The customization of the Avatar: an interview with the talented Nihan Evermore

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One of the most exciting aspects of Second Life is the ability to customize your avatar in a very detailed way. Over time, thanks to the quality of the heads, bodies, skins, and all the different BOM levels (bake on mesh) offered on the market, the users’ creativity is manifested in the creation of Avatars of exceptional quality. Whether realism or fantasy is the user’s preferred choice, the customization possibilities are nearly endless.

In this post, I talk about it with Nihan Evermore, who caught my attention on Facebook after posting images of a high-quality avatar (many appreciated his work by writing in the comments).

I wanted to ask her a few questions that can help those who need to perfect their skills in shape modeling and customizing the avatar in general. Nihan is also the owner of Evermore, a store that can help a lot in the avatar customization process.

Image Courtesy Nihan

Oema: Hi Nihan; I thought of you for this article on shape customization after seeing the splendid avatar you created on Facebook. First of all, I wanted to ask you: do you prefer to try to give your avatar realism, or do you like to add aspects of fantasy?

Nihan: Thanks so much for the invitation; it means very much to me. I believe that so much creativity lies within mixing realism with fantasy. To me, shape customization has been much like drawing a character. I’ve never been the most skilled artist when it comes to a pencil, but customizing shapes in Second Life gives you the opportunity to breathe life into these drawings. The drawings are our avatars, giving us the ability to build upon this drawing in 3D. This is where things get interesting. Everyone has a different perspective and definition of realism and fantasy. In my case, I prefer to add a touch of both. Using a realistic approach to proportions while not restraining your imagination, is more my style. A lot of fun things happen when you attempt to make the intangible, tangible.

Image Courtesy Nihan

Oema: When you work on the shape, do you let yourself be guided by instinct, or do you think it is important to respect rules of proportion with the RL?

Nihan: I feel most of it is guided by instinct. Character customization has been such a fascination to me, that I can probably say I’ve experimented with every mainstream mesh body/head attachment there has been available. If I were to line up a row of photos with snapshots of every avatar I’ve created on Second Life though, they would all share some features in common. This is where instinct comes into play. I think it’s really fun and important to build upon a single shape over time, making copies and experimenting by tweaking things here and there. Then making more unique shapes for different skins comes much easier with time. As for rules, the right skin can do wonders with the right shape and vice versa. If a skin does not sit right on my shape (and I really want to use this skin), then I make a copy and adjust the shape according to the skin’s features, or try on another until one line up nicely. I can’t say I think it’s important to respect rules of proportion, because of the nature of Second Life and it would imply there is a “correct” way of being or looking when there is not. There is only what your preferences are and what you want to mold out of those preferences. The avatar is a canvas for each one of us and some of the most interesting avatars I’ve seen on Second Life weren’t realistically shaped, some not even human! My preference for proportions, though? I’ve always enjoyed the character proportions of most 90’s anime!

Image Courtesy Nihan

Oema: What are your favorite brands for the head, body, and skin?

Nihan: My longtime favorite mesh body parts to use have been Lelutka mesh heads and TheShops! (or TheMeshProject) Legacy body. I recently purchased the eBody REBORN body, which is also very nice, with so many deformers available for further customization! But Legacy has been my go-to since it’s been released. As for skins, that is a very long list. There are so many incredible skin creators on Second Life; it’s mind-blowing. Some of my long-time favorites have been Mudskin, Avoixs, Enfer Sombre, Avarosa, Boataom, and Heaux. But there are so many; every skin creator has a different style to offer. There is always something for everyone; it’s amazing what they can do.

Oema: Would you suggest to a newbie to buy a shape, or do you think “do it yourself” is always the best choice?

Nihan: I don’t believe “do it yourself” is the best advice for someone just starting to make shapes. I’ve purchased countless shapes, using most of them as a base to start from when I had difficulty with a certain mesh head’s reactions to sliders. As you continue trying on and editing different shapes and skins, you improve upon the kind of character you want to create over time. Because it is not just the shape that makes the avatar, genetic and cosmetic layers can make a shape look very different from its base! Then, I’d say that “do it yourself” would be worth a try. After familiarizing yourself with the various sliders and tabs within a shape, creating one from scratch becomes a lot easier! It can be discouraging at times; creating a shape is tedious and very time-consuming, but also the most rewarding effort if you stick with it and try different things.

Image Courtesy Nihan

Oema: Do you often change your avatar’s appearance or identify yourself in a particular aspect?

Nihan: Some have playfully complained that I never commit to a single look for my avatar, but I feel that all the different looks I’ve created have a striking similarity between them. While I do change my avatar’s appearance quite often, I identify myself through the contours of the face and body and the expression on the face. These and a beauty spot on the side of the lower lip that I share with my avatar in RL. This way, I’ve been able to have some identifiable consistency between my countless avatars.

Oema: Do you think Second Life allows a good avatar personalization, or could it offer more?

Nihan: I have had the most incredible time creating characters on Second Life since joining back in 2012. So much, that it has spoiled me rotten, and couldn’t look at video game character customization the same again. I believe Second Life is very much like that, a second life. Which has been possible by the very hard work of those behind Linden Labs, our favorite platform viewers, who have improved upon the windows in which we view our creations and the effort of the diverse creator community therein. I think Second Life, through the wonderful imagination and consistency of all its creators, has done a magnificent job of offering near-limitless possibilities for avatar personalization. With tenacity and a little elbow grease, I can’t think of an avatar impossible to make on Second Life! I do feel there could be various improvements made to the very basis of Second Life as a platform when it comes to avatar customization, but in my opinion, Linden Lab has improved upon its platform over recent years after shifting its focus from Sansar. This, coupled with the immense talent in our creator community, it’s just uphill from here.

Image Courtesy Nihan

Oema: Finally, thank you for your availability for this mini-interview; I ask you to introduce your EVERMORE shop and tell us how it can help personalize the avatar (I have seen some beautiful eye-lashes, for example!)

Nihan: Thank you so much for inviting me to participate. I welcome any opportunity to show some love for this platform and the creativity within it! EVERMORE is my personal shop in Second Life, my artistic escape! In this shop there is no consistent theme; we thrive in the unpredictable and all things unconventional and aesthetically pleasing! We have a little something for everyone to provide your avatar with the pièce de résistance you may be looking for. We sell mesh accessories, poses, avatar components, cosmetics, decor, and more! One of our specialties is our huge collection of very unique lash appliers, ranging from more realistic looks to anime-inspired styles! Don’t underestimate how a pair of wonderful lashes can shape your face and eyes~ We’d love to have you visit the shop and hope you enjoy its atmosphere. We are always looking to amaze our customers with every release and provide a wide variety of customization for all our items.

Thank YOU, Nihan for sharing with us your suggestions and ideas about this so important topic for Second Life users.

References

Oema
360gradi.sl@gmail.com
I love communication in all its aspects. I like to share my experiences, explorations, and knowledge with the Second Life community. I created the VIRTUALITY blog and 360 GRADI Magazine with this goal in mind.
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