Showing posts with label Tutorials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tutorials. Show all posts

Adding Multiple Landmarks To A Second Life Image With Gimp

Happy Hippo Building School SL-Inspiration YouTube Channel Ivory Tower Library Of prims Linden Dept of Public Works Portal Park

This is an update to an older SL-Inspiration tutorial called Adding Multiple Slurls To A Second Life Map, and is intended to accompany the video tutorial on the SL-Inspiration YouTube Channel. The information here is added to support the video, and to show a working demonstration of how the landmarks added to the image work.

To try out a landmark, click on a section of the image above. Each section is clearly labelled with the name of the Second Life destination. If you are already logged into Second Life clicking on a landmark will open the Places Profile window for the destination. If you are not logged in, clicking on a landmark will open your viewer.

Try out the above landmarks then consider how something similar might work for visitors to your blog or website. How to set this up is shown in the video tutorial which you can see here, or you can view the video at the bottom of this page.

If you find the tutorial on YouTube useful, help us by liking it and subscribing to our brand new channel. Your support means a lot and will help us to keep producing video tutorials, as well as more posts here on the blog.

About The Landmarks

The information below describes the landmarks added to the image above and is taken from the Second Life destination guide.

Happy Hippo Building School

The Happy Hippo Building School is a long-term, well-respected and large school. The instructors provide a building course to take you from absolute beginner onward.

Ivory Tower Library of Primitives

This self-guided, self-paced, comprehensive building tutorial also includes a weapons testing area and safe sandboxes where you can try out your newly-acquired skills.

Linden Department of Public Works

Meauxle Bureaux is the home of the Linden Department of Public Works, a program focused on improvements related to the experience of living in and visiting the Linden Mainland. This intricate build was lovingly crafted by resident experts for all to enjoy, so come see the ultimate in shared creative spaces!

Portal Park

The Portal Park is your launching pad to several great experiences in Second Life. Start here for easy access portals that will teleport you to Winter Wonderland, The Cornfield, The Wilderness, Linden Realms and more!

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How To Remove The Background From An Image Using Gimp

In an earlier tutorial I explained one method of removing an image background using Gimp, and here I'll show an alternative way of achieving the same result. Although this is a quick and easy way of removing the background, the quality of the final result may depend a lot on the image you start with. For instance, it is best to start with a large picture and resize it later. As a guideline, the image I used for this tutorial was 3000 x 3000px. 

One more thing to keep in mind with this method is, you'll need to start with a background that has an even, uniform colour rather than something scenic. There is also a video version of this tutorial at the bottom of the page for those that find videos easier to follow. Now to get on with the tutorial

1/ Open Gimp and load the image you want to work with.

2/ From the Toolbox panel select the Colour picker (the eye dropper icon), then click on the background of the image. 

3/ Under the Toolbox icons there are two overlapping squares, one black, the other white. As you selected the background colour from your image, the upper square now will show that colour. Click on this upper square and a window similar to the above will open. Drag your cursor over the HTML colour notation and copy the six digit number. You can now click on OK.

4/ In the image window select Colors > Color to Alpha and a window similar to below will open.

The colour to alpha default is white so we want to change it to the background colour of the image. To do this click on the white area in the window, which will bring up another window, as below.

5/ In the HTML notation area of this window paste the number you copied earlier. The result should be the background from the image becomes transparent.

As you can see from the above image this process removes the selected colour from the entire image, and not just the background. However, we can re-add that colour to the subject.

Re-Adding Colour To The Subject

6/ The first step we now want to take is to give the subject a solid appearance. This will make the colours seem very wrong but right now thats not important. Make sure the layer is highlighted and hit the copy button  (the icon third from right at the bottom in the image above), several times. For this image I created a total of nine copies. 

7/ For the last two layers click on the eye icon to hide them. Now place your cursor over one of the visible layers and hit the right mouse button. From the drop down menu select Merge Visible Layers, (Its towards the bottom of the drop down menu). In the window that opens click the  Merge button. 

You should now have three layers, and in the image window a rather discoloured looking image.

8/ Ensure the Merged layer is the active layer. Right click on it and from the drop down menu select Alpha to Selection, (see image below).

9/ Now create a new layer by clicking on the first icon below the layers window and create a transparant layer. Make sure this new layer is now the active layer. The merged layer can now be deleted.

In the Toolbox panel you should see that the active colour is still the background colour we just removed from the image. Select the Bucket Fill tool highlighted above. Now click within the outline you'll see in the image window to fill it with the colour.

In this example I wanted the filled colour to be as solid as possible, so I created copies then merged them, following the same process we used earlier. We should now have three layers: the layer filled with the background colour, and two layers of the subject.

10/ Now make one of the hidden layers visible by clicking on its eye icon in the Layers Panel then move it above the filled layer by using the green arrows just below the layers area. Right click on the top layer and from the dropdown menu select Merge Down. You should now have two layers.

Removing Remnants Of  Background Colour From The Image

Once the background has been removed you may still see around the subject a slight outline of the original background colour, but the next few steps will fix that. The image should still have a selection around it (the dotted line) and we'll need this. If however you've already hit Select > None, just create another alpha to selection using the same method you did earlier.

11/ From the image window menu click on Select > Shrink.

12/ The small window that appears allows you to shrink the selection area by a given number of pixels. In this example one pixel should be enough, but this may be different for your image, so a little trial and error may be needed. After you've chosen the amount of pixels to shrink the selection by hit the OK button.

13/ Now go back to the Select menu and this time hit Invert from the drop down menu. This will mean that everything that was outside of the original selection is now selected. Hit the Delete key on your keyboard to delete the selection. Any unsightly outline to your subject containing the background colour has now been deleted.

Touching Up The Completed  Image

This is essentially all that is involved in removing the background from a Second Life image, but you may find there are still some areas that need touching up. In this example, looking closer at the hat feather shows that it still contains the green from the background. In the next few steps we'll see how this can be fixed.

The following images have been given a white background to make them clearer. When you follow these steps however, the background in the Gimp image window will have the checkerboard background that indicates transparency.

14/ From the Toolbox Panel select the Eraser tool, then in the image window zoom into the area you want to work on, in this instance its the feather. Carefully erase the feather trying to keep a clean outline to the hat.

15/  In the Layers Panel hide the layer with the erased feather by clicking its eye icon, then make the remaining layer visible and ensure it is now the active layer. From the Toolbox select the Paths tool as shown above.

16/  In the image window use the Path tool to create a path around the feather, clicking your left mouse button when you want to change direction, and finishing where the path began. From the bottom half  of the Toolbox Panel hit the Selection From Path button and the selection should turn into a line of what is known as marching ants, (it will essentially look the same as the dotted line from the earlier alpha to selection we made).

17/ From the image window menu hit Select > Invert and then hit the delete key. The area you originally selected should be all you see of the layer. You'll see the colour of the feather should be quite clear, but to give it more strength you can create a copy of the layer and merge them both.

18/ In the Layers Panel place the feathers layer below the subject layer then merge them.

Although this process may seem quite involved, this  is in fact a very quick and dirty way to remove a background from an image, although bear in mind the image will probably need working on afterwards.

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Machinima Basics

This tutorial is for those who have seen machinima created within Second life and would like to learn how to get started. It covers how to set up the Second Life viewer in preparation for starting to record, and then offers links to other (mostly free) resources to help you record and edit your movie.

What is Machinima?

Machinima is often associated with video games and refers to  video captured within a game. It also refers to video captured in virtual worlds such as Second Life where it often takes on a life of its own, and has become an art form in its own right

About The Slideshow

The slideshow tutorial is best watched fullscreen by clicking here. It can also be downloaded for future reference as a PDF file by clicking the cog wheel icon and selecting 'download as PDF'.

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Creating Glitch Art With Second Life Images

One of the current trends in digital art is the intentional corruption of image files to simulate interferences, or a broken image. Rather than throwing one's arms in the air in frustration at a corrupted file, glitch art embraces these errors and turns them into art. This is of course possible to do with images taken in Second Life, and if you'd like to turn your preciously refined snapshots into a different kind of art form thats all the rage, then follow this tutorial on creating glitch art with Second Life images.


To create your glitch art you will first need a snapshot saved as a BMP file and edited to your liking. Secondly you'll need to install Audacity, which can be downloaded for free by following the link. Although Audacity is an audio editing software it works well for opening BMP image files and using its features to add errors to the image.

I took the above image at The Great Fissure in Second Life, which I then cropped and tweaked a little in Gimp. Once you have downloaded Audacity follow the steps below. You can click on the pictures to see full size.

1/ Start up Audacity then select File > Import > Raw Data.

2/ Navigate to the BMP image you want to use then select Open. In the window that opens (see above), select U-Law from the first drop down menu and Little-endian from the second. Now click Import.

3/ The image will appear in Audacity as if its an audio file, and if you want you can press the play button to listen to it (it will probably sound terrible). Drag your cursor over part of the 'audio' wave (highlighted in red), avoiding the beginning as this contains important information that allows the file to be opened.

4/ Now click on the Effect menu and from the drop down list select one of the editing options. There is some trial and error here to find which of the Effects options creates distortions to the image that you like.

6/ In this example Change Pitch has been selected and in the opening window shown above I randomly played with the settings before hitting OK.

7/ Drag your cursor over another section of the 'wave' to select another part of the file, and then select another option from the Effects menu. In this example Wahwah was chosen. When you have tweaked the settings hit OK again.

8/ Select random parts of the file and then select other options from the Effects menu. Its probably best not to do this too many times to begin with, until you have an idea how the image will be affected. There will be some trial and error involved, although the whole process doesn't take too long, so creating new images from scratch if you need to isn't too time consuming.

9/ When you are ready, select File > Export and the window above will open. Name your file and give it a BMP extension, highlighted in red. Navigate to the folder where you want to save your image and click Save.

12/ If everything has gone to plan you should see a window as above. Click Yes.

13/ The above window will now appear. Click OK and your image will be saved to your PC.

This is how the image from Audacity looked when I saved it to my PC. Sometimes when you try to open the image in Window's image viewer it may not recognise the file. If this happens try opening it in Gimp or Paint and saving it again, maybe as a PNG file. Sometimes unfortunately you'll just have to start again.


Using Audacity is not the only way to create Glitch art. In fact there is an online resource at which can be used to further work on an image after exporting it from Audacity, or the website can be used by itself. The above image shows the Audacity image after being worked on further at Snorpey.

Using the website is quite intuitive. First you'll need a PNG or Jpeg image to upload (not a BMP file this time), and then its a matter of adjusting the four sliders above the image to get the result you want. There is also a Randomise button to experiment with.

Once you have finished editing the image hit the download button and then click on 'download bitmap file', to save it to your PC.

The above image shows the same subject edited entirely on  Snorkey without using Audacity. Although the website is very effective and easy to use, the end results are different to what Audacity produces, so it will be a personal choice what you use and whether you mix and match both approaches.You may also find Snorkey has a limit on uploaded file sizes.

Thats all there is to creating your own glitch art, so have fun experimenting with your Second Life snapshots and if you feel like it do share them with me online.
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Second Life Photography Basics

I have been asked once or twice about how to take Second Life photographs, and whilst I consider myself far from an expert I decided it may be worthwhile creating a tutorial that at least covers the basics.

By following this slideshow anyone new to Second Life photography will be able edit settings in the Preferences window to enhance snapshots, then get the best configuration in the snapshot window, and finally learn some basic editing in Gimp.

Although you won't be an expert photographer by reading this tutorial, hopefully it will help to improve your snapshots and provide the essentials on which to develop your skills.

For those keen to become an expert Second Life photographer I would strongly encourage you to join the Facebook SL photography groups available, as well as Koinup.

For a larger view of the slideshow click here, or for full screen click the four headed arrow at the bottom of the slideshow window. The slideshow can also be downloaded as a PDF file.

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Creating Animated Gifs With Second Life

In a recent post I described how to create animated gifs for Second Life and how to add them to a prim. In this follow up tutorial I will explain how animated gifs can be made using the basic features of Second Life. The results can be very similar to those created in 2D or 3D software, but will take just a fraction of the time.

What you choose to turn into an animated gif is really up to your imagination, but I have chosen to use for this example a quite simple item constructed out of a number of flattened and hollowed cubes, designed to imitate an animated gif that might be created in 2D software.

There are two principle ways of generating animated gifs in Second Life. The first is to use the lightweight and easy to use program called Gifcam. The Second is to use video capture software and Gimp with its GAP plugin.

If you need to, you can click the images here to view full size.


Gifcam is a very handy free utility that will create an animated gif from any movie or animation on your screen, and is very easy to use. You can get the software here. Once you have set up your creation in Second Life ready to turn into a gif, follow these instructions.

1/ Start up Gifcam and it should show on top of your Second Life viewer. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the edges of Gifcam's image window to frame the item you have created.


2/ Click the down arrow to the right of the Rec button and select a frame rate for your animation, (see image above).

3/  Click the Rec button to start recording your gif. Try to start and end at the same place in the animation of the object to allow smooth looping of the final gif animation. 

4/ Click the Rec button again to stop recording.

5/ Click the down arrow next to the Save button to see save options, and select what you feel is best for your gif animation. As this example is mimicking the optical illusion of flat white squares rotating I have selected Monochrome, but if you aren't sure what to select stick with Quantize.

6/ Click Save, name your gif and Gifcam will start to process your animation. Once its finished your gif will be created and saved to your hard drive. You can view it before uploading it to the web with Quicktime.

7/ If you are happy with your animated gif then you are finished, but if you feel it needs tweaking Gifcam has a few built in options.

8/ Click the down arrow next to the Rec button and select Open and load your gif animation. Now click the Edit button. A new window looking similar to the above will open. Don't worry if all the frames in your gif look green here.

9/ Using the slider to the bottom of this window you can scroll through the frames of your animation. If you want to delete some frames from the beginning scroll through to the last frame you want to delete. 

10/ Right click your mouse and from the drop down menu select Delete From This Frame To Start

11/ To delete frames from the end of the animation scroll through to the first frame you want to delete, right click on your mouse again and select Delete From This Frame To End. These two steps are a quick and easy way of ensuring your animation loops seamlessly.

12/ Now save your animation again and you are done.

Alternative Method

As you can see creating animated Gifs with Gifcam is quick and easy although there are a few downsides. The finished animation may not be as crisp as you'd like, and if you intend to add it to a prim face in Second Life this will become more obvious, since gifs tend to run slower once added as media on a prim.

The alternative method is more involved but on the whole produces better quality gif images. There are three stages to this method:
  • Capturing the animation. For this you will need video capturing software such as Fraps. Its not free but is relatively inexpensive.
  • Video converting software. You will need to convert the video captured in Fraps to an MP4 file. The best free option I have found for this is WinX Video Recorder.
  • Converting the MP4 into a gif animation. For this you will need Gimp installed, along with the GAP plugin, which can be downloaded here.

Capturing The Animation

1/ Position your camera in Second Life ready to begin capturing the animation or scene (or whatever the subject of your gif is).

2/ Start up Fraps and hit the F9 key on your keyboard to begin capturing. Press F9 again to stop recording.

3/ Your video will automatically be saved to your hard drive. You can now close Fraps.

Converting The Video

1/ Start up WinX Video Converter and then click the Video button to the top left. Navigate to where your video is located on your PC and open it. WinX should now look something like the image above.

2/ You can tweak the quality of the converted video by adjusting the slider in the smaller window. When you are ready click OK. Now hit the Run button. It shouldn't take too long for WinX to convert your video to an MP4 file.

Converting The MP4 File To An Animated Gif

1/ Start up Gimp, and assuming you have the GAP plugin installed select Video > Split Video Into Frames > Extract Videorange. A window similar to the above image should open.

2/ Click on the button to the top right and navigate to your MP4 file and open it.

3/ Click on the Video Range button and the window will extend as above. Move the slider at the top right of the window all the way to the right. If a window opens offering you the libavformat option click OK to accept.

If your MP4 is quite large it may take a while for all of the frames to be loaded, so its best to be sure they are all there before moving on. You'll be able to tell because of the number of frames. If it seems low, wait a while.

4/ Set the Audiotrack option to zero.

5/ Click the button just to the right of Basename and navigate to a folder where all the frames of the animation will be stored. Its a good idea to create a folder specifically for this before you begin.

6/ To the right of the window tick the Loop and Selection Only boxes.

7/ To the top right, just under the slider there is a window that shows the number of frames of the video. To the right of that is a button. Click it so that all the frames are selected. To the top left you should now see the From Frame box set to 1, and the To Frame box set to the last frame.

8/ Click OK.

9/ Now select Video > Frames to Image and wait whilst Gimp proceeds. When this step is complete Gimp will open a new image window and you will see each frame of the video loaded as a layer in the Layers panel.

10/ Since Fraps captures the entire screen the frames will need to be cropped. Drag the Rectangle Select Tool over the part of the image you want to keep, then select Image > Crop to Selection.

Its just as well to keep this step in mind when you're capturing the video with Fraps in Second Life, because if you zoom too closely to the scene or the object the animated gif will be too large, but if you zoom out too much it will be too small.

11/ If the frames are too large you can now scale the image by selecting Image > Scale Image.

12/ You can now view what your animated gif will look like by selecting Filters > Animation > Playback.

13/ If your animation doesn't loop seamlessly you can work out here which frames to delete by using the Step button. The area below the view window will show you what frame is presently being viewed. If this is the frame you want to start on, make a note of it. 

You can follow the same process to find the last frame you want to end with. Both the start and end frames should be a very close match in appearance for the animation to loop well. Once you know the start and end frames, you can delete the layers of the frames you want to get rid of.


14/ Your Gif animation is now ready to be exported. Select File > Export As  and name your animation with a gif extension:
A window similar to the above will open. Tick the As animation and the Loop forever boxes and then hit the Export button. It may seem as if Gimp hangs at this point, but be patient and it will get there.

Your animated gif has now been created and you can view it in Quicktime before uploading it to the web.

This is the animated gif I created using this method, and it pays to compare it to the gif created with Gifcam. Whilst the shapes are better defined here the white isn't as pure as with the Gifcam example. Also the animation is a little slower.

Adding Your Completed Gif Animation To A Prim

There are pros and cons to both these methods of creating animated gifs. Whilst the first is quick and easy, the second tends to produce a higher quality image. 

If you're not too concerned about image quality and intend to add your gif to a prim face then using Gifcam will probably suit you. However, if you want the best quality gif then using the Fraps and Gimp method is probably better. If this is what you decide then you may find you need to tweak the animation along the way. 

Since gifs can run slower in Second Life you will have to keep this in mind and be prepared to adjust things like frame rates, the delay between each frame and the size of the image. It has to be said there is a certain amount of trial and error to get an animated gif to look just right within Second Life. In the final analysis however, Second Life is a good tool for creating animated gifs, and they work very well on a webpage.

You can see a few more examples of animated gifs I created in Second Life on my other blog,

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