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Clothing textures just won't work


Alexandra Jericho
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I've followed all theclothing tutorials to a T and tried both Photoshop Elements and GIMP, but whenever I try and upload a clothing texture I've made, the alpha channel doesn't work.  When uploading, the background l;ooks tranparent when viewing it as an image in the viewer, but when viewing it as a piece of clothing, the whole thing is black... none of the alpha channel is apparent.  I've tried this using both TGAs and PNGs.  I would really like to try and create some clothes, but something I'm doing is just wrong.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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I think I know what you are doing.......actually I did it myself when I first started making clothing (that's why I think I know :matte-motes-big-grin: ).  I use GIMP so I'll explain for that image editing program.

 

When you make your clothing texture I bet you are using Chip Midnight's templates.  Those templates have a black background.  Once you finish making your clothing item, save your complete image (including all layers) by "File > Save as".  Give your texture a name (I usually name it the same as the clothing item I intend to to upload except I add "working" so I know it's my working copy if I want to edit it later).  Save in the XCF format (that would be PSD for Photoshop).  Next you can do one of two things.  Turn the visibility off for all the template layers plus any working layer you made that does not need to be included in the texture.......or you can delete those layers instead of turning them off (you saved the original so you aren't destroying your original).  Then do a "save as" again........give your texture a name different from your XCF (or PSD) file (I just drop the "working" from the name).  In GIMP you'll get a dialog for you to specify the format you want to save.........I recommend TGA.  Next, when you OK out of that, you'll get a dialot saying TGA cannot save offsets and layers and that you must export.  You'll also see the option to either "Merge" or "Flatten".............choose "Merge" as it preserves the alpha channel ("Flatten" removes it).

 

You're done.  If you resized your texture to 512 X 512 pixels, you're ready to go.  Good luck.

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You're not doing alpha channels correctly, it seems.  Transparency is a mildly tricky concept at first, but it's quite easy once you get the hang of it.  In SL, transparency is handled essentially as if it were another color.  A normal texture (without transparency) is a 24 bit image that has three 8-bit channels for red, green, and blue.  A texture with the potential for transparency has an extra 8-bit channel -- the one called alpha.  You can either learn how to manage the contents of that channel directly, saving your image in TGA format, or you can pretend that it doesn't exist and use a WYSIWYG method, saving your image in PNG format. You'll find plenty of arguments for either approach.  Both have advantages and drawbacks.  Personally, I think it's smart to learn how alpha channels work so that you are free to use either one and aren't stuck just using half the tools at your disposal.

One of the best tutorials for learning about alpha channels is Robin Wood's at http://www.robinwood.com/Catalog/Technical/SL-Tuts/SLTutSet.html.  I'd suggest taking time to read through it (and others at her web site) very carefully.  She uses Photoshop, but an alpha channel is an alpha channel.  You should be able to translate her buttons into ones on your own program.  The important thing is to understand what's going on.  

 

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I think I finally figured out the alpha channel problem (and even the "halo" effect) thanks to your help and a few other tutorials.  Saving as a 32-bit tga helped a lot!  ;)

Now... is there a tutorial out there that can help me put a little shine on the textures of my outfits.  They're looking pretty flat in SL.

Thanks!

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Shine is very tricky. The trick is to use a little bit of nearly pure white for highlights very judiciously and to contrast it with much darker nearby areas. I've managed to make a nice batik print that uses highlights of very light gold on a background that is intense dark reds and purples, for example. That contrast in tone is what will make your flat textures jump out a bit. You'll have to experiment a lot with brushes of varying hardness until you get a sparkle that is as crisp as you want it without looking like plastic. I have never looked for a tutorial, but I'm sure that there are many out there.  Try using Google and searching for "PhotoShop tutorial" + "sparkle" or "latex" or "glitter" or "sequin"....

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