In Second Life™ lots of people are all about looks. Few of those people know much about making a beautiful avatar. They just shape their avatar by eye. Those that are better at making shapes may end up selling shapes to the rest of us. The next step up from making shapes is sculpting heads and bodies.
I keep looking at people’s avatars and notice how some are just gorgeous. Some with incredible faces. What makes their face so pleasing?
One part of the beauty equation is proportions. Some time ago I made a tool for getting body shapes proportional. Mostly getting height and arm lengths right. Now I’ve made a guide for getting facial proportions correct. The video is the quick answer to what it is and how it works. About 3 minutes.
Before you run off to buy this tool and fix that ugly face of yours… well… you’re not that bad… you need to know this tool is just a guide to assist you in creating a face shape. It doesn’t make a shape. Also, it isn’t easy to use CORRECTLY. Read on or watch the video before you decide.
Be warned. The Guide is Copy-OK so there are NO REFUNDS.
Creating pleasing shapes, and especially faces, has a long history in art. Leonardo da Vinci is famous for his study of human shape. His insights are used in painting and sculpture to create life-like art. This guide is an aide to help you achieve good human proportions when creating an avatar face. Should save a you fortune by your not having to go to art school to learn all this proportions stuff.
All human faces basically conform to these proportions. Yet, faces are different enough we recognize people by their face. But, the farther a face deviates from these Leonardo-idealized proportions the less pleasing we find it. Beauty is in the combination of various features and how they diverge and conform to these ideals.
Have fun with the guide. Let it ‘help’. Avoid being limited by it.
In Second Life the camera is our eye into the virtual world. But it is a camera and we do have to understand cameras to get more than just the basic look at the world. We have to deal with it as if it is a manual camera and manually change settings. It is NOT like the camera in your smartphone.
If you understand parallax then you understand the problem with the Guide and avatar face that we need to minimize.
Camera’s Default View
The SL Viewers use about a 50mm lens to render the world. This is great for things at a normal distance and mimics the human eye pretty well. But the human eye changes and adapts to what it is looking at. Plus, the human brain compensates for distortions and because of that we usually don’t notice them. But we do in the viewer.
To use the SL Viewer’s default camera and settings with the Guide will be difficult to use. You’ll have various problems working in that environment. But it can be done. I don’t recommend it.
Camera’s Custom View
To understand the SL Viewer’s camera press Ctrl-8, 9, and 0 to change the camera lens and see how it changes the appearance of the avatar’s face. I’ve added a picture here to show the extremes. The distortion you see using Ctrl-8, right side, and zooming in close to the face makes it difficult to use the guide and have the result be what you wanted.
The point I am making is you will have a better time of it if you learn to remove the wide-ish-angle lens distortion present in the default and wide-angle camera views. While the Guide can be used with the viewer’s default camera settings, doing so can be frustrating.
When you move into changing shape the viewer’s Appearance Panel’s default is set to move the camera for you, which is helpful. Unless you are trying to use the Guide. If you allow auto positioning, using this tool will be very frustrating, especially if you use Ctrl-0. I recommend you open Preferences (Ctrl-P)->Move & View (Tab)->View (Tab) find Automatically pose avatar during… and disable Appearance. This changes how the camera behaves when you edit Shape. You can change it back later.
Wear or, preferably, ADD the guide. It attaches to the skull and is designed to work attached there. It is possible to use it on other attachment points. However, you will then need to manually position it.
If you are just starting with a head shape you may want to remove the hair.
Remove any face-lights in front of the face.
You will need a pose-stand or something to immobilize the avatar while you position the camera and adjust the Guide.
Once adjusted you’re ready to enter Edit Shape. You really need to have disabled Automatically pose… as I wrote above. Then right-click the avatar and select Edit Shape.
Default – Not Recommended
To use the default view look for the red spot on the Guide’s nose. Alt-Left-Click and hold on it to zoom in on the face. Zoom in as close as you can and notice the red cylinder has a green end. Align your camera so the green has a red ring around it. Center the green part in the red to get the best camera alignment.
Once centered zoom out or in to fit the Guide’s out line to the face. Check that the green remains centered in the red.
You can skip to Using the Controls.