Picture Templates

Posted on Thursday 14 May 2009

I know I haven’t typed anything for a while, but trust me it isn’t because I haven’t had anything to talk about. I have actually been busy doing all sorts of little things that have added up to a whole lot of time, and who knows may generate an article or two if ever I get the time to write them! 🙄

I thought I would do a quick note ( well we’ll see how quick I guess… ) on something that I have just discovered and it makes my head hurt that no one has found an easy solution to it yet!

My wife gave me a spanking new cell phone for our anniversary, it’s actually a pretty cool phone that runs Windows Mobile – it’s an HTC Touch Dual and has more bells and whistles built into this little puppy than most computers! It has actually taken me over three days to get my head around most of them ( yeah I’m gettin’ old what can I say… )

Now while I could probably fill up six articles on all the bells and whistles and fun I’ve had, you can really check out all that stuff on numerous other review sites for the phone ( and to be truthful none of them do it justice because it does so much, and does it very well… ) but what I want to rant a little about… and hopefully help a few people with is a hidden little feature lost inside the digital camera on the phone called picture templates.

These are the neat little pictures that can over lay a photo/shot that you can take and have fun with. My particular camera/phone ( I’m just going to call it a camera for now okay… ) came with three of them, but only one I found really cute because I could take two photos and mix them within one picture and have them hung out on a clothes line… cute….  BUT!

There was no documentation found within the phone, the phone manual, the phone manufacturers website or just plain anywhere on how to get more of these little templates, or better yet, on how to make them yourself! So a great little/cute gadget with no where to go, and no one supporting it! I have since discovered that it isn’t just my phone – there are a LOT of smartphones and cameras that have this feature, but with only a couple of “fixed templates” which ( in my not so humble opinion ) took a fun feature and made it quickly boring and quite frankly useless!

So once again – the game was afoot… and I started digging and digging and digging. There really isn’t a lot out there on this subject. I was able to find one company that did make them and was willing to sell you 100 fixed templates for a cost ( and a lot of websites carry their ads ) and I also found one piece of software that supposedly does exactly what I wanted it to do, but only for Nokia phones running Symbian – why he doesn’t port it is beyond me!

However, eventually I stumbled across a forum of very dedicated people/teckie types who obviously love their smartphones and are doing all sorts of things with them…. forum.xda-developers.com.

Not only had they experimented and found how to make their own templates but that several of them were either making them and sharing them or archiving what they found and making those available as well. The best site being xda-v.6te.net.

I then came across a second forum ( maybe these two should get together and share ) which was also addressing the problem of not having templates for their camera…www.modaco.com/content/smartphone-customisation-general-discussion which I thought had a little clearer explanation on how to make your own and had several members sharing their efforts to show that it worked!

For both forums I recommend becoming a member and sharing your thoughts ideas, and of course accessing some really great templates that they have made… however if you are in a real hurry just to get a bunch of templates then I found an archive that might help you get started: www.4shared.com/file/35234970/48d74bf5/templates.html it’s been up for over a year now – and I’m not sure how much longer it will last – so enjoy it while you can!

Lastly for those of you who, like me, are planning to make some of your own here are the instructions that seemed very successful from the Modaco forum:

Tools used:

Photoshop & Jasc Animation Shop

The Basics:

This works by using an animated gif, The first frame is the actual image, the second frame is the main image mask, and each frame after that is a photo ‘hole’ mask.

Black is transparent and white is opaque, all levels of grey between act as different transparency values (so if you have a red area and then use a 50% grey mask your photo will appear red).

The Process:

The first thing to do is open photoshop, load up a picture, and change the image size so that its 640 x 480 (you can also use 320 x 240 and 160 x 120 which also allow for zoom) then create a new layer and whiten out the area we want to mask using the drawing tools. The reason I chose white is that its easier to see where you are up to when creating the mask. You can use soft and hard edges as the mask is in greyscale allowing for smooth edges. So the edge around the glasses is pretty clean edged, but where the face meets the fur i’ve made it slightly blurry. As you can see, I’ve also added a shadow under the glasses frame to make it more three dimensional.

So that the shadow works correctly, we now need to blacken out the face of the original picture.

The easiest way of doing this is to duplicate the white mask layer, and then change it to black with image>adjustments>Hue/Saturation and then drag the lightness slider all the way to the left. You can now merge this layer with the main  image and save this as ‘image1.jpg’.

The next thing to do is to create your image mask. Go back to the white layer mask, and create a layer under this and fill it black. And merge these two layers.

Now invert the image with image>adjustments>invert (remember, black is transparent, white is opaque).

Weird bug: One thing i have noticed is that if the black is #000000 then it isnt transparent (yeh, seems a bit dumb dont it), anyhoo, a solution i found is to lighten the image slightly, so go back to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation and lighten the image by about 5-10%. This should fix this problem.

And save this as ‘image2.jpg’

Because the mask for the main image and the mask for the photo ‘hole’ are the same we can use this image for both. We could at this point create more masks for more photo ‘holes’. But for the sake of this tutorial only one is needed (if people request more info about multiple ‘holes’ i’ll make a new tutorial, but the principals are the same, just remember to include all ‘holes’ in the main image mask).

Next, Load up Jasc Animation Shop.

And open both of the files (image1.jpg and image2.jpg). now drag image2.jpg into the second frame of image1.jpg. Then duplicate this second frame and we should now have 3 frames, the image with face blackened out, and two black and white masks.

Now all we have to do is save it, File>Save As, and call it something like Image.gif. A window will now appear with a slider, make sure that its the highest quality, and now you have to turn off all the optimizations by clicking on the Customize button, and turn all the options off (this prevents it from removing duplicate frames).

And now just agree to all the other pages so that the image is saved.

Sounds simple eh… oh and for those who may be using Ubuntu. I found this little gem for combining your jpg files and creating a gif animation (using imagemagick ) with all files in the same folder…

convert -delay 100 -loop 0 image*.jpg animation.gif ( This will create a 1 second delay between the two steps )

Good luck! Let me know if I’ve helped at all, and of course let me know where I can find your creations!

End Article

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