[Graphics] how-to Pt.2 (Scan Lines (Pt.1))

Submitted By: Buster's Uncle Date: February 21, 2012, 08:13:48 PM Views: 478

Scan Lines

[Continuing directly  on from the last graphics how-to post, another old article that I publish [with a few bracketed remarks written today inserted] for the illustration of the thinking behind  my process, and in the belief that some people out there will have old systems and need instructions for obsolete programs, or only have something they must adapt one of these techniques to be able to do scan lines.  The more advanced scan lining technique I describe first here will still work without the useless W7 MSPaint, but instead using old versions of GIMP (awkwardly) with one of the contrast-altered copies of the portrait pasted into a second window with a transparent background layer added.  Better is to download the latest version of GIMP and use the new function Filters>Distorts>Erase Every Other Row.  Two future articles will address my evolving scan lining technique, the second using the function I just mentioned and taking under a minute.  Stay tuned.]

Lacking an automatic function that will do scan lines for me, I’ve worked out two ways to do it manually. I’ll tackle them in reverse order of invention.

Once it fits the frame the way I want, I select the inside of the box [[Ctrl]c to copy] and switch back to Photoshop.

The diplomacy frame I selected still waiting, I paste in the portrait. [Ctrl]v to paste] I reselect the picture- inside the box this time- and reduce the contrast 30% [Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast...] (usually- sometimes I think it needs to be brighter, and increase the contrast by the same amount, or reduce it 15% and increase the next by the same- I’ve found a 30% difference in contrast is about perfect for good scan lines.) In this case, the shot I'm working with is just a little too bright/colorful, so I'm definitely reducing the contrast. [In retrospect, I maybe should have gone -15% contrast over +15% - the original shot really looked better at its original levels.  I was still pretty new at this when I wrote it up.]

Then I paste again to drop another copy (which still has the original contrast level) on top of it.

I select a horizontal box the width of the picture, but only one pixel high, at the top of the portrait and hit delete.

I hit the down arrow key twice- which in Photoshop, moves the select box down two pixels- and hit delete again. I use a two-handed technique, hitting the delete button with a finger of my left hand, and the down arrow with a finger of my right.  As I fly down the picture doing this, pixel-wide stripes of the lower-contrast copy of the portrait underneath are revealed every other row.

When I get to the bottom, I select the whole portrait inside the frame and click Layer>Flatten Image. This makes the two copies one layer- with the scan line striping I made- that I can copy and paste into place on the copy of the whole faction graphic in the other copy of Paint.

(Then I go back to the copy of Paint holding the leaderhead, reduce it in size 80%, and repeat the process- then 73% of the datalinks size, then 60%, and I'm done with the leaderhead.)

[Now a digression about the size/crop technique I still use, though not in Paint anymore.  I don't know why I didn't write this thing in order.]

-Selecting the empty box:

and pasting it over the portrait.

(This particular portrait fit the box just right at 56% of the original I was working from. His head is centered nicely in the frame and will be about the size of the official factions in the game -just a bit on the large side. Note that I ran the bottom edge of the box off the bottom by one pixel; I'm not pasting the box back in, just the part of the picture inside it, and there's no reason to crop a pixel row's worth of his body out in favor of the nothing over his head - given that it's pretty well centered at his eyes either way.)

Note that the background color is set to the purple that's transparent in the Alien Crossfire expansion, and the lower thingy [that's the Draw Opaque off box] at the bottom of the toolbox is selected. [Look for what the arrow is pointing at, if you're stuck doing this in an old version of Paint.  (I'm very frustrated with the W7 Paint upgrade.)]

(It means the background color is transparent for stuff you paste in, like the purple inside the blue box. I paste in the box once, right-click on the purple inside with the eye dropper -looking sample tool, which sets the background color to the right shade, [control z] to back up to before I pasted, and paste it back in.)

[Now for the older, truly stone-knives-and-bearskins techniques.]

I used to do the resizing with nothing but tedious trial and error, getting something close to the right size and shape, then seeing if it fit the box, shaving off a few pixels and trying again. It took a bit longer that way, to say the least.  In those days, once I had the portrait size/cropped for each box, I’d open two copies of Paint and paste the portrait into one of them. Then I’d paste it into Lexmark Photo Editor, reduce the contrast 30%, copy it that way, and paste into the other copy of Paint.

Now for the fun part. [That was sarcasm] I’d zoom in on one of the copies of the portrait at 800%, and begin using the line tool to draw horizontal white lines one pixel wide though every other row of the picture.

It’s simpler to describe, but took 20 times as much tedious work to do. (Your eyesight is probably better than mine, so if you have to do it this way, you may find it easier than I did.) When I had done that to the whole shot, I’d paste it on top of the other copy of the picture in the other copy of Paint with Draw Opaque switched off, (white is the default background color,) resulting in a scan lined shot.

[Remember that back then I was assembling the graphic in another copy of Paint (because Photoshop5 won't let you move your pasted elements around before you deselect and drop them in,) and only pasting the whole faction graphic back into Photoshop for saving as a .pcx at once when I was finished.  Hey, it worked for me.]

Next up: fun with logos and such.

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