Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making a male skin - Starlight Step 4

Hi People!

This will be the last step in making our male skin, making the body hair.  We have some preparatory work to do here, it's fairly simple but it will sound very odd when I tell you what it is. You'll have to just set your disbelief aside for a while and trust me.  We're going to create two new Paint Brushes for GIMP, one of the new brushes will be a single hair that curves to the left, and the other a single hair that curves to the right.

I know, I know.  A single hair?  As a paint brush?  I agree, it does sound pretty weird.  But what we'll do is use some of the more advanced capabilities of the Paint Brush tool to apply jitter (randomness) and some spacing to our new paint-brushes.  I think you'll be surprised at how easy it is, and how nice it looks.

Creating the paint brushes is a fairly mechanical process, probably about 70% mechanical and 30% creative.  The use of the paintbrush is easy but very creative, I would say that the values swap, 30% mechanical and 70% creative.

I did a google image search for 'male body hair'.  There is a huge variation from man to man and frankly some of the pictures are pretty scary.  But after looking them over you can get an idea of what looks 'normal' and what does not.  (You may have "other" ways of doing this survey of male body hair... we will not get into that here! *blushes* )

The obvious things are leg and arm hair - those are given. Facial hair is a given too.  Many (most?) guys shave but having a stubble seems to be a popular male 'marker' in SL.   Everyone also has pubic hair (duh!) but it's patten and density on the skin does vary a lot.  And everyone has underarm hair, but it's rarely seen in SL.  Many men do not have chest hair, but most do, and there are several distinct patterns to it.  You will have to choose your own pattern, or could create several as options.  And then there is butt, back and shoulder hair.  Personally I don't care for that so much and so I left it off.

One word about some limitations imposed by the Second Life textures on our hair creations.  A man's pubic hair often extends up from his tummy to his tummy and then to his chest, and if he has hair on his butt, it may do the same going up his back.  In Second Life terms, this crosses the lower template to the upper template and will create a seam at that boundary if we paint it in that way.  So plan to terminate the pubic hair below the seam and start any chest/tummy hair well above the seam.  And if you do butt and back hair, do the same there.

Now let's talk about the underarm hair for a moment.  I think we should have some but if you look at the area we'll be putting it, it is rife with seams.  This will sound strange, but we will go ahead and apply some hair there, ignoring all the dire warnings on seams and the creation thereof.  The truth of the matter is that the underarms are little seen, but applying some hair there let's a little poke out now and then in a natural way.  So my vote will be to put some in - you may decide for yourself of course.

Now let's get started.... the first step is to create these rather strange sounding GIMP hair paint brushes:

GIMP hair Paint Brushes

I have to admit from the start that most of my experience with male body hair has been with with males of the so-called Caucasian persuasion.  It has occured me me that people of other persuasions  may want to use a different 'style' hair here but I honestly don't know what guidance to give you.  If your experience tells you that this hair is wrong for the skin you are making, by all means pay attention to it and make a different hair than the one I will show you now.

Let's make a single hair GIMP paint brush (wow does that sound odd!):
  • Open GIMP and use File -> New and tell it to create a 16x16 image.
  • Now add a new transparent layer to that image using the button just below the list of layers in the Layers window.
  • Click on the Foreground color.  I set my color to a dark brown even though I am my skin is intended for an avatar with blond hair.  I suggest you do the same for now.  My HSV value is 32,86,23.
  • Choose the Paint Brush tool on the tools window and choose the smallest possible circular paint brush.  (1 pixel)
  • Make sure the new transparent layer is selected and  draw a single line starting near the top of the making a slight curve to the left as you do so.  (see the image of the hair I created)
  • If some spots look a little light due to anti-aliasing, go back and touch them up making them a little darker.
  • Now turn off the background white layer (click the eye) and use File->Save As and give the file the name "hair left.gbr"  when asked for a description, type in "Hair Left".
Now repeat the above process and create a hair that is curling slightly to the right.  Here's a picture of the left curling hair-paint-brush.

Now we need to move the paint brushes into the proper directory.  For windows 7, it's located in [YOUR ID]\.gimp-2.6\brushes, you can find it by clicking Start->[YOUR ID].  Mac and Linux users will have to find their equivalents for themselves.  Once you have the folder located, move the two gbr files you just created into it and exit GIMP.  The next time you start GIMP those brushes will be available.

Making Body Hair with GIMP Paint Brushes

Now for the creative part, we'll work though each texture in turn, starting with the lower texture .... we'll do the leg hair first.
  • restart GIMP loading your starlight_lower m yymmdd.xcf texture into it.
  • In your layer window, go to the top of the list, and near the top, just after the cmff base and the Another Skin layers, create a new transparent layer and call it male leg hair 1.
  • Turn on the cmff base layer and set its opacity to about 10%, you'll need this to guide you in the placement of the hair to come
  • Choose the Paint Brush tool from your tools window, select 'hair left' as your paint brush, turn on 'apply jitter', setting the amount of jitter to something between 5 and 10.  And set the spacing, found on the bottom of the Layer window and set it for about 10.  Experiment and see what you like - remember to use ctl-z to back up a step or two to erase your experiments.
  • Now exercise your creativity and paint the leg with hair.  You can adjust the scale up and down to create smaller hairs (0.8) and larger hairs (1.4).  I would suggest that there by less hair on the knee than in other places.   Try to keep the hair more sparse at the edge of the template (inner and outer thigh) to minimize the creation of seams as much as possible.
  • Once you feel your about halfway done, switch brushes to 'hair right' and repeat what you have done in the previous step, some hairs of scale 1, some of 0.8 and some of 1.4 or so.  If you'd like to create multiple layers for your leg hair, feel free to do so.  I would suggest doing so by hair size (scale).
  • As you play with this, adjust the opacity of the hair layer you're creating. If it's starting to look too dark you can either have less hair, or make the hair you have less opaque.
There is clearly a lot of latitude in creating the leg hair for your avatar.  If you make the hair rather sparse, the likelihood of creating a visible seam is small.  If you try to create 'fur' though, you may run into a problem with seams.  So my advice is to keep is sparse.

Once you're finished with the leg hair, create a new transparent layer for the pubic hair.  Follow the same proceedure as outlined above, but use larger scales in general and reduce the scale and the spacing.  The pubic hair should be darker, more dense and longer in general than the leg hair.   I found that I had to do some 'trimming' of the pubic hair after I'd created it using the eraser with a large fuzzy circular brush (scale about 8) and you may find you need to do the same.  But wait until you upload the temporary texture and apply it to your avatar to judge what you need to do.

Remember, for the pubic hair, keep it away from the waist of your template.  A seam in that area is VERY visible.    Here's a picture of what I ended up with when making this male skin... I ended up with two leg hair layers, both set to an opacity of 33, and one pubic hair layer set to an opacity of 55.

I expect you're a bit nervous about the hair extending beyond the edge of the leg templates...... me too!  So I did a quick check, uploading my starlight_lower m yymmdd.jpg as a temporary texture to check.  Here's the picture.... I can't see a seam.  Can you?  (click on the image to get a larger view)

I think that as we made the hair heavier and darker, there would be a point where the seam would begin to show.  But we're ok with what we have here.

Now its time to move to the upper texture.  So load starlight_upper m yymmdd.xcf and create three new transparent layers at the top of the list of layers.  I named mine male arm hair, male chest hair and male underarm hair

For the male arm hair, I used the same brushes but just the smaller versions, a scale of 0.8 and maybe a little 1.0. 
For the chest and underarm hair I used the three sizes we talked about earlier and you may want to adjust the jitter and the spacing as you change the size.

I set the opacity of the three layers to:
  • male arm hair = 40
  • male chest hair = 55
  • male underarm hair = 55
Finally the facial hair...  I'm sure you can guess the details by now so I won't repeat them.  :)

I just created a simple stubble for this, but you may want to try something more complex.  For a stubble do the same things we have been doing all along but make the hair size smaller, perhaps 0.7 or 0.6.  And likewise make the jitter smaller and the spacing smaller.  I set the opacity of the male facial hair layer to 88.

Now go back to the 'checking your work' in the last post and do it again.  This time upload your temporary textures with hair included.  You'll likely do this several times, I know I did. 

And finally after many uploads, iterations and adjustments..... you're done!!  You made a starlight male skin!  Congratulations!!


PS:  In a future post I'll take my versions of this skin and change the skin tone to something darker.   My experience in the past with this sort of thing is that Second Life puts some limits on this sort of thing.  As it is possible for a skin to be too light for Second Life, it is also possible for a skin to be too dark.   There are real-life light skin colors that are just too light for Second Life to render well.  And there are real-life dark skin colors that are just too dark for Second Life to render well.   But never fear, we'll be able to make a nice dark skin, I'm sure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making a male skin - Starlight step 3

I'm back!

In the previous post we worked very hard making adjustments to the starlight upper texture and adding the necessary layers to allow it to be used in a male skin.  So now we'll work on the adjustments ( no additions) to the other two textures, the lower and the face. This will not be nearly as long or as arduous as the upper texture was, and you have gained valuable experience which should make this a piece of cake.

starlight_lower m yymmdd.xcf - buffed up and final adjustments

After all the work we did on the upper layer, this is going to be pretty anti-climatic.  There are really just two layers to work on to buff up the legs a bit.  Both layers involved the thigh muscle on the front of each leg.  As before the problem is that the highlight is a bit too smooth and we need to make it just a bit more lumpy. 

Before you get started do a google image search for male body models to get an idea of how this should look.  Here's what I did for my layer mask::
  • Turn on the grid for the cmff base layer as we have done before on the upper texture 
  • Turn off the 'front highlight thigh' layer.
  • Select the 'front.shift.thigh' layer, right click and choose 'add layer mask' as we have done before.  And make it white.
  • Select the Airbrush tool and make the foreground color black.  Make the scale about 6.
  • Now paint the area just above the knee to reduce the highlighting there.  I also reduced it a little bit toward the outside of each thigh slightly above the knee.  
  • As we always do, switch the color to white and touch up what you may have overdone, changing the size of the paintbrush as you need
  • and repeat the last two steps until you are satisfied.
Then, as we did before, find the 'front light thigh' layer, turn it back on and do the same thing we just did to the 'front shift thigh' layer..  Here's a picture of the layer mask I created.

That's it!  We're done with the fancy airbrushing and layer masks!  Take a break, walk around the room and SAVE YOUR FILE!

Now its time to make some adjustments to the intensity of the highlights.  This is subjective so if you decide you want more highlights than I do, or less, that's ok.  The important thing is that what you do for the upper highlights must be matched by what you do in the lower highlights.  (we won't be changing the shadows at all)  So immediately after making adjustments on the lower layer, we'll move to the upper and finally to the face, making adjustments to the layers there too.  All of these adjustments will just be to the opacity of the layers, we won't change the mode or do any more fancy airbrushing.

I'll go through a list of layers for the lower texture now and share the values for the opacity that I have used for this male skin... starting at the top and working our way down:
  • front.light.abs = 66
  • front light abdomen = 66
  • front light thigh = 66
  • front light knee = 66
  • front light shin = 66
  • front shift thigh = 100
  • back light buttock 1 = 66
  • back light buttock 2 = 66
When I change the opacity of a layer I usually make some note of it by adding something to the name of the layer.  It might be the number that I changed it to ... or it might be just some signal like "*" or "<<".  You might want to do the same.  You can feel free to adjust these values in the future to something more to your liking, but for now it's probably best to start with these.

starlight_upper m yymmdd.xcf ... final adjustments

Now here's the list of layers in the upper texture on which I have changed the opacity:
  • navel upper light = 66
  • navel bottom light = 66
  • breastB.chest light = 66
  • breast highlight male lower = 55
  • breast highlight male upper = 33
  • breastB.breast upper 66
  • breastB breast shade 1 = 100
  • collarbone = 44
  • abs highlight = 66
  • abs side = 66
  • abs shift = 100
  • arm lower light = 33
  • arm bicep light male = 55
  • arm upper light = 33
  • arm lower light = 33
As I said on the lower texture file, feel free to adjust these values to your liking sometime in the future.  But for now, I'd suggest that you use these.

starlight_face m yymmdd.xcf final adjustments

The main thing I did with face texture was to be sure the makeup is off, including lipstick, eye shadow and eye liner.  And then adjust the lip color to something that I liked.  To do this I set these layers as shown below:
  • lipsA base darker = 22, multiply
  • lipsA base lighter = off
  • lipsA base = off
And I then adjusted the facial highlights to match the highlights of the upper texture:
  • cheek corner light = 66
  • check light = 66
  • chin light = 66
  • eye bottom light = 66
  • forehead light = 66
  • ears light = 66
Also remember to experiment with the different choices of noses, lips and eyes. 

Ok!  We're done!  Yay!

Checking your work

The most awful thing that can occur in modifying one of Eloh's startlight skin is that the seams between textures and within the texture become visible.  The open source skin's Eloh provides us as starting points do NOT have visible seams, so if any show up they are simply our fault.

So.. it's time to check your work.  Load the latest versions of each of the textures you have been working on into GIMP.  For the upper and lower textures, save them as jpg files, for the face texture, save it as a png file.

Now we'll upload them into Second Life.  I recommend that you use a viewer that can upload temporary textures to do this because uploading temporary textures is free.  My current favorite to do this is Firestorm.  To upload a temporary texture you use Build->Upload->Texture, choose the texture when it shows you the folders and then tick the 'temporary' box when the viewer shows you the file you've selected, and click Upload.

Once you're logged in and have your textures uploaded its time to try them on.  You'll need to be somewhere where nudity is permitted, like an Adult Sandbox, or if you are not adult verified, find a place that is sparsely populated (use ctl-shift-1 and look at the Main Agents, that tells you the number of people in the Sim).   I'll be using Firestorm as my point of reference here so you'll have to interpret if you're using something else....
  • Press the inventory button and find the second inventory button at the bottom of the inventory window to open up a second inventory window. 
  • Make a copy of one of the skins in the Library and put it in a folder named 'body', then name the skin 'my skin yymmdd' and double click it to wear it.
  • Now right click your avatar and choose Appearance->edit outfit->body parts->(your skin name here)  (there's a little screw driver and wrench icon to click)
  • You will now see three small window-ish things at top labeled 'head tatto', 'upper tatto' and 'lower tatto'  (yes, I know its spelled 'tattoo').  That's where you will put the textures you have uploaded.
  • Open the textures folder in the left inventory window and drag each of the textures you have uploaded to the appropriate window on the right.
  • Press "Save" and then "X" to exit.
Now use your 'cam-ing skills' to closely inspect the seams of the skin you have just made.  Check each of these in turn
  • Upper/lower seam at the waist, front and back
  • Upper/face seam at the neck, front and back
  • Shoulder seam in the upper texture, front and back
  • Arm seam in the upper texture, down the bicep and in the back, along the tricep
  • leg seams in the lower texture - the outside of the leg and the inner leg
  • There are seams in the face texture too - but these usually don't seem to cause a problem, or are often covered by hair.
If you can actually SEE any of these seams, if you see a line of sorts in these places.... you have a problem that needs to be corrected.  There's no absolute prescription on how to do the correction, sometimes its a simple matter of finding the error and fixing it.  Sometimes you just have to begin again.

I tried to show you a way of doing the male skin here that would have a minimum of seam problems, so lets go on and look at what we've done.    Look at the male pects, lighting and shadow.  You may decide you need a little more or less of one or the other.  That's fine.  Once you have verified that you have no seams in your skin, you can go ahead and make changes to personalize it to the way you want to look.  Likewise inspect the abs... too much?  too little?  All of this is totally subjective and up to you.  Just be sure, as you make changes, to keep inspecting for the dreaded seams.... and provide yourself a way to backup to a previous level if you find you've introduced one.

And Finally.......

Once you're happy with the results of your hairless male skin, we can move on to the final step - making hair!  That's in the next post.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making a male skin - Starlight step 2

Hi again!

Today we'll work on "starlight_upper m yymmdd".  First we'll work on creating the male pectoral shading and highlights (aka pects) and then we'll work on the abdominal muscle definition (abs) and the bicep definition.  Let's get started. 


My first thought was to simply turn on the nipple layers in the starlight skin given to us by Eloh. But after doing that and looking at the result... it didn't look quite right.  The nipples were not quite in the right spot for a man's skin and they were a bit on the large size.  So I decided to turn the starlight nipples off again and go get the nipples from the lf0y_upper file and work with those.   Here's my earlier post on how to find copies of lf0y on the web:

So go forth and download!

Once you've downloaded and unpacked the files, start GIMP and load lf0y_upper.psd into it.  Then....
  • Resize the file to 1024x1024 with Image->Scale Image and tell it 1024x1024
  • Find the 'nipples' layer and select it.  Then resize it using Layer -> Layer to Image Size.
  • Press Ctl-C to make a copy of the layer
  • Find and open your starlight upper file, 'starlight_upper m yymmdd.xcf"
  • Find the general area of the nipples layers and create a new transparent layer in a convenient place above or below them.  Then press Ctl-V to paste the lf0y nipples layer from your clipboard and click the anchor button to put it in the new transparent layer.
  • Change the name of this layer to 'nipples male'
  • Change the mode to multiply
The nipples look a little pale now but that will be easily remedied later.  First let's move them a bit to where we want them.
  • Make two copies of the 'nipple male' layer and change the names to 'nipple male left' and 'nipple male right'.
  • Turn on the grid by turning on the "cmff  base" layer.  Recall that in the last post we moved it to the top of the layers list and set the opacity to about 10%, so it should now be faintly visible.
  • Now select 'nipple male right', choose the Move tool from the Tools window and below on the Tools window select 'move the active layer'
  • If you look at the image to the right you can see where I moved the nipple to.  I tried to make it so that the upper right edge was just touching the old center point.  Use your mouse to move the nipple to a similar position. 
  • There will be a little of the nipple that spills beyond the ring around the center point... we need to trim that off or it will smear and look very odd.  So select the Eraser tool on the tools menu and adjust the scale to somewhere around 6 with a hard edged circle as the 'paint brush' and use the edge to nibble away at the part of the nipple outside the circle.
  • There were two nipples in each layer, so now we need to go erase the other.  Since we're working on the right nipple, we need to erase the left from this layer.  So use your Eraser tool to do so.
Now repeat the above process for the other nipple.  When you're done make copies of both and you should have a nice level of darkness for both nipples.

This is probably a good time to save your file.  Remember to give it a new date when you to so, or give it a number of a letter in addition if you already have a saved copy with todays date (like this starlight_upper m yymmdd-2.xcf)

Pectoral Muscles - Shadow

Next we'll work with the pects' shadow.  There is a bit of creative license in this step but it's not too bad.  It's probably about 60% mechanical and 40% creative.

In truth, it's strongly connected with the pects' higlights we'll be doing next so you may find yourself coming back here after you've done the highlghts.  Or you may find yourself iterating between the two for a while until you get them to a place you like.  That's ok.  In fact, its probably good that it happens.

I find that I could use the breast shadow as a base for our pect highlights... here's what I did:
  • make a copy of the layer 'breastB.breast shade 1' and turn it on.
What we need to do is to trim back the shadow from the nipple area, pushing it back down toward the edge.  A man's pect is much flatter than a woman's breast (duh!) so the shadow will not extend as far up to the nipple, but will be confined just to the lower edge.
  • Rt click on the layer and choose 'Add a layer mask' and choose a white mask.  A white mask will allow the whole of the layer to show through, and we can add black to it to trim the breast shadow back to where it should be for a male pectoral muscle.
  • Choose the Airbrush tool from the Tools window, and make the foreground color black. Then choose the largest fuzzy circle as the paint brush.  I've set the scale to about 6 or 8, and the rate to values you find comfortable to work with (experiment - remember ctl-z is your friend.
  • Use the large fuzzy black painbrush to nibble the shadow back, pushing it away from the nipple. 
  • Then with a smaller fuzzy paintbrush adjust the shadows that wrap around the breast both near the sternum and near the under-arms.  Be very careful as you do this to NOT get too close to the template edge!
  • You will then want to switch the colors and paint with black to clean up what you have done, making corrections and adjustments.
  • Repeat the above two or three steps until you're happy with the result.  You can see my result in the image to the right.

I'll also make the layer mask visible (right click the layer and select 'show layer mask' so you can see how mine ended up.  Yours need not look like this at all, but it will probably be similar in the important areas.

Pectoral Muscles - Highlights

Now the scary part!  The pects!  This is going to be the most creative of all of the things we need to do to make this a male skin. I would rate is at aout 30% mechanical and 70% creative. This will require some 'freehand' drawing using the airbrush similar to what we just did with the shadow, but more so.  We will be creating the highlight outright, not just modifying one that already exists.

You may want to take inventory of your 'pointing tools'.  On my laptop I have three, a 'track point', a 'track pad' and a wireless mouse.  (I'm using a Lenovo Thinkpad, which has a lineage going back to IBM, hence the Track Point, a red nubby thing in the middle of the keyboard).  Which you prefer is largely a personal choice - for general computer usage I seem to like: 1) the mouse, followed closely by 2) the Track Point and followed more distantly by 3) the Track Pad.   But for GIMP airbrush work I tend to reverse the last two, the Pad is better than the red-nubby thing for painting with the airbursh, but the mouse is still number one for me.  If you're using a laptop and dont have a mouse, by all means try this with your Pad.  But you may also want to invest a few dollars in a mouse and try that out if you have any trouble at all.

And, remember as we proceed into this that ctl-z is your friend.  You can always use that to back out your latest changes to the image.  Also remember that this is not a one-shot thing.  You can delete the layers and start over any time and you will not have lost any of your previous work.

I chose to do this in two stages, adding one layer for each stage.  The first is just to even out the lighting.  if you look again at the image above (not the one showing the layer mask) you will see a slightly darker band just above the pects.  The thing to do first is to lighten that band:
  • Select the "breastB.breast upper" layer and using the Color Picker tool, sample the color in that layer, making it the foreground color (you don't have to make the layer visible to do this, selecting it is enough)
  • Now create a new layer just above "breastB.breast upper" and let it take on the foreground color.
  • Right click and choose "add layer mask", choosing a black layer mask.  (we will paint white onto it in a few minutes)
  • Name your new layer 'breast highlights male upper' and set the mode to 'burn' and the opacity to 33%
  • Now choose the airbrush tool and make white the foreground color.  Choose the large fuzzy paint brush and set the scale to something largish, around 6 or so.  I have the rate and pressure at 80 and 10 but feel free to adjust them up and down.
  • Now use the airbrush and paint on the darker areas above the pects, making them lighter and lighter until they roughly match the lightness of the neighboring area.
  • Switch the foreground color to black and use that airbrush to make adjustment, switching back and forth between white and black until you are satisfied with your result.
  • You can see my result of this lightening to the right.
One thing to be aware of as you work create your highlights.  Keep your paint brushes away from the edge of the template.  If you do stray, use ctl-z to back it out and try again, perhaps adjusting the scale to make your brush a notch smaller.  This is important, if you don't stay away from the edges of the template, the edge will become visible on your skin and you'll see a sharp line where your arms join the chest.

Now repeat the above, putting the new layer (named breast highlights male) above the layer we just created.  On this layer we will use the same technique as above, but with a bigger paintbrush, setting the scale to 8 or so.  With this brush we will paint a broad squarish pectoral highlight over the lightening the whole area of the pectoral muscle.  Then switch to black and trim it and back to white as needed.  You may find, as I did, that changing the size of the paintbrush to something smaller using scale, and using the black color, can work well in defining the area between the right and left pectoral muscles.  Here's my final result to the right.

That's it!  The scary part is over!  You may not believe it at this point, but the highlights we've created here will look good on a male avatar.  Just remember that your not satisfied, you  can go back play with this making adjustments, adding, subtracting or even redoing as you feel the need. 

Chest highlight

Now we'll move on to some easier things.  First we'll look at the 'breastB.chest light' layer.  I'll rate this at 70% mechanical and 30% creative.  Turn the layer on and play with the opacity, adjusting the slider up and down until you get it to a level appropriate level considering how the highlights you just created look.

When I did that I found that some of the chest highlight overlapped with the highlights I had created so I added a white layer mask and used a black fuzzy airbrush to select the areas around the edges I wanted to de-emphasize.  Use the instructions in 'breastB.breast shade 1' to do this, applying them to 'breastB.chest light'.

Let's pause here for a moment...

First... you should congratulate yourself!  You've done the most difficult part of making the starlight male skin.  If you're like me you'll go back and fiddle with it, touching it up here and there, but really, the difficult part is done/over/finis! 

The next steps are to increase the muscle definition.  That's entirely appropriate for a for an adult male skin.  But not so much for a child's skin.  So if your goal here to make a skin appropriate for a child avatar (male or female), this is probably as far as you need to go.  Come to think of it, you're probably pretty much done with the other layers too, the face layer really won't need any changes and arguably the lower layer will not need any changes either.

If your goal is a child's skin, you will probably want to revisit the shadow and highlights above and lighten both, use the opacity slider to do so.  And you can feel free to skip the rest of this post and most of the next.  Look for the section in the next post where I talk about checking your work.

But... I suspect that most of you want to create a mature man's skin so we need to buff him up.  We'll work first on the abdominal muscles and then on the biceps.  And in a future step there will be more to do on the lower layer as well.

Abdominal Muscles - Six Pack

Next we want to work on the abs. I think this one is not so creative as the last, so would rate it at about 67% mechanical and 33% creative.  The goal here is to make the abs less smooth looking... to provide a hint of a six-pack, but not get carried away and go into body-builder mode.  If you look carefully at the abs in this file you will see that the highlights provided by Eloh in the Starlight files are smooth.  So the way to approach this is to subtract some of the highlighting to create the six-pack.

Before we start its a good idea to get firmly in mind what we're trying to do.  Since I don't personally have a lot of experience with male six-packs, I did a google image search of "male body models" and made an extensive study of the pictures.  *fans herself* 

Look particularly at the shadows between each of the abs, that's what we're going to be creating here.

There are two layers here that we'll need to be concerned with:  "abs shift"and "abs highlight".  Turn off "abs highlight" for now (click the eye), we'll work on "abs shift" first:
  • Go to the "cmff base" layer (at the top of the layers list) and turn it on, giving us a grid to work within.
  • Select the 'abs shift' layer, right click and choose 'add layer mask' .... make the new layer mask white. 
  • Now go to the Tools window and choose the Airbrush, the large fuzzy paintbrush, set the foreground color to black and the scale to about 2 or 3.  Adjust the rate and pressure to your liking.
  • Being very careful to NOT get near the edge of the template grid, paint a black line down the middle and then two crossing lines, one just above the belly button and another above that.
  • Change the color of your brush to white (and perhaps change its scale as well) and trim what you have done
  • Repeat with the black and white until you can see the hint of abs
Now turn on "abs highlight" and repeat the process above.  Marking the same areas of the layer mask you create with black and trimming with white - being careful to stay away from the edges of the template. 

Here's an image showing my "abs shift" layer mask.  Right click on the layer and click 'show layer mask' and you can compare it to your own.

Biceps and Shoulder

Now we're ready for the last step for this file. The biceps and shoulder muscles. 

This will be a mix of the techniques we've used above.  We're going to adjust some highlights like we did for the abs, and we're going to create a highlight like we did with the pectorals.  So this is a pretty creative process and but not so creative as the pects were.  I'd rate is at about 50% mechanical and 50% creative.

You'll find the arms layers about 2/3's of the way down the layers list, named 'arm upper light' and 'arm lower light'.  For these two, we're going to create a white layer mask as we did for the abs, then use a black airbrush to do some trimming of the highlight provided.  I'll not repeat the steps here, you can look above at the abs and get those if you need them. 

What I have done with the 'arm upper light' layer is leave the highlight in place on the shoulder, but eliminate it just below, to give definition to the shoulder muscle.  Then I've taken out the highlight running the length of the upper arm down to the elbow.  We'll add another highlight shortly to be the bicep, but this one is in the wrong place.  I'll add a picture of the layer mask to the right so you can see what i've done.

One thing to note as you look at it... I came dangerously close to the edge of the arm template and used the paint brush and the blur tool to make some small adjustments.  You may need to do the same.

The lower arm is similar and I came to the edge and beyond here too.  So you'll see where I did some remedial trimming and blurring.  It happens that its not too critical in either of these layers since the highlight we're editing is confined to the middle of the area that we're editing.

Now for the creative part.  Go back up and review how we made the layer for the pectoral muscle.  We first created a greyish layer (you can copy the pect layer now if you want) and then added a black layer mask (delete the pect layer mask and re-add a new pristine black layer mask.  Then get ready to paint.  Call the new layer 'arm bicep highlight male'.

The difference between this and the pects is that we'll need to use a much much narrower fuzzy paint brush for our airbrush.  And we have to be very very careful to NOT get too close to the edge of the arm part of the template.  Here's an image of the layer mask I created for the bicep highlight.  I circled the part that you should pay attention to - that's the bicep highlight.  Notice that it is NOT up against the edge of the arm template.  Making a highlight layer that will cross one template edge to another smoothly and invisibly is not within the scope of what we're trying to do.


We've finished adjusting the starlight upper texture to make it a male skin.  Well, except for the body hair, which we will deal with later.  Really, the hardest part is over, I'd estimate we're about 2/3s of the way to being done.  So congratulations! ( remember to save your work!)

In the next post we'll work on the lower level, buffing it up a little as we did with the upper (while continuing to gaze at those 'male body model' images, purely as guidance of course!).  Then we'll revisit the face layer and see if there are any small adjustments to make there. 

We'll create body hair for this male skin in a post following the lower/face post and deal with body hair on all of the layers.

See ya!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Making a male skin - Starlight step 1

Hi everyone, I'm back!

I mentioned in the last post that there is an artistic or creative part to turning Eloh Eliot's Starlight skin into a male skin.  There's not any single part that is purely creative though and that will help.  I'll try to give you my feeling of the mechanical vs creativity score.  Most will be a mixture of both but some will be more mechanical than creative, and others more creative than mechanical.

First let's do a little preparation, this is 100% mechanical, so it should be a piece of cake, here are the steps I took in doing my preparation:
  • Download the starlight XCF files from here:
  • Once you have them, move them from the download folder into a folder that you will use for this work.  Mine is in my documents folder and has the name graphics/skins/starlight/male.  (or something close to that)
  • Now open up each of the files in GIMP, and one by one we will go through and de-feminize the files.
First starlight_upper.xcf... when you open it up it will be female but bizarrely sans nipples.  That is ok for our purposes though, it saves us turning them off.   The job now is to turn off the breast layers.
  • There is a large group about 3/4 of the way to the top of the layers... you can see them in the layers window.  These will start with breastA.... turn them all off (click the 'eye' making it disappear).
  • There is one more located near the halfway point in the layer list named 'breast shift'.  Turn this one off too.
  • Now go all of the way to the bottom of the layer list and you will see one named 'cmff base'.  Select it (click on it) and then press the shift key down AND HOLDING IT DOWN click the green up-arrow with the left mouse button.  This will send that layer all the way to the top.
  • Turn on the cmff layer (now at the top) by clicking the eye and drag the opacity slider to about 10%.
  • Now turn the cmff layer back off, we will have use of it later.
  • Now save the file and give it a new name.  I suggest including a date in the name.  I've named mine starlight_upper m 110807.xcf.   (110807 is the date I am writing this, yymmdd )
Now let's work on starlight_lower.xcf.  This one is fine as it is... like the nipples, Eloh has left the female genitalia  layers turned off, so just save it giving it a new name as you did above.
  • Find the "cmff base" layer as you did above and move it up to the top, setting the opacity to about 10%.
  • Save the file, the name I used is starlight_lower m 110807.xcf.
Now for the face: starlight_face.xcf.  The needs a few adjustment, in truth they are more choices than adjustments.
  • Near the top of the list of layers, turn off the freckles layers.  (You may want to leave them on if you're creating a child or teen skin.)
  • A little further down you will find some eyebrow layers, I have turned on 'eyebrows hair' and the eyebrowsb layers.  Leaving eyebrowsA off.  (Likewise here the thinner eyebrows are more more appropriate for skins intended for younger shapes.)
  • There is a choice to make for the nose and lips.  I have used noseB and lipsA for my male skin.  You may wish to choose differently.  If you choose the same as I did, turn the lipsB layer and turn on the lipsA layers.  (noseB is already on)
  • There is also a choice of eyesA and eyesB and you can choose either of course.  I have kept eyesA in this male skin.
  • Find the "cmff base" layer as you did above and move it up to the top, setting the opacity to about 10%.
  • Save the file, the name I used is starlight_face m 110807.xcf.
Now it's time to do something with just a little creativity. (About 90% mechanical and 10% creative) The skin color startlight has as 'base' is a good shade, but we will need to do something to give it some texture, I think it's too smooth for a male skin.

What we will do is create a layer of tiny random speckles, then spread the speckles out a little by blurring them.  We will use this as a layer mask to poke small blurry holes in the skin layer called base, and make a darker layer below base that will show through these holes.

Now create our layer below and the layer mask...
  • Select 'base' and press the copy button to make a copy of the base layer.
  • Move the copy below the base layer and choose the color picker tool (it looks like a pippette), sample the color of the 'base copy' to get that color as the foreground color.
  • Click on that color and move the cross-hair that define the color a good bit up and to the left to make a new darker color.
  • Now with the 'base copy' layer selected (and below the base layer) select the bucket fill tool and paint the 'base copy' layer with your new darker color.
  • Select the 'base' layer, right click and choose Add Layer Mask (choose White).
  • Still with 'base' selected, right click and check 'show layer mask' so we can see what we're doing.
  • Create our speckles with Filter->Noise->HSV Noise.  I set Holdness to 1 (whatever that is) and then HSV to 0, 160, 160 (other values are fine too - this is the creative part)
  • Use Colors -> Threshold to reduce the number of speckles and make everything a nice black and white again.  keeping the value of 50 is ok but others are ok too (another creative part)
  • Blur things a bit with Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur, I set the number of pixels to 3, you may choose differently if you wish.
  • With our newly made blurry layer
  • Now right click the 'base' layer again and un-check 'show layer mask'
Now you should be able to use the mouse wheel to zoom in on the image window and see a slight variation in the skin tone.  It should be smooth with a little variation in color, going slightly darker where we made our little speckles.   How much variation is totally up to you.  This another aspect of the creative process.  If you want more variation, use the slider on Threshold to give you more speckles.  If you want the variation more defined you can blur them a little less, perhaps use a 2 pixel blur rather than 3.

This is a good start.  Next we will launch into some of the more creative things things to make the Starlight male skin.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Making a male skin - Part 2, Plan C

Hi everyone!

I know I left you hanging on the last post and I'm sorry it's been so long.  I promise that it is not sloth that has bright this on.... your correspondent has been working on the male starlight skin and has started over several times, gaining experience that she hopes will benefit you.

I won't take you through all the fits and starts.  Instead I think I'll show you end end product... or at least, the where the skin is the present time.  I seem to ding with these things over time so no project is never 'done' in the strictest sense of the word.  But this one has reached a point where it's ready to be shared publicly and I expect only small changes in the future.

Oh, before I show you I should post a sign.... *nails up a sign.... thwack!.... thwack! .... thwack! .... and steps back to view her work*   "PENIS WARNING!".

I know, I know... but its possible that some will be offended by male frontal nudity.... so If you're among them please consider before you proceed.

So.... here it is.  My work on a Starlight Male skin so far.  Let me point out a few changes...

First notice the body shape.  The 'boy next door' shape from SL was just too boyish for me, so I buffed him up a bit.  You can see that his shoulders are broader and his pects are more pronounced.  I also shortened his legs a little - many of the SL shapes in the library have freakishly long legs, I have no idea why but I have images of the Lindens all wandering from cubical to cubical wearing those clown suits that conceal stilts.  He is also more muscular than the 'boy next door', that's in the pects, arms and legs.  The hair is a freebie I found somewhere as is his penis.

Now let's pay attention to the skin.  It's not easy to tell here, but it's darker.  Not a lot, but it is a significant change.  Another thing that you can't see well in this picture is the detail of the skin texture, it's not so baby-bottom smooth, there's a little texture to it.

From the skin point of view, the male pects are an obvious change and the highlighting on the skin supports the underlying shape.  Less obvious, but equally important is the shadow under the pects.  If you compare this side by side with the normal female Starlight skin, you'll see several other less obvious changes too.  The abs are the first thing that you will probably notice, the female version does not have the mild six-pack that our male version has.  This was done by changing the highlighting.  And the same approach was taken with other highlights in the lower thigh and the biceps.

Finally, I have the added body hair.  To get an idea of what to do here I did a google image search on "male body hair".  Some of the pictures are truly scary but many are useful.  I'll explain the tecnique I used to create the hair later, it was easier than I thought it would be.

I will explain how to make this skin in the following posts, but I must warn you of one thing before we proceed.  ......

This is will not be a purely 'mechanical' exercise, there will be some creativity, some 'art' involved.  As I mentioned at the start, it's taken me many iterations to create this so you should also expect toss away what you've done several times and start over.  I think I've done so at least four times myself and that's not counting all the little back-tracking I've done when something didn't quite work out as I wished.

Also it's certain that your result will look different from mine - creativity is like that.  Different doesn't mean better or worse, just different.  If you persevere and learn, you will eventually end up with something that you like.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Making a male skin - Part 2 and Plan B... or is it Plan C


After writing the previous post I went on to the next step as I did with the Starlight skins for women... I made the base darker and fiddled around with the other layers to get it looking nice.  As I did so I noticed a visible line had cropped up between the upper and lower layers on the back.

I first thrashed around with how I was changing the layers and tried all sorts of different ways of doing it, none worked.  The line was still there.  Finally I went back to the origin, the too light skin in the original psd file and took a second look at it.  And.... Oops!!   There it was!

If you make the picture to the right bigger (click on it) you'll be able to see it too.

Sooooo..... what to do?

Well, unfortunately I think its time to abandon lf0y and try something else.  I suspect that Eloh came to the same conclusion and that's why the lf0y files aren't provided on her skins page.

If we abandon lf0y... what do we do?    Here's my idea... let's see if we can take the Starlight skin and make it into a male skin. Two approaches to doing this occur to me:
  • Plan B: copy the 'male' layers from lf0y to Starlight and fiddle with them to integrate them into the overall skin
  • Plan C: leave lf0y behind entirely and modify the Starlight layers directly to turn it into a male skin.
For both of the above we'll need to turn off the layers that are obviously female, the breasts and female genitalia.  For Plan B we would copy over the male chest layers and work on them to integrate them into the Starlight skin.  For Plan C we would work take some of those female layers and add them back as male layers with modifications.  The highlights and shadows around the male chest is where most of the work will be done.

I do have one overall concern about this approach and am not sure how it will work out.  The musculature of the Starlight skin is smooth... not 'buff' at all.  The abs are a good place to illustrate this, the Starlight skin certainly does not show any signs of a 'six pack'.  But the criticism extends to the rest of the body too, the arms and legs do not have well defined musculature.  There may be some things we can do about that, but I suspect that in the end this skin will not be the most buff you have ever seen.

So that's the new plan.  Sorry for the mistake in the previous post.  It will be interesting to see how this turns out.