Cleaning up the edges of Moonroot's transparent images (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Sun, 16 Nov 2008

Cleaning up the edges of Moonroot's transparent images

[moonroot] I wrote moonroot more to figure out how to do it than to run it myself. But on the new monitor I have so much screen real estate that I've started using it -- but the quality of the images was such an embarrassment that I couldn't stand it. So I took a few minutes and cleaned up the images and made a moonroot 0.6 release.

Turned out there was a trick I'd missed when I originally made the images, years ago. XPM apparently only allows 1-bit transparency. When I was editing the RGB image and removing the outside edge of the circle, some of the pixels ended up semi-transparent, and when I saved the file as .xpm, they ended up looking very different (much darker) from what I had edited.

Here are two ways to solve that in GIMP:

  1. Use the "Hard edge" option on the eraser tool (and a hard-edged brush, of course, not a fuzzy one).
  2. Convert the image to indexed, in which case GIMP will only allow one bit's worth of transparency. (That doesn't help for full-color images, but for a greyscale image like the moon, there's no loss of color since even RGB images can only have 8 bits per channel.)

Either way, the way to edit a transparent image where you're trying to make the edges look clean is to add a solid-color background layer (I usually use white, but of course it depends on how you're going to use the image) underneath the layer you're trying to edit. (In the layers dialog, click the New button, chose White for the new layer, click the down-arrow button to move it below the original layer, then click on the original layer so your editing will all happen there.)

Once you're editing a circle with sharp edges, you'll probably need to adjust the colors for some of the edge pixels too. Unfortunately the Smudge tool doesn't seem to work on indexed images, so you'll probably spend a lot of time alternating between the Color Picker and the Pencil tool, picking pixel colors then dabbing them onto other pixels. Key bindings are the best way to do that: o activates the Color Picker, N the Pencil, P the Paintbrush. Even if you don't normally use those shortcuts it's worth learning them for the duration of this sort of operation.

Or use the Clone tool, where the only keyboard shortcut you have to remember is Ctrl to pick a new source pixel. (I didn't think of that until I was already finished, but it works fine.)

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[ 15:48 Nov 16, 2008    More gimp | permalink to this entry | comments ]
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