Grid Expectations

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subtle facial expressions

(Note:  you can click on all of the images for this post to bring up larger versions on my flickr page.)

About 99.9% of the time, I run my avatar around with a neutral expression on her face. When I’m taking snapshots, I’ll sometimes hit the Emote function in my MystiTool to get her to crack a big smile or some other fun facial animation:

SL facial animations

You can take the whole facial animation thing a step further with London Spengler’s Pandora FACE 2.0, which basically allows you to play two SL facial expressions at the same time, making for all sorts of possible combinations.

As much as I adore the facial animations that are available in SL, sometimes they’re a tad cartoonish for my purposes.  Just the other day, as I was setting up a picture of my av at a beach sim (Mori Pwani sim, my Plurk friend Lissa Pinion has now got me hooked on playing on the waves there) I realized I wanted my avatar to have a subtle, Mona Lisa-ish smile to go along with the looking-over-her-shoulder-at-the-camera pose.  To accomplish that, I decided to create variations on my avatar’s face shape and these are some of the results I got:

subtle expressions via slidersWhile working on editing my shape, I recalled talking with an SL photographer about a year ago on the subject of getting more facial expressions beyond the ones already built into SL.  Perhaps editing my face shape seemed like an obvious answer to me because I work with shapes a lot for my store, but it was something that had not occurred to him to try.

So, I figured I’d write about it on my blog, and share what sliders I edited to create my subtle facial expressions.  ^_^

To create my avatar’s melancholy expression, these are the sliders I edited:

Shape…
Eyes > Eye Opening:  slightly wider
Eyes > Outer Eye Corner: slightly more down
Mouth > Lip Width:  slightly narrower
Mouth > Mouth Corner:  corner down

Your eyebrows are also an important part of creating a facial expression.   (To edit your eyebrow shape, you must go into Edit Appearance > Hair > Eyebrows.)   These are the slider adjustments I made for my melancholy emote:

System Hair…
Eyebrows > Eyebrow Height:  slightly higher
Eyebrows > Eyebrow Points:  smoother

For my avatar’s stern expression, these are the slider edits I made:

Shape…
Eyes >   Eye Opening:  slightly narrower
Mouth > Lip Width:  slightly narrower
Mouth > Lip Ratio:  slightly more lower lip
Mouth > Mouth Corner:  slightly more corner down

System Hair…
Eyebrows > Eyebrow Height:  lower (i.e., I went from 77 to 92)
Eyebrows > Eyebrow Arc:  slightly less arced

For my avatar’s subtle grin, I made these slider adjustments:

Shape…
Eyes > Eye Opening:  slightly narrower
Mouth > Lip Width:  slightly narrower
Mouth > Mouth Corner:  slightly more corner up
Mouth > Lip Ratio:  slightly more lower lip
Chin > Jaw Jut:  very slightly more underbite

System Hair…
no changes

Those are only three examples, but that should give you a pretty good idea of what sliders you’d want to touch when editing your own shape for creating more subtle expressions.  (As a side note, it is for reasons like this that I stopped selling No Modify shapes in my shop.  Modify shapes ftw!)

While I was working on my shape edits, I was conversing with Gogo.  I asked her, “If you could order up new facial animations from Linden Lab, what would you ask for?”  A couple of the things that ended up on our list of emotes we’d like to see were a slight parting of the lips, and a pout.  I learned from our discussion that one way to accomplish the slight parting of lips effect is to enable Slow Motion animations in the Advanced menu, then hit the smile emote and try to catch your avatar in a snapshot right as the animation starts.  This can end up involving a lot of repeat attempts as you try to capture the right moment of the animation.

The SL client now has a lip sync function built in for Voice users, so this gives us even more options now.  ^_^  Using Voice, lip sync, and my edited expression shapes, here are some of the results I came up with:

shape plus lipsync

My favorites are the pouts with the slightly parted lips, hehe.  My friend Vivi told me that lip sync should be on by default for people using the 1.23 official viewer.  If you’re using an older viewer, you will need to go into your Advanced menu to turn that function on:

enable lip sync

Okay, so how exactly did I use Voice/lip sync to get those shots? Simple:  after enabling the lip sync function and wearing my newly edited expression shapes/brows, I put Weezer on my WinAmp player and parked the microphone next to the speaker, lol.   The music over the mic caused my avatar’s speech animations to start up, and I was able to capture quite a few interesting results.  That’s pretty much it!  Perhaps one day some clever scripter will be able to come up with a HUD that takes advantage of all the possible mouth animations that lip sync utilizes, making this even more easy to accomplish…

P.s.  On an entirely unrelated note, I am really digging this new Anna hair that I’ve bought from LeLutka.  It kind of reminds me of the way your hair will look after you’ve spent the day at the beach ❤

Credits:
Skin – Laqroki Kira
Hair – LeLutka Anna
Eyes – Exodi Twilight Anger
Hair flower – G-Field Hibiscus crystal pink

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July 3, 2009 - Posted by | Fashion, Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Yay you rock! Melancholy is too cute, I’ll try it 🙂

    Comment by Gogo | July 3, 2009

  2. Great post and a great idea. I learned a LOT! TYVM. Bookmarking!

    Comment by chicaeon | July 3, 2009

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Comment by Eboni Khan | July 4, 2009

  4. […] you want to expreiment, check out Melanie Kidd’s tutorial on Grid Expectations: subtle facial expressions for Second Life « Snowglobe 1.1.0 […]

    Pingback by Facial Expressions Tutorial « Nalates’ Things & Stuff Blog | July 7, 2009

  5. […] I also wanted my av to have an expression that would befit her streaked mascara, so I edited my shape to give her a subtly sad look.  (I’ve posted about how to edit your shape for subtle expressions here.) […]

    Pingback by look of the day: the jilted bride « Grid Expectations | July 19, 2009

  6. […] was also inspired by Melanie Kidd’s marvelous blog post on creating subtle facial expressions. But like many people with my own shape, I said, I need to do that and then didn’t do it.  So, […]

    Pingback by Sui Generis Opens Tomorrow @ 3 PM SLT « iheartsl.com Second Life’s largest community blog | September 11, 2009

  7. […] Day 34 of 365 (02.03.10), random headshot. Sometime last year, I wrote a blog post on giving your avatar subtle facial expressions. […]

    Pingback by 031 – 035 of 365 « Grid Expectations | February 7, 2010

  8. […] you want to expreiment, check out Melanie Kidd’s tutorial on Grid Expectations: subtle facial expressions for Second Life « Snowglobe 1.1.0 Update Review Skin Design – The Windlight Age […]

    Pingback by Facial Expressions Tutorial | January 20, 2011


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