When it comes to trying out for contests and pageants, your portrait will most likely be your first qualifier so to make it your best, here is a list of simple tips to follow.
Please note that everyone has different styles for making artistic portraits and that these tips are for competitive portraits. The objective for the competitive portraits is to appear confident and to show your full beauty.
- Eyes on the prize. Keep your eyes forward to the viewer. It establishes a connection instead of looking wayward and distracted. A slight offset from the viewer can be okay but it is recommended for the body to be turned into the same direction.
- Straighten up. Keep your body at a relatively straight and relaxed position. You can be tilted slightly but do not overdue it. You do not want to look like you have motion sickness nor give it to the viewer. Do not try to cram as much of your body into the photo by folding yourself into the picture as this follows in with the next rule.
- Close enough but not too close! A solid portrait is from shoulders and up. You do not want to have your full chest in the shot since the focus is on your face, not your chest, so the armpits is a good baseline to follow up from. Get too close and the viewer will want to back away from sheer proximity.
- Back to the back. You should never show your back in a portrait. Keep your body forward whether it be straight on to the camera or to the side slightly at no more than a 45 degree angle. You want to be relaxed, not strained into a twisted position.
- Crop the top. In some cases, you don’t need to see your full head of hair so you can crop off a little from the top to emphasis your face better, especially if you have a very high topped hair style. Never crop into your natural hairline. If you have bangs covering your hairline, imagine where that hairline would be and stay above it.
- Clear it up. You want your face seen so keep it clear of accessories and lots of stray hairs. Too many accessories will make it appear as though you are shying behind them. Never hide a single eye as well, even under hair.
- Keep it real. Your skin and hair colors should not be many shades darker or lighter than what your picture appears. The real you is what will be chosen so try not to edit so much that the portrait is indistinguishable from the real avatar. Avoid using sepia or other tone filters.
- Simplify backdrops. Keep what is behind you as simple as possible so the attention remains on you and you only. There is no shame in using a solid backdrop if you cannot find a suitable one instead. Make sure the backdrop’s color(s) match with your avatar and style.
- Check your attachments. Make sure your dangling attachments, such as earrings, flow with gravity. Even if your head is tilting only slightly, adjust them to stay true with gravity.
- Hair coloring. Keep your eyebrows, hair bases and hair consistent in color or as natural as possible. Nothing looks more awkward than a platinum blonde with a brown hair base and black eyebrows.
- Center of attention. The rule of thirds in photography does not need to be applied in portraits. Though it is best to be as centered as possible, you can be offset slightly as long as your body is turned towards the middle. Turning away from the middle might show that you do not want to be the star of the show.
- Zooming properly. When you zoom in under SL’s default zoom, you will see a fish-eye lens effect. To correct this, use CTLR+0 approximately four to eight times to get your avatar’s real shape. This will level out your avatar’s facial structure to its true form. To revert back to the default zoom, use CTRL+9 and to get an exaggerated fish-eye lens effect, use CTLR+8.
- Easy blurs. Blurring the backdrop can look nice if it is done properly. Never blur the face but around it. Blurring on the hair wisps is fine but avoid the majority of the hair’s “body”. And be sure to not blur too much or it will look too offset from the rest of the picture.
- Dim the lights. Use a neutral lighting that best compliments the true color of your skin. Too bright and you will look washed out and pale. Too dark and you will look desaturated and dim. Do not use harsh windlights as most will create ugly highlights around your cheekbones and reveal the nose indentions.