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I have seen a lot of people use realistic photo editing software to edit photos. I'm on a budget I have only worked with photo pea, pizap and luna pic for my photos but I am wondering on how to get the skin for avatar photos to look realistic and shiny like an ad for a pose you would find in the marketplace as an example. 

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I'm not sure what ads , if you just mean product ads... some of those aren't done in SL but are done with DAZ or something like that, so they aren't SL avatars. I dont konw if they show up on MP but I've seen those on flickr and in world ads.

 

I think a lot of people use photoshop or GIMP.  My skills are pretty basic and I use pixlr it has 2 versions and a lot of stuff is free with it before you end up with the paid version. I've used the paid version before and it's nice but I wasn't making a lot of pictures for awhile and so I went back to free.

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7 hours ago, xxVi3perxx said:

I have seen a lot of people use realistic photo editing software to edit photos. I'm on a budget I have only worked with photo pea, pizap and luna pic for my photos but I am wondering on how to get the skin for avatar photos to look realistic and shiny like an ad for a pose you would find in the marketplace as an example. 

Most of my photos are done with graphics settings up and playing with the light settings.  Also, with the mesh avatars, using the glossiness on the head or body gives it shine but only if your graphics are set up to see it.

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I've been using Affinity Photo a lot lately.  I dumped all the other things acquired or initially owned by that other company.  I don't know if I'll go back to those, never know.  But .. for now I like the easy work-flow of this product and purchased a number of licenses for others and they seem to like it pretty well.

 

Edited by BinBash
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GIMP is a good picture editing tool, regardless if you are on a budget or not. It's free and has more functionality than you probably will ever need. 

It might be a little overwhelming when you first start using it, but as you handled the learning curve of SL itself - shouldn't be a huge problem. 

Aside from this, editing as a skill, so you could benifit from going through tutorials, having fun trying new tricks and building up your toolbox. YouTube is full of tutorials. I think Happy Hippo building school offers some classes on GIMP in world even, but I will need to check their calendar to be sure. 

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12 hours ago, xxVi3perxx said:

I am wondering on how to get the skin for avatar photos to look realistic and shiny

Bump & specular maps. Most mesh bodies come with some way to apply them, after that lighting. Shiny highlights need a light source, rez some lights, don't depend on the SL sun to do all the heavy lifting.

Don't aim to capture the final punchy image in SL. Aim for a well balanced image that has plenty of subtle shading in the highlights and shadows. This gives you the most wiggle room in your photo editing tool of choice to adjust the final contrast.

As an alternative to pixel editing tools like photoshop or gimp, give Raw Therapee a try - it's a free raw image processing tool intended for 'developing' real world digital raw photography, nothing to stop you applying those techniques to SL images. https://www.rawtherapee.com/

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Affinity Photo is my tool of choice.

It has pretty much all the features a regular Photoshop user finds themselves wanting and tools that Photoshop doesn't have. Most of the tools are also non-destructive workflows unlike Photoshop which makes it easier to play around with things.

£30 last I checked, you own it, no subscription. Free updates for life, compare that to Photoshop which is £30 a month...

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   I use Gimp. Never liked working in PS. Gimp is also free and open source, which is nice. It can do just about anything you'd want an editor to do, it has a ton of support and tutorials for different techniques, and people also make plugins for it - and it can use PS brushes so there's no shortage there.

   But, as others have said, a good picture always starts in-world. You can graft skin samples from a picture of a real person onto an avatar but it's an excessively time-consuming process and the results seldom look good. You also got tons and tons of apps with filters and morphs. 

Sample.png

   That pic is unedited. I use a fair amount of BoM correctors and details - the chin piercings even come with their own dimple shaders. The face is also designed to be asymmetrical - just a few points into the various sliders for tilting the nose, lips, facial skew, etc. produce a much less Barbie-esque face. In addition the pic was caught during a facial animation; rather than using a preset expression which often can be extreme and appear surreal, there's a more subtle movement.

   So, to summarise:

   Step I: Start with your avatar (or if you're shooting others, be picky about their avatars). Surreal proportions, porcelain skin, lack of detail, overly clean eye-whites etc. can all make an avatar just look too much like a 'toon'. In this stage, also consider the composition of the picture itself; what do you want to wear, how do you want to accessorise, what kind of backdrop and theme do you want, etc. Also consider the quality of the apparel, accessories, hair, etc - if your hair looks like it's built out of Lego then it's hardly going to come off as 'realistic'. Some people do add stray strands which can really improve how hairs look, but you'll need a good foundation to work from. Always have ALM turned on whilst demoing clothes to avoid ending up buying plasticised-looking denim where the specular map is a blank white texture; there's a lot of that on the grid.
   Step II: Find the right graphic settings for your needs. Whipping everything up to Ultra and having a draw distance of three quarters of a kilometre is entirely pointless if you're doing a close-up portrait, and will only contribute lag (or even crashes) when trying to render the snapshots. The most important settings are ALM, anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion, etc. For certain shots, water reflections may also come into play.
   Step III: Set up your viewer's camera - I think viewers like BDW come with that all set up, but in Firestorm you'll have to change the settings to allow high-resolution captures. And whilst higher resolution is good, I've found that shooting at the absolute maximum (i.e. 6144 pixels on either axis) is generally excessive. It may contain more detail, but it's never going to be displayed at 100% zoom (and thus suffers quality loss from compression). I very rarely go over 4096 pixels, and quite often stick to just 2048 (the sample picture is 2048 x 1536). Lower resolution also means less likelihood of viewer crashes and editor freezes.
   Step IV: Lighting and framing your shot - you can crop images (you can add a bit to the resolution to allow for cropping without having to scale the image, but personally I prefer framing with the in-world camera if possible), but you'll need to find the appropriate angle and zoom (sample pic is shot at 0.180 radians). And perhaps the most important thing in photography is lighting setup. If your sky is a solid pastel-purple it's not going to feel realistic. Play around with existing WL settings, edit them, or make your own, add projectors and point lights as necessary.
   Step V: Editing. What exactly you do in editing depends entirely on what image you got out of the viewer. You may want to adjust the exposure or black level, or the contrast, perhaps run it through a sharpening, add film grain, add a vignette, turn the picture into a faux sketch or oil painting, or make a anaglyphic or holo-effect - but when you're learning how to use any editor, it's better to start with the basics. Some correctional brushwork may also be necessary; there are many seams on the body (the head-neck seam is the most notorious, but most bodies also have seams along their arms, legs, shoulder joints, etc. that may have visible lines that could benefit from some smearing or healing). 

   There's a whole lot more to it, of course. Depth of field can really make or break images. And teeth. Be very careful about letting your avatars' teeth show too much (and do tint them off-white, having a mouth full of plastic-looking chunks isn't attractive!).

abbdc6a2a037cbb0c84e7fe2cc4ce5fe.gif

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I've been a designer since we had to take our Postscript files to specialist folks (aka service bureaus) with Linotype machines to print for us, then take then back the printed output on shiny white paper and paste up columns of text on white boards so that it could be photographed and have plates made from them for printing. Hell, I knew folks whose job was to etch film with precise tools to add or remove items. I have even typeset by hand, I'm that old!

I dumped Adobe and their horrific rent models years ago. If you're on macOS, these days I'd recommend Pixelmator Pro or Affinity Photos for your Photoshop style work, and Affinity Designer to replace Illustrator. All of these offer more than enough features to replace the dominant guy for 99.5% of design work (and thank heavens Designer finally got the find / replace the same colour tool, that took them long enough). GIMP is also quite good, if you have zero budget.

For my digital painting work I rely on a mix of paid and free tools, with a whack load of custom brushes I created, mainly Painter and Krita (free and pretty darn good), and a high end tablet. And even though I don't have to so much, I still paint digitally in the exact same manner I do in traditional media ... wash the surface with a rough base of orange/pink/yellow ochre/burnt umber depending on what the subject is, sketch, block, etc. I don't have to gesso a digital surface, though, which is nice. I only use Pixelmator to make colour adjustments at the end, if needed. No filters ever.

Edited by Katherine Heartsong
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After I posted this I forgot-- that graphic settings , things like materials, etc effect how the picture looks. Also the viewer can play a roll. Black Dragon viewer is great for taking pictures because it's made for photography and machinima  and you can move the camera in ways you can't in other viewers.  However, you need a really good computer to run it.

 

People also make tutorials and post them on youtube so that is a good way to learn, if you can learn well like that. 

There are also huds you can buy that help with posing so  you can get much more detailed specific  poses or facial expressions.

 

One thing that helped me was trying to take the best pictures I could in SL without any kind of editing.   It helped me to compose a shot and then take it with different windlight (EEP now) settings, different graphic levels, playing around with the in world filters  or doing the opposite and finding a subject, getting all of that set to one thing and then taking pictures at different angles or distances and see what happens that way. And then I can go back and pull up those pictures and practice editing them ... actually I need to get them all from my old computer on to my new one so I can play around with them.

 

 

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