This article describes some common problems with avatar appearance and how to address them.
If your avatar looks like a particle cloud
In Second Life Viewer version 1.20 and later, you appear as a particle cloud while your avatar is loading. This may also happen when some information about you gets lost on the way from one place to another. Don't worry, you aren't stuck this way forever!
(You may sometimes hear people refer to an incompletely loaded avatar as "Ruth" or "being Ruthed" for historical reasons.)
Follow these steps to restore your avatar to its normal appearance:
Choose Me > Preferences > Graphics.
Move the Quality and speed slider to the left (a lower setting).
Click the Advanced button.
Move the Draw distance slider to the left.
Move the Mesh detail slider for Avatars to Low.
Avatar impostors is checked by default. If you have unchecked it, enable this feature again.
If your avatar appears discolored or misshapen
If your avatar appears in strange, unintended colors or shows spikes, bumps, or other unsightly protrusions coming out of its body, check your graphics card to make sure it is supported and that the drivers are up to date. Learn more about graphics cards.
If the problem persists:
Go to Me > Preferences > Graphics tab.
Click the Advanced button to show additional options.
Uncheck Hardware skinning.
Click OK to confirm. You may also need to restart the Viewer.
Additional helpful techniques
Try these from the top until one works:
Quit and restart the Second Life Viewer (also called "relogging").
Right-click yourself and choose Edit My Outfit (don't save anything). In the APPEARANCE window, click the Back (<) button.
Rebake textures by following these steps:
Choose Me > Preferences > Advanced.
Select Show Advanced Menu.
Choose Advanced > Rebake Textures.
Open your Inventory and enter a charcater (like a) in the Filter Inventory field. The number of items displayed in the top left of the INVENTORY window will increase as the servers fetch your inventory. Wait until the number stops increasing (this might take some time, depending on how much stuff you have), then relog.
Re-wear your normal shape, skin, clothes, and attachments. This step is much easier if you are using a pre-existing saved outfit, but remember not to save anything before your avatar is restored!