What is the difference between skin and shape in SL?

I wasn’t sure what to write about in my blog today. Fortunately for me, there are still a good number of people who don’t know what they are talking about, yet they are so eager to criticize and reveal conspiracies that inevitably contribute ideas for posts.

I was called a fraud by a guy on Twitter because as he intelligently noticed, I sell only shapes. He points out the obvious fact that the ad boards of my shapes show the models wearing skins and hair, but in fact I sell neither the skins nor the hair shown.

Well, basically the guy is right. I don’t sell skins or hair indeed. But where is the deception?

First of all, I introduce myself as a shapes creator. Not a skin creator. Not a hair creator.
I have never been pretending to sell shapes AND skins. Furthermore, there is a sign board right next to my shop entrance stating categorically and flatly: “I sell shapes only. Skins not included”. That is how it looks like:

skins not included

How straightforward is that?

But maybe I come from the wrong assumption. I thought anybody in SL knew the difference between shapes and skins and obviously I’ve been wrong.
The difference as I understand it: The shape is the form of the avatar’s body and face, it’s the analog of the human’s bones and muscle structure.
The skin is the texture of the avatar’s face and body. It covers and wraps around the shape.

I’m sure there is a better and more technically correct way to explain it but being a laic and not technically savvy, I googled “sl shape and skin difference”. One of the first posts I encountered says so:

“Now in real life your skin and your shape are rather intimately connected. Not so in SL. They are separate and you buy them separately. Plus you put them on and take them off like clothes. It’s strange but true.

What you get with the body shape is head, nose, eyes, mouth, cheeks, chin, neck, torso, breasts, waist, hips, butt, legs, hands and feet. All created just so. Ideal, you might say, all perfectly proportioned if you desire or even resembling a real person, for example Angeline Jolie or perhaps Princess Diana might take your fancy.

While your skin consists of colour, nipple colour, lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, blush, pubic hair colour. Mostly make-up for your face as you can see but skins are very difficult to create and command high prices so you must choose carefully.”

It’s from a post in Nobody Important blog.

And this is another explanation that sounds pretty comprehensive and smart.  It is given as a comment from Ryan Darragh on a post in Men’s Second Style:

“Basically, your shape is the underlying form of your avatar–its proportions, length of limbs, roundness of head, size of feet and hands, all those little shape-and-size decisions that go to make up your avatar’s essential figure. You can think of your skin as an overlay on your shape, with artwork and shading designed to give the appearance of real skin. Some skins are more photo-realistic than others; that’s all a matter of your preference.”

Secondly, I don’t know a way to showcase the shapes WITHOUT skins.

When I design a shape I use a specific skin and the shape is optimal especially for that particular skin. If the client owns and/or prefers a different skin, she can:

  • Try the demo of the shape and decide if it fits beautifully the skin of her choice.
  • Modify the already bought shape to suit her individual taste and any other skin she may have in inventory.

(IMPORTANT! The demos aren’t modifiable! Otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to provide them.)

Thirdly, I credit all the creators which skin/hair/eyes/clothes etc. I use to expose the shapes. I give stylecards with the landmarks to their shops. I believe it’s a WIN-WIN situation, because many of the clients buying shapes want to get the same look as the board models, so they visit the credited merchants’ shops to purchase the recommended or similar items.

Thumbs down for the practice of throwing stones!

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