Saturday, October 20, 2007

Day 391: Creating Poses Part 1 (Standing Pose)

Can I tell you a mermaid secret?

Mermaids have a tail. So, we have to always keep our legs together :) Thats not easy to do in SL, because all the animations assume human legs!

So everything a mermaid does requires special poses and animations. From floating around to swimming to flying. Even sitting on the ground like this requires a pose.

So sooner or later, a mermaid gets the urge to make her own poses and animations :)

Fortunately, creating poses for SL is easy and fun. And best of all, there are some wonderful free programs available. So all it would cost are the SL L$10 upload fees (thats less than 4 US cents per upload).

In this tutorial, we are going to use QAvimator to create a simple standing pose. We will upload this pose to SL and try it out on our avatar :)


Animations are typically those items that sit in the "Animations" folder in your Inventory. They have a little "running person" picture next to them.

Animations do what their name suggests: they animate your avatar. Animations can be a simple walk, a dance, acrobatics, or a mermaid swimming :)

To use an animation in your Inventory, just Right-click on an animation and select "Play in World".

You can put animations into poseballs, avatar attachments (like shoes), or into an Animation Override (AO) gadget.

So animations are really useful for bringing life to your avatar! :)

There are some additional information about SL animation in the SL Wiki.


Poses are special types of animations. Poses freeze the avatar in a fixed position. This is great for taking pictures or looking into your BF's eyes ;P

A pose consists of 2 frames:

The first frame is the Reference Frame. This is used by SL as a reference point.

The second frame is the actual pose. SL will move any body part that is in a different position than the Reference Frame.

Any body part that has not changed from the Reference Frame will continue to go thru the normal avatar movements (like breathing or shifting legs). So if you do not move the avatar chest in the second frame, then your avatar will continue to breath normally.

(Note: This can be adjusted by setting the Priority of the animation. See the SL Wiki for more details)


The avatar's hips are the most important part of any frame. The hips determine the avatar's position relative to her position at the start of the animation.

All of the avatar's other body parts are positioned relative to the hips. So the hips are truly the most important body part on the avatar!

If you move the hips, the avatar's position will change. For example, if you move the avatar's hips up 1M, the entire avatar will be shifted up by 1M. This will look like the avatar just jumped up into the air!

Moving the hips are essential for animations that move around, like walking or dancing.

If you do not move the hips, the avatar's position will not change relative to her position at the start of the animation. For this part of the tutorial, we will only move the hips a little bit (to stop the avatar from shifting around).

Downloading and Installing QAvimator

QAvimator is a program specifically designed to create poses and animations for Second Life. The best part is that its free :)

You can download the latest version at The QAvimator site does warn that the project is in early alpha stage and may or may not work on your system...

Download and install the proper version of QAvimator on your computer. For this tutorial, I am using the April 19, 2007 version of QAvimator.

Once you start the program, you are all set to create animations for Second Life :)

Using QAvimator

QAvimator is pretty easy to use (this is coming from a blonde mermaid ;P). There are only a couple things you need to know for this tutorial: How to adjust a body part, and how to change the camera view (so you can see better).

Lets play around with QAvimator first to get used to the basics...

QAvimator lets you move your avatar around just like an intricate doll. You can move each body part individually in the X, Y, and Z directions.

To move a body part, first click on it to select it (like the upper right arm in the picture).

You can then move the body part by moving the slider control on the right, or typing in a number.

If you are wondering what X, Y, and Z stands for...well, I dont know. I just move them until the body part goes the right way. Thats probably easier than trying to figure them out :P

Thats it! Thats all you do to create a pose in QAvimator: select each body part, and move the X/Y/Z until it looks right. Easy, isnt it? :)

You can also change the camera view so you can get a better look at different parts of the avatar.

The controls work sorta like SL...

To zoom in or out, press and hold the [Alt] key. Then click and hold on an area outside of the avatar. Now move the mouse forward to zoom in. Pull the mouse back to zoom out. You can also move the mouse to the left and right. This works almost like the Alt camera in SL.

To rotate, press and hold the [Ctrl] key. Click and hold on an area outside of the avatar. Now you can rotate your view by moving the mouse around.

To pan your view, press and hold the [Shift] key. Click and hold on an area outside of the avatar. Now you can pan your view by moving the mouse around.

If your camera gets like totally messed up, just press the "Reset camera view to default position" button :)

You are now a QAvimator expert ;P

So lets make a pose!

Creating a Pose

We are going to create a simple pose that positions both hands in front to hold an object, like a candle.

(Im so going to get on Santa's "Good" List this year! ;P)

Lets start with a new screen!

Click on "File" from the top menu bar and select "New".

Make sure that the "Figure" setting is set to "female" (the X, Y, Z values I provide below would be different for a "male" avatar).

Change the number of frames from 30 to 2 at the bottom of the window. It should read "Frame 2 of 2" when you are done.

Click on the avatar's "Hips".

Go to the "Position" setting on the right side of the window. Change the "X Position" to 0.1.

This small change will freeze the avatar's hips, and will stop her from shifting thru the "normal" stand poses.

Click on the avatar's Left Collar (or "lCollar"). This is the small area between the avatar's upper arm and neck.

Change the "Y Rotation" to "-25".

Change the "Z Rotation to "-23".

Click on the avatar's Left Upper Arm (or "lShldr"). Change the settings as follows:

   X Rotation: -12
   Y Rotation: -29
   Z Rotation: -33

Click on the avatar's Left Forearm (or "lForeArm"). Change the settings as follows:

   X Rotation: 8
   Y Rotation: -87
   Z Rotation: 2

Click on the avatar's Left Hand (or "lHand"). Change the settings as follows:

   X Rotation: -20
   Y Rotation: 0
   Z Rotation: 0

Now do the same thing on the avatar's right side, starting with the avatar's Right Collar (or "rCollar") and working down to the Right Hand (or "rHand"). Here are the settings:

   rCollar X:0 Y:20 Z:16

   rShldr X:7 Y:29 Z:47

   rForeArm X:-8 Y:92 Z:3

   rHand X:-5 Y:-4 Z:-23

Finally, we need to move the thighs and shins slightly to keep them from shifting around.

Click on the Left Thigh (or "lThigh"). Change the "X Rotation" to "-1".

Click on the Left Shin (or "lShin"). Change the "X Rotation" to "-1".

Repeat the same thing with the Right Thigh and Right Shin:

   rThigh X:-1

   rShin X:-1

Thats it! Our pose is now ready to be saved and uploaded to SL :)

Click on "File" from the top menu bar. Select the "Save As..." option.

At the "Save Animation File" window, type in "Hold Candle Pose.bvh" in the File name box. Note that you HAVE to type in the ".bvh" part of the name!

Upload and Testing the Pose

Now comes the fun part! We get the try out our new pose :)

Go into Second Life.

Select the "File" option from the SL top menu bar. Select the "Upload Animation (L$10)..." option (bet you never thought you would use this ;P).

At the Preview window, change the "Priority" to 4. This gives your pose the highest priority over other animations (from normal avatar movements to other AO's you are wearing).

Click on the "Loop" checkbox (because we want to play our pose indefinitely).

Change the "Hand Pose" to "Fist". This will turn our hands into fists most of the time (the hands will still occasionally open...theres no way to control that in SL).

Finally, press the "Play" button to see a preview of the pose.

If everything looks good, click on the "Upload (L$10)" button to upload the animation! (Note: this will cost L$10!)

Now, just look for the "Hold Candle Pose" animation in your Animation folder. Right-click on it and select "Play in World" :)

You can hold an object by attaching it to one of your hands (like a candle or a flower).

Congratulations! You are now an animator :)

Creating good poses require some fine tuning. So you will often have to upload a pose, make some small changes, and upload again until it looks right. For example, for this tutorial, it took me 5 uploads to get the hand positions correct :)

So dont be shy about uploading to SL. If you dont want to pay the L$10 upload fee, a couple residents have suggested the Beta Grid. I havent tried this method, but it sounds like it would work. You can download the Beta Grid SL Program here.

Good luck and have fun making those poses!

Now, where can I find a Christmas tree to stand on? ;P

numly esn 80837-071020-725502-51

© 2007 All Rights Reserved.


Anonymous said...

Very cool.

Going to have to definitely work through this.

Thank you Natalia


Peter Stindberg said...

A few tips on animations:

Make them slower as RL movements - hectic movements don't work in SL.
Add frequent keyframes - don't leave all the blending to SL.
Don't forget the little signs of life: a human never stands completely still. Tiny head movements, tiny hand and arm movements, a little swaying, a little hint at a heaving chest, a foot that turns and moves a little makes it much much more realistic.
Take advantage of the phase-in and phase-out frames.

Jacks said...

Lol You wont believe this, but just this week I've been tinkering around with Q. Now you have made it a little easier.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

I had recently been looking for a program to do this with, and I'm glad you saved me all th work.


Thanks a bunch, your diary is one of the best things to happen to SL.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you...I had been wanting to make animations for ages, but I just didn't know how! Your blog has helped me make a lot of things in SL and now I can make poses as well!

Also, I'm an idiot, I read your tutorial and then made my animation, but forgot to move the hips slightly so my AV was dancing around on the spot like a mad thing. O well, there's always next time :)

Ollie Shelford said...

Wow, your guides are always so good :). I was actually just wondering about poses and animations the other day, but i thought you needed poser or something else expensive :P.

Jen said...

Thank you, Natalia, you totally make this sound doable!

Myllie Writer said...

Your simply the best! I love you for what you do! I think sharing your knowledge like that shows great great generosity!
I've been waiting for a pose tutoril like that, you made me dream come true!
Thank you!

*Helix Rehula said...

thank you very much!awesomejob.

Crunch Underwood said...

wow Nat fantastic job, i never even bothered with thinking about doing an animation figureing it would be to hard, you make it looke so simple, can't wait to have a play with it now :)

Ekio Locatiare said...

Girl you write the best tuts I've found ^-^ I am glad you did this, I was just thinking the other day I might want to make some of my own animations.

Now I might have a chance at it. he he.

Jesse said...

Hi Natalia,
i just started SL and made my way through your tutorials, very helpful thanks. I am having fun customizing my appearance (male), but so far SL has dissapointed me. i will hold out my judgement until I have played it for a lot longer though.

This may be odd but is there anywhere in LS where you can submit a photo of yourself and have someone make up a skin based on that photo? i'm all for realism :p.

Cheers from jesse in australia.

Newton said...

Great tut' (as usual.) Linden Lab should pay you a salary or something.
You must have nearly run out of stuff to do tuts about by now tho.....

Ahkums Razor said...


I was born Oct 15 and am in the process of exploring and learning about SL. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. I know how much time it takes to put together tutorials with the quality that yours exhibits and I think you're super for doing it. I've learned so much from your blog and have really enjoyed reading about your adventures.

Actually, you inspired be and I started my own SL blog to chronicle my journey in this brave new world. Thanks for all you do!

Ahkums Razor

SLNatalia said...

RainDancer, this tutorial is a fun one to do :) Hope you like it!

Peter, thank you so much for your advice! I cant wait to try making some animations :)

Jacks, great timing! I hope this helps. And pls let us know if you find any cool stuff in QAvimator :)

Dear Anonymous, thank you! Good luck with creating SL animations :)

Dear Anonymous, lol I did the same thing: I read a bunch of posts on SL Forums and Wiki and didnt do the hips at first. It took me a few trys to figure it out ;P

Ollie, I was surprised too that QAvimator is such a wonderful program! For making poses, its super easy to use! I cant wait to try some animations :)

Jen, it def is fun and easy to do :) Just takes a bit of patience sometimes :P

Myllie, congrats on creating your pose! I hope you had fun with the tutorial :)

Helix, you are welcome! I hope you had a chance to try QAvimator :)

Crunch, heehee its time to make some ogre animations ;P

SLNatalia said...

Ekio, if you ever thought about making animations or poses, you should def give it a try! QAvimator really is fun and easy to use...just takes a bit of patience though ;P

Jesse, its actually tricky to make custom avatars look exactly like a person. You might want to check the Classifieds for "custom avatar" or such services (they would be expensive though). You might want to check out Nicole Escher's tutorial/guide on creating a custom avatar: (she uses some really special programs!)

Newton, lol Linden Labs pays me a L$ stipend every week just for being a premium member ;P

I am running out of tutorial topics... Heehee hopefully I dont have to write step-by-step dating tutorials ;P

Ahkums, welcome to SL :) I do hope the tutorials are helpful, and good luck on your blog :)

Moran Singh said...

Once again, you offer a timely tutorial! I had downloaded QAminator and had not spent time playing with it. Your tutorial encouraged me to spend that time! It's too much fun creating poses. Thank you!

SLNatalia said...

Moran, you are most welcome! I did the same thing (downloaded QAvimator and didnt use it for the longest time).

Its so easy to use, its sometimes faster to make a simple pose than to shop for it! :)

Anonymous said...

From Spain. Natalia Thanks. Wonderful tutorials. NNoa Voom

Anonymous said...

From Spain. Natalia Thanks. Wonderful tutorials

SLNatalia said...

NNoa, thank you! :)

-Ana Lutetia- said...

I am trying to make poses but I can't make the head still after upload. Any suggestions?

SLNatalia said...

Ana :) Be sure you set the Animation Priority to 4 if you want a fixed pose. If you leave the Animation Priority at 2, your head may move :)

SLNatalia said...

Ana, I just remembered...dont forget to move your head slightly in QAvimator (this will freeze your head).

Missi said...

Hey Nat!

Wonderful tuts, really. They helped me a lot recently as i start to explore what i can actually make in SL^^
As for running out of themes on tuts, how about some scripting tuts?*gg* The ones I found i somehow mess up with, i think they r written by guys and a female non-technical mind cant follow these^^
But i know what XYZ stand for: the numbers behind the letters are the coordinates in a 3 dimensional grid. they define the position of an object in a 3d world/program. But i have no idea how to exactly move an object just by playing around with numbers. I like to shift it untill it is where I want it *lol*

Natalia Zelmanov said...

Missi, sorry, but this female non-technical mind has too many blonde highlights for scripting ;P Heehee I tried, but about all I could do is change stuff in scripts (often with some help from friends). Im just like you: I need to see and move the prims around, but just cant seem to get the complicated scripting stuff :(

BTW, there are a lot of scripts in the SL Forums (and really great discussions). All sorts of really cool stuff. Lol but a lot of that is way over my head!

Anonymous said...

Thank you natalia.. it used to get on my tits .. to make a pose and for the other part of the body reacting to sl.. by add 1 to each part you dont wish to move worked well thank you..

Natalia Zelmanov said...

Dear Anonymous, you are welcome. Good luck with your project!

Anonymous said...

Natalia -

I just came across your tutorial, and I was thrilled!
So maybe you can help me with what I'm doing wrong.
My animation doesn't "stay" - my avatar will do it for only 1 second, then pop right back to her listless standing. I'm not sure what I did wrong!

Thanks for your help.


Natalia Zelmanov said...

Ivy, when you upload the animation, make sure you check the "Loop" checkbox :)

Anonymous said...

Omg, thank you so much for this tutorial! It helped me soo much! ^^

Natalia Zelmanov said...

Dear Anonymous, heehee you are very welcome! Have fun ;)

trinitydarkfold said...

What a great Tutorial! Its just as good as a professional instructor. I'm tempted to explain the X,Y,Z thing, but it really isn't necessary with your writeup. I'm just getting into SL photography now and poses are just what I was looking for next.

-Also great to find another Avatar with a blog :)


Natalia Zelmanov said...

Trinity, thank you so much! Lol I never got the X,Y,Z thing straight (so I just wiggle them until it looks right ;P). Good luck on your projects ;)

Tatty said...

Thanks for another great tutorial Natalia. A problem I have is like the Hip>X=0.1 to freeze the hip, I need to apply this to all body parts that are not in use, or else those will move (following my AO) also. I've uploaded the anim with Priority=4, but still have to put x=0.1 for any body parts not in use...what a pain... and 50L later...

Natalia Zelmanov said...

Tatty, haha I know what you mean! I waste so much L$ on uploads (a lot of times for silly things, like forgetting to set the priority :P) I wish the preview would show you which parts could still move.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, i was wondering about dances...(mite be a stupid question)....can this program be used to make dances at i have looked everywhere for some kind of tutorial and found i have a thing called daz studio and that can make good poses/animiations but im confused on dances..big time any help would be really great
thank you!! xx

chrystina xx

Bendable Sideways said...

Natalia! Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial. I have successfully created two poses and is on my way to creating a whole lot more! I will share this gem of a tutorial to all who wants to learn how to create poses.

Thank you for your time and dedication in creating such helpful tutorials. :D

Natalia Zelmanov said...

Chrystina, you can sort of make dances with QAviamator, but it would be REALLY painful :P Doing animation with QAvimator is like doing clay puppet animation: move each joint a little at a time. At 30 times per second, thats a lot of moves :P

Bendable, heehee good luck with your project!

Maxine said...

Why hasn't LL hired you! You're simply the most inviting, easy-to-follow, flat-out-fantabulous tutorial writer there is for SL. Brilliant tut, as always.

Just one question though... I'm having a heckuva time with Qavimator, since it locks up on save (I fancy this is an incompatibility thing, since I'm doing it on a MacBook Pro)... have you ever tried to use plain ol' Avimator? And if so, are there any blinding differences?


Natalia Zelmanov said...

Maxine, lol I dont think LL wants a mermaid near their servers ;P

I havent tried Avimator, although for a pose, I would imagine it should work fine. The concepts should be the same: Create 2 frames, make your pose in the 2nd frame. The hip controls the AV's position. And fiddle with each limb until you get what you want :)

BTW, if you want to create animations, you might want to try Poser. I believe theres a Mac version. It lets you copy/paste sequences, which saves a lot of time :)

Anonymous said...

hi wondering how to do couple poses. any suggestions? btw your blog is fabulous thanks for the help you give :)

Natalia Zelmanov said...

Dear Anonymous, lol actually, Ive never done couples poses ;P If you use poseballs, I would imagine you just make 2 poseballs and put them together.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Natalia. Good tutorial! I was looking for it a long time ago. It helped me now.

I used OpenSim (OpenGrid?) to test the poses because there is upload free, i.e. you don't need to pay any L$.


Anonymous said...

Bless you Natalia!!!!

After over 2000L in uploads cost and countless hours making animations that never worked correctly I found your blog post and read it. I found my mistakes and am so happy now making animations that do not jiggle or jerk unexpectedly.