Skin Design – The Windlight Age
I recently got interested in skin design… well facial tattoos really, that sort of forces one to look at skin design. This article is about the basic concepts and where to find great information on skins. It is my basic research work and learning as I begin to explore skin design.
When it comes to understanding skin there is the Ruth skin, the default skin one has when they first come into SL. It is pretty bland. The Ruth skin makes one look very cartoony. There are enough free skins around that anyone that cares about AV appearance can upgrade. Just takes a little looking around. Some great free skins are older models made by top designers. So, you can look good for free. Check out Freebies Beach for a good free or cheap skin. For those that want an anatomically correct skin look around Zindra. Many of the dance clubs have good free skins for their dancers and new patrons.
Now, why are facial tattoos a problem, any tattoo for that matter? Consider. In the Appearance editor there is a tattoo layer on the skin tab. This is the layer used by all resident made skins. So, one must either give up their custom resident made skin and wear a Ruth skin and tattoo or give up a clothing layer for a body tattoo. On the face there are no clothing layers. So, wearing a custom facial tattoo without giving up the custom skin is not possible. However, one may add their tattoo to the facial skin.
UPDATE: The layering information in the article is out of date. We have more layers now – 2013
There is a Jira requesting that another AV layer be added for tattoos. You can vote for it. See: 3 New Avatar Layers (VWR-1449 – original request). This request turned 2 years old as of June 29th. So, we may not see it implemented any time soon.
Skins one buys are often no mode and almost certainly no transfer. This means they cannot be downloaded and used for easy addition of a tattoo. If you have a free skin with full permissions then you can back it up to and work on it in your home computer. Mine are not downloadable. There are ways to get even those skins that are no mod/trans. I’ll leave that to your Google skills.
Nomine made my skin and it is a nice one. (I spent almost two months deciding on which skin I wanted) I think with some work I can make something close. So, this project got started. Research is showing most of the tutorials are 2 or more years old. Also, most of the tutorials deal with easy to make skins; vampires, dark Goth skins and similar.
A quick look n Xstreet shows there are skin design templates and Photoshop files. Some of these go for L$17,000… whoa! A bit more looking and I’m finding good skin templates for free. A friend recommended the Eloh Eliot skin templates which I found on Vent Falken’s blog. Check them out. I’m now on my way to making a skin. It is not as easy has making a blouse. So, I started looking for tutorials.
At Second Style I found a series titled 30 Days of Skins. Started in January 2009 this series covers skins made by many of the top skin makers in SL. It is not a tutorial. It does how what is possible. I found lots of recent information on skins. Most of the tutorials are old pre-Windlight tutorials. Seshat Czeret has a post on the The Theory of Second Life Skin and Clothing. Theory is what is it, a much know (IMO) of anyone intending to work with skin. Seshat’s tutorials are for those using Gimp (free image editor).
With the release of viewer 1.23 some of the changes coming to SL avatar skin rendering came to light. How the skin renders changed. Plus there are more skin and clothing changes coming. The JIRA problem however has been fixed.
Olilia’s Second Life has a post Making Clothes & Skins – Preparations Part 1 (Nov 2007) that gets one the list of tools and templates one needs to begin making clothes and skin. Olilia’s skin making series is;
- Skin Tutorial – Part 1: Skintexture
- Skin Tutorial – Part 2 – Basic Shading: Head
- Skin Tutorial – Part 3 – Basic Shading: Upper & Lower Body
- Skin Tutorial – Part 4: Nose, Ears & Brows
- Skin Tutorial – Part 5: Lips
- Skin Tutorial – Part 6: Eyes
- The Naked Avatar
- Create a Tattoo: Part 1 – Single colour
- Create a Tattoo: Part 2 – Multi-colour
This is where my research has lead me so far. I’m off to learn and begin making my own attempts at creating skin. I’ll write more as I learn how things work.