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Second Life Tips & Tricks: Creating an Avatar

Updated on October 25, 2007
Second Life avatars are virtual representations of real-life players
Second Life avatars are virtual representations of real-life players

Unlike Another Youniverse, a fictional computer simulation featured on "Law and Order: SVU" that does not actually exist, Second Life, seen on a recent episode of "CSI: NY" is real. Second Life is a virtual reality 3-D world that was created in 2003 and currently boasts millions of members, or Residents, around the world.

The Second Life world is created entirely by its Residents. After creating your character, or avatar, you can buy land, build a home or business, and trade property with other players. The Marketplace is full of virtual goods and services created by Second Life Residents that other users can purchase by exchanging Linden Dollars, Second Life's own unique form of currency. The money that is made in-world can actually be converted to US dollars at one of many online Linden Dollar exchanges.

The first step after signing up for an account at Second Life is to create your avatar. An avatar is a virtual representation of yourself. It does not, however, have to be accurate. Second Life gives you the freedom to portray yourself however you want, be it a human, an animal, a robot or even a mythical creature. You can be male or female, black or white, tall or short. Second Life gives you the power to tweak the characteristics of your avatar full scope, from the ends of your hair to the tips of your toes. The possibilities are endless.

Body Parts: Shape

At first, the game will supply you with a default avatar who is very plain looking in basic jeans and a white t-shirt. Right-click on your avatar and click "Appearance" to enter the editing laboratory. You will see two categories, Body Parts and Clothes--start with Body Parts. Moving down the list from the top, begin with the Shape category. This will allow you to adjust your height, weight, chest size, waist size and so on. Even though the Head sliders will be on top, it's better to design the Body first. Unless you're going for an extreme look, it is best to keep the sliders somewhere in the middle to create a proportioned avatar. After you've created the body shape, you can design the head to match. Clicking the Randomize button towards the bottom will select a combination of characteristics for you. After you've adjusted each characteristic, make sure you click "Save" at the bottom of the screen before moving on to the next section.

Customize your avatar's appearance by altering body thickness, shape, size, weight and height
Customize your avatar's appearance by altering body thickness, shape, size, weight and height

Body Parts: Skin, Hair, Eyes

Your avatar's skin can be customized to any color. The sliders can also be adjusted to alter skin details (like pigment) face detail, make-up, and body detail. Body detail means tattoos, and tattoos can be placed anywhere on the body, from head (if you're bald) to toe (if you're going to go barefoot). You also have complete control over the color, length and texture of the hair as well as color, shape and size of the eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows.

Skin color can be changed along with make-up and tattoos
Skin color can be changed along with make-up and tattoos


Clothing is one of the most popular items that is bought and sold in Second Life, and there are tons of stores you can shop at to do so. If you're like me, however, and want to play the game for fun without spending any money, then you'll have to work with what you're given. (Another option is taking a trip later to Yadni's Junkyard and scavenging for discarded outfits.) All articles of clothing can be customized by style and color: shirt, pants, shoes, socks, jacket, gloves, undershirt, underpants, skirt. Advanced Residents use Adobe Photoshop to design and create their own clothing, but we'll get into that later.

Now that you're done customizing your avatar, you're ready to go in-world and start exploring! Click "Save all" and then "Close" at the bottom of the screen to exit the edit laboratory and reenter Second Life.


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