The term avatar is an ancient Hindu word for “incarnation”. It comes from the Sanskrit word avatāra, which means to “descend” or the spirit taking a physical form on Earth. It is often use in Vrchat to represent a user’s own form in-game. There are two types of avatars, dynamic and static. Dynamic Avatars are images that move, for example a s s or a human being walking, or waving. Static avatars don’t move at all. The center of an avatar in Vrchat is the Cursor, by knowing where it points you will see the hands of your avatar moving.
Dynamic Avatars may also be two different types: mesh and non-mesh. Mesh avatars are images that contain bones to animate them, they can’t be edited or customized without a third-party rigging tool. Non-mesh avatars work like regular images and can be customized and animated with the use of a program such as Blender. One other term that may come up is rigged, which means “to configure bones” to animate the avatar.
What is Vrchat?
Vrchat is a free, open-source social VR platform where you can make and use avatars. It’s available on Steam and the Oculus Store with support for WindowsVR HMDs. With it you can create your own worlds or visit official ones like Rick’s C-137 Lab (from Rick and Morty) to socialize or play mini-games like Dodgeball or Vrchat Roulette.
Vrchat provides the tools to customize your avatar in many ways, for example you can change its clothing, skin color, eye color and even add tattoos. All of these changes are done on the Avatar Editor which is found inside the Character Menu. If you want to make a mesh avatar, you will need a third-party tool such as Mixamo and Blender.
Mixamo is an online app that provides lots of premade rig templates: just upload your own image and it will automatically generate the bones required to animate your avatar. It costs between $19 for one template and $69 for a pack of 5. Blender is a free, open-source tool that can be used to rig your custom image and animate it in 3D space. The advantage of using Blender is that you have total control over the rigging process, but takes more time to learn how to use.
How to make an avatar for vrchat
The first thing to do is choose or create an image for your avatar, then upload that image to Mixamo. After the process finishes click on the “Apply button” on top of the screen, this will generate a new page with all of your animation controls ready to go. Once done, download and install Blender if you haven’t already, open it and go to File > Import > Rig from Mixamo (.mixamo file).
After the rig is imported you will see a couple of things on the screen: The first one is a list with all of your animations, each animation has an ID that corresponds to a bone in the rig. In my case I have 7 child bones of the root bone. The second thing are the controls for each one of my animations, they will appear on Editable mode or Pose mode. Display mode can be used to change how your avatar is displayed in-game. As you can see on the image below Blender lacks some features so you have to download and install Mixamo Studio to be able to use it properly.
Avatars come in handy when playing games like vrchat, it allows us to be more social and gives the chance to see other people’s creativity. Mixamo Animation Editor and Blender are two tools that can be used to create and animate avatars for vrchat, both of them have their advantages and disadvantages but learning how they work is the first step to create your own avatar.