Photography 101: Singin’ In The Rain

Rain is ugly in SL. Let’s face it. No matter how hard people try, rain particles and emitters never look quite good enough in photography for my taste.

This is a simple 5 step guide on how to create rain with nothing but Photoshop! That’s right, no brushes and it’s incredibly easy. I mean, if I can do it, anyone can do it.

1. Make a new layer

After you’ve opened your picture in whatever Photoshop you use (I’m out of date and use 7) go up to the toolbar and create another layer.

2. Fill and screen

From now on, we’ll be working with the new layer. Leave the background alone! In that new layer (make sure it’s the new layer and not your picture) auto-fill it with black and set the layer type to screen.

3. Add noise

Go up to the filter tab and to the noise option. Click add noise, and in the window that pops up, fiddle with your settings, though make sure the monochromatic box is ticked, otherwise your rain will be coloured. The amount of noise you do dictates how fat and distinct your rain will be.

4. Blur that shit!

In the filter tab again, this time go to the blur option, and pick motion blur. In the window, fiddle with the settings again. The angle is the direction of the rain, and the distance of the pixels is how long the raindrops will be,

5. Adjust the levels

Last step! Go to the images tab and under the adjustments option, pick levels. In the window, move the black arrow (one furthest to the left out of the three) to about the middle of the bulge. This simply makes the rain stand out more.

6. Make it pretty

After you’ve added your rain, do whatever other effects you want to; have fun with it!

Getting the Most out of Your raw Shots

Hello, everyone!  I have had quite a few people ask me how I get such good shadows for my shots on my blog posts, so I have decided to show you all a little trick that makes a big difference!

I take photos in SL Beta Viewer.  I strongly recommend you click here for Strawberry Singh’s explanation on how to make sure your pictures come out perfect while using it.

Once you have your dimensions, resolution, and graphics settings squared away, you may notice that the windlight setting you are using is really great,  but needs a little tweaking to make it fabulous.

tutorial 1_002In this tutorial I am using Holy Romance by Torley.  It’s not in beta viewer yet but you can download and install windlights as you see fit.  Click here to learn more about how to download and install windlight settings. Here is my raw shot from before I edited the windlight.

Step 1: Open your environment settings so that you can make changes to your windlight.

Tutorial1

Once you open up edit preset, you should have a box pop up.

tutorial 2

Step 2:  I usually do not play with the “Atmosphere” or “Clouds” tab. The “Lighting” one is where you will find ways to edit your windlight so that it looks better for your picture.

Tutorial4

The boxes in the green circle allow you to change the tint of the sun or moon and also what sort of tint your shadows will have.  The slider in the red oval will move the sun’s position according to what time of day you would like it to be.  And lastly, the slider in the blue oval allows you to customize the angle of the sun or moon so that it can cast better light on your avatar and create better shadows.  By using the sliders in the red and blue ovals alone, I was able to create the image shown below:

tutorial 1_004

So there you have it!  That is how I create great shadows on my blog post photos and get the most out of my raw shots!  Of course, it may not look as good if you are on a computer that has difficulty with ultra graphics.  I hope that this article has been of some help to you, and happy blogging!

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!