Props and Avatar Sizes

Is Bigger Better?

Building That
Big Avatar

Some common avatar tilings
Palace uses two basic picture sizes for avatars. The basic prop size is 44 by 44 pixels per prop tile. All props are actually 44x44, even if the displayed area is smaller. It's not huge, but bigger than a Windows or Mac finder icon. The second important size to know is the maximum avatar area: 132 by 132 pixels, or three props by three props. Large avatars can be built out of smaller props by tiling them together.
At any one moment, your avatar can wear up to nine props. No more. That's nine whether they are animating, tiled, blank... nine total is what you get.
Personally, I like smaller, single-prop avatars. They are much faster to use when in the Palace. They're handy for snuggling up to your pals. You can animate them without getting painfully tricky. But it is easy to build bigger props, and I have plenty of big avs, too: the sizes can be any combination of 44x44 tiles, so 88x132, 132x44... all are possible. Tiles may also overlap (especially transparent or "ghost" tiles)... some common layouts are shown at the left. Not that some of the non-rectangular setups can be done with rectangular images in your paint program just delete the empty tiles once they're in the palace client.
One common myth is that large props cause lag. Not True! Large props do not cause lag.
Most of the time, props are stored in the server .prp file, as well as cached copies in the local .prp files of anyone who's seen the props before when a large av is used, therefore, only a small bunch of ID#'s are normally exchanged between the clients and the server not a lot of picture data. The difference in size between 9 ID#'s (36 bytes, total) and even one full prop picture (typically 1936 bytes for one prop) makes the size issue for cached props insignificant. Large or animated props simply don't cause lag, so don't take any flak about them.
Your paint program lets you resize pictures to any arbitrary size, and in general will do a much better job than just letting the Palace prop editor do the resizing automatically. GIFs and other indexed-color images (even if they start in the palace's own color space!) should always be converted to RGB before being resized this will let the colors blend a little bit, making a smoother transition to their final destination: the palace's own color map.
When you have a picture that's bigger than 44x44, you will need a way to tile it. The Palace client software can do this for you, automatically.

You've saved your original picture, right?

For best results without surprises, make sure:

  • The image is no larger than 132x132 pixels, so that the Palace won't try to rescale the image (with less-than-perfect results).
  • The image resolution is set to 72 dpi (scanners etc can commonly bring in a picture at 300 ever even 1200 dpi).
  • You've already converted to the Palace Color Palette yourself, before letting the Palace client do it.
  • If possible, you may want to force the image to exactly the prop boundaries, using the Photoshop "Canvas Size..." dialog this can give you a bit more control over where the boundaries will be when the Palace cuts up your image.
Okay, so the picture's in your clipboard, and ready to paste. Now what? For Windows users, a large prop can be automatically cut-up and positioned with a single (two-fingered) keystroke. Instead of just hitting Ctrl+V to paste, press Ctrl+Q to "Paste Multiple Props" into Win Palace. The parts will be broken up and dropped into the prop lister boxes.
Likewise, Macintosh users can auto-tile by pasting the picture into the satchel window, rather than into an individual prop editor window. The sub-images will then insert themselves, one at a time.
It's then a simple task to go through the list of props, one at a time, erasing transparent areas and naming each prop something appropriate.
Always name your props, even partial bits it can come in very handy later. Just type a name in the little box at the bottom of the editor window.
Now to assemble the entire avatar, hit "naked" in the prop window, then add all the props, one at a time, by double-clicking them in the prop window (I recommend using the order shown at right, which is the usual order used by the client itself, so that your macro is compatable with the hang script). The props will tile together to create your entire avatar picture. Save the appearance as a macro, and you're done!

Special Problems for Line Drawings

Often, resizing really destroys the line quality in GIF drawings (this problem affects line drawings only, not photos or scanned paintings) small lines, especially along edges, turn to mush. This is a generic digital-picture probem. Fortunately, it's only occasionally serious. There are only a few recourses:

  • Redraw the problem lines by hand in Photoshop, after resizing.
  • Beef-up the lines by hand in Photoshop, before resizing.
  • Convert a copy of the image to grayscale. Isolate the lines by pinning all non-black areas to white using either fills (magic wand useful here) or the "Levels" command. Build yourself a beautiful line mask, convert it to the same size as your resized color image, use "Levels" to beef-up any failing line densities, and use it as an overlay layer (or multiply the images together, if you've the chops for that sort of thing).
  • Copy the image to Adobe Illustrator using Adobe Streamline, then save as an EPS file in Illustrator, then convert back to a raster image in Photoshop PS will let you force the image to a particular size. This is definitely the premium professional approach, not for the casual non-artist. Still, there is a reason Adobe sells all this stuff...
Back to the House o Props
Last Update: 30 April 1997
And don't forget that Photoshop canvas-size command... (more to come).