Stop looking like a newbie: Step 1 – Get a new shape

August 26, 2007 at 1:35 pm 4 comments

Step 1: Get a new shape

Step 1 of 5 in “How to stop looking like a newbie in Second Life

Why do you need/want a new shape? Your shape dictates the way everything that you put on will look. Second Life avatar shape determines everything from how tall you are, to how wide your hips are, how pointy your nose is – everything about your look. A good shape is the foundation for any avatar. Skin and clothing are simply coloured layers that wrap around your shape, so the first thing you should do is sort the shape out. Think of the skin & clothes like a tablecloth; the overall look will be determined by the shape of the table. Here’s an example of what the basic default “City Chic” Second Life avatar shape looks like, and next to it is the same skin, clothes, etc with a different shape:

Shape comparison

There are a couple of ways to amend your shape. The DIY way, or the paid way. The results will be much the same as in real life: if you are good at DIY, you will get good results, but if you have the cash, you can get great results by paying a pro. My personal approach is to do a combination of the two: start off with a purchased “pre-fab” shape, then do my own tweaks to get it just the way I like it.

A. The DIY Way:

Right-click on your avatar (or your name floating above your avatar) and select “Appearance”. A new window will open, and here you can play around with all the different shape sliders to customise the shape of your avatar’s body. You can also adjust your eyes & skin here… but more about this in a moment. For now, just modify the shape. You can have laugh making a gigantic butt or hands! Once you are happy, click “Save as…” and give your new customised shape a name you can remember. I always use “Save as…” a new file, so the modifications don’t affect the original. This means you can go back to the original if you mess up, or if you want to make another shape based on the original. You can also make a backup copy of your shape.To make a copy, open your Inventory (click CTRL I) and find your shape. The shape icon looks like a line drawing of head & shoulders of a person in a square, and the shape you are wearing will appear in bold text. Right-click on the item, and select COPY. Then right-click on a folder name or anywhere in your Inventory, and select PASTE. Tip: I always rename the original with the word “original” in it, so I know which was the starting point. To rename, right-click and select RENAME.

B. The paid way:

Open up the SEARCH menu (click CTRL F). Click on PLACES, and then type “shape” (without the “”) into the search box. Use the drop-down menu to narrow the search to SHOPPING category only, and make sure you tick the box that includes Mature content, as it often brings up the most results. Shapes & skins are “naked” so it’s always a good idea to tick this box when shopping for stuff. Click the SEARCH button, and loads of results should appear. Select one that sounds appealing, click TELEPORT, and off you go.

Once you are in the shop, look for pictures of naked people – they are the shapes and/or skins. Sometimes you can find a shape that comes with a free skin, or vice versa, so look out for these bargains, as you’ll also need a new skin (see below for more). Also look out for shapes that are modifiable – they will usually show a check mark next to the word “Mod” or say “Mod: Yes” on the ad. Or, if you hover your mouse over the image, it might tell you in the text that pops up. I only ever buy modifiable shapes, because you will almost certainly need a little virtual plastic surgery to make a skirt, hair or shoes fit properly. Buying mod-able shapes is my top shape tip for newbies.

Once you find one you like, you can hover your mouse over the image to see how much it costs. Most shapes cost between $200 – $500, but if they come with skin, it might be more. To buy, right-click on the image and select PAY. When the blue box pops up, say OK to get the goods, and then look in your inventory (CTRL I) to find the new shape. To put it on, right-click on the shape name and select WEAR. Voila!

If it’s not quite what you were hoping for, you can make some DIY adjustments – but always make a copy first! Or use “Save As” as mentioned above. However, I would recommend waiting to make your adjustments until a little later…

You now have a new shape, but you may be wondering why you still don’t look like a supermodel. That’s because you need a new skin, the number one ingredient that either makes or breaks an avatar’s looks.

Step 2: Get a new skin >>


Entry filed under: Help for Newbies, Shopping, Top Tips.

My Shynee blog Stop looking like a newbie: Step 2 – Get a new skin

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aenea  |  September 7, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    It might be worthwhile to mention some of the good shape shops, as many places sell really crappy shapes, and there are NO demos for shapes.

    I would suggest as consistently good shape shops:
    the free shapes at Sin Skins


  • 2. Daire Aeon  |  March 3, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Hi, I’m having difficulty grasping the “shape” concept in relation to the head or facial features of the avatar. It is my understanding after reading ur articles and talking to other avatars that when buying a “shape” this does not include the head or facial features. Yet, when you showed your examples of a newbee avatar compared to a customized or bought avatar the head did look a lot better “shape” wise. Could you please clarify this for me. Also, for a price, there are services provided that will form your head to a desired look. Do they use the same tools provided by SL to do this or do they use other means? Thanking you in advance.

  • 3. shynee  |  March 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Daire,

    The shapes *do* include facial feature structure & head shape… just not the skin/makeup. It might help to think of it like a tent: the shape is like the tent poles, and the skin is like the tent fabric… so the shape provides the bone/muscle structure, the skin provides the outer surface colouring on your avatar.

    I am not familiar with the services that make your head to a desired shape, but I would guess that they either use the built-in SL function (Edit Appearance > Head) or they might build something that you wear on the clothing layer.

    If you buy a shape that doesn’t allow modification, then you can’t change the shape of the head or the bone structure of your facial features, but otherwise, you should be able to tweak your facial structure yourself.

    Hope that helps :–)

  • 4. laurelynelaville  |  May 18, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Laurelyne’s at has modifable/copy shapes for women with more to come.

    The shape does control what your face and body looks like…it is your form. A skin goes over the top and gives the details like makeup and nipples. I hope that helps some.

    I agree you will want a mod shape so you can make even basic changes to height and to add more butt to fill out your jeans or take some off if wearing a skirt with bustle.


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