How To Trace A Bitmap In Inkscape

In an earlier Inkscape tutorial we showed how to use the trace bitmap feature to create a butterfly graphic, so in this tutorial we'll look at the basics of tracing a bitmap in a little more detail. We'll cover how to trace a monochrome image then look at a few possibilities of working with a colour image.

How To Trace A Monochrome Bitmap in Inkscape

Tracing a monochrome image is quite straightforward and takes just a few steps:

1/ Import an image into Inkscape and make sure its selected.

2/ Now select Path > Trace Bitmap.

3/ The above window will open. For monochrome images Brightness cutoff seems to work well. For this option the Threshold can be edited, (highlighted in red). We'll try three threshold settings to see how they compare, starting with a setting of 0.350.

If you'd like to see a preview of the traced bitmap click the Live Preview option (highlighted in blue).

When you're ready click OK.

4/ The new traced bitmap will be added in the Inkscape window and will be placed on top of the original. The new image can be dragged away from the original image.

That is all there is to tracing a bitmap image in Inkscape, however as mentioned above, we can change the threshold setting to see how this affects the traced bitmap.

5/ After setting the threshold to 0.350 then hitting OK, change the threshold to 0.450, make sure the original image is selected and again hit OK.

After setting the threshold to 0.550 again select the original image and hit OK once more. You'll now have three traced bitmaps similar to the above, showing how changing the threshold  alters the tone of each image.

Tracing A colour Bitmap In Inkscape

Tracing a colour bitmap in Inkscape is not too different than tracing a monochrome image, although we can use other settings.

1/ As before import an image into Inkscape then select Path > Trace Bitmap.

2/ Rather than using the Brightness cutoff option we'll select Colors (highlighted in red). With this option we can also select how many times Inkscape will scan the image (highlighted in blue). Here it is set to 8.

When you're ready hit OK.

3/ The traced bitmap will again appear directly over the original image, and can be dragged to the side.

4/ Since we selected 8 scans earlier the new image will be made up of 8 layers. This can be seen by first selecting Object > Ungroup.

5/ Now click away from the image then drag each layer to its own space. as in the image above. You'll see the 8 layers.

6/ A color bitmap can also used to create a monochrome image. To do this we'll select Grays (highlighted in red).

With this option we can again select how many times Inkscape scans the image. We'll leave it at 8.

Click OK when you're ready.

7/ The above image shows the original image with the traced bitmap.

8/ Since the bitmap was traced 8 times it is again constructed of 8 layers. They can be ungrouped as in the color bitmap example.

That is essentially the basics of how to trace a bitmap in Inkscape. There are more settings and options to play with, so feel free to play with them and see what they can do. You won't break anything by doing this.

We hope this has been helpful and if so come back soon for more, and why not check out our YouTube channel where you can also watch a video version of this tutorial.
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Using A Second Life Stream To VJ Live On YouTube

Setting up as a DJ in Second Life is something many residents have done, but what is less common is using a Second Life stream to VJ on YouTube. For those that may not be aware VJ means visual jockey and refers to someone who in one way or another creates imagery to match the music they play. In spite of the lack of Second Life residents who VJ it is something worth learning and maybe bringing in world.

VJ Software

In order to VJ some software is needed. Firstly there is the stream that can easily be rented in Second Life, then there is the software to play the music. All DJs will be aware of these two items but to VJ add to the list music visualisation software and something to broadcast live to YouTube. 

One last thing you'll need is a verified YouTube account that is registered for live broadcasting, which usually takes about 48 hours to set up. To start go to your YouTube account and click on the movie camera icon and select Go Live, then follow the instructions.


There are many music visualisers available, some free and some commercial, but a good starting point for a new VJ is the free Plane9, and for that reason we'll be using it for this tutorial. Plane9 is intended as a music visualiser for music played on a PC but when used with broadcasting software its possible to connect it with YouTube Live. Also, Plane9 can act as a screensaver for those that like such things.

OBS Studio

OBS Studio, or Open Broadcaster Software connects to the music visualiser then streams the imagery to YouTube. As with all software mentioned here, there are alternatives to OBS Studio, but since its free and works very well, this is what we'll be using for this tutorial.

You may have noticed that there are two streams involved here, one for the music and another for the imagery. OBS Studio could be used to stream both but in order to stay within YouTube terms of service music should not be streamed to its platform. Instead we're going to add a link to a Second Life music stream, which will be explained later.

Using The Second Life Stream To VJ Live On YouTube

Assuming you've downloaded and installed the software already mentioned, and your YouTube account is verified you can now begin to VJ. First, start up your music streaming software then follow the instructions below.

Starting Plane9

1/ Start up Plane9. Under the list of software installed on your PC there will be three choices for Plane9. Select Configure Plane9.

2/ When Plane9 is running it will look something like the image above.

3/ To the right of the window will be a list of playlists. Hit New Playlist tab.

4/ In the main window area there are different kind sof visualisations. Some are Foreground visualisations....

Some are background visualisations....

And some are transitions. A visualisation in Plane9 will be a random combination of foreground and background imagery and a transition will determine how Plane9 moves from one visualisation to another. Therefore a playlist should consisit of as many foreground and background visualisations as you like, plus a number of transitions.

To add any of the above to a playlist click on them in turn so a tick to the lower left of each thumbnail is circled in green.

5/ Once you've finished selecting, double click on the playlist name to rename it.

6/ To run a playlist, hover the cursor over its tab and click the screen icon that will appear.

7/ A new window will open showing the visualisations, which will randomly change. They should respond to music playing on your PC. This window can be quite large so you may want to resize it by dragging its edges. Since there is no option to stop it being always on top of other windows it can be useful to drag it to the corner of the screen.

Starting OBS Studio

1/ When OBS Studio starts it will look similar to the image above. We want the Plane9 image window to appear in the main area of OBS Studio so it can be broadcast. To do this click on the + icon, highlighted in red, lower left.

2/ A window as above will open where you can name the source. In this case Plane9 will be the source. Click OK when done.

3/ There will now be three drop down menus to make selections from. In the first select Capture Specific window. From the second menu select the Plane9.exe window, (which may also show the name of the visualisation that is running). In the third menu, Match title, otherwise find window of same executable has been chosen. Hit OK. The Plane9 visualisation window should now be visible from within OBS Studio.

4/ If the visualisation doesn't take up the entire viewing area click on it so a red border appears then drag it until the whole window is filled.

5/ The above image shows how the visualisation should appear once dragged to fill the viewing area.

6/ To be sure OBS Studio does not broadcast any music to YouTube click on Settings to the lower right of the main window then in the window that appears select the Audio tab. Now make sure all audio options are disabled, as in the image above Click OK when you're done.

Connecting OBS Studio To YouTube

Now that OBS Studio is up and running all we need to do is connect it to YouTube so that what appears in the OBS viewing area will be broadcast live.

1/ Go to your YouTube channel and click on the movie camera icon.

2/ Now hit Go Live.

3/ Since we're not using a camera you should see a message like this, but don't hit Exit.

4/ Towards the lower right of the same screen should be the above button. Click this.

5/ The above information will now be visible. Drag the cursor over the Server URL space and copy it.

6/ Back in OBS Studio, hit the Settings button to the lower right of the main window. In the new window that opens select the Stream tab. Make sure Custom Streaming Server is selected in the very top drop down menu.

Now paste the Server URL we copied from YouTube into the URL space. Keep this OBS Studio window open.

7/ Back in YouTube, reveal the Stream name/key and copy it. Hide it again so no one can see it, since anyone with that key can broadcast on your channel.

8/ Back in OBS Studio, paste the stream key in the Stream key space. Now hit Apply then OK.

9/ Towards the lower right of OBS Studio is the Start Streaming button. Hit it when you're ready.

10/ In YouTube you should now see something like the above with a green live streaming button to the top left. The stream may not show immediatelly on YouTube, so refresh the page if you need to.

Linking To A Second Life Stream 

Since its not wise to broadcast music on YouTube, a work around is to paste a link to your Second Life stream on the YouTube live broadcast page.

1/ Paste the URL of your stream into your browser so you see something like the image above. Right click on the Listen tab and select Copy Link Location (the wording of this may change depending on your browser) from the drop down list. 

2/ Add some info about the live stream to the appropriate area on YouTube and paste the link to your music stream. Now when anyone clicks the link a window similar to the above will open allowing them to listen to your music whilst watching you VJ live.

Thats essentially the basics to getting started VJ-ing with a Second Life stream on YouTube, and although there is more that can be done whilst VJ-ing, this will be covered in later tutorials. 

As a final note to those concerned that VJ-ing on YouTube during a Second Life DJ set may cause lag, the above image shows my frame rate during a recent VJ test. In fact streaming to YouTube at least in this instance didn't seem to affect Second Life at all.

Below is a vid showing a recording of a test VJ session of YouTube, sadly with no sound, but it gives an idea of what can be done.

Good luck with your own VJ sessions and come back for more tutorials soon.
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How To Create A 360 Degree Panoramic Tour For Second Life Destinations

This is the third tutorial in the series on creating 360 degree panoramas for Second Life. The other two tutorials are perhaps unimaginatively titled:
The first of in the series showed how to use two different free apps, Hugin and ICE to stitch Second Life images into a panoramic view. 

Part 2 covered how to add the necassary metadata to the panoramic image, how to preview the image before uploading it, how to upload it to Facebook, and then how to embed it on a blog.

In this tutorial we'll show how to create a 360 degree panoramic tour for Second Life destinations. The idea is to seamlessly move from one panoramic view to another, and to include clickable areas that reveal information or images.

What Is A 360 Degree Panoramic Tour?

A 360 degree panoramic tour can be a unique way to represent a Second Life destination, or a group of destinations to anyone who may be unfamiliar with your inworld content, therefore encouraging them to visit - or just enjoy the tour. These tours can usually be embedded or linked to in a blog or shared on social media.

Take a look at the above example to see how tours work in practise. Click on the < > arrows to move from one scene to another and click on icons visible in the scenes to see what they do. The cog icon to the top right toggles audio files on and off. To get  a much better view  visit the tour on Google Tours and go full screen.

There is software available which can be used to create panoramic tours, but they tend to be expensive and they present the problem of how to upload and display the completed tour on a website. For many Second Life blog or website owners this approach is clearly overkill, particularly as using an online service is much simpler and less costly.

Rather than using software there are online platforms that can be used to create panoramic tours, each one coming with their own set of pros and cons - and price ranges. A happy compromise is to use the free Google's Tour Creator, which is what we'll do here.

We assume you already have a Google account and are signed into it, and have a number of 360 panoramic views to create the tour with.

The subect of the tour we're going to create here is The Pulse, a Second Life music venue and a favourite haunt of mine.

Creating a 360 Degree Panoramic Tour with Google's Tour Creator

1/ This is the landing page of Google's Tour Creator. Click on the Get Started button.

2/ On the new page that opens hit the New tour button.

3/ In the title space add the name of the tour. There is also a description box. Click on Select an image to navigate to a cover pic (highlighted above in green). Images can also be dragged to this part of the screen.

4/ When you're ready hit Create, highlighted in red.

5/ This page will open. Ignore the Street View section and hit Upload instead.

6/ This page will open. Either drag the first 360 degree panoramic image to the space, or hit Select a 360 degree Image then navigate to its location on your hard drive and upload it. You'll then be able to see the image as a 360 degree view.

 7/ Towards the bottom left of the uploaded image is an option to select the starting view. Click on the icon then drag and rotate to the starting view you want.

8/ When you're ready hit Save.

Adding Ambient Sound To The First Panorama

1/ To the right of the panoramic view is a panel. There is an area for the name of the first panorama and a description. Beneath that there is an audio icon, (highlighted in red). Click this to add a sound file. Since The Pulse is a Second Life club, music would be a good option.

2/ Once the audio file has uploaded this window will appear. Click Add. The audio is now added to the first section of the tour.

Adding An Image To The First Panorama

1/ Under the audio icon there is an Add point of interest option. Click on this. An icon will appear over the panorama. Drag it to where you want it to appear in the scene.

2/ Add a title for the image and a description in the panel to the right of the panorama scene. Now hit the image icon, highlighted in red.

3/ Navigate to the image to upload it or drag it to the Drop an image here space.

4/ Once the image has uploaded hit Add.

5/ The image will now appear over the panoramic view. The blue squares around the image can be used to resize it. Once you're happy with the size of the image. click away from it to close it.

 6/ An image icon will be visible over the panoramic view, and when this is clicked the uploaded image will open. The icon can be repositioned when dragged.

Adding Information To An Area Of The Panorama

1/ In the panel to the right click on Add point of interest again.

2/ Click on the panorama image where you want the information icon to appear. This of course should be a spot relevant to the information.

3/ In the side panel add a title for the information, then add the text. Click away from the side panel when you're done.

4/ The side panel will now look something like the above, with the image and text information areas collapsed.

5/ The information icon can be dragged into position if needed.

Adding More Scenes

Under the panoramic image is the option to add another scene (or another 360 degree panoramic image) to the tour. Click on Add scene then repeat all of the above steps. Keep on adding more scenes, audio files, images and information until your tour is complete. For the tour of The Pulse six scenes were added.

Publishing the Tour

1/ Towards the top right of the panoramic image is a Publish button. When your tour is complete click on the button.

2/ This small window will appear giving the choice of making the tour public or private. When you're ready hit Publish.

3/ When the tour has been published to Google Tour Creator this window will show, with the url of the tour and an option to view it for the first time. Click Done to close this window.  Your tour is now complete and ready to be viewed and shared.

4/ The next time you visit Google Tour Creator and hit the Get Started button you'll see the above. Hit Draft to edit the tour. There should be a row of white vertical dots to the right of your tour thumbnail. Click on them to open the options to either delete or view the tour.

5/ When viewing the tour there will be two icons to the upper right.

6/ Click the cog icon which will toggle audio files off and on. The other icon is the fullscreen option.

Embedding The Tour On Your Blog

One of the best places to attract an audience for your new tour is on a blog or website. Embedding the tour is very simple.

1/ Below the published tour are the above icons. Click the Share option.

2/ This window will open. Click the Embed option.

3/ This window will now open showing what the tour will look like on the website or blog. Drag your mouse over the iframe markup, right click and select Copy.

4/ In Blogger sign into the dashboard and create a new post. Under the HTML tab name the new post and paste the iframe markup.

5/ Under the Compose tab the tour should be visible, although it may take a short while to appear.

If you use a blogging platform other than Blogger you'll need to find an option to paste HTML markup to the page, which most good paltforms will have.

Enjoy sharing your newly created 360 degree panoramic tour with all your friends and blogging followers, and come back for more tutorials and other goodies very soon.

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