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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Create An Infinite Reflection Effect in Gimp

By With No comments:

This is a quick and simple tutorial on how to create an infinite reflection effect in Gimp, using the Recursive Transform tool that is new to Gimp 2.10. In fact the underlying aim of this tutorial is to demonstrate how to use this new tool, whilst creating an infinite reflections effect as an example. Once you know how this tool works you'll soon see just how versatile it can be, and how it can open up creative possibilities for your own images.

To learn how to create an infinite reflection effect in Gimp follow these simple steps. Click on each image to enlarge if you need to.

1/ First go into Second Life and take a snapshot of your subject.

2/ Also take a snapshot of the rear view. Using a photographer's poseball will ensure the figure maintains the same position in both images.

Once you have the images you'll need to remove the background. if you're unsure how to do this there are three tutorials here on SL-Inspiration that explain different techniques. The links are given below.

3/ Open Gimp and add the first image.

4/ If the image is too large select the Scale tool in the Toolbox window (highlighted in red above). Click on the image and in the box that opens enter the new size for the layer.

5/ When the layer is scaled to size it may appear off centre, as in the image above. Simply drag it in position with the Move tool.

6/ add the second image to Gimp and follow the above steps to scale it. The rear view of the figure should be the top layer as its going to be the first reflection of the figure looking out at us (see the top image here if that sounds a bit confusing).

In a real mirror the reflections would almost mask each other, therefore we need to use a little artistic license in the spacing of the two images so both can be seen clearly. Also you might have noticed the rear view of the figure was taken slightly to the side to help visually explain the distance between it and the front figure.

7/ Hide the background layer by deselecting the eye icon to the left of it in the layers panel. You should now have just the two layers of the figures visible, both with their backgrounds removed.

Right click on one of the layers in the layers panel and from the drop down list select New from Visible. This will create a new layer with the figures merged as one image, whilst preserving the original layers.

If you prefer you can simply merge the two original layers, but this way, if anything goes wrong we have the original layers to fall back on.

8/ The layers panel should now look the same as the image above.

9/ Now we get to use the Recursive Transform tool. Select Filters > Map > Recursive Transform

10/ The above window will appear. The number of iterations will determine how many reflections we see. The default number of iterations when the window first opens is three, but here it has been changed to seven. Although this may not exactly be an infinite number of reflections, too many will just look wrong, so again a little artistic license is needed.

The Paste below option should be ticked otherwise the more distant reflections will appear on top of what should be the foreground reflections. (Toggle this option to see the difference).

11/ When you first make the adjustments in the Recursive Transform window nothing much may change. However there are handles that can be adjusted in the main image window (highlighted in red and green above). Generally speaking the handles highlighted in red will adjust the size and position of the recursions, whilst those highlighted in green will shear and taper them.

12/ After tweaking the handles a little this is what I ended up with. It does take a little trial and error, and it will be different for each image, but it is not difficult to grasp.

13/ A new background has been added to the image here.

14/ Since the image is going to be a reflection, it needs to be flipped horizontally. To do this select Image > Transform > Flip Horizontally.

15/ The image is now ready to be exported out of Gimp.

16/ for the final stage the image was uploaded to Second Life and added to a prim. Another snapshot was taken with the figure standing before the original image.

The set up here has been kept very simple so the basic concept of creating infinite reflections could be explained, along with the basics of how the Recursive Transform tool works. It doesn't take too much stretch of the imagination to work out how two reflection images could be uploaded to Second Life then juxtaposed to create a more convincing illusion of two mirrors reflecting each other. It is also easy to imagine different ways the Recursive Transform tool can be used, particularly to create Droste images. Enjoy experimenting with this tool and come back soon for more posts and tutorials.
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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Cafe Calza Jigsaw Puzzle

By With No comments:

As many Second Life residents will know, food is a popular subject of conversation, and everyone has at least one favourite recipe they love to share. With this in mind the aim of Cafe Calza is to provide a place where recipes, cooking tips and all kinds of culinary expertise can be collated and shared.

How It Works

The basic idea is simple. Come along to Cafe Calza and click on the chalk board for an info pack. Rez the box then copy the contents to your inventory. Add your recipe to the notecard included in the info pack along with any additional information such as a description. Save the notecard then drag it to the post box. We will then collect your recipe and include it on the Cafe Calza blog so it can be shared. It would be incredibly helpful if the notecard also included an original full permission photo of the prepared recipe.

You can submit as many recipes as you like, so make sure you keep a copy of the original recipe notecard at hand (or rez another from the info pack). Once the recipe has been added to the blog you will of course be credited as the source of the submission.

Keep a bookmark of the Cafe Calza blog because over time it will become a great source for recipe ideas, cooking tips etc all collated via Second Life. There will always be something new for you to discover on the blog, and since Second Life has a global reach there is a great potential for recipes to be added from all over the world.

Cafe Calza is located at The Pulse, a very friendly club with some of the finest DJs in Second Life. Come enjoy the music, the banter and the fun, and share your cooking expertise!

A Note On Teleporting To Cafe Calza

The landmark setting at The Pulse will take you to wherever there is a gig or by default to the beach. If you're not taken directly to Cafe Calza when you arrive, simply hit the landmark again.

About The Cafe Calza Jigsaw Puzzle

You don't need to be a foodie to enjoy solving the Cafe Calza jigsaw puzzle, which you can download and keep here. The puzzle is stored on Google Drive, so you can be sure it doesn't contain anything nasty. Once its downloaded you can play it offline by unzipping the folder then double clicking on the Cafe Calza jigsaw puzzle icon.

If you prefer to solve the jigsaw puzzle online we have an embedded version for you below. Enjoy solving this jigsaw puzzle and come visit us at Cafe Calza and The Pulse in Second Life.

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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

How To Remove The Background From An Image With Gimp

By With No comments:

There are a number of ways of removing the background from an image with Gimp, and this is the third method demonstrated on this blog. If you're interested in viewing the other two tutorials, links to them can be found below. Each method has its pros and cons, but I find this one quick, clean and accurate.

How To remove an Image Background Using Gimp

How To Remove The Background From An Image With Gimp

In this tutorial you'll learn how to create a channel layer then use it to create a layer mask. The layer mask will then automatically remove the image background.

For this tutorial the new Gimp 2.10.2 was used, which can be downloaded from the Gimp website here.

Parts of this tutorial are based on a YouTube video by VscorpianC called GIMP Tutorial - Use Channel Mask to Select Hair and Fur but with some important modifications to make it workable for our purposes. Click on each image for a larger view if needed.

1/ Firstly you'll need an image to work with, so sign into Second Life and take a snapshot using a background of uniform appearance, and preferably of a light tone so it is in clear contrast to the subject. I find its usually a good idea to make the snapshot as large as possible.

2/ Open Gimp and load the image. Crop it if you need to. We are going to be using the channels feature in Gimp, the tab for which should be next to the layers tab towards the lower right. If you can't see it click on Windows > Dockable Dialogues > Channels.

With the image layer active click on Select > Save to Channel (see image above).

3/ Under the Channels tab you'll see a thumbnail similar to the one to the lower right of the image above. Don't worry if the channel thumbnail looks completely black.

4/ With the layer thumbnail active select Edit > Copy (highlighted in red, above).

5/ Now Select Edit > Paste into Selection.

6/ In the layers tab you'll see a floating selection which you anchor, naturally enough by clicking the green anchor icon to the bottom right.

7/ Switch back to the Channels tab and you'll see the subject of the image in the red, green and blue channel thumbnails, but more importantly for this tutorial in the Selection Mask thumbnail.

8/ Right click on the Selection Mask thumbnail and select Edit Channel Attributes. The above small window will appear. Make sure the Fill Opacity is set to 100%. Click OK.

9/ Still with the Selection Mask thumbnail active, select Colours > Threshold. I wanted to get a good look at how adjusting the threshold affected the image, so I zoomed in to about 50%.

10/ The small Threshold window will open. The aim here is to use the threshold function to get a black silhouette of the figure contrasted against a white background. We need this because in a moment we will use it to create a layer mask.

The threshold values can be adjusted using the slider. The aim is to keep as much detail as possible in areas such as the hair whilst making as much of the figure as dark as you can. When you have found a setting you like click OK.

11/ Using the threshold function won't create a completely black figure, so some areas will need to be carefully filled in using the Paintbrush tool, with the foreground colour set to black. Remember to ensure you are painting into the Channel Selection Mask since you don't want to accidentally paint into the image layer.

When painting in areas of the figure, you will probably need to change the size of the brush now and then. Neatness and accuracy is essential because what we see as black will make up the visible part of the image, and we want no background showing, just the figure.

Lowering the opacity of the Channel Selection Mask will let you see the figure so you can see where to paint. If you accidentally paint outside of the figure, change the active colour to white and paint out the mistake. When you're finished you should see something like the above image in Gimp. Before moving on, remember to change the Channel Selection Mask back up to 100% opacity.

12/ Switch back to the layers tab and make sure the layer thumbnail is active. Right click on the thumbnail and from the drop down list select Add Layer Mask.

13/ The Add a Mask to the Layer window will open. Make sure the Channel radial button is selected, and tick the Invert mask box. Now hit Add.

14/ After hitting Add you may still see a black silhouette of the figure. Under the Channels tab hide the Selection Mask thumbnail by clicking on the eye icon to its left. Now the figure should be visible in the image window with a clear background.

15/ In the image above there is a small amount of white background remaining to the left of the head. To remove this I clicked on the layer mask thumbnail so it was active then with the Paintbrush tool, and with black as the active colour, I painted it out.

16/ The above image shows the white removed. Maybe the result isn't quite up to a professional photographer's standards, but it shows the method used to touch up a layer mask. (I could have used the clone tool to fill in the small area removing the white patch created, but I was lazy).

With the background removed the image can now be exported out of Gimp, although to keep the transparency of the background make sure to save the gamma when prompted. Before exporting the image a new background can be added instead, and in this example a basic gradient with a drop shadow was used.

As you can see, this method of removing a background using Gimp is very straighforward, and doesn't take long to do. So long as you're careful when adjusting the threshold, pretty much all of the subject's detail remains. Have fun editing your images in Gimp and look out for more tutorials here soon.
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Sunday, 22 July 2018

How To Add A Radionomy Station In Second Life

By With No comments:

Usually when a Second Life club has closed for the day the last DJ will add an internet radio station to the land setting or select one from a Shoutcast board for visitors to enjoy. With Radionomy it is possible for either club owners or DJs to run their very own free and legal internet radio station and have that play instead.

What would the advantages of this be? Well, firstly it looks professional to visitors and helps to raise the status of the club. Secondly you can add jingles for the club, the station will help raise the profiles of the club and its DJs, and a player for the station can be added to the club website. Also, Radionomy will add the radio station to many directories including iTunes, Shoutcast, Sonos and AppleTV, so your club and radio station have the potential to reach a much wider audience.

How To Add A Radionomy Station In Second Life

Before playing their own Radionomy station in Second Life a DJ or club owner will need to set this up, and whilst describing how to do this is beyond the remit of this tutorial Radionomy has plenty of information on how to do this. There is also a pdf manual that can be viewed and downloaded here. In the meantime any of the Radionomy stations can be added to the club, and here is what you need to do.

1/ Select the Listen link to the top of the Radionomy home page. To the left of the page that opens will be a list of music genres for you to choose from. The image above shows a small selection.

2/ After a genre has been selected a list of available radio stations will appear. Click on a station to select it.

3/ A page will open for the station. To the top left will appear something similar to the above. The image on the Radionomy page can be clicked on to listen to the station.

4/ To the top right are more options. Because Radionomy doesn't display the url of its radio stations we'll need to find it for ourselves, which is quite simple. You may be lucky however and find that if you click on 'Listen to this station in your media player' a new browser window will open from which you can copy the radio station url. Usually however you'll need to follow the steps below.

5/ As indicated above the first thing to do is click on 'Listen to this station in your media player'. The above window will open. Make sure Save File is selected then hit OK.

6/ The file will now need to be opened in Windows Media Player since this will make it easy to grab the stations' url. Open the media player then select the library view by clicking the group of four squares towards the top right of the player.

 7/ Under Playlists to the left of the player you should see the name of the Radionomy station. If not close the media player then navigate to where you downloaded the file from Radionaomy then double click on it. It should now be added to the media player.

Click on the name of the radio station and to the right you should see a list something like  the image in step six. Right click on one of the items in the list then select Properties from the drop down list.

Under the Files tab drag your cursor over the part of the url that includes the name of the radio station (underlined in red, above). Everything after and including the question mark can be ignored. Right click on the highlighted text and select Copy.

Playing the Radionomy Station In Second Life

1/ Now that we have the radio station url, playing it in Second Life is the same process as getting any radio station to play in world. You will of course need land permissions to add a station to a Second Life location. Firstly click on the i to the left of the land SLurl at the top of the viewer.

2/ The Place Profile window will open. Scroll down using the scroll bar to see the About Land button, then click it.

3/ In the About Land window that has opened select the Sound tab and paste the Radionomy station url in the space provided. The station should now play in Second Life. Keep in mind however that not all radio stations play 24 hours each day, so if you don't hear anything check the station's times on the Radionomy website.

Thats all there is to playing your own (or any) Radionomy station in Second Life. Enjoy your new Radionomy station and sharing it with friends and club patrons.
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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

How To Create Custom Gradients In Gimp

By With No comments:

Creating a custom gradient in Gimp does not need to be a complicated process, and once you have a grasp of the basics each gradient can be used in your own designs. The wings of the butterfly pic here were filled with a custom gradient, and after we show how to create a custom gradient in Gimp, we'll walk you through how the image was put together so you can make your own butterflies if you want to.

Creating A Palette

The first step in creating a custom gradient in Gimp is to create a palette. If you need to, click on each image in this tutorial to enlarge.

1/ With Gimp open go to Windows > Dockable Dialogues > Palettes.

2/ The above window will open. Click on the icon second from the lower left with the green plus arrow to start creating a new palette.

3/ The Palette Editor should now be open, and should look something like the above.

4/ The Palette Editor adds colours from the active foreground colour, so first click on the foreground colour in the Toolbox, and the above Colour Selector window will open.

To select a colour either click within the large window to the left, or the vertical array of colours to the right of it. The sliders to the right can be used to further edit the colour. When you're ready click OK so the selected colour becomes the active foreground colour.

5/ An alternative and quick way of selecting colours is to download a colour chart similar to the above then open it in Gimp. Now simply use the Colour Selector tool (the eye dropper icon) and click on a colour. This will now become the foreground colour.

6/ The above image shows a selected foreground colour.

7/ In the Palette Editor window click the icon with the green plus sign, third from the lower left. The foreground colour is now added to the palette.

8/ Continue to add colours to the palette by following steps 4 to 7. The above image shows seven colours have been added to the palette. Name the palette in the top window then hit the icon to the lower far left to save it.

9/ You should now see your new palette under the palettes tab.

10/ Now you have your palette it can be used to create a custom gradient. Simply right click on the new palette and from the drop down menu select Palette to Gradient. Your new gradient is now ready to use.

11/ Select the Gradient Tool in the Toolbox panel and in the lower section click on the gradient thumbnail. Now from the drop down list select your gradient.

12/ If you now drag the cursor horizontally in the Image Window your gradient will fill the image space.

Using A Gradient To Create Butterfly Wings

If you want to create your own butterfly images using your custom gradients you'll first need a few layers, one to use as an alpha mask and the other as an overlay. You can either create your own layers or download the ones used in the tutorial here. They're stored on Google Drive so you can be sure they don't include anything malicious.

Once downloaded unzip and open both in the same Gimp image window so they form two layers. One way to do this is to drag them from the unzipped folder to the Gimp image window. Also in the unzipped folder you'll see a texture layer that will be used later in this tutorial, or if you prefer you can use your own texture.

This is the first butterfly layer.....

And this is the second butterfly layer. Make this the active layer and hide the other layer by clicking on the eye icon next to it in the layers tab.

1/ In the image above there are more layers than you'll see in your version of Gimp. We'll just be focusing on the first two layers for this tutorial. Right click on the active layer and from the drop down list select Alpha to Selection.

2/ There should now be an outline of marching ants around the butterfly silhouette. This will mask the transparent background so when we add the gradient it will only appear within the outline.

3/ Select the gradient tool, then from the available gradients select the one you created.

4/ In the bottom half of the tools panel select the Radial option from the Shape drop down menu.

5/ Create a transparent layer above the silhouette layer and make sure its the active layer. It should look similar to the above.

6/ From the centre of the butterfly shape drag the cursor outwards, and fill the shape as above. If you don't like the first attempt, just redo it.

7/ We're now going to add some texture to the butterfly wings and break up the flat colours. First add the texture layer (or one of your own) to the image window, so that its above the gradient layer. The marching ants outline of the butterfly should still be visible.

From the image menu choose Select > Invert. Now press Delete on your keyboard. The texture layer should now look like the above image.

Now hit Select > None and the marching ants outline should disappear.

8/ Towards the top of the layers panel is the Mode drop down menu. This will allow you to integrate the texture layer with the gradient layer in different ways. Go through the list until you find an effect you like. You can also play with the opacity of the top layer to see how that effects the image.

When you're ready right click the top layer and from the drop down menu select Merge.

9/ This is how the two layers look when merged in this example.

10/ Now make the other butterfly layer visible and place it above the two merged layers. Your butterfly is now complete.

The butterfly image is just one example of how gradients can be used with Gimp. With a little imagination there's a whole world of gradient creativity to explore.

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