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
- 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.
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)
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.