Uploading an avatar skin to OpenSim

I decided to write this post after receiving a reader’s question on how to upload files to make into a completed skin in OpenSim. My reply included a description on how to do this, but I think it’s something that needs an expanded post.

I learned how to upload files and make a wearable skin in Second Life; it is one of those areas where an assumption is often made that everyone knows how to do it. To help those who haven’t put together an avatar skin before I’ve written this tutorial.

The same basic method applies for other grids and viewers (as far as I’m aware).

I’m using the Starlight skin .psd files made by Eloh Eliot and working in Photoshop CS3. For OpenSim I’m using the Imprudence viewer.

This tutorial is for people who have some Photoshop experience rather than the complete beginner.


When you are happy with your skin and want to upload it take the following steps:

1. Check the image size of your Photoshop files. If they are set at 1024 by 1024 pixels you’ll need to resize them. You can upload this size but it will make a large file, which is not very efficient, and could be slow to rez in-world.

Resizing your skin files to 512 x 512

Resizing your skin files to 512 x 512 (Image 1)

2. In the Image Size dialog box resize the Face, Upper and Lower Body files to 512 x 512 pixels. (Image 1)

Then go to Save As and save the Face, Upper and Lower Body files as Targa (.tga) format. (Image 2)

Saving as Targa (Image 1)

Saving as Targa (Image 2)

The next dialog box to open will give you the choice of saving as 16, 24 or 32 bit (Image 3). To make sure that the Face file is uploaded with the transparency information, select the 32 bit option. You can save the Upper and Lower Body files as 24 bit – if you have not added any Alpha Channels when modifying the files.

Saving as Targa (Image 2)

Saving as Targa (Image 3)

Face/Head template files usually contain an Alpha Channel and only Targa (.tga) and Portable Network Graphic (.png) file formats are available in virtual worlds to recognise the transparency information. People also use the .png file format for saving skin files. I use Targa as that’s what I’m familiar with but it’s what works best for you.

3. You do not need to save your .psd files at the 512 x 512 image size. If you are using the original files, and not saved copies, I’d recommend against it. If you want to come back and make changes, or create a new skin, it is harder to do detailed work at this smaller size.

4. Now that your files are saved it is time to upload them. Login to your grid or region and find your favourite spot to do some appearance editing.

Uploading and making your new skin

1. Go to File, then the Upload menu, select Upload Image and choose the Face, Upper and Lower Body .tga (or .png) files. (Image 1)

Uploading your skin in OpenSim. Image 1

Uploading your skin in OpenSim. (Image 1)

Depending on your viewer, you can choose to do a preview of each file before you upload it. To look, go to the ‘Preview image as’ and then use the drop down menu to see the file as it will look on an avatar. (Image 2)

Uploading skin you skin in OpenSim. Image 2

Uploading skin you skin in OpenSim. (Image 2)

Those with free uploads, or viewers that have free temporary uploads, can skip the preview if you wish.  Once the files are uploaded they will be saved to your Textures folder.

2. The next step is to make a new skin. Open your Inventory window and go to Create, located at the top of the window. Select New Body Parts and then select New Skin. A new skin will appear in your Body Parts folder. Rename the skin as you choose, then double-click or Command click (Mac)/Right click (Windows) on the name to wear it. Don’t panic on finding that it is a default Ruth skin! The next steps should fix that.

3. When you’re wearing your new skin go to the Appearance window. Choose the Skin tab listed under Body Parts. (Image 3)

Making the skin in the Appearance window. Image 3

Making the skin in the Appearance window. (Image 3)

The Skin window will show three grey boxes with a black cross in them, on the left hand side next to the sliders. These are the Head, Upper Body and Lower Body Tattoos. This is where you will assign your uploaded skin files to the new skin you’re wearing.

Make sure you have the ‘Apply Immediately’ box ticked, so that you can see the files as they are applied to the skin. Click on the Head Tattoos box. Another window will open where you can look for the uploaded skin files in your Inventory. Find the Face upload, click on the name and then click on the Select button. Now the upload will appear in the Head Tattoos box and on your avatar skin.

Repeat the same process for the Upper and Lower Body boxes and then press Save. You will now be wearing your new skin with the uploaded files.

I hope that this will be of help. Enjoy your new skin!

7 comments on “Uploading an avatar skin to OpenSim

  1. I’m re-assembling one of Eliot’s skins, but I’m having problems in the skin of skin, when I upload to the game part of the head to see the line, it’s like the color of skin color was different from the rest of body, but is not, I know where I’m wrong ..

  2. Hello Liz!

    There could be two answers to the problem:

    1. The skin colour of the Eloh Eliot head file might have a very small difference to the other files. You should check in your graphic programme. Open the templates. See in the Layers window if there is a different transparency percentage. Another layer of skin colour might be showing.

    2. It might be a problem in the software of the viewer or virtual world. There was a problem in Second Life, two or three years ago, with the default Ruth avatar skin causing a problem on other skins. This you would need to check on a help forum for which virtual world you visit.

    I hope this helps! Good luck with the skin.

    Em Português.
    Desculpe se a tradução está incorreta. Eu não falo Português.
    Poderia haver duas respostas para o problema:

    1. A cor da pele do arquivo de cabeça Eloh Eliot poderia ter uma diferença muito pequena para os arquivos de outro. Você deve verificar no seu programa gráfico. Abrir os arquivos no seu programa gráfico. Veja na janela de Camadas se houver um percentual de transparência diferente. Outra camada da cor da pele pode estar mostrando.

    2. Pode ser um problema no software do espectador ou num mundo virtual. Houve um problema no Second Life, dois ou três anos atrás, com a pele avatar padrão Ruth causando um problema em outras peles. Isso seria necessário para checar em um fórum de ajuda para que o mundo virtual que você visita.

    Espero que isso ajude! Boa sorte com a pele.

  3. I don’t know if you still manage this post/site, as the last post was in 2011, but I’ve been trying to find some suggestions for an Inworldz issue I’m having. I have created skins, using Photoshop and Gimp… they’re lovely, and saved properly. However, when I apply them to my skin in IW, a white line appears for the eyelashes… the shape the skin is on has eyelash length at 0, so I’m lost as to how to remedy this. I’m sure the solution is simple, I just can’t figure out lol. I would appreciate any help you may offer, as I’d love to get this sorted and the skins available for use!

    • Hi Madisyn. Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific but I think this sounds like an alpha channel transparency issue. There were a few different ones that happened in SL with eyelash/eye area, so it’s difficult to know which it might be in this case. It could also be something specific to IW software or your viewer software, but I’d recommend doing a search for ‘SL av skin alpha channel problems’ and see if there’s any hints that you can try for your files. If there’s a community forum for IW skin designs I’d try there too in case a few other people have been having the same problem recently, if you haven’t already done so. I hope you find a solution soon!

  4. Thank you for the quick response! It was a png vs. tga file issue with the alpha layers. I switched all the head images from the original png format they were in to tga, and that took care of it. Thankfully, it was something small like this!

    • I’m glad to know the problem was resolved and you were able to fix the skins by changing the file format. I hope that you’ve been able to enjoy them fully uploaded now. Thanks again for visiting!

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