Soigné: Style in Second Life

A Guide to Second Life Fashion and Lifestyle

Optimising Windlight for Avatars

Posted by Caliah Lyon on November 25, 2007

Please refer to Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0
as these settings are obsolete.

This is a simple method to optimise the First Look Windlight Viewer so the light doesn’t cast those dreaded harsh shadows on your avatar’s face. It also casts the landscape in a softer light, eliminating glare, and making it easier on your eyes. I’m sure there are better settings, but this is a straightforward no-frills solution for those of us who don’t want to fiddle too much with the controls. Your avatar will look good even without a facelamp (even if it’s a little dark), though this is best if you do wear one 🙂

Using this preset with my own facelamp (facing the sun/facing away from the sun).

Using this preset without a facelamp.

Default Windlight presets (Noon, Sunrise). Note the lines that “age” an avatar.

1) Open World > Environment Settings > Environment Editor.

2) Click on Advanced Sky.

3) Choose the Blizzard preset. Click on New, then save the preset under another name, e.g. “My Preset.”

4) Click on the Clouds tab. Set Cloud Coverage to something low, like 0-0.20.

5) Click on the Lighting tab. Under Ambient, raise I (intensity). I recommend using 0.35-045, with the lower values for those who use facelamps; raise higher if needed.

6) Look for the Sun Glow setting. Raise Size to 1.99 (the maximum).

7) Click on the Atmosphere tab. You need to look at the values for Haze Horizon and Haze Density (read on what they do by clicking on the “?” beside each).

8) Have your avatar face the direction of the sun, then fiddle with the settings. I set my Haze Horizon somewhere between 0.15-0.40 depending on how bright I want my horizon, and my Haze Density is 1.00-4.00 depending on how bright I want the day or how clear I want my surroundings. Look at your avatar’s face while adjusting the sliders so you can judge which setting works best for you. Remember to turn in all directions so you can see how it looks when you face away from the sun.

9) You can change the direction the sunlight is coming from by changing East Angle. The Blizzard default is 0.00; try experimenting with what setting you prefer. This is particularly useful for photography.

10) Save your preset, then make any other adjustments you may want to make. If the lighting is a little dark for your taste overall, try clicking on Lighting then raising either Ambient Intensity (I) or Scene Gamma a fraction.

I’m aware this isn’t perfect – it may cause the landscape to look a little dim, some of the lines on your face may not be ironed out, but this is a good all-around preset for when you’re just exploring or shopping and want to look your best with Windlight. Hope you find this useful!

1/13/2008: I’ve adjusted the values for Ambient (as per version 18.6.76116 which you may download here and useable only with a third-party client such as Nicholaz) and added a step for East Angle. I am supporting vers. 76116 in this tutorial because the current version, 18.6.76886, has local lighting with effects on avatars similar to the default viewer.

If you’d like to just download the preset, you may download it here. Unzip these to C:/Program Files/Secondlifewindlight/app_settings/windlight/skies, and rename it from AvatarOpt to whatever you like before starting up SL. When you look in your presets it should be there. Adjust the Ambient Intensity and East Angle value in the Lighting tab as needed. Enjoy!


37 Responses to “Optimising Windlight for Avatars”

  1. Relika said

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve just tried it out and it works perfectly! My av’s face finally looks good again. 🙂 *runs off to shop*

  2. […] Soigné: Style in Second Life Optimising Windlight for Avatars Quote from the site – This is a simple method to optimise the First Look Windlight Viewer so the […]

  3. Cliothe Luo said

    Thank you so much! My friends and I have been going mad trying to find a solution for this!!!

    One thing, I had to set my overall graphics to at least “high” for my “Advanced Sky” button to become available.

  4. pia_qi said

    Very nice, thank you! I am clueless about the face lamps and see that I must now do some research on those.

  5. Genna Gray said

    My heroine! All I’ve managed to figure out is changing the time of day in the Environmental Editor several times a day to make my avatar look less hag-like. What a super helpful entry. Thanks Caliah 🙂

  6. […] jewelry designer, model and fashionista Caliah Lyon posted about optimizing Windlight to keep those harsh shadows off your avatar’s face. The article takes a lot of guess work out of the settings, giving you step-by-step instructions […]

  7. camillayosuke said

    another nice trick is to lower the gamma value to 1.00, and raise the ambient intensity until the global feeling is good. Lowering the gamma smoothes the contrasts between dark and bright areas, thus tends do disminuish the ‘ages lines’, but it makes the scene too dark. Raising ambiant not only allows to get a decent global scene brightness, but also makes the dark areas less dark.

    Guess Caliah’s method, combined with this, using a smart balance between the settings, can achieve something quite nice, both for environment and bodies.

    my 2 cents ^^

  8. Well, Caliah, if default WindLight can make _you_ look less than perfect, there’s no hope for the rest of us! Thanks for the settings, I’m going to try them out first thing tonight. Too bad that they’re only going to affect our side of the viewer, though – if anyone else is out there using an un-adjusted WindLight viewer, they’ll still see us in all our harsh shadows. 😦

    One question, though – does setting the lighting like this turn off the day cycle completely, or do you still get nights as well? I know there’s a way to set up custom lighting for each stage of the day cycle, I’ve just been too lazy to actually explore that yet.

    Thanks again!

  9. Hi Caliah, those look great. Another way to get similar results is to start with the default and simply set the cloud cover to 100% and Ambient Intensity to 1.00, like you did here. So many settings–I guess there are several ways to do things!!! Either way, the bummer is that everyone else still sees us with the default! Unless they alter their own personal settings 😦

  10. Oh i like Camilla’s gamma trick–and the sky still looks good! Now how can i set my sim so everyone see’s the same? Would be great if we could set our sims to a standard preset or a saved preset. Would be cool if we could transfer saved presets like we do with shapes, etc.

  11. […] great post for softer avi lighting in the new windlight […]

  12. Thanks for the comments everyone, I was hoping people would send in some tips of their own as well 🙂

    I think that’s a great idea Blaze, I wonder if anyone hasn’t already suggested it? I’d like to put it on my own as well, I rather love how soft the lighting is with this and would only change the presets to take photos…

    About saving presets, I should make this preset available here as a download that you can unzip to your C:\Program Files\SecondLifeWindLight\app_settings\windlight\ folder. I’ll do that now with the xml file and update this post. 🙂

  13. And oh, Kit > AFAIK it doesn’t change with the time, which is too bad, but if you figure out how to do that (I guess all you’d need to do is change the angle of the sun, perhaps the size) let me know!

  14. camillayosuke said

    To change the light settings all over the day, you have to open the day cycle editor, select a key ( these are the little square things on the time line, once selected it turns yellow ) , then you make your settings for this time key, and do a ‘save as’ . You have to do it for every key all along the day. This way, you can make a morning look like a morning, and an evening like an evening.
    You can even see a ‘fast forward’ of your day cycle to have a glance on how the day light goes hour after hour.
    Unfortunately, it seems that the current SL client doesn’t remember what you saved after a relog( at least my side ). They say on LL blogs that in future versions, you can actually save your day cycle keys, and even make these ‘day settings’ transfer and sellable.
    I did try it, it works, but so far you just loose your hard work when you relog…( again, my side ) So, its maybe not really worth spending much time on it until they make it actually possible to save.
    I also read that LL plans to make light settings an Estate ( or was it Region ? ) setting, so that sim owners will be able to set the light for anyone who enters the place. I also remember that there would be a way to override the region settings client side, which is good if you enter a sim with a ugly setting, and you want to have your own better light , even if its “for your own eyes only”.
    Sorry, I don’t remember where I read all that, part of it was long ago when they first launched WL, and the other part I could read recently in the official blog comments answers, and in forums too.

    I’m really happy to see that we begin do dig into this awesome feature, and I can’t wait to see what people make out of it ^^ I’m a light and colours addict, and here we have a powerfull , still delicate tool to play with !!

  15. […] jewelry designer, model and fashionista Caliah Lyon posted about optimizing Windlight to keep those harsh shadows off your avatar’s face. The article takes a lot of guess work out of the settings, giving you step-by-step instructions […]

  16. You are a genius 🙂 Thank you for this!

  17. Caliah – this looks great! Can’t wait to give these settings a try. Thanks to everyone who made additional sugggestions. 😀

  18. Joelle Oppewall said

    Thank you for your help…I quit windlight completly because i did not like the way my Avi looked=P You mention that you have your own face lamp. Where did you purcgase yours and what is it called?

  19. Welcome, Joelle 🙂 And I should have clarified – it’s a facelamp I made myself.

  20. UJ said

    Thanks for the tips, Windlight was driving me insane. I also noticed playing the the East direction setting can make a difference also, depending on what time of day you are using.

  21. Caliah, again, THANK YOU for this! You’ve got a lot of comments so I’m glad to see attention being paid!

    I forwarded this link to Team WindLight and also put a link to it from — if anyone else here has made WindLight helpful how-tos, feel more-than-free to include them under the “What’s our community doing with WindLight?” section!

    I’ve heard so much feedback re: WindLight and a lot of it really comes down to education, namely, learning how to adjust the presets to your taste. We’re definitely working on tweaking the default day cycle and making things less harsh, but some *will* want that harshness (a la bleach bypass effects seen in some movies), hence the whole point of us giving you very flexible tools.

    It can be a double-edged sword to increase realism, because now, light + shade play a greater role in determining how your SL experience looks… compared to the “old flat way”.

    I’ll also confirm what Camilla Yosuke said, that YES, we are having WindLight go SERVER-SIDE and replace the current estate settings. In effect, an estate owner can set their OWN sky settings (and by extension, day cycle) to their taste. Visitors will see it automatically.

    That info is also detailed @ (which I maintain and update, so if you have any followup, email me at work… torley at lindenlab dot com or come visit Team WindLight’s inworld Q&A sessions, details also on that page).

    Cheerio! =^_^=

    /me remembers when personal lights like “facelamps” first started to take off too… ahhh the memories…

  22. Argent Stonecutter said

    I believe a facelamp is just a small prim set up as a light.

    Create a small sphere, and load this program into it:


    This will make it invisible, so use control alt T to make it show up as a little red ball while you’re working on it.

    Attach it to your head, and move it around until it’s in front of your face.

    Then go into the Features tab and play with the light settings until your face looks the way you want.

  23. The trick I’ve been using is to turn down the sun/moon light to zero and turn up the ambient light to 1. The upside: everything’s full bright, until you start pointing lights at things. The downside: everything’s really desaturated. I’ve been fiddling with the light color, but to no avail.

    I have to say, even after fiddling around with the atmosphere settings, I’m very disappointed with the way avatars look in Windlight. My previous trick has been to use local lighting to essentially make my avatar full bright, since any good skill will be more detailed and realistic than the horrid avatar mesh is. I can no longer do this in Windlight. Local lights don’t eliminate shadows in the way they used to, and they also wash out textures. So I’m either stuck with the shadows cast by the (awful, awful) avatar mesh, or the subtler details of my skin vanish. I hate it and there doesn’t appear to be a way around it.

  24. I just want to join everyone else in saying thanks for the advice!

  25. […] Tips and Windlight Viewer 18.6.76886 I’ve updated the Optimising Windlight for Avatars tutorial because of the increased Ambient values in version 18.6.76116 (thank you WL team). For me […]

  26. […] tried using some of the sky settings recommended around the SL blogosphere, where folks such as Caliah Lyon and  Iris Ophelia talk about using the “blizzard” setting to help diffuse the […]

  27. Amazing Caliah.
    I would love to donwload and use your preset. 😉

  28. […] em português soa mal mas enfim…) e com links para dicas. Utilizando as preciosas dicas da Caliah Lyon resolvi tirar fotografias ao avatar no cliente WindLight. Para tirar fotografias no SL utiliza-se o […]

  29. […] somewhere. I’ve looked briefly at the excellent posts by Iris Ophelia for New World Notes and Caliah Lyon on Soigné and I still need to incorporate their advice, but I was wondering if the info is still valid for […]

  30. […] Comments sabastianwestland on Variations on a ThemeMichaMi Style Blog … on Optimising Windlight for Avata…Portia Rossini on In Equal MeasureChrisy Jewell on In Equal MeasureDay Langway on In […]

  31. Konnie Larsen said

    Has anyone tried these settings on the latest update for SL that is not windlight.. the avi looks pretty bad even with a face lamp

  32. Lemmy said

    I finally did try the VIEWER UPDATE with windlight.
    I did read a lot of horrible reports about the way avators look like with it, so i avoid to update so far.
    I did try all the settings here reported … but finaly i have to say there is no way with windlight for me.
    I realy realy HATE the way Avators look with it.
    If this will get a must have in future i will end my SL!!!

  33. […] usual the settings I use for skin reviews is Caliah Lyon’s windlight preset. I turn off the atmospheric sliders and use no face […]

  34. jasmin alsop said

    I think they should changed, make near by lights the default setting.
    because no matter how you set your settings if others don’t they will still see your Av as looking old and ugly.

  35. Gadget said


    Great article, Go Gadget go…

  36. Maggie Sewell said

    Here is another preset that I use which irons out all the creases courtesy of FSO stores.

    Put the FSOriginal.xml file into your windlight skies folder and access setting via adv sky editor by way of World – environment editor – look for drop down tab ‘FSOriginal’

  37. Hobosic said

    Wow, usefull download for me!

    Have a nice day

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