Tag Archives: avatar

Tutorial: Feminine body proportions for different kinds of avatar shapes

The first chapter of So You Wanna Be A Virtual Supermodel deals exclusively with creating your own female Second Life shape with ideal body proportions. It’s crucial to have a well-proportioned and attractive avatar to model in Second Life, but I often see models with odd shapes!

In the book I’ve used my own shape to demonstrate modelesque measurements. In this tutorial, I’m going to apply these measurements to different female body types: an extremely tall runway model, a petite and curvy shape, and a plus size shape.

3 very different shapes for Second Life: a slender runway model body type, a petite and curvy type, and a plus size body type.

In So You Wanna Be A Virtual Supermodel, I go into quite a bit of detail on using Second Life’s Appearance sliders to balance your shape. If you haven’t picked up the book yet, it’s only L$500 on the Marketplace. For this tutorial, I’m just going to share a couple of basic concepts to get you started on making your own, well-proportioned shape.

Measuring heads

In addition to measuring your overall height in feet/inches or meters, your avatar’s height can be expressed in heads. This concept might be already familiar to you if you’ve learned to draw people, ie.. through a life drawing class or lessons on illustrating for manga or graphic novels.

Body proportions for a Second Life model shape

Measure the distance from the top of the head to the chin. Then use this measurement to count how many “heads” tall your shape is. Our runway model shape shown above is very tall at 8 heads, demonstrated by the white strip to her right (each division = 1 head length.) An ideal shape for Second Life would fall between 5.5-8 heads in overall height, regardless of the body type. This is a little longer than Real Life, because in Second Life, you’re often looking at a downward camera angle which makes the shape appear a little squatter than it actually is.

When you’re deciding on your avatar’s overall height, don’t max out the height or leg length sliders! When you pull the Appearance sliders to any extreme, it squishes or stretches the shape, making it more difficult to maintain balanced, realistic proportions. I like to go for realistic heights. Our runway model shape is 6′ tall, a little tall for Real Life but not extreme.

Leg length vs. Torso length

A petite Second Life shape

The pale blue line to the left of the avatar represents her torso/trunk length versus leg length. Measure from the top of the head to the crotch, then from the crotch to the heel. These measurements should be about the same! (Extra length is shown in orange above.)

This is our petite shape. She’s 5’5″ according to a height measuring prim in-world… that’s average height for Real Life, but certainly shorter than most Amazonian avatars! Look at her head measurements: she is 7.5 heads tall overall, not too different from our runway model shape. Head measurements will help you keep your shape from looking like a pinhead or bobblehead.

Bust/Waist/Hip Ratios

A plus size shape for Second Life

The purple hourglass represents the torso shape. On our runway model and petite shapes, the waist is pretty small compared to shoulder and hip width. But our plus size shape still has curves!

Generally speaking, if your avatar is facing the camera, the shoulders will be about the same visual width as her hips, and her natural waist (the smallest part of the torso, not where her jeans fit) will fall halfway between the two and won’t be as wide.

Side view showing plus size proportions. The avatar's bustline is about the same as her hips.

The side view shows our plus size avatar’s bust and hip measurements in purple. When viewed from the side, her bustline and butt are the same visual width (both purple lines are exactly the same length.)

This is also true of our runway model shape, and our petite shape:

Side view showing runway model body proportions for Second Life

Side view showing petite/curvy body proportions for Second Life


By looking at all three demonstration body types, you’ll see the overall proportions are actually quite similar. These measurements will help you create a natural-looking female avatar shape, whether you’re aiming for a “fashion model” look, or not. Once you’re able to master “ideal” proportions, you can play with your measurements for realistic curves… in Real Life, you might have wider hips and a smaller bust, for example. Knowing how to work with your shape will ensure you don’t end up looking like a caricature!

For a more in-depth look at Second Life body proportions and using Appearance sliders to create your own shape, check out Chapter One of So You Wanna Be A Virtual Supermodel, my how-to book on Second Life modelling.


Alaska Metropolitan has been in Second Life since 2005 and hasn't left yet. In the last handful of years, she's been a virtual fashion designer, fashion show choreographer, model agent, and model agency owner.

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Free avatar tutorial, part two: girl next door

In this tutorial, we’ll cover how to find Second Life blogs and subscribe to them using a RSS reader, so you won’t miss out on any freebies or fashion must-haves!

This tutorial assumes you are using Google Chrome and have a Google account of some kind. Most people have, at one point or another, signed up for gmail or another Google service, and it’s free.

To start finding Second Life freebie fashion blogs, I typed “Second Life freebies blog” into the address bar (using Chrome, this will automatically search via Google.)

Using Google search to find Second Life freebie blogs

Over 3,000,000 results! Second Life freebies are a popular blogging topic.

I clicked to visit FabFree, a constantly-updated blog covering freebies, dollarbies, and group gifts in Second Life. On the top right corner is the orange RSS icon. If I click that, I get the RSS feed. It won’t look like much.

Example XML RSS feed

Example XML RSS feed

You’ll want to copy the RSS feed url (e.g. “http://fabfree.wordpress.com/feed/” in Chrome’s address bar.)

Now sign in to your Google account and click More > Reader in the top black bar (or just search for Google Reader to access the service.)

Once in Reader, on the left hand menu you should see your subscriptions list. Click the little black arrow to the right of the list, and choose Add a subscription… Paste the RSS feed url and you’re now subscribed to this blog!

Subscribing to a feed

Viewing a blog feed using Google Reader

If you did this correctly, you can now view all new posts, instantly, by signing into your Google account and viewing your Reader. You can add as many favourite blogs as you’d like, to keep them all in one place. You can create folders to sort your subscribed blogs to make it easier (e.g. Real Life, Second Life, etc.) Always look for the orange RSS icon to find the feed url, or look for a link to the feed at the bottom of the blog in the footer.

You can also subscribe to an entire feed website’s RSS feed. This will put all posts from, say, Fashion Feed of SL into your Reader.

Recommended Second Life freebie fashion blogs:
The Freebie Telegraph
iheartsl – Freebie posts

And another look put together by finding Marketplace freebies: The Girl Next Door 

Casual look

Free avatar look for Second Life: Girl Next Door

Evening/cocktail/club look

Second Life free avatar



I provide avatar tips and tricks, fashion knowledge, and tools for Second Life users in the virtual fashion industry.

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Free avatar tutorial, part one: dancer

If you’ve just signed up for Second Life and don’t have any L$ yet, it’s still possible to put together an avatar that looks good! This tutorial will show you how to to search for free content on the Marketplace and in-world, let you know what to look for when hunting for free stuff, and will show you two looks for a female avatar that could work as a club dancer.

Finding free stuff in Second Life

Open the Search panel by pressing the magnifying glass icon in your toolbar. Type “free stuff” (or any other search terms you can think of!) and select “Places” from the dropdown menu. You should find dozens of places with boxes of free stuff set to buy for L$0. (You don’t need to have any L$ to buy something for L$0.) The items will then show up in your inventory, usually in boxes.

searching for free stuff in Second Life

The search panel in Second Life

Finding free stuff on the Marketplace

Finding free stuff on the marketplace (http://marketplace.secondlife.com) can be a little harder than finding freebies in-world. Often searching finds completely unrelated items, or tonnes of demos. Here’s our tips for finding free stuff:

  • Use combinations of likely words rather than just searching for “free”. For example, try the phrase “free promo shoes.”
  • Filter your results by selecting the category you want from the left hand column. If you’re searching for skins, only show results from skins. This can cut down on the unrelated search results.
  • Change your results settings: Items per page: 96 and Sort by: Price: Low to High.

Once you place your order, the stuff will be delivered to you, probably in a box.

Unpacking boxes

If you’re both broke and new to Second Life, chances are that you don’t have land to unpack all your free stuff. Search for “sandbox” under Places in Second Life search. At a sandbox, you can unpack your boxes and try stuff on.

Drag your box to the ground beside you. Right click the box and select “Open“. This moves (or copies) all your box contents to a folder in your inventory. Now you can wear stuff! You can delete or take the box once it’s unpacked (from the right-click menu.)

Sorting your free stuff

What to keep: shapes, skins, and hair

We had better luck finding free shapes than good skins or hair, but most of the free shapes we found were frightening. Try to find a shape with copy/mod permissions, free, and fairly well-proportioned. From there, you can make changes (as long as it’s modifiable) and use the free shape as a base while you tweak it.

Unfortunately, a lot of skins at in-world freebie centers are ripped off. We recommend searching the marketplace for a designer promotion instead. Look for even skintone and natural, smooth shading.

Good free hair is hard to find! Some hair designers offer a free style to demo hair colours and quality. You can also find free gift hair by joining hair designers’ in-world groups.

What to keep: clothes

For free clothes, the biggest challenge is finding quality. The marketplace had far better free items than the in-world freebie centres we visited. Look for matching seams and nice shading. Keep freebies that you’d actually wear rather than hoarding everything ever – you don’t need an inventory full of junk!

Our put together look: Dancer

This avatar is tall & sexy. Dancing in a club is a pretty common “job” in Second Life, so we’ve kept that in mind when putting her together.

Off-the-job casual look

 Second Life avatar from free content

On-the-job dancer look

Second Life avatar made with free content

Second Life avatar made using free content

In the next tutorial, we’ll show how to subscribe to freebie fashion blogs so you won’t miss any great finds.


I provide avatar tips and tricks, fashion knowledge, and tools for Second Life users in the virtual fashion industry.

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