Sometimes the alpha layer that comes with a purchased garment does not fit exactly and I’ve had to try alpha layers from different products to get something close enough that worked for me. But then came the time when I had to make my own and couldn’t figure out how ! It’s really pretty simple and probably comes easy if you’re a clothes-maker and are very familiar with clothing templates, but if you’ve almost never come near one in your entire SLife, then it’s hard to just guess.
I had to make an alpha layer yesterday; though I had tried to google this several times in the past I never found anything that explained me exactly how to, so now that I’ve had help figuring it out, I’ll show you too, for those out there who might be as helpless as I am. This is for Photoshop, but it’s probably much the same in The Gimp.
First, you’ll need one of the clothing templates; I grabbed the first template I found lying around somewhere in the deep recesses of my files, which came from this set. I wanted my alpha to wear with sculpted shorts, so I opened the “CMFF-Master_Template-Lower512.psd” file.
To begin, highlight all the existing layers and press ctrl + G to group them so it’s easier to hide and show them. Create a new layer on top of all the other ones and fill it entirely with white. Make it 50% opaque, so you can see a little of what is going on underneath.
Grab the Rectangular Marquee Tool and try to locate roughly the area you want to hide on the avatar, right-click and ‘Layer Via Cut’.
Then hide that new cut layer and make the original white layer 100% opaque again and hide all the layers pertaining to the template that you grouped earlier.
To save this, go to “Save For Web & Devices” and save as a PNG-24 image with ‘Transparency’ checked.
In SL, create a new alpha layer, edit it into “Appearance”, click on the white square above “Lower Alpha” and drop your texture on it. Don’t check the box beneath, it would hide your whole lower parts. Save that, and wait about 10 seconds for the texture to load for you. You might have to try several times until you get the exact part you want invisible.
If you’d rather be making a .tga file, then I can’t help you, because it’s too hard !
If you’re a creator, I hope you won’t smirk too much at this post, I really had no clue how to do this, and if I’d had to guess my way through it, it would have taken days of not knowing what I was doing.
On another note, I’m more and more surprised that the alpha layers in almost every other purchase I make (boots, wedges, shorts, skirts…) are often too short or not high enough. I would assume, if the creator made it so it would fit on themselves perfectly, it should work on anybody. But it really seems to work differently, perhaps depending on avatar shapes… ? That seems to give some pretty arbitrary, unpredictable results at times.
Also, before alpha layers came, I had really assumed you would be able to create them directly from the “Appearance” menu, much like you would do a shirt, customising the length by just pushing sliders. If it’s technically possible at all — and is there a reason why it shouldn’t ? — I think it’s really how it should be done.