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Old Aug. 3rd, '08, 9:36 pm   #1
jujimum
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Default Avatar Tutorial - Serif PhotoPlus 6 (free)

Here is a tutorial for making basic avatars using the free program "Serif PhotoPlus 6". The program can be downloaded here:

http://www.freeserifsoftware.com/sof...us/default.asp (make sure you choose 6, the other isn't free)

After installing, you will need to get a code in your Email before continuing. This usually shows up right away. Assuming you installed the program to it's default recommendation, you might want to make a shortcut to your desktop. To do this, go to My Computer > C: > Program Files > Serif > PhotoP60 > Program. Find the file "PhotoPlus.exe", right click on it and then go to Send to > Desktop (create shortcut). Once it's on your desktop, and if youranal like me, you'll want to rename it to "PhotoPlus" (that's purely optional but I hate seeing the word shortcut on my desktop).

After everything is installed and setup we can continue. NOTE: Anytime I tell you to look for a window and it is not there, go to View and select the window name I mentioned. This will bring up that window for you to see.

Open up PhotoPlus 6.

Go to the web and get an image you want to use. I will be using the following image for this tutorial.

http://www.sportslogos.net/logo.php?...sch5xhjjfaof90

We're going to turn that logo, into this avatar:



This tutorial should work with any logo avatar.

Right click on the Cardinal logo and then select copy image.

Go back to PhotoPlus and select Edit > Paste as new image.

*Optional but recommended* Go to the Layer Manager Window. It should be on the rigth side of the program and look like this:



Right click on the word "Background". Then select "Promote to Layer". It should now read Layer 1. You can edit that text by double clicking it and bringing up the layer properties. I usually don't name my layers but for this tutorial I will. If you haven't done so, double click the word "Background" which should bring up a box that looks like this:



Where it says Layer 1, highlight it and type logo.

OK, now the fun stuff.

Select the color selection tool from the tools menu on the left of the program. Shown here:



On the top right of the program should be a window that's called Tool Properties. There should be an option for Tolerance. Change it to 25 from 0.

Go to the logo, and click any of the surrounding black edges. After it's selected, hit delete. Do this until all the black is gone except for what's on the bird. Now, click on the thick white outline of the bird. At the top of the program click on Select > Modify > Feather. Change that value from somewhere between 3-5 (I used 3 for this tutorial). Then click delete. Feathering helps blend your image into the background. Your image should look like this:



Go to the square selection tool on the left of the program:



Now, go to your image and make a square starting from the top left of the image and dragging to the bottom left of the image. You selection should look like this:



Go to Image > Crop to selection. This will remove any of the dead space surrounding the image. Don't worry if you see some "faded X's" afterwards, this is just to give you extra working space.

Now, this is where personal preference will come into play so once you get the idea of things after this tutorial, you'll want to play around.

The avatars at XBox-Sports.com are 150X150 pixels. Right now our 'bird' is way too big. So we'll want to shrink it to size. For this tutorial, we want the bird to be as big as possible but also provide some working room for effects. So go to Image > Image size. A window shoudl appear that looks like this:



Make sure that "Maintain Aspect ratio" is checked otherwise it will distort your image. Since this logo is wider than it is tall, we're only going to make it fit by adjusting the width. So where it says width, change it to 130 (make sure the dropdown says pixels like the image above).

So we can see what space we have to work with, go to Image > Canvas size and change everything in that window to look like this. This will expand your canvas while keeping the log centered (that is why we select the dot in the center of the window):



Click OK.

We are now going to add a background. Using the Color Pickup Tool on the left:



Click on the red part of the logo.

Now go to the Layer Manager window and click on the image that looks like a piece of paper with a plus sign on it (see below):



This will prompt us with the Layer Properties. Change "Layer 1" to "background". We just added a new layer to our image.

Now, click and hold that layer. While holding it, drag it down under the "logo" layer in that same window. Your Layer Manager Window should look like this:



Now, back to the tools on the left. Click the "Fill Tools" making sure you have the paint bucket looking image (see below):



Take that tool and click anywher on the image (make sure the background layer is selected in the Layer Manager Window) and this should give you a red background.

Now, there are quite a few different effects we can use here. There are options under the Image menu (Distort, Blur, Edge, Noise, Render, Other) and also unde the Layers > Effects menu (bevel and drop shadow). Feel free to play around with these knowing you can always select Edit > Undo (or CTRL+Z) if you don't like the effect. For this tutorial, just follow along.

In your Layer Manager window, click on the layer titled logo. Then go to Layers > Effects > Drop Shadows. This will bring up a Drop Shadow Filter window. Experiment with what you like here. I used the following values.

Opacity - 75, Blur - 10, Angle - 315, Depth - 10

You can always see the difference your changes made by clicking/unclicking the Apply Drop Shadow box. Make sure that box is selected and click OK.

Select your Color Pickup Tool again (see above).

In the Color Window (should be on the right), there are two boxes with an arrow pointing to both. Those are your foreground and background colors. This is important if you want to do gradients. Which we will do for the sake of learning.



We will leave the foreground alone but want to change the background. Click, ONLY ONCE, the background color. Then click on the yellow beak of the bird.

Now add a layer (see above), re-name it border, but don't move it. Leave it above the other two layers.

Go to your Fill Tools (see above) but this time click the little arrow to the right and select the Gradient Fill Tool (as opposed to the Flood Fill Tool/paint bucket). Now, making sure your border layer is selected. Click and hold on the very top of the image and drag down to the very bottom. Your image should look like this (I expanded my workspace so ignore the x pattern if you don't see it on yours):



Grab your square selection tool again (see above) and then just inside the top left corner, click and hold. Then drag towards the bottom right while pressing the CTRL key on the keyboard. This keeps the selection squared as opposed to rectangle. Your selection should look like this:



Now click delete and then press CTRL+D to deselect the image. There's your border. Obviously you can change the colors of your border by changing the foreground and background colors. This is just to get you used to the tools.

Last edited by jujimum; Aug. 4th, '08 at 4:04 am.
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Old Aug. 3rd, '08, 9:36 pm   #2
jujimum
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The image needs some "flair", right?

Select the logo layer. Go to Layers > Effects > Bevel. Again, play with the settings but here is what I used. Once again, you can preview the changes by selecting/unselecting the "Apply Bevel" box.

Opacity - 100, Blur - 2, Angle - 315, Highlight Color - White, Shadow Color - Black

Click OK. Image should look like this:



I want more, do you? Let's select the background layer. Once selected go to Image > Render > Lens Flare. Personally, I liked the default settings on this. But know that you can chang the type to Normal, 35mm, and 105mm. You can also click on the star cursor in the preview image and move it around to where you like. Again, it's all up to you. Like Bob Ross used to say, "It's your world". So my settings ended up being:

Lens type - Normal, Brightness - 100, and I left the location alone.

Now, I'd like to add two more things.

Let's add something to the border. Click on the border layer. Then click Layers > Effects > Bevel. We can go small here, we just want to add a little depth. So I went with the following:

opacity - 40, Blur - 1, angle - 315, Highlight - White, Shadow - Black.

Click OK. I still want some depth to my border so now go right back to Layers > Effects > Drop Shadows. We again only want to add just a little to this and not have it be the focus of the avatar. So, I went with the following:

Opacity - 85, Blur - 6, Angle - 315, Shadow color - Black

click OK.

And finally we need a name. Here is where you can make or break your avatar. So far, our avatar is fairly elegent. Not the greatest, but nice and clean. Normally you would use a gamertag here but since this is a generic avatar, we'll just use the team name.

Select the Text Tools (by clicking the blackened A shown below).



Click towards the lower left of the image. A window will pop up (as well as automatically make a new layer). Everyone is going to have different fonts on their computer. Find one that looks good and then tweak it. For the tutorial's sake, I'm using Arial Black and I selected the slanted I for italics. I used a font size of 12 and the color black.

I'm sure after clicking OK, you're not happy with where the text is. Mine was hidden by the logo. So we need to select the move tool to move it. It's the North, East, South, West icon below:



Once you have that tool, drag the text to where you want it. I recommend clicking a little bit away from the actual text so the tool doesn't get in your way. You'll stil be able to move it. I dragged mine to the lower left of the image.

Basically it's finished. But we can add something to the text. But first we'll need to render the text. Make sure it's spelled correctly since once you render it, you can't edit the text. So in the Layer Manager, right click on the Cardinal layer and select "Render text layer". Now we can tweak that layer.

I decided not to tweak it as it stood out enough.

That's it, we're ready to save.

Go to File > Export, make sure the dropdown menu says JPEG, give your file a name (don't forget to check where you're saving it), and click Save.
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Old Aug. 3rd, '08, 10:30 pm   #3
Danzerino
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Thank you juji for this great post, I really appreciate it.
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Old Aug. 3rd, '08, 10:41 pm   #4
jujimum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carey Price View Post
Thank you juji for this great post, I really appreciate it.
No problem....well, it did take me a long time

But I forgot to say that it looks more intimidating than it is. It's long only because I tried to explain everything as if it's the first time someone has done an avatar.

I also forgot to add that I just got the program late last night, but I will be more than happy to answer any questions/problems someone might have. It might take me a while to find the answer because the program is VERY new to me.
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Old Aug. 3rd, '08, 10:45 pm   #5
Bartsy
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Great post for anyone looking to get into doing some avatars. + Rep for you Jim
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Old Aug. 3rd, '08, 10:59 pm   #6
Jonezy48
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Thank You! Now I can leave Bartlett alone about the Avy's
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Old Aug. 4th, '08, 12:05 am   #7
GrandmasterB
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jujimum View Post
No problem....well, it did take me a long time

But I forgot to say that it looks more intimidating than it is. It's long only because I tried to explain everything as if it's the first time someone has done an avatar.

I also forgot to add that I just got the program late last night, but I will be more than happy to answer any questions/problems someone might have. It might take me a while to find the answer because the program is VERY new to me.
Writing tutorials is no easy task. I've written a few on my blog and it's a pain in the rear.
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Old Aug. 4th, '08, 1:59 am   #8
darktrc
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nice job Juji
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Old Aug. 4th, '08, 2:51 am   #9
Jepockn
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Awesome Awesome job juji. I might have to try photoplus out and go through your tutorial sometime

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Old Aug. 4th, '08, 3:57 am   #10
jujimum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaabik View Post
Awesome Awesome job juji. I might have to try photoplus out and go through your tutorial sometime
Good luck

The program is very limited with what it can do. However, it's only about a 25mb download or something which isn't too shabby. It has an animation builder built within, but I don't quite understand how it works. Going from image to image is easy, but adding effects doesn't make sense (to me).

I've only had it a day though. It's definitely not a substitute for Photoshop, but I think it's great for beginners and would also help make the transition to Photoshop a lot easier if you ever go that route.

Version 8 is only 9.99usd and I don't think that's a bad deal. I didn't upgrade in order to do the tutorial with the free version. However, I might think about it in the future. Photoplus 8 has an extraction tool which would be needed to cut out players.

They also have a newer version Photoplus X2. That version is expensive at 79usd, but still a heck of a lot cheaper than Photoshop It even works with .psd files.
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