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Photoshop compositing has really blown up over the last few years. You see composites yours, as well. Enjoy! xii > PHOTOSHOP COMPOSITING SECRETS. Photoshop Compositing Secrets Unlocking the Key to Perfect Selections and Amazing Pho - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book. Photoshop Compositing Secrets: Unlocking the Key to Perfect Selections and Amazing Photoshop Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements for Teens.
Some times your selection will look perfect. Photoshop Compositing Secrets: Book Sorry, this book is no longer in print. First, press B to get the Brush tool and choose a smaller, soft-edged brush. Go ahead and resize the brush, so itll cover the entire radius of any flyaway hair.
Use the same settings, though. Lets start with my favorite choice, gray. Actually, light gray. Heres a photo of a woman on a white seam- less backdrop that has no light aiming at it.
Because theres no light pointing at the back- ground, it falls to a light gray. For me, and the selection tools I work with, light gray seems to work best. Once in a while, if the subject happens to be wearing gray, it can miss a few edges, but its always a quick, easy fix. For hair and detailed edges the hardest part about selecting , gray seems to do the best job. Lets put this one to rest and take a look at all of them white, gray, black, and green. Youll find that, as long as theres a good amount of contrast between your subject and the background, just about anything will work.
In fact, later in the book, youll see we dont have real studio backdrops behind some of the people were working with. But, if youre in a controlled environment like a studio , when it comes to shooting specifically for compositing and extraction, theres one color that just makes the most sense. Heres a photo of the same woman taken on the same white seamless backdrop, but here it has been lit. In the studio, to keep the back- ground white, you need to point a light at it. If you take a photo of it with no light aimed toward it, the background turns a light or dark shade of gray, de pending on what other lights are pointed toward it, and how far away the entire setup is from it.
White actually works re- ally well for extracting. In fact, Ive found its one of the best colors for Re fine Edge to work with. Here are the problems, though: If youre placing them onto a brightly colored background, its not a huge problem. But, if youre putting them on a darker background, it wont look right. Its hard to describe, but when you see it, theres just something that looks off, because theres so much bright light around them.
These lights make the edges of the subjects clothing and skin almost white. Not all-white mind you, but close enough to confuse Refine Edge and make se- lecting the hair and body a pain. Heres another photo of the same subject and the same light- ing setup we saw with the gray backdrop, but this time were using a black backdrop. With no light pointing directly at the background our main light will cast some light on it , the black stays mostly black.
The problem with black is that dark clothes which are pretty common dont give Photoshop enough contrast to select with. Even worse, some- one with dark hair really presents a big problem. You have to make sure you light all of the hair to give enough separation for the selec- tion tools to work. Other wise, dark hair pretty much blends with the black background and is nearly impossible to select. Finally, heres a different subject, with the same lighting setup, on a green backdrop.
Green or blue has always been popular in the video world. A process called keying allows most video-related programs to automatically extract people from the background and place them on other backgrounds. Movies especially those with lots of special effects use this all the time. But, heres why I dont like it for compositing: Light picks up the color of any surface it hits, right? So if youre lighting your subject in a studio, theres a good chance that the lights youre using can reflect off the back- ground and spill green light onto the edges of your subject.
There are ways around this, though. Standing a good dis- tance in front of the back ground always helps to reduce the spillover, but that also means you need a studio with enough depth and space to accommodate. You have to light the background evenly, which usu- ally requires at least one, if not two, lights.
Then, you need to light your sub- ject. So, lighting can quickly go from three lights to five. Chances are theres a white backdrop nearby in a photo studio, but unless youre set up only for compositing, green probably isnt as close at hand as white.
Im not saying that green backgrounds are always bad. If youve got the setup and are comfortable lighting it, it can work really well. It just takes a little more setup and know-how to do it. For me, a white background and letting it turn to a light gray is the way to go. Here, we have a background and we have a person who was shot in a studio.
The subject is a friend of mine, Justin. But, I also grabbed some photos of him in casual dress, as well. When I shot the photo were working with here, I had an ideaput him in a dark alley with a very grungy feel to it.
During the photo shoot of Justin seen here , I knew that I would be compositing him onto a different background. So, the first thing I did was note the focal length on the lens I was using. The next thing I did was note the camera height. I had the camera on a tripod about 2. Its really important that you shoot your background at the same height, or your subjects feet wont line up with the ground.
From the portrait shoot all the way to the background, I knew this was going to be a composite. I also knew it was going to be a full-body composite, which makes things a little more difficult.
When thats the case, there are a few things you can do to help make sure everything fits together nicely. Finally, I noted how far away I was from the subject. In this example, I was about 8 feet away from Justin. Again, if you want your full-body composites to line up nicely, youll need to make sure you know the camera-to- subject distance, so you can use the same distance when shooting your background.
Now comes the background. Once I found a background I liked, I set the focal length of my mm lens to 70mm. I didnt have my tri- pod, but I knew that I was 2.
Then, I moved back until I was about 8 feet from where I envisioned placing the subject. Not 8 feet from the back- ground, though. This is camera- to-subject distance, so I picked a mark on the ground it was a crack in the street, circled here where I envisioned placing Justin. Then I backed up 8 feet from there and took the photo. So, how do you remember all of this info? Write it all down on a piece of paper, or put it in your phone. I have an iPhone, and I use the built-in Notes app to write this stuff down.
It all seems like a lot to remember, but trust me, if youre doing a full-body composite, youll be thankful you did. Youll see in this chapter that everything fits to- gether really easily, because I took the time up front to keep the set- tings for the two separate shoots as close together as possible. Open the background image for this example. First, lets add a really grungy feel to it. The sun was nearly down behind me, and was casting a warm light onto this doorway, and I remem- bered all of the details of Justins photo: So, I set myself up at the same perspective here and grabbed a couple of frames of this doorway.
The adjustment comes with some presets at the top of its dialog. Choose Photorealistic High Con- trast from the Preset pop-up menu to give us a starting place.
Yep, I know it does crazy things to the photo, but well tone it down a bit next. Bring the Exposure setting down to 3. This should give us a really detailed and grungy look for our image. Click OK when youre done. Now is a good time to clean up any distractions. I like most of the graffiti here, but there is one word on the wall on the left side of the door that I think Ill remove. Im not assuming the word means any- thing derogatory, mind you.
Lets assume it simply means that inside this door is an indoor sports facil- ity where people play with various footballs, basketballs, baseballs, etc. Either way, its easy to remove. Press J to select the Spot Healing Brush or press Shift-J until you get to it if you last used one of the other tools in the group , make sure the Content-Aware radio but- ton in the Options Bar is turned on, and then paint over the graffiti on the left wall next to the door.
It should disappear pretty quickly.
If you see a repeating pattern left behind, try painting one more time on the wall and that should do it. To really finish this background off, well add an edge darkening effect to it. Press Command-J PC: Ctrl-J to duplicate the Background layer and then change the blend mode to Multiply as shown here , which will darken the entire image. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool M to make a rectangular selection around the area where well place our subject.
Enter pixels and click OK to soften the edges of the selection. Youll see the edge of the selection gets rounder, but thats about it. It doesnt visibly get soft yet.
Ctrl-Shift- ]. This flips the selection because we really want the darkening effect applied on the edges, not the middle, right? Then, click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and youll see the Multiply blend mode layer gets hidden in the middle where our subject will be , but stays around the edges.
Open the photo of Justin. Youll notice the background is a dark gray and, in Chapter 1, I talked about the best background to select people from.
Well, dark gray isnt it. I prefer a light gray instead, especially if the subject is wearing darker clothes, like Justin is. That said, we dont always have a choice. Sometimes we have to work with what weve got, so well cheat a little in the next step.
This overexposes the entire photo, but it brings the background to a lighter gray, which will work well for our selection. Dont worry, well come back and adjust it when were done with the selection. I took the portrait in the stu- dio, and a few days later, while walking around an old bar district in Tampa, I shot the background that we just worked on.
But its the tone and feeling of the photo well work with here that sets the stage for the entire image. Press-and-hold the Shift key and youll see the Open Image button turn into the Open Object button at the bottom right of the Camera Raw window circled here.
Click that button to open the photo in Photoshop as a Smart Object. By working with the photo this way, we have the ability to go back and forth between Photoshop and Camera Raw if we ever want to adjust the photo later. It gives us a lot of flexibility, especially when were working on composites, because sometimes we need to change things as the entire com- posite begins to come together. Now that were in Photoshop, press W to select the Quick Selection tool from the Toolbox, and then use the tool to paint a selection around Justin.
Photoshop will select the overall figure pretty fast. Keep in mind, though, its worth spending an extra couple of minutes here to zoom in and use a small brush to make sure you get all of the tiny edges that the larger brush will miss the first time around.
Just paint again to add to the selection, or press-and-hold the Option PC: Alt key to remove part of the selection. Once you get your selection looking good, click the Refine Edge button up in the Options Bar. Press the F key to toggle the View setting until the back- ground turns white.
Thisll be a good color to really see the edges of our selection. Turn on the Smart Radius checkbox and set the Radius to 20 px. Set the Smooth setting to 3, the Feather to 0. Now, youll see that Justin has been masked out and put on a transparent background. If you look around the edges of your selection, you may see some rough fringes or missed edges, like I have here. This happens a lot when the person in your photo is wearing something that matches the background too much.
Back in Chapter 1, we saw a quick way to fix this without having to tediously perfect the mask edge to make it perfect. First, press B to get the Brush tool and choose a smaller, soft-edged brush. Then, in the Options Bar, change the blend Mode of the brush to Overlay.
If its not targeted already, click on the layer mask to target it. In this case, part of the shirt is missing, so press D to set your Foreground color to white, and then paint along the edge where the shirt is missing no need to be precise here, its okay if the brush extends beyond the edge. Photoshop starts reveal ing the missing edges of the shirt, but wont bring the back- ground back in.
Thats because the Overlay blend mode is simply fixing the edge of the mask. Even though your brush may be larger and it looks like youd bring the background back into view, it doesnt. Continue the same process around the edges of the selection, until you clean everything up. Also, dont forget, if you see too much of the background in any areas, the op- posite also works.
In this case, the area near his shoes had some back- ground showing through. Press X to change your Foreground color to black and paint on the mask. Since youre still in the Overlay blend mode for the brush, itll bring the edge in closer to what- ever youre selecting.
Once the selection is done, we need to fix the overall exposure. Remember, this layer is a Smart Object, so this means we can go right back into Camera Raw and readjust the Exposure setting. So, double-click on the Smart Object layers thumbnail to open the Camera Raw window.
Set the Exposure slider back down to around 0 and click OK to return to Photoshop. Were done with Justin, now lets put him into the new background.
Open the background image if its not open already. Open the photo of Justin where hes been selected from the studio background if you dont still have it open and use the Move tool V to drag him into the background image. Now, you should have two layers: Remember, our background photo was taken at a specific focal length, knowing exactly where wed place the subject, so there wouldnt be any perspective or distortion problems. By shooting this way, youll be amazed at how easily your subject fits into the background image.
Our main goal here is to make it look realistic, and the shadows are going to play a big part in it. Press- and-hold the Shif t key and click-and-drag one of the corner handles inward to resize him and make the photo smaller press Command-0 [zero; PC: Enter to lock in the transformation when youre done.
Were missing one key thing to help pull this composite off shadows. This isnt true for all composites, though. If youve cropped the feet and dont see the ground, then shadows arent as much of an issue. But any time you try to put someone standing in one scene into another scene, you need shadows to pull it off. The cool thing about the technique youre about to see is that well use the existing shadows, so we dont have to create new ones.
To start, press Command-J PC: Ctrl-J to make a copy of the Justin layer. Set the Use pop-up menu to White and click OK to fill the layer mask with white which reveals the origi- nal studio background again.
While we dont want to keep everything from the studio back- ground, we do want to keep the shadows and make them blend with the new background. So, change the layer blend mode to Hard Light and youll see a lot of the original background disappear not all of it, but a lot. Youll also notice the original shadows look like they blend in with the ground below his feet now. To get rid of the rest of the studio background, select the Brush tool B , use a medium-sized, soft-edged brush, and make sure the Mode pop-up menu in the Options Bar is set to Normal.
Since the layer mask is white right now, we want to paint with black, so press D, then X to set your Foreground color to black, and start painting away the remnants of the original studio background. Paint everywhere except the area around his feet where the original shadows now cast on the ground.
Dont worry if you paint over him, because we have another copy of him on the top layer. If you want to intensify the shadows I think it would help here , then just press Command-J to duplicate the shadow layer and the shadows become even darker.
If its too dark, just reduce the Opacity of the layer until the shadows look real. Cool huh? Instant shadows! While were on the topic of shad- ows, I think we need to add one of our own right below his foot.
These shadows are essential when someone is standing on the ground, because our feet usually cast a very dark and thin shadow on the ground right below them. So, zoom in on the front foot, then click on the Create a New Layer icon to create a new blank layer, and click-and-drag it below all of the other shadow layers, as seen here. With the Brush tool still active, choose a small, soft-edged brush from the Brush Picker, set your Fore ground color to black, and paint a very slight shadow right under the shoe on the right.
Keep it close to the shoe, though, as you dont want this one to spread out. Remember, its just his shoe casting the shadow on the ground and because the shoe is so close to the ground, its not going to be a large shadow.
Another telltale sign that Justin has been placed into the new back ground is the color. Well, remember how the layer that Justin is on is a Smart Object layer?
That means we can change the color temperature with just a few clicks. So, dou- ble-click on the topmost layer of Justin to reopen the image in Camera Raw.
Its going to vary for each photo, but for this one I moved the Temperature slider toward the right to to warm things up a bit. Click OK when youre done to update the photo back in Photoshop.
Remember, this is one of the main things we need to get right when compositing. But, I dont want to warm the photo any further in Camera Raw, because its going to warm his skin, and I think were good there.
This adjustment is the compositors best friend. In the Adjustments panel, it defaults to Warming Filter 85 , which works well for this photo. Adding the Photo Filter adjust- ment warmed everything in the photo, but we only want to warm his clothes mainly the back of his shirt, which would be picking up that warm light we see in the image.
This forces the Photo Filter layer to only affect the layer right below it the se- lection of Justin. But, its still warming his skin. The Photo Filter adjustment layer came with layer mask, so set your Foreground color to black and use the Brush tool to paint on his skin to remove the warming filter.
Now, it only affects his clothing. In fact, Id probably go a step further and paint on his jeans, too, since theyre already warm enough. We mostly want to warm the black shirt, so it looks like its absorbing all of that warm color we have in the photo.
On this particular image, the back- ground is already pretty gritty and edgy. So, lets add some of that grit to the portrait, too. Click on the top- most layer with Justin on it to target it. Of course, the layer looks horrible because its all gray now, but re- member that this is a Smart Object layer.
Since weve applied a filter to it, we get all kinds of advantages one of them being blend modes. If you look at the layer in the Layers panel, youll see a tiny little icon, at the very bottom right, next to the words High Pass circled here. Double-click that icon to open the Blending Options for the High Pass filter. Here, change the Mode setting to Hard Light to hide the gray, but keep all of that gritty detail. Okay, I like the gritty look every- where but on his face.
Youll notice, though, that the High Pass filter has a layer mask its circled in red here. This means we can paint the High Pass filter away from any parts of the photo where we dont want it. So, click once on the mask to target it. With your Foreground color set to black, paint with a small, soft- edged brush over his face to hide the High Pass filter effect there, but keep it on the rest of his body.
For the last step, lets go ahead and sharpen the overall image. Ctrl- Alt-Shift-E to merge everything below it into one new layer at the top of the layer stack. Hopefully, you can see how this composite is pretty much all just finishing touches. We spent most of the time on shadows and color. But, when it came to perspective and angles, fitting Justin into this new background was simple because some extra time was taken up front to make sure the camera settings, distance, and height matched.
The photographer was tethered into the back of a pickup truck driving down a road, with an assistant holding a light also tethered into the truck. Now, the photos were great, but it got me thinking, What about shooting the motorcyclist in the studio, where I could control the exact lighting that I wanted, and then placing him onto the background I wanted?
To me, a project like this really shows the power of compositing, because the alternative can be costly, requires a lot of setup, and is pretty much just a pain in the neck to pull off.
Open the photo of the tunnel. The first thing we need to do is change the perspective a little. To me, the sidewalk on the left doesnt add any- thing of interest to the background and I envision only seeing the road the motorcycle will be on plus, we need to remove the tripod leg on the far left. So, lets make a copy of the image layer to work on by pressing Command-J PC: Instead of cloning away the sidewalk, lets just stretch the photo a little. Since the background will eventually have some motion blur to it anyway be- cause the motorcycle is speeding , we can get away with quite a bit here.
Luckily, I was in Los Angeles recently attending a workshop by a friend of mine, Joel Grimes an awesome photographer and compositor , and we stumbled across the 2nd Street Tunnel. So, I grabbed my tripod, went into the middle of the tunnel, and snapped off a few frames with Joel looking out for cars. Then, instead of just dragging the bottom-right corner handle down- ward which will simply enlarge the entire image , press-and-hold Command-Shift PC: Ctrl-Shift and drag it downward to change the perspective a little, so it really looks like whatever is in the tunnel is coming at us.
When youve got the transformation in place, press Return PC: Enter to lock it in. If we push and pull the background any more, were going to distort it too much, but we still want to get rid of the sidewalk, right? So, grab the Rectangular Marquee tool M and make a rectangular selection on the bottom third of the photo as shown here. Then, press Command-J to copy that selected area up onto its own layer. Next, get the Move tool V and move the duplicated portion of the road over to the left side of the image.
I know it doesnt look quite right yet, but we do have some erasing to do, which well do with a layer mask in the next step. Click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel shown circled here to add a white layer mask to the top layer.
To erase away parts of this duplicate road layer, well need to paint with black on the white mask. So, with your Foreground color set to black, get the Brush tool B and, in the Options Bar, choose a medium-sized, soft- edged brush from the Brush Picker. Now, paint over the right side of the duplicate road to make it disappear and show the road thats below.
Continue painting over toward the left and over the car to make it reappear. What we want to do here is bring back the original road that is under the duplicate copy, but we want to keep enough of the dupli- cate, so it appears that the road extends all the way to the left edge of our image.
When youre done bringing back the road, if you see duplicate lines on it, try this: Click on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a new blank layer, then select the Spot Healing Brush from the Toolbox or just press J. In the Options Bar, make sure the Content-Aware option is selected and the Sample All Layers checkbox is turned on, then paint over any extra lines and cracks with a small brush.
Theyll disappear in no time flat. The next thing well do is add some blur. Since the motorcycle is going through the tunnel, well want to convey that movement. This creates a new flattened layer of all our work, but still keeps all of our layers below it in case we need them again.
Radial Blur simulates movement from a panned camera, rather than just blur- ring everything in the photo. Set the Amount to something pretty low, like 15 we dont want to blur it too much. Also, the default Blur Center will come from the middle, which wont work for this photo, since the vanishing point of the tunnel is in the lower left. But you can change it by clicking on the Blur Center preview point and moving it to the lower left of the pre- view as shown here.
Click OK when youre done and youll see a slight blur added to everything in the tun- nel lights, car, and road. Lets add a slight motion blur to the car next. Set the Angle to about 8 slightly down- ward to match the direction of the car and the Distance to 80 pixels. Click OK to apply the blur. Press-and-hold the Option PC: Alt key and click on the Add Layer Mask icon to add a black layer mask to the motion blur layer, which completely hides the layer.
Its still there, we just cant see it. Then get the Brush tool, and with your Foreground color set to white, paint the motion blur layer back in only on the car in the lower left. Then, turn on the Colorize checkbox at the bottom of the Adjustments panel and itll apply a tint to the entire photo. Drag the Hue slider to to add a blue tint and then drag the Saturation slider to We now have the background photo prepped and ready for the motorcycle. Heres a photo of the overall setup for the motorcyclist shoot.
The pose isnt exactly the same one were using for this project, but this will give you a good idea of where the lights are positioned. Pretty standard for this edgy type of photoa strip light on each side with grids and one main light in front along with my buddy RCs elbow at the top right.
Now, its time to get the motorcycle photo ready. Well first take a look at how the motorcyclist was photographed and any changes I made to the photo, before adding it to the tunnel background. An interesting side note on this image is that I originally thought Id go with a head-on straight shot of the motorcyclist.
In fact, I created the entire composite that way. Then I started working with a photo from a lower angle on the side and as soon as I dropped it onto the background, I knew this was the angle I wanted. It conveyed the idea of speed to me more than the straight shot did. Funny how things work out, huh? Goes to show you its worth shooting a few more angles or poses than you think you need. Okay, lets get started.
Open the photo of the motorcyclist in Camera Raw. Now, I took shots of several different posessome straight on, some from a lower angle on the side, and some from directly on the side of him I just had him turn the bike, so his side was facing me.
In the end, this one was the one that really caught my eye for a composite. Theres one problem, though: I normally would move the sub- ject, so the backdrop did fall behind them, but that would have meant moving the bike which wasnt light and the lighting setup. Since I was pressed for time, and I knew the edges along the helmet were pretty hard edges, I didnt worry too much about the selection Id end up making later.
As for the photo, I think theres a lot of detail in the shadows that we can bring out. So, increase the Fill Light slider to about 60 and youll see those shadows open up quite a bit. Theres not much more we can do in Camera Raw at this point, so lets move over to Photoshop, however, were not locked into these settings. We have a trick for making Photoshop and Camera Raw work together, in case we want to come back and tweak any- thing like the overall exposure or white balance of the photo , and trust me, we probably will, once we see the image on the back- ground.
Just press-and-hold the Shift key and the Open Image but- ton will turn into the Open Object button shown circled here.
Click it to open this photo in Photoshop as a Smart Object. Now, lets start making the selec- tion. First, use the Quick Selection tool W to put a selection around the entire motorcyclist.
Keep in mind that part of his jacket is gray, as well as the background, so take a few minutes to zoom in and get the selection as good as possible here. Dont forget, you can always open the practice files that Ive provided and theyll already have a layer with a layer mask of the selected image for you.
You can find out where to download them in the books introduction. Once your selection looks good, click the Refine Edge button up in the Options Bar. Were putting the motorcyclist on a fairly dark back- ground, so in the Refine Edge dialog, choose On White from the View pop-up menuthis way, well really see any selection edges that are off. Turn on the Smart Radius check- box, increase the Radius setting to about 17 pixels, the Smooth setting to 3 since there arent any rough or detailed edges , and the Feather setting to 0.
If you look closely at the edges around his shoulder, you might see a dirt-like fringe around certain places. This happens a lot when the background color is so close to the edges of what were selecting. But we have a trick that we covered in Chapter 1 and will get to in a minute to get rid of it using the layer mask, so just click OK here when youre done. Now, in the Layers panel, Command- click PC: Ctrl-click on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the panel to add a new blank layer under the existing one.
This simulates the same white background we just used with the Refine Edge dialog. Press Z to get the Zoom tool and zoom in to the photo until you can see those dirt-like fringes around his shoulder and anywhere else. Because the original background color was so dark and matched the edges of the motorcyclist so closely, we have this fringe that Refine Edge just couldnt select out that well. To get rid of it, in the Layers panel, click on the layer mask thumbnail to make it active.
Press B to get the Brush tool and, in the Options Bar, choose a small, soft-edged brush and change the Mode to Overlay. With your Foreground color set to black, start painting along those edges. Youll see the fringe disap- pear, but because youre using the Overlay blend mode, Photoshop wont let it affect the actual edge of the motorcyclist.
Then, change your brush blend mode back to Normal and use the layer mask to paint out using a black brush or paint in using a white brush any edges basically, any cleanup work that didnt get selected perfectly back in Refine Edge.
If your selection ever cuts out part of the person along the edges, change your Foreground color to white and, while still using the brush in Overlay mode, paint along the edges on the layer mask. Itll bring the edges back without bringing back the original background. Next, well put it all together.
First, open the background image. Here, Ive opened the background image where we left off in this chapters first tutorial. At this point, I dont need all of the layers with this image anymore. I know Im not going to change anything, and keeping them all just makes our Layers panel more complex.
If you ever need to go back, you still have your original with all of its layers. Theres not much that we have to do to fit the motorcyclist into the background other than place him there. Our main hurdle here, though, is to convey speed.
Since neither the background image nor the motorcycle were really moving, we have to make it look like it isnt just a photo of a guy sitting on a bike. If you remember from the previous tutorial, the motorcyclist is aiming toward the left side of the image.
But our background looks as though he would be heading to the right, so we have a problem here. We cant flip the guy on the motorcycle, because the writing on his helmet and jacket would be backwards. So, well flip the background image instead. Now the tunnel is angled in the same direction the motorcycle will be traveling. Next, open the motorcycle image and position the images so you can see them both onscreen or at least their tabs, if youre using Photoshops tabbed interface.
Using the Move tool V , click on the motorcycle layer, then drag it over onto the background image, and position it up against the far left of the background. The first thing I noticed is that the motorcyclist has a warmer tone to him than the background does, and since the motorcyclist layer is a Smart Object, we can edit the white balance back in Camera Raw.
Just double-click on the image thumb nail and it will open in Cam- era Raw. Move the Temperature slider toward the left to I also ended up decreasing the Fill Light and increasing the Blacks a little. While were here, theres one more thing we can adjust: Notice how bright his jeans are?
Theyre one of the brightest things in the photo and really the last thing we want to draw attention to, right? But there are some headlights in the back- ground photo that would probably be casting some light on them. So, lets even this out with some selec- tive brushing. Select the Adjustment Brush tool K from the toolbar up top the fifth icon from the right , then set the Exposure slider to 2.
Using a pretty small brush, paint over his jeans to darken them. It doesnt have to be perfect here, so dont spend too much time on it. Just darken the general area, so it doesnt look so distracting, but leave the back of the jeans alone, so it looks like the light from the cars headlights is shining on them from behind. Click OK when youre done to return to Photoshop.
Next, lets add some motion behind the motorcyclewe have a couple of cool tricks to help do this. First, well add some motion blur to the motorcyclist. But, remember, his layer is a Smart Object.
We wont have the control we need to apply a blur directly to this layer, so we need to put him onto a regular layer. Click on the layer with the motorcycle to make it the active layer, and then Command-click PC: Ctrl-click on the layers layer mask to load the selection around him. Ctrl-J to copy that selected area the entire motorcyclist onto its own layer.
The image looks exactly the same, but now in the Layers panel, youll see the Smart Object layer and mask, and a regular layer contain- ing only the motorcyclist on top of it.
Set the Angle setting to 11, set the Distance to pixels, and click OK. Obviously, the blur wouldnt nor- mally be all over his body, so click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a white layer mask to this layer.
Then, with your Foreground color set to black, get the Brush tool B , and paint over the mask to hide the blur from everything except the right edge of the motorcyclist, so it looks like the panning camera left some motion blur even though we know the camera wasnt pan- ning. Heres another lighting trick to give the appearance of motion: Click on the Background layer to target it, then click on the Create New Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Gradient.
Drag the white knob under the S Saturation slider halfway to the left and then drag both knobs under the H Hue slider toward the middle, under the blue area, so the gradient becomes blue the color of the tunnel. Lastly, click the Randomize button until you see something similar to what I have here in my gradient. Move your cursor over onto the image and with the Move tool, reposition the center of the light source over to the bottom right, where the vanishing point of the tunnel is as shown here.
Click OK to close the Gradient Fill dialog. Now, if you change the adjustment layers blend mode to Soft Light, youll drop out all of the black that was in the gradi- ent and youll only be left with something that looks more like a ray of light.
I lowered the layer Opacity a bit, as well, to soften the effect. Right now, the effect is applied to the entire image, but youll notice the Gradient Fill adjustment layer was automatically created with a layer mask.
With your Foreground color set to black, select the Brush tool and choose a fairly large, soft- edged brush. Start painting away the effect everywhere but behind the motorcyclist, so it looks like he left this motion streaklike effect behind him.
Next, well add some reflections to his helmets visor by copying the background and warping it to fit the visor. Then click on the Eye icons to the left of the two motorcycle layers to hide them, so only the background is visible. Click where the Eye icons used to be to the left of the two motorcycle layers to turn them back on.
Ctrl-T] , press-and- hold the Shift key, click on a corner handle, and resize the new back- ground layer, so its roughly the size of the helmet, maybe a little larger as shown here.
Enter when youre done to lock in the changes. Add a layer mask to the warped layer and, with a black brush, just paint away the warped background everywhere, except the right side of the visor.
You may need to switch to the Move tool and move it around a little to get it to fit into place. You just want a little reflection in there, but not much. Repeat Steps and add a reflection to the wind guard on the front of the bike. Be sure to move the new background layer that you create in Step 14 to the top of the layer stack after you create it. But Im not going to bother doing that here. Okay, were almost done.
Now for some finishing touches: Lets create a new layer to do some dodging and burning. Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E to merge everything together into one new layer on top. Now, paint in any places where you want to make the image darker. I painted over the front of his helmet and the front of his jacket because I thought the light was too bright compared to the rest of the image.
Do the same thing with the Dodge tool press Shift-O until you have it if you want to brighten any parts of the image, like the edge of the jacket, to ac- centuate the back lighting on him, along with the lighting behind him.
Its time for a little grit and sharpen- ing effect. Again, merge everything together on a new layer at the top of the layer stack. Now you have a grayish layer on top of all the others. Change the layer blend mode to Hard Light and itll hide the gray, but keep that gritty detail effect the High Pass filter applied.
It has the ap- pearance of not only sharpening the photo, but it also adds some depth and dimension to it, as well. It does brighten some parts of the photo, too, though. So, try adding a layer mask to the layer and paint- ing the brightness away from the areas where it doesnt look good like the front of his jacket and the lights along the top of the tunnel. Next, well add an effect to the headlight. Then, click in the preview window and move the flare to the bottom- left corner of the photo, over the headlight, and click OK to apply it.
Because we just created the flare on its own layer, you could add a layer mask to the flare layer and use the Brush tool set to black to paint away any excess flare in the image. You can also reduce the Opacity of the layer to lessen the brightness, if needed. One last thing to do: A vignette will really help darken the edges and draw our attention to the motor- cyclist.
So, create a new merged layer one last time and then change the layer blend mode of the new layer to Multiply to darken the en- tire image. Add a layer mask to the layer, grab the Brush tool, and use a large, soft-edged brush with your Foreground color set to black to paint away the darkened layer from the motorcyclist and the motorcycle.
Reduce the Opacity to tone it down a bit, if needed. Its become a really hot trend to take seniors out to a cool, fun, or dramatic location for their graduation photo shoot.
But, with compositing, you dont have to take them anywhere. It really has a ton of uses for this style of photo: The subject well be placing in this background is wearing a basketball uniform, so while were going to go with a basketball-themed background here, well take it in a very dramatic direction. First, open the main image for the background. Its pretty simple at this point: Since were going in a dramatic direction for this one, lets add some really dramatic clouds in place of the blue sky.
Well need to make a selection first, though. Now, I know Ive been touting the Quick Selection tool with Refine Edge as the best selection tools around, but for this one, were going to use another selection tool called Color Range. Since the sky is all blue, itll be the fastest way to select it. Its got a nice blue sky behind it, along with a city skyline. Its cool, but doesnt do much if were looking for something edgy here. Once we add some dramatic clouds and a few effects, itll look totally different, though.
The way Color Range works is that, with the Select pop-up menu set to Sampled Colors, you click on the color in your image you want to select. In this case, its the blue sky, so just click with the eyedrop- per on the blue sky. If you have the Selection option turned on below the preview window , youre going to see a black-and-white preview of your selection. Everything thats white is now selected, and every- thing thats black isnt.
Youll see just a small area of the sky shows up in white at this point. Theres obviously more than one shade of blue in the sky, so well need to add to our selection. To add to it, press-and-hold the Shift key and click in other areas of the blue sky. Each time you Shift-click, youll add more blue to the selected area. Dont forget to Shift-click in- side those areas in the fence right above the skyline.
Youll also notice a Fuzziness slider near the top of the Color Range dialog. Fuzziness pretty much loosens the edges of your selection. At 0, the selection remains very tight and only the colors you clicked on will be se- lected.
As you increase the Fuzziness amount, the edges loosen a little and become softer, so more areas around what you clicked on become part of the selection. I found 15 works pretty well for this photo. When youre done, click OK to lock in the selection and close the Color Range dialog. If the selection looks like it bleeds over into other parts of the image, dont worry about it for now. Youll see, later, that well hide a lot of those imperfections and youll never even see them. Now, lets add some clouds.
Go ahead and open the photo of the clouds for this example. I took this photo on a rooftop on a really cloudy day. Overcast days work well for this, too, but shadowed, puffy clouds work best, since they give a lot more detail.
Lets add to the drama by adding an HDR effect to the clouds. Even though its not a bracketed photo with several different exposures, we can fake it with Photoshop. The main thing here is to bring the Radius and Strength sliders way up.
Take Radius to px and Strength to 3.
I brought the Exposure down to 0. Click on Toning Curve and Histo- gram at the very bottom of the dialog to open the Curve for the photo. Click on the Curve to add two points, drag the bottom one down, and then drag the top one up, like you see here.
This will add some nice contrast to the clouds. Okay, now our clouds are nice and dramatic. Lets add them to the basketball court image.
Ctrl-A] to select the entire cloud image. Ctrl-C] to copy it. This pastes the clouds into the selection that we created earlier. The best part about doing it this way is that Photoshop auto- matically creates a mask for us, so we can adjust where the clouds appear if we need to. Press Command-T PC: Ctrl-T to go into Free Transform mode.
Notice how you cant see all of the handles around the Free Trans- form box? Heres a little tip: Press Command-0 zero; PC: Ctrl-0 and Photoshop will zoom your image out, so that all of the handles fit in view. Then, press-and-hold the Shift key and drag the bottom-right corner handle inward until the transform box is closer to the size of the basketball court image.
Enter when youre done to lock in the transformation. Grab the Move tool from the Tool- box or just press the V key and move the clouds up so the horizon line from the clouds image falls just behind the buildings in the city skyline. Theres one last thing well do to the background. See, compositing has a lot to do with the background, but at the same time, you dont want the background to overpower the photo.
In this example, theres a lot going on with the background, so well use a little trick to help tone it down a bit. Press G to select the Gradient tool from the Toolbox. Click on the gradi- ent thumbnail in the Options Bar to open the Gradient Picker, and choose the second gradient from the top left circled here , which is Foreground to Transparent. Immediately to the right of the gra dient thumbnail are the gradient type icons. Click on the Reflected one the second from the right and then set your Foreground color to white by pressing D, then X.
Click on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a new blank layer. Then, position your cursor in the middle of the image and drag down- ward to the bottom to add the gra- dient on this layer. It creates a white gradient in the middle, and the gra- dient appears to fall off as it gets further away from the middle.
What weve done here is give the appear- ance of adding a lot of light to the background. Its this light wash that lets us pull off the composite more easily and keep focus on the sub- ject that well eventually be adding. Ctrl-S] and save this as a PSD file. While teaching at a small workshop in Tulsa, OK, I decided to do a live compositing tutorial for the classthe shoot, the extraction, and the Photoshop work all in one class.
Well, because of the classroom setup, we didnt have any seamless backgrounds to use.
In fact, we didnt have any background at all. And all we had were two lights not the three I would normally use. So, the setup wasnt ideal, but because the background was light enough and because there was at least one edge light, were still able to pull off a great selection.
Open the basketball player photo. Our model, a young guy named Tyler, did great here. But, as you can see, the setup wasnt ideal. The yellow wallpaper from the small hotel conference room isnt the background I was hoping for you gotta love the power cords in the background, too.
I only had one edge light, and you can see it in the photo here. The only other light, which you dont see, is a beauty dish with a dif- fuser just to the right of the camera, above and in front of the subject, to add some fill to his face and uniform.
The brighter the background, the easier job Photoshop will have at selecting Tyler from it.
Press-and- hold the Shift key and the Open Image button, at the bottom right of the window, will turn into Open Object circled here. Click it to open the image in Photoshop as a Smart Object, which means well be able to easily come back to Camera Raw if we need to later. Believe it or not, the selection for this one is really simple. First, press W to get the Quick Selection tool.
Then, paint your selection on Tyler until you have the entire body and basketball selected. As I always say, spend a couple of minutes here to make sure you get all of the edges as close as possible. To remove an area from the selection, just press- and-hold the Option PC: Alt key and click on it.
Press the Refine Edge button in the Options Bar to open the Refine Edge dialog, and then press the F key until you have the white back- ground.
Since our final background is fairly light, white works best for previewing our selection. For this one, I dragged the Radius slider to 15 px and turned on the Smart Radius checkbox. Press the F key one more time to switch to the black and white View mode. Ill do this every once in a while to see if Im missing any edges in the selection. In this case, zoom in to the area at the top right, where his shoulder meets his ear. Youll see a jagged fringe near it.
If we leave it alone, itll eventually pull in some of the yellow wallpaper. To fix it, click-and-hold on the Refine Radius tool to the left of the Edge Detection section, and choose the Erase Refinements tool. Use the Left Bracket key [ to make the brush pretty small, so it fits into that area, and then paint along the edge until the fringe goes away as shown here.
Now, well clean up some fringes around the selection on the layer mask using the Overlay mode Brush tool trick I first covered back in Chapter 1. Click on the layer mask to target it, press B to select the Brush tool, and then set the Mode pop-up menu in the Options Bar to Overlay. Zoom in really close to the edges and start painting with either black or white. Paint with white on areas like you see here, where part of Tylers uniform is actually missing from the selection.
Painting in Overlay mode with white will bring it back, but it wont bring back the origi- nal background. Download Chapter 4: Get unlimited day access to over 30, books about UX design, leadership, project management, teams, agile development, analytics, core programming, and so much more.
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