The following is a transcript of " Traveling Avatar's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life," a podcast from The audio program is available via RSS feed here and at's podcast home page.

Will Ross here, welcome to

The Traveling Avatar's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Better Second Life

. On this show we discuss tips and tricks for the game Second Life, created by Linden Labs.

Now, I'm not a fantastic builder in Second Life (which can be attested to by anyone who was around to see the monstrosity that was my enormous in-game clown statue "Clownous the Mighty"). That gives me a little bit of a dilemma as your in-world guide, since it means I'm fairly clueless on how to assist you with one of the coolest features of Second Life, building your own stuff. However, I can at least help you take your first baby steps into object creation by teaching you how to make one of the most popular home decorations in SL, a picture.

The first step to making an in-game photo to be displayed in your home is taking a snapshot. This part is easy, just use your camera controls to zoom in on whatever it is you want to take a picture of and then press Control + Shift + S, or choose "Take Snapshot" from the "File" menu.

You'll have to pay 10 lindens to upload the photo, and then it will be placed in the "Snapshots" folder in your inventory. Don't forget to name it!

The next step is to make a canvas for your picture. This part is also really easy, too. Under the "Tools" menu, go to the sub-menu, "Select Tools," and choose "Create." This will bring up a little building menu that you'll use for the majority of your object creation. It should automatically choose the "Create" option on this menu, but if it doesn't,it's the fourth icon from the left at the very top. It looks like a little magic wand.

It should also have defaulted to the "Box" icon. This is the icon you'll use to make any sort of square, rectangle, or cube type shapes, and its icon is the little cube.

From here you're going to click somewhere in front of you, and that will rez a plywood box. Congratulations, you created your first plywood box in game! As long as the building menu stays up, you'll be able to use it to edit your new creation. If you need to click away, just right-click the object again with the building menu turned on and you'll go back to editing.

The very first thing I do after I create the object is to name it. Trust me, the longer you play, the more inventory you'll have simply named "Object," so get into the habit of naming things early. If you don't see the spot where you can name your object, click the "More" icon on the bottom right of the screen. From this first menu (the "General" menu) you'll be able to name your object and put in a description. Then, whoever has your object in the future will be able to see who created it and mock you terribly for its poor design.

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Now, I tend to add the textures while it's still a cube just because it makes it easier to click on the sides. First, make the entire cube white fabric for the canvas parts by clicking the "Texture" tab and opening the texture menu. This will bring up your entire library of textures and snapshots. Right now you're choosing the texture for the sides and back, so either choose "Blank" to make the entire cube white, or if you want to be fancy, use a white fabric texture.

Next, choose "Stretch" from the top menu and you'll see six colored squares appear around the object. These squares each correspond to an axis, and you can use them to manipulate the shape and size of the cube. Grab one of the green boxes with your cursor and then push it toward the object until you have your canvas shape.

We're almost done, I swear.

Now, for the fun part; in the top menu, click "Select Texture" and then click on the face of your picture. Click the square marked "Texture" again, but since you're on "Select Texture" you'll only be changing the texture on the front of your picture. Go into your snapshots (or textures if you're working with a picture someone else gave you) and click on the photo you want to use. Then click "Stretch" again and size the canvas so your picture has the correct dimensions.

Now, you've already gotten a pretty cool object there in and of itself, but if you really want to make your colors pop, make your picture a light source. This is easier than it sounds. Just go to "Features" and click "Light." You'll then get access to some settings, and here's how I fill them in. Set the intensity to around 0.30, this is how bright the light will be, and if you make it too bright, you'll wash out all your colors. Then set the radius to around one, since you're just looking to make the picture look nice, not light a parking lot with it. I usually set the falloff to about 1.75.

Finally, throw it on top of your mantle and enjoy it.

Now I know that seems like a lot of steps to build one object, but remember that the lessons you learn from one build will help you in the next one. I've asked a few builder friends of mine and they've all told me the same thing, to become a great builder in Second Life, you just have to build things.

You won't be the best builder in SL in a day, but hey, people say Rome wasn't built in a day, and I looked it up and you know what, that's absolutely true!

Seriously, I checked the wiki.

That's it for this episode! So until next time remember, even if a picture IS worth a thousand words, you're still going to have to pay 10 lindens to upload it. Which makes the words-to-lindens exchange rate around a hundred to one.

Will Ross, a Second Life explorer and professional slacker, writes and records the

Traveling Avatar articles and podcasts. Following a stint in college where he came dangerously close to earning a degree in history, Will Ross spent countless hours of his life in a number of online worlds including Worlds of Warcraft, Everquest, Ultima Online, and City of Heroes before making a permanent home on Eldoe Island in Second Life. To request a topic or share a tip, send an email to or call 206-888-MYSL.