SL Profile Tips Part I

RAWR!

That means hello in dinosaur language!, now that we know each other, lets get down to business.

I’m going to be posting a series of articles to give you hints and tips of how to do some of the stuff I do in my profile pictures, some of it you might already know, but in the heart of making this as friendly and easily for anyone, I’m going to try to go through most of it, even when I know posting everything would take a long time, but if there’s ever a subject you struggle with, let me know and i’ll expand on it!

Image

The above image is an example of the editing I’ll try to explain here, in a brief description (left to right):

  1. Base SL picture: That’s a no edit sl picture, the base so you can compare
  2. Stage 2: it takes a long time to get there, and i’ll spend most time in this to walk you from 1 to 2, most everything you see here is done with painting
  3. Last two are with adjustment layers, i’ll show you some of these and how they can enhance (and sometimes break) your picture, 4 is the first, and then 3 is lowering the effect, it’s usually a matter of preferences on them.

Right so lets start with the basics, you’ll want to take a High res picture, pick a nice pose, and either a good background or a green screen, I won’t get into those much here since I do believe there are other posts that cover that. In short, get the least amount of things to fix in sl, it will save you hours in PS. That being said, any picture can be good, so long as the base is solid, which is why I’ll be doing this with the following Pile Up, I didn’t take this picture or chose the settings or shadows, but I’m going to try to recreate some of it’s effects, that way if you can’t take a high res pic in sl or you have a bad one, you can see if you can save it.

Profile_001

There’s going to be some notes in all pictures, it’s what i wrote along the way, some might be helpful and some utterly random, click to enlarge in all if you want.

First order of business! Liquify, I show some of the common areas you need to look, i know most already do this so it’s no news, but one thing that i do want to mention is that i always duplicate layers, and keep the saved in case i forget or miss something, I have it there to fix quickly and not have to redo the whole thing. Oh and when you crop your pic at the start, try to envision a 4:3 ratio, follow photography rules of making 3 by 3 squares in your mind and placing your picture avoiding the center, it creates a better image usually, or it’s easier to do this way, but always go with what looks best in yours.

Profile_002

 

So I made this quick tutorial once of how to get rid of green screens, but in case you get edges like above, or in case you don’t have that tool in ps, or just because you don’t want to find it again, here’s another way:

  1. You need to get rid of the whole green around, just leave the bits you can’t select
  2. Pick a color from the hair, something neutral or closer to the color of the edge of it
  3. Draw a halo around the hair in a new layer (v. important!)
  4. Hold your ‘alt’ key and click between both layers, you’ll see a white and black circle in your mouse when you hoover over the correct place, this will create a clipping mask, welcome to the mask world, you’ll be using them often.
  5. You can change the blending mode to color, or use a normal one, whichever works best, blonde’s and blacks are hardest, red, brown are easiest, anything else i don’t even remember! (I use color blending mode for this example)

Profile_003

 

Here’s a look on my layers so you don’t get lost, yo can see the clipping mask with the arrow down and how the hair looks after i do that, also how i duplicate and create layers for everything. I have all layers saved so if at any point you want me to go into detail tell me and i’ll post a mini picture to describe it.

004

Next very important thing, smudge or smooth the sl weirdness, the better your quality ad zoom the least you’ll have to fix here, basically try to get rid of anything that looks pixelated, you can put back the details yourself but you need a clean base to work with. The smudge tool is that little thing that looks like a finger in your tools, if you have a good computer you can get away with a huge size, but for me 100 is usually where PS starts lagging, find your computer limit and smudge away, I use intensity of 32% usually, lower if you want it smoother, higher if you want to do something similar to liquify.

005

 

You can see what I smudged in the last pic, one huge thing is, if you have sl lines, and you did a green screen, don’t use the method where you select the whole line and fill it with content-aware that will mess up the transparency, you can smudge these lines easily imho. Here’s your first decision:

Smooth skin or not?

This is going to affect heavily on how you do other things later on and how your picture will look, you can go the in between and kinda do kinda not do, its up to you…

Smoothing: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8059/8166055590_d020387a49.jpg ; I decided against it on this tutorial, simply because it is less effort to smooth it, so i’ll go with the more complicated part here, but for now this is it for part I, I’ll post part II in a couple days, so you don’t get annoyed of me!.

Next up is going to be mouth, eyes, nose, and eyebrows, take a look at some pictures in flickr and try to see what they do, deviantart is always good as well!.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions, and I’ll take those in consideration for the next post too.

Oh yeah, Happy Valentines!

Depth of Field Tutorial 2- Faking It!

Hi! Ok, so I wrote a DOF (depth of field) tutorial a while back, and one thing I have heard is that some people just don’t have graphics cards that can handle DOF. If this is the case for you, fear not! You can add depth to your photos by using Photoshop. It’s actually really easy and there are tons of ways to accomplish this effect. I am going to show you one of these ways. Stay tuned for other techniques in future posts, and feel free to share your own!

First, let me tell you that I am using Adobe Photoshop CS3. Second, let me tell you that I am NOT an expert. This is just one method I use. There are tons of methods, and lots are probably better than mine. I only hope to be helpful to my fellow SLers.

Ready? Let’s go! (All photos can be clicked to view larger.)

I will start with a photo that I have already begun editing. I have gotten rid of the lines, used liquify and smudge tool, and applied levels and color effects to get the look I want. To make it easier, I have flattened my image so that we are beginning with one background layer.

First, you’ll want to duplicate this layer. Right click on “Background” and a menu will pop up. Select “Duplicate Layer” from the menu. 

(Feel free to name this layer anything you want. I am feeling lazy, so Background Copy works for me. We will only be using two layers for this method, so it’ll be pretty easy to keep track of the layers without using descriptive names.)

Now you have two layers.

Making sure your “Background Copy” layer is highlighted, go to the top of your screen to the menu bars and find “Filters.” When the menu drops down, select “Blur,” then “Lens Blur.”

This will bring up a new window.

Use the “Radius” slider to achieve the amount of blur you would like for your photo. I put mine at 20. Then, press “OK.”

Now, you will have a blurry photo on your screen. Don’t worry. Again making sure you have the “Background Copy” layer selected, click the icon at the bottom of the Layers panel that looks like a rectangle with a circle inside.

A blank rectangle will show up in the the “Background Copy” layer. Click the white rectangle.

Then, go to your tools menu and select the Brush Tool.

I use the Basic Brushes, and I set the opacity at 50% to start. You can use whatever opacity allows you to get your desired effect.

I also keep my brush soft, because I don’t want any hard lines.

From your color picker, choose black as your foreground and white as your background. We’re ALMOST ready to get this show on the road.

NOW, just paint the black onto the areas of your photo that you’d like to have sharp.

What you’re basically doing is hiding, or “masking” parts of the blurry (Background Copy) layer, so that the sharp Background layer shows through. It’s SORT of like erasing, but the awesome part is that if you make a mistake, you just switch to painting with white and you can paint over the black to modify your mask.

If you click the little eye next to “Background” in the Layers panel and hide the Background layer, this is what you’d see:

Notice how some parts are more visible than others. I changed the opacity of my brush at times to mask the blurry layer a little more or less.

Here is my finished product (click to view larger):

I hope you have fun trying this technique! Any questions, comments, or suggestions are welcome!

Top: Tres Blah- Half Tucked Tee
Shorts: Mon Tissu- Cuffed Denim Shorts
Boots: Leverocci- Range Boots
Headband: ur.favorite.one- party in ur badroom
Hair: Burley- Julia
Skin: Glam Affair- Giselle
Shape: Mine
Pose: Don’t Freak Out!
Location: The Pixel Bean