Second Life Image Editing Pt1

Second Life Image Editing Pt1

March 24, 2012 |  by  |  photo editing, tutorial

Hi folks! I’ve recently posted up a video on Flickr showing a quickie on the kind of editing I do on my pictures. With that in mind I wanted to do a few more challenging images with complicated editing to make a series of SL image editing tutorials.

Keep in mind, I’m not a pro with editing images, I always kinda… mess up, undo and figure things out. The biggest tip I can share about photoshoping is really – practice! I’ve been DIY-ing with Photoshop for years and years now… so all it takes is patience and just that. With Secondlife shots is that everyone has their own unique technique. You might like to shoot with shadows and then edit from there, you might like to green screen or take the full image in world. Whatever your method is, I hope this tutorial helps you somewhat!

The first series of this tutorial is me giving you basic instructions on photoshop and some tips I’ve learnt along the way. The actual image editing will be highlighted more in future tutorials.


That’s the final sped up video for the shot. It combines all elements taught underneath this post:

In-World Settings

Firstly, when it in-world settings. I always get asked what settings I use and I kinda think the only advantage I have is that I can actually save a pretty sick large image. Aside from that, my settings are fairly low:

Click Image for Larger View


Render Quality : Low
Honestly… since I so rarely take shadow shots, there’s really no reason for me to bump this any higher than a medium.

Shaders
I turn all first 4 shaders on, so I see the glow of certain objects, and… I get bump maps if I have them set on walls etc.

Sliders
LOD of Objects on max, Avatars and Flexiprims on max as well.

Post Process Quality
That is also on high.


Hardware Settings
If you’re taking a shadow shot, I would suggest keeping this at 0px. Apparently the Anti Aliasing causes lines to appear when you take big huge shadow images. At low, 8px or 16px it really doesn’t matter. In fact, occasionally I forget to turn this on, because the image size is big, resizing it in Photoshop automatically gives it an anti alias.

Advanced Menu
On my advanced menu I set High-Res Snapshots and Quiet snapshots to disk, cause I’ll drive everyone on the sim insane if I left it on.

Snapshot
When it comes to saving your photos to disk. I always make sure it’s a .png or .bmp so none of the quality of what you see on screen gets sacrificed or botched during the saving process (which jpg tends to do).

Size wise, I always end up resizing (all these numbers corresponds to width) my final images to about 1000px or even 800px, so I technically can work with anything from 2000px and up. But I usually keep my photoshopped photos on hand for memory, so I like to take them from 4000px to 5000px with constrain properties checked.

And that’s all there is to it with SL Settings!


Photoshop Basics!

So there are some tools in Photoshop you should know. I personally think knowing these makes everyone’s lives easier no matter if you’re using it to create second life clothes, texturing or blogging etc.

Shortcut Keys


If none of your PS Default Keys are changed, these should be the same:

B = Brush Tool

E= Eraser Tool

[ or ] = makes brush size bigger or smaller

Alt or I = Dropper tool, used for selecting colors

Ctrl + S = Saving, which you should do every 10 minutes or so

Ctrl + Z = Undo! Something I wish RL has in general…

Ctrl + C = Copy

Ctrl + V = Paste

Ctrl + T = Free Transform *Great for doing shadows on ground!*
The 2nd last block of tips in this post shows how this is used

Shift + Drag = from 1 document to another, doesn’t change the positioning of what you’re moving/dragging.
(You should try this cause my explanation probably doesn’t make any sense)

Space Bar + Drag = Moving yourself around the document

Pentool

I can go on FOREVER about the pen tool… I love the pen tool and everyone should really really learn it. Illustrator pen tools are a lot more advance, photoshop just uses the most basic pen tool ever. I use this for selecting/cropping/getting rid of stuff and all kinds of things. I would say google some pen tool tips and learn this tool, because it is hella useful and so much more control friendly than any selection tool out there. I’ll cover this more in another tutorial when I actually use it more in editing.

Layer Modes / Blending Modes

I can’t stress how important it is for you to know your layer modes, or at least the very basic few. I assume you do know what Layers is for and how to create new ones. If not please do open up google and find out. So so sooo important D:
I never use dodge and burn if I can help it, just because the color controls on those 2 things are insane. Once you over burn an image, there’s hardly anyway to save yourself (same for dodging) so always use the layer modes to add shadows or light into your image. I’ll explain more in other tutorials though…


Normal
Is exactly what it says, all new layers (unless you duplicated a layer that has a different mode) begins with normal.

Multiply
This is what I use mostly to add shadow layers. Multiply uses the color information of your layer choice and multiplies the layer underneath it with those colors. If this layer was completely black, your image becomes completely black. If you used white, the layer underneath is unchanged.
The “light equivalent” blend mode is Screen

Look at the below pictures for examples of when this kind of blending properties can be useful! Click them for a bigger image!



Soft Light
Soft light can either darken or lighten an image depending on what you’re using. If the color is lighter than 50% grey, it dodges/lightens the layer underneath. If the color is darker than 50% grey, it burns/darkens the layer underneath. This however does not produce a pure black or pure white. Think about this as adding a diffused light to your image, which is why I use this a lot for adding highlights.

Image of how Soft Light works, lines gradient from White to Black


Overlay
Overlay is quite like soft light, but harsher – it can produce pure black or pure white at certain combinations. light can either darken or lighten an image depending on what you’re using. If the color is lighter than 50% grey, it dodges/lightens the layer underneath. If the color is darker than 50% grey, it burns/darkens the layer underneath. At the same time, this filter tries its best to preserve the highlights and shadows of the initial base layer.

Image of how Overlay works, lines gradient from White to Black


Color Dodge
Color dodge brightens the layer underneath with the properties of the layer on top. However instead of just adjusting colors, it also adjusts the contrast. So if you’re using black, there is no change on the image. But if you use white, it’s contrasted so brightly it becomes pure white. Grey just does a middle contrast. Any other bright colors does what white does, but it’s also tinted with that color.
The “dark equivalent” is Color Burn

Color
It basically uses the color of your current layer and changes the hue and saturation of the base/under layer. So lets say your base layer is a gray scale image. Using this function allows you to add color to the gray scale without losing its shading.
Occasionally, using lower opacities for this allows you to effectively blend your avatar to the background better. The last block of this post will show you an example of what I did.

If you’re interested in knowing more about blending modes, I suggest going to Photoshop’s Help area (F1) to read more about it. If not, just play around with it and experiment. Knowing these would help you a ton!


First Step: Background

In terms of backgrounds, I’m not great with taking in world shots and even if I do I like to keep a green screen copy so its easy to select just the avatar out of the background to edit it. There are several ways to go about doing backgrounds, and these are some methods I like to use:


SL Images
Take a shot in world as a background, when you’re taking in world environment shots. Try to take a few different angles; you never know which ones work best. Even the tiniest shift makes a huge different.

One place I LOVE is going through this particular flickr group: SL Stock Images
If you ever need an inworld background, likely you can find a ton of stock photos in there. If you’re not a member, definitely join it and use their resources! Remember to credit where credit is due!

Stock Photos
Never ever – please don’t ever google an image and use it as a background. I know its one of the easiest methods but truly as much as we’re all condoning of copybots… this is really the same. Google doesn’t have a copyright filter so the stock images you find there are most likely owned by private individuals.
http://www.everystockphoto.com
http://sxc.hu
Are 2 great free stock websites. I own accounts in various stock photo sites to use for schoolwork etc, so if you’re thinking of doing serious photo manips for clients, I’d suggest doing so too.

Prepping a RL Stock Image

I might do a more extensive tutorial on this, but a really basic trick that I learnt a while back on how to make a stock image seem more SL – or at least more hand drawn or cartoony.


Step 1
Fit your background image to your document, in this picture here we haven’t edited its colors or modified anything yet. Duplicate this layer to add Step 2′s effect.


Step 2
Go to Filter > Stylize > Find Edges
It will produce this effect below, basically adding a coloring book like edge to your image.


Step 3
Put this Filtered layer as a soft light or multiply at 50% opacity. It’s a very subtle effect (depending on your opacity level) but it kinda does the trick in making it look cartoony. And I like that edges of certain areas become a lot clearer.

^AH! that top image should say soft light 50% not multiply 50% -_-” the below is multiply 50%



Green Screening

What most of us call Green Screen is actually called Chroma Keying or Chroma Key Compositing. It’s a technique used for layering 2 different images above one another seamlessly. We take a color uncommonly used to place behind our avatars so as to easily crop that out, in most cases this bright neon green — hence why its termed Green Screening! There’s a dozen tutorial on how to green screen properly. Do whichever makes the most sense to you. Ultimately I use 2 methods for something basic like SL, and I’ll show you guys both of them.

First Method: Green Screen & Edge Editing

I use this method either when I’m desperately in need of full control of all edges of the avatar. Which either means there’s a ton of colors or elements in my background image.


Take your Green Screened Image, and click Select > Color Range…

A Color Range box pops up and your cursor immediately turns into a dropper. Click on the green area and increase the fuzziness to as high as you can without affecting the main image. This is easy to set high if there is absolutely no green within your shot, if not your number might be a lot lower. Seeing some things within my image is sheer, I don’t mind the fuzziness taking away some of the green on those sheer elements.

Make sure the Invert checkbox is ticked.

Note: To see what you’re taking away or editing, change the Selection Preview to either Matte White or Matte Black — test this out and you’ll see what I mean.


A selection would have been made once you click ok. Ctrl + C to copy that and Ctrl + V to paste it on a new layer. Place a White background underneath this layer.

At this point your image should still have green edges around you, and mostly around alpha-ed areas like hair. Right click your pasted object layer and click Select Pixels. Go to Select > Inverse to inverse that selection.

Press the delete key 1-2 times and it’d have cleared quite a number of your green edgings.



For the leftover green areas we can clear it out by painting them away. First off, lock your current layer by clicking on the button (in the layer panel) next to Lock. When locked, your layer should have a little lock symbol next to it. This means you can paint on this image without worrying about going out of the lines.

Press your ‘B’ key to head to paintbrush mode. Change the Blending Mode of this brush to Color (like in image below).

Use the dropper tool to select a color you wish to paint the green areas with and just paint over. As you can see in the image some areas have been painted, and some of the sheer areas are still showing up as green. Keep painting over till there’s no more green!


Second Method: Shortcut Green Screening

Most of the time I use this 2nd method, since I use solid colors for background. In the case of this image, the background is so bright that I can use an all white background to speed up by Green Screen process.


Instead of taking 1 Green Screen Image, take that PLUS one more same image, no change in angle or anything. This time, set the background to White or whatever solid color is most prominent in your background.

Place this 2nd Image (with the other color background) as a layer UNDER your Green Screen image.


(Same as above Step 1)
Take your Green Screened Image, and click Select > Color Range…

A Color Range box pops up and your cursor immediately turns into a dropper. Click on the green area and increase the fuzziness to as high as you can without affecting the main image. This is easy to set high if there is absolutely no green within your shot, if not your number might be a lot lower. Seeing some things within my image is sheer, I don’t mind the fuzziness taking away some of the green on those sheer elements.

Make sure the Invert checkbox is ticked.

Note: To see what you’re taking away or editing, change the Selection Preview to either Matte White or Matte Black — test this out and you’ll see what I mean.


A selection would have been made once you click ok. Instead of Copying and Pasting from your Green Screen layer, go to the layer UNDER that with the other colored background.

Ctrl + C to copy from that and Ctrl + V to paste it on a new layer. Hide all your other layers and this is what you should get:

A very quick short cut of how to crop your avatar out!


Free Transform Tool

I didn’t actually use this tool in this image to add a Shadow, but this is super useful!


After you have your avatar entirely edited, or at least Green Screened and taken out from your background. Duplicate a 2nd copy on a new layer and Lock it.


Go to Edit > Fill, the fill will be what your current dropper color is selecting. Or you can click the menu buttons and pick from a few default. I always kinda use Black or Dark Brown for Shadows. If you have locked your layer. It should show up this way:


Press Ctrl + T or go to Edit > Free Transform. The area now has a square bounding box around it, use that to resize the image (Press Shift and then resize will constraint its ratio). Or right click and click Skew – and every corner you click, you can kinda… skew the shadow. Experiment to understand this better!


Blending Mode: Color

Remember earlier when I mentioned the Layer Mode/ Blending Mode color? Here’s an example of how an image looks with and without the color blend:


So this is the image without color blend, the avatar is a peachy color, very different from the background and kinda seems very clear they were taken on 2 different occasions.
(Image should NOT say Color 30%… my layers are messing up on meh D:)

Right click the Layer with your avatar and click Select Pixels.

Go to your background image, Ctrl + C Copy the background and Ctrl + V Paste the copy above your avatar image. Adjust it so it fits perfectly right above your avatar image.
The image below is a sample of what you should have copied out from the background.


Set that copied background Blending Mode/Layer Mode to Color and change the opacity to 30%-50%. Immediately the avatar takes the color properties of the area you copied out and blends it a little better.

Take note, this works because our background is a mass of stars and what not – there is no specific shape or buildings etc – so this technique works. If you have buildings, trees etc, using this technique will make this very very odd.

Final Image Combined All Tools:

I hope those tips worked out for you! If you’re interested in seeing the full video of my process in editing this image, do go right ahead and view it. Its at a really high speed but it uses most of the things I’ve highlighted at the above!

Credits

Songs:
Owl City’s “Alligator Sky”
Swimming With Dolphins’ “Silhouettes”
Cider Star’s “Northern Lights”

Outfit:
Skin: My Uglydorothy
Hair: Boon
BodySuit: Ooh La La
Top: Caverna Obscura
Wings: europa



12 Comments


  1. Cracked Mirror

    Wow, very helpful, the green screening thing especially! Thanks for the cool tips :D

  2. I lovae this, and you are so talented, thank you for mentioning the Second Life Stock Images group in your tutorial too, it was so important to me to make such a group, and I love that people have been using it and really enjoying it ♥

    xoxSasyxox

  3. I love this, and you are so talented, thank you for mentioning the Second Life Stock Images group in your tutorial too, it was so important to me to make such a group, and I love that people have been using it and really enjoying it ♥

    xoxSasyxox

  4. What a FABulous tutorial, Anya! You put so much work into this and anyone at any skill level can appreciate it <3

  5. Domitalia JInx

    This is a wonderful tutorial Anya! I agree with Rainey, people at all different levels can appreciate and learn from this tutorial. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together!

  6. Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I love the shapes you use! Do you know where I can buy them?

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this! Super helpful and I always need the help :) )

  8. So beautiful!! I’ve been doing green screen every so often, but I always end up with some green still. I’ll have to try your way next time! I simply love your work on this. My jaw dropped when I saw the final image. <3

  9. Thank you so much for this! I’m just learning to take quality images on SL for Fashion Blogging, and this is super helpful! Thank you!! You’re images are so beautiful!

  10. Awesome! Its genuinely amazing paragraph, I have got much clear idea
    concerning from this post.

  11. MarillaAnne.Slade@gmail.com

    What a beautiful gift this tutorial is. Thank you.

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