OGF:Tips for using images

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This page is intended to give some guidelines and helpful advice for using photographs in your wiki articles:

Some general principles

As the OGF planet is fiction, we should aim to maintain the illusion of 'places we have never seen before'. This means avoiding replicating objects from the real world exactly, and if possible creating completely new ones.

Don't use well-known world landmarks as these conflict with verisimilitude. Structures such as the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower and Colosseum are unique to the real world and would be extremely unlikely to exist in the OGF planet.

Structures that are notable but not as world-famous are a more difficult case. I have seen pictures used of places I recognise and which would be known to the population of their respective countries but which some users here might not have seen before. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid using pictures of national landmarks and seek places elsewhere in the region. A good example might be if a user is looking for a British neo-classical building. Instead of using the British Museum, which is highly recognisable, a better choice might be Birmingham Town Hall or Bristol Victoria Hall.

A particular thing to avoid is two users using the same building or place for two different OGF locations. Again, the more obscure the place, the better.

Be careful to remove or alter details that easily locate the image in the real world. I have seen several photos of countries in Tarephia or Uletha that clearly have the Stars and Stripes fluttering from the rooftop. A checklist for such alterations might include:

  • Checking the drive side is correct and mirroring the image or removing traffic and road markings if not
  • Removing recognisable flags from the real world
  • Brands and advertising of real-world products
  • License plates, road signs and other signs that are visible
  • Language and alphabet incorrect for the country
  • Climate and weather incorrect
  • Unrealistic culture and architectural styles (for example, a Tudor mansion in a savannah country that was largely nomadic before 1900)
  • Buildings masquerading as others they are unsuitable for (eg a 'central station' with only a small single entrance and little dwell space, as it is really an art gallery).
  • Backgrounds which do not match the map - eg a coastal city which shows high mountains on all sides. Adding in background features can remedy this.

Also, consider adding in background detail that includes objects you do want to include in your country. A great example is the Ruifono tower which has been added to the skyline of Villa Constitucion. Adding a sign saying 'station' or your country's flag to a building can go a long way to create a realistic illusion provided the shadows and colours match.

Modifying images

Altering images even if there is no verisimilitude issue is a great idea and really adds to the depth of the project. The article on Khaiwoon contains excellent examples of realistic and well-crafted modifications. You will need to acquire some software in order to do this, but luckily there are some great free programs.

Software

Propitiatory software includes programs such as:

  • Corel Draw
  • Adobe Photoshop

Free software that is useful for image manipulation includes:

  • The GIMP
  • Paint.NET
  • Inkscape

There are also programs for 3D digital simulation and rendering including:

  • SketchUp
  • Blender
  • Rhino
  • Kerkythia

Note that unlike the basic MS paint or Apple equivalent, all these programs use either layers or are vector-based programs, meaning you can move objects around in one layer without disturbing what it underneath until the final merge.


Here is a short tutorial using Paint.NET:

We are going to create a car model that exists in the OGF world. The starting image is of my old car, a 2008 Renault Megane. (I've blanked part of the license plate). Note that this is not a tutorial on how to actually use each program, as the method will vary by program and is beyond the scope of this article. Help articles are easily available from the programs creators.

Meg base image.jpg

The first thing to do is to flip the image to change the drive side from UK to Karolia, where this car will have been sold. Most programs will have a 'flip horizontal' tool.

Meg flip horizontal.jpg

The first thing to change is the license plate. I need to create a Karolian registration and blend it convincingly with the image. I use the colour picker tool to sample the white part of the original plate (which is actually grey in the shadow) and in a new layer, I cover over the existing letters, taking care only to cover up the areas I really need. I can merge this layer down when done.

Meg blank plate.jpg

Now we need to add new lettering, an A-code and get it at the right angle. This is something of trial and error, but tools for manipulating trapezium selections are useful here. I also reduce the width to fit the horizontal perspective. I also add some noise and reduce the saturation to blend with the background quality.

Meg new plate.jpg

The next thing to do is hide the UK tax disk (which have subsequently been abolished anyway). I simply copy and paste a sample of an adjacent area over the image to do this.

Now we need to cover the Renault diamond on the front (and possibly in the wheel centres too). This will involve a significant modification of the image. I copy and paste parts of the grille in a new layer, resizing to match the background, in order to extend them into the centre; move the licence plate further down and copy and paste parts of the bumper across over where it was originally. The badge was made cut copying a circular part of the headlamp and positioning it - the zoom is not enough to warrant a detailed logo. It is important to use several layers in order to position things without deleting what is underneath and to blend successfully.

Meg new front.jpg

By copy-pasting areas of black, copying and matching areas of the background and then masking off the boundary between the two, I can alter the shape of the back of the car.

Meg new rear.jpg

As a final touch, I select using the lasso tool the windows and roof, copy-paste into a new layer and just reduce the height slightly as this looks better. I need to cover over the roof bars in the layer below as this leaves them showing slightly, so I just copy-paste areas of the brick and garage door behind over them. I could also cover over the rest of the roof bars and change the wheels by copying them from another car image taken at a similar angle, but I will leave it here. The car is sufficiently different to the real-world model it started out as, and we have done this entirely by moving and copying parts of the image.