My friend Sere asked if I could give her some tips and tricks for improving her picture editing and I thought that it might be fun to put together a little primer and share it here too. If you guys like this kind of post, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to make it a regular thing (and also thank Sere for getting me to actually do this lol)!
Before I begin, let me just clarify that I’m not the best photographer/editor that SL has to offer. Not by a long shot. A lot of the time, it’s an enormous challenge to replicate an effect I achieved in one photo again in another. I use the trial and error method and rarely can I even remember how I got a picture to look a certain way. Alas, my editing has improved VASTLY since I first started taking photos in SL, so I figure that any knowledge I’ve gained is worth sharing.
|| THREE VERY IMPORTANT THINGS:
(1) Your video card can make an enormous difference. If you’re just starting out and you have a crappy video card, don’t be too hard on yourself. The cleaner your raw snapshot is, the better your end results will be. I’m working with duel video cards, one of which is a new, gaming-friendly GeForce. I am super lucky to be able to run SL on ultra quality, with all shadows and shaders active while cycling through windlights. This is an example of my raw snapshot quality, straight from SL:
So, one of my biggest editing secrets? LETTING MY LAPTOP DO THE WORK. lol
(2) LAYERS. ALL THE LAYERS. I will have anywhere from 10-50 layers when editing a picture. Every time you add or edit something, create or duplicate the layer. Every strand of hair goes on it’s own layer. This makes it SO MUCH EASIER to fix or change things as you go along. Since Photoshop will only save x amount of steps in your history list, this enables you to go back as far in the editing process as you want/need.
(3) SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! After every few edits you make, save you picture. I usually end up with a set like: WIP1, WIP2, etc .. saving new files as I go along. Again, this makes it so that if you see something isn’t really coming out the way you want, you can start from a previous point in the process instead of ALL THE WAY AT THE BEGINNING.
|| GETTING READY
The first thing you should do is find the pose and location you’ll be using for the shot. Get into position before turning up your graphics and shadows because you may experience lag once you do and that just makes everything much more difficult. Two really helpful, must have tools for me are AnyPose Expression and Pose Anywhere. AnyPose is FREE on the MP and will change your expressions, hand/finger positions and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, set your eyes and keep them from moving all around the place. Pose Anywhere is $649L on MP and it’s basically a hud that allows you to store all your poses in it. You can pose yourself or another model anywhere, even sims where you can’t rez. I’m sure there are other versions/brands of this, but this one works great and is super awesome for keeping all my poses organized and easy to use.
For preparing your photos, you want to put your graphics up to the highest setting that your computer will allow. You also want to go under Graphics >> Hardware Settings and set your antialiasing to at least 4x. The higher you set it, the more lag you’re likely to have. You’ll also need to relog in order for the antialiasing change to go into effect. Under the “Advanced” menu, check off where it says ‘high-res snapshots’ and also ‘quiet snapshots.’ Then, when you’re ready for shadows, you want to enable “Advanced Lighting Model,” “Shadows from Sun/Moon/Projectors,” and “SSAO and Shadow Smoothing.”
|| NOW YOU’RE READY TO TAKE YOUR PICTURE!
Find the windlight setting that you like, and take a snapshot. I like to take my snapshots at 4324×2259, but your graphics card may not be able to handle taking them that large, in which case you’ll freeze or crash. Remember that the bigger your raw shot, the easier it is to edit the tiniest imperfections. You’ll likely be cutting and shrinking your end product anyway. For the purpose of this tutorial-thing, I’ll be shrinking down my photos so they don’t stretch your screen lol.
Here’s what I’m starting with:
So, yeah. Ta da!
|| REALLY REALLY BASIC IMPROVEMENTS
There are a ton of things you can do now and, really, it’s all up to you. Since I probably do any number of about 50 different things when I edit a photo, I’ll just start with 2 basic ways you can instantly improve your pictures.
1. DIFFUSE GLOW. This just adds some depth to your photo imo. Play with the settings to get drastic vs. less drastic results, depending on what you like 🙂
*** MAKE SURE WHEN USING THE DIFFUSE GLOW FILTER THAT YOU SET THE GRAININESS TO 0!!! ***
2. LIQUIFY. Some parts of you body are going to look a hot mess. Depending on the pose, you may have more or less hot mess parts. Generally, shoulders, elbows and calves are the worst. SL’s avatar physics tend to make these areas look really jagged and harsh and BAD. Liquify can help you fix this by making things look soft and round and natural! I didn’t have too many really obvious problem areas in this photo, but I still cleaned it up a bit. I circled a few of them to show you. You can find “Liquify” under the filter menu, near the top. Make sure you change the brush size to fit the size of the area you’re working on. This will take some practice.
So, there are some quick, easy ways to improve you photos for editing!
Next time, I’ll show you an in-depth look at editing close-ups including how to use the blur, dodge and burn tools!
Let me know if this was helpful or if you have any other questions! If you tried anything that I covered, I’d love to see your results, either by commenting below or tagging me on Flickr or Facebook! 🙂
Also, let me know if you’d like to see more posts like this and, if so, if there are any specific things you’d like me to cover!