Software Required: Photoshop 7.0.1/CS/CS2 & Second Life

If you are using Photoshop 7.0, please make sure you upgrade to Photoshop 7.0.1. See this post for more details.

1. Download and install the Photoshop Action

Figure 1
  1. Download the Photoshop action
  2. Load Photoshop and make the Actions palette visible. If it's not, look under the Window menu and you'll find it there. The keyboard shortcut is Alt F9 (Windows) or Option F9 (Mac).
  3. Select Load Actions from the palette menu (Fig. 1) and choose the SecondLife.atn file you just downloaded.

2. Take a screenshot in Second Life

  1. My suggestion is to construct a white box you can use as a background to take your screenshots. If you're modeling white clothing, you may want to use another color like a bright green or blue.
  2. Another suggestion, and this only works if transparent attachments are not a part of your outfit, is to turn off alpha rendering. This gets rid of the very small, annoying shadows that appear around your ankles. First activate the Client/Server menus by hitting Ctrl Alt Shift D (Windows) or Command Option Shift D (Mac). Then hit Control Alt Shift 2 (Windows) or Command Option Shift 2 (Mac) to turn off alpha rendering.
  3. Now, line up your camera so that you're facing your avatar straight on. You may find that this is more difficult than it sounds, especially if you want your eyes or head facing a certain direction. The advent of Gestures to create model poses was a great boon for making mannequins -- use them if you can and have fun. Take lots of screenshots so you have many to choose from. I personally use an alternate account I specifically created for taking photos, but I know not all of you are blessed with two computers sitting right next to each other. But you can always have a friend take shots for you or maybe even hire an in-world photographer.
  4. Even if you don't have any custom gestures, you can get some fun shots by combining the standard animations. Try doing the flip animation and take a shot near the end during the "big smile." Dance around and stick out your tongue. Experiment!

3. Create the Mannequin in Photoshop

Figure 2

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  1. Open your screenshot in Photoshop. Double click on the Background layer and click OK (Fig. 2) to make it float. This will help create our mask later on. The background layer should now be called "Layer 0"
  2. Now we need to get rid of the white (or whatever color you chose) background. There are a couple of ways to do this, but because we only want to select the background and not any white that might be found on the avatar (for instance, the jewelry) we're going to use the Magic Wand tool.
  3. Use the Magic Wand tool to click on the white background. It gives me a nice selection (see the marquee in Fig. 3) but notice that it doesn't include the space in between the avatar's arms. To add this space to your selection hold down the SHIFT key and you'll notice that the Magic Wand gets a little "+" next to it. Use the Magic Wand and click in any areas of white that still remain unselected until you have the entire background selected. Now hit the DELETE key. Your image should look like Fig. 4.
  4. Don't deselect! If you did out of habit, just Undo so you have your background selection marquee intact.
  5. Select the Mask from Selection action from your action palette and click the run button (the VCR-style run button at the bottom of the palette - see Fig. 5). After a couple seconds you should end up with your avatar on a black background. If you click to the Channels tab, you'll also notice that an Alpha Channel was created automatically for you.
  6. Feel free to crop or reduce the size of the image if you like. Remember that Second Life loves textures that are 256x256 or 512x512 or a combination of those heights and widths (512 x 256 etc).

4. Save Your File

Figure 6
  1. You've been saving your file while you work, right? Well, now you should choose Save As from the File menu and choose TGA file type. Make sure the Alpha Channels button is selected. (Fig. 6).
  2. Also make sure you save the TGA file as 32 bit to keep our alpha channel (transparency) intact.(Fig. 7).

Figure 7

5. Upload to Second Life

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  1. In case you forgot, turn Alpha Rendering back on by hitting Control Alt Shift 2 (Windows) or Command Option Shift 2 (Mac).
  2. Upload your new TGA file into Second Life. Once it finishes, open your inventory and find the image in your textures folder
  3. I usually create a (virtual) life-size box (prim) and place it next to my avatar for height. I then flatten it so it's (virtual) paper-thin. (Fig. 8)
  4. Then I apply a transparent texture to the entire box, making it invisible (Fig.9). Why did I do this? Well, if you don't, you'll have a small border around the box where the default texture shows up on the (very small) sides.
  5. Last, using the Select Texture Tool in Second Life, I select the flat sides of the box and drop my texture onto them. (Fig. 10)
  6. Voila! You're ready to make some more!

Comments, questions, etc send an IM to Nicola Escher in-world. Have fun!