A recent project of mine has been to find the measurements of the Second Life Avatar (standard default size).  I see this question semi-often in some of the Blender groups in Second Life (SL) but, I never gave it much thought after the initial "wow some folks are just as anal as I am".  So, when I began my search, I thought surely, by now, someone has collected such measurements for more precise creation of garments for SL!  I even asked in various groups and did my own Google search and found nothing. 

What I did find was a measurement add-on tool for Blender, which I think will be handy when I am in building and modeling mode but, that really doesn't help me with measurements in Marvelous Designer.  I want to send a big THANK YOU to Garvie Garzo and Tin Shelter for sharing this add-on information.  For those building modelers out there, you may wish to try this feature for more precise building features. 

Go to Blender Add-Ons, type measurement in the search box, will bring up a single add-on, enable it by placing a check mark in the small white box on the far right.  You may need to restart Blender.  You will also need to update your Units (metric or imperial) and enable it for use in the under the N-Properties Panel.

Here is a quick graphic made by Tim Shelter that was shared how to enable this. 

Tin Shelter's Screen Shot for Enabling Measurement Tool in Blender

If you would like to know more about this Blender tool, here is a link to the Blender Wiki that provides a little information about the tool and how it use it. It wasn't as much as I hoped so, you may need to do a Google search or Youtube search for better information.

I don't know about you but I want more precise measurements of what I am doing in MD.  Partially, I am anal and like order and to be precise.  The other part of me is also very lazy, despite juggling tons of projects on a daily basis,  I want to maximize my time. Plus, I want to create better fitting clothing in Marvelous Designer and I don't want to have to reinvent the wheel if I don't have to.  But it looks like, in this particular case, wheel invention here we come!

I have worked with Marvelous Designer (MD) long enough to know there are many things about garment creation I don't know.  I also know there is much more to MD than the catchy ads and introductory videos they show you how easy it looks.  I want to know how to fix my mistakes so my clothing looks more realistic yet, I don't want them to be so high poly they take forever to load in SL.  I have always suspected I needed to know a bit more about Real World sewing and design if I want my clothing to drape and fit and to solve some of design issues I have encountered. 

Another reason, is after watching a video by Lori Griffiths (see prior blog posts), I wanted to try creating a pattern in QCAD.  But, to do this, it requires some measurements for Marvelous Designer and the SL Default model we are using  Because I have been unable to find such a set of measurements in any group chat or via an  Internet search, I guess we have to experiment do it ourselves.

Always keep in mind, what we are about to do, is an experiment!  It may not be as precise as we may not work for what I want it to work for.  It may not be the best way to arrive at our measurements.  We may have to tweak our numbers from time to time in order to get the best fit.  But, until something easier or more precise comes along, it is what we have to work with.

I know this process may be tedious but hopefully, it will provide needed results.  Once done, we may have to tweak our patterns a bit but, a bit of tweaking will be better than guessing most of the time. I want to take advantage of being able to take a basic pattern piece and alter it for different projects, just like in the real world garment industry.  I don't know about you but I get a bit tired of always having to resize my pattern pieces with no clue what will fit and what won't with I draw them out.  Marvelous Designer could do a better job at incremental resizing to make it more precise. We will see if this experimental method works or not.  I hope it is not a total time waster.


Below, you are going to find several graphics I ran across in the Marvelous Designer forums while doing research for this project.  Over the years, I think several people have asked this question but, due to a loss in historical posts when switching forum software, prior responses ceased to exist.  I did find a post, where someone  asked about measurements for the MD models and thought I would share that with you before we get started.  We will be using these suggestions to find our measurements with.  

The first two graphics are from the CLO/Marvelous Designer Manual.  You use to be able to download the manual in .pdf format but, I could not find a link to download.  However, you can access this manual, via internet and look through it. 

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER, the CLO manual is a combined manual and not all features will be in the various Marvelous Designer products.  There is also a stand alone MD4 Manual that breaks down measurements for each of the MD4 models.

For those, who may not know, CLO is the parent of Marvelous Designer.  The CLO product is for use in the Real World clothing design and construction.  Some of the clothing you wear today may have started out being drafted in CLO.  Suffice it to say, CLO has more robust features than Marvelous Designer does.  Also, CLO product costs thousands of dollar compared to a more modest cost for Marvelous Designer. MD is an offshoot of CLO and is geared more towards 3D modeling from what I have been told. 

For our purposes, one of the items lacking in MD4 is a tape measure function, which we could use in measuring our own custom avatar models.  I know it has been asked for but hasn't been forthcoming but, the trade off for me has been ability to quadrangulate the mesh from triangles.  Personally, I think MD needs to add this feature in the future as more and more computer graphic folks find out about Marvelous Designer.

The following graphic was taken from the CLO/Marvelous Designer manual published in August of 2014, it shows the various body parts and what parts are measured...from what point to what CLO/Marvelous Designer and where their measurements come from.

CLO/Marvelous Designer
CLO/MD Model Areas of Measurement.
 If you will refer to the table below, you will find a list of the models used in CLO/MD.  It is hard to see here, but if you click on the graphic, I think it will enlarge.  If not, visit the above URL and see it via the manual.  You will also see the various body part on the left and on the far right a description of how the measurement is taken.
CLO/Marvelous Designer Avatar Size Chart
 If you follow the link for the MD4 manual, you will see that instead of a global measurement chart, you will find individual (Avatar  > Avatar Sizing > *chose a model*) models and their measurements. Remember, these measurements are in centimeters and are given for RL proportions of a real human, which differ from our 3D models.

MD4 Female A Model Measurements in Centimeters

NOTE:  Please note the above graphic is measured in Centimeters (cm) for our purposes, we are going to be working with Millimeters (mm), which is what MD uses. 

After a few false starts, here we go the first effort at trying to make my own measurements of the Second Life Standard Default Avatar.  You can follow along and do this yourself if you wish.

To keep this simple and not drag things out, I going to find measurements for the Upper Torso only and use those measurements in another project.  Once you get the hang of the technique, you can do the rest of measurements on your own.  We will only be looking at height, width, and length in this posting...not circumference (circular measurements around the avatar)...we will save that for another posting.  This one is already pretty lengthy.

This method of calculation should work in both MD4 & MD3.  I am using MD4 and I am running a MAC with the Yosemite OS.  I haven't worked with  MD2 but would assume this method will work there also; however, if MD doesn't have the capability of showing line length, you will need to find another method for your measurements.
Here are some things you will be need for this project. The biggest prerequisite is you MUST know a bit about Marvelous Designer and how to move around in it.

  • Marvelous Designer with "Show Line Length" turned on.
  • Need to know how to move lines and dots in Marvelous Designer
  • A list of measurements YOU think YOU will need. I am only giving examples of things I am measuring for for a project.
  • Paper and Pen to write down your measurements Or, create a spreadsheet to save to your hard drive.  (Don't have an office suite program? Try the free open source one, which is what I use.)
  • *Default Second Life Avatar model for use in MD
  • *Blender 
  • A Lot of Patience and Perseverance
  • Test--Test--Test 

REMEMBER the figures I am going to list are approximate and the ones I come up with.  My figures may be somewhat different than the ones you come up don't panic if they differ...we are experimenting.  When we go to create from these figures, we may need to adjust them till we get them correct.  This measuring experiment is not a final product by any means.

Take your time!

Personally, I am not going to measure the entire model in one sitting.  Not only would that be tedious for me, I have a habit of making stupid mistakes the longer I work on a project in one sitting...especially when numbers are involved...I tend to reverse them.   So, you may want to think about simply doing a portion of your Avatar Measurements for now and the rest later.  The wonderful thing about being individuals, we have soooo many choices to chose from in what we do!

If you are not going to do all your measurements at once or, have several models you want to measure (i.e. the 5-SL Standard Mesh Sizes), be sure to SAVE AS your work as a Project File for each model. 

Project files save both the pattern pieces (in our case measuring stick), it also saves the model you working with.  This will keep you from having to remember which model you are working on if you plan on measuring different models.  Simply open and load the appropriate project you want to work with in MD.

Here is the model (see below) I am going to be measuring.  You will notice, she looks different than the grayish white model you import into Marvelous Designer.  I have added a Second Life skin texture to the model while it was in Marvelous Designer.

The skin set is from a standard full permissions .psd set I purchased from Stella Gravois' Trendy Templates.  The skins set was relatively inexpensive and I have used the set for varying projects including making other skins and make-up for myself. If you are interested, visit Trendy Templates in-world.

The skin textures are applied to a specially created model in Blender so the textures could be applied in Marvelous Designer. I have an unpublished article in the process on how you can create your own textured model.  Unfortunately, I haven't gathered all the necessary resources to finish the article to publish it. 

If you have worked with SL system clothing or, worked with the Second Life default Avatar in Blender, you already know the SL Avatar comes in a number of different pieces, each with their own UV map.   For our purposes, we will be using only the head, the upper torso and the lower torso portions of the model.  If you look close enough, you will see the eyes are missing on this model.  I chose not to include the eyes when i created the .obj file for this avatar.  I don't ever expect to  model anything in MD where I would need the eyes.   

What is important about this model is, in MD, this textured model you are able to clearly see where each of the body parts join, which should make measuring a bit easier for us.

Don't worry if the model you are using is Blender grayish white like the one below.  You can still see the individual pieces and where the parts join but, it just is not as clear to me as the textured model.  For me, I find the grayish white hurtful to my eyes and the model just looks so very blah.  Also, unless you texture or colorize your pattern pieces, as you create them, it can often be difficult to distinguish between the AV model and the white pattern pieces. It is the model itself that counts, not if it is or is not textured.

Again, this is an experiment on my part.  I have not done this before (although had thought about it) so, let's see what we can come up with.  I think for our purposes we are going to stick with some upper torso measurements I need for another project. I am going to start with some of the measurements listed in the MD4 user Manual.  It seems like a good place to start.

The measurements I will be taking are probably going to be different than what you may need. But, using the the suggested techniques found in the MD forum post, I think we will cover most of what they suggest so you will have the necessary tools to find measurements your project(s) require. As  I mentioned above measuring the around the breasts, hips, buttocks, etc,  we will look at in a different article since it is a different technique.

Something else you should keep in mind, most 3D models, the SL Default Avatar included, are symmetrical when cut in left and right halves; whereas, a real life human will vary.  If we split our model into back and front halves, you will find they are not quite symmetrical...the buttocks and breasts...change the symmetry.  You need more room in the front for a shirt; whereas, in the pants, you need more room in the back to cover the necessary body parts.

To help us visualize how to take our measurements, we are going to look at how real world garments are measured.  I borrowed a couple of graphics and if I remember correctly, (I believe I have but apologize if this is a different creator) these came from Lori Griffiths' Fearless Makers website.  If you haven't visited the site I strongly encourage you to do so.  Contribute a few bucks, if you are able, to support the great work she is doing for both the 3d modeling & sewing communities.

These graphics should give you some idea how measurements are arrived at in the real world.  Notice all the nice colored lines and corresponding descriptions?  While we will not be using these measurements for this tutorial, we are going to be much more simplistic, hopefully, this will give you some idea for measurements for future projects, especially if you have been watching the videos at and decided to invest in QCAD.  This graphics is also invaluable in give you an idea the easiest way to alter a pattern.  Lori makes it look so darn easy!

Before we start measuring, we want to do two things
  • Turn on Show Line Length in the MD pattern window.
  • Set your Gizmo to World Coordinates--set this via the Preference tab, in the File Menu, at the top of MD.

If you don't know how to do this, click on the pattern side window, right click and check Show Line Length. Now, draw a box and notice that each of the lines now has a line length.  Even though we imported out model with the M (meters) option selected the line length numbers you will see are in millimeters (mm) not centimeters (cm) or meters (m). 

Using the supplied cross hairs in the pattern window as a guide for vertical and horizontal centering, draw a small width rectangle and scale it from the top of the shadow avatar in the pattern window and scale downwards to the grid floor.  I only need the vertical number for this measurement.

Top of Head to Grid Floor Height: 1881.47 mm

Hhhmm...seems pretty accurate.  Let's try another measurement.

Example: Neck Join to Grid Floor in Pattern Window Using the AV Outline.

Now, measuring where the neck joins the head to the grid floor, using our pattern window, you should have something that looks like the above. 

Notice in this example, I used the cross hairs for reference points. It is hard to see, but there are tiny numbers for each vertical and horizontal line.  I jotted down the vertical line number again...

Neck to Grid Floor Height: 1601.26 mm

Looks pretty easy and simple, right?  But, what happens when we Sync our pattern piece (measuring stick) to verify with our actual model? 

Click on the Sync button in the pattern window (the two circling orange arrows) and view the piece in the Simulation window.

At full frontal view (number pad 2--MD uses, 2, 4, 6, 8 on numbers pad for different perspective view), looks perfect!  But, as I pan around the Avatar, to the side, it looks a little short!

Hmmm...okay, so how are we going to fix this to be more accurate.
I increased the width of my rectangle so it would be outside of the avatar then moved the measuring piece into the avatar itself...about mid point of the shoulder/ the measuring stick touched the neck/upper torso join. 

Sure enough the measurement was about 20 mm too short between the pattern window and the actual model in the simulation window.  I am not sure the difference will cause us problems so I am going to take note of this difference and write down both numbers for reference.   I will keep this difference in the back of mind as I move through the rest of the measurements to see if I get similar differences.

Okay, while we have our measuring stick embedded in the model let's get measurements for the neck to waist and waist to floor grid.

HELPER TRICKS--use your nudge keys (up, down, and sideways arrow keys) to move lines, points, and the entire pattern piece short distances in the pattern window.  You can also select various points and lines and use these nudge keys to increase or decrease the pattern in the patter window.  I believe someone told me nudge moves about 10 mm increments at a time.

Holding down the shift key in the pattern window, allows you to move points and lines at a particular angle or up and down.

You can also use the shift key in the simulation window to move your measuring piece on the X,Y, or Z axis using your gizmo.

Another trick that is useful is you can UNFOLD your measuring stick.  If you highlight, the right most vertical line, right click, unfold, viole, a measuring stick that expands vertically.  You can either add the two numbers on both sides of the center point or delete both points for the total number.  Once done, do a Ctrl Z and undo as far back as you wish.

Be sure to move your pattern piece measuring stick into place and leave it there.  If you move it, you may throw off your measurements.

With our measuring stick in place, I highlighted the two dots and the line at the between them, at the very bottom of our rectangle, in the pattern window.  Using my nudge keys, I either nudged up or downward to get my measurements.  Occasionally, you will need to do a shift + drag, up or down, to insure accuracy.  DO NOT make yourself crazy if they are not spot on.

Here are some of the figures I came up with from our measuring stick being altered, in the pattern window, on the vertical. I have not moved this measuring stick from the original embedded body position, which I feel is very important for over all accuracy.

Please note, our measurements are currently being taken through the model, which is not normally how human clothing measurements are done but, we are mainly looking for lengths so we should be good.  Currently, we are not measuring circumferences but will try that later in a different tutorial. 

Measuring from Front View-Side to Side--Thru the Av...not circumference
Neck to Grid Floor: 1631.26 (corrected measurement)
Neck to Heel: 1848.64
Neck to Waist: 259.39
Top of Shoulder to Heel: 1588.64

Waist to Floor Grid: 1163.14
**Waist to Ankle Join: 1104.30

You can also easily measure the width of your model.  Simply move your vertical lines horizontally till just a tiny bit is peeking out of the area you are measuring. This bit of excess may alter your pattern slightly but, tis better to have a bit of extra excess in these areas then not enough.

Measuring from Front View-Side to Side--Thru the Av...not circumference
Shoulder Arm Join to Shoulder Arm Join Width: 188.08
Shoulder Arm Join to Model Center: 97.52
Shoulder Arm Join to Lower Neck (for shoulder straps): 37.53
Shoulder Arm Join to Neck Join: 57.53
Hip width (widest portion): 358.77
Breast (widest point on shadow model in pattern window) : 298.38

Okay, so I have measured all I can (at least I think I have) in the front view, facing us, in MD (side to side, up and down) now I want to measure from  front to back.  I am going to create a copy of my pattern measuring stick and leave the original in place.  I am doing this in case I have forgotten to measure something importan, which knowing me, I probably have *winks*.

Highlight your original pattern piece, in the pattern window, and right click to copy then paste.  Move the piece so where the two pieces do not overlap.  Hit the Pattern Window Sync Button (two orange circling arrows) to get this copy to the Simulation Window.

Now rotate your, piece clock wise 90 degrees, then center the panel in the avatar.  You are going to have to eye ball thing I do not like about MD is you do not have functions like we do in 3D modeling programs  where we can precisely rotate or move to center easily.  If you think the piece is not wide enough, enlarge on one side.

Okay, as I was working on the above couple of paragraphs while working on the  measurements, I discovered an issue.  Rather than leaving out the problem, I thought I should share it with you and solution.

Because we are unable to rotate precisely on the various axis, like we would in Blender or Second life, what you think is rotated or moved correctly may not be as correct as you think.  I forgot this when I eyeballed mine and called it good.  I then discovered, when doing the last couple of steps above, my new piece measuring piece was not splitting down the middle of both the front and back of the avatar...because, I didn't have the piece correctly rotated to 90 degrees.  It looked like it was rotated a perfect 90, but looks are deceiving.   It really is necessary to look at your work from all angles before you call it good.

Okay, how do we fix this? It was pretty easy after I put a little thought into it.

First, you need to know it is very important you have your Avatar model centered in Blender before you export it.  Centering will insure the model is centered in Marvelous Designer when we import it.  By default, the Workbench Avatar is centered so no need to worry there, unless of course you move it after opening the file in Blender.  However, if you are using a custom created AV, be sure you do a Shift-C to reposition your cursor to center, in Blender, before starting any type of work including your own AV creation.

We know our model is centered, but are our pieces straight and rotated properly?  We need to hide our avatar to find out. Click the Show Avatar button in the MD Simulation window to hide your avatar. 

Look at the cross hairs on the grid floor of the simulation window.  Pan around your measuring pieces to see if they are centered and straight with the grid floor. If necessary move/rotate your pieces so they align to the cross hairs grid floor. Click the Show Avatar button again in the simulation window to make your avatar reappear.  Pan around the avatar to see if it is cut in half, make adjustments where needed.

Again, we have to eyeball this due to no precision alignment tools available within the Marvelous Designer software. Yes, I am venting!

Like our earlier steps, we are going to do the same procedure as we did before. We will enlarge our measuring stick (red & green pattern pieces) moving different line and dots to get our figures.

Measuring from Front View-From to Back--Thru the Av...not circumference
Upper Back to Breast Side Width: 267.52
Butt to Breasts Side Width: 297.52
Butt to Belly Side Width:  257.62

For now, I don't see any other front to back measurements I need for now; HOWEVER,  I will be saving this as a project file for continued use in the future.  I suggest you do the same.

No, actually I didn't.  By now, you should have the general principle of measuring and the tools do do the measuring with.  You should be able to do the arm length on your own.

Quickie Advice For Arms: If you need a few hints, create another measuring stick piece (like we did above), and rotate it flattening it on the grid floor.  You are probably going to have to work with this a bit to insure proper rotation and centering so, be sure you pan out and look at the piece in varying views.  Once you are satisfied, carefully, move the piece up to embed it (centered of course) into the outstretched arms of the model.  Begin the measuring process as you did with the other areas above.

Watch for the arm/upper body join area!  Will be important for making sleeves fit correctly.



 *If you don't have a copy of the default SL Avatar you can download a copy for use in Blender at the following URL  You will also need to know how to open this file in Blender...then export the Avatar as an object for use in Marvelous Designer.  If you don't know how to do this, look through prior post on this blog to help you with this process...specifically look at the articles posted on 9/14/2013.

Here is a quick and dirty process to create your default model from the Avatar Workbench and works the same if using Avastar.  I created this section quickly so if you have any issues, best to read the 3 part series for exporting SL Shapes to create models. 

Download the Machinimatrix workbench file where you can easily find it to your computer.

Open Blender > Shift C to center your cursor (great habit to get use to).

File menu > Open > Browse to where file is > Select file.

Object Mode > Shift-Left Click Each body part you want to export (head, upper torso, lower torso). 

File menu > Export > Wavefront (.obj)  > Chose where to save it to

Next Step--VERY IMPORTANT > in the Export Box > Operator Presets (left side and a bit down the page) CHECK MARK SELECTION ONLY >Then click Export Obj Button.  Failure to do this will export then entire AV and SL system clothing set, which you do not want to do!!!!

Open Marvleous Designer > Clear all Avatars > File Menu > New > Do not save the OLD garment file.

File Menu > Import > OBJ > Select your Avatar OBJ file > In the Importer check mark Object type--Load as Avatar  AND check mark Scale--M > then okay.  You should have a good AV default model to work with.

Something I had forgotten and rediscovered while measuring from Waist to Ankle, the ankle/foot portion looks like it has a joined area to the legs.  With the skin textured model, you can see it quite clearly.

The ankle/feet area while it appears to be a join of body parts, like we have seen with the upper neck/upper torso/lower torso join; however the ankle/foot area isn't really a is a solid complete portion of the lower torso.

If you have ever looked at the SL Default Avatar UV maps, you will notice the Ankle foot area is off to the side on the same map as the lower torso. This is one of the issues so many creators complain about.  It would have created lesser problems if the SL Default AV had the Ankles/feet separated from the lower torso.  So, when I did my measurement, I used this Ankle/foot join as the demarcation line for the ankle even though, it looks like the ankle bone on the model is a bit lower down.

If you have full flowing skirts or dresses that go clear to the grid floor, you won't really have an issue with this measurement.  The fullness of the maxi length skirts/dresses will cover and hide this area.  If you have a very tight pencil type skirt I would not make my skirt any longer than the join line of the ankles/feet or I think you will run into issues if you do.

I know you may be somewhat disappointed that we did not get to circumference measurements, but it requires a different approach and I didn't want to confuse you anymore than I probably already have.  Also, this article is much longer than I  intended.  There is a lot of information included here for you to digest and process but, I felt you might need it to be prepared for this project.

Hopefully, in the next day or two, I can give you the instructions for measuring around (circumference) things like the breasts, hips etc. Or, if you are in a hurry and don't want to wait, check out the link to the MD forums article.  

Okay, another shameless plug, if you haven't visited already, visit  You will be happy you did.

Happy Creating!

P.S. If you want to compare measurements, IM me Second Life and we can do some comparison.  

P.S.S.  If this is too confusing, I have it on good authority a new video from someone, who is much better at this than I am and should be out soon. I believe (keep your fingers crossed) the video will be using the SL Default Avatar.  If not, at least you will have a better visual idea how to accomplish this!  Woo Hoo!   I will post the video once it is out!


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