The Avastar Shape (Properties, Object Section)

Avastar can import and export shapes from OpenSim or any compatible online world. You find the import/export functions in the Object properties of the Avastar Armature:

  • Go to object mode.
  • Select the Rig (RMB on the yellow circles around the mesh).
  • Open the Properties window.
  • Navigate to the “Object” properties.

There you find a panel Avatar Shape IO. This panel displays a Preset selector and a subpanel with 4 main functions.

[PS Showtime url=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/map_appearance_io.png”] appearance_io_01

Load Shape

This function allows you to upload a Shape that you have previously exported from your online world: In most viewers there is a shape export option hidden in the advanced menu (“Advanced” -> “Character” -> “Charater Tests” -> “Appearance to XML”). This will silently create a file called:

[application_folder]/character/new archetype.xml

This file contains your current shape and can be loaded into Avastar, where [application_folder] is the viewer’s application data folder. For Windows this folder is located  at:


Save Shape to

By default this function creates a new Shape file with your current shape settings. This file can later be used for Load Shape (see above). Right besides the function you find a selector for the save destination.

As mentioned above the default option is to save to File. But you can also save to a Blender textblock. In that case the slider values can be found in the Blender text editor panel. The values correspond to the shape settings in the SL viewer.
[PS Showtime url=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/map_appearance_io.png”]

Note: Some viewers support the upload of shape file to SL (e.g. Firestorm, Singularity). To see the file, switch to the Blender Text editor and locate Shape for: Avatar  (Avatar stands for the name of the Armature). Useful when you need to update the shape in SL with the values from blender.

Refresh Shape:

This resets the Avastar meshes to the current Shape values. Useful together with the new custom shape key function (see below). Also if you messed up the Avastar meshes (by editing them) you can return the mesh back to the current shape slider values.

Warning: if you added or removed vertices from the Avastar meshes, this function will fail!

Delete Avastar Shapes

Remove all Shapes from the Avastar character. You will want this when you use the rig for non human characters where keeping the Avastar human meshes make no sense.

Load Shape Editor

When you load a blend file which contains an Avastar Character, then the Shape panel sometimes only displays the “Load Shape Editor” Button. This happens when you just have started Blender).
Activating the button loads the shape setting controls. We added this for optimization purposes as it takes a few seconds to initialize the Avastar shape system.

The Shape Sliders

[PS Showtime url=”/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/map_appearance_sliders.png”]

We support the same shape slider system as you can find in SL, OpenSim or other compatible worlds. You find the sliders in the Object properties of the Avastar Character:

  • Go to object mode.
  • Select the Rig (RMB on the yellow circles around the mesh).
  • Open the Properties window and navigate to the “Object” properties.
  • There you find a panel “Avatar Shape”.

Avastar-1.6: Avatar Appearance Panel has been redesigned and is also available in the Toolshelf.

  • Height: The current height of the character in online world units (1.87 meters in this example, note that Avatars tend to be slightly bigger than real world people).
  • Section: A popup Menu for the different Shape Sections. This is equal to the Shape Editor in SL or OpenSim.
  • Male: A Gender selector. By default the gender is female. If you check the selector, the Avastar character changes to male. You can switch the gender at any time.

up to Avastar-1.5: Avatar Shape Panel

The Section Sliders

The section subpanel of the Avatar shapes panel contains the Sliders for the section specific shape keys. The values assigned in SL match exactly with the slider values in Blender.

  • Some sliders have a small stickman icon on their left side. This indicates the slider affects the bones (bone sliders).
  • Since Avastar-1.5: Some sliders have a small magnet icon on their left side. This indicates the sliders affects a fitted Mesh bone (Collision Volume bone)
  • All other sliders affect only the mesh (morph sliders).
  • The icons on the right side indicate that the slider value has been changed. Click on these icons to reset the corresponding Slider Value to its default.
  • Note: The Reset icon on the Top Left resets the entire Bone Section to its Default Values.

Before Avastar-1.5: click on the Reset default icons to get back the slider’s default value.

Avastar-1.5: Fitted Mesh Sliders indicated with a magnet

The Special Sections

[PS Showtime url=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/map_appearance_sections.png”]
  • We have added 2 extra sections Changed, and Skeleton which do not appear in the Second Life Shape editor.  The Changed section is empty by default and will be populated by the list of changed Shape sliders of your Avastar. The Skeleton section (see image) contains all sliders which will change the bone length of the Avastar character.
  • On top of the list (in the Section Header) you see a Reset button. This button will reset all shape sliders of the current Section to its factory defaults.
  • Each slider can be dragged, or you can click on it and then type in a number.
  • If a slider has been changed then you will see a reset icon right to the slider. Clicking on that icon will reset the slider to its default value.

Avastar-1.6 Slider Section (slightly modified compared to previous Versions)

Hint: If you plan to create Meshes compatible to the Mesh Deformer, then you will want to reset all bones in the Skeleton Section to their default values (Reset Section to defaults).
Note: The Mesh Deformer project has been abandonned in Second Life. However it is used in OpenSim and some other virtual worlds. Therefore we have not removed the support for the Mesh Deformer.

Face Expressions

[PS Showtime url=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/map_expressions.png”]

Avastar supports hand expressions and face expressions.

  • Hand Expressions: We support all 15 SL Hand expressions.

    Note: An SL Animation can only contain one single Hand expression. And this hand expression will remain valid for the entire animation sequence. If you need to change the Hand expression you will have to split the animation into pieces and then merge the animations in the SL animation editor.
  • Face expressions: Unlike hand expressions face expressions are implemented as Shape keys. We support all 20 face expressions. In Blender the face expressions can even be animated (key framed). However this fine detail of animation is not (yet?) available in OpenSim or other compatible online worlds. But for Blender animations the expressions are fully implemented and can be combined and key framed.