Soigné: Style in Second Life

A Guide to Second Life Fashion and Lifestyle

Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0

Posted by Caliah Lyon on April 10, 2008

Edited Jan 12, 2009 – With the release of Release Candidate 1.22 the avatar mesh has now been fixed so it shows as a default white rather than grey shade. This is the reason why clothing on avatars would be darker than the attachment prims even if they had the same texture. Once 1.22 goes live as the default client, using these settings, you should no longer need to tint prims or wear facelights! To allow for this brighter avatar mesh I’ve lowered two settings: Scene Gamma (now default at 1.00) and Ambient (now default at 0.64). All other settings are the same. I’ve also included in the tutorial how to set this automatically as your default lighting whenever you log on. – Caliah

Some of you may remember the old WL presets I made several versions back. As those are long obsolete, I’ve come up with a new preset which works on the current client based on one of the default midday settings. With this preset your avatar will look better with local lighting and atmospheric shaders  (no need to turn them off unless in a build full of local lights). It’s recommended to use a very faint face lamp or none at all in public (consider it as doing the public a service in that your face lamps won’t be blinding anyone else on WL!). Note that the lighting is uniform no matter which direction you’re facing. If you do opt to go without a face lamp you can raise the Ambient Intensity (I) value to compensate. I’ve set it to 0.64-0.70 here for the outdoors, but lower settings are recommended for builds with a lot of lighting.*

You can just download this preset here and place the file directly in C://Program Files/Secondlife/app_settings/windlight/skies or follow this guide to set it manually. NOTE: If you are using RC 1.22.xx it will save the preset to the C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\SecondLife\user_settings\windlight\skies directory. While the path is harder to remember this enables you to keep your settings across different installs of the SL client. Save it there if you prefer.

facelight nofacelight

Recommended Face Lamp (Versions 1.21.xx and below)

I’ve made two face lamps, one warm (with a slightly orange light) and one white. I’ve put a box in the Muse lobby that will give you the in-world version of this tutorial in a notecard that has the lamps and some helpful pictures.

Open World > Environment Settings > Environment Editor and click on Advanced Sky, then click on “New” and save under a filename you remember. I’ve named my preset OptimisedWL.

The Atmosphere Tab

This is largely to improve the quality of the horizon and has little bearing on the lighting itself, -except- for the Max Altitude, Density/Distance multiplier values. You can tweak the other settings to your satisfaction to get better skies.


Blue Horizon: R: 0.12, G: 0.12, B: 0.16, I: 0.16
Haze Horizon: 0.09
Blue Density: R: 0.32, G: 0.59, B: 1.00, I: 1:00
Haze Density: 0.65
Density Multiplier: 0.18
Distance Multiplier: 2.0
Max Altitude: 188

Lighting Tab

I’ve set Red and Green values slightly higher to give the light a warmer “sunlit’ tone, but you can make all RGB values equal for a whiter, more neutral light. If you want brighter light you can raise Ambient using the “I” (Intensity) slider. A range of 0.64-0.77 is recommended, combined with Scene Gamma of 1.00-1.22. Note that you may have to lower both Ambient and Scene Gamma if you regularly visit builds with a lot of local lights.


Sun/Moon Color: R, G, B and I at 0.086
Sun/Moon Position: 0.000
Ambient: R:0.64, G:0.64, B:0.63, I:0.67 or R: 0.70, G: 0.67, B: 0.66, I: 0.70 (second setting is brighter)
East Angle: 0.16
Sun Glow: Focus: 0.10 Size 1.75
Scene Gamma: 1.00-1.15
Star Brightness: 0.00

The Clouds Tab

The only difference with the clouds tab from any default preset you might have is the coverage. I’ve set it to low (exactly 0.13).

Cloud Coverage: 0.13

As always, you can fine-tune these settings to suit your particular preference 🙂 Press New and save it under a name you prefer.

Using This Setting As Your Default
If you want to dispense entirely with the day and night presets and have this setting on all the time, do the following:

Press the button marked Day Cycle Editor in the Advanced Sky Editor menu. This will give you a box where you can specify what preset to cycle through every three hours (keys).
You don’t need this if you want this WL setting to be your default lighting all the time. To discard them press Delete Key several times until only one key remains.

When you have only one key left, click on the drop-down menu below Key Preset and choose the name of the Optimised WL setting you saved above (mine was CalWL3).

Press Save Test Day to save your changes. No more need to set this every time you log in!

Note – in most current WL settings old facelamps are much too bright; it would be best to have a friend check if yours is.

* Sadly nothing can be done about local lights if you go shopping and happen to pop into a build that’s full of them (apart from turning off atmospheric shaders), but a politely worded notecard to the designer or owner may help convince them to update their lighting methods.


66 Responses to “Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0”

  1. Thanks Caliah that’s SO helpful. I take an awful lot of photos, and it’s very difficult in WL to get my avi looking as good as she did pre WL. This will help a lot. 🙂

  2. […] […]

  3. Thanks fer the tips Caliah…much appreciated! : )

  4. Iced Gaze said

    Bad thing is people will still view us as bad, thus the actual real face light is best. This is good though, don’t get me wrong. Just the new light is junk. Hope the windlight team gets canned.

  5. Just as a notice for Mac users to use the XML provided by Caliah.
    Go in your Applications folder and locate the Second Life application, right click on it and select “Show Package Content”.
    Then drop the XML in Resources/app_settings/windlight/skies

  6. Melodious Source said

    OH!!!! I’ve had such troubles with the new sl….this is so very helpful to me. Thank you! Thank you! Muchly appreciated;-)

  7. […] I guess being frustrated doesn’t help with your googling skills, since I couldn’t find that post. So in case you also live under a rock, you can follow the steps here. […]

  8. Sae Luan said

    Thank you for this! I had no idea what I was going to do. I’ve bought 3 different facelights that supposedly worked with windlight, but they all look horrible, so this is awesome. Thanks again!

  9. The BEST thing about these settings is that you don’t have to turn off Atmospheric Shaders (aka Windlight!) to make yourself look beautiful. I tried other settings that required that step and hated it. What’s the point? 🙂


  10. […] Avatars. Ti’s wel in het engelanders maar aan de hand van de schermafdrukken zal het wel lukken Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0 Soign: Style in Second Life Avatars zien er veel beter uit zo. __________________ ++++ ZoHa Islands ++++ LAND SALES, […]

  11. […] with Windlight have been well documented here. I love it and I hate it. But after seeing this post by Caliah Lyon and downloading her Windlight setting I’m happier. The absolute best part is I […]

  12. […] them with your made, and I can make them available to download too.) I would also advice you to use Caliah Lyon facelight for studio […]

  13. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! I just downloaded the windlight version and I am screaming “No! Mommy make it stop!!!” Bless you for posting this. Can’t wait to implement it. LOVE your blog btw!! Just found it today.

  14. […] she’d tell us what Windlight settings she’s using for the teaser pics though. Aww, I’m sorry! I’m using these settings. __________________ "So what’s this now, some kind of calm before the weird berserker […]

  15. […] for the record, when I am reviewing fashion or skins, I use Caliah Lyon’s windlight settings, and uncheck the atmospheric shaders in the prefs menu. That way you can really see every line, […]

  16. This is awesome! Thank u so much. I’ll share this tip with my readers.

  17. power ametza said

    I just bought a skin from redgrave but my feet is huge! I’ve tried to edit my appearance and its not helping! I need my petite feet back.. 😦 Can someone help me? Any suggestions?

  18. power ametza said

    Fyi, I paid close to a thousand for this skin…. and this is my fourth ava. 😦 not happy..

    • I purchased a Redgrave skin and I love it. The trick I think, is not using their shapes. I have a generic shape – Alady – and I think my avatar is nice. Although in SL it says I’m 6’2″ I’m petite and have normal feet that look great in any pair of sandals.

  19. […] by Caliah Lyon on November 25, 2007 Please refer to Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0 as these settings are […]

  20. […] pure vanity shots and really just wandering anywhere in-world that doesn’t require mood lighting. Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0 I missed it the first time I came across the article, but there is a link just above the pictures […]

  21. […] settings were developed by Caliah Lyon and generously shared with the SL community. You can visit Optimizing Windlight for complete instructions with accompanying […]

  22. naomi Horten said

    omg thank you, I couln’t figure out why I had shadow’s. MY question tho is do I do this everytime I log in? and did I need to press the save button? once again Thank You, naomi Horten

  23. Hi Naomi,
    I’ve now changed the tutorial so you can see how to set it so it’s automatic 🙂

  24. […] While windlight does suck and lags us all to hell, at least we have some better options for lighting a subject. Still haven’t figured it out? Try this post. […]

  25. Leonardo Zimring said

    There is a typo in the instructions (which is replicated in the card given out by at least one store). The screen shot image shows sun/moon colours at 0.86 whereas the text beneath sets it at 0.086.

    Thanks for these amazing setting instructions, Caliah. The new viewer should be a welcome change, but it is certain that some are going to scream blue murder about the effect it has on clothes and skins.


  26. […] I’m closer to acheiving that goal! Well, thank you, but I really don’t post-process much. I use Caliah Lyon’s Windlight preset and sometimes a soft facelamp if the background I’m using is dark, run 4x antialiasing, and have […]

  27. […] of the av mesh and accurately portrays colors. It is based on Caliah Lyon’s preset available here. If anyone wants my modified version, just drop me your email in a PM and I can send you the .xml […]

  28. […] useful. It’s the link that I followed and found out about this fix from (thanks, Caliah!) – Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0. Whether you want a good Windlight preset for taking photos, or whether you just want to see less […]

  29. […] suggestion here for some of you who look like you’re using default lighting in your images: Caliah Lyon presets. This is excellent lighting for clean ‘modeling’ type shots, although you’d need to tinker if you […]

  30. […] This instructions with some screen shoots you will also find here […]

  31. […] to make yourself look better in your own viewer rather than worrying about how others see you. Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0 Soigné: Style in Second Life is a good starting point. I will say this: the Faun skin is white. Why would you need a facelight […]

  32. […] with built in Second Life lighting, using Caliah Lyon’s “Optimised Windlight Settings” like Luna. Reclaim that mouth attachment point for something far more fashionable like a […]

  33. […] a face lamp, which I think is nice, but not really necessary if you use good windlight settings like Caliah’s. Wearing a face lamp, you’ll all to easy blind other people’s […]

  34. Daisy said

    How do i reduce the ‘oily’ look?

  35. Me said

    Three questions, please someone answer them! Thank you!

    1 – Does it work on Windows Vista?

    2 – Need to have administration rights to save it? Or there’s no need?

    3 – Where to install this file on Vista?


  36. […] […]

  37. […] Using This Setting As Your Default If you want to dispense entirely with the day and night presets and have this setting on all the time, do the following: Press the button marked Day Cycle Editor in the Advanced Sky Editor menu. This will give you a box where you can specify what preset to cycle through every three hours (keys). You dont need this if you want this WL setting to be your default lighting all the time. To discard them press Delete Key several times until only one key remains. When you have only one key left, click on the drop-down menu below Key Preset and choose the name of the Optimised WL setting you saved above (mine was CalWL3). Press Save Test Day to save your changes. No more need to set this every time you log in! From Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0 Soigné: Style in Second Life […]

  38. […] notes from Momo:***Lighting: Caliah Lyon’s presets***Brush downloads: here and […]

  39. […] this Windlight setting: Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0 Soigné: Style in Second Life Not only will you look perfect and well let, but so will all the other avatars. […]

  40. […] the installation instructions, as well as a guide to making the changes manually if you’d prefer, here. If it looks a little washed out on your screen, tinkering with the gamma setting should fix that. […]

  41. […] […]

  42. […] […]

  43. […] If you haven’t used your advanced sky settings before, you have to give it a go. You can find them under “World – Environment Settings – Environment Editor”. The whole atmosphere of a sim depends on the right setting and often creators provide a specific skysetting to enhance the experience. But not only landscapes and skies benefit from a lower or higher sun angle and improved lighting. It is amazing how your avatar looks can change with the right Windlight setting. My own “default” sky is Caliah Lyon’s “Optimised Windlight Setting”, which is described and can be downloaded on her website. […]

  44. […] Windlight preset for optimising avatars. You can create this preset yourself, using Caliah’s instructions on her […]

  45. nalates said

    In Vista the path is different. The XP path just doesn’t work on Vista as one gets Access Denied. That is not a permissions thing in this case, so don’t go there.

    Take the path to the same place: C:\Users\Nalates\AppData\Roaming\SecondLife\user_settings\windlight\skies

    Change the ‘Nalates’ to your user name.

    The settings files are XML files which can be edited with Notepad, copied, emailed, pasted into Note Cards in SL…

  46. […] So i have been messing withthe settings of mine trying to figure it out. Well, i was useing this guide to windlight and it talks of being able to use the setting default and not having to change them, well….i […]

  47. parabolicfrequency said

    Wow, this is AMAZINGLY helpful… I was always using a blasted facelight for photos, and accidentally leaving on when shopping, much to the annoyance of everybody around me LOL! Now theres no need, I’m excited! :-]

  48. […] clothing and lighting. Aimesi Skins are really just that beautiful. Using the usual lighting (Caliah’s settings) and minor blurring techniques to round out the av edges and to have a more photographed look, the […]

  49. I don’t know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read….

  50. […] so many textures, I did the photos in my studio on a white backgroup. I used, like in all my pics, Caliah’s WL settings – can’t thank her enough for sharing the WL setup details. No recoloring or brightening […]

  51. DorianL said

    No xml file for easy installing? i’m lazy 😀

  52. Naomi Afterthought said

    I used to use this all the time. . .But for some reason, now that I am back on SL? It is insane bright. I mean my face is washed out yellow! I installed the preset, and it works but again. . .insane washed out yellow face. . .I need nice crisp, clean, pure lighting for good skin shots. :[

  53. Leila Palletier said

    I entered the settings and what a success. Thank you for giving us a chance to get rid if “face lamps”.

  54. Fnoy Chauveau said

    many thanks – at last a solution to a miserable problem. my SL GF is positively “glowing”.

  55. Lorakeet said

    Can you possibly update the link, the xml file will not download.

  56. […] for Second Life Photography Ana Lutetia’s Tutorial: Windlight Presets and the new SL Viewer Soigne’s Optimizing Windlight for Avatars 2.0 Gogo’s Updated Windlight Tutorial The Chicken Diaries’ SL Photography Resources Vint […]

  57. […] in the same studio, but now with the WL settings provided by Caliah Lyon. You can see the massive difference, the textures in general looking way more […]

  58. […] keep in mind that these pictures were taken using the Caliah Windlight settings and then they were also photoshopped. Therefore, please remember to demo using your favorite shape […]

  59. […] poses and editing. Make sure you are using ideal lighting. Utilizing the windlight settings like Caliah Settings or a similar lighting environment is most ideal. Use of proper poses is key. They should not be […]

  60. […] One of the best sky presets for every day use if from Caliah Lyon, available at her blog here. […]

  61. […] Optimising Windlight for Avatars 2.0 « Soigné: Style in Second Life […]

  62. […] also forget to put them on half the time. When I shoot pics for the blogs, I use Caliah Lyon’s Avatar Optimising Windlight Preset. If I stay in that preset, I always forget the facelights because they actually look terrible when […]

  63. […] 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 […]

  64. Flora Stipe said

    What baffles me is that after I do all the windlight settings and try to save, the response is : “you cannot modify nor save a default setting” — or something of the kind. Reading Callie’s notes, I noted that instead of “default” the window shows a “mid6” arrow, but I don’t have it. Anybody there to help me out? Thank you!!!

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