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Background for your MOC in Photoshop - How To
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 Group admin 
Quoting Tom R.
Gottcha' So how can you exactly use these backgrounds on Photoshop? I've been playing around for some time, but I can't seem to access the setting to make a background. Again,I appreciate the help and I do hope I'm not overdoing it.


I'll take you through it step by step. This will initially seem like a long process, but once you get used to it, it will move quickly. Also this is not the quickest way, but will introduce you to a couple of important tools in Photoshop, which are worth familiarizing yourself with...


Stage one: Defining your MOC - Here, we'll outline your MOC, and get things set up to add a background to it.

1) Open Photoshop to full screen size.
2) Click File, then Open.
3) Select the picture you want to play around with and open it.
4) Enlarge the window with your MOC picture to it's fullest size.
5) Move the cursor to the Tool box (long vertical window over the on the left side), and select the Zoom tool.
6) Place the Zoom cursor over your image and zoom in to your picture so you can clearly see the edges of your MOC. (By the way, any time you want to zoom out, hold the Alt key while clicking on your image)
7) Go to the Tool box and select the Polygonal Lasso tool.
8) Place the Polygonal Lasso tool right on the edge of your MOC and click once (you'll see that it attaches itself and there will be a long, stretchy, line that extends from that point).
9) Continue clicking along the very edge of your MOC with the Lasso tool. (Any time you make a mistake, you can press your keyboard's delete button, and it will back up one step).
10) Once you've outlined your entire MOC, the line will flash (to let you know the outlined item has been selected). You can zoom back out now if you'd like.


Stage Two: Working in Layers - Here you'll create a Layer for your MOC and a separate layer for your background. Once this is done, you can adjust one (in all sorts of ways) without affecting the other.

1) Move the cursor to Edit, click on Copy, click Edit again, and click on paste. (The outline will have disappeared.)
2) Move the cursor to the Layers tab (upper right corner) and click on it.

Here you will see a Background layer, and a second layer called Layer 1...AHA!

3)In that Layers box, select the "Background" layer (so it is highlighted). You can now manipulate the background without effecting what is in Layer 1 (in this case, your MOC).
4) Move the cursor to the Tool box window again, and select the "Set Foreground Color" icon (which is the top square near the bottom of the tool box window.
5) A window will open up allowing you to select what color you would like. I recommend either straight white or black. Once color is selected, click "OK."
6) Move the cursor to the Brush Tool icon in your tool box and click on it. Check above to see that the brush is quite large (in the "Size:" box make it 200 - 400px), and at full strength (in the "Strength" box set it to 100%)
7) Move the Brush over the image and watch your background fill up with whatever color you've chosen...Ta-Daaaaah!


Stage Three: Cleaning up your image - Here we'll make it look a little nicer by adjusting values, and softening the edges a bit.

1) To adjust the values, go to Enhance, Adjust Brightness/Contrast, and then Levels. Here you can slide the arrows around until you get the values where you like them. (You can also use the Enhance category to help sharpen your image, adjust colors, and alter contrasts...mess around with it some.)
2) To clean up the edges of your MOC (so they don't look quite so "cut and pasted"), start by going to the Layers tab, and selecting (highlighting) Layer 1.
3) Move the cursor to the Blur tool in the Tool box (shaped like a tear drop), and select it.
4) Check to see that the size of the Blur cursor is convenient for you. Do this the same way you checked the Brush size. And if needed, you can adjust the Blur tool's strength, too. I' recommend it being pretty high.
4) Move the Blur tool along the edge of your MOC and you should see some softening of the edges.

Stage Four: Saving your image - Here we'll save it as a JPEG so it's easily compatible with MOCpages.

1) Go to File, then Save As.
2) In the "Save In:" box, select where you want to save the image to.
3) Rename the file if you like.
4) In the "Format" box select JPEG.
5) Click "Save."

And there ya go. Again, this might seem pretty tedious when you're new to it (it did to me!), but once you get familiar with it, it moves very fast. Also, with this method, I've introduced you to the Polygonal Lasso tool, and the Layers, which is the meat and bones of Photoshop.

Play around with all of the tools, and try adding layers and manipulating the different layers you create. This will help you to familiarize yourself with what this application is capable of. Also, don't be afraid to Google tutorials on line. There's a ton of step by step instructions on Photoshop, and those helped me out IMMENSELY!

Hope this did the trick for you. Good Luck!!!

Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 2:09 pm
I didn't read the whole thing, I have a quick question first. Is GIMP 2 as good? :)
Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 2:26 pm
Quoting Doctor Maxim
I didn't read the whole thing, I have a quick question first. Is GIMP 2 as good? :)

oh,hello!
Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 2:29 pm
Quoting Erik. (yes that ''Crash'' person)
oh,hello!

Why do you always say that? :D

Anyway, hi!
Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 2:32 pm
Quoting Doctor Maxim
Why do you always say that? :D

Anyway, hi!

I gotta make my mark here!:P Your mister corporate events and i am mister hello! Hope it doesnt bother you.
Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 3:08 pm
 Group admin 
Quoting Doctor Maxim
I didn't read the whole thing, I have a quick question first. Is GIMP 2 as good? :)


I've not used GIMP, so I'm not the best to ask on that. I can say it has an excellent reputation for a freeware application. And for our simple needs such as color, value, and size adjustments, and the like, it's probably just as good.

That said, Photoshop is the industry standard for many professional graphic artists, and in that regard GIMP's probably not as good. I think it's a matter of what your needs are. Photoshop's strength is also it's weakness...it's got so many options that a lot of time is required to properly learn the application, and to use it to it's fullest capacity (which I'm not even close to doing).

Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 3:49 pm
 Group admin 
Quoting Mark Kelso

I've not used GIMP...


That's what he says in public anyway...

Seriously for a second, thank you Mark for taking the time to give this tutorial. It's hopefully going to help a lot of builders get their creations noticed more... as long as they don't just rely on photoshop to get them by.
Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 4:23 pm
Quoting Mark Kelso

I've not used GIMP, so I'm not the best to ask on that. I can say it has an excellent reputation for a freeware application. And for our simple needs such as color, value, and size adjustments, and the like, it's probably just as good.

That said, Photoshop is the industry standard for many professional graphic artists, and in that regard GIMP's probably not as good. I think it's a matter of what your needs are. Photoshop's strength is also it's weakness...it's got so many options that a lot of time is required to properly learn the application, and to use it to it's fullest capacity (which I'm not even close to doing).

I see. Thanks!
Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 4:26 pm
Quoting Chris Phipson

That's what he says in public anyway...

Seriously for a second, thank you Mark for taking the time to give this tutorial. It's hopefully going to help a lot of builders get their creations noticed more... as long as they don't just rely on photoshop to get them by.

problem is,your character needs to be noticed before your mocs are noticed.

Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 4:39 pm
 Group admin 
Glad to do this, guys. It took me months of just messing around, online tutorials, and a lot of frustration before I finally got to a point where I was confident with the Photoshop thing (just look at the difference in my posts between the first Apocalypsis episode and the second...huge difference!).

The point is, if I can save you guys some the of the headaches I went through, then it's worth the trouble.

Still, even with just the issue of the background in Photoshop, I've only scratched the surface. So, I may try to post some other tutorials and tips from time to time. Meanwhile, anyone with trouble, don't hesitate to bring it up here, and good luck!

Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 11:31 pm
 Group admin 
Quoting Chris Phipson
It's hopefully going to help a lot of builders get their creations noticed more... as long as they don't just rely on photoshop to get them by.


Hopefully that won't be an issue. The way I see it, Photoshop can help a good MOC look better, but it won't cover up a sloppy build! *flashes back to "My Awsum Halo MOC"*


Permalink
| November 1, 2009, 11:34 pm
Quoting Chris Phipson

That's what he says in public anyway...

Seriously for a second, thank you Mark for taking the time to give this tutorial. It's hopefully going to help a lot of builders get their creations noticed more... as long as they don't just rely on photoshop to get them by.

Aw, that was my plan!! HAHAHA, seriously, this is a great bit of step by step advice.

Permalink
| November 2, 2009, 12:18 pm
Quoting Mark Kelso
Quoting Chris Phipson
It's hopefully going to help a lot of builders get their creations noticed more... as long as they don't just rely on photoshop to get them by.


Hopefully that won't be an issue. The way I see it, Photoshop can help a good MOC look better, but it won't cover up a sloppy build! *flashes back to "My Awsum Halo MOC"*


Hey, in Tribal Trouble, was Indy's scared face done in photoshop or a decal? Same in close encounters of the turd kind with your scared face. :P

Permalink
| November 2, 2009, 12:18 pm
 Group admin 
Quoting Doctor Maxim
Hey, in Tribal Trouble, was Indy's scared face done in photoshop or a decal? Same in close encounters of the turd kind with your scared face. :P


I can't remember on Close Encounters, but most all of my other story-telling MOCs have faces that are Photoshopped in various ways, including Tribal Trouble. Sometimes I'll just change the eyes, the brows, the mouth, etc., or sometimes I'll create a new face altogether. While it's no good for purists, I enjoy the flexibility that it allows me when expressing an idea or emotion in a story.




Permalink
| November 2, 2009, 2:46 pm
Quoting Mark Kelso

I can't remember on Close Encounters, but most all of my other story-telling MOCs have faces that are Photoshopped in various ways, including Tribal Trouble. Sometimes I'll just change the eyes, the brows, the mouth, etc., or sometimes I'll create a new face altogether. While it's no good for purists, I enjoy the flexibility that it allows me when expressing an idea or emotion in a story.

OK, I see. But do you photoshop the face and make a decal out of it, or just photoshop it directly? I didn't understand that part...

Thanks! And do you sorta move the mouth/eyes/whatever around, or draw it from scratch? (You're an awesome artist, so maybe you'd be able to - but I can't draw well on the computer; my hand shakes.)
Permalink
| November 2, 2009, 3:08 pm
Quoting Architect of Vonthako

That's what she said...

;)

-_-

:D
Permalink
| November 2, 2009, 7:07 pm
 Group admin 
Quoting Brady G
What Photoshop do you have? I use PSE7, not sure if it was the best one to get..


Mine's an old Elements 2.0. Nothing fancy, but it does the trick (boy, is that comment just begging for it...Phipson?...Cyril?...anyone?)




Permalink
| November 3, 2009, 8:42 am
 Group admin 
Quoting Doctor Maxim
OK, I see. But do you photoshop the face and make a decal out of it, or just photoshop it directly? I didn't understand that part...


I just do everything digitally. I COULD make custom decals, which would be great for the cons or display, but when it's just being shown on line, the quickest route is to draw in what I need.

Quoting Doctor Maxim
Thanks! And do you sorta move the mouth/eyes/whatever around, or draw it from scratch? (You're an awesome artist, so maybe you'd be able to - but I can't draw well on the computer; my hand shakes.)


Depends on my needs. Sometimes I'll just move a character's eyebrow or something. Sometimes I'll change the face that's already there. And sometimes I'll use a blank minifig head and completely draw in the face.

A steady hand isn't really necessary, you just need to zoom in well enough that you have some control. (Somebody's going to comment on that one!) I'll often make a lot of mistakes with the paint brush tool when drawing in a facial expression, but because I've made the face a seperate layer (Photoshop's biggest asset, IMO) I can use the Eraser Tool to remove any mistakes without affecting the background. Or I can soften with the Blur Tool to make it seamless with the pic that I'm painting on. (Yeah, Phipson, I said "tool"...big whoop, wanna fight about it!)


Permalink
| November 3, 2009, 8:54 am
Quoting Mark Kelso
Quoting Doctor Maxim
OK, I see. But do you photoshop the face and make a decal out of it, or just photoshop it directly? I didn't understand that part...


I just do everything digitally. I COULD make custom decals, which would be great for the cons or display, but when it's just being shown on line, the quickest route is to draw in what I need.

Quoting Doctor Maxim
Thanks! And do you sorta move the mouth/eyes/whatever around, or draw it from scratch? (You're an awesome artist, so maybe you'd be able to - but I can't draw well on the computer; my hand shakes.)


Depends on my needs. Sometimes I'll just move a character's eyebrow or something. Sometimes I'll change the face that's already there. And sometimes I'll use a blank minifig head and completely draw in the face.

A steady hand isn't really necessary, you just need to zoom in well enough that you have some control. (Somebody's going to comment on that one!) I'll often make a lot of mistakes with the paint brush tool when drawing in a facial expression, but because I've made the face a seperate layer (Photoshop's biggest asset, IMO) I can use the Eraser Tool to remove any mistakes without affecting the background. Or I can soften with the Blur Tool to make it seamless with the pic that I'm painting on. (Yeah, Phipson, I said "tool"...big whoop, wanna fight about it!)


Wow. Thanks! GIMP has layers too, but the program still too complicated for me. XP

I take it you want a very high quality pic without it looking sorta weird?

Anyways, thanks. That answered my question(s)!
Permalink
| November 3, 2009, 8:58 am
 Group admin 
Thanks, AV...knew someone wouldn't let me down if Phippy couldn't get there first!

Phipson will get the joke on the "wanna fight about it" comment, but for others I'll mention it's from Family Guy. And by the way, it's not the Kelso-jitsu that ya gotta worry about, it's his feminine wiles!

Permalink
| November 3, 2009, 5:42 pm
 Group admin 
Quoting Tom R.
I don't mean to make you go mad. But can you post a tutorial on how to make Lightning, trees, things like that backgrounds? I think I've gotten the hang of the White and Black background (All thanks to you :). Thank you again Mark! ~Tom.


Sure, no problem...but, before I do, help me to understand your question a little better.

Are you talking about drawing in something? Or are you refering to images that you've photographed, or gotten from the web?

Permalink
| November 4, 2009, 8:32 am
Quoting Mark Kelso

Sure, no problem...but, before I do, help me to understand your question a little better.

Are you talking about drawing in something? Or are you refering to images that you've photographed, or gotten from the web?

My dad's a photographer and photoshops my images very slightly! But it take a while for him to make backgrounds. But here's one thing: Put a piece of black poster behind and under your moc! That'll work!
Permalink
| November 4, 2009, 8:36 am
 Group admin 
Quoting Joe P.
My dad's a photographer and photoshops my images very slightly! But it take a while for him to make backgrounds. But here's one thing: Put a piece of black poster behind and under your moc! That'll work!


Yep, that's always a great option for a smaller MOC! I prefer the Photoshop method, though, since I'm using it anyway to do clean-up, and my MOC's are often too big for paper back drops. ;)

Permalink
| November 4, 2009, 9:40 am
Quoting Mark Kelso

Yep, that's always a great option for a smaller MOC! I prefer the Photoshop method, though, since I'm using it anyway to do clean-up, and my MOC's are often too big for paper back drops. ;)

I used multipul pieces of white poaster board for my castle. But for larger mocs I would use dense or heavy canvas preferably white.
Permalink
| November 4, 2009, 9:43 am
Quoting Owen Williams
I used multipul pieces of white poaster board for my castle. But for larger mocs I would use dense or heavy canvas preferably white.

oops not my room to talk sorry Kelso.
Permalink
| November 4, 2009, 9:43 am
Quoting Mark Kelso

I'll take you through it step by step. This will initially seem like a long process, but once you get used to it, it will move quickly. Also this is not the quickest way, but will introduce you to a couple of important tools in Photoshop, which are worth familiarizing yourself with...


Stage one: Defining your MOC - Here, we'll outline your MOC, and get things set up to add a background to it.

1) Open Photoshop to full screen size.
2) Click File, then Open.
3) Select the picture you want to play around with and open it.
4) Enlarge the window with your MOC picture to it's fullest size.
5) Move the cursor to the Tool box (long vertical window over the on the left side), and select the Zoom tool.
6) Place the Zoom cursor over your image and zoom in to your picture so you can clearly see the edges of your MOC. (By the way, any time you want to zoom out, hold the Alt key while clicking on your image)
7) Go to the Tool box and select the Polygonal Lasso tool.
8) Place the Polygonal Lasso tool right on the edge of your MOC and click once (you'll see that it attaches itself and there will be a long, stretchy, line that extends from that point).
9) Continue clicking along the very edge of your MOC with the Lasso tool. (Any time you make a mistake, you can press your keyboard's delete button, and it will back up one step).
10) Once you've outlined your entire MOC, the line will flash (to let you know the outlined item has been selected). You can zoom back out now if you'd like.


Stage Two: Working in Layers - Here you'll create a Layer for your MOC and a separate layer for your background. Once this is done, you can adjust one (in all sorts of ways) without affecting the other.

1) Move the cursor to Edit, click on Copy, click Edit again, and click on paste. (The outline will have disappeared.)
2) Move the cursor to the Layers tab (upper right corner) and click on it.

Here you will see a Background layer, and a second layer called Layer 1...AHA!

3)In that Layers box, select the "Background" layer (so it is highlighted). You can now manipulate the background without effecting what is in Layer 1 (in this case, your MOC).
4) Move the cursor to the Tool box window again, and select the "Set Foreground Color" icon (which is the top square near the bottom of the tool box window.
5) A window will open up allowing you to select what color you would like. I recommend either straight white or black. Once color is selected, click "OK."
6) Move the cursor to the Brush Tool icon in your tool box and click on it. Check above to see that the brush is quite large (in the "Size:" box make it 200 - 400px), and at full strength (in the "Strength" box set it to 100%)
7) Move the Brush over the image and watch your background fill up with whatever color you've chosen...Ta-Daaaaah!


Stage Three: Cleaning up your image - Here we'll make it look a little nicer by adjusting values, and softening the edges a bit.

1) To adjust the values, go to Enhance, Adjust Brightness/Contrast, and then Levels. Here you can slide the arrows around until you get the values where you like them. (You can also use the Enhance category to help sharpen your image, adjust colors, and alter contrasts...mess around with it some.)
2) To clean up the edges of your MOC (so they don't look quite so "cut and pasted"), start by going to the Layers tab, and selecting (highlighting) Layer 1.
3) Move the cursor to the Blur tool in the Tool box (shaped like a tear drop), and select it.
4) Check to see that the size of the Blur cursor is convenient for you. Do this the same way you checked the Brush size. And if needed, you can adjust the Blur tool's strength, too. I' recommend it being pretty high.
4) Move the Blur tool along the edge of your MOC and you should see some softening of the edges.

Stage Four: Saving your image - Here we'll save it as a JPEG so it's easily compatible with MOCpages.

1) Go to File, then Save As.
2) In the "Save In:" box, select where you want to save the image to.
3) Rename the file if you like.
4) In the "Format" box select JPEG.
5) Click "Save."

And there ya go. Again, this might seem pretty tedious when you're new to it (it did to me!), but once you get familiar with it, it moves very fast. Also, with this method, I've introduced you to the Polygonal Lasso tool, and the Layers, which is the meat and bones of Photoshop.

Play around with all of the tools, and try adding layers and manipulating the different layers you create. This will help you to familiarize yourself with what this application is capable of. Also, don't be afraid to Google tutorials on line. There's a ton of step by step instructions on Photoshop, and those helped me out IMMENSELY!

Hope this did the trick for you. Good Luck!!!


Thanks, but I make my own background with original LEGO peices.
Permalink
| November 4, 2009, 8:02 pm
 Group admin 
Quoting Owen Williams
oops not my room to talk sorry Kelso.


Of course it is, chime in any time.


Permalink
| November 5, 2009, 7:37 am
 Group admin 
Quoting Tom R.
Heh, heh (Very sorry if I'm overdoing it) I refer to Pictures I've photographed or from the web. Once again, Thank you.


Tom, I'm so sorry, but I just spent 45 minutes typing out instructions, and MOCpages lost it as I was trying to post (should have known I'd time out, and copied it before clicking the CONTINUE button)...I just don't have it in me to type all of that out again right now. I'll give it another shot tomorrow. Again, my apologies. *grumble, grumble*...F***ing MOCpages!


Permalink
| November 5, 2009, 8:38 am
Quoting The501stLego *

Thanks, but I make my own background with original LEGO peices.

He wasn't talking to you...
Permalink
| November 5, 2009, 1:58 pm
Quoting Tom R.
Heh, heh (Very sorry if I'm overdoing it) I refer to Pictures I've photographed or from the web. Once again, Thank you.


Do you mean trimming the background away from the moc?

Well, in that case I can scribble a quick one out here.

I use the Gnu Image Manipulation Tool, so yeah.

First you need a pic with a contrasting background; the more it contrasts with the moc, the easier the job is.

Then you use the Scissors Select tool, or Intelligent Scissors, or something like that. It looks like a set of scissors.

Anyway, you then zoom in and, tool selected, click along the outline of the moc. I find the curvier the moc, the more dots are needed. Sometimes it tries to take shortcuts, you can drag the dots around to fix that. Anyway, you go around the outline, and then click on the inside of the selection border to select it once you've got the last one attached to the first.

Copy, then open MSpaint OR, if you know how to use layers and transparencies, use them instead.

Then, (the guide I posted for making comics goes into detail on transparency with Microsoft Paint, follow it and select black as the secondary colour), find a background and paste the clipboard contents into it. Arrange it how you like, (you may need to trim it a bit to make it fit) and save as, oh, I dunno, 1.jpg.

I use .png for photos I want high quality, and link to them from brickshelf, but that's just me.

____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____

Anyway, sorry for hijacking your thread Kelso, feel free to delete this if you don't want it.
Permalink
| November 5, 2009, 4:04 pm
 Group admin 
Hey, Tom...this thread's getting a bit long, so I started another one again for the next tutorial. Good luck with it!
Permalink
| November 6, 2009, 9:44 am
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