The photographic realism in Second Life®: a question of style.

The question may seem provocative, in fact, it’s a question I’ve been thinking about for a few days. In particular, I wonder when it is relevant that there is realism in a portrait of an SL® avatar.

In the first place it is necessary to understand what realism is in an SL® photo: if we have an avatar’s picture, how is it possible to talk about authenticity?

I would immediately say that for “realism” I do not mean morphing or, at least, not the morphing we are used to knowing. As is known, in the morphing two images are fused, two faces in a way so homogeneous as not to see where the look of the one and the other one ends.

The technique of morphing allows merging two faces, obtaining a single look. This effect has been used many times in cinemas as well. It is possible to combine one’s face with a famous person and thus obtain a very evocative image. (Max89X)

Photographic realism in the virtual world is not a rule and may not even please. Indeed, there are photographers who, while retouching their images with Photoshop, Gimp or other graphics programs, love that it is evident it is an avatar and do not want to confuse the real with the virtual.

Lately, I discovered on Flickr excellent photographers who use the technique of automatic fusion of levels or that, regardless of the use of this specific technique, they can make photographic portraits of extreme realism.

One artist I knew and talked about is Brenda Menges. This excellent Brazilian photographer has, lately, perfected her technique obtaining results nothing short of amazing. It is enough to have a look at her Flickr to stay “open-mouthed.” I admit that I asked Brenda for a portrait, and when I went to see her in her studio, I found only a base and a standing pose placed in the sky. Surely Brenda uses particular in-world light settings to give more realism, but observing her photographs, one notices the “human touch” that only through a fusion between two images (a real and a virtual one) can be obtained.


Marcy-Tomsen (sister)



Before Brenda, I had only found morphing not exciting, so I had the impression that real fusion with virtual was not a good idea.

In addition to the Menges, other excellent photographers mix real, and virtual achieving results in nothing short of surprising.

One of them is Angi Manners, known above all for being the creator of the beautiful and realistic skin for Catwa and Lelutka: her shop is called [session].

The Manners also uses light and shadow games to give realism directly in-world and reduce, in this way, post-processing.

Even in this case, just take a look at her images to stay “open-mouthed.”

The Portrait

Why so serious?

Modeling for myself

Continuing to talk about photographic realism, following Flickr I found another photographer who likes to mix real with virtual getting good results, Jota Vico. Here are some of his portraits:

Yan Bolt  [Client list Open]

Clara Carolina


In conclusion, photographic realism is not an obligation, of course, and some people prefer far from seeing the “virtuality” of their avatar.

Personality, I am fascinated, because photographers like Brenda Menges, now skilled manipulators of virtual faces, succeed and give that expression, that human touch of emotional “imperfection” that gives the virtual face emotions impossible for an avatar.


Brenda Menges Flickr

Angi Manners Flickr

Jota Vico Flick

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