Second Life/Second Life Architectural Building Tutorial

Welcome. This is a tutorial for learning how to build in Second Life (SL). Second Life is a internet based virtual world. You can create a personalized "avatar" and use that "person" to travel around the Second Life world, to interact with other avatars, to build things and to teach things to others.

This tutorial is designed for architecture students who have not used Second life before, but may use it as part of their studies and profession. In this lesson you will learn how to log in to SL and how to use the most common building tools now available in SL. These include how to move around, change your view, create objects, position objects and edit objects.

To learn these skills you will first view a video showing some of the advanced things that can be done in SL and then follow a text-based tutorial that will guide you through creating your first object in SL, a simple building. Once you have learned how to do this you may wish to learn more things on your own in Second Life.

Get started Edit

  1. View this 90 second video to give you an idea of how some architects are using SL. (This video should open in a new window or tab, when you are done watching it close it to get back to this page.)
  2. Complete this pre-instructional survey to help us understand what your internet and SL experiences have been so far.
  3. Now you are ready to create an SL account and begin the Tutorial that will enable you to build your own structure.

Create an Account Edit

  1. Open a new browser window and go to
  2. Click on the orange "JOIN NOW" button in the top left of the screen.
  3. Follow the registration instructions:
    1. Choose "Skip This Step" at the bottom of the Select a Community page.
    2. Enter the basic details requested on the sign up page.
      • Avatar Name, first and last. This will be the name people in SL know you by. It can not be changed, so choose wisely.
        • Short is good
        • If you want people to know who you really are use your real first and last name as your SL first name and pick a short last name (i.e. Jun or Hax)
        • Check if name is available
        • Date of birth (must be over 18)
        • Email for verification of account
    3. Select an Avatar.
      • Your avatar is your virtual body. Select the one you want to look like. You can always edit this later.
    4. Welcome (Final Details).
      • This is all the standard stuff.
    5. Upgrade to Premium.
      • Skip this step
    6. Download.
    7. Select the version for your operating system
      • You should know how to install downloaded software on your computer.
      • If not get some help from a friend who knows how to do this..

Download and Install Second Life Client Software Edit

  1. Download the client
    • This should open a second browser window so you can see both this Tutorial and SL at the same time. If this does not happen automatically you may need to open a New Window manually.
    • Follow the instructions on the website to Install the Second Life Client.

Go to our Outdoor Classroom Edit

  1. Go to
  2. Click on the orange 'teleport now' button.
    • This should open the second life client. You may have to click on "Launch application" and ignore the "loading" message.
  3. Type in your Second Life first and last name, and password in the bottom left of the Second Life screen.
  4. Click "Connect"
    • Wait while SL verifies your protocol, logs you in and connects you. Be patient. This may take some time.
    • After Second Life finishes logging you in, you should be in the classroom.
  5. If you see a map instead, you have to click on the "teleport' button in the bottom right corner of the map window.

Explore the houses on the cliff Edit

Explore the two houses on the cliff by using the up, down, right, left arrows on the keyboard to move your avitar around. When you are through exploring the house on the cliff... Go to the open foundation and stand in front of it. The foundation is the square slab on the ground between the two houses. You are now ready to learn how to use the basic SL tools.

Create your first object Edit

Right click (apple click) on the ground. This reveals the Context menu Select 'Create' (or click the 'Build' button at the bottom of the screen) (Occasionally SL gives you some tips that you can use or ignore.) This should cause the 'Build" window to appear with the 'Create' button selected. The mouse cursor should change to the "Build" wand Click on the ground in front of you to "rez" (Create) a box. This rezes a half meter square cube with a plywood 'texture' The box starts off in 'Edit' mode. This is shown by the 'Edit' button being selected in the 'Build' window By default the 'Position' tool is selected. The mouse has has four directional arrows next to it with red, green and blue "Position" handles

== Move, rotate, stretch and drag objects. Move the box in all three directions using the "Handles" by clicking the arrow head to move the object along that axis. each color corresponds to an axis (red(x)= east/west, green(y)= north/south, blue(z)= up/down) Rotate the box by holding down the 'Control' key or select 'Rotate' from the 'Build > Edit" menu. The "Handles" change to allow holding onto a ring to rotate around each axis. Stretch the box by holding down "Control + Shift" (or select "Stretch' from the Build > Edit menu) and changing the dimensions of the box in all three directions. Drag the object by grabbing the grey Handles and resizing the box proportionally. Practice all four tools (move, rotate, stretch and drag) on this box until you are comfortable with using these tools

Control the Camera Edit

While you are working you may want to change your view. While you can use the arrow keys to walk around and do this, there is another way that many find easier and more useful. This is done with the camera controls. Go to the 'View' menu on the top of your screen and select 'Camera Controls' to bring up the camera control window. (It may be hidden off screen so you might have to drag it into view) Rotate the camera view by clicking on the arrows in the left circle to rotate the camera view. Zoom the camera view by clicking on the '+' and '-' signs to zoom the camera view in and out. Pan the camera view by clicking on the arrows in the right circle to pan the camera view 1. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts to control the camera as instructed below: Zoom the camera by holding down the 'alt' key and use the mouse click to zoom (up and down) and pan (left and right) Rotate the camera view by holding down the 'alt' and 'control' keys and use the mouse click to rotate the camera view. Pan the camera view by holding down the 'alt', 'control' and 'shift' keys and using the mouse click to pan Practice using the camera until you are comfortable with using the camera. 1.: If you can get used to the keyboard short cuts it will make building much easier.

At his point you have learned the basic tools to build objects and change your view as you are building.

Play with these tools until you feel comfortable with each of them before moving on to the next step.

Start Building Edit

Delete any object you have created up to this point Delete an object by going to the Edit mode. Right click (apple click) on an object and select 'Edit' or click the 'Edit' button in the build menu. Hit the Delete key (not the backspace key) or right click (apple click) on the object and select 'More' and then 'Delete'. Create and Position a new box. Go to Build and clicking your mouse on the ground. With the Build window open, click on the 'Object' tab. If the object tab is not visible, click the 'More' button to expand the Build window. Click on your box to select it for editing. Find the Position and Size cells on the left Enter the x,y,z coordinates for Position and Size. This will position the box on the platform and size it for your house. The Position should be:

x = 145m
y = 230m
z = 24m

The Size should be:

x = 5m
y = 5m
z = 2.75m

Hollow the box and create a door. Open the "Build" window and click on the 'Object' tab in the build window. Type "95" in the 'hollow' input field and hit the Enter key. Use the up and down arrows on the 'Path Cut' section. Enter a Begin (B) value and an End (E) value to make an opening in the wall for the door. Create and Position a roof. Select the 'Create' button and select the pyramid prim (3rd from the left). Change its size and position so it looks like a roof to your building. 6m x 6m x 2m works well Enter the same x and y position as for the walls you made.

x = 145m
y = 230m

Even though the roof has a larger footprint, SL will center it on the position you enter Use the 'Position' tool for the z axis to slide the roof to a position slightly above where you can see the wall protruding though the roof. Congratulations! You have not completed a basic structure in SL. Walk around and inside the structure to see how it looks and feels.

Apply texture Edit

You may have noticed that your building is not as pretty as the one next to it. This has a lot to do with the textures. To add textures to your building. Select the wall of your building and click on the "Texture" tab in the "Build" menu. Click on the Texture thumbnail on the left. This will open a new Texture window. Browse the window on the right to Library > Textures > Altoll Textures You will see a lot of the textures you can use for your sample building. Find the "Altoll Shack Wall1" texture or try different ones to see what you like. I suggest using one with windows in it like "Altoll Shack Wall1." Select the roof of your structure Select a roof texture.

Congratulations! You have build your first building in Second Life. Please help us with improving this instructional model by taking this exit survey.

Notes Edit

  • Rez = Create.
  • Prim = A single shape.
  • Object = One or more shapes linked together.
  • Position = move. Use the Edit > Position tool instead of the move tool for better accuracy and control.
  • Texture = An image applied to the surface of an object and does not have any dimensional texture to it like ruff or bumpy.