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This page is part of the Second Life User's Manual, describing how the Viewer software works. Please see the main User's Manual page as a starting point.

The "Appearance" floating window allows you to edit how your avatar body looks. It is activated by the top menu Edit > Appearance... item, or by pointing at your avatar in the 3D view area, right-click for context menu, and choosing Appearance. When you open the window, your avatar will go into "Appearance Mode", and will stand with arms and legs spread for visibility, and the camera will zoom to view the relevant part you are editing. You can move the camera view while in appearance mode to see how you look from other angles.

V1.23 Appearance Shape.jpg

There are four body parts and nine clothes tabs, each with individual controls. These all affect your core avatar body. In addition to these, you can "Attach" up to thirty 3D objects to different parts of your avatar. For example, a backpack, hat, and walking stick if you want to look like a mountain hiker. Between the Appearance settings and attachments, you have great flexibility in what you look like.

Each tab will list the inventory item name and location that you are currently using. If you are wearing the item, you will have a button to take the item off. If you are not wearing the item, you have a button to create a new one. At the bottom of each pane are buttons to Save, Save As..., and Revert. Revert will undo all changes since the last save.

Adjustments in appearance mode will show on the screen immediately, but will not be saved until you use the Save or Save As... buttons. It's a good idea to first make a copy of your current appearance in your inventory before editing it. That way if it gets messed up, you can go back to the original and try again.

While clothes can be removed, the four basic body parts (Shape, Skin, Hair, and Eyes) cannot. They can only be exchanged for another inventory item of the same type, or edited.

Avatar Mesh Wireframe Model

Shape Tab

Your avatar's shape is defined by a 3D wireframe model, as illustrated here. It consists of numerous triangles, on which the skin and clothes are painted by your graphics card. The shape tab adjusts the wireframe model using sliders or number values to change detailed parts. The entire collection of settings can be saved as an inventory item. When you "wear" the saved shape, it will adjust all the settings at once. You can create your own shape from scratch, or get pre-made shapes from other users or buying them.

There are 9 buttons to control different parts of the shape. Each button displays a set of images, sliders, and number values from 0 to 100. The images show what the extreme (0 and 100) values would do to your avatar's appearance, and the sliders and numbers show your current settings. There are 77 shape controls in all, grouped as follows: Body-3, Head-11, Eyes-11, Ears-4, Nose-10, Mouth-9, Chin-9, Torso-12, Legs-8.

V1.23 Appearance Skin.jpg

Skin Tab

Your avatar's skin consists of three images (head, upper and lower body) which are mapped onto the underlying shape by your PC graphics. There are also several controls to adjust color, freckles, and other features.

V1.23 Appearance Hair.jpg

Hair Tab

When Second Life was first developed, the avatar model included a second wireframe mesh for the hair. This is known as "mesh", or "built in" hair. As of 2009, the default starter avatars and most experienced users use "attached" or "prim" hair (called such since it is made of prims - primitive geometric shapes that everying in SL is built from). These can be much more detailed - 100 or more pieces rather than one mesh shape; and can use the flex feature to move as the avatar moves around.

The mesh hair is still included as part of the avatar model, but most users have their settings set to "Bald", which shrinks the mesh hair inside the skull where it is hidden.

V1.23 Appearance Eyes.jpg

V1.23 Appearance Shirt.jpg