Taking pictures, posting to Flickr, Twitter, Facebook has become a great way to show case and allow other users to view and comment on. For many, photography is way to express how they feel, think and to capture moments that can live on in a photograph. For many, taking that perfect picture in Second Life can become frustrating, and not knowing what programs out there are the best for editing photos. I am going to break down the TOP Free photo editing programs, and tips and tricks to help you capture that special moment with ease.
GIMP (short for GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free alternative to Photoshop that more than holds its own. But don’t think that the lack of a price tag means GIMP is lacking in features; it packs enough punch to genuinely rival Adobe’s imaging behemoth.
The interface is highly customizable, and the GIMP community has produced a ton of excellent plugins that are all free to download. The program is loaded with tutorials and there’s plenty of assistance to be found in the active and helpful community, so don’t worry if you get stuck – help is always at hand.
Paint.NET is a powerful, easy-to-use image editor that offers features similar to those that you’ll find in Adobe Photoshop and GIMP.
Paint.NET’s interface will be familiar to anyone who’s used Adobe Photoshop or other premium photo editors, but it’s intuitive enough for complete newcomers to grasp quickly. All the common tools are presented as icons in panel on the left, with filters and other adjustments in drop-down menus along the top.
Paint.NET also supports user-created plugins, which add even more filters and functions. We’re particularly fond of the Liquify extension, which lets you warp images just like the Photoshop tool of the same name and is ideal for fine-tuning portrait photos.
Photo Pos Pro
Photo Pos Pro aims to find the middle ground by offering a choice of interfaces: one for beginners, and one for experts. This means that it’s possible to get started with what proves to be a very powerful program without feeling intimidated. While it’s great to have a choice of interfaces with Photo Pos Pro, opting for Novice mode does mean making some compromises – you can’t work with layers, for instances.
While there is a choice of interfaces, the ‘pro’ side of things is something of a cluttered mess. There are certainly a lot of very powerful tools to play with – the magic eraser is superb, for example – but there are so many toolbar buttons scattered seemingly haphazardly that, it takes some time to get used to where everything is.
Novice mode, on the other hand, if very well thought out, with everything being very clear, easy to locate, and easy to identify.
PhotoScape is primarily a photo editor, but this label doesn’t really do it justice – there is much more to it than basic retouching. There’s also an image viewer, a batch editing function, a built in screen capture tool, and a host of filters and effects to quickly liven up any image.
On top of this you can stitch together multiple images into a panorama or collage, work with animated GIFs, convert RAW images, create slideshows, and print photos using a number of templates – the list goes on.
PhotoScape might look like a rather simple free photo editor, but take a look at its main menu and you’ll find a wealth of features: raw conversion, photo splitting and merging, animated GIF creation, and even a rather odd (but useful) function with which you can print lined, graph or sheet music paper.
Fotor is more a photo enhancer than a full-fat manual editing tool. If there’s specific area of retouching you need doing with, say, the clone brush or healing tool, you’re out of luck. However, if your needs are simple, its stack of high-end filters that really do shine.
There’s a foolproof tilt-shift tool, for example, and a raft of vintage and vibrant colour tweaks, all easily accessed through Fotor’s clever menu system. You can manually alter your own curves and levels, too, but without the complexity of high-end tools.
Fotor’s most brilliant function, and one that’s sorely lacking in many photo editing packages, is its batch processing tool – feed it a pile of pics and it’ll filter the lot of them in one go, perfect if you have a memory card full of holiday snaps and need to cover up the results of a dodgy camera or shaky hand.
Tips For Taking Great Photos in Second Life:
Use the Ctrl-` snapshot shortcut
On PC keyboards with international characters this will not work.
Instead of ` use the key on the right side of key L.
On a Danish PC keyboard for example, the shortcut becomes: Ctrl+Æ
On a german keyboard the shortcut is Ctrl+ö
Change your camera angle
Click the toolbar’s View button to bring up the camera (Orbit Zoom Pan) controls.
Click the controls to change your view. As you get more advanced, you’ll want to try keyboard shortcuts for each of these.
Tip: To get an easy shot of your avatar’s face, click the Preset Views (eye) button, then click Front View.
Improve your graphics quality
If you’ve looked at other Residents’ photos and wonder why some things look so vivid or sharp, it could just be because of graphics settings. These are dependent on how powerful your computer is, but if you meet or exceed our System Recommendations, you should be able to see Second Life in all its glory. Here’s a quick setup:
Select Me menu > Preferences.
In the PREFERENCES window, click Graphics tab.
On the Quality and speed slider, click High (or you won’t see clouds and stuff), or if you have a really powerful computer, click Ultra.
Click OK to save your changes.
Tip: To make textures appear sharper and smooth out jaggy edges, click the Hardware button. Check Anisostropic Filtering and set Antialiasing to at least 4x.
Is it too dark? Want a clear blue sky with no clouds?
Select World menu > Sun > Environment Editor.
Drag the time slider to change the time of day, and drag the Cloud Cover slider to make the sky more clear or more overcast.
A lot of extra fun can be had if you click Advanced Sky and make choices from the Sky Presets dropdown.
This is a local setting, meaning only you see the changes — no worries about burning anyone else to a crisp when the sun gets EXTREME!
Tip: Second Life’s atmospheric system is called “WindLight”. You can get hundreds more sky and water settings.
If the whirr-click! snapshot sound and animation starts to get on your nerves, you can disable that.
Select Me menu > Preferences.
Click Advanced tab.
Enable Show Advanced Menu. You’ll see it appear at the top of your screen.
Uncheck Advanced menu > Quiet Snapshots to Disk.
In the PREFERENCES window, click OK.
Notice: Due to ever changing viewers, some features in the videos may or may not be available.