Hull Building Help Needed

I have a Mac, and have downloaded Seashore, Splashup Light, Image Tricks Light, and can access Splashup full version on the web. What I can not seem to manage is separating the ship from the background, nor can I set up a new Alpha layer. Any tip or suggestions would be appreciated. I am trying to work on a Babylon 5 mod.

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Just follow the following steps:

  1. Download Gimp for Mac
  2. Download the .dds plugin for Gimp
  3. Open the image in question in gimp. Select (menu at top of middle screen) the Layer → Transparency → Add alpha Channel. That will give the layer an alpha channel.
  4. If the ship is not distinctive from the background enough, duplicate the layer and go to Colours → Brightness-Contrast and adjust until you are satisfied. Reselect the unedited layer.
  5. Use the polygon free select tool and zoom in 400% or so to get an accurate representation of the ship’s outline. Make sure not to cut any parts of the ship off.
  6. For background areas surrounded by parts of the ship, go to the left panel and select the third mode (first=replace, second= additional to previous selected, third=subtraction to previously selected, last=new selection from the area where the existing selection region and the new selection region overlap). Then select those inner areas.
  7. Now, hide the altered contrast layer (press the “eye” square on the right panel next to the layer labels), right click the layer you are working on and add a layer mask. Fill this mask using the selection you have with black, ensuring you selected this:
  8. Now, invert the mask by going (top menu bar) Colors → Invert
  9. Look at the result. Refine it in the mask if there are areas not correctly cut. If you find that the “drop off” from the ship to transparency is too sudden, just use the similar selection tool on the mask’s black areas (right click it and “show” it) and once done, un-show it.
  10. Grow the selection by one pixel and feather it (go to the selections menu). Make sure you are working on the layer itself and go to colours (on top central menu bar) and go to colour to alpha. Select the colour to be what the background was.
  11. If the lighting looks unnatural, go to Filters → Light and Shadow → Lighting effects and adjust until satisfied.
  12. Check the sprite for mistakes, delete the adjusted contrast layer and apply the mask. Then “save as” the file as a .dds by going to “Save File Type (By Extension)”

    And, you’re done.

For separating an object and the background, the “magic select” and “select by colour” tools can also be very useful. You’ll have to play with the thresholds a little depending on how much of a natural edge the original graphic has around the ship. Also, if the image has been resized or undergone anti-aliasing/compression at any point then the results won’t be so good.

Thanks for the help, added 3 hulls today:D Now to crack the damage layers, hulks, etc. I wasn’t finding the wand in Seashore which was causing the headache. Is GIMP that easy to use? I may try it. What about a mirror feature? I had to mirror a hull today and was jumping between 3 programs to get it done…what a pain. BUT So worth it!

In gimp, you just select 50% of the layer, copy it, paste it, convert to new layer and flip it.