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BEAVeR posted a topic in LEGO Star WarsSometimes the pictures of your creation don’t quite convey the feeling you’re aiming at. That’s when your picture editor becomes your best friend. You can use it to enhance the colors of your picture, get rid of hard shadows, install a new background, or add some special effect. It can be too much, but if you do it right, your picture will be more vivid, it well tell a story. One special effect that is particularly handy for Star Wars fans is placing a hologram in your picture, and that’s what I’ll be trying to teach you today. 1. Taking a picture Picture editing already starts when you take the picture. You have to take it so that it is fit for what you’ll try to edit in. In this case, you might consider shooting the backdrop and the minifig (or whatever object you want to make a hologram of) separately. This is because you’ll want to select the minifig quite easily later on. This will be more easy if you have a monochrome background with high contrast with the minifig. These separate pictures also have the advantage that you have the area of the background that will be behind the minifig as well, so that you can play with transparency later on. If it’s impossible to separate the shots (because the minifig is interacting with the environment), you can always shoot the background with and without the minifig, from exactly the same camera angle, or just leave it at one picture if you don’t want the extra effects and are willing to spend some more time on it all. 2. Importing the picture in GIMP Apart from a picture, you’ll need a picture editor. The professional software is known to be insanely expensive, but luckily there are some great free, open source editors out there. I recommend using GIMP, as it is widely supported. You can download it here for free. Once you’ve got the software up and running, you have to import the picture in GIMP. You can do this by going to File -> Open, or if you found a picture on the internet you want to experiment on, to Edit -> Paste As -> New Image. I’ll be using a picture of a Darth Vader minifig I found on the internet. 3. Preparing the picture You’ll need to work on the minifig alone, without disturbing the background if you have one. If you don’t have one, you’ll want a transparent background to paste the hologram seamlessly in some environment. Anyway, you’ll need to delete the background (if you’re working on a picture with a background you want to keep, duplicate the layer first). You can do this right clicking on the layer of your image (in the box on the right), and selecting “Add Alpha Channel”. Then you can use a combination of the magic wand tool and the free select tool. There are a lot of tips on background removal on the internet if you’re not quite confident. When you have the picture of the minifig without anything else (the checkered background indicates that it is transparent), duplicate the layer once. You can do this by clicking on the icon with the two windows at the bottom of the layers box. 4. Coloring the image The first real step in the making of the hologram, is giving it its typical blue color. You can use the colorise tool for this. The disadvantage is that it every color will have the same hue. So everything will be blue, while you can see there are some slight color variations in the ‘real’ Star Wars holograms. To fix this, you can set the transparency of the topmost layer to about 75 percent first. This will allow the colors to shimer through a bit. Then, go to Colours -> Colorise. You will get a dialog box that lets you play around with the hue, lightness and contrast of the picture. You can play around with it to get the best colors. Hit the OK button when you’re finished. 5. Adding the stripes Probably one of the most iconic features of the hologram are its horizontal stripes. There are several ways to accomplish them with filters or patterns, but I find gradients the easiest to use as they allow for total control of the size. To apply them, you first have to indicate the area they need to fill. To go to the topmost layer, right click and select “Alpha to selection”. This will select everything that is opaque in the picture, so that you certainly won’t miss any spots. Then, create a new layer by clicking on the white page icon at the bottom left of the layers dialog. Next, double click on your gradient tool. A tool options menu should pop up. Your colors are by default set to black and white, and this is exactly what we want. Leave all the setting unchanged, apart from the one that says “Repeat:”. Set it to “Triangular Wave”, so that the gradient will keep repeating itself in exactly the pattern we want. With your selection still active, hold control/command and drag your mouse straight up for a short distance (the ctrl will make sure the line is perfectly vertical, as we don’t want tilted stripes). The length of your stroke will determine the width of the stripes. Experiment until you’re happy with your stripes. Now your image should look like some bar code. To convey this texture to the underlying image, return to your layer dialog and set the mode (in the box at the very top) to overlay. You can also adjust the opacity to your liking. 6. Giving it the glow To add to the feeling of projected light, your hologram still needs a glow. Repeat the first few steps of the previous section to create a new layer and a selection of the minifig. The layer should go at the bottom of your minifig layers. Next, go to Select -> Grow. Here you can fill in the amount of pixels you want the selection to grow in every direction. This amount is different for every image size, but you don’t want to go too big. Here, I went with an expansion of 20 px in both directions. With this selection active on the new layer, click on the black rectangle that is probably your foreground color. Set it to a color close to the hologram. You can do this by using the color bars, or clicking on the color picker icon at the right hand side. Choose one of the lighter colors in your image. (excuse me for the stretched picture, I don't know what's going on here) Then select the bucket tool and fill in the selected area. You will see a crisp colored outline around your figure. To make it glow more, go to Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur. Select the amount you want to blur, and hit OK. 7. Finishing the picture You can end here and put the picture against your background. If you want to make it a bit transparent, select the topmost layer, right click and select “Merge Down”. This will unify it with the layer below. Continue the process until you’ve had all the minifig layers. Then you can just play with the opacity of the unified layer to make it work with the background. You can also delve deeper into the filters and add some more noise to the picture etc, but I don’t find that necessary. When you’re satisfied with your hologram, you can export it as an image, and you’re done. The final result could look something like this (but hopefully better) That’s it! I hope you enjoyed it and learnt something to make your creations even better. If there are any questions, I will be very happy to answer them!