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Avatar Tutorial for Windows

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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]

Edited by Burns
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[quote name='apophys' timestamp='1298211225' post='79116']
Right-click the image file and select Edit, it opens in Paint by default.
Just as a warning, [.jpg] files and some other formats open by default in other image programs if you have them (for example, .jpg on mine opens in Windows Photo Gallery). [.bmp] almost always opens in paint (on a windows computer, can't speak for Mac of course), and is usually the best format to save your original images in (minimal distortion).

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Admin: I think it would be a good idea to pin this thread so that people could share their tricks and solutions here

Question: how to get grey? I have shading in my original drawings, they scal all righr - but when I export it Gimp translates colors to indexed (or greyscale - one can choose but result is more or less the same)and it looks like all colors go to either black or white (tried brighness etc - it looks like a threshold; up to some color white, otherwise black)

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Just as a personal opinion note… (I use a Mac, by the way)
[.bmp] is a horrendous file type, I personally hate it. It compresses badly and it creates a large file. I would almost always go [.jpeg]
I mean, [.jpeg] was partially created to replace [.bmp], so it follows that it should be better.

[.bmp] stands for bitmap. Bitmaps work by dividing your image into a little tiny grid and remembering what each color, shade, etc for each square in that image is.
~If you scale up a bitmap it will appear jagged because of the way the grid works.
~If you scale down a bitmap it will usually lose a LOT of detail.
Furthermore, bitmaps don't have great built in intelligence. By that I mean that you cannot select, say, all of the "paw" colors on a cat. It only recognizes things that are exactly the same, so what happens when you have multiple colors or shades? Apply that to "black and white" (plus shades from shading) and you have the potential to lose a lot of your greys.

Jpeg compression makes your files much much much smaller, and when you're saving huge scans, I personally see that as a plus.
Some color in extreme color landscapes is usually lost, but in black and white I usually can't find anything that goes missing.

That's all just my personal view and understanding. Feel free to correct me :D

Nice tutorial though apophys. It works great on my Mac too :)

Edited by Brulant
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OK sorry for delay:
some color balance manipulations; changed to RGB, colorize:
alpha channel added:

quality difference isn't it?

what do I do wrong?

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[quote name='xrieg' timestamp='1298842561' post='79694']
alpha channel added:
No, you did something to the effect of "Color to alpha." That's wrong.

The "Add alpha channel" command does no immediately visible change to a picture. But it's necessary to cut off the surrounding background properly.

Following from the forum thumbnail of the second pic,
adding alpha channel, selecting the background by color, and cutting it off, gives this:

Now try doing it yourself. :)

Edited by apophys
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  • 2 years later...

bugger.  I followed all of your steps apophys and when I got to save file by extension gif, it saved it as png instead.




click on - File - Save as - then you will see a pop-up box.  at the bottom of this pop-up box is a plus sign with the words "select file Type (by extension)" following it.  click on that plus sign.  a drop down menu appears and you need to scroll down to "Gif Image"  select that and you have changed the file type to gif.  now just click on SAVE button.

Edited by Blackthorn
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click on - File - Save as - then you will see a pop-up box.  at the bottom of this pop-up box is a plus sign with the words "select file Type (by extension)" following it.  click on that plus sign.  a drop down menu appears and you need to scroll down to "Gif Image"  select that and you have changed the file type to gif.  now just click on SAVE button.

the problem now is, when i do as you have said, I don't get the .gif option.  I get .xcf, bzip archive and gzip archive


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