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This home-made alpha thing....


Anna Nova
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So people are saying that making alphas is easy.  So I'd like the tutorial please!

The way I do it is with GIMP and Firestorm.

1) In GIMP I open a copy of a Robin Wood UV-map of appropriate size - usually 512x512.

2) Use the eraser to wipe over some bits near where I want alpha, not taking much care.  Export a png of it, but keep GIMP open.

3) In Firestorm make a new alpha in inventory, and attach it along with the item to be 'alpha-ed'.

4) Edit the alpha item and mount the exported png from (2) as a local file on the required part.

5) Edit the GIMP version, re-export.  Repeat until everything perfect.

6) Upload the final png to SL paying the L$10.

7) Save the GIMP file for when you discover you made a mistake....

Now this is hardly 'Easy'.  So I am wondering if I have totally lost the plot.

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Make a system layer shirt/pants/tattoo using the same Robin Wood template as a texture, then wear that underneath your mesh clothing. That way, you can see exactly which areas need to be alpha, so your steps 2 and 5 will be much quicker with no guesswork needed and you shouldn't have to keep going back and re-editing everything.

It's also a good idea to observe your avatar during animations; don't just rely on the t-pose. Sometimes more parts will poke through when you're cycling through your AO's stands, or dancing.

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10 minutes ago, Maitimo said:

Make a system layer shirt/pants/tattoo using the same Robin Wood template as a texture, then wear that underneath your mesh clothing. That way, you can see exactly which areas need to be alpha, so your steps 2 and 5 will be much quicker with no guesswork needed and you shouldn't have to keep going back and re-editing everything.

It's also a good idea to observe your avatar during animations; don't just rely on the t-pose. Sometimes more parts will poke through when you're cycling through your AO's stands, or dancing.

Thanks Matty,  I was aware of that, and have a suit of 'Robin Wood' system layers ready.

But you have confirmed that my way is basically 'the way'.  One can tweak the method a bit, but that's the essentials.

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1 hour ago, Anna Nova said:

2) Use the eraser to wipe over some bits near where I want alpha, not taking much care.  Export a png of it, but keep GIMP open.

3) In Firestorm make a new alpha in inventory, and attach it along with the item to be 'alpha-ed'.

4) Edit the alpha item and mount the exported png from (2) as a local file on the required part.

5) Edit the GIMP version, re-export.  Repeat until everything perfect.

Noooo. There's a way easier way!

  1. Import the texture into SL as a local texture.
  2. Open the texture file with Gimp.
  3. Edit the file, and save to override the original file.
  4. You will see the texture update in SL within seconds.
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If I should guess, @Anna Novasays it is not so "fast and easy" as people claim. I think it is faster to find alphas that comes with demos. Some bodies comes with sets of alpha layers as well, like Slink.

Every upload cost 10 L, so it is even worth paying for alpha layer packs, to not have to spend 10 L for every part. There are even free packs with alpha layers. Plus that even the free bodies have alpha cuts, so it is possible to combine alpha layer plus extra cut.

So I can follow a tutorial if I really have to, but it will take time since I haven't used PS in many years. And I had to start from scratch with Gimp, if I should do it. Then it is wearing that template stuff, making the alpha layer and upload it. I simply can't be bothered.

Making 5 alphas would cost me 50 L and I would have to spend the most of a day doing it. I hate the thought of wasting my time on a task like that.

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   The expedience of the process depends on how used you are to working with it. I do it the same way as Wulfie suggested, just the same as I do when I want to demo my poses before upload and adjust them before paying for them. 

   As for how useful it is, well that depends on the variety of your apparels' needs. Back before we had mesh bodies, mesh clothing used to come with ready-made alphas; this is starting to come back it appears, now that BOM enables us to use custom alphas instead. One thing that I've noticed with Maitreya for example is that bathing suits and underwear often clips at the crotch, and the alpha pie slices for the body often were unusable for such things.

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3 hours ago, Anna Nova said:

So people are saying that making alphas is easy.  So I'd like the tutorial please!

The way I do it is with GIMP and Firestorm.

1) In GIMP I open a copy of a Robin Wood UV-map of appropriate size - usually 512x512.

2) Use the eraser to wipe over some bits near where I want alpha, not taking much care.  Export a png of it, but keep GIMP open.

3) In Firestorm make a new alpha in inventory, and attach it along with the item to be 'alpha-ed'.

4) Edit the alpha item and mount the exported png from (2) as a local file on the required part.

5) Edit the GIMP version, re-export.  Repeat until everything perfect.

6) Upload the final png to SL paying the L$10.

7) Save the GIMP file for when you discover you made a mistake....

Now this is hardly 'Easy'.  So I am wondering if I have totally lost the plot.

Quicker way:

1) Make and/or wear a full-body tattoo of the UV layouts you're using - either the Robin Wood templates or, even better, the actual UV map of your body. Slink already includes one of these tattoos with their Redux bodies.

2) Wear the mesh item; see what parts of the UV map are on the portions of the body that stick out of the mesh.

3) Open the same UV layouts in GIMP; erase the equivalent areas.

4) As you were.

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1 hour ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

Noooo. There's a way easier way!

  1. Import the texture into SL as a local texture.
  2. Open the texture file with Gimp.
  3. Edit the file, and save to override the original file.
  4. You will see the texture update in SL within seconds.

Ya, that's what I mean.

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18 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

Quicker way:

1) Make and/or wear a full-body tattoo of the UV layouts you're using - either the Robin Wood templates or, even better, the actual UV map of your body. Slink already includes one of these tattoos with their Redux bodies.

2) Wear the mesh item; see what parts of the UV map are on the portions of the body that stick out of the mesh.

3) Open the same UV layouts in GIMP; erase the equivalent areas.

4) As you were.

Ya, I tried that, but my autistic (sic) talent isn't good enough to do it in one shot.  But always use the Local texture method, which I thought I'd made clear, but obviously Wulfie and Orwar didn't get.  Mostly you can get away with using existing alphas, as Marianne says, but I find that my shape often needs them tweaked - which is why alpha-cuts aren't always any good.

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