SL for Nowt

Living a digital life with empty pockets

Tutorial: Make your own facelights

As I’ve mentioned before, both on this blog and on Mar’s Ponderings, I often travel through Second Life with Caliah Lyon’s Avatar Optimising Windlight Preset open. This changes the world’s lighting for the duration of my login session, and gives a very flattering light to my avatar. I use it for all of the blog pics, too. If you don’t mind having the same ultra-blue sky wherever you go, that preset will always make you look great.

But what if ultra-blue sky’s not your thing? What if you want to use some of the other presets, or you like to visit always-night sims? Of course, you can always have a shadowed face, but if you want to let people actually see you, then you need some facelights. There are some great ones available both in-world and on XstreetSL/SL Marketplace, but most of them tend to be scripted. With the potential script limits that may be enforced in SL, anything that reduces the amount of scripts you’re wearing is a good thing. So that leads us to traditional ‘local lights’ facelights.

Trouble is, we’ve all seen people in-world wearing facelights that look like aliens have landed, washing out everything around them, rendering our own facelights and any ambient lighting around us completely useless. I’ve even seen avatars wearing twelve facelights (the SL viewer can only render six!).

So you can buy one, or you can do what I do: make your own. Hop behind the cut, because I’ve got another little building tutorial for you :)

Have you ever seen anyone rez in-world, and before they’re fully-rezzed you see a mini solar system around them, like this?

Yes, very attractive, and completely unnecessary. Thing is, a lot of people don’t realise how big these things are because they’re always transparent. Hitting CTRL+ALT+T will toggle the View Transparent mode on and off, so you can see all ‘invisible’ objects, and it’s very useful for grabbing hold of modifiable facelights that you already have so you can edit them.

But we’re not here to edit existing stuff. We’re going to make something new. So, to that end hie thee to a sandbox or other place where you can rez items for a while. Right-click on the ground and select Create/Build (depending on which viewer you’re using) and select the sphere option. Then left-click on the ground and you’ll rez a sphere.

Right-click that sphere and select Edit, then go into the Object tab. Change the Size (meters) to all read 0.010 (if you tab between them and just hit 0 each time, that’s a quick way of doing it. Prims in SL can’t be smaller than 0.010m without using some nifty little tricks, so hitting zero will send the prim down to the minimum size).

Next, with that sphere still selected, hold down the SHIFT key and drag the sphere to one side. You’ll see a second sphere pop out beside it. Do this one more time with the new sphere until you have three, and then arrange them into a downward-pointing triangle, like this:

Holding down the SHIFT key again, click each sphere until they’re all selected, then go into Tools > Link (or hit CTRL+L). This will link all of the prims together into a single object:

In the General tab, give it a name so you know where to find it in your inventory:

Then close the build menu, right-click the facelights and take them into inventory. Search for them in there, then right-click them and select Attach To > Chin. You should see at least one of them poking out around your face somewhere, like this:

Grab a hold of that visible prim in Edit and pull the facelights out. Using Edit, rotate and position them so that they sit in front of your face roughly like this:

And, from a sideways view, rotate them a little bit so they follow the line of your face, like this:

Now we’re going to add the lights. Go into the Features tab of the facelights, and notice that everything’s greyed out. Because they’re linked objects, you have to work with one prim at a time, so make sure you check the box at the top that says Edit Linked Parts, click just one of the spheres, then check the Light box:

You should immediately notice the light shining on your face. If you don’t, then you probably don’t have local lights enabled in your viewer. This can be found in Edit > Preferences under the Graphics tab (you may have to check the Custom button to find it). Just check Nearby Local Lights under Lighting Detail, like this:

If you still don’t see it, make sure you haven’t disabled attached lights. You’ll find that under the Advanced Menu (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+D) under Rendering > Attached Lights. Make sure you can see the X by that option, like this:

OK, so once you’ve set light properties on each of the three spheres step back and take a look. Hm, it’s a bit over-bright, isn’t it?

We need to bring down the intensity a bit (and while we’re at it, we’ll bring down the radius, too, so we’re not illuminating everything within a 10m radius!) Edit the intensity of each prim’s light down to 300 (don’t know why mine went to 302 there, but 300 is good to go!) and edit the radius down from 10 to 1, as shown below.

Check it at Midnight (World >Environment Settings > Midnight) to make sure it’s not too bright at nighttime. You want it to be a subtle glow that’s just enough to show your face, but not so dark that it casts shadows. I increased the distance between the top two prims shown here when I’d finished, because I still had shadows at the side of my face, but I’d already taken the screencap before then *g*

Also check it at Midday, to make sure your face isn’t washed out by the combination of facelights and the world’s light:

Looks okay to me, so now we’re going to add the transparent texture so we don’t have three little plywood balls floating in front of our faces! On the Texture tab, click the Texture box and search for Default Transparent Texture. Click Select and apply this to all three prims:

Voila! Don’t forget if you’re not quite happy with the lighting you can use the View Transparent trick I mentioned above to see the now-invisible prims, and you can move them around (Edit Linked Parts) individually until you have no shadows on your face. You can also change the colour of the light, using the little colour picker box next to the Light checkbox on the Features tab. So if you want a slightly warmer or cooler light (great for roleplayers or those wearing unusual skins!) then you can do so.

August 3, 2010 - Posted by | second life, tutorials


  1. Wow, what a nice tutorial, with great pics. Thanks! I don’t wear a facelight, but Mar looks so good in that last pic that I’m going to follow these directions now and make one. Nice outfit, too, btw!

    Comment by AK | August 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks, AK :)

      I’ve always made my own facelights because – with the exception of Sn@tch’s Lurefish Facelight (which I know is handed out with the newbie kit there) I’ve not found one that’s subtle enough for my liking.

      Comment by Mar | August 4, 2010 | Reply

      • I did it, hoo. I turned off my inventory library, so I don’t have the default transparent texture, so I ran the Transparency option to the right of the texture/color boxes up to 100.

        Comment by AK | August 5, 2010

      • *grins* Since you’re using Emerald, AK, putting prim transparency to 100% is possible, but in the main Second Life viewers you can only get to 95%, which means there’s still a ghost of something visible.

        For anyone else reading this comment and using the main SL viewer while having turned off the inventory library, there is a ‘Pure Alpha’ texture in the box of freebie textures at Skybeam Sandbox (link in the sidebar of the blog). When you land in the gazebo at Skybeam, follow the path on your left until you reach the noticeboards and other bits, and the box of textures is on the floor. (It’s also much easier to search inventory for ‘pure’ than ‘transparent’!)

        Comment by Mar | August 5, 2010

      • I made an even more subtle one by halving your radius and making the intensity just 0.1.

        Comment by AK | August 5, 2010

      • OK now I have to double check this with you. If I make the facelights transparent using the slider set to 100 because I’m in Emerald, and I give the facelights to someone else who uses the default SL viewer, will they see the ghosts? Would it be better to be in the habit of using the alpha texture?

        I’m learning extra things, too…for one thing I learned to make sure to set the facelights to be full perm while they are still on the ground before I take them into my inventory.

        Comment by AK | August 5, 2010

      • I’m really not sure about the first point, AK. Personally, I would use the alpha texture all the time for things like that, as a failsafe. And yes, permissions are harder to change in inventory. For instance, if you’ve created something that’s no-mod, you can’t change its name in inventory, but you can change its name when you rez it.

        Comment by Mar | August 5, 2010

  2. Great tutorial. I use the Caliah setting most of the time and a facelight the others. Making your own facelight was something I did years ago also, but this one is much nicer. Very smart. Think I’ll be in build mode when I log in and make a nice script free one courtesy of your tutorial here! Thanks so much!

    Comment by Shelz | August 12, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you, Shelz! I’m glad you found it helpful :)

      Comment by Mar | August 12, 2010 | Reply

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