Every two years, I shop for a new avatar skin. It may be because I’m tired of the old skin and need to update my look, or I just feel like “window shopping” in SL, or I want to see if designers have become even more innovative in their work. Over the years, I’ve donned four skins. As a new resident of SL, I chose an un-modifiable freebie shape, later creating my own which I do to this day.
SL offers a multitude of skin and shape choices. In fact, I have a list of over 50 landmarks for skin vendors alone. You could spend days in SL in search of the right look for your avatar. Piqued by my own curiosity, I wanted to see if I’d missed some well-made skins and shapes in SL so asked people to complete a brief survey on the topic.
Twenty respondents completed the survey--18 female and two male avatars.
Some of the respondents named more than one skin vendor as their favorite. The list came down to these that are followed by the number of avatars who named that particular skin vendor as a favorite.
Belleza 3 (females)
LAQ 3 (females)
League 2 (females)
New Faces 2 (females)
WoW 2 (females)
Aeros 1 (male)
AIMI 1 (female)
Deetalez 1 (female)
Deesses 1 (female)
Fallen Gods 1 (female)
Glam Affair 1 (female)
LoveMe 1 (female)
Pink Fuel 1 (female)
Snow Rabbit 1 (female)
sYs 1 (female)
T. Bare 1 (male)
The qualities that the respondents look for when purchasing a skin are varied:
Hellishly Gothly, who wears the New Faces Willow skin, said she looks for a “well-shaded, natural look, though it can be a fantasy skin; no visible seams, facial structure and shape that not only compliment my face, but enhances it; availability of a good range of appliers, included items (such as appliers).”
Bella Rene’ wears Deesses’ Lorelay Milky Chocolate. “I look for true to tone and shape in a quality skin,” she said. “Deesses has mastered the ethnic and authentic texture so exquisitely, it’s literally a masterpiece in itself. I have looked across the grid for true to form skins. Deesses has it to an art form.”
Skye Broadmoor lives her SL as an elf, uses League’s Taylor skin, and says that she likes “realistic, well done shading. When choosing which version of a skin to purchase, I prefer the natural skin. Then, if I ever want to use makeup, I can. The cost of a skin is important, but if it’s a good quality skin, I don’t mind paying more.”
“I look for cute features and a kind of dark shade of skin,” said Helen, who uses the Pink Fuel skin, Harley.
Terillian Belar wears League Isla Deep Tan and explains that she prefers “clear, defined muscle tone, not fuzzy; realistic nipples, nails, vagina; a face that doesn’t have a pouting, frowning mouth. I pay attention to the skin’s shade and go for as realistic as possible—no orange spray tans. I like League skins because the same skin looks different when you change hair colors from red to blonde to black.”
Of the 20 respondents, 65 percent said they did not purchase their current shape:
Delight said, “I make my own shape. It is an ever evolving process over my time in SL, and I feel it lets me be me.”
Terrell Merryman explained that he’s had the same shape since 2008 “and it has helped me create a unique look with my skins, since the shape hasn’t been for sale in years.” He went on. “I did purchase a mesh avatar body recently, Narimyth Aesthetic. It’s very good but limited due to the lack of clothing. Otherwise, I don’t plan to buy a shape. However, from what I’ve seen, Aeros Avatar is good.”
Anu Daviau made her own shape eight years ago. “I am quite happy with it still. The only change I made within those years, shape wise, was shrinking my overall size.”
Vichonette Constantine has always made her own shapes and said, “With the advent of mesh, I have so many different versions of my shape to fit various mesh clothing, I can’t even remember what the original shape looked like!”
Aelva’s favorite skin vendors are Deetalez, Fallen Gods, and LAQ. She makes her own shapes because, “I don’t want to look like a clone.” However, she happily offers this advice regarding avatar skins and shapes: “Play with it! Mix and match. Try the sliders on the shape and see what you end up with.”
On the other hand, 35 percent of the respondents indicated they purchased the shapes they use now:
Joy Canadeo said that she prefers the Body Doubles shapes, “because I can look at a specific personality and make my own adjustments to reflect my personality.”
Morgan W. Mickelobe indicated that she purchases LaVie shapes. “I fell instantly attracted to the shape I am wearing now. It is aesthetically pleasing, and I always receive compliments. I will never change.”
Chelsea Quixote used to make her own shapes, “but now I am wearing the Belleza Venus mesh body.”
Other shape vendors mentioned by respondents were LAQ, CStar, the Mitreya-based shape, Wow, and the (Snow Rabbit) NEA-based shape.