A decent skin used to cost hundreds or even a few thousand of Linden Dollars (L$). The really good ones were even more expensive, from 4.000 or 5.000 L$ and upwards. Until they got ripped (stolen, using bugs or features of graphics cards).
Nowadays a good beginner's skin can be had for a few hundred L$. A decent one for a few hundred more. And really good one can already be found for under 2.000 L$.
Admitted, many newbies that come online do not want to spend that amount of cash (even if converted to REAL money the number drops dramatically.) But there is good news for them. More and more designers are giving away skins (and shapes for that matter) to newbies that are younger than 30 days (or sometimes even 60 days).
Some these skins can be found as a free gift that anyone can get.
A word to the NewbiesDon't feel like getting one of those because ALL those newbies that have come here will have those skins? No problem. There is a way, other than begging, to get the cash to buy the skin you want. While in the real world one can say that money does not grow on trees, in Second Life money DOES grow on trees!
These trees are aptly called "money trees"!!!! (Bet you'd never guessed that one!) As with all things newbie, most of these trees are only acessible to newbies under a certain age. No, you probably won't find an entire orchard of these trees, ripe for the picking. These things are spread across all of the Second Life world. You just have to find them.
I can already hear some people whine and grovel to give me them all the landmarks of all the trees in SL. Well, I can't. Not because I don't want to. Because these things have a habit of disappearing with the owners of the sims they were in or being moved when the sim is being rebuilt. Or altogether disappearing because they are too costly.
Too costly? Yes, dear newbie, the money that you pick from the trees comes from the pockets of the owner (mostly) and passerbys that want to help out newbies like you. So be grateful for every L$ you can pick and don't nag because there aren't any in the tree. An owner only has so much L$ and there are many, many more newbies like you than the owner could possible spend.
Skin problemsAlthough you now have a good skin (at least it looked good on that add board!), you still look like crap!
"This whole skin thing is a BIG SCAM!"
Hold your horses! Calm down! There is no scam. Just what I like to call "SL physics". A skin is usually designed to look good on a certain type of shape, or even a single shape. Wearing it on other shapes might work out decently enough. Or it can look like complete crap. Most likely, my dear, you're in this last case.
"But, Honey! What can I do?", I hear you say? Well.. the easiest thing to do would be to buy the shape that was used by the model of the skin in the add.
"And where can I find that skin?"
Hun, I wish I knew. Some skin designers/resellers also offer the matching shape on the same vendor, or near it. Others will add a notecard in their sales box called a style card. This contains all the details you need to make your avatar look exactly like the model on the board. Provided the other designers are still operating in SL. One never knows.
"And if I can't/don't want to buy a shape?"
A few possibilities: get tinkering with your own shape, buy another skin that will match your shape or suck it up and learn to live with it. Or.... get a free skin and/or shape that do work together. Hey, Second Life starts to look like Debian Linux: Too many choices!
Nurse, scalpel please.Tinkering with your avatar can be fun. Just try to push ALL the sliders to either maximum and see what you get!
If you're expecting a tutorial about how to change your avatar to fit your specific skin then dream on.
This post deals with skin, hun. Not shapes.
Yeah, I know. I just said the skin needs the right shape to look good. But like I've said before: I don't know every skin and every shape in SL.
"But why do you want me to change my shape then?"
Because I'm going to help you with your skin problem.
Yeah. Don't sweat it. It isn't difficult and you'll understand it when you see it.
Oh frack, just start editing your appearance!
If you need help you can always IM me. (I might do a tutorial, if the need arises.)