Troubleshooting Avatar Appearance

If your avatar looks like a particle cloud

In Second Life Viewer version 1.20 and later, you appear as a particle cloud while your avatar is loading. This may also happen when some information about you gets lost on the way from one place to another. Don't worry, you aren't stuck this way forever! This happens when your avatar fails to completely load, which can happen sometimes due to normal network behavior. Often, logging out and logging back in again will resolve the problem.

(You may sometimes hear people refer to an incompletely loaded avatar as "Ruth" or "being Ruthed" for historical reasons.)

If logging out and logging in again do not help, you can try some of the following steps:

  • First, save your current outfit if you have not already done so. See Saving your avatar's appearance with outfits in the Knowledge Base for more information on how to do that.
  • Set your avatar to one of the Second Life default Avatars from the Me > Complete Avatars menu.
    • Once the default avatar loads, begin to attach your preferred items (like mesh bodies, clothing attachments, custom body parts, etc) one at a time. 
    • You can use the Outfit you created as a starting point, but avoid attaching everything at once (via the 'Wear Outfit' command) -- adding content one at a time helps the avatar have time to load properly.

If the above method doesn't help, you can also adjust your graphics settings so that your avatar is easier for your viewer to display correctly. To update your preferences:

  1. Choose Me > Preferences > Graphics.
  2. Move the Quality and speed slider to the left (a lower setting).
  3. Click the Advanced button.
  4. Move the Draw distance slider to the left.
  5. Move the Mesh detail slider for Avatars to Low.
  6. Avatar impostors is checked by default. If you have unchecked it, enable this feature again.

If your avatar appears discolored or misshapen

If your avatar appears in strange, unintended colors or shows spikes, bumps, or other unsightly protrusions coming out of its body, check your graphics card to make sure it is supported and that the drivers are up to date. Learn more about graphics cards.

If the problem persists:

  1. Go to Me > Preferences > Graphics tab.
  2. Click the Advanced button to show additional options.
  3. Uncheck Hardware skinning.
  4. Click OK to confirm. You may also need to restart the Viewer.

Additional helpful techniques

Try these from the top until one works:

  • Quit and restart the Second Life Viewer (also called "relogging").
  • Right-click yourself and choose Edit My Outfit (don't save anything). In the APPEARANCE window, click the Back (<) button.
  • Rebake textures by following these steps:
    1. Choose Me > Preferences > Advanced.
    2. Select Show Advanced Menu.
    3. Choose Advanced > Rebake Textures.
  • Open your Inventory and enter a charcater (like a) in the Filter Inventory field. The number of items displayed in the top left of the INVENTORY window will increase as the servers fetch your inventory. Wait until the number stops increasing (this might take some time, depending on how much stuff you have), then relog.
  • Re-wear your normal shape, skin, clothes, and attachments. This step is much easier if you are using a pre-existing saved outfit, but remember notto save anything before your avatar is restored!
  • Clear the Second Life Viewer's cache.
  • Use the avatar picker to access and wear a default avatar. Go to Me > Complete Avatars and choose from an extensive collection of vampires, humans, animals, robots and vehicles. You can then add your preferred custom content from this default 'clean slate' to restore your preferred look.


Tip: Freebie clothing or old clothing and shapes can have performance issues in Second Life. Changing clothes and shapes often solves the problem.

Check out our expanded Knowledge Base article on this topic!

Don't see what you need here? Please visit our Knowledge Base for a more comprehensive list of Support topics!

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