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Do any avatars actually look as good - or in many cases even anything like - their seller's adverts?


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I'm sure that this has been discussed before, but I've spent about a week of spare time trawling through the thousands of avatars/components in the marketplace, where I've been presented with endless pictures of utterly gorgeous creatures - the only problem being when I buy the item what I get is a very substandard version of the picture. I know that's how advertising works, but it's still very annoying. I'm looking for a really gorgeous, Nordic blonde type of female (Grace Kelly look, for those old enough to remember). I'm not afraid to spend 20 000 LDs to get what I want, but I'm struggling. Does anyone know a seller who lives up to their promo? 

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The only way to look as good, is to manipulate SL windlight until you match the windlight settings used in the ad. You also need the shape, eyes, hair and all the other items.

SL standard windlight is NOT flattering at all. It is like you take a model on a RL Walmart parking lot and take her image with the sun high and shining in her eyes. 

Usually I mess around with my SL images a bit. I use liquify and filters and stuff. But I think my raw SL images can be pretty good. Raw image first, edited image under.

metales.jpg

metalesed.jpg

You can't control how others see you, the changes in windlight will only show on your screen. My computers isn't even good compared to what you can get. So the images can be unedited from SL, and look fabulous, but be very hard to create in SL for you unless you can turn settings to ultra and manipulate windlight.

I use Glam affair skin here, but I think Tuli has a very sophisticated skin line too. http://tules.blogspot.no/

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Most avatar makers are primarily in the skin business. Skin makers design their shapes for the most flattering closeup head shots. They may very well look terrible from a more natural distance and angle. They're also selling the skin so they often make the eyes disproportionately small so they don't draw as much attention - we're naturally drawn to eyes when looking at another "human."

All (standard non-mesh) shapes are made using the same sliders that are available when you create a new shape. If you pay for a shape you're paying for the skill of the person manipulating those sliders but nothing else.

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It's bedtime for me in RL, so the whole list of what I wea is here in case someone is curious. http://www.flickr.com/photos/27764102@N02/9634657445/

The windlight used in many promo ads is usually a neutral one as Nam's skin and prim. The official SL viewer does not have flattering windlights for model images at all. That is just one of the many things we users have to fix, by installing usercreated windlight settings. Or choosing a third party viewer who has more windlight options installed for us. 

Here is a post about installing windlight settings in your viewer: http://strawberrysingh.com/tutorials/windlight-settings/

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Most SL avatars I see, both in ads for stores and personally made shapes, have bigger eyes than in RL... not sure if that matters?

But skin and shapes is sold with a demo, so always demo first and see how it looks on your computer screen. No one should buy expensive items like skins without trying on the demo first. 

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Its fine to modify images for art. Expected in many / most forms of digital art.

Its another thing when people modify product images...

 

On the one hand that more or less is an ARable offense. But before you go reporting it - as noted above it may just be an issue of Windlight and other settings.

SL is slightly over 10 years old. On the right settings, it will look like a cheap knockoff of a video game from 2003... But its been getting updates along the way, and so on other settings it can look pretty decent, almost current.

It may be dissapointing to hear: but expect that SL will look a little cheap for you until you start mastering the settings. While my getting started guide gets new folks starts I don't think it would really help with this issue.

- But I HAVE been to a class many years ago at New Citizens Inc. that was on using and setting Windlight. So I'm pretty sure someone in SL is still running something like that or has good tutorials.

 

For skin and clothing buying: I strongly recommend only buying things that have a demo. Until you've been around for a while you won't know what things to look for in a display image that say "this is how it actually looks" or "this is doctored up."

Try some basic windlight, and play with some demos, and over time it will start to gel together. You don't need to pay someone 20,000L to get a perfect item - that won't help. You can make those perfect looks on under 500L for the entire avatar, if you know enough about the settings (But 3000 is probably more realistic).

 

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The short answer is no, not really... and your marketing reason would be exactly why that is. They're pumping up their ad pictures with photo software to try to make what they sell look as good as possible, and many times it becomes something that unrealistically represents what they're actually selling. Experience at shopping and modding items can negate much of that annoying advantage that sellers have, but that skill is a learned one and takes a bit of time to develop.

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Nobody in their right mind would ever even dream about shopping or gimping their SL pics. NO! NEVAH!

I just tested it with my own profile pic and here is the shocking result after some cartoonification and adding of softglow:

forum.jpg

 

And this was the RAW shot:

Oldwoman.jpg

Seewhat I did there? It's just too freakish. Nobody should ever cheat like this!!!

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What you should do is go places where experienced users are and judge for yourself. You can also take a look at the Vanity Thread and see a wide variety of experienced users avatars.  While a number of these photos were enhanced with graphic software, many were taken in world with windlight settings that enhance the lighting.  You too can adjust your windlight to do the same thing.

Most new people start out with either free skins / eyes/ hair/ shapes etc or low cost ones.  Most of the time you get what you pay for IMO.  People that have been in SL a while tend to buy higher quality things and are willing to spend the extra L's for it as they are willing to invest more RL money or they hold jobs or create and sell things for L's.  There are exceptions of course and also many of the top merchants selling the high quality goods give some for free in their shops or as a group gift. 

The other thing is that experienced users tend to buy everything separately and put together their own avatar rather than buying a package.  This can make a difference too as the best skin maker doesn't always make the best eyes, or best shapes or hair etc.  Many of the best looking avatars made their own shape or at the very least are using a mod shape that they tweaked over time for an optimal look with the skin they wear.  Shapes and skins work together to create the 'look' and many times even if you buy the shape with the skin you can still tweak it to make it look better.

The other thing is that there is a big market for mesh add ons now, although opinions vary as to if they are really improvements or not and highly depends on the user's ability to get a perfect skin match and size them correctly as well as personal taste.  If you don't like huge boobs, chances are you won't like the look of add on breasts for instance.  You can get mesh add ons for breasts, your but, ears, hands, feet, lips, eyes and other body parts as well as entire heads.

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Just as in RL, photos are enhanced to appear in the best possible light.  That is why it is incumbent upon the consumer to check for fit and look by picking up demos.  Demos are normally 0L$.  So, the only investment is the time in trying it on.  It can take quite a bit of looking about to find a look that suits the body frame you have selected or designed.  In some cases, you might have to tweak a facial feature just a tad to make the skin 'fit'.

Be patient and don't hesitate to ask someone where they got their skin if you see something you like.

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I didn't have time to return o this thread until now. RL work and comittments, you know.

But since the OP is new, I was thinking that maybe she had been hit by a marketplace scam. The TOS for these forums does not allow me to post links to the stores I KNOW sell questionable items. How can I be so sure? Well, they simply post ads from very talented SL designers, people who has sold skins and other items in SL for years and who are absolutely making the best skins possible. These scam marketplace stores does not even bother to crop or alter the stolen ads. They post a hodgepodge of ads with the original store names. When they are shut down, they make a new account and create a new store.

What the unhappy buyer get, is an empty box or a skin that is a freebie, and, hehe, let us say that "substandard" is a very mild description of what you get. If a skin store has no demo, that is a very questionable store

Many creators does not alter and touch up images in their skin ads, and only the stupid ones would do so. Because every honest merchant has a demo. A good graphic card, mastering windlight and a general good eye for posing and composing is enough to make a really impessive ad. The downside is that they are  so talented in manipulating sl that it's hard to achieve the same result for the rest of us.

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One reason I almost always check the inworld store even when using marketplace. If I can't find an inworld shop I presume its a fake merchant.

Only a handful of things that I've bought 'sight unseen' off of marketplace. Use it as a search engine, but buy inworld or at least confirm existence inworld. I have bought items off of marketplace from merchants with shops inworld, but for which much of their product line was only marketplace - I don't need to see everything in your store, just enough to know you are real, involved, and that the quality of your goods inworld will look as good as it does on your product images.

 

 

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Graphics settings will play a large part in how you see SL. A basic, low setting will make SL appear flat and jagged around the edges. The default midday sun setting will cast unflattering shadows over an avatars face and chest. SL can look much more sophisticated even on medium graphics with a few extras checked, like shaders. Make sure that you have antialiasing turned on (find it under the "hardware" button in your graphics preferences, as all merchants taking vendor photos will use that, as it softens edges nicely. Setting a higher number will blend the edges more, but your frame rate may drop, so juggle it. As others have said, windlight settings can be used to create stunning effects, and also they can even out the ugly shadows on your face. Many settings used to even skintones have the 'scene gamma' turned up a little. Too much will wash out the whole scene, but a little can do wonders for the complexion. So have a play and see what you can do.

More products are beginning to include 'materials' texturing (not skins though), and to see these, you will need to check the "advanced lighting model" in the official viewer. As more creators begin to design with materials, this will make an increasingly bigger difference to how you see SL.

Some vendor ads are taken with shadows enabled. These can look fabulous, and are great for photography, but for many of us they aren't practical when moving around. I see a lot of house and furniture ads using shadows, but not so many skin and shape ads.

I don't really blame merchants for taking the most flattering photographs of their work, but think that photoshopping the image to fix errors and create an unattainable look is unfair. Some merchants have taken their screenshots in other programs (eg, poser) to make a very seductive image, but the looks can't be achieved in SL. Luckily, this is rare, but I did stop shopping at a shoe store that did this, after being disappointed that the textures weren't as advertised (with no demos).

To minimise disappointment-

-When you are out and about, check out what looks good and rezzes quickly on others.

-Try demos..lots and lots of demos.

-Be wary of vendor textures with obviously photoshopped aspects like shopped-in hair, overly liquified/blended edges and faked shadowing.

-Take note of the 'styling' in the ad; some helps to set the scene and is inspiring, but too much can make you think you're getting more than you are and overshadow any faults in the product.

 

 

 

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Love the photos, Marianne!  I was thinking something similar to the OP today - some profile photos have absolutely realistic looking avatars to the point I sometimes have to really look carefully to determine if it *is* a photo of a person or their avatar.  Often I'm looking at profiles while at a dance venue so I then have the opportunity to see the avatar "in person" and generally see what most avatars look like - not at all what the avatar photo looked like.

I figured it's amazing photo manipulation and/or lighting, etc.  One of these days I would love to find someone who can make an avatar photo look realistic and have a photo shoot.

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That's a bit of a blunt instrument.

 

The kind of scams Marianne is talking about have 2 easier solutions.

 

The first obvious solution is to look in the box.  Always check the content's tab if the item is DD and unboxed (although obviously people can box stuff first so all you see is a box or put liar names on items that appear to be more or less what you think you are buying).

 

But the real crux of these scams is to use high quality images and recognizable brand names.  So you have the brand name right there in the advert and it's high profile.  Go in world and do a search and you will find the brand owner and creator name associated with the real ower of the brand and associated IP.  If that name doesn't match the marketplace seller you're probably looking at a scam.  You can always confirm this by contacting the real brand owner of course and they might appreciate the heads up about this scam being pulled on their brand name.

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Anaiya Ahren wrote:

That's a bit of a blunt instrument.

I don't think so. I need to know I can trust what I see. So I look for a real presence somewhere. And I look at product images to see if they're manipulated. If they are - flag it as a misleading listing.

If you want to decorate up the place with photoshopped displays and art, put a link to your flickr page, or make posters inworld and/or start an art-store...

Product packaging design needs to be honest.

 

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Jennifer Boyle wrote:

"Until you've been around for a while you won't know what things to look for in a display image that say "this is how it actually looks" or "this is doctored up."

I still don't, and any help will be appreciated.

 

I have problems seeing what's touched up and what's not myself. And I use PS tools myself, fully admitting that I am amateurish. I never came past liquify, adjusting with levels and curves and some simple layering stuff.

I think that is irrelevant as long as it's a demo available. Before we got mesh clothing, you never saw demos for clothes. It was harder then. 

What is "doctoring"? Is it taking a true SL image against a green screen and paste it on a different background? Is it selling a skin, but with edges in the shoulders smoothed out? This is making the shape prettier, but does not relly influence the skin. Most it can do, is making people try the demo. It is a huge lot of avatar related content for sale. Skin, hair, shapes, makeup, lashes, mesh parts, clothing, shoes, accessories... I think the ad is really important because it makes people stop and look twice. The hardest thing is making people notice your goods. It has to look so attractive that they consider a purchase.

For things without demos, it is always worse. Then I have to look really close. I can't see the difference between an image of a bracelet (just as an example) edited with curves and levels in photoshop, or an image with clever use of windlight. But I assume that if people really can use their PS skills on a texture for an ad, it would be foolish of them not to use it on the texture for the product.

Not much help here. ;)

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Short answer....no.

Ads are not designed to be accurate reflections, but rather to evoke emotions that drive sales.

Look at any fashion magazine or catalogue or web site and you will find images that are impossible to recreate in real time in a natural setting. They are stills that have been produced in controlled environments through a combination of professional models and photographers, with backgrounds, props, make-up & styling, using advanced lighting, and finally lots post processing editing and composition in programs such as Photoshop.

The same things happens in SL. Anyone telling you to just 'play with your Windlight settings' to recreate ads is delusional. 

Most ads are created in SL by using static poses in positions designed to flatter the subject while hiding or minimizing problem areas, along with very specific backgrounds, props, and in-game styling in controlled environments. They are shot using very high graphic settings (which may not work well in say public or high traffic areas) and Windlight preferences to capture the best in-game image possible, and many times will use additional lighting set up specifically for the shot. 

Images captured from SL are then edited in an external program such as Photoshop, where anything from adding some simple text to cleaning up smudged or jagged pixels to using complex fiters to completely retouching everything in the original image can be done easily.

The sad reality is it is very easy to take a decent captured image from SL and pass it through a few simple filters and effects in Photoshop and output an image that is impossible to recreate in SL.

The best thing to do is get demos or ask freinds for advice to find quality items while also realizing no matter how great the item's quality is in SL, it can be made to appear even better in a still image edited outside SL. 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Hei!

 

The two hybrid mesh avatars from LOGO, is just as beautiful as the pics and LOTS of combinations follow the package, makeup, eyecolours, lipstic, blush, noses, eyelashes, eyebrows, hairbases and shadowing for bum and stomack. I love them and got them both. Fantastc :)

 

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/LOGO-Infinity-Chloe-Hybrid-Mesh-Avatar/4191188

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/LOGO-Infinity-Sadie-Hybrid-Mesh-Avatar/4535264

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Marianne Little wrote:


Jennifer Boyle wrote:

"Until you've been around for a while you won't know what things to look for in a display image that say "this is how it actually looks" or "this is doctored up."

I still don't, and any help will be appreciated.

I think that is irrelevant as long as it's a demo available. Before we got mesh clothing, you never saw demos for clothes. It was harder then. 

What is "doctoring"? Is it taking a true SL image against a green screen and paste it on a different background? Is it selling a skin, but with edges in the shoulders smoothed out? This is making the shape prettier, but does not relly influence the skin. Most it can do, is making people try the demo.

When a product image is anything other than an inworld screenshot with some writing on it.

If the image of item being sold has been digitally manipulated at all - there's a link on marketplace to report a misleading advert that deserves to be clicked.

If you just mess with the scenery, put a framing around your shot, add you logo, etc... no problem

Its not that hard to tell the different between Video Game Art (SL), and Photoshopped art.

Your shoulder edge example - that's fraud. But your green background example is not.

 

And to note: If you can't make your product look good inside of SL itself, then maybe your product is no good... if its meant to be used in SL, that is where it needs to look good.

Nothing wrong with using all kinds of SL props, windlights, facelights, scene lights, graphics settings, poses, and so on - all things INSIDE of SL. Because then we are still seeing what you are selling.

But digitally alter the product portion of your image outside of SL - and its fraud.

 

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  • 1 year later...

This is my million dollar opinion.

If skins applied to mesh do not appear natural in natural lighting without any enhancments, then it's no good and it's a waste of your money to people who call themselves creators.

What use is it to you if anybody cannot see what you see, except for your own vanity's sake.

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