Alles with Metal Arms

Tutorial - Alles with Metal Arms

This post is all about a simple technique that I use in Photoshop to get rid of those annoying things that can happen when we take pictures in Second Life and we have our hair going through our boobs (cos it’s long and falls that way), or a host of other fashion malfunction situations that are almost as embarrassing. 😀

The picture that you see above is a screen capture from my Photoshop and is of a “blended image”. What happened here is that I shot two images of myself from the same angle, the same lighting and the same screen resolution. The only difference between the two images that I made in Second Life, is that in one image I had a complete left arm (in metal) and in the other image the upper part of my metal arm was missing cos I had detached it.

So you are probably asking why didn’t I just use the image which had my left arm intact? Well here is why …

Snapshot - Keeping Time at Black Kite_026

This is my image as it fills the screen and you can tell that my left shoulder looks a bit wonky to say the least. I could have fixed that in Second Life by editing my upper arm so that its fit onto my body was better but that would have been time consuming to say the least and I might even have made a mess of the procedure as well. So for the next picture I took (well two pictures later actually), I detached the upper arm and the image looked like this (see below).

Keeping Time at Black Kite_028

As you can see now, my left shoulder looks kinda normal although I am obviously missing the upper part of my left arm – and I would like to have that arm in my picture, thanks. So what can I do? Well the simplest way is to blend the two images in Photoshop, where they start out as two separate layers.

In this way I have the image with my full arm in shot as the Background layer and then after selecting and copying the other image in which I am “armless”, I paste that in as Layer One. Naturally once I do that, what you would see on the screen (or what I saw anyway), was the picture of me without an upper arm.

So here is where I use a simple Photoshop tool to get back part of that missing arm and at least make me look kinda normal, well as normal as a woman with metal arms can be I guess?

This tool is called a Layer Mask and it enables me to “paint over” and remove bits of the top layer (Layer One) so that what is still visible below on the Background can now be seen.

Alles with Metal Arms (Layer Mask Added + Layer Mask Button Highlighted)

To activate the Layer Mask I have to left-click on a little button in the bottom right-hand corner of my workspace – and I have highlighted where this little button is with the red circle on the workspace image above. Once I have clicked on this little button, a white box will appear next to the little thumbnail of Layer One but, and this important, only if you have Layer One active (highlighted).

Once you have activated the Layer Mask, then you can start on the fun part of fixing the image, or in may case, adding back part of my metal arm. Firstly on the left-hand side of your Photoshop workspace and right at the very bottom of the column, make sure that the Foreground colour is black – in my case I had to toggle the Foreground and Background colours, so that black and not white was the Foreground. Then move your cursor up the left-hand side column until you reach Brush Tool (B). Click on it and after making sure that it is set at 100% opacity, brush over those bits of the background image that you want to restore.

In my case I had enlarged the image to 50% on my screen and had a brush that was set at 68 pixels wide, which was perfect for the job I was doing. As I moved the brush over the image where my missing arm once was, it began to quickly re-appear as in effect the brush was erasing a part of the upper layer (Layer One). When you are doing this “painting” you will notice that in the tiny white thumbnail in the Layers panel that appeared when Layer Mask was activated, that tiny flecks of black will become visible. This is good!

But as I didn’t want to restore my wonky left shoulder, all I had to do was to paint the brush over that bit of my arm (or where my arm was) that was situated below my left breast. This looked “normal” and was a big improvement on the image that I had shot with the full arm in view. Then I simply merged the two layers and had a new Background which looked like this:

Keeping Time at Black Kite_026 (Layer One is _028 - Masking Complete)

And for the record, I must add that it has taken me a lot longer to write this tutorial than it did to fix up my picture in Photoshop. 😀

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One thought on “Alles with Metal Arms

  1. Thank you for sharing your ‘secret’ Alles! Great to learn from, and if I had the full photoshop I would give it a try, alas my cheapo PS Elements does not have the mask layers and all that, still I may try something similar out 🙂

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