Being a Second Life skin designer

testing a body

testing a body

People ask me sometimes what it means to be a Second Life designer. They laugh a little about it, silly job, working with pixel puppets. It is really not easy to explain what it means without going too much into details. And when I am passionate about something I tend to do that.
If you do want to know more you can read about it here and hopefully it gives you some idea. I can honestly say that being a Second Life skin designer means crazy hard work and I am not joking about it, seriously…
This is how the whole procedure works:

Creating process outside Second Life

1. You start creating your skins (or make-up or whatever). This means testing if you have the right highlights and shadows everywhere, if the skin looks real enough, if all details look exactly how you need them to be. To give you an example: my first female skin took me a year. My male skins took me 9 months. No, not 40 hours a week, but in any case lots of time before I was satisfied. You can consider buying a skin-kit with a whole seller, but if you do that you probably still have work to do before it’s decent enough to sell it.  There is also a chance that tons of other skin store owners sell the same skins with just a little difference. That’s okay, it’s just a choice. So it’s up to you to decide.

The picture below show you the differences with the basic Lindens skins. This pic is NOT photoshopped. I just cropped it because I wanted to show you what is possible without adding all kinds of effects.

differences

2. Test your work, which will probably be many times if you are like me. The pictures show you how the UV-maps look like. I put some examples in from free skin textures that can be downloaded anywhere. These are not made by me, but the blue skin textures are, these are not for sale. Although it has a sample texture layer over it, I think you can still see how much definition it has in comparison to the basic Linden skins.

That is because I use pieces of real pictures and blend them in and of course I use many effects, highlights, shading etc. I can test it in photoshop 3d and then in Second life on the avatar itself, which looks almost the same.

Uploading, creating inworld

3. upload the finished textures.
4. make the skins, or the tattoo layers, or whatever you make in appearance and save it in a folder. Making skins mean you need a demo, you need to make a few different bodies (cleavage, normal etc),  also in different tans and faces with different brow colors. Personally I make 2 of everything: every makeup or skin has also a demo. One skin line for me comes usually in 5 skin tones, 2 body styles (cleavage/normal) = 10 x 4 brow colors = 40 sometimes also with freckles = 80 x 2 (demo’s) = at least 160 skins for one skin line.

Prepare artwork and shoot your pics

5. Prepare your artwork for the vendor pictures. Be smart and make sure you always work according the same procedure, that will save time. Keep the PSD for your vendors (I assume you work with Photoshop) apart in a folder and use it whenever you need it.
6. Time to make pics, so you have to style your skin. You need a matching shape, eyes, lashes and hair. This also takes some time to prepare.
7. Put your windlight settings on a good clear light environment such as Oceane Body Design, which is basically in every viewer, or one of AnaLutetia. Make sure your graphic settings(preferences) -> hardware settings are set to at least 2x anti alias (depends on the amount of Ram you have). This smoothes the edges of your skin drastically.
8. Choose a pose, zoom in and out with your camera until you found the right angle.
9. Start making pics now and save them in a folder (I call that Shoots). Test the picture you made in your psd so you know if the pictures will look nicely on your vendor box.
10. Make as many pics as you need. Once you are done you probably need to refine the edges because SL avatars are alas seldom smooth. Do what you need to do but if you make skins and makeups dont go crazy on the artwork like using glows and smoothing things out. I know it can look awesome and very creative but it’s fat from the truth. I personally do not much about the pictures. I make the rough edges a little smoother and crop the pics, that’s it. Finish your vendor pictures and save them.
11. Upload the pictures.

The vendors and promotion

12. Make vendor boxes and fill them with your landmark, maybe a notecard and whatever you want to put into it. Copy it as many times you need, then fill it with the skin. Give the box a name. Put the pictures on the boxes.
13. Put the vendors in your store and send notecards around to promote it.
14. I assume you already created a group so people can become a member.

Sell your stuff at Second Life Marketplace

  1. If you want to sell your products on marketplace you need to create a store at Marketplace.
  2. Upload everything you want to sell there into your merchant outbox and transfer it to there.
  3. Check the Marketplace Merchant side and go to list items. You will see your items there and you have to create listings for them. Follow the steps as described at the Marketplace wiki.
  4. Understand that also this procedure takes you loads of time. A new product is a few days work in the beginning, apart from the whole creating process.

Social Media, events, hunts and the whole shabam

You probably know how to do this. Create a website, a blog, a twitter, flickr and facebook  account and do what you need to do: maintain it. Make sure your customers come back to your store all the time, build up a steady group of customers.Maybe you think that along the way, once you got the hang of it, everything will go easier. Nope, it doesn’t. Did I already mention that being a Second Life skin designer is crazy (hard) work? Now you know why.
Good luck.