Working with #SL Male Shape

Some of the avatar files have a male shape included. Others appear to NOT have the separate male shape. You can also import a male shape to Blender by exporting one from SL. See Second Life Mesh Clothes Blender 2.6 Setup 2012 Tutorial for information on how to export from Second Life® and details on which shapes are what.

Revealing the Male Shape

This tutorial is about working with Blender 2.63a shape keys to get the male shape. It will also give you some idea of how the Alternate or Redpoly Deformer can work.

If you make petites or giants, getting a copy of the male model that is well weighted is important. If you have tried exporting the male model as a mesh for use in SL, you likely ran into problems. This tutorial will help with exporting the male model.


The files that have the male shaped model may not have a weight painted version. While it is possible to parent the model and do a Bone Copy, the weight painting can be a little off. So, how does one get a male model in the SL avatar.blend file? Or get the SL weighting?

It isn’t hard. But it is a trick. In Domino’s avatar.blend, the SL files, and Gaia’s avatar-workbench-263.blend the male model is there. You just have to coax him out. That is done with the shape keys.

The Trick

Pick your favorite file, preferably one of your base files that is just the avatar setup as you like. It is OK that it has only the female model. You can use your base file from the ‘Setup Tutorial’.

The above image shows the female model with the male head beside it. I’ll show you how to get that male model and export it.

Shape Key Controls

  1. Select the female avatar’s head.
  2. In the Properties Panel on the right select Object Data (A).
  3. Find the Shape Keys section.
  4. Scroll the Shape Keys list until you see Male_Head.
  5. Click to select it.
  6. Below the keys list click the Push Pin (B). You should see the female head change to the male head.
  7. Select the torso and find Male_Torso and select it.
  8. Click the Push Pin. Once selected it should change to the male torso.
  9. Repeat for the legs and select Male_Legs.

You now have the male model. It is rigged and weighted. It is ready to use for modeling.

You can save this file as your male model base file to save making these changes each time you work on a male model.


The model will not export as is. If you attempt to export it, you will end up with the female model.

Somehow we need to get the shape keys applied to the base mesh. Masami Kuramoto helped me with this step.

  1. Using the head as an example, select the head.
  2. Press Shift-D to make a copy. Move it to a new layer or whatever you want to do so you can keep track of this copy.
  3. Select the Male_Head shape key.
  4. Now click the black triangle (C) and select: New Shape from Mix.
  5. Now remove all the other shape keys by clicking the Minus Button just above the black triangle.

Once all the other keys are gone, your model should retain the male shape and is ready to export. From this point on the export is the standard Collada export.

Other Shape Controls

As you select different shape keys you will see all the possible facial expressions and hand positions. There is lots of stuff to play with that is built into the avatar. I’m pretty sure Second Life is not using all the features built into the avatar.

There are some other shape controls in Blender. You may have noticed the ‘vertex’ select button next to the push pin (C). This is similar to other buttons that are used to apply a ‘modifier’ to the vertices of a model in Edit Mode. This does the same with an additional control.

Below the name field is a value slider/field (not shown in image). This slider adjusts the amount of shape key deformation to apply. When modeling and animating in Blender, these controls are used to help the animation process. They don’t offer us anything extra when making clothes for the Default or Standard Shapes.

The Range control allows one to set limits on how much of the Base and selected shape key can be applied. Again these are handy for doing animations in Blender and are of little use for clothes makers.

These controls are simple. The modeling process that uses them is a matter of talent and skill.


You now know how to get to the Default Male Shape and export it.

The Mesh Deformer is still in development. There is some confusion on how fast it is or is NOT moving forward. I’m still designing for the Default Shape and hoping something gets completed and implemented soon.


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