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Child Avatars

Marianne McCann

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Marianne McCann wrote:

For those who have crafted a kid avvie, what tips do you have for customizing the Second Life avatar mesh into a decent looking child?



I'll try to verbalize it.

Okay first, kids don't look the same as grownups do. That seems obvious and yet people try to make child avatars by simply shortening the height on their regular grownup avatar. Note I'm doing to be talking about kid shapes for avs that appear 10 yrs. or younger.

Kids have approximately the same shape from chest to hips. Girls get curves in puberty and boys' shoulders broaden. That's being very basic, since I know there's always one or two who will nit pick so I am being basic. :)

So don't give a girl child a smaller waist or curvy hips. And don't make a boy have an upside-down triangle torso.

Kids' legs can be short or long just like adults' legs are. I don't think that proportion changes much length-wise during a lifetime.

Assuming the child shape isn't meant to be overweight, I begin by sliding the muscle and fat sliders to zero. Then I build UP. That's because most people will still want to unconsciously make a child shape look what they are used to making their adult grownup shape look 'good' as - and that will be too much muscle, usually. (People even do this with the girl child avs.)

Parts of the mesh are problematic - namely the 'breastplate' or from bottom of the ribs to the collarbone area. It just sticks out way too much. And of course, the mesh is made for grownup shapes so the 'bust' or 'pecs' need to be dealt with for a child av shape too. My advice on that is take them down as far as you can without making weird lines there. In other words, you might have to make the torso underneath that, thicker than you wanted. But that might be better than having 'boobs' or 'pecs' or having it actually be concave (dipped inward.)

If you want the kid to be shorter, let's say from about 7 younger, then take the height down to zero and build it upward, too. That kind of erases you from subconsciously thinking it is a grownup shape.

Make sure the feet are at 0 (and stay there) and the hands should be little - how little depends on the av size. But little.

Faces: The eyes will appear to be larger on a child's face, usually, than in a fully grown adult's face. But don't overdo that. Just don't give them little, 'chic' cat's eyes or grownup, squinty eyes. It won't read as childish. Don't make the eyes too wide-set either. 

Nose: it will seem smaller on a child's face than on an adult's face but don't make it totally flat or invisible. That won't look natural either. It will look like they had plastic surgery. Look at the nose from the side and front.

Mouth: it should be in proportion. Usually making a less wide mouth is a good start. Cupid's bow on the top lip can be cute.

Skins: Try to find one made for a child av. If you can't - or can't afford one - at least get a grownup skin w/out any makeup on it. If you keep looking, someone will eventually run a freebie or dollarbie like that. But you can join the Heaven's Gate Neo group for a free child skin, try their lucky boards, or try Mother Goose's lucky boards, among other places. Arcadia Asylum makes a freebie child skin with tons of freckles. It's in the orphan avatar kit.

Clothes: Avoid shading in the boobs/pecs area. Nothing too low cut. That means no low cut tops and no low cut waists. You'd never dress a real child that way. I also think curse words in their tattoos or bling is tacky. (Children shouldn't be wearing bling anyway.) Shoes: should be child-appropriate.

Hair: Children's hair is finer/thinner than teens or adults' hair is. So dont go for miles of curls. It won't look right. It will overwhelm the overall effect you are going for if you want at least some semblance of a realistic avatar. Ponytails, or braids, for girls, are good; short hair that isn't too sophisticated (not too thick, not too many layers), is good for boys. 

I dunno, any questions?

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Having a proportions guide handy is a good idea regardless of the apparent age you're going for, and regardless of your skill level at shape making.In addition to familiarizing yourself with age appropriate proportions I recommend manually measuring your avatar's proportions for the best possible shape.


Ideally you would take a pose stand with a good arms-outstretched pose and use prims to do your measuring.


Here's an image to illustrate what I meanProportion Measuring;

 You would take a prim and first measure your avatar height. Do this by stretching the prim from the soles of your feet to the top of your skull (remove shoes and hair, first).  Using the height, neck, hip length and leg length sliders work your height down to the general size you're looking for. Don't worryt about being exact, many sliders affect your height so you'll wind up having to fine tune this again after tackling your proportions.


 When you're more or less the height you want take a prim and measure the size of your head by stretching it from the very bottom of your chin to the top of your skull. Once you have that measurement apply it to all the dimensions of your prim. That is one head unit. You will likely re-take this measurement several times so don't worry about being super exact the first couple times.

 Copy the head prim to measure yourself from the top of your skull to the soles of your feet.  Loki's proportion chart features "idealistic" human shapes, closer to what you'd find in comic books than real life, if you want to be more natural you have some wiggle room. Average for an adult is actually about 7-7.5 heads tall.  You can use heads tall to stylize your shape (make yourself more cartoonish by being fewer heads tall) or to make your shape appear younger as displayed in Loki's image. At the other end of the scale, if you'd prefer a larger, bulkier looking body go for a smaller head. Comic book hero's are usually 8-8.5 heads tall.  Further than that and you get into the realm of the extreme and comical body shapes, like The Incredible Hulk or The Heavy Weapons Guy from TF2, respectively. Coupled with more average looking proportions and you just look like you have a tiny head.

 Your initial measurements will probably reveal you to have a disproportionately small head, the default avatars LL throws at all new users have very poor proportions, generally around 9 heads tall. Scale your head up, measure your head again, and repeat this process until you're happy.

 Then move on to upper body to leg ratio.  As Loki's diagram shows, from about ages 10 on up your upper body to leg ratio should be about equal.. There's some lee-way here. Give your legs a few inches over your upper body to get that "leggy" look with a female avatar. Give your torso a few inches over your legs to emphasize your upper body as a guy. Again, stretch this further for extreme/comical shapes.

 As the proportion image shows, younger humans have shorter legs relative to their upper body, something to consider when making very young child shapes. Teens will often have that lanky "growth spurts" look.

 Remember, a difference of a few inches can have a huge impact on your overall appearance. You don't need to give your legs six inches on your upper body to look like a super model, you'll just look like something is wrong with your torso. Look at the huge variety of body shapes you see in every day life, it may be a shock but almost everyone conforms pretty closely to artistic/scientifically accepted body proportions. It's those differences of only an inch here, two inches there that give us so much apparent variety.


Once your upper body/leg ratio is where you want it you'll take your head unit prim again and measure the width of your torso. Now, Loki's chart doesn't really go into this but the average adult man is about 2 heads wide. A comic book/idealized shape about 2 and 1/3 heads wide. Remember, you have some wiggle room here, a few inches less and you'll look more slender. A few inches more and you'll have broad shoulders and a barrel chest.

My avatar, pictured above, is about an inch, a little less, shy of 2 heads wide.


Finally, once you get all that checked you'll want to check your arms. For an adult avatar, arms outstretched should measure more or less equal to your height. Measure your height again, soles of the feet to the top of your skull. Centre that prim with your avatar and rotate it on its side. More than likely your arms are way too short. Again, the starter avatars LL provides everyone have bad proportions, with freaky short arms.  The women avatars were about six inches, a full half a foot too short for their bodies.This is more a problem for women, likely because the arm sliders for women are so muchmore skewed towards the small end of the scale, but it's also a problem for many male avatars. Arm length is mostly independant of the height slider, too, so the taller your avatar is the more difficult it can be to make your arms proportional to your body (which is also displayed by LL's starter avatars as they tend towards 7' tall).

 Of course, for a child avatar you'll want to adjust this proportion appropriately. As Loki's chart, again, shows, a 3 year old has vastly different proportions from a 15 year old.


 Now, I know this was a long post, and those who didn't give up and go "tl;dr" just seeing it are likely thinking, "Wow, that sounds like a lot of work!", but believe me, it's worth it.  You get some fantastic body shapes when working with good proportions, and as a result you really stand out well from the crowd.


 Like everything else in life (Second, or otherwise) what you get out of it is only as much as you're willing to put into it.

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For those who have crafted a kid avvie, what tips do you have for customizing the Second Life avatar mesh into a decent looking child?


Quality of both shape, hair, and clothing. From my experience i've seen many child avies who simply didn't have the right look because their clothes looked too old, or way to young for their height( including skin, child body but face of an adult...).

What type of theme are you looking for your child avie? General cutness or a specific style?

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  • 1 year later...

I have made cute convincing realistic girl children but boys are a real problem.  Using the female shape works up to a point but then it has a waistline I can't get rid of.  Using love handles just doesn't do it, and there seems to be always the problem of sticking out shoulder blades like wings.  I haven't been able to find a way round that.  Any suggestions?

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  • 1 year later...

I personally find it hard to locate things that are just right for child avatars whether they be female, male (or whatever gender you would want them to be). Most of the time the issue is with the hands and feet, and considering I don't put money into this virtual world that's my disadvantage in all of this.

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  • 2 years later...

Aaaaand 2 years later....

So there's an avatar called Kemono.  It's primary is for furries, but they have a human version, and using the flat chest with it, I was able to make a fairly decent preteen girl with it.

They also have males that might make a decent male child.  

Just FYI, for anyone still looking for advice.

There's also TD and TT and another that's popular, I forget.  The bodies are right, just personally don't like the faces with them.

My three cents.

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