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Ghost Gifs

This tutorial will show you the secret of ghostmaking without any scary zombie tactics.

Take a look at my new journal (the link opens a new window). See the little pastel border patterns in the right columns (the pale purple ones)? (Figure 1) Those background pattern gifs are not pale purple with paler purple squares. I am actually only using a colored table fill with a transparent gif table fill. When the skin's theme (background color) changes, the table fill (the html hex colors) changes color, but the background gif stays the same. The background transparent gif is what I refer to as a "ghost gif" that is a .GIF file that appears like a sheer fabric overlaying the background.

Since we're talking about ghosts, let's take a chemically altered picture of myself from Halloween 2001 when I went as a dead person. (Figure 2) I will ghostify this picture in the following tutorial. This tutorial was created in Photoshop 5.5, but will most likely work in other recent versions of Photoshop that come with the plug-in "DitherBox."

How to make your ghost gif

1. Open up the image you want to Ghost.

2. If the image is in layers, save a copy of your work for backup and safekeeping purposes. Make sure that layers are all set on 100% opacity, then merge all of them except for the background layer.

3. You should now only have a background layer, and a foreground layer of your image. Turn the visibility of the background layer off. If you do not have a background layer, or if your image layer *is* your background layer, duplicate it, work on the copy, and hide the original.

4. Add a new layer over your image layer. Fill it with any won't matter what it is.

5. Select DitherBox from your Filter menu (most likely this will appear in the sub-menu "Other").

6. Select the 2x2 square. (Figure 3) Stagger a fill with black and white, i.e., if you fill the top left square black, fill the top right square white, the bottom left square white, and the bottom right square black. Click "Fill."

7. Your Photoshop image now should either look solid grey (if you're working at a high resolution on a smaller screen, or like a checkerboard fill pattern (if you're working at a low resolution on a larger screen) or somewhere inbetween.

8. Make sure that checkerboard patterned layer is the active layer. Go to the "Select" menu and choose "Color Range." Make sure the radio button is selecting the "Image" (instead of "Selection") option. Click anywhere in the thumbnail of your image in the Color Range screen with the eyedropper doesn't matter where as you will either select a white or black pixel. Click "OK."

9. You now see "marching ants" are surrounding either all the black or all the white pixels. It looks kind of weird. This is normal. Do not adjust your set. Do not call the overdose hotline.

10. Now make your image layer the active layer. Hit "Delete." This deletes every other pixel from that layer, in a checkerboard pattern.

11. Deselect the selected pixels and hide the top grey/checkerboard layer. Your image now looks like it has a 50% transparencey overlayed over Photoshop's transparency grid. (Figure 4)

12. Save out as a gif with transparency, no matte, no dither. You've made your first ghost gif!

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

What is cool is that you can use the same image in different TD table cells with different background colors and create different looks for all of them.


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