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Simple Photoshop tutorial for tattoo creation

Flugel Flasheart
Registered User
Join date: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 18
12-11-2005 10:24
I'm eager to try creating some tattoos but am lost by some of the threads discussing them in here.

I understand I need to use alpha channels but am not sure whether I need to create a whole new skin or not. Had a quick look in the /program files/secondlife/character folder and found the tgas in there but don't really know which ones to change, if any.

Any help would be much appreciated.

TIA
Amber Stonecutter
Bruxing Babe
Join date: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 296
12-11-2005 10:53
I am not even remotely an expert at this but...

If you just want to place a tattoo on the default Second Life skin all you will need is the tattoo and its alpha channel. Think of it as another clothing layer, when you make a part of an outfit transparent (with an alpha channel) then the skin below shows through. When you make part of a skin layer transparent the default Second Life skin shows through.

If you have a customized skin you will need to place the tattoo on the custom skin itself, as there is no separate skin vs tattoo layer.

From: Flugel Flasheart

I understand I need to use alpha channels but am not sure whether I need to create a whole new skin or not.


Technically it is creating a whole new skin, except that everything that isn’t the tattoo itself is transparent. I'd recommend using Chip Midnight or Robin Sojourner's templates to place the tattoo.

I think the /program files/secondlife/character folder files are strictly for the game itself.
To make an alpha channel with a tattoo image you will need to use a program like Photoshop.

Chip Midnight:
/109/72/40762/1.html

Robin Sojourner
http://www.robinwood.com/Catalog/Technical/SL-Tuts/SLTutSet.html
Flugel Flasheart
Registered User
Join date: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 18
12-11-2005 11:04
Thanks Amber.

I've used Chip's templates for clothing and am not averse to experimentation so I'm sure I'll suss it out with a bit of practice.

Wish me luck!
Amber Stonecutter
Bruxing Babe
Join date: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 296
12-11-2005 11:36
Creating a Tattoo

*Note: The old host of the images erm.. lost my files, if the new images I've uploaded no longer match the tutorial (I've tried to make sure they do!) or if you have any suggestions for improvement please let me know. Thank you!

For those who haven't had as much experience, or those miffed about transparencies I'm going to try to explain further... with pictures! I've never written a tutorial on anything, and had to learn skinning/clothing making with what little skills making sprays for Counter Strike taught me, but maybe this will help someone out?

I'm using Adobe Photoshop CS2:



I've used the above template made available by Linden, because I do not have permission from Chip or Robin to make a tutorial with their templates. They should work fine for a tattoo tutorial, and they're already the right size for uploading! :D



You can see my transparent tattoo shape in the window behind the template. I've placed the tattoo onto a layer in the template file, shrunk it to a size I like and positioned it between the shoulder blades. The default layer for these templates is "Working Layer".



In this screenshot you can see the tattoo alone. I've simply hidden all layers except for the layer of the tattoo itself. Then I right clicked the layer's thumbnail and selected "Select Layer Transparency". This might be slightly different, or in a different position for those using an older Photoshop, and frankly I liked 7.0's placement better.

"Select Layer Transparency" will auto Marquee any image or images on the layer, ignoring transparent space. This makes it much easier to do the next step, the Alpha.



With the tattoo shape still selected click "Channels" and create a new channel with the "Create new channel" icon next to the little trash can icon.

Hold down the alt key, then tap the delete key to create a "Fill". Your tattoo shape should now be white, don't worry it hasn't changed the image!
Amber Stonecutter
Bruxing Babe
Join date: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 296
12-11-2005 11:36


Next I created a new layer below the working layer and filled it in with the color of the tattoo, black in this case. This step should prevent that pesky white aura from appearing around your tattoo. Very helpful for people (and rats) with darker skintones.



From here just save the image as you normally would, selecting TGA as the Format.
Make sure the box next to "Alpha Channels" is checked to include your Alpha.



Be sure to select 32 bits/pixel!



Start an image upload as you normally would in game, selecting your new tattoo image.


Preview your tattoo on a male or female upper body (or lower depending on where you placed your tattoo) to preview it before uploading.

The wonky orange/yellow default body will come through around your tattoo if you have created an Alpha layer correctly.
Robin Sojourner
Registered User
Join date: 16 Sep 2004
Posts: 1,080
12-11-2005 12:34
Amber, for your first tutorial, that was great! :D I see a lot more of them in your future.

And I give everyone blanket permission to use my templates in their tutorials. All I ask is that you say that they are mine, and, if possible, include a link to the place on my site where your readers can download them.

You might be interested to know, though, that you can skip several steps in making the Alpha channel, if you are so inclined. Just hold down the Command/ctrl key and click on the layer thumbnail to select transparency. (It works exactly like the command from the contextual menu, but faster.) And, if you simply choose "Save Selection" from the menu at that point, Photoshop will make the Alpha channel for you. No need to go in to the Channels menu and do it manually unless you feel like it.

Thanks again for the wonderful tutorial!
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Robin (Sojourner) Wood
www.robinwood.com

"Second Life ... is an Internet-based virtual world ... and a libertarian anarchy..." Wikipedia
Amber Stonecutter
Bruxing Babe
Join date: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 296
12-11-2005 13:13
That's quite a compliment in my book coming from you Robin!
I've (unfortunately) never taken any Photoshop classes, so I know I've missed a lot of shortcut information over the years. Just moving to CS2 from 7.0 recently stumps me sometimes. That is a very nice tip, and I will certainly make use of it in the future, thank you.
Chosen Few
Alpha Channel Slave
Join date: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 7,496
12-11-2005 17:14
I second Riobin's comment. Great tutorial.

And just so I'm not the only kid on the block without an alpha channel time saver, here's another tip. You don't need to use "Save Selection" from the menu. There's a button for "Save Selection as Channel" on the Channels Palette, directly to the left of the "New Channel" button.
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Lara Languish
Registered User
Join date: 19 Nov 2005
Posts: 3
Great Tutorial
12-13-2005 10:30
It would be even better if I had Photoshop, but I'm using PSP. If anyone can translate this to Paintshop lingo, that would be the tops. :D
Amber Stonecutter
Bruxing Babe
Join date: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 296
02-15-2006 00:37
I've recently gotten a request to explain how to take the tattoo image and apply it to skin or underwear layers. As the old host for the images died (taking my files with it) and I had to re-do them all anyway, I decided to add this part for anyone it helps!

To Create an Undershirt Layer Tattoo:

Undershirt/Underpants are especially useful for people with custom skins who want tattoos that aren't part of their skin, or can't have the skin modified.

Note: At this time there doesn't exist a similar layer for the face, so head/facial tattoos and makeup have to be done as a skin.



First right click yourself and choose "Appearence" from the pie menu.



Next choose "Undershirt" in the clothing category of the Appearences menu. From here click "Create a New Undershirt."



The default undershirt will be white, that's ok because this will change when we drag our tattoo texture (see it to the right?) into the top box "Fabric."



Now that we've dragged our texture over you can not only see it preview in the "Fabric" box, but also see it show up against my back. No more plain white shirt! Click Save As to save the undershirt tattoo.



Here you can see me wearing the new tattoo undershirt on top of my custom skin!
Amber Stonecutter
Bruxing Babe
Join date: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 296
02-15-2006 00:39
To Create a Skin Layer Tattoo:

A skin layer tattoo that makes use of transparency (like the one made above) will allow the user to still be able to play with the default avatar skin options but cannot be worn with a custom skin.



To begin creating a skin layer tattoo start with a new skin.
Right click in your inventory and choose "New Body Parts"-> "New Skin" to create one.



Re-enter "Appearance Mode" by right clicking yourself and choosing "Appearance" in the pie menu. From here select "Skin" under "Body Parts" and drag the tattoo into the box of your choice. Here we used the "Upper Body" section because this tattoo is placed between the shoulder blades.



Again click "Save As" to save your new skin layer tattoo!


Hope this helps someone!
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Amber Stonecutter
Ander Frobozz
Registered User
Join date: 13 Mar 2006
Posts: 6
TGA or TARGA and alpha channels/layers
03-13-2006 17:14
I'm running Photoshop CS on OSX 10.4 and I can't get Photoshop to save or save as a Targa file and keep the channels and layers. The check boxes for these options greyout with a note that says 'File must be saved as a copy with this selection'. Am I doing something wrong did I misread your tutorial?
Robin Sojourner
Registered User
Join date: 16 Sep 2004
Posts: 1,080
03-13-2006 17:49
Amber, if I may cut in here...

Ander, Photoshop does that because you can't have layers in a Targa file. So it's keeping you from accidentally writing over the layerd file, by telling you that you have to Save as a Copy, and disabling the Layers checkbox (since it can't work anyway.)

It does the same thing if you have more than one Alpha channel, because There Can Be Only One in a Targa file.

If you go into the Channels palette, and delete the extras, you'll find that you can save as .tga without problems (although you'll still want to save a copy. If you don't, which is not recommended, just delete the "copy" from the name, and it will write over the file.)

Remember, everyone; if you are saving for SL with transparency, you must have exactly 4 channels; Red, Green, Blue and Alpha. That's what 32 bit means, after all! (Each channel has 8 bits. You can do the math! :D )
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Robin (Sojourner) Wood
www.robinwood.com

"Second Life ... is an Internet-based virtual world ... and a libertarian anarchy..." Wikipedia
Ander Frobozz
Registered User
Join date: 13 Mar 2006
Posts: 6
03-13-2006 20:45
aha! Thanks, I completely understand how this works now. I just need the tat layer and the alpha mask. Cool. I uploaded my new Tat and it looks awesome!! Thanks Amber and robin bothe for sharing the wisdom. Maybe I'll post a link to a pic of my Avatar with the tat later.
Amber Stonecutter
Bruxing Babe
Join date: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 296
03-14-2006 02:05
:) Thank you Robin, I have been away from this thread answering PMs with the same question believe it or not!
Robin Sojourner
Registered User
Join date: 16 Sep 2004
Posts: 1,080
03-14-2006 19:01
I believe it. :D

That's why I ask people to post their question, when they PM me. I figure for every person who posts a question, there are probably at least a dozen with the same question who haven't posted. (Not to mention the ones who just search and find their answers without ever needing to post, much like I do for the Scripting forum. :D )

Posts help the whole community. So if any of you out there have a question, don't be afraid to post it! :D
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Robin (Sojourner) Wood
www.robinwood.com

"Second Life ... is an Internet-based virtual world ... and a libertarian anarchy..." Wikipedia
Amber Stonecutter
Bruxing Babe
Join date: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 296
03-15-2006 02:46
Seconded! The added section about what to do with the TGA after the fact was added because of PM questions.

Always post questions. When you PM someone like myself you get only my knowledge (which is sorrowfully limited). However, if you post you get replies from Robin, Chosen, Chip, and all the other wonderful content creators in the Design forum. :)
Lesean Cheeky
Registered User
Join date: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1
03-23-2006 23:53
hi guys... i've done the steps but when i'm saving the file, i cant choose the save alpha options. Any idea what have gone wrong? Thanks in advance :)
Namssor Daguerre
Imitates life
Join date: 18 Feb 2004
Posts: 1,423
03-24-2006 02:10
bump
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Bella Sillanpaa
Registered User
Join date: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 2
Using PSP9
03-24-2006 12:35
I've skimmed through alot of the replies on making tats and t-shirts for SL but have only found answers with regard to using Photoshop. Is there anyone that can explain IN DETAIL how to do it using PSP9?

I would really appreciate any help that can be given to me. Please either find me in game at Bella Sillanpaa or you can email me at [email]Schiavabella@yahoo.com[/email].

Thank you sooooooo much in advance for any help !!!

bella
Lina Pussycat
Texture WizKid
Join date: 19 Jun 2005
Posts: 731
hmmm
03-28-2006 10:30
Well i teach thru all programs im sorta of a Photo Editing Program connasaur if u will (not sure if i spelled that connasaur word right as english isnt my strong suit yet). I can teach PSP PS PS ELEMENTS as well as some more obscure titles out there that can handle it!! People are seriously over complicating things in alot of the tutorials. While i do charge for lessons as a whole (tattoos/basic clothing as well as future support for any questions arising at a fee of only 250L (one time fee)). My method is the easier one out there developed by myself after countless trial and error procedures. i came up with a way for new players to afford 1 on 1 lessons as 250L is something even they can get even as basic account user. If people would jsut give it the effort they put into other stuff there would be alot more to do in sl
Shadow Trescothick
Registered User
Join date: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1
03-30-2006 13:22
now how about one for paint shop pro lol
Chocolata Oxberger
Registered User
Join date: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 51
There is hope for us PSP9 users
05-10-2006 09:32
If you guys haven't seen it yet, look for the ebooks on making clothing ingame. I can't recall the name of the av selling them, but they have one on clothing and one on tats that is so easy to understand. Very inexpensive too, $100L for each book and they are only for PSP 9 users.
Dartavia Vesperia
Gorean
Join date: 19 Jul 2005
Posts: 150
05-10-2006 10:14
Actually I did a voice chat yesterday on showing how to make alphas in PSP8/9. Very easy, can be done in 2 steps. This is pending you know how to use your program.

    Open/create your image you are going to be working on - edit it accoriding to your design. When you are done with the image, have it on a single rasta layer - name it [b]image[/b].


    Create a new rasta layer - name it [b]alpha[/b], accept defaults (trans background) and then drag it UNDER your alpha rasta later.


    In the layers panel, click on the image layer to select it.


This is the part that makes the actual alpha from the image:
    Using your selection tool > rectangle, drag across the entire image - the 'dancing ants' will appear as a box around the entire image. Left click onto the actual image you made, the dancing ants will 'snap' to the edges of it.


    With your image selected, go to the [b]SELECTIONS[/b] menu, then to [b]LOAD/SAVE SELECTION[/b] > [b]SAVE SELECTION TO ALPHA CHANNEL[/b]. Accept defaults, click OK


    Then name it/save it as a [b].tga[/b] and you're all done!


The key to PSP8/9 alphas is to have a transparent background and only TWO layers, the alpha always being on bottom. When you are selecting the image that you've made, that is telling PSP's alpha tools that's the only part you want visible.

Now, there is an issue with a 'halo' being around the image, which is the faint white line that appears when you upload the alpha to SL. I'll try to explain this best as I can, but never really able to make it crystal clear to everyone

To fix this, flood fill the alpha raster layer with the dominate color of your image. (so if you are making a black tattoo, then flood fill the alpha raster layer with black, etc etc)

Or for better quality, you can paint the alpha layer picking up the colors from the image layer with a nice big paint brush setting (like 20). This is great when you have an image that has many colors that go to the edge of it. Just paint the colors that are on the edge of the image, no need to work on the inner part of the image that won't be 'touching' the edge of the alpha. Once you have this done, flood fill the rest if you like. Start at step 4 and work down. ZOOM IN!! ZOOM is your friend!!

This takes some practice, but when done right you will have a nice clear, crisp edge to your PSP made alpha!

Play around with it, practice makes perfect.
HAVE FUN!
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VooDoo Bamboo
www.voodoodesignsllc.com
Join date: 4 Oct 2006
Posts: 911
Big Thank You
10-07-2006 00:14
WOW! I am new here.... Hello everybody by the way :-)

This is great! Nice job. I am a tattoo artist in real life and I was looking to learn how to bring my designs into the game. This just answered it all for me.

MAJOR big thanks!
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