When I posted this picture on my Flickr and Koinup accounts I was asked "how did I make it?" which was a surprise because I don't think I know much. But I'm happy to share with anyone who is interested in making their own because I look at so many pictures and wonder " how did they do that?", so we all need to share our tips and tricks.
I love these kinds of picture because they seem to bridge the gap between your second life and your first life (RL?). The funny thing is though that this is the second one of these I have done and it was by far the easier to do too. This one that I did was of us on Dunan's bike was my first and I still think it's better.
So how did I do it? I started by reading a few online tutorials and there are a lot out there so if you need more detail than I can give here, then Google is your friend. But there are 3 basic steps:
- Take a suitable picture of your subject
- Do the same for the computer you want the first picture to come out of, and
- Create the illusion. (that sounds better than boring old 'edit the first picture' ).
Step 1. In order to be able to look like it is coming out of a computer screen your picture has to have a subject that has some "length" so part of it can appear inside the computer screen and part can extend out. This is the picture I started with.
That gun is almost leaping out of the screen already :)
It all starts when you take the picture in SL and I've learned some great tips from the experts on Flickr (and in particular from Codebastard Redgrave) on how to take better pictures.
The first tip is to turn off the "high res snapshot" option in the viewer and instead take the picture at a resolution at least 3 times your screen resolution and save it to your hard drive. My monitor is 1920x1200 so I take my pictures in "Ultra" at 5760x3600, but I know Codie uses 6000x4000.
The second tip is never ever, ever, use the default Windlight setting. It's so ugly I wonder why it's even there and the first thing I do when I log on is change it. Here are links to some better ones which mean that you will never need a face light again:http://www.sluniverse.com/php/vb/679110-post88.htmlhttp://alchemyimmortalis.com/windlight/index.html
[Update: Ana Luetetia has made her windlight presets available for download too. Get them here http://analutetia.com/blog/sharing-windlight-presets/
and if you aren't sure what these are - please read this post first (and there are more links to other presets in the comments) : http://faerie-h.livejournal.com/25096.html
So open up your picture in Photoshop and do all your "fixing" - that is smudging and blurring of prim seams, and liquifying any lumps and bumps away, and any other things you want to do to your subject. Do it all before you move on. Then flatten the picture down to one layer and save it.
Step 2 is to get your picture of the computer and do any fixes to it that it needs (I cut mine out away from the background and then put a blank dark background in its place).
It's important that the subject and the computer both face in the same direction but I couldn't find a picture of a computer that faced the same way as my original picture so I went back and flipped my picture horizontally (flipping the computer would have put the Compaq label in backwards).
Step 3 is when the fun starts.
Open the first picture, select all, copy and then close it. (In Photoshop that is Control+A, Control+C, Control+W).
Then paste that picture (Control+V) into/onto your computer picture. I'll call it the "subject" from now on. It's probably much bigger and will completely cover the computer picture so adjust the transparancy of the layer down to about 30% so you can clearly see the computer through this new layer.
Then use Image>Transform>Scale (hold down the shift key to keep the proportions) and reduce the size of the picture (never ever make it bigger) . Leave it a bit bigger than you want it to end up though, because the next step makes it smaller again, and then move it around to roughly where you want it
Now we have to distort the subject picture using Image>Transform>Distort. What we want to do is make the back half of the picture (the bit that will be inside the computer screen) smaller than the front bit that will be sticking out (like a trapezoid shape?) so it creates a sense of perspective. Things that are closer are bigger and get smaller as they get further away.
When it's all where you want it to be, it's time to zoom right in and start cutting away all the parts of the subject picture we don't want. I use a combination of the trapezoid looking tool to cut away straight lines and the eraser tool to erase along curves. Go slowly and take small bits away at a time. Save often! I also use Control+J to make new layers periodically so I don't lose everything when I make a mistake and erase too much.
Then restore the transparancy of your subject layer to 100% and hey presto. But spend some time looking along all the edges to make it all fits together OK.
In the picture of us on a bike, I also drew in some shadows on the keyboard to make the bike look more "real". I just made a new layer and hand painted them in with a big soft brush using the airbrush tool on about 3%.
One more tip - I didn't know where to put this is in so I left it to the end, but a really neat way to sharpen your pictures is using the "High Pass" filter. After you've done all your smoothing and blending and liquifying and any other fixing of your picture, make a new layer (Control+J) and go Filters>Other>High Pass and set the slider to 4 pixels. The result will be grey and weird looking but watch what happens when you set the blending mode to "Overlay". And because it is on its own layer you can erase any parts you don't want sharpened.
Have fun, and please share your tips with me. :)