Short tutorial on creating floating hacker heads to display on blog aggregators like http://planet.fedoraproject.org
Usually a high quality image is not needed, it will be resized to a small size and a drop shadow will be added, so small defects will not be noticed; A high resolution image is preferred, the processing will be simpler and you will not need a very skilled hand. Select the source image based primarily on how it reflect your personality or attitude, not necessarily on quality.
In this tutorial I will use a poor image made with the crappy camera on my phone, as the focus is on the tools and methods.
In the first step, we need to cut the head on contour. Different methods are available: (do not forget to add an alpha channel to the layer, we want deleted regions to become transparent)
1. The Magic Wand
This is most useful when the background contain large area with uniform colors, highly contrasting with the subject (not the case with the image used in this case). Use "Select contiguous regions" and adjust the threshold as needed.
2. Cut on path
Use "Select shapes from image". Eventually work at a high zoom and add short segments. The results are good when the contrast between background and figure is high.
3. Quick Mask
This is a very powerful tool, it may be overwhelming for a simple hackergotchi. Toggle Quick Mask, erase the face, toggle Quick Mask off, invert selection and remove it.
note: i left the selection unfinished on purpose, the scope of this tutorial is to be quick.
This is the tool i use mostly. Select rectangular regions of the background and delete them. Then zoom in and use the eraser on the contour.
Of course, you can use a combination of the tools described above.
The result should be something like:
Scale the image down, for Planet Fedora it should be something around 80x80 px. After scaling, the images become blurry, so sharpen it.
Add a small drop shadow.
note: most beginners are tempted to use the default value proposed by GIMP, do NOT do this, is too large for a hackergotchi, use smaller values. In this case I used X and Y offset of 1 px and a blur radius of 4 px.
An alternative is to use a perspective shadow (but for consistency with other people on Planet Fedora, a drop shadow is preferred)
In the end, you should have something like this:
Expect the task to become simple in the future, as the upcoming GIMP 2.4 will include SIOX a foreground extractor tool (article )
Still too scary?
If the process look scary, just post a raw picture (or a link to it) on your blog and ask readers for help. Or just ask me to do it for you.
A screencast featuring my own style of work:
If you want something special, do NOT follow my tutorial and allow your imagination to go wild:
Nicu Buculei 2006