Creating avatar skins – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series; I wrote about some of the options and guides for beginners to learn about creating an avatar skin. Part 2 moves on from that to cover a free resource: Eloh Eliot’s Another Skin templates.

Many people have heard of these and, indeed, there tends to be a general view that everyone knows what they are. If you are new to virtual worlds or have never tried your hand at creating then you probably won’t know about them. I was aware of the name for some time but didn’t know exactly what they were for about two years.

Eloh Eliot was (as far as I am aware) the first person from Second Life to create and then make freely available, complete, full body, female skin templates. Complete, in this context, means that they come with a base skin texture and shading/highlights on the face, upper and lower body. The head template has eyebrows, eyelashes and make-ups which are pre-prepared and all are fully modifiable and customisable.

They can be used, fairly easily and quickly, to create a skin to replace the Ruth avatar default you have in OpenSim. They can be a training resource for developing your own custom skin design and they are also available to be used commercially.

Eloh Eliot’s work is an amazing stand-out in the realm of free resources, not just because of the good, professional, quality of the work or for the amount of time she has put into making them convenient to use. Quite simply, no other creator at this time offers the same kind of flexibility in this particular area.

How do you use them?

If you visit the resource page for Another Skin you will find three female skins that are currently available to download. One of the older skins – Untitled, comes as layered Photoshop (.psd) files only. The two most recent skins, Starlight and Pleiades, are available for download in Photoshop (.psd) and Gimp (.xcf) file formats. Starlight is also available to download in Illustrator (.ai) file format.

Two of the skin generations listed are not available to download at this time (which, sadly, includes the experimental male skin mods).

The files all come with a license and I strongly recommend, out of courtesy to the creator, that you read them or visit the FAQ page to understand the required usage.

Once you have downloaded the files to your computer it is then entirely up to you how you modify them. If you want a straightforward female skin to replace your default avatar skin this can be easily achieved, usually within a few minutes for an intermediate/advanced user, in the graphics programme of your choice.

Whilst the site has no in-depth tutorials; it does give a guide on how to change the presets of the Starlight skin in its .psd format. This is helpful as, with this skin generation, you have a choice between 2 nose and mouth shapes as well as preset make-ups.

Other resources?

There is one other thing I’d like to cover about female skin templates, particularly as it is referred to on Eloh Eliot’s site. A similar resource for female skins did use to be available which were completely free and modifiable. They were also created by a Second Life resident, Sezmra Svarog, and called the Splendor skins.

Sezmra Svarog was originally a creator for her skin and clothing business called Nora. In 2008 she closed her business and made the Splendor skin templates, as layered Photoshop files and wearable skins, a free resource via her website and at a specific sim in Second Life.

Skipping forward to the present day – it appears that they are no longer available in those places (there is no reference to them in the creator’s Profile info either).

At the time of publishing this post; I do not have any information on why the Splendor skins are no longer available. It is entirely possible that the templates and skins that were created are still sold or distributed free of charge by other people.

*Update* 22/12/10 It appears that the Splendor skin.psd files are available to download from a resource website called ZeroTerminal.

ZeroTerminal also hosts downloads of the Eloh Eliot templates and mods of the skins, made or uploaded by site users, as well as other free resources. You do have to register with the website to login and download and it is aimed at Second Life residents.

I would like to point out that, personally, I haven’t registered to use this website. I don’t know the people who have set up this site and there doesn’t appear to be any information on their Second Life identities, real life details or any contact info, so please use your own judgement. A final caveat – to quote from a comment by one of the admins, GateOn: “Even though I watch out copyrights as much as I can, I don’t accept any responsibility for any item I am posting.”

Unfortunately, skin templates and their derivatives can be a subject that causes a huge amount of confusion (and some no small amount of drama at times). To assist with recognising the Splendor templates I’ve included an image of the Head .psd file and what Sezmra Svarog wrote about using them.

Splendor skin by Sezmra Svarog - Head template

Splendor skin by Sezmra Svarog - Head template

From the Read Me text included with the .psd files:

**You are free to use these files to create your own skins for your Second Life avatar, no matter what Grid you are using it on.

**You are free to alter these files to create your own skins in order to resell them.

**You are NOT encouraged to redistribute these files, commercially, as is.  Please don’t take advantage of others – it may return to haunt you.

I hope the above will be of use to anyone who does come across the Splendor files or skins for the first time.

In my next post I will be writing my very first tutorial on how to use the Another Skin – Starlight file in Photoshop, from download to uploading to OpenSim.

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