HowTo: Use transparent texture to create wings

HowTo: Use transparent texture to create wings

The activity described in this posting – creating a butterfly wings for my avatar — took me a fair amount of work to figure out. This was despite two really good tutorials on transparency (A comprehensive tutorial on transparency and a really good tutorial on transparency and Paint Shop Pro). Even after all of this effort the initial results weren’t perfect. I was occasionally getting a barely visible artifact that look like a white line on the edge of the transparent panel that the wings are painted on. I also got a white halo around the wings. I asked around on the forums and I got some suggestions from a poster named Chosen Few. His suggested indeed appear to solve these two problems. These are included at the bottom of this posting.


I used Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI to create the texture that makes up the wing. Everybody sees to swear by Adobe PhotoShop, but I’ve always found that program to be very obscure. I did try doing this project in Adobe PhotoShop Elements for a while, but eventually I gave up.


The first step was to create wings on a transparent background. Here’s the procedure I followed:


Created a new image by the following: File




New. On the new image panel, selected the options: Color Depth: 8 bits/pixel, Color: Transparent


I went to the web and found an image of a butterfly wing (public domain image that I had full rights to – nudge, nudge, wink, wink…). I copied the picture and on my blank new image pasted this copied image with the options Edit–>Paste as new layer


I positioned the butterfly wing image as desired and used the eraser to take away everything but the wing picture. I trimmed the canvas size down to better fit the image using the Image–>


Canvas size option


I created a mask from the image using the menu option: Layers–>


New Mask Layer–>


From image. In the dialog box that popped up in “Create Mask From” box I selected source opacity


I saved the mask to the alpha channel using the menu option: Layers–>


Load/Save Mask –> Save mask to Alpha channel


I saved off the image as Wing.tga


The wing texture goes on two faces of the cube, but the other faces need to be transparent, so I made a totally transparent texture as follows:


Create new image as above


View the mask by using the menu option: Layers –> New Mask Layer –>Show All


Take the paint can and paint the mask layer all black


Layers–>Load/Save Mask –>Save mask to Alpha channel


Save as TransparentTexture.tga


For the next steps I upload to the textures to Second Life and create the wings.


File–>Upload image. Upload each image. Should see checker board background on both if done right


Right click


Create, Create block. I stretched the block so it’s easy to see sides.


I used the Select Texture option of the create menu and then selected the just uploaded wings texture. This put the wings on all sides of the cube. Then with a lot of rotating of the cube, and adjusting of camera view I individually replaced the texture on the 4 faces around the middle of the cube and placed the transparent texture on these faces.


I stretched the box so the it was a flat board with the butterfly wings on the flat sides of the board.


I flipped image so the wings on both side were in the same orientation


I made a copy of the one wing panel by holding down the shift key while dragging the box to a new position


I rotated the two panels so they came together as a V.


I linked the two panels together using the menu option: Tools–>Link


I put the wings on using the menu option: Edit–>Attach Object –>Spine


The wings pictured above have two problems. One there is a white halo around the wings, the other is that there occasionally is a tiny line along the edge of the panel. I was able to correct these two problems thanks to suggestions from the Second Life forums by doing two things: To get rid of the halo, I made the background of my wings picture be black; To get rid of the line I changed the wings texture to be .9 repeats per face and the transparent texture to be .8 repeats per face. Here the step by step instructions how I did this.


Went back to wings.tga and opened it


used magic wand to select outline of my wings


used the paint can and dumped black paint all over


Went in with black paint brush and touched up edges


(Note: As I’m writing this up, I’m realizing that an easier way to do this would have been to make an all black layer and position it behind my main image, but oh well…)


Uploaded texture as above and replaced the wings textures with the new version


Detached linked wings assembly from spine




Stretched so I could see thin faces


Changed repeats per face of the transparent side to .8


Changed the repeats per face of the sides with the wings texture to .9


Stretched wing panel back to normal size, repeated this with the other wing.


Relinked the two wings panel and reattached to spine. Re-rotated and positioned as desired.

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