape looks. You can also create a completely new shape by clicking on the + sign in Inventory, then choosing New Shape.
Classic Second Life avatars combine a shape with a skin. Because it is much easier to clothe these avatars than it is to clothe mesh avatars, I recommend that you start with one of these. The following picture sets show 1) the Linden Lab avatar shape and skin; 2) the Linden Lab shape with my skin; and 3) my shape with the Linden Lab skin. This helps show how the shape and skin work together to create the look of the avatar. (Of course, there’s more to the avatar than the face, but there are not so many variables for the rest of the body.)
Ruth is the original Second Life avatar. When you hear about someone being “Ruthed,” it means that their avatar has reverted to this shape and skin. This is the sort of skin that is made by using the sliders.
There are quite a few creators making mesh avatars and parts of them (heads, feet, hands, etc.) Like mesh clothing, they work using an alpha layer to hide the classic avatar by making it transparent, then you wear the mesh avatar (or part) over that. Besides my personal philosophical objections to standardized avatar shapes, mesh avatars can be tricky to clothe. The following are the Linden Lab mesh avatars. They cannot be separated into shapes and skins; it’s kind of like sticking a doll’s head on top of the body.