Soigné: Style in Second Life

A Guide to Second Life Fashion and Lifestyle

Salon Secrets: A Practical Guide to Modifying Prim Hair

Posted by Caliah Lyon on October 16, 2007

We’ve all been faced with the challenge of getting hair to fit just right on our avatars: perhaps the entire wig is a couple of sizes too big for your head, or a stray tendril’s sticking out just a little too much, or you’d like to add a few personal touches to the wig to suit your individual taste. Whatever the reason, it’s useful for hair enthusiasts to have the skills necessary to tweak prim hair, and you shouldn’t ever have to touch your head size sliders in order to fit the hair you bought!

Find a place where you can rez hundreds of prims without trouble, such as a sandbox. You may need to make several copies of the hair, especially if you’re a perfectionist, and backups are always helpful if you make mistakes. Find an uncluttered spot in which you can work in peace.

If you already know your building basics, read on. Otherwise, take a primer here.

Shrinking the Entire Hairstyle

Shrinking the Wig

1) Rez the hair. Shift+Drag and make a copy of it. This is in case the SL editor is being uncooperative and refuses to let you undo. If you have a mouse with variable sensitivity/dpi, set it at the most sensitive/lowest setting, select one of the corner resize handles, then shrink the copy, keeping an eye on the numbers in the Object tab of the editor. Usually, a reduction of 1-2 in size is sufficient to shrink the biggest wigs to fit your head. To see if the hair is small enough already, right-click on the wig, select More then click on Take a Copy. Wear the copy (it’ll save to your Objects directory). If it’s not yet small enough, junk that copy and keep on shrinking the wig gradually. Once you have the size you’re satisfied with, take a copy (getting a copy is better than using Take, as sometimes you’ll have difficulties with SL and using Take can result in your losing the object).

2) Sometimes, a wig has hairs that have one or more dimensions at 0.01 (the minimum), which means you can’t shrink it further until you root around for the rogue hair(s) and make them bigger. This is difficult on anything that is modifiable and absolutely needs to be fitted, as it can take you up to an hour just to find the parts at fault. I’ll take this opportunity to make a plea to hair designers never to incorporate hairs at 0.01 thinness – prim hair absolutely needs to be shrinkable. Skip this step if your wig can be shrunk.

If your prim hair does have a few strands this thin, and you can’t seem to find the culprits at first glance, you can attempt digging for them.

2a) Shift-drag another copy of your hair a good distance away from the original wig, and press ctrl+shift+l to unlink all the strands of the copy. This is your test copy.

Hunting Hair
Testing hair section by section to isolate small strands.

2b) Drag your cursor over a bunch of hair strands to select them (small sections are best), then drag them a short distance away from the rest of the hairs. Keep them selected, then try to shrink that bunch. If you can’t, then one of the hairs you need to resize is in there.

2c) Pick apart that section by individually selecting strands and checking if any of them are at 0.010-0.012 in any of their dimensions. When you’ve found one, take note of where that hair is in the original wig, find it, and add about 0.030 (click the up arrow a few times) to the dimension that’s at minimum.

Resizing Rogue Hair


2d) Shift-Drag another copy of the original wig once you’ve done this, and test it by trying to shrink it. If it still won’t shrink, delete the copy; you have to find more of these hairs using your test copy. Repeat the above steps until you’ve found all the hairs that need resizing. It’s laborious process, but you’ll be rewarded if you have the patience. Tip: You can get to these hairs in your original copy better by moving bigger strands out of the way, then selecting them and pressing ctrl+z to put them back in place once you’ve done the resizing. It’s usually easier to move strands around in an unlinked wig. Just relink everything to the root prim once you’re done. Rename the hair in the building editor, take a copy and put it into the hair folder.

When doing a complete resize, it’s preferable to rez the hair on the ground in order to shrink it, rather than attempting to shrink it while it’s still attached to your head. The logic behind this is so the wig remains as close to its original position on your skull even after resizing. Shrinking it while it’s attached will result in your having to reposition it again, and inevitably the position will be somewhat altered.

Editing Individual Strands

Sometimes the overall look of a wig can be altered to better fit your avatar simply by tweaking a few strands. When editing individual strands I usually find it’s better to keep the hair on your head so you have a better idea of what it looks like. If you have a steady hand and are used to editing hair you can just do it without a pose stand, but if you haven’t tried it before a pose stand is recommended.

1) Use copy/paste to make another copy of the wig in your folder. Rename this to something different (I usually append "mod" to the name of the hair to distinguish it from the original wig). Wear the copy, then start editing the strands that look a bit off.

Unmodded HairModded Hair
Editing individual strands to fit my ears properly.

2) I rarely resize strands using the corner resize handles, and just do it along one axis at a time. Besides the x, y and z sizes you can also change a torus using the Hole variable to vary its thickness. Don’t discount the importance of positioning either – just shifting the position of a single strand may alter the look of a style significantly. Rotating a strand along its axes may be useful as well.

3) Some styles may have spaces or gaps you may want to cover with another strand of hair – to do that, you need to rez the wig on the ground. Unlink a strand near the gap or space you want to cover, shift-drag to duplicate, then position it (I usually ctrl+z to snap the duplicate back to its original position, then shift it slightly in one direction). Relink it to the wig, then take a copy of the whole thing and wear it. Adjust the size and position of the new strand you just linked so it flows seamlessly with the rest of the hair.

Adding A Strand
Using an extra strand to lower the hairline.

Other Assorted Tips

1) Keep one bald base per skin, with a tailor-made set of eyebrows for that skin and that skin only. Eyebrows vary wildly between skins, so it’s not advisable to use the bald bases that come with hair, unless you don’t have one yet.

2) Pose stands are available everywhere for free. If you don’t  have one, the Fashion Consolidated Cafe ladies may help you if you ask on the channel. 🙂

If you have any tips in mind feel free to add them in comments 🙂

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2 Responses to “Salon Secrets: A Practical Guide to Modifying Prim Hair”

  1. Arianna Psaltery said

    Thank you!! I always need help adjusting my hair 🙂

  2. I posted this because I’d seen so many comments from newer players on hair that didn’t fit their avies, my only misgiving is that they might need more detailed instructions 🙂

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