Jump to content

What do you think makes a shape good?

Myra Wildmist
You are about to reply to a thread that has been inactive for 3386 days.

Please take a moment to consider if this thread is worth bumping.

Recommended Posts

This is kind of a general question and I guess it might spark the "realistic" avatar debate, but I'm wondering, what do others think makes a shape good?

I have my own theories, like lack of bumpiness, smooth features, and reasonably believable proportions, but what do you think?

Oh, and any suggestions for places with good shapes?


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good curves - no bubble butt and other jagged features.

Proper proportions - no tiny arms and spider legs or micro heads.

Smooth rounded or angular facial features rather than square and jagged:


 Average sized boobs, not squished together in cleavage and not droopy or floating.

Thin and healthy body fat, not emaciated:



For whatever "political / social" reasons people desire they can have whatever shape they want - but that doesn't make it a good looking shape. Thus a Barbie shape is not good...


Link to post
Share on other sites

MollyHampshire wrote:

I think a good shape is one that doesn't look like barbie, unique is good.

there is nothing wrong with having a barbie shape if it's presented well..

the shape is just the canvas to a whole look that could take it in a total different direction..

bimbo's come in all shapes and sizes hehehe

you can be just as unique in whatever a barbie shape is as in any shape..

unique doesn't come from a shape..it comes from presentation of the total package..the shape should be a small part of what is considered unique in a look..

Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree with Ceka...Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder

To each their own on what is considered as beautiful and what is not.

If a person wants to create an avatar that is unrealisticaly endowed, or a Barbie-clone, or the Wicked Witch...and finds them beautiful, then that likeness is of good shape and of good look to the owner. Does not matter what others think. 

Up to the owner to decide if their avatar is of a good appearance or needs improvement.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sorry if I came off as critical of anyone's choice. I didn't mean to. I wasn't criticizing anyone's choice of the barbie shape. Just that it seems to be the prevalent choice in shapes.

Geez, I love the Wicked Witch. ;)

I still would love to hear opinions on what makes a shape good?


Link to post
Share on other sites

i wasn't really speaking as in beauty being in the eye of the beholder..

i was just saying that a shape is a shape and until the look is added it's just a shape like any other..

unique comes later..

beauty comes in all shapes and sizes as well as unique..

to me what makes a good shape  is a well presented shape in any shape..

i can't really set it to any one certain type of shape..

hehehehe did that make anyone else dizzy? because saying all that gave me a head rush hehehehe :P

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", however the human mind is hard wired so most of us find certain things attractive.

A "good" shape will always have good proportions. Unless someone has a fetish for thalidomide victims, "t-rex" arms are never attractive. People like long legs, but if you push the slider over to stork territory, that's not going to help you either. A solid understanding of human proportions is necessary, especially because LL's starter shapes lack any such understanding, and they provide us with no tools to guide us towards creating better shapes.

 When you go to make a shape, use your search engine of choice to find some artists' guides on human proportion and look up one of the many SL avatar proportion guides to learn how to use prims and a pose stand to check your own proportions. Pussycat Catnap has a great one up where she added some helpful screenshots to proportion checking instructions I'd posted to another thread on the topic.

There's also the limts of the appearance editor/SL avatar mesh. If you go too thin it causes flaws in the mesh to become more apparent in addition to making it look like your avatar has an eating disorder. Too fat and you run into the same problem. You need to know the mesh's limits to strike a good balance, thankfully there's plenty of room for variety within that balance.


Beyond that you enter the realm of personal preference.


Some people like thicker, curvier girls. Other people like more slender, waif-lik girls. Some people prefere beefy macho men, others trim yet athletic hipsters. Some people like fat, some people like thin.

 Personally, one thing that stands out to me with guys whose avatars are sized accordingly with the type of appearance they're wearing. A human guy who's between 5'5" and 6'2" is great. It shows both an understanding of content creation in SL, and the confidence to buck the trend of 8' tall guys. I also really love to see shapes that aren't trying to be attractive. SL doesn't have nearly enough short, fat, old people. Character goes a long way. Would love to see more characters in SL, most people go for super models. There's room enough for both.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I consider good shapes the "modify" ones. And yes, Unique has plenty of them. I've been wearing Afrodite shape for over 2 years, changed skins several times but always kept the shape. I buy my skins from Unique too, and also Tuli.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Real woman with curves and not so muscle bound men. 

I am not into skinny legs and arms with huge boobs.. Look like a twiglet with inplant problems.


 I get annoyed with the height in SL. My current avatar is 7 foot, yeah I know HUGE, but saying that all the furniture etc I interact with fits her height. When I go shorter I tend to look like a child playing dress up.

Proper proportions is the key. When I did the whole club scene with dancers. I would actually give them some base shapes and assist them with their shape so they looked more in proportion then a twiglet with boobs. 


Link to post
Share on other sites

Penny brought up eating disorders in her reply.  Well guess what I am a rl anorexic.  People misconsture anorexia with bulemia, which are two separate things as I've never had bulemia, only anorexia.  I was born with anorexia; couldn't tolerate milk or dairy and still have an allergy to milk.  I hardly ate as a kid and was a very picky eater; I was just born with this anorexia, and it does not go away simply by someone thinking it is an eating disorder.  If I weren't on medication to induce some sort of appetite, I would barely eat at all because my appetite is just not there, and I was born this way.  Bulemia is the eating disorder involving binging and purging.  I've never had that.

Also, I am very thin boned; have to wear children size bracelets or make my own bracelet because my wrirsts are so thin.  That's how some of us are born, and we shouldn't be put down either. 

So skinny legs and arms, well in RL, I got 'em; born this way.

As far as to address the OP:  No shape looks wrong to me unless the head is too small.  Also, getting the neck to the right proportion is difficult.  I used to oil paint and when I started oil painting I noticed that the neck is not a particularly attractive part of the body; so I painted people in a sort of semi profile to give them a jawline and help reduce some neck unattractiveness; I was always painting the neck area over because not only does the neck need to support the head, but in visuals it also needs to be toned down a bit as again necks are not a particulary attractive part of the body.  I also don't like male avatars with very nicely done avatars and clothes, but there feet look like 5 sizes too big.  I often wonder, why spend so much money getting your avatar to look nice and then have these huge duck feet?  I don't quite understand that.  Spend money to look great, but have ginormous feet.  I just don't get it. 


ETA for Peggy:  There are a lot of misnomers about anorexia and most of the so called scientific studies are simply incorrect.  I was born a colicky baby and would cry all the time.  Why?  Because I'm allergic to milk.  I was born this way and my rl nephew when he was born almost wouldn't eat baby food.  This growing child sometimes wouldn't eat for days.  He was born that way too because I used to constantly worry "he's going to die... he's going to die if he doesn't eat".  It's a huge misnomer that anorexics have bulemia.  Some do.  In my family, no... it just seems to be a lack of appetite altogether. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is only one thing that makes a shape good or bad, and that is the face.

It is the hardest thing to get right. There are more sliders for the face and head than the whole rest of the body.

You can judge the rest of the body in a glance, but the only part you should REALLY take your time on is the face.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And another misnomer about anorexia I believe stems from Hollywood celebrities and super models.  However, most of these anorexic looking celebrities and supermodels are not truly anorexia, but induce an anorexia by using what if often referred to as the "Hollywood diet".  The "Hollywood diet" consists of cocaine, champagne and tons of laxatives.  That is self abuse, and they are not born that way nor truly anorexia.  Nope, they are coked up. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Variety?  :)

Any type, any wish, can be fine, if it looks like a cohesive effort in the end. If you want to be a Barbie, be a Barbie. Just be a cohesive Barbie. If you want to be thin, fat, old, young, male, female, butch, femme, whatever color or ethnic background...look like you meant it. Look like you knew what you were after.

And of course, proportions. But proportions themselves are relative in a virtual world. Legs are usually a little longer, muscles broader, waists slimmer than in real life. If you are talking about a totally realistic shape the rules for that are different. And the mesh does not support every effort perfectly at this point in time. So you have to go for an illusion.

But every type is possible. And why shouldn't it be.

Anders pic sm.png

Evan shape pic sm.png

Jenny pic mahogany sm.pngLana shape shorts sm.png

Lee face pic sm.pngLitta in profile pic sm.pngNatalya in Shirt pic sm.png

Paulette pic sm.png

Star Kitty shape sm.pngTracy pic sm.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like many of the ones you posted, but here are my critiques of a few of them.

Clarissa Lowell wrote:

Evan shape pic sm.png

There's some bumpiness in his chin - cleft slider might not be at a good value for the values of the nearby chin elements. Sliders kind of have to match each other.


Lana shape shorts sm.png

Hard to see much of the head shape but I think its a little too square, but not as bad as one below. This might just be about angle - hair blocking the view and cheeks more puffy.


Litta in profile pic sm.png

Her chin angles up too much before meeting the neck. There's a specific slider for this, and women do look better when its up high, but you can go too far - which this one has. Result is that her bones should be popping through there if this was a RL person.


Paulette pic sm.png

Her head is way too square and blocky.


Star Kitty shape sm.png

Fangs and whiskers on a texture map, and the cleft lip - don't work so well. Get prim fangs and prim whiskers, and avoid the cleft lip. Cats have a cleft lip but on humans it a serious life-threatening birth-defect, and as such we're evolved to have a gut bad reaction to the site of it. So on a neko - it causes that bad reaction.


 A final thought is that the buttocks on the African woman might be too large - SL's mesh doesn't like bubble butts too much, they distort often. It seems like in any crowd, when there are so many avatars that SL starts lowering the resoluton - it attacks butts first.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gee thanks Pussycat. Wasn't expecting that  ;)

ETA: I use a freebie photosphere, and the poses often distort and or add artifacts. If I edit the pix too heavily to remove those, it could give a distorted idea of other parts so I leave it alone. I remove bumps from ankles or wrists, that's all. 

The blond you criticized is my SL shape (see icon pic.) The too high neck on the other (black haired) one is mostly due to the pose - it's nearly twisting her head off. But yes that pic in profile is one of the more doll-like shapes - not meant to be realistic. People tend not to like bullfrog throats, although I agree that if it's impossibly high it's distracting.

The kid with the long chin, fair enough. But he looks exactly like a RL high school friend and I didn't want him perfect. In the end it is all a matter of taste, besides, that's what modify is for.

 Illustration: Here is the same shape you said had a totally blocky square face, in another pose. (That pose made her neck stick out like a turtle's fwiw.) But I didn't post in order to have things sliced to ribbons. I posted for fun and to show how many varieties there are - something for everyone, from a high necked Barbie doll type to a plus size shape. These were just samples to illustrate the word Variety in Second Life. 

The kitty shape was not a Neko and I'm not sure what your criticism was about on that one. 

I might not wear your shape as is either but I wouldn't shred it to pieces on a public forum.

Paulette pic 20 sm.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like avatars that look unusual.

I don't even blink when yet another model walks by in a super mini skirt, huge boobs, etc.

But when I see someone walk by who looks like a RL person, who is old, fat, short, perhaps a bit "ugly", I'm intriqued.

Everyone wants to be prettier, richer and more 'interesting' then they are in RL, so when someone doesn't, I want to know why and they get my attention.

Same goes for extreme avatars, i've seen lego figures, moles, giants, avatars smaller then my foot, people in fantastic 15th century body armor, I've seen 1 dimensional paperdolls cut out of newspaper, etc, etc, etc.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well,  I suppose if you're aiming for a human avatar, respecting the formulas for human figures used by artists for centuries is the only true rule to follow. All shapes which offend the eye are simply ones which massacre those formulas. Without being artists, we all have in-built detectors of what looks "right" in human bodies and faces - the pea-heads on gigantic muscle-bound bodies, the waaaaay too long legs, the arms which only reach waists, the hands which are only half the length of the face, etc. etc. - but not all of us know exactly why they look wrong.

The is-or-isn't-a-child-avie debate usually completely ignores the fact that it is not simply height which determines adult figures as the formulas for adults are not the same as child figures. A figure is child-like because of many factors - such as neck length, head to body size ratio, muscle tone, distribution of body-fat,  the existence of a waist, hips, the size of eyes in relation to the whole face, etc.

There are loads of Internet sites which supply those formulas. My suggestion, for those who do not already know them (that would probably be anyone who hasn't done a spot of figure drawing)  would be to look them up and make your shapes based on the diagrams they supply.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Clarissa, I love these shapes!

But I would have to agree with Pussycat on the African American and the kitty one. Although the kitty shape I don't see as not being PC about the cleft lip.

I have seen humans change their lips to look this way. One guy going as far as getting whiskers implanted too.THis world is a PC world and it gets old after awhile.

I think they are realistic with their imperfections keep up the good work!

 ETA I don't think Pussycat was being mean, just merely critiquing your work. Hugs.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, one thing I forgot, so this is addressed to the OP or anyone reading this thread.

The default arms are too short.  One thing to do is to stand up with your rl body and place your wrists on your thighs.  Once you place your wrists and then relax your hands and let them rest on your thighs, you can get a good sense of wear the arms should fall on your avatar.  Also, another trick that painter's do is to place one hand over your face and then you can get a good sense of about how big your hands should be.  Though with fingernails, us women usually have to set our hands at 10, which looks good enough to me.  But maybe for the male avatars one could try putting one hand over their face to get a good sense of how large our hands actually are.  One hand (placing palm on chin) usually goes from chin to tip of forehead with the fingertips, at least on me it does (rl painting tricks). 

ETA:  I wasn't replying to Jacki.  :/  I think this system replies to the poster above you, unless you hit reply to the OP again, 'cuz I hit the green button to the left.  :/  Learn something new everyday! 

Link to post
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...