This is a tutorial I wrote in April 2009. Just to have all of these things in one place, I’m copying it over to this blog 🙂
On one of my last pictures i have been asked how i cut out the hair so great and if i can make a tutorial. Well i admit that on the said picture i cheated with cutting of much of the hair and replacing it with some tricks but only because my usual trick to cut out hair off the background including the wisps did not work (my model was moving *lol*)
So i decided to show you in a tutorial how to work with the annoying wisps in Second Life hair and erasing the background without much efford. It works with alpha maps (those tell your Photoshop where it should be transparent and where not) and with making that alpha map directly in Second life. And no worries it is MUCH easier than it sounds in the introduction 🙂
Alright let’s go. (When you need bigger versions of the pictures, just click on them 🙂 )
The First part is strictly Second Life work. I cannot guarantee that is works in SL 2.0 because i don’t use that viewer. You need a Windlight supporting viewer (You do not need to be able to see windlight, my graphic card can’t but it still works because we are working with the light not the rest of WL)
1. Go to Advanced -> Rendering -> Features -> and uncheck flexible objects
That will make everything that is flexi stiff and it won’t move in your picture which is very important for this method.
2. Put out an object, a plain plane behind you and make this one full bright. (This will be important for step 5ff)
3. find your pose and camera angle you want
4. Make the picture with the light you prefer. (the background color doesn’t matter at all at this point) Do NOT change your camera view or pose now. (I know it is not the best but enough for this tutorial *g*)
5. If your background Box has been colored before change it to white NOW. Keep it full bright.
6. Then Go to world -> Environment Settings -> Environment Editor and play around with the light and such to make everything very dark. The only thing that should be white when you are done is the plain fullbright plane behind you, the rest has to be black. (These are my settings which work fine for me)
7. Make the picture
Okay that’s it in Second Life. You should now have a colored picture and a black/white picture.
You can turn your flexi on again btw *winks*
Now start Photoshop. I use CS2 but it should work in the other versions as well i hope 🙂
1. Load both and bring the colored one in the foreground.
2. Now to be able to go on, you need to do something:
At the side you see the box with the layers. You can see that there is a little lock behind the writing “Background” that means we cannot really work with that. But no panic that will be changed quickly.
– Doubleclick on the layer in the layer box and you will get the “New Layer” popup window i circled in red. There you can either give the layer a name, change blending mode, opacity etc. or just click OK. I just click OK and “unlock” the layer with that, which means that we now can work with it.
3. We are going to apply a Layer Mask to the layer. This will tell your photoshop where this picture has transparency and where not without that you need to use the eraser. The good side of that is, that you can change this layer mask anytime without the need to repaint or undo anything, you can just paint over (that is for a different tutorial but it’s way way better than erasing, promise 🙂 )
For that you click on this little button down in the layer-box (the one with the red circle)
You now see there is the colored photo and a white box next to it, this white box is the alpha layer. Since it is all white that means all is visible. (On a side note: Black makes it completly transparent, grey is semi transparent)
4. Now comes the fun part, how to add the black/white picture we made to this layer mask. No worries it’s easy.
You can see in the layer box, next to the “layers” tab is a tab called “Channels”. Make sure your “Layer Mask” (the white box next to your picture) is the marked one.
5. Then change to “Channels” there you can see a RGB, Red, Green and Blue channel (no worries if you only see RGB, it’s fine we don’t need the other channels 🙂 ) AND a white channel called ‘whatever you called your layer’ Mask (Here Layer 0 mask).
6. Change to the black and white picture and make a copy in your clipboard (first select all with ctrl-a and then copy with ctrl-c) Change back to your colored picture where you are still on the channel tab. Mark the white channel-layer to make sure that you put it in there. Then paste your black/white image that you have in your clipboard in (you can do that with crtl-v), and you should have this:
But you may ask ‘Why did it delete me? I cannot see me anymore?’ Yes, that is correct, no worries, we are going to change it right now 🙂
7. Change back onto the “Layer” Tab. Now you can see that the Layer Mask, next to your colored picture isn’t white anymore. You should still have the layer mask highlighted and with a simple key-combination (ctrl – i ) we are going to invert the mask. Do it and you will see that the background vanishes and you are going to appear again. Voila.
Now if you think you are done let me show you something that we still have to do. You cannot see it here because of the transparent background but look what happens when i put a solid background behind me:
This Halo around the hair isn’t nice. But i promised you it is not difficult to make a perfect cutout and keep the wisps. So i’ll show you how to do that 🙂
8. Add a colored background so you can see it yourself (make a new layer and fill it with the paint bucket), THEN make sure you have the layer mask selected, because we are going to work on that now.
9. In your menu-bar go to Image -> Adjustments -> Levels (Or hit Ctrl-L)
10. You will get a new window with some new stuff in it. We are focussing on these:
The three triangles change the intensity of black, white and grey levels of a picture to make things darker or brighter. In this case we change the bright halo into something darker so it becomes invisible (we remember black = transparent)
For this picture it is enough to take the middle triangle (the grey) and bring it closer to the white one. You can see in your picture how it affects the halo play around with it. If it does not work enough try to move the black one a bit until you are satisfied, then hit OK. The result you can see here:
11. Put the background you want behind you and you will see perfect ‘cut’ wisps, no halo or background noise from your original background.
Voila you are done!
Hope it was helpful, have fun making pictures with perfect hair *G*