Monday, 15 April 2013

Photoshop For Free!

Adobe Photoshop is the first word in image editing but there are some pretty good free alternatives out there...

Pixlr - Free download

A layers based image editing package much like photoshop.  Its got filters, transparent, a plethora of selection tools, erasers and paint brushes. Plus your can save your images in more formats than you can shake a stick at!

Its web-based so you'll have to have a decent connection + computer to use it.

For basic image editing, I use it all the time in workshops as often the computers we are using don't have the expensive Adobe software pre-loaded.

Yup it sounds like a dodgy character from Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, but theres nothing suspect about this little piece of software's ability to keep up with the big kid on the block when it comes to tweeking your pics.

It's al there, layers,the tools, the floating pallets, and don't let all those windows or software bugs put you off - it's pretty powerful editing software that a lot of people have spent a lot of item developing free for you, yes You!

TUX Paint - Free download

Okay this tuxedo Penguin's not as sophisticated as the smart casual Photoshop but once you 've downloaded the extensive image stamp library you have a fun easy to use programme that adds surprisingly catchy sound effects when you do anything in the interface proves it to be a massive step up from MS paint 

Photoshop - Free Trial

Yep you can use photoshop for free... well for 30 days that is!

You can download a full functioning trial version to test drive straight to your hard-drive. I think it adds a nasty a watermark or stops working after this time so you'll have to part with your hard earned clams or shells or whatever they are calling money these days, if you want to continue.

You should check out their other award winning software.

That's it for now, have fun and keep those lenses clean!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Creating Sprites In Scratch

You awoke this morning with a burning desire to place an animated version of yourself in a Scratch games ... well this tutorial is for you!

The Scratch version 1.4 Interface

You animate sprites in Scratch by changing the sprites costumes, this means that you will have to take several photos of your subject in different poses. The process is a bit like taking photos for stop motion animation.

Each costume is a separate image in a different pose.

Lets go through a list of things you need to do to successfully create your own sprites. This tutorial assumes you know how to animate sprites in scratch.

1. Taking Your Pictures 

You need a digital camera - a tripod is helpful but not essential.

A webcam connected to a computer is a good solution.

If you are pretty confident using  video, you can film your subjects poses and grab still images from the video.

You can take take as many pictures as you like but lets keep it to a manageable 3.

A webcam will transfer yours picture directly to your computer and there's no need for a tripod.

2. Image size.

Keep you images small.

Set your image resolution/size to 480 x 360 pixels or 640 x 480 or about 1 mb in size.

3. The Pose

For inspiration check out some of the poses in the Scratch people library!

Keep your subject in the centre of the frame to get a smooth animation.

Use a green screen or a plain backdrop that contrasts against your subject.

A green screen or plain contrasting backdrop = easy background removal!

5. Editing your Pictures

Use an image editor to erase your background.

You can use programmes like Corel Paintshop Pro or Adobe Photoshop. You can also use free image editors like GIMP or

You should see a checkerboard pattern after you take away your background

Name your files sequentially; e.g., image1, image2, image3 then save as a .GIF or PNG file format.

6. Now lets open Scratch!

Open image1.png as a new sprite then import the rest of your images - select costumes tab - import.

You can also use the image editor in Scratch to remove backgrounds from your sprite. 

7. Add your code

Rearrange this code to make a basic animated sprite

You can now treat your sprite like any other sprite in scratch- well done!

Next Scratch 2.0 is here