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

August 26, 2007 at 1:36 pm 1 comment

2. Get a new skin

Step 2 of 5 in “How to stop looking like a newbie in Second Life

I cannot stress enough the importance of a good skin in creating the perfect look for your avatar. All those things your mother told you about taking care of your skin are doubly true in Second Life. With a bad skin, you will never look great, no matter how much you spend on clothes and accessories. That’s because you can’t buy makeup to cover all your skin woes in Second Life; the makeup comes as part of your skin. It’s a real annoyance to those of us who would like to match your makeup to your outfit, as skins are expensive.

In fact, a good skin is the single most expensive accessory for your body that you are likely to ever buy. A good, detailed skin will cost around $1000 – $1400 (whew – pricey*). However, you can find pretty decent ones for less, maybe around $600 – $800. But as with all things in life, you get what you pay for, and the difference will be noticeable. Maybe not at first, but once you spend time in-world, you will see what I mean. Expensive skins have beautiful shading, highly detailed shoulder blades, stomach muscles, ears, knees, clavicles, belly buttons – and even pubic hair and genitals (for women). Don’t ask me why, but apparently men have to buy their penis. No time to delve into the psychology of that right now, though! Here’s a comparison showing the default avatar skin, next to a very nice skin… Note: the shape, and everything else is exactly the same; the only difference is the skin.

Skinn comparison in Second Life

To find a skin, you do exactly as you did when shopping for your shape, with one exception: because skins are soooo expensive, the people who make skins will usually have demos available, so you can try before you buy. Look for DEMO next to the picture of the skin; they usually cost $1. Remember, the skin is just a layer of colouring that sits on top of your shape, so the chances are that you will not look like the picture – in the same way that if you buy some real life makeup or hair dye, you won’t look like the model on the box. Some skins will look great on an Asian-inspired shape, but dreadful on an African-inspired one, for example. So my advice is to buy a few demos and see how they “fit” your shape. You might even want to hold off on committing to a skin until you have shopped around for some clothes/hair. And remember what I said about buying a mod-able shape? Well, if you followed my advice, you can also tweak your shape to make it look even better with the skin you have chosen (just remember to either make a copy of the shape first, or ALWAYS use SAVE AS!).

Most skins come with a bald head. This is so you can choose whatever hair you want, and it will look fine when you put it on, without any wispy bits or other colours showing through. For this reason, I suggest wearing your crappy default Second Life skin until you get to the final step, step 5 (hair). You can then put on your amazing skin and bask in your own beauty. Of course, if you like the Sinead O’Connor / Britney Spears / Telly Sevales look, by all means feel free to wander around with a bald head!

* As skins are so pricey, you might be thinking, why can’t I make my own skin? You can – but it’s incredibly complicated. That’s why they are so expensive. It takes time, talent, and a lot of creativity to make a realistic skin. I have spent hours trying to learn, and I’m a Photoshop veteran. I’ve made clothes, jewellery & objects in Second Life, and skin is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to make. So my advice is to let the pros do it. After spending days trying myself, I have a new-found admiration for the artists who make Second Life skin, and I don’t begrudge paying a fair price for their work. I can personally recommend the beautiful skins from Celestial Studios, Naughty Island and Nomine – that’s where I got most of mine.

All supermodels have a supermodel sashay for that catwalk look, so the next step is to get a new walk…

Step 3 – Get a new walk >>

<< previous step: Step 1 – Get a new shape


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

Stop looking like a newbie: Step 1 – Get a new shape Stop looking like a newbie: Step 3 – Get a new walk

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Aenea  |  September 7, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    I would also recommend Tete a Pied’s new skin line, which are much more economical (the competition in the skin market is getting really rough!), and have really high quality for the price.

    I reviewed them here.


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