My digits – Approximating human proportions in Second Life

My Avatar Proportions
Here I am standing next to some height markers and also the avatar ruler. I’m taller than the average US Female – 162 cm (2nd block from left) at 179 cm flat-footed.

In response to Strawberry Singh’s Monday Blog Challenge: What’s your digits – Proportions, I went inworld today and took a photo of myself against a few markers.

The avatar ruler is on the right of the image above, but I also have these nifty wood blocks that represent various height markers (from left to right):

  • The World’s Shortest Man (1’10” or 0.57 m)
  • The Average US Female Height (5’4″ or 1.622 m)
  • The Average US Male Height (5’9″ or 1.763 m)
  • The  World’s Tallest Man (8’11” or 2.72 m)

In Second Life, I measure 5’10” (or 177.8 cm) according to the avatar ruler (which is my height in the non-virtual world). It wasn’t always this way. Prior to 2013, I was nearly a whole foot taller in Second Life.

Me before (2009-2012) and after (2013 onwards). The before shape is from Unique, the after shape is my own.
Me, before (2009-2012) and after (2013 onwards). The before shape is from Unique, the after shape is my own. Note the shorter height, bigger head, longer arms, shorter legs, and wider hips. Personally, I’d never go back to the way I looked before. It just doesn’t look right to me.

Interestingly, I’ve given the issue of avatar height, and specifically avatar proportions, a great deal of consideration and effort.

I’ve lived a more proportioned life since January 2013, and have never looked back. At first I worried about whether clothing would fit, specifically mesh. I wondered how I’d look on furniture. I also worried about what I’d look like mingling with other avatars that would become relatively much taller than me. Would I be mistaken for a teen? Or worse, a child? None of my concerns, thankfully, materialised since my change. In fact, most of the feedback has been very positive.

Soon after I made the first height changes to my shape, I picked up some of the avatar measuring devices that you can see in above in the image, and some really cool boxes that help you find your proportions in SL (pictured below).

According to Vitruvian Man notes on proportions (derived from a drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci that depicts a male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart):

From below the chin to the top of the head is one-eighth of the height of a man.

From the breasts to the top of the head is a quarter of the height of a man.

The length of the outspread arms is equal to the height of a man

The (bottom of the pelvis) is at half the height of a man.

To facilitate this, I used a simple device called The Proportionator, that is a block that you can multiply by 8 with the click of a menu button. I first modified my virtual height to match my non-virtual height with the avatar ruler, and then modified my head to be 1/8 of that height (or 22.5 inches) using the white block.

After cloning the blocks down, I adjusted my other body parts to relate to my head and overall height. Then I adjusted my other digits to align to Vitruvian proportions as much as I could.

To change my arm length, I cloned the blocks, rotated them and aligned the centre of the middle block with the centre of my chest. Unfortunately, even at this relatively smallish height, SL sliders won’t let me go past 100, so I can’t make my arms as long as I want them to be.

Proportions_003

Proportions Challenge Questions:

  1. Do you try and keep your avatar’s body proportionate and similar to the “average” proportions pictured above? – Yes. I am making tweaks from time to time, but I’m planning to stay proportioned along the Western ideal. The first time I became aware that my proportions might not be right was when I visited the 1920’s Berlin sim, years ago. The sim owners seemed to be quite concerned about a notion that SL avatars were oversized by default, and with the aim of realism, insisted that you change your shape to conform to “human proportions“. At the time, I didn’t know how to change my shape, so I left, and I didn’t think much of it since.
  2. What do you dislike the most about the SL avatar mesh? – I, like many people, dislike standard issue hands and feet, so I always go for mesh attachments since they became available. Colour matching is always an issue, but with more appliers coming on the market, it does seem to be getting better. I do not like the strange angles that result when I sit, or get into poses that might not be normal. Sometimes I even notice some strange angularity in my butt, which can really put me off. I’m hoping that in time, mesh shapes will become more modifiable, work better with my inventory of clothing, and that eventually angles and hard edges will become as vestigial as prim hair.
  3. Does it bother you when you see other avatars that are not proportionate at all? – Does it bother me? Well, no, I guess it doesn’t bother me. I do however, find it jarring to see an avatar that is wildly disproportionate to what is considered within the range of ideal human norms. Maybe it’s because it causes me to notice their appearance more than just taking it as another data point. Sometimes too, I think that many people are walking around without really noticing their arms, legs, chests, heads and extremities are way out of proportion. I was much taller than I am now for about 5 of my near 6 years in Second Life (see picture above). I hadn’t noticed I was out of proportion, but I did notice that many people were much bigger than me, even then! Then in January of this year I had some trouble with some mesh clothing showing gaps in my torso. I thought then, maybe if I can make some shape adjustments, the gap might disappear. It didn’t, but after seeing myself nearly a foot shorter than my usual height, I decided almost immediately that it seemed to feel more comfortable. Now, disproportionate avatars have become very obvious to me.
  4. Even though this is a virtual world and people can be anything they want to be, do you feel when they are in human form, they should try to keep their proportions close to average? –  I appreciate that people can do what they want, but it doesn’t mean they necessarily should. I suppose, like every other choice in Second Life, how you look is a statement of what you are aiming to project. Personally, I like to see a well-proportioned avatar, not because I want everyone to look the same. Instead, I think I’m just responding to the hard-wiring that is in most of us to appreciate symmetry and the golden ratio. No, I don’t want everyone to be perfect, and I don’t expect everyone to conform to my expectations of what is ideal, or even authentic. It’s the nuances and differences that help make us who we are. Still, despite having way more variety of shape in the non-virtual world, we are even there more the same than we are different, and respecting a more realistic anatomy and physiology in our physical appearance might help in establishing rapport among people, at least on superficial first impressions.

So, here are my digits:

Body

Height – 30 (5’10″ using the Avatar Ruler) – measured as 1.79 Meters or 5.87 Feet in the Appearance Window

Body Thickness: 30

Body Fat: 0

Hover: 50

Head

I wear a size modifiable mesh head set at 60

Torso

Torso Muscle: 34

Neck Thickness: 50

Neck Length: 32

Shoulders: 34

Breast Size: 57

Breast Bouyancy: 53

Breast Cleavage: 35

Arm length: 100

Hand size: 27

Torso length: 43

Love Handles: 30

Belly Size: 0

Legs

Leg Muscles: 42

Leg length: 58

Hip width: 44

Hip length: 57

Butt Size: 26

Saddle Bags: 36

Knee Angle: 50

Foot Size: 0 (40 when wearing mesh body feet)

18 thoughts on “My digits – Approximating human proportions in Second Life

  1. Peeps change their avatar in all sorts of ways, but I think a common one that seems to be true for You, Berry, Me, and others, is to get shorter over time.

    How did we get so “Barbie” in the first place? Was it in our heads? Was it the shapes we were given? I don’t even remember. But I agree, when I look at my earlier, super tall or super “pencil” shapes, I’m just baffled! 😛

    Like

    1. You’re very welcome! I wish the proportionator was on the MP, because I would have added a link. It was given to me by a friend – but I think it might be transfer so I might be able to give it away if anyone asks.

      It would be easy to make though, just by making two sets of 8 semi-transparent cubic prims that you could resize. I found the whole shape-making process to be very fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s a group I belong to in Second Life calledThe League for Normally-Sized Avatars, which consists of those of us who prefer to keep our avatars within normal human height standards.

    As this article shows, the AVERAGE human female height is 5’4″ (1.62 m). I actually have THREE avatar shapes I use commonly with my usual skins – one which is my RL height of 5’7″ (1.7 m), one which is somewhat taller- 5’11” (1,8 m), for photography and other instances when I need to look reasonably good in clothing designed for “SL normal height” avatars, and a “dancing avatar” made specifically to allow animations to work well with other women who run toward standard SL range of heights – 6’6″ (1,98 m)).

    I’m not as political on the question of “normal” heights as other SL women in The League for Normally-Sized Avatars.
    I do use the term “Barbie” to describe those whose heights exceed 2 m, but it’s affectionate, friendly abuse. I’m not vituperative at all on that point, but I do notice that Second Life’s a two-meter tall person’s world. Everything’s designed around that metric.

    It’s so disconcerting. I sometimes wonder if we ought to change our group’s name to Children of a Shorter God.

    Like

  3. What interests me more is getting an idea of how these sliders relate to feet, inches, mm and cm. We have a height that we can reference from, but the rest is just a sliding scale from 0-100. Has anyone tackled it?

    Like

    1. I don’t believe so, and I’m struggling to see how it would be doable when every unit in the 0-100 scale means something entirely different. It’d be cool if there was an option to choose your units (like when resizing an image in a graphics program). Then we could choose cms or inches, which would make it much easier to approximate our own, or anyone’s body’s, according to actual measurements.

      Like

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