Thursday, July 28, 2005

Blend it like Beckham

I received this Photoshop tip in my Bravenet Webmaster Tips and Tricks newsletter and thought it was really good. I had never tried using the Blend mode options before.

by Jake Redekop

"Layer blend modes are a powerful, but often overlooked, feature of Photoshop. This month we're going to use layer blend modes to correct under or over exposures in your digital photograph collection.

We'll begin with overexposures. The first thing you need to do is duplicate the layer that holds your overexposed photograph. To do this, right click on the layer and chose “Duplicate Layer” from the drop down menu.

You should now have two instances of your photograph. Choose the topmost layer and switch the blending mode to 'Multiply' (located at the top of the layers palette). If you like you results, you are done!

If your photo is still a little light, keep duplicating the topmost layer until you are satisfied; however, if the picture is too dark now, lower the opacity of the top layer until you get the desired color saturation. For the image below, I used two duplicates with the second duplicate set to 15% opacity.

To correct underexposed photographs, follow the same steps as above except use the "Screen" Blend Mode to brighten the image."

Site Pal offers highly configurable virtual agents

A little spendy but very interesting technology.

Here's the character I created.

I dressed her conservatively (more like me) but there are a number of clothing options including uniforms for all the main branches of the military, civilian uniformed occupations, sports, etc. I found a pair of glasses similar to mine and colored her hair (there wasn't a graying option though). I aged her some to get the lines in the neck, widened her face and her shoulders , changed the color of her eyes and added eye makeup. I notice there is a facial features option but it is not available in the demo. Hat choices is also grayed out. The background choices are a bit on the boring side but you can upload your own.

I see their gold package includes an AI engine for answering questions. I tried out the Text-to-Speech feature (available in the Silver and Gold editions) and it is very natural sounding. All the controls are very intuitive and the result is quite impressive. I see you can even hire "professional" voice talent for only $50 per minute!