Matching Skin Colors

Color Matching

Show Color Tool – Image #1

In Second Life many new products require some color matching to look right. The most notable of course is prim feet and shoes. Also, the skin color of genitals, which has led me to wonder if male color blindness includes black and white blindness… If you have been to one of SL’s Chippendales-like places you understand that comment. I suspect part of the problem is the number of different ways devised to match the color in SL. I’ll try to sort those out for you, so Second Life Color Matching and color picking are easier.

Also, if you haven’t bought your first pair of prim feet and shoes yet, I know where you can get a gorgeous pair for L$25. Read on.

The Problem

When we are matching color for skin we only see half the problem. About 2 years ago Windlight made problems for clothes makers. How light and colorwork in regard to clothes and prims is different. I first wrote about the difference and the problem it causes in Dress Making and Color Matching. Unfortunately, the tutorials I linked to in that article are suffering severe link rot… their pictures are gone. But the picture below shows the problem.

Showing Prim and Clothes Color Mismatch – Image #2

In the image you see the skirt around the hips is one color and the prim skirt flair another color. This is the problem of clothes (the skirt) and the prims (the flair) being rendered differently, colors don’t match. It’s just the way the viewer is built. Use the same texture in both and you get different colors. The same thing happens with skin and prim feet.

So, in Photoshop I can make a skin using Red, Green, Blue, (RGB) color values 92-63-59. If I plug those values into the SL Color Selector, my feet won’t match my skin. So, shoemakers bypass the problem and just never give you the real skin color. Their matching colors are tediously worked out.

You would see the problem if you make a dress with matching prim parts, like the front panel in many new mini-skirts. If you make the texture for the skirt and prim the exact same color in Photoshop, GIMP, or whatever image editor, they won’t match when you get them into SL. The viewer changes the color when it renders the prim. The fix is to add a gray tint to the prim to adjust the color on the prim. Adjust the brightness of the gray until you get the best color match. Gray works with any color or pattern. Know that your color match will never be perfect. But, you can get very close.

With feet, you enter the color matching process after the textures have been created and added to the prim/sculpty feet. Since the skin and feet are most often made by different people, they have different textures. You can’t just add gray and get a match. One skin may be more red, green, or blue than the texture on the feet. We have to adjust ALL the colors (RGB) to get a match.

There are so many different color matching techniques it can get really confusing. People have so many different ideas of what is easy. Plus different creators have different ideas of how color works in SL and which terms best describe it. The trick is for you to know which creator is using which technique, so you can adjust the color.

Color Matching

N-Core Color Matching – Image #3

I really like N-Core and Stiletto Moody shoes. They are a bit on the expensive side… like RL the good stuff costs. These two creators took different paths to how one adjusts the foot and matches the skin color. So, they make good examples.

Color Matching

Stiletto Moody Color Matching – Image #4

Stiletto Moody uses both the typical SL viewer dialog menus to size and color the foot and a HUD (Image #4), depending on the shoes. New shoes in the Bare line use a HUD. Other creators use the basic SL Build Dialog to size and color the foot. I’m not a great fan of dialog processes, I prefer a HUD.

N-Core uses a custom HUD (Image #3). If you have not watched the tutorial video, N-Core’s color matching will likely confuse you. I’ll explain why. But, the video is here: N-Core Color Matching Video 4:10 minutes

In both cases, the dialogs and HUD’s are just the MECHANICS of setting the colors. The mechanics of the process do nothing to explain how things work or what they are doing. Each seems to think there is only one way to look at color adjustment. However, there are two basic ways of thinking about skin color, or actually any color in SL. The terms color and tint get mixed up because of people using textures and colors together.

One can use Photoshop or GIMP to make a texture any color, say green. By placing the texture on a prim they get a green prim. They can also set the prim color and change the texture’s apparent color so it is tinted. Some shoemakers use a base skin color; a colored texture used for skin. They then use the SL Color Picker or a HUD to set color to tint the skin. N-Core does that. Stiletto apparently uses a neutral texture and allows one to input the color.

Confused? Think of setting a prim with a green texture to a pink color and think of another prim with a white texture and set it to pink also. The green and pink add up to an ugly brown. The white and pink add up to pink. SL is adding the color to whatever texture is used, to tint the texture. As best I can tell N-Core uses different base colors and Stiletto uses a white/gray texture.

Color Matching

Second Life Color Sector – Image #5

So, how do you know which way something works? And what difference does it make? There is a way to quickly know. If you look at the SL Color Selector you will notice an eyedropper at the bottom of the panel (Image #5). Click it and click on your skin, or anything, in the viewer. The eyedropper returns the color of the object, which may not be the color you see. It returns the color someone previously set with the SL Color Selector and disregards any color from the texture. The texture’s color and the prim’s color setting add up to the color you see. The eyedropper can only return the ‘color sitting’ part.

2 thoughts on “Matching Skin Colors

  1. Pingback: Xcite Releases X4 Genitals in Second Life

  2. Pingback: What is a ‘Slink Feet Switcher’? | Nalates' Things & StuffNalates’ Things & Stuff

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