23 August 2010

High-end photo compositing techniques

Want to merge a number of images seamlessly into one design? In this tutorial, Kevin Roodhorst illustrates how to make an Africa-inspired graphic compiled from a number of photographic elements. You will be shown how to add several textures and effects, including lighting effects, using Photoshop and Illustrator.

Step 1 In Photoshop, start with a dark background that has grungy textures. Download the images you want – I chose anelephant (bit.ly/9SZhD1), a frog (bit.ly/9YoxOa), bongos (bit.ly/a0dLB4) and a tiger (bit.ly/cLyWHT). You will also need a model shot. Paste them into the image and desaturate usingImage > Adjustments > Desaturate.

Step 2 Now add a background image. Here, I wanted the hair of the model to combine with shapes in the background, so behind the objects I have placed a 3D design that I made using Cinema 4D.

Step 3 Begin to add more detail. Make some shapes in Photoshop, such as circles and lines, and copy them to the project. The purpose is to use these elements to focus attention on the objects.

Step 4 Try adding some small particles behind each object, to create more unity. Here I’ve used two different kinds of particles. One with the Lasso tool (L) in Photoshop, in which you grab the Lasso tool and select tiny particles and copy and paste them elsewhere. The other way is to create particles in Cinema 4D using the Explosion FX effect.

Step 5 Create some light effects to add to the project. Go toLayer > Layer Style > Blending Options and set each light effect’s Blend Mode to Screen, which should have a nice effect on the colours. Create other 3D shapes in Illustrator and place them in the image – the combination of Photoshop and Illustrator components should form a good balance of variation in the work.

Step 6 Add more vibrance to the design by adding layers of colour on top – I used four: red, green, brown and orange. For every colour layer, experiment with different opacities and blending modes. In this design I opted for a brownish hue to best fit with the African theme.

Step 7 To highlight the light effects much more, increase the contrast in some places. Next, add clouds by going to Filter > Render > Clouds. Set the Blend Mode of this layer to Overlay, again by going to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Around the design you can add all kinds of small particle and star effects.

Step 8 Use the Sharpen tool (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen) to clarify the design in specific places, like the eyes of the model, the elephant and the tiger. Then check if more can be done using the brightness, contrast and colour options, found in Image > Adjustments. In this case I decreased the colour using Vibrance.

Kevin Roodhorst

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