A few months ago fashion maven and legal eagle Vaki Zenovka shared a work-in-progress shot on Plurk. It was a shading layer for a Second Life snapshot she was editing at the time, and it looked like a drawing in itself -- stark whites and blacks were layered like conte crayon on a grey sheet, which would then be overlayed on the original snapshot to give it significantly more oomph than it would have on its own. I typically spent more time fiddling with color balances than with hand-shading my pictures but ever since then, whenever I'm playing around with my own SL snaps in Photoshop, I can see Vaki's WIP shading layer hovering in my mind, pushing me to add just a little more highlight here, a little more shadow there...
Everyone has their tips and tricks, and the more I think about Vaki's the more I want to know everyone else's, too. Me? My go-to Photoshop move is to take the sharpening tool to the fine details of the face. With a very light touch, I like to sharpen the brows, the lips, and most important of all the shine in the eyes. Sharpening these little details, as long as you're careful not to overdo it, can really make your avatar's face pop. It works just as well for details on your outfit, too. Just remember that this technique can be a little misleading to the viewer, making them think textures are much crisper than they are, so you absolutely, positively should not use it on pictures intended for reviews.
What clever little methods have you picked up along the way that make your pictures stand out from the crowd? Share your favorite snapshot-editing techniques in the comments below!
Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.