Tip of the Week #27: Making transparent textures… featuring a GIANT LEEK!

Friendly greetings! In this video tutorial (watch previous episodes), I take on a time-tested topic that’s trumped many an aspiring creatician: TRANSPARENT TEXTURES!

Ever wondered how textures without visible edges are made? From cardboard cutouts to flames to neon signs to trees, the usages are many, and it’s fun to do. Using the power of a GIANT LEEK… I kid you not…


It’s so easy once you understand that working with PNG format is far easier than the clunky old TGA route (if you struggled with that before). I show you how!


There are many image editors out there, and if you don’t have Photoshop, there’s also GIMPshop and Paint.NET (which recently added support for saving 24-bit PNGs).

For your continued learnage, here are the “OMG GIANT LEEK” source files:

  • BMP – Raw Second Life snapshot saved to hard drive โ€” whenever possible, I convert BMPs to PNGs because the former are so wasteful!
  • PSD – Open in Photoshop or another compatible app.
  • PNG – The edited result, ready to upload into Second Life.

Let me also highly recommend Siddean Munro’s wonderful tutorial on the topic. And with more enthusiastic energy, I appreciate your appreciation.

I make these video tutorials so you can have a happier Second Life.

Torley Linden https://i0.wp.com/torley-linden.s3.amazonaws.com/little-watermelon-eye.png
     Visit the GIANT LEEK inworld!

About Torley

Who am I? See http://torley.com/
This entry was posted in Community, Creativity & Ideas, Resident Experience, Tips & Tricks. Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to Tip of the Week #27: Making transparent textures… featuring a GIANT LEEK!

  1. Kyder Ling says:

    Thanks Torley!


  2. Elvis Orbit says:

    Omg what a great Tutvid! thanks for this one! Your my hero! I’m Unworthy!

  3. Wonderful video tutorial as always. Thanks Torley for sharing, keep up the good work. Yes PNG format is far easier than the clunky old TGA route. I agree ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Sean Heying says:

    I wonder if this giant leek is related to the one with memory in the client?


  5. Very Keynes says:

    I’t can’t be Sean, the one in the client has no transparancy ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Laser Pascal says:

    Thanks Torley, the PNG support is a nice tip, and certainly easier than the complicated TGA alpha mangling.

    P.S. Now I have that song stuck in my head. ๐Ÿ˜›

  7. Dilbert Dilweg says:

    Hahaha Love that Intro! Great TIP Torley thanks

  8. onionpencil says:

    as a scallion i can only approve of using a relative 8D

  9. KellyM Watkins says:

    Yay Go Torley!! I love your vids, and your happy charm and dar-dars make it even more fun to watch ๐Ÿ˜€ Learnt so much from you ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Wilma Philbin says:

    Thank you Torley! Please keep making these longer tutorials. The short ones are great too, but lack some of that SOO important happification factor.

    Does PNG files do anything towards helping with multiple transparent objects? Like when your curtains appears to be hanging in a tree outside your window?

  11. Judi Newall says:

    I vote Torley as SL International treasure! A true gem.

  12. Sling Trebuchet says:

    Thanks Torley.
    There should be a way of putting links to these tutorials very up front for new users.
    I suspect that only a low percentage of residents read the blog.
    While not everyone will want to build, nearly everyone would benefit from using the interface in the best way and from being able to adjust attachments, etc.

    Then we’d have less people singing “Yes I know the nothing, man” ๐Ÿ˜‰

    People should know their onions.

  13. Dinohunden Paine says:

    Hi Torley.

    Gr8 tutorial, but I think it’s waayyyyyyy easier to use the magic wand, and just delete the things, that you way to dissapear, select inverted and copy via layer, and then delete the 1. layer. But we all have our way to do things ๐Ÿ˜€
    Keep’em coming, Torley, they’re exelent tutorials.

    PS. Do you take requests for songs to the tutorials ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Jini Hammerer says:

    Problem with magic wand is most people do not know how to properly adjust it and thats why so many peoples tats have that ghost white haze around them.

    Goood tutorial tho people need to learn how to properly make alphas. But even more importantly they need to know that alphas are MUCH larger images then non transparent images. and how to remove the apha chanel from images that do not need it would be another good one.

  15. Hewitt Huet says:

    @4 : ROFLMAO

    IT’s the GIANT MEMORY LEEK in the client software!

    /me shreiks

  16. Zagro says:

    when did sl start supporting png?

    i never could get a png file to upload befor.?.?

  17. DaQueenB Houston says:

    GREAT VIDEO TORLEY!…although I now feel the need for some leek soup. ๐Ÿ™‚ This video helped me understand alot about texture importing and exporting and resolved my secondlife dilema of “WTF?, I did it as transparent and now its not now that I uploaded to SL?” hahaha now i know why and how to fix it! ^5 !~!!!

  18. Max Kleiber says:

    A brilliant piece of work, stating with the
    Single Most Important Thing To Say โ„ข:

    “You don’t suck at Second Life”

    and as #17 (Zagro) said.. when did PNG’s get supported?

  19. Hilbert Hotaling says:

    You’re looking very ToTORo today ๐Ÿ™‚
    Also, I now have a pressing urge to make soup. Giant, semi-transparent soup…

  20. Kwakkelde Kwak says:

    Nice tut Torley, but the TGA has some advantages also like setting up different levels of transparancy for clothing without having to flatten the entire image….For textures like the giant leek this looks like the way to go though))

  21. Luna Hula says:

    Damn & i’m still using TGA’s for my transparencies & PNG’s for those without >_>

  22. Dark Starr says:

    Torley you are still crazy but that was one of the most useful tutorials ever towards making SL a better place, Of course my secrets of quick and easy designing are out now. Heh! Good going.

  23. Rhian Jenkins says:

    The giant leek would have been cool for St David’s Day (for all you Welsh people out there…)

  24. That video was SO funny–my eyes are still leeking with tears! But seriously, I look forward to your tutorials every week and am always learning new techniques and ideas (even as a seasoned expert). Maybe you should think about creating a video tutorial theater inside SL where people can view your crazy (I mean, highly sophisticated) movies. I’m sure it would be a popular place. Keep up the fine work, Torley! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. edith says:

    Thatโ€™s probably an interesting point on this subject. Such information should be accessible to the wider public. http://www.truckersservices.com

  26. Phil Priestman says:

    AH HAH! I knew it! I always suspected there was a linden intentially brining giant leaks into the game and now I have proof! Its been Torely the whole time!

    Oh the shame, oh the humanity!

    Heheh, just kidding Torely, great tip. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Spider Man says:

    Sound promising … thanks so much , i going to use it a lot to see how better !

  28. Avalon Asturias says:

    Torley, how cool is it that we learn something valuable, and are also serenaded by your rhythmic & sultry da, da da, da, da,da…… ๐Ÿ˜€

  29. Kiwidude Klinger says:

    Torley you ROCK! Thank you so much! No more 3am sessions struggling with those damned TGAs and alpha channels!

    /me swears off TGA forever!

  30. o.h. says:

    that mp4-link makes me wonder, has anyone tried applying the new youttube hack for high quality vids to play youtubevideos within second life?

  31. Shelly Soothsayer says:

    That was really nice! Thanks! I’ve always had trouble with that. I’ll try it this time.

  32. Tweed Woodget says:

    You are the best Torley! I LOVE what you do to help us! THANK YOU!

  33. The singing hobo says:

    Thanks Torley! i spent all of yesterday trying to work this out!

  34. Kyder Ling says:

    Haha, I love the “You Suck at Photoshop” reference btw. Very subtle!

    If any of you who don’t know what I am talking about, type that into Youtube.

  35. hallo Carter says:

    another wonderful Torleytut, thank you. I know this is going to be a painful question…what do I now do with the other five giant leeks ? squeeze the shape, apply transparency to the five sides, are the transparent parts avatar friendly ? I’ve been stopped by enough invisible things thinking it was the standard 10:00am lag, when it was some building edge spillover in the way. Maybe pop-up dialogue police tape that says “you’re being held by the edge of a leek” would work. Nah, I could never get into this subs thing anyway.

  36. Blinders Off says:

    @ Torley: GREAT tutoral. Learned things about Photoshop I never knew existed (who has time to wade through all the Photoshop tutorals??? Not me! I’d rather take hours doing it the hard way!)

    Anyway great tutoral. That said… (mwaahahaaa) your tutoral pointed out one of the most irritating and DAMAGING aspects of current SL usage… the curse of SLOW LOADING TEXTURES. I know a lot of stuff happens on SL… but what in the world takes a simple 512 x 512 texture that flippin’ long to load? I have one explanation: BORKED!

    Please Torley, use all the power at your command to get some tech to fix that problem. It’s ridiculous. It also costs SL users millions of L$ a day. How? Well, if you’re at market and wanting to buy something, but can’t get the texture to load… do you buy or do you get tired of waiting and go do something else?

    Needs fixed. One solution I presented LL is that if they can’t get textures to load at least as well as the common web page, to place a major texture priority on anything that is left or right clicked… or that is in the immediate camera view of the avatar. That at least would be better than it is now.

    Seriously, there is no conceivable reason why, when I have been standing in a sim for 40 minutes, viewing a new texture should take any longer than 1 or two seconds flat. Any longer is not only seriously counterproductive to game experience, it’s just shameful.

    Thank you for listening.

    @4 Sean. LOL LOL LOL.

  37. Wyald Woolley says:


    Sorry to go off topic here but would mind terribly strolling over to Neuro’s cubicle and slapping him upside the head and pointing out to him that he’s planning on doing a proven problematical updating over a holiday weekend. While you’re serenading him with your rhythmic & sultry da, da da, da, da,daโ€ฆโ€ฆthank him for having your thread messed up because he closed the comments on his.

    On Topic: Thanks for all the great helpful tips and hints and have a great watermelon holiday!

  38. Argent Stonecutter says:

    @10: The alpha layering problem doesn’t have anything to do with the kinds of file the alpha texture came from.

    @21: For saving layered PSDs as PNGs, you can Save, Flatten, save as PNG, and revert. Or copy visible, Open from clipboard, and save as PNG.

  39. Anthro Proto says:

    Yes! Out with the clunky TGA!

  40. nika talaj says:

    I came, I saw, I learned. GIMPShop, who knew? Thanks, Torley!

  41. Kwakkelde Kwak says:

    @39 duh, it’s just a pain to use png if you want to work on a multilayered picture with various levels of transparancy where the transparancy is not set per layer but in a different pattern )) thanks for trying to help anyway *sticks out tongue*

  42. Loydin Tripp says:

    @ 42 Kwakkelde Kwak
    ” itโ€™s just a pain to use png if you want to work on a multilayered picture with various levels of transparency where the transparency is not set per layer but in a different pattern”

    How so? If anything in Photoshop, with layers, PNG is so much easier than Targa, Targa is a stone tool from the Neolithic. PNg you do not have trouble with multiple layers, applying masks from one layer to another or any combination and then simple Merge Visible Layers or save as a Group and then do that process leaving your levels unchanged.

  43. Kwakkelde Kwak says:

    @43 I am not talking about a simple mask, for most things png is easier, my personal experience is tga works better for complicated pictures..that’s all, to everyone their own))
    Merging layers is one thing i hate to do)) I always do it one time too many

  44. Hiro says:

    Good video ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But I noticed, singing the song on an official video is copyright infringement! XO
    gotta report to RIAA

  45. Loydin Tripp says:

    As grand as PNG is for transparency it has a problem large enough to take the fun out of the party. Torley loves to go on as if he/she/it knows what they are talking about but try working day in and day out in a professional manner, but as usual the devil is in the details. It is not all happy days and roses, it is more lost hours and too much time spent on what should be much easier to produce. I really enjoy telling my clients why it is costing so much to get their SL work done.

    When you have a PNG texture on one object and have another PNG texture on another object the SL client will appear to ‘cut’ the image out. If you center the camera on one object you will see the vanishing pieces of the object change as you rotate your view. This is similar to the transparency on transparency problem except in the caes of the PNG it happens even if the PNG is not a transparent image but solid.

    Also, PNG textures do not perform well with the Bump texture turned on, or as least as good as BMP. As is often the case in visual advancement, SL is close but no cigar. I would love it if PNG and other formats worked as well as modern formats in the rest of visual community but for now we are still making do. Issues like this will lie in the back, dusty corner of JIRA until someone in the SL dev team thinks its important.

    I am on a Mac, both client and working system in Photoshop. I have tested this on my Intel and non Intel machines and I have had numerous friends with combinations of PC, Windows OS and computer try this on the same objects with the same outcome.

    Sorry to be a pill but heres how it is in the real world of doing work in SL.

  46. Thraxis Epsilon says:


    The issue you’re seeing with the PNG’s was due to the fact that all PNG uploads were having an alpha layer added. It should be fixed now, but not sure if it has made it into the RC or realease version yet.

  47. Wanja Lubitsch says:

    Blinders Off says
    “fix that problem. Itโ€™s ridiculous. It also costs SL users millions of L$ a day. How? Well, if youโ€™re at market and wanting to buy something, but canโ€™t get the texture to loadโ€ฆ do you buy or do you get tired of waiting and go do something else?”

    Totally agreed. I myself don’t buy grey things.

  48. Puck Pacer says:

    I thought everything was converted to jpeg2000, when did this change? Can someone point me to some info on this?

  49. Zep Palen says:

    Torley…PLEASE dont humn…or sing :))

  50. Dark Otsuzum says:

    Transparetn textures would be far more useful if the age-old object occlusion bug was fixed.

    Transparent objects that should be behind other objects are often rendered in front of them… it’s on the JIRA.

    Just WHEN will this irritating bug be fixed?

  51. Elminster Chaffe says:

    I have Seen a wierd thing with Textures, I call it Dominant Textueres

    Some Textures seem more “powerful/dominant” then others, and you will see them thru the other less “dominant” ones even though there both Solid textures, no transparent. Does anybody have a clue why?

  52. Mohit says:

    Thank you for your very useful tutorial ๐Ÿ™‚

  53. River Ely says:

    great tutorial Hon
    Where is that music from that you hum during the construction and ending…

  54. Cat Gisel says:

    Torley, you are such a goober…. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Is this big enough to be a memory leek?

  55. pulseburst flow says:

    There is no reason to Targa (tga) files for Second Life. PNGs have all the advantages. As Torley said:

    1) Lossless compression retains quality at smaller file sizes than TGA or BMP.
    2) PNG files are more net friendly. PNGs are shared on the web and generally easier to open.
    3) Creating transparent PNGS for import into Second Life is easier than TGA. You don’t need to mess with an alpha channel.

    Spread the word.

  56. TigroSpottystripes Katsu says:

    the z ordering bug on transparencies I’ve been told is a bug on most hardwares today, not SL’s fault, most games manage to not who it by having the levels carefully built to avoid it

  57. Dark Otsuzum says:

    @57 “the z ordering bug on transparencies Iโ€™ve been told is a bug on most hardwares today”

    Curiouser and curiouser.. so both ATI and NVidia have the same problem? Are we at the limits of technoogy here? Please don’t tell me it’s an insoluble mathematical problem – they cracked Fermat’s theorem eventually (but it took 2 centuries)

  58. Bellini Cazalet says:

    Thank you so much Torley. I love your tutuorials both long and short versions. I recommend them to all my friends & aquaintences, newbies and veterans alike. Of course trying to explain to a newbie about the Blog, and where to find it can be a little daunting at times. *smile* But, it’s sooo worth it when you’ve just spent an hour trying to explain something …. with some success but not nearly enough …. then I get them to watch the vidtut and you can almost the light go on over their head …. AHAAAAA … they get it!!!!

    Keep up the excellent work, it is so very much appreciated.

    Be well, Bellini

  59. One detail that you missed is that this texture is an excellent example of when NOT to use a square size. You could have cropped the sides more tightly and made it a 512×256 texture instead with no loss of detail; you would have lost only transparent area. Though it would have looked odd on your cube, suggesting a subject for ANOTHER tutorial — how to use non-square textures properly! (The short answer; make the shape of the prim match the shape of the texture.)

    @57: Correctly doing alpha compositing is a hard problem. If the shapes involved are all simple and convex it’s not so hard, but as soon as you introduce more complex shapes it is impossible to do perfectly in a fast enough way to be useful in a real-time display. The partial solutions that exist would make the client slower; basically, you would have to render scenes with a larger number of polygons.

  60. Hi this is Blackie Rhode, Please could you guys up on top, and the Government of sl please let bars have there sploders back, look I Made
    good money and have all My stuff, My genitals, My B.C rich guitar
    My Motorcycle and boots and flexi hair…My skin…all Because of Club gothem and Elements night club, please I would love to see all the Newbies have the same chance I had, there so new and excited about second life…Please let them have the sploders to make the money back for it…look I’ll pay for the sploders to go back on annually for Newbies
    Please your eyes shine when you first discover second life, Look if I can’t ever use a sploder or dance pad again for the newbies, I’m willing to do that and pay twords having sploders on for the newbies
    please give the kids a chance…please guys : ) Remember
    How beautiful sl was when you went on and all the support from little things that helped you….Love guys ok peace

    Blackie Rhode

  61. the old sploders no skill

  62. other wise we need taxes and a social security system for people that don’t have a credit card, let them get L$ 300 a month from tax Revenue
    please for the newbies

  63. toric says:

    @45: it’s a very old folk song and in the public domain, the MiB from Harry Fox won’t be disappearing Torley on us โ€ฆ this time ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  64. Liina Pussycat says:

    @14 this is true but then again since photoshop 7 or so (an earlier version) alphas with tgas werent nearly as good as they used to be.. Also to many people saying PNG is easier yes this is true it was also buggy for awhile in SL and its unclear to me if these bugs are gone now… Using it for building had caused issues etc…

    Great tutorial though… I just wish there were ways to get these videos into SL now ๐Ÿ™‚ (soon hopefully)

  65. Liina Pussycat says:

    @63 Let them work or camp for their money to use sploders they still needed money to pay into them so the logic is somewhat flawed if they have no way of getting money how would they use a sploder? If your so interested in helping newbies why dont you make a newbie center that gives out money to newbies or go around and help them? I do makeovers now and then give newbies stuff i dont need etc there are ways to do it without a club being gimmicky or without breaking gambling laws….

    If you truly want to help someone set them up yourself and teach them a skill or help them get a job…

  66. Razrcut Brooks says:

    LOLd at the opening.

  67. Razrcut Brooks says:

    Thank you Torley for this video. My favorite so far.

  68. This is brilliant, and I’m definitely going to use it. I would like to know how useful this approach is to more sophisticated textures, needing a semi-transparent texture. e.g a window that is a bit misted or dirty, something gauzy within a clothing texture that is otherwise solid. I think with TGAs you make that black part of the alpha channel, more gray, so that it is not fully transparent.

  69. Argent Stonecutter says:

    @52: many textures in use in SL that do not appear transparent are actually alpha textures with all the pixels in the “alpha” layer set to fully opaque, because they were uploaded as 32-bit TGA instead of 24-bit BMP way back in the mists of time. When I find that I have used textures like this I save and re-upload them as 24-bit textures when I can, but that’s not always possible.

  70. elena says:

    this information really helped me .thanks very much

  71. Lina Pussycat says:

    @69…. you can do something similar with PNG files…. It can however take a bit more practice and might be easier to simply use a tga…

  72. Argent Stonecutter says:

    @69 @72: you can do the exact same thing with PNG files. Seriously, the actual data stored in a TGA with an alpha channel and a PNG file with alpha is the same: they both internally have channels for red, green, blue, and alpha, usually 8 bits for each, whether they’re explicitly described as layers or not. It’s not a matter of whether it’s TGA or PNG, it’s how you create the texture.

  73. Andrew Scott says:

    The tutorial that invites you to “take a leek!” Very gracious. =)

  74. Penny Patton says:

    For simple transparencies and people just looking to create a quick, simple alpha texture, this is fine, however the “clunky old alpha channel” does provide a greater degree of control. Many people have a problem with a “halo” at the edges of their transparency when they don’t use an alpha channel. I would still recommend that approach for more advanced use of alpha textures, especially clothes and tattoos and such.

    Also, it’s just easier to edit a single alpha channel, than multiple layer transparencies. Some people commenting seem to have that backwards.

  75. Ailani Westland says:

    Thanks for the wonderful video tutorials Torley! You are my hero, MARRY ME!!!! hehehe ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m just serious…….hehehe

  76. Abilene says:

    Awesome. I’ve been wanting to use the smaller and more efficient PNGs for textures.

  77. spaace rockett says:

    Dear Space Rockett,

    I have reviewed your account and there are two issues here; one is the unclaimed auction 26203869 in Sababurg, and the other is the you received 397000$ Lindens from a fraudulent source.

    In both cases you were notified and action was taken.

    The unclaimed auction in November 2007 was reclaimed and you were credited with 80% of the winning amount as per policy at that time. When auctioned land is unclaimed it can be put back up for auction as was done in this case.

    The 397000$ Lindens acquired by you from a fraudulent source were assessed and removed from your account June 18, 2007.

    I apologize for any confusion, though there is no other action that can be taken at this point with either one of these issues.


    Linden Lab

    once again your so called “solution” does not solve anything from my point of view, not only is the statement “In both cases you were notified and action was taken” is incorrect you completly failed to be able to view this whole episode fairly.I have on several occassion made it clear that i did not acquire lindens from a fruadulent source, if you accuse me of obtaining lindens in that way I would be interested in knowing who or what is that source,as far as being notified that my land was to be reclaimed, please provide me with the notification as I have not received any such notification to date.Also you have denied me access to my transaction history, you again make the statement “When auctioned land is unclaimed it can be put back up for auction as was done in this case” how much did the land bring at auction ? what is 80% of that amount ? where is the transaction information regarding the sale etc ?
    Your apology is meaningless as you have taken my money illegally and you have failed again to put the rights of your customers first.
    I will pursue this outside your corrupt and dishonest system.


  78. Darling says:

    Torley, so funny…i know where to go when i want to brighten my day with laughs…thanx, oh to have a teacher such as you, would give many a student reason to attend school, with enjoyment ๐Ÿ™‚
    still LOL

  79. Ivory says:

    I plan on using this method to make transparent hair edges. Great tutorial! Exactly what I needed to know.

  80. Woozy says:

    Thank you. Been trying to figure out how to make tranparent textures for awhile. Yey for leeks!

Comments are closed.