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  1. jmsepe liked an article by NMUSpidey, 100 Million STEX DL: An Interview with MandelSoft   
    ST: When did you first get SC4, and what do you remember about your first experiences with the game? Was SC4 your first involvement with SimCity, or did you already have a history with the sim games?
    MandelSoft: SimCity was not my first introduction to the simulator genre. I once got two sim games for my birthday: Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 and Transport Tycoon Deluxe (yes, the original DOS game). Back then, RCT was already hard to install 135MB on a 4GB hard disk on a Windows 95 PC (boy, those were the times). I had many hours of fun with Transport Tycoon (including the chiptune music in all its glory) and I still play OpenTTD today. More people on this website are familiar with OpenTTD, but I don’t think many have played the original game.

    My first introduction to the SimCity series was SimCity 2000. Since I never really got track of that game (I was really young then, probably 6 or 7 years old), I ditched it aside pretty quickly. SimCity 3000 felt a lot better and I enjoyed that game, though I made some quite beginner mistakes.

    Then SimCity 4 came along in 2003. I had the vanilla game, but I didn’t got the hang out of it at the first try and I ditched it aside. Yes, a fan like me ditched aside SimCity 4 once for quite a while. But I was just 11 years old back then, and I was probably not old enough to really “get” the game…

    Then 2006 came along. I picked up the game again and I finally got how the game works. And I have loved the game ever since! In 2007 I bought Rush Hour (second hand, best purchase ever!) and in October 2007, I discovered Simtropolis. Since then, SimCity 4 has never been the same for me...
    ST: What aspect of SC4 do you enjoy most – what keeps you coming back?
    MandelSoft: SimCity 4 offers you a toolkit not just to make any city, it offers you the tools to make YOUR city. There are so many ways you can construct a city, how to design the layout, what services you offer, what style of infrastructure and architecture you're going to use and more. With the amount of custom content we have today, the possibilities are endless! I can see that most familiar SimCity 4 players have a distinct style.

    ST: Do you recall the first plugin you installed?
    MandelSoft: I think it was either the Streetlight Colour Mod or the Network Addon Mod, I can’t recall…
    ST: What led you to Simtropolis at first? Can you remember your initial impressions of the site?
    MandelSoft: The custom content, of course! I was searching for more possibilities, and especially to make my cities look more Dutch. At first, I only was here to download, but after a while I started browsing the forums. I never could have imagined that I would ever become such an integral part of the community. Everybody has to start somewhere.

    ST: Describe your progression into the world of SC4 custom content. Was it a particular lot or BAT that inspired you to take the first step?
    MandelSoft: Pffft, I don’t know anymore. I think it was the possibility alone that adding custom models to the game was enough inspiration for me to do my own work. I had some troubles getting gMax to start BATting, though.

    ST: Speaking of first steps, what was the very first thing that you modeled using the BAT? Do you still have a screen shot?
    MandelSoft: My first BAT was my own house. But it looked horrible, and for a few years I tried to clear them from my cities. My first serious BAT was a Dutch signage pack (and this was released, and deleted again). This one was overscaled quite a lot and poorly modelled. I don’t have pictures of it anymore, but it took me another three versions to get the proportions right.

    ST: Your list of uploads is populated by a large number of road mods. Are there any particular reasons for choosing to direct your efforts in this direction, beyond just general roadgeekery?
    MandelSoft: Most of these things are easy to model. Most signs only use basic geometry, especially boxes and cylinders. By combining them in a clever way, you can still get a large variety of shapes. One thing you do have to take care of is texturing, which is important with signage. Streetlights are a bit harder to model, but these things are small props, so one model is not really that complex.

    However, I didn’t do just easy stuff. Road texture sets are a lot of work. Not because it’s hard, but because there are so many textures to modify. It took me three and a half months to prepare the RHW Euro Texture Set for the RHW 3.0 ready. The Ontario Texture set took me a month (because I had the basic set ready in vector format).

    ST: What do you find fascinating about roads and their signage, lighting, etc?

    MandelSoft: It’s hard to explain. I just have that odd twitch in my head

    ST: What is the thought process behind choosing what to create next?

    MandelSoft: There is not much thinking about it. I just choose whatever I like to do next, whatever I can motivate myself for. In some cases, it’s about what I feel missing in the game and what I am able to make.

    ST: I think most custom content creators would consider their work a hobby, but like anything in life, some parts are more fun than others. What do you consider your least favorite part of the BATing process? Your favorite?

    MandelSoft: Some would say rendering is the least favourite part of the BATting process, but my least favourite part of the process is the finishing of the lots. This means getting the lot descriptions right and adding icons to the lots. Keep in mind that I usually make signage packs of dozens of signs, which means a lot of icons. This becomes a huge pain to make everything look right.

    My favourite part is the modelling itself. Just like in SimCity 4, I like to create stuff, to see things come from the mind into reality, regardless if this reality is virtual or not.

    ST: Since this is a sort of hobby (in the sense that custom content creators are not paid for their work), what keeps you motivated to continue releasing new creations for the SC4 community to enjoy? How much do comments in the download section mean to you? Is it exciting to see your models used in the CJs of others?
    MandelSoft: I really like to see my stuff coming back in other people’s CJs. Then you see that other people really appreciate your work, and that gives me satisfaction. This is also what motivates me to make new stuff, other than the fact that there are some things I really like to see myself in-game.

    I usually don’t read many comments, but I do want to take action if somebody comments on a bug.

    ST: You released your first file in 2008. Is there any one of your creations that you are particularly proud of? Are there any fun stories or facts relating to some of your works that we don’t know about?
    MandelSoft: The thing of quite a few of my creations is that no one really took the effort to do something similar. The Light Replacement Mod (not just replace the light cones, but the lamp posts themselves too) , the Stoplight Replacement Mod, the ploppable streetlights, the Highway Re-Styling Mod. No one has ever really tried and released such a feat. Also, there were a few signage sets in the past, but I really expanded the choice with a lot of European signage styles. I’m also very fond of my NAM creations, but that’s pure teamwork and I never got that far without help of my wonderful team mates.

    I’m also particularly proud of the Pactagon building. It is a funny looking building, but not too unrealistic. It is a quite original building design to fit on a roundabout center. A worthy headquarters for the NAM Team!

    One fact people may not have known before is that one of my mods was inspired by a mod that turned out to be a hoax. There was a project called the M25 Project. Basically this was a quite beautiful looking reskin of the Maxis Highway. At one point, development just stopped. I decided to start over again and make my own set, the Highway Re-Styling Mod. Later, it turned out that my inspiration was a Photoshop hoax. The member who pulled that off has made such a bad name that it may never be mentioned ever again. The same member also worked on a streetlight mod which inspired my Light Replacement Mod. So two hoaxes were eventually realised “properly” by me.

    Some other fun facts about some of my other downloads:
    Everything in the Frickinhuge Signage Set is either a pun or a reference.
    My latest release, the Carthamia Imperial Tower, was made for a friend.
    There is a brony advert on the Pactagon Building, as well as a PacMan advert.
    ST: Has your experience BATing had any influence on your personal or professional life? Are there any skills that you have developed over your BATing career that have helped you beyond the world of SC4?
    MandelSoft: SimCity 4 had one big influence on my life: I became a Civil Engineer because of SimCity 4. I completed a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering in 2013 and I’m getting my Master’s degree in the specialisation Transport & Planning this year. Thus far I’m the only NAM member with a degree in the field

    ST: What advice would you give to a new member of this community who was planning on creating their first BAT?
    MandelSoft: I would give three important points to remember:
    Start small. Before you can make full-scale buildings, it’s best to start with small stuff like props. This will let you get to know the tools better. If your first project doesn’t succeed, you are more likely to quit. Larger projects often have a larger chance of failure than smaller ones. Therefore, start small.
    Never cease experimenting. Change some settings and see what it does, try something new, or just do things without knowing what you are really doing. Experimenting is an important way through which I learned all the skills I have. By experimenting, you get to understand the tools better.
    Failure is an option. Yes, you will fail quite a lot along the way when experimenting, but that’s all right; failure is an option. Each failure brings you one step closer to success, since you know what works and what doesn’t work. You have truly failed if you didn’t learn from your failures. So try a lot, fail a lot, but eventually learn a lot.
    ST: Simtropolis is organized into ‘player’ and ‘builder’ categories. Regarding the ‘player’ section, do you have any favorite CJers that you enjoy following? What are your favorite SC4 ‘scenes’ (i.e., towering metropolises, urban sprawl, rural landscapes, etc.).
    MandelSoft: My favourite SimCity landscapes are old cities and night scenes. I have a weak spot for both. In SimCity 4, it’s quite hard to make a city look centuries old. People who pull off that trick earn my deepest respect. These old cities have a very strong own unique character, I like that. I also like night shots, since this shows how the city is alive at night with all the pretty light effects.

    I don’t really follow CJs; I usually look around at the “show us your …” sections. I have some people that have inspiring creations. McDuell is completely mad when it comes to building interchanges; he builds one mind-blowing interchange after the other. Haljackey’s “Building a City from Scratch” is a huge undertaking that helped with popularising SimCity 4 again. Both of them should get a lot of respect, but let’s not forget all the other CJers out there that make great and unique content!

    ST: On the ‘builders’ side, do you have any favorite BATers that you enjoy following? If you still play SC4, what was your most recent download from the STEX?
    MandelSoft: I still have huge respects for the NYBT. The team still produces some high quality BATs for everyone to admire. I also respect Reddonquixotte’s work a lot. Each release of his is a masterpiece!

    ST: SimCity 4 has been out for over 12 years now. Are you surprised that this community is still going strong all these years later? What do you think is the secret to its longevity? Do you think there will still be new content being created 12 years from now?
    MandelSoft: I think the secret of the longevity of its community is its general attitude. From what I’ve seen, the SimCity community is highly tolerant, intelligent and respectful. Everyone respects each other, mods are rarely stolen, people have intelligent discussions, not a lot of people ask obvious questions answered hundreds of times and aside from members who have really misbehaved, no one is really hated here and there is always someone there to help you if you have a problem. This is what keeps our community strong. The custom content for this game stretched out the life span of the game too, and the creators are backed up by such a great community!
    I still would like to come back to SimCity 4 one day…

    ST: Are there any games you play besides SC4? What other hobbies do you have away from BATing and SimCity?
    MandelSoft: I haven’t played SimCity 4 lately, due to my work at ProMods for Euro Truck Simulator 2. I’m still building cities and roads, I’m still modelling streetlights and signs, but just for another game. The good thing is that this game offers you a completely different perspective, namely of a driver. This is a quite relaxing game, and I’d recommend to play this game with the ProMods map mod.

    I’m also a music producer in the trance genre. I have quite a passion for music making. My work can be found on YouTube and Soundcloud under the name MandelSoft. I have quite some tracks I’m proud of. I can most definitely recommend “Aurora Borealis”, “Moonrise”, “Day of Pi” , “Waves” and “Drifting in Dreams”.

    I’m also working on Geofiction projects. Geofiction is the art of creating and maintaining fictional countries. I’m part of a Dutch geofiction-community who share a geofiction-world together. I can use my InkScape skills for various aspects, like drawing maps, flags, infographics, etc. It’s an unusual but interesting hobby. I have met these people in real life and we are a fun group.

    ST: What question have I not asked that I should have?
    MandelSoft: Maybe what “player” project I participated with I’m the most proud of? That would be the NORO Co-operative. This is a huge multi-player region on SC4Devotion.com with the crème de la crème of the SimCity 4 building community. It’s a high-quality region with a lot of challenges. I’d recommend everyone to take a look over there. You’ll find some great inspiration how to make your cities look a lot better!

    Best regards from your head-banging NAM-Pony,
    Maarten (MandelSoft)
    Interview questions by SimCoug and NMUSpidey (but mostly SimCoug), MandelSoft interview conducted by NMUSpidey
  2. jmsepe liked an article by The Avatar, A Beginner's Tutorial: MMP's: What Are They, and How to Use Them Effectively   
    Section 1. Terrain, Trees, and Tips for New CJ'ers
    Now, MMP's are great for a small area, or even a city tile; but to cover an entire region with only MMP's would be madness. That's what God-Mode Trees are for. In CJ's, people often cover their region with trees using the God-Mode Tree Controller, which is the tool used in God-Mode to cover large areas with trees. Most CJ'ers who do so also use a custom tree controller, and a custom terrain mod. Custom tree controllers replace the Maxis God-Mode Tree Controller trees with custom trees (for instance, Cycledogg's trees). Terrain mods replace the Maxis terrain with custom terrain. MMP's, custom tree controllers, and terrain mods are all ways to make your region and the cities within look better and more realistic. One way to effectively use these in a CJ is by using a terrain mod, using the custom tree controller to cover the desired areas of your region with trees, and then adding MMP's for the final details when you want to show off that area in you CJ. To cover an entire region with detailed MMP painting, only to show some parts of the region in a CJ would be wasteful.
    You may be thinking, "Okay, this is all great, but how do I get a terrain mod, custom tree controller, and MMP's?" To answer your question, here are some lists of popular terrain mods, custom tree controllers, and MMP's:
    (List in topic)
    Custom tree controllers (In same topic ^)
    MMP's (Thanks to marsh for this wonderful list!) (All MMP's used in this tutorial are either induvidually on this list, or in a pack on this list. I think.)
    Section 2. Creating a River Scene
    In this section of the tutorial, I will give you tips on how to create a river scene. Please keep in mind, this is one river, with a set of MMP's that look good together. There are many other options and combinations to make a river, and as always with MMP's, there's no set-in-stone "right" way to do things. I am merely giving you general tips and inspiration.
    The MMP's/Terrain I used (most of them, anyway...) to make this scene:
    PPond Water
    PEG Shoreline Plops - Gravel
    PEG Shoreline Plops - Rock Clusters
    PEG Shoreline Plops - Small Rocks
    PEG Shoreline Plops - Boulders
    VIP Cattails and Other Flora
    PEG Cattails
    VIP Rocks
    VIP Automata and Various Other MMP's
    Cycledogg Trees
    Cycledogg's Olympic Terrain Mod
    Cycledogg's Olympic Tree Controller
    Heblem's Ploppable Dirt
    Ploppable Alsphalt by ???
    I think that's all.
    First, using one-tile PPond Water, I created a river. The shape/size doesn't matter.

    Next, I used 1/4-tile PPond to make the river wider, and smoother.

    Then, I added some PEG Shoreline Gravel for the banks of the river.

    (Note, after making this scene, I'd advise you to switch this step and the following steps. While it is impossible to plop other MMP's on this gravel, it is easy to plop this gravel on other MMP's. Learn from my mistake )
    Then, I plopped some PEG Rocks in the central area of the scene.

    Some more of this...

    Next I added some flora; some by VIP, others by PEG.

    I continued to add flora, rocks, and also some dirt by Heblem.

    I then plopped some trees by Cycledogg and VIP, and also used Cycledogg's Olympic Tree Controller.

    Adding small details for extra eyecandy...

    And the finished product!

    I know I left out the bottom left-hand corner, but this was simply for the purpose of this tutorial, so you get the general idea. (This was not very good, anyway.)
    Section 3. Creating a Forest Scene
    In this section of the tutorial, I will give you tips on how to create a forest scene. Please keep in mind, this is one forest, with a set of MMP's that look good together. There are many other options and combinations to make a forest, and as always with MMP's, there's no set-in-stone "right" way to do things. I am merely giving you general tips and inspiration.
    MMP's/Terrain I used (most of them, anyway...) to make this scene:
    VIP Seasonal/Evergreen Fagus, Aesculus, Firs, Cattails, Ferns
    VIP Rocks
    PEG Small Rocks and Boulders
    Lilypads by ???
    PEG Shoreline Plops - Sand 2
    Cycledogg 2009a Seasonal Trees (I think)
    Cycledogg Trees
    Cycledogg's Olympic Terrain Mod
    Cycledogg's Olympic Tree Controller
    Flowers by ???
    JRJ Transparent Ploppable Water
    I think that's all.
    Let's start off with a clean slate, and use Cycledogg's Olympic Tree Controller to add some trees.

    I thought this little clearing would be nice for a lake.

    I used Jeronij's Transparent Ploppable Water to create a nice little lake, and plopped some VIP Cattails.

    Next, I added some VIP/PEG Rocks and PEG's Ploppable Sand. With the transparent effect on the water, I thought this looked really nice. I also added some VIP flora.

    I started adding some seasonal flora (mostly by VIP, but some by Cycledogg). Remember: In order to get the full effect of seasonal flora, make sure you wait until Sept. 1st in game, pause the game, and then plop away!

    And went extremely overboard... This went from being a lake in a forest, to a magical pixie spring. But at least it looks nice.

    Section 4. Creating a Tropical/Jungle Scene
    In this section of the tutorial, I will give you tips on how to create a river scene. Please keep in mind, this is one river, with a set of MMP's that look good together. There are many other options and combinations to make a river, and as always with MMP's, there's no set-in-stone "right" way to do things. I am merely giving you general tips and inspiration.
    The MMP's/Terrain I used (most of them, anyway...) to make this scene:
    Heblem's Yucatan Terain Mod
    Rivit's Coastal Mod
    _marsh_'s White Sands Beach Mod
    SimFox Trees
    Heblem's Tropical MMP's and God Mode Tree Controller
    JRJ Rocks
    Goldiva's Rocks and Tropical Flora
    Cycledogg Trees
    I think that's all.
    Let's start off with a clean slate again, this time with an ocean shore.

    Then I used Heblem's Tree Controller to add some tropical trees.

    To give the jungle more variety, I plopped some tropical MMP's by Heblem and some of SimFox's trees.

    I plopped more tropical flora, some by Goldiva, others by Cycledogg, and others by Heblem.

    (I changed to the White Sands Beach Mod at this point, the other one I was using just didn't look right.) Adding more details for a tropical feel, including JRJ Rocks, Goldiva Flora and Rocks, and Heblem's Beach Huts..

    The final product (without the grid, for added effect!)

    Section 5. The End?
    Thank you all for reading! I hope this tutorial helped you better understand MMP's and how to effectively use them to create realistic scenes in SC4. These are not the only ways in which you can use MMP's. These were merely examples of how they can be used. Think of MMP's as your medium and yourself as the artist. No one can tell you how to create art (except my art teacher), so use MMP's how you want to, in the way that you feel is right.
    This is "The End?" because I might create a "Part 2" to this tutorial, in which I explain other ways to use MMP's to create other scenes. However, even if I never make a Part 2, I hope this tutorial inspired you to use MMP's to create your own scenes, whether for a CJ, or for your own use.
    If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please PM me, and I will try to answer you as best I can.
    ~ Charles/Evan
  3. jmsepe liked an article by Ace3, Using Photoediting to Enhance Ingame Pictures   
    For those of us who enjoy showing what we have accomplished in CJs or in the Forums, I thought it may be a good idea to form a tutorial. I am no professional at photoediting, but after much experience, I have gained a decent amount of knowledge that I thought would be a good idea to share incase you are new to the concept. You don't have to be an expert either to understand this tutorial. If you find that this is hard to follow, PM me and I'll do my best to help you out. Just remember though that photoediting is sort of the icing on the cake and really isn't essential to provide amazing pictures. Remember to enjoy the game, and if photoediting feels like to much of a burden, its not a necessity.



    Getting to Know the Basics:


    What you get out of this tutorial is what you put into it.

    -Knowledge of how to navigate through your photoediting program (I'm using Photoshop CS5 64-bit for this tutorial)
    -Creativity and Patience, Don't overdo the effects and make your picture unique through them.
    -Yellow Pause Thingy Remover

    Ok, so now that we have that down, let's start with the basics. Pictures taken ingame appear in "C:\Users\-----\Documents\SimCity 4\Albums" for Windows users (Not sure about Mac, sorry). To take a picture, minimize the menu completely and click Ctrl+Shift+S. Simcity 4 provides several frame sizes for you to take pictures with. I reccomend you use either the full screen frame or the frame size right before it (5 Spacebar Taps from the full screen frame). Why? These two frames automatically size images at 1024x768 (Full Screen) and 800x600 (Frame Size Before). Since the maximum size of pictures you can post onto Simtropolis (and many other forums and sites for that matter) is 800x600 pixels, you are set to go. This is helpful to the reader who doesn't want to strain their eyes looking at smaller pictures. You can resize smaller resolutions to a higher resolution, but this may distort the image or cause blur.

    Resizing Images:

    The first thing we want to do is to understand how to resize an image before we upload it to an image hosting site (e.g Imageshack). This prevents the grey "Resized to _%, was (-x-) Click to Enlarge" border from appearing around our pictures that are not 800x600.

    1. Open the image that is larger than 800x600.

    2. Click Image-Image Size...

    3. Change the Width to 800. If you have the "Constrain Proportions" box checked, you will see the height automatically adjust proportionally. Otherwise type 600 in the height box.

    4. Click OK and then File-Save (Or Save As if you wish to keep the original size and make the resize a new image)

    And that's it! Not bad right?

    General Photoshop Knowledge:

    1. You should know that if you place an image, place a shape, create a new layer, etc. while editing an image, you will need to flatten it out (right click background layer
    2. Don't overdo image editing. Oversaturating or making an image to bright can hurt the eye instead of please it.
    3. You should upload only images in jpeg format. Png formatted images can increase page loading times. Since the game naturally saves ingame taken pictures in png format, please use File-Save As-File Type-JPEG for ALL images you upload.

    Touching up on Images:

    So now that we know how to make all our images the same size (unless you crop your images which can change the dimensions), let's look at other things we can do to make our image more generally appealing. We'll start with the basic ones.

    -Brightness: Changes the levels of white emitted in your picture. Play around a bit with it and find an appealing amount.
    -Contrast: Changes the levels of black emitted in your picture. I personally enjoy increasing the contrast a bit in almost all of my pictures.
    -Levels: Not sure how to state this one. Crossing the white and black slider can turn the image negative. Mostly only handy when photoshpping mist in rainy pictures.
    -Curves: Adjust Brightness, Contrast, and Levels all at the same time.
    -Exposure:Adjust the amount of light your picture was taken in. I don't mess to much with the exposure slider, but sometimes I move the gamma correcton slider a bit in my day pics.

    Before (No Gamma Correction-Raw Image from Game)

    After (Gamma Correction)

    -Vibrance and Saturation: Adjust the levels of all color emitted. I wouldn't mess too much with these, but a little bit more (or less) vibrance always looks great.
    -Hue: Changes the definition of your colors. Red pixels can turn purple and green ones can turn yellow by a simple adjustment of this slider. I don't reccomend you do it at all though if your going for a realistic feel.
    -Color Balance: My favorite ones to adjust. You can make day pictures look like morning or sunset ones. You can also change the atmosphere the picture creates.

    Before: (Raw Image from Game)

    Adding some Yellow: (For that sunny afternoon effect)

    Mixing the Red and Magenta: (For that early morning -dawn- effect)

    Mixing the Red and yellow: (For those sunset shots)

    -Black and White: Turns all colors into black and white hues.
    -Photo Filter: Changes the Amount of a specific color emitted
    -Channel Mixer: Adjust hues individually
    -Invert: Inverts colors into their negative form
    -Posterize: Gives a poster resembling feel to pictures (somewhat of a propaganda creator in my opinion)
    -Threshold: Adjust the detail provided in black and white pictures
    -Gradient Map: Applies a semi-transparent gradient to your pics.
    -Selective Color: Adjust the color-balance of a specific set of color tones
    -Shadows and Highlights: Adjust several aspects of your picture at once here.
    -HDR Toning: Adjust several aspects of your picture at once here. You can accomplish great pictures using some of the preset options alone.
    -Variations: Get selectable previews of color balance adjustments until you are satisfied.

    There are many more options available. I reccomend experimenting with the Dodge, Burn, Sharpen, Blur, and Sponge tools available on the left hand column. You can also perform many adjustments by using a paint brush on a low opacity (transparency-solidness) setting. The more you experiment with these tools, the more efficiently you'll be able to use them.

    Let's go through a step by step process so you can get an idea of how to use photoediting programs. This will be the beginner tutorial where we go over the basics and add some special touches here and there.

    Beginner Tutorial:

    So we have this picture of a train passing by some farm fields in a fall setting. The picture itself isn't all that great (not much that's interesting), but with some photoediting we can make it alot better.

    First Thing I want to do is to raise the contrast. We want to bring out those fall colors.

    Changing the Gamma and Exposure a bit, I recieve the desired effect, but the train loses some of its textures, no problem of course.

    I change to the Burn Tool at an exposure of 87% and a brush size of 37.

    I then touch up on the train to make it a bit more textured and darker. After 2 coats, the train looks much better.

    Now what's better than a sunset train ride?

    We can use the blur tool at a very small exposure setting to reduce some of the grain and give it a softer look.

    I think that's enough. Time for the before and after shots!



    The editing itself only took me about 5 minutes, but I've become better at photoshop over the months. This may take 30 minutes or more depending on how good you can follow. If it takes a while don't worry, you can always take a break and come back later (or quit) if you don't feel your enjoying this. That being said, let's move on to the Intermediate Tutorial!

    Intermediate Tutorial (1):

    Here we'll go a explore Photoshop's tools a bit more and even add some special effects to our pictures. The only part that is harder is that we will have to set a goal so that we can touch up on the picture according to our goal.

    In the Intermediate Tutorial, you'll learn how to add rain effects (from drizzles to heavy rain), fog, lens flare, motion blurs, and designs to your pictures. This will provide you a sturdy base to start editing pictures with.

    Let's Begin! Here we have another raw image.

    We'll open it up in photoshop. I want to add a light rain and make it a bit more dull with some of fog. This way we can make the picture seem a bit more interesting, let's begin with giving it a more dull feel.

    Now we can edit the color balance to kill any remaining bits of out of place color.

    So far so good. Here I will introduce the filter section. The filter section provides several filters that you can use to enhance your images such as posterization, watercolor filter, glowing edges, and several other effects. For this image, we only need Filter-Distort-Diffuse Glow...

    Take note of that I don't want any grain to be added and am using a very light glow for the fog.

    Alright, so now we need some rain. I made my own rain overlay which can be found here:

    Rain Overlay

    Save the image (a temporary spot such as your Desktop will do):

    Go back to Photoshop. File-Place...Then navigate to where you saved the picture and place it into Photoshop.

    You should recieve something that looks like this:

    We'll use the Screen Filter to get rid of the black while leaving the drizzle unharmed. Right Click on the image and select place to get rid of the crossing diagonal lines.

    Select the (paint) brush tool and "attempt" to paint over the layer. You will be asked to rasterize it. Click OK.

    Now we are free to edit the layer (placed image, in this case the rain) as we wish without changing the look of the background layer (foggy beach picture). I'll raise the brightness to make the drops more visible.

    Although the water doesn't look to bad, I want to add another effect to it. Let's find a nice overlay from Google. Using the same steps as the rain, we can place the overlay into photoshop. I'll cover all of the existing water up with the new overlay:

    Then I'll select the Lighter Color filter.

    Set it at a 30% Opacity,

    Select the (paint) brush tool, make sure you still have the water layer selected. Rasterize it by clicking the image with the brush tool.

    We can then select the Clear setting at an Opacity of 100.

    I then clear all areas of the overlaying water that overlap with the shore, rocks, waves, cattails, etc. Notice that I've duplicated the layers on the bottom right. You can do this by right clicking on a layer and selecting "Duplicate Layer" You can then move the duplicated layer around by holding Ctrl and moving your cursor. I used this because on the left of the overlaying waves was a slight blue tint I wanted to get rid of. I realized that was the hard way. You can just make the layer black and white by going to Image

    The image is then flattened and finished.

    But of course I have to add in two more cents.


    Before and After anyone?-I realize now the effects were a little overdone.

    And that concludes the first section of the Intermediate Tutorial.

    Intermediate Tutorial (2&2.5)

    Here we will examine the motion blur and lens flare filters.

    First we'll start off with this picture of a car by the water. I want to make the setting more sunny and more tropical.

    Thus, I will adjust the brightness and contrast first.

    Then we can make the picture a bit more yellow, this is always a good photoedit tip for pictures taken in bright sunlight.

    And then a little bit more colorful:

    Time for the Flare! Although I don't like using the Lens Flare filter alot, it can help when trying to naturally brighten up an otherwise rather low lit picture.

    Under the following settings:

    And then I'll adjust the Shadows and Highlight settings to make the trees brighter.

    That is all! I think further editing would be overdoing it...



    And that concludes this part. Now we'll look at motion blurs. So we have this nice picture of a high-speed train passing by a snowy setting. The only thing is, the train doesn't look so high-speeed...

    First we'll touch up the image:

    Make it a bit more cyan to give it somewhat of an icy effect:

    And now we'll duplicate the layer in order to start working with the motion blur:

    Filter-Blur-Motion Blur...

    And now we'll make sure it is in the direction of the moving train by setting it at an angle of 63.

    And then we'll select the brush tool with a size of 25 at 100% Opacity and change the mode to "Clear".

    Running this over the entirety of the train, we erase the section of the motion blur layer and recover the original background layer for the train alone. The surroundings still remain blurred.



    I may have brightened it up a bit too much but anyways...Now we'll flatten, save as, and finish. This concludes Intermediate (2).

    Intermediate Tutorial (3):

    In this part of the intermediate tutorial the only thing we'll really cover is how to use the (paint) brush tool effectively.

    So we start with this standard picture in the suburbs. Since the trees are in their seasonal winter setting, I want to add effects that would make the picture seem as if it were a snowy Christmas Eve.

    We'll start by making the picture a bit darker (since winter nights aren't very bright) and raising the contrast so the original lighting still shows through the darkness.

    Now we can reduce the exposure and gamma correction to make it reflect the winter season a bit better.

    I then lower the saturation and vibrance to make the christmas lights on each house (that I'm about to add) stand out more.

    I choose a very small brush size (2 pix) at an Opacity of 35%.

    Using different colors with the same brush settings, I add some lights to this house.

    And then the next one as well, the process is already beginnning to get a bit tedious.

    I took a break by only adding white lights to this house. Not everyone puts up colored lights...

    Added some to the other side of the street. One house only has lights on the bushes.

    More were added to the houses on the top left.

    And then to the ones on the right of the intersection.

    Many lights were added to the houses at the bottom to finish the lighting.

    Now for some snow! I like this texture...

    We'll place it with the settings "Lighter Color" and at an Opacity of 78%

    The snow had some colorful edges. After rasterizing, I decided to put a black and white filter on it.

    And then adjust the brightness so that it fits in better with the surroundings.

    Next, I add finish it off with a nice little subtitle before flattening and saving.



    And with that, we conclude this section of the tutorial.

    Advanced Tutorial:

    In this tutorial, we will cover;

    -Special Effects

    Let's start with Mosaics! First we need to understand some basics:

    Full size Mosaics are composed of 800 by = 600 pictures. Mosaics are pictures that are vertically aligned over the same area. We can align these pictures by taking them with a common area that we can use to overlap the pictures.

    So Here we have one picture:

    And Another:

    We open the first one up in Photoshop:

    Go to Image-Canvas Size...

    And then make the height at least 5x Bigger:

    So it then looks like this:

    We then "Place" (File

    Set the layer to a temporary "Hard Light" Filter and Align the Pictures. Zoom in to make sure they are aligned perfectly.

    Switch the layer back to Normal After this. Rasterize it.

    Then Crop the Picture like so:

    Now we do all the editing...I'll tell you the last few steps to making the mosaic after the editing.
    So I go to google images and find a couple of explosions that I like...

    And then place them using the method shown before. I used the clear mode on the brush tool to blend it in. After Flattening, I then added some green and yellow tints and reduced the saturation to make it more depressing.

    I have made a New Layer and then Clicked Filter-Render-Clouds. The Opacity of this layer is 31% on Vivid Light.

    I added Fireball Effects...The result is not as great as I would've liked but it's not terrible...

    Using a texture off of google, I made the rotors spin. The layer was set to multiply and free transformed (Edit-Free Transform) to make it fit with the angle.

    Using another picture off of google, I made some rockets.

    I think that's good enough. This tutorial was supposed to help you to learn about mosaics, so let's get back to that...

    Go to Image

    The information here is important, it tells me I only need to use two vertically aligned pictures since the height is less than 600 times 2. Instead, I need one 800x600 picture and one 800x404 picture. I can crop out these portions of the picture and then upload them separately (one on top of the other) to form the mosaic. So we select the crop tool and set the width and height to 800x600.

    Crop the area.

    And save the 800x600 area we just cropped to a temporary folder.

    Clicking Ctrl+Alt+Z once or twice should take us back to the full mosaic. Set the Crop dimensions to 800x404 this time and crop out the bottom part.

    Save this as something else. Now we can upload it to ST by using the following format:No spaces in between.

    Please note that if your mosaic pixel height is greater than 1200 (involves more than two 800x600 pictures) than use this method:

    1.Crop out top 800x600 pixels: Save As: Click Ctrl+Alt+Z until you get back to the full mosaic
    2.Crop out top 800x1200 pixels: Crop out Bottom 800x600 Pixels: Save As: Click Ctrl+Alt+Z until you get back to the full mosaic
    (if needed)3. Crop out top 800x1800 pixels: Crop out Bottom 800x600 Pixels: Save As: Click Ctrl+Alt+Z until you get back to the full mosaic
    (if needed) 4. Crop out top 800x2400 pixels: Crop out Bottom 800x600 Pixels: Save As: Click Ctrl+Alt+Z until you get back to the full mosaic
    5. Keep going until the last section of the mosaic is 800 by(less than or equal to) 600 pixels. Then use the method above...

    So Before:


    That's it! Your good to go. Now for Part 2, the special effects section!

    Here we have a dogfight. (Yes this image is raw as well) Let's spice up the action!

    First adjust the brightness and contrast...

    And then the Color Balance...

    I'll make it less vibrant so it gains a more formal look...

    And then I created a New Layer, Filter

    Duplicated the background layer and added a motion blur to the duplicate. I used the brush tool on clear mode to recover the previously blurred planes.

    And then I'm done!



    And with that we conclude the tutorial. If you stuck with me until the very end I thank you. Please remember that photoediting should not be abused. Do not photoedit pictures and claim you have created something that really doesn't exist. Use it only to help get the point across that you want people to recieve when looking at your pictures. I've actually never used GIMP before, though I hear its a great tool. I am not familiar with the interface, but I think the concepts in this tutorial will still apply. Thanks and I hope this was helpful.

    P.S If there is any formatting error or something that comes up, please don't hesitate to let me know. I had some trouble with the formatting of the tutorial (like less than and greater than symbols and some other stuff).