Showing posts with label Avatar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Avatar. Show all posts

How To Remove An Image Background Using Gimp

How To Remove An Image Background Using Gimp

There are a number of ways to remove the background from a Second Life image using Gimp, but the method I will show here is possibly the most effective. Once you have the image saved to your PC  the rest is quite quick and easy. This tutorial will also be helpful in demonstrating to a Gimp novice just how effective layer masks can be.

Before we begin to remove the image background however, we first need to do some preparation for taking the snapshot in Second Life.

Taking The Second Life Image

Before taking the image there are a few steps we need to take:

1/ Choose a neutral background for your avatar to pose against, such as one with a single, even colour. This will make it much easier to remove.

2/  Position your avatar on a modelling poseball, ie, one that will keep your avatar completely still. 

3/ Position the camera ready to take the snapshot. It is important not to move your avatar or the camera until the steps below have been followed.

How To Remove An Image Background Using Gimp: configuring settings

4/ Open up the preferences window by pressing CTRL-P then under the graphics tab deselect Local Lights, Basic Shaders, and Atmospheric Shaders. Click OK to close Preferences.

5/ From the screen menu click on World > Environment Editor > Sky Presets > New Preset.

How To Remove An Image Background Using Gimp: Environmental Editor panel

6/ Towards the bottom of the panel, move the Gamma slider all the way to the left. Enlarge the image above to get a clearer view if you need to.

How to remove an image background with Gimp: settings

Your screen should show look something like the image above, with your avatar silhouetted against a white background. 

The setting you have just created in the environment editor will be useful for every snapshot you take and intend to remove the background from, so give it a name and then save it.

7/ Take a snapshot of the monochrome image.

8/ Now restore the daylight setting back to default, and re-select the lighting settings under Preferences.

9/ Take a snapshot of your avatar, remembering not to move the camera position.

Once the snapshot has been taken, you can hop off the poseball and move the camera. You should now have two snapshots; one that is a monochrome image similar to the one  above and another of your avatar in the same pose as the silhouette.

Removing The Background In Gimp

Now that you have the two images to work with, the rest is quite straightforward as Gimp will do the hard work for us:

1/ Open the image of your avatar in Gimp and then add the monochrome image as a layer (File > Open as Layer).

2/ You can crop the images if you want by using the Rectangle Select tool to drag a border around the portion of the image you want to keep, then selecting Image > Crop Image to Selection.

How to remove an image background with Gimp: Inverted image

3/ With the monochrome image the top layer, and the active layer select Colors > Invert. The silhouette should now be white against a black background.

How to remove an image background with Gimp: Adjusting brightness and contrast

4/ Now Select Colors > Brightness-Contrast, and in the panel that opens move the contrast layer to the right until no detail can be seen within the white outline of the avatar. Click OK.

Adding A Layer Mask

How to remove an image background with Gimp: Adding a layer mask

5/ In the Layers panel, right click on the top layer (which should be the monochrome layer), and from the drop down menu select Add Layer Mask. This should be about half way down the menu. From the window that opens select Grayscale copy of layer. Click the Add button.

6/ In the layers panel, right click on the monochrome layer again, and this time from the drop down menu select Mask to Selection.

How to remove an image background with Gimp

7/ In the image window click Select > Shrink. In the Shrink Selection window type in '1' so that the selection will shrink by one pixel. This is to (hopefully) ensure the avatar image won't have untidy edges when the background is removed.

8/ Now hide the top layer in the Layers panel by clicking on the eye icon to the left of it, and make the avatar layer the active layer.

Right click the avatar layer and from the drop down menu select Add Layer Mask. The Add Layer Mask window will open again, but this time choose Selection and click OK.

9/ In the Layers panel create a transparent layer by clicking the icon below and to the far left of the layers. Then use the green arrows to place it below the avatar layer.

10/ Right click on the avatar layer and select Merge Down from the drop down menu.

How to remove an image background with Gimp: Image with background removed

The avatar image should now have a transparent background, with the original background removed. You can now add any background to the image you like.

How to remove an image background with Gimp: Image: Image with replaced background

In the example used here I added a gradient on a new layer as a background image for the avatar. Then with the avatar layer the active layer I selected Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow, to create the shadow effect.

Once you get to grips with these simple steps, removing the backgrounds from your Second Life images will take no time at all. However, this technique is limited to those snapshots you know in advance you will be removing the backgrounds from, so a few basic preparatory steps need to be taken before taking the snapshots.

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How To Do A Quick Avatar And Clothes Change in Second Life

Some  Second Life residents like to change their avatar quite often, whilst others like to change their appearance for special events by wearing novelty avatars or themed outfits. Rather than changing from your usual avatar to a new one, one item at a time, there is a way of doing this very quickly:

How To Do A Quick Avatar Change

1/ Find the folder containing the new avatar skin, shape etc in your inventory.

2/ Hover your cursor over the folder and hold down the left mouse button.

3/ Drag the folder onto your avatar then release the left mouse button.

4/ The new avatar skin, shape and anything else in the folder will now rez onto your present avatar.

Changing Back To Your Usual Avatar 

To quickly change back to your usual avatar skin and shape you will need to put everything you normally wear into one folder. This is so you can drag it onto your avatar. The kind of things you want to add to this folder include your usual
  • skin
  • shape
  • eyes
  • hair base
  • hair
  • shoe base with matching shoes
  • a set of clothes
If you do not add clothes to this folder, when you do a quick change your avatar will be naked. Adding clothes will mean you can do quick changes safely in a public area.

If your usual avatar came with a number of shapes, or you have edited the shape you normally wear, it is a good idea to give it a name that will allow you to identify it from other shapes before you take it off.

Other things you may want to add to the folder might be jewelery and any huds you wear.

Creating A Folder For Your Usual Avatar 

1/ Open your inventory and pick a standard folder such as the Body Parts or Clothing folder.

2/ Right click on the folder and from the drop down menu click on New Folder.

3/ Give this new folder a recognizable name so you'll know what it contains.

4/ Now find the folder that contains your skin and shape.

5/ Open it and find the skin you wear. Right click on it and from the drop down menu select Copy.

6/ Go back to the folder you created for your skin, right click on it and from the drop down menu select paste. Your skin will now have been copied to this folder.

7/ Follow the steps explaining how to copy and paste items in your inventory until your new folder contains everything you need to do a quick change.

8/ Now that this folder contains everything you usually wear, every time you want to change back to your preferred avatar skin and shape etc, you can simply drag the folder onto your avatar.

Remember to add a set of clothes to the folder or you will be naked when you change back to your usual appearance.

 Creating Outfits

You can see from the image above that once you have clicked on 'Copy' you are given the choices of either pasting the item to a folder, or 'Paste As Link'. Paste As Link is preferable because it allows you to add the item to different folders. 

Pasting as a link allows you to copy and paste items of clothing to a folder to make up an outfit. The same item of clothing can then be pasted to different folders and can be used in a number of outfits. 

If you scroll through your inventory you will find a folder already named 'Outfits'. By following the steps above, you can build up an outfit by:
  • creating another folder within the Outfits folder,
  • giving it a name so you know what the folder contains,
  • copying an item of clothing from a different folder,
  • pasting it as a link to your new folder.
Once you have created a folder with an outfit you can again drag the folder onto your avatar and thereby do a quick change.

Using Two Inventory Windows

If the idea of copying an inventory item from one folder then scrolling to find another folder to paste it in seems confusing or at best tedious, you can instead use two inventory windows; one to copy from and the other to paste to. To open a second inventory window:

1/ look at the bottom left of your inventory window where you will see a cog shape, (click on the image above to enlarge it).

2/ Click on this which will open a drop down menu.

3/ Towards the top of this menu click on 'New Inventory Window'

Now your screen will display two inventory windows.

Learning how to do quick avatar changes can save a lot of time instead of adding one part of an avatar piece by piece, or searching through your inventory to find a particular item of clothing. Some residents also find it fun to create outfits for themselves. Once you give it a try you will find it a handy tool.

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