Turning Scanned Greenery into Tubes

Tutorial for December 13, 2001

Cut some greenery, scan and manipulate in PSP 7 to make tubes
then build a Wreath and Christmas tree using the new tubes.

This tutorial assumes you know where to find a lot of the commands in PSP.
I have skipped most screen shots of dialog boxes and Menu Bar flyouts.
The tutorial also assumes you are somewhat proficient with PSP's selection tools.
If not, please see my Magic Wand Tutorial before trying today's exercises.

[ PSP index ] [ Composite Index ] [ PSP Links ] [ 3D Bits n Pieces ] [ Tutorial CD ]

Season's greeting everyone and Merry Christmas to Y'all. This will be our last Tutorial for 2001 unless I get a wild hair and post some more between wrapping presents and cooking goodies.

Let's be festive and make a wreath and a tree from some scanned greens I picked out of my yard. We will do two fairly detailed tubes. Then we will build a a wreath from one and a tree from the other. Please note: The selection process will take some time to do well. This tutorial might take over an hour. It's not a quickie, but the results should be worth working for.

Part 1: Making a Wreath  

Please download the SageOriginal.jpg scan on the left which I did of Texas (what other kind is there?) Sage from my garden.

Right click on the image and do a SAVE AS from the flyout box.

Scanning greenery is not too tough but it requires a little fiddling to get the greenery scanned nicely.

Here is how I do it. Place the branch or a a few branches on the scanner bed and cover with a white piece of paper or better yet a piece of white blackout cloth used for drape lining from the local Fabricworld type store.

I also place a box over the whole mess and turn out the lights, and close the curtains in my office to get it as dark as possible.

At least scan with the cover open to avoid squashing the greenery.

Mashed sage is only good for rubbing on a pork roast! ;)


Do as much color fixin' in the scanner software as you can.

You won't be able to knock out all the shadows there, but you can do it later in PSP.

Sometimes it helps to scan at 200 percent then resize in PSP to provide more pixels to work with.

And yes, I have to admit my scanner is hooked up to an iMac. (Gasp)

Open the raw scan in PSP.

Use Wicked Wanda, the Magic Wand tool, set to RGB Value at say 50. No feather.

Click in the white background around the sage to select it.

There may be spots that you want selected that are not, like the shadows, and some selected area that are selected that should not be.

Do a Selections > Invert from the Menu Bar to select the greenery instead of the background.

Zoom in on a portion of the image.

Switch to the Freehand Selection tool and set to either Point to Point (my choice) or Freehand on the Tools Options Palette.

HOLDING DOWN the CTRL to subtract from the selection or the SHIFT key to add to the selection, carefully improve the selection around the greenery.

You can also use the Magic Wand in the same way, varying the tolerance as necessary to include more or less pixels.

The goal is to select only the sage and not the shadows left by the scanner.

Be sure to subtract (CTRL Key) out the background showing between the leaves in the middle of the bunch.
When the whole bunch is selected to your liking, save the selection to the alpha channel. Go to Selections, Save to Alpha Channel, then name it Bunch or Greenery.

Personally, I save the selection several times to the same alpha channel name while I am working on it. I also save the file in the PSP format in case, God forbid, the power goes out. When one spends this much time creating a masterpiece of a detailed selection one sho dun wan lose it half baked!

If it's saved with the file, then you can reopen the file and load the selection from Alpha Channel and go on nicely!

Next, do a Selections > Promote to Layer from the Menu Bar.

On the Layer palette, turn off the background to see what you have.

Mine has some jaggies and a dark pixel fringe in places.

Let's fix that up.

With the background turned off on the layer palette, Promoted selection layer highlighted and the selection in place, do a Selections > Modify > Contract from the Menu Bar. Set to 2 pixels.

Do a Selections > Modify > Feather setting this to 2 pixels.

It doesn't look any different from the original but it will in a second.

Do a Selections > Invert.

Press the Delete Key or do an Edit >Clear.

Then invert the selection again.

The edges are nicely feathered and partially transparent.

The jaggies are gone! This greenery ought to look nicely on any colored background.

Test by filling the background layer with different colors.

I suggest saving this final selection to the alpha channel under a new one name. Then save the file for safe keeping. Time to Tube the sage.

Crop the image tightly around the greenery as close to square as possible.

Cut off part of the stem if necessary. Then erase any unwanted parts using the eraser tool.

Cut off part of the stem if necessary. Then erase any unwanted parts using the eraser tool.

Do an Image > Resize from the Menu Bar on the cropped image to the 200 X 200 pixel range. Mine came out to 200 X 202 This I can live with.

We want a tube consisting of 6 cells. File > New from the Menu Bar and create a new file with a transparent background that is 3 times as wide and twice as long as your greenery file.

600 X 400 works for me.

Turn on the Grid. View> Grid from the Menu Bar. Change the Grid Properties (View > Change Grid and Guide Properties ) to Horizontal Spacing of 200 and Vertical spacing of 200. There should be 6 equal cells on the new image.

On the original image, select the greenery layer, the promoted selection.

Right click the image's title bar and pick Copy from the fly out box.

On the new image's title bar, right click and Paste as New Layer 6 times.

Drag one green thing to the center of each grid box.

Use the Deformation tool on each piece rotating it into a different position, but making sure all its parts stay within the grid boundaries.

Move the pieces around or use the eraser tool to make them fit.

On the Layer palette, right click any layer (there should be 7) and pick Merge > Merge Visible. One layer, Merged, remains with a transparent background, all prepped nicely for tubing.

Save this as a PSP file for safe keeping. Go to File > Export as Picture Tube. Cells across 3 Cells down 2 for a total of 6 cells.

Name the file something like Xmas_green1 and press OK.

Try out your tube by making a new file with a white background about 600 X 600 and make a wreath with the new tube! Decorate as you like with Candy Canes, Bells, Bows, whatever.

Part 2: Making a Christmas tree tube from a Juniper scan.

In this second section organize a few pieces of some juniper or evergreen on the scanner bed making sure the pieces don't touch

Scan as before and open the file JuniperGroup.jpg in PSP.

You can use my scan by right clicking the image on the left and doing a SAVE AS from the flyout box. Then open in PSP.

Go through the tedious selection process on each piece of greenery. Select one piece at a time and save its selection to an alpha channel.

How I do this. Start with the freehand selection tool and surround the individual piece loosely to start.

Next, engage Wanda (Magic Wand ) set to a RGB value and a tolerance between of 20 and 50.

Holding the CTRL key on the keyboard, click INSIDE the current selection.

Most of the white will backed out, tightening the selection around the greenery very nicely.

Zoom in on the selected piece and using combinations of the magic wand at various tolerance settings and the free hand selection tools, and using the CTRL key, refine the selection till you get just the greenery.

I used ONLY Wanda to select my greenery.

If you make a selection mistake, click CTRL + Z to undo the last adding or subtraction to the selection.

Hint: If the computer starts to bog down, save the selection to the alpha channel, save the file to the PSP format and clear the command history. Edit > Empty > Command History. This will free up ram on your computer and you can work speedily once again.

Be sure and save the final selection for each piece to the alpha channel with a name to identify the piece. Like Top Piece. Etc.

Do a Selection > Promote to Layer from the Menu bar. I like to rename each promoted selection to something appropriate, matching its alpha channel name, like Top Piece.

Create new selections for the each of the rest of the pieces, save the selections to Alpha Channels then Promote to layers and rename to match alpha name.

Remember: The best results take time and patience. Selecting all these took me about 45 minutes and I am experienced and fast! Please be patient with yourself but work hard and I promise you will appreciate what you accomplish with this.

With your fabulous selection finished, turn off all but one greenery layer.

I chose Top Piece to start.

Holy Christmas Batman, it actually looks pretty good!

Load Top Piece's corresponding selection from the Alpha Channel from Selections on the Menu bar.

Do a Selections > Modify > Contract by 1 or 2 pixels. Then a Selections > Feather by 1 or 2 pixels. (Depends on how good your selection is. :) I used 1 pixel.

Invert the selection and press the Delete key. Now the Top Piece will look good against any background.

Repeat for the other greenery layers.
1. Select layer on palette
2. Load its selection from Alpha Channel
3. Contract and Feather selection
4. Invert Selection
5. Punch the Delete Key.

CAUTION! WARNING! DANGER!: Be sure to select (highlight) the appropriate layer on the layer palette before adding it's selection, or you could wipe out the other layers.
I know, I did just this.

Time to tube this one. But how?

Use the Mover tool to move all the layers as close to the left edge of the image as possible. Crop the image tightly to the right edge.

OOPS, our image is pretty high res. Let's resize it down by 50 percent.

Image > Resize to 50 percent should render is around 290 x 460 pixels or so.

Drag crop box (or rectangular selection ) around the fattest piece of greenery, in my case the Top Piece one.

Don't actually crop the image, just note the height of the crop box on the status line as you drag the box, in my case 165 pixels.

It's that number we need for tubing.

All set and ready. We need 4 cells each must be say 300 wide since our widest branch is about 300 wide by 165 pixels tall ass we just determined.

Let's stack one cell over the other.

Create a new image 300 X 660 (4 X 165) pixels with a transparent Background.

View > Grid . Change the properties to horizontal 300 and vertical 165 to show the 4 cells.

Copy and Paste as a New Layer each piece of greenery from the main image into its own cell on new image.

Make modifications to greenery with the deformation tool. Rotate, scale etc., making sure the colored pixels on the layer stays within its cell boundaries. :)

I used the Unsharp Mask at a setting of 50 on each layer too.

Finally, Right click on any layer and do a Merge > Merge Visible to get to the one layer for tubing.

Go to File > Export > Picture Tube on the Menu Bar, setting the cells across to 1 and cells down to 4 for a total of 4.

Name it Xmas_greens and save your tube.

Now go build ya tree!

[ PSP index ] [ Composite Index ] [ PSP Links ] [ 3D Bits n Pieces ] [ Tutorial CD ]

All Tutorials and Tips including images and text
Copyright 2003 3D Workshop, Inc.

Further distribution prohibited without express permission.
For information e-mail is in image below