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They are completely seperate things. One does not include the other. Together they influence how your avatar looks like. The shape is a combination of slider settings, that determine how your avatar is well... shaped. How long your legs are, how big your butt is, how close your eyes are to each other and so on. The skin is basically the texture that goes on top of that. Its colour and details also have a great influence on how your avatar looks like. Both are considered "essential" avatar parts, meaning you can never not have a skin or shape, you can only replace them with another skin or shape. They are often often sold as pack, because they depend so much on each other.

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25 minutes ago, AlohaShoyu said:

This may sound like a dumb question, but I have to ask: what is the difference between an SL skin and a shape? So far it seems to me that a skin includes a shape, but a shape may not include a skin.

A shape is a list of numbers that sets the parameters for your underlying avatar skeleton and physique. It alters things like how tall you are, how long your legs are, how much body fat or muscle you have, how high your cheekbones are, etc etc. Think of the shape as being akin to everything underneath your RL skin: your skeleton, muscle, and fat.

A skin is the layer that goes over the top of the shape and gives it texture. It can add the illusion of altered physique (e.g. a six pack of muscles) via its texturing, but it doesn't physically alter the underlying shape. Think of the skin as being visually the same as your RL skin.

The image below shows four different skins on the same mesh head (which has the same underlying shape). Note how each skin changes the way the head looks, down to the point where it also changes how old the avatar looks:

4e71b97a1bdf7165d5ac92a06be9ba22.jpg

The reason why many skins include shapes is that skins can be affected by the underlying shape they're 'painted over'. In the example below every one of the images shows the same skin on lots of differently-shaped mesh heads from the same creator. You can see how the underlying shape of each mesh head alters how the skin looks:

461dc51f53c67873d427e5c7b03fca52.png

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Ok, I have a question. So I have a LAQ head - Gaia and a shape by Strawberry Singh made specifically for the Gaia head. When I am looking for a skin/shape what do I need to look for? One that is compatible for both the head and the body or just the head? and if you are looking at a skin will it look like that on you?  I just recently switched from a classic head and Maitreya body to a LAQ head. Just don't want to buy a skin/shape that doesn't work. I am not BOM and don't plan on it.

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14 minutes ago, Sam1 Bellisserian said:

Ok, I have a question. So I have a LAQ head - Gaia and a shape by Strawberry Singh made specifically for the Gaia head. When I am looking for a skin/shape what do I need to look for? One that is compatible for both the head and the body or just the head? and if you are looking at a skin will it look like that on you?  I just recently switched from a classic head and Maitreya body to a LAQ head. Just don't want to buy a skin/shape that doesn't work. I am not BOM and don't plan on it.

The shape included with most skins made.for a specific head should give you the look in the skin advertisement.  Let's say you've got the body you like with your shape set up how you like it.  Write down all those body numbers and put that on a notecard with that body.   Next, you see a skin for the head you have and you love the look in the ad.  Most come with a shape included which if worn with that skin, should give you face that look.  Next, pull out that card with your body numbers and plug them into the shape sliders.  Just the body sliders!   

All shapes are compatible with any body or head but to achieve the same look on the head for a skin, it's best to use the included shape for that skin, adjusting the body only to your specifics.

Edited by Rowan Amore
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3 minutes ago, Rowan Amore said:

The shape included with most skins made.for a specific head should give you the look in the skin advertisement.  Let's say you've got the body you like with your shape set up how you like it.  Write down all those body numbers and put that on a notecard with that body.   Next, you see a skin for the head you have and you love the look in the ad.  Most come with a shape included which if worn with that skin, should give you face that look.  Next, pull out that card with your body numbers and plug them into the shape sliders.  Just the body sliders!   

OHHHH that's a great idea! How do I know what skins go with the LAQ Gaia head. I tried to do a search in the Marketplace but zilch comes up and when I go to the skin stores I don't find skins that go with that head. I do have the Omega applier for Maitreya body. When it says Omega compatible is that what that means or do I need a Omega applier specific to LAQ heads?

Edited by Sam1 Bellisserian
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5 minutes ago, Sam1 Bellisserian said:

OHHHH that's a great idea! How do I know what skins go with the LAQ Gaia head. I tried to do a search in the Marketplace but zilch comes up and when I go to the skin stores I don't find skins that go with that head.

It's not a head that has as many creators as Lelutka, Genus or Catwa but they're out there.

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/products/search?search[category_id]=106&search[keywords]=Laq&search[maturity][]=General&search[maturity][]=Moderate&search[maturity][]=Adult&search[page]=1&search[per_page]=12

I see Session Skins makes some.  I know a few of the people on the forums love that brand.

Edited by Rowan Amore
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11 minutes ago, Sam1 Bellisserian said:

OHHHH that's a great idea! How do I know what skins go with the LAQ Gaia head. I tried to do a search in the Marketplace but zilch comes up and when I go to the skin stores I don't find skins that go with that head. I do have the Omega applier for Maitreya body. When it says Omega compatible is that what that means or do I need a Omega applier specific to LAQ heads?

You only need the omega applier if the skin does not have a LAQ/Maitreya specific applier.  Is there a reason why you've chosen not to go with BOM?  It's really quite easy once you get it set up and gives you many more options as far as any add-ons such as makeup, tattoos, any body mods like freckles, moles, imperfections.

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