Before I begin, I would like to say that I have Photoshop CS3, every Photoshop version is somewhat different, but versions CS1 and CS2 may be similar to CS3. I am not certain of this.
Not everyone will do this process the same as I do and not everyone has Photoshop. There are most likely simpler ways to edit the avatars, but this is simply the method I tend to use.
When you open your picture, cut away a lot of the white space by cropping the main part of the picture. I do not use the crop tool usually, but instead I use the rectangular marquee tool. It works a bit easier and gives you some room to fix mistakes if you mess up.
[u]Second:[/u] Cut and paste the selected canvas into a new area.
[u]Third: Adjusting/Lightening and Darkening - etc.[/u]
Then go to 'Image' and 'Adjustments'. You can adjust the image by either tinting the black space using the 'color balance' tool, or use levels to lighten/darken the image with the 'Levels' option. This helps with clarity when you resize.
Depending on how you have adjusted the image with color balance and 'levels', you can choose to use the greyscale option in the 'Image --> Mode --> Greyscale' tab. This will flatten the image.
[u]Fifth: Remove flaws[/u]
Now because I am picky, I usually go through using the eraser tool and remove any little splotches in the white area that may have come off with the graphite, but the white area will be removed soon anyway.
Now you will need to revisit the 'Image' tab once more and go to 'Image size'. Be certain that the 'Constrain Proportions' option is enabled, otherwise it may warp the image. I normally start with the 'height' first as the width will automatically adjust when you enter the proper number. (In this case 160x100. But depending on how the image is cut, it will resize without warping it, thus it might leave it a bit off of the proper size.)
[u]Seventh: Adjusting the Size[/u]
Continue to remove as much of the white space as you can with either the 'cropping' tool or the 'rectangular marquee' tool. Be certain to open in a new window, adjusting the size of the new window to 160x100. Make sure that you set the 'Background Contents' to 'Transparent' when you make the new window.
When you paste your picture, if the image is still not quite fitting in the window, go to the 'Edit' tab and choose 'Transform --> Scale'. You will see that the area is able to be manually adjusted, to keep the image shape, hold down the shift key as you adjust.
[u]Eighth: Removing the White Space.[/u]
BE CERTAIN THAT THE BACKGROUND LAYER IS REMOVED! If it is not removed, the image will not show up as transparent.
Now that the image is in the center of the resized space, use the 'Magic Wand' tool to remove a lot, if not most of the outer white space.
If you have shaded the image heavily, I would not suggest using the magic wand tool in the inner white space of the picture as it can take away a lot of the quality. Instead I would suggest upscaling the image to 300-600% (using the scaling area in the lower left hand corner) and manually removing the white space with the 'Lasso' tool and the 'Eraser' tool.
[u]Ninth: Adding the MD Symbol[/u]
Use the type tool and select a simple, clear font at around 2-10pts. depending on which font you use. I would suggest Arial, Tahoma, Comic Sans..etc.
[u]Tenth: Saving as a Transparent GIF[/u]
Go to 'File --> Save for Web & Devices' be certain to select the 'GIF' option. You can give it a dither but I've found that this tends to make the image look a bit scratchy, you can also click 'Interlaced' though I'm not entirely certain what that does. Sorry folks, that tiny bit I haven't figured out yet, but it doesn't appear to harm the image so, eh- I click it anyway.
And last, hit 'Save' and name it.
Finally, you are ready to upload the avatar.
[*]I would suggest keeping the image in the MD style, if you use too much shading the picture will look somewhat flat and be difficult to edit. The shading may come out looking strange and not give the desired effect as well, so I would stick to light shading or 'sketching' when making these avatars.
[*]If you have a tablet, use it as much as possible, it makes this whole thing ten times easier.
[*]You can darken/lighten in several ways in photoshop, there is also a tool called the 'Burn' tool that helps with darkening certain areas. So if you want some shading to stand out more while others you want to 'fade', darken certain areas with this. It will give your avatar a polished look.
[*]Do not make the image too dark, if it is too dark it will look too contrasted against the textured background of MD. You can lighten the image by using 'Image --> Adjustments --> Levels or Brightness/Contrast'. Both work equally well.
Again, not everyone will do this process as I do, and there are probably simpler ways.. but I do hope this helps for those of you who decide to go to photoshop.com and download the free trial. Not sure if it will help with the GIMP program that Yrthilian had suggested, I have never used that particular program before.
If you know of easier ways to do this, please post them below. [img]http://magicduel.invisionzone.com/public/style_emoticons/default/smile.gif[/img]
There was a request for an easy-to-use GIMP tutorial to make raw avatar scans upload-worthy, so I made one.
GIMP is free software; go to [url="http://www.gimp.org/"]www.gimp.org[/url] to download.
I start off by cropping and resizing in MS Paint, because it's waaaaay easier to do this in Paint. Then I go to GIMP for contrast and transparency.
This tutorial is complete with all of the steps I use for my own uploads, so it will work for yours.
Copy the image file to have a backup.
Right-click the image file and select Edit, it opens in Paint by default.
If you have lines or stuff (for example from lined paper) obscuring your drawing, use the eraser tool to get rid of them. Don't worry about the white space left behind; whiter-than-paper stuff goes away with contrast.
If you need to stretch or compress the image to make it look better, now is the time to do so, for minimal quality loss. Either Select All (Ctrl+A) and drag the selection handles, or use the resize functionality.
Select All (Ctrl+A) and drag to the top left corner to cut off extra space.
Click outside of the selection.
Drag the bottom right corner's handle to cut extra space off the canvas.
Maintaining aspect ratio, resize to 100 pixels wide. If it turns out to be more than 160 pixels high at this point, undo (Ctrl+Z) and resize to 160 high instead.
Using the bottom or side handle of the canvas, increase the space to 100x160 pixels.
Select All (Ctrl+A) and drag the image to the center.
It will certainly look weird at this point, having bars of white, but they will disappear with contrast in GIMP. Save (Ctrl+S) and close Paint.
Right-click the image file --> Open With... --> gimp-2.6.exe (a newer version may be named differently)
Image --> Mode --> Grayscale
Colors --> Brightness-Contrast
Increase the Contrast slider until the background is uniform, then fiddle with the brightness and contrast until it looks good. With my scanner's images, I normally have to change the contrast about 60 and the brightness about -30.
Image --> Mode --> RGB
Colors --> Colorify (NOT Colorize; they are different) --> Custom color --> enter "f1efd6". This is the color Mur specified; its purpose is to make the avatar blend better with the background of MD.
If you didn't draw the MD letters somewhere on your image, add them now with the Text Tool. It's in the toolbox on the left; click it and click in the image where you want to add text, type in "MD", pick a font and size it.
Layer --> Transparency --> Add Alpha Channel
Select --> By Color --> click on the backgound, hit Delete (or cut with Ctrl+X).
Save As... --> Select file type (by extension) --> GIF image --> (converting to indexed by default) Export --> type in author name in the comment box and Save.
And you're done. [img]http://magicduel.invisionzone.com/public/style_emoticons/default/smile.gif[/img]
I decided to mess around and sketch an idea I had for an avatar. I'm really new to this game, so I was looking for some advice on how to make this better. I know I still need to make it translucent and I probably need to clean up some linework. Any other suggestions, thoughts? Am I on the right track?