Sunday, September 5, 2010

Photomanipulation - How its done?

I am going to show you now a some little creature that I made past week. I'll also explain you how I did it.
This is not going to be a tutorial, but if you know basics of the photoshop, you'll learn pretty fast your own way to utilize this kind of technique in your own manipulations.

Because I have chronic lack of loots, I have not actually the pro version on photoshop, I have just only photoshop elements 6.0... Photoshop elements costs about 50€ or less or more and it includes about 60-80% features from the pro version photoshop. Pro version costs about 700-1000€.. I call this "good deal".

With few tricks I could use elements in nearly everything I want, but sometimes I must use other applications in some more specific things.

Of course if I have the pro version of photoshop, I could do them all with the only one application.

So this is what the final picture looks like:
1.0 What for I did this was just only for testing. Actually my some friends were started for doing their own manipulations and I had little too much time, so I wanted to create my own.
The first problem with this was that I didn't have any good plans for what I was actually doing. Or I had, but they weren't archived so I did change them all the time. :D

My first plan was (from my memory) that in the picture there could be my friend Vellu flying out the bottle like Aladin.. Or who was that blue guy who came out of the bottle in the Disney movie? Was it Aladin? Ok what ever. As you can see I realised later that the Aladin stuff was poor idea and I would do something more interesting... (or less)

So if you wanna some day do something like this - first create good plans and write and draw and photograph them. Only then you could always come back to your plans for checking that what you were actually doing...

Now lets get started!

This manipulation is actually combination of many different photographs that i have took between the years. Its actually a big problem in many ways which i will explain for you later.

I did not tell you actually the truth when I said that I did create everything with photoshop.
I also used picasa. Its a free photo organizing program from Google. Really helpful. Take it and use it!

Also Adobe have their own photo managing program. It is Bridge and you'll get it if you buy photoshop. I am not so much aware about it's features, but I can tell you that it is also some good program. 

So every time when I start doing something - it begins from media manager - in this situation its picasa. Sometimes I just watch the pictures for collecting ideas from them, but also often I already have an idea and I am just watching the pictures to find the ones which are making my idea visible.

The first problem with combination of many photographs is that
I have about 100 000 self took photographs in my computer hard drives.
If I wanna found one specific from there I would use for hours and litres of coffee and hot chocolate (I like o'boy) just for trying to find it. With Picasa or same kind of a program it's lot of more easy and takes only few litres of o'boy... :)

With Picasa I am tagged every folder that are on my computer with words which are included in the pictures like "water sky clouds smoke field car... etc" Now when I just type word "clouds" I will find every folder that includes pictures of clouds.

1.1 The background image is from Hämeenlinna Finland and
the place is Aulanko.
1.2 I found really good sparkings from the picture where is
my own hand stroping some piece of the metal.
1.3 From this picture I only needed the ground so deleted
with photoshop that machine.
But actually I didn't this time need any clouds - I needed some kind of a bottle for my friend because I was doing the "aladdings" thing until I changed my mind...
Then I needed a backgound and I wanted that there would like to be a some kind of a castle, so i did add to the search word "linna" that means in english "castle".

Of course I also needed a picture of my friend. With this Picasa also helps us a lot because picasa have face recognition feature. It scans all of your pictures and finds all the faces from them. Then you just add names for the faces and kazaam! - you have a good collection of pictures of the people when ever you wanna embarrass someone of your friends.

Of course if you like to shoot randomly photos in the places where is lot of people that you don't know, it would be annoying to add names for  the faces because there is a tons of needles faces.

The sparkings are from two pictures. I'll show only one of them. In the other picture there is some fireworks that makes little bit different sparkings. That  makes it looking more random when they are togeter.

Also if you wanna be creative - you need some music. Here is what I would use in this kind of situations ;) Elefantti antti

Next I of course needed the bottle and etiquette for it and of course the cork.

Okay. In photoshop this kind of manipulations needs lot of layers. With photoshop elements you actually need them more than in pro version of photoshop, because elements does not have fully supported stuff like layer masks, or smart objects. etc. In my version of photoshop elements I also cant put the pictures in the folders.

If youre running the pro version I really support you to use the folders, because it helps you to remember what every single layer actually there does.

Also you should rename your layers. If there is just "layer 1, layer 2, layer 3...layer 314" you can't ever find the one mistake layer which makes your work looking like flower that cow eated 2 days ago.

1.4 Layers are in the right side of the picture
Maybe youre watched all of this text just only for trying to find the answer for the only one little question:
"How can i add this kind of sparcles in my pictures without adding the background from the sparclephoto?"

Actually the answer is pretty simple. There is many ways to do it, but if you keep in mind some things when youre photographing, you probably can do the magic trick as fast as i did. (i did it fast)

So when youre photographing this kind of "effects" - keep in mind that the background of the "effect" is as dark as possible. Then you could just only in photoshop set the layer in blending mode menu as "lighten". If the effect is dark you must keep sure that its backgound is white, so you can make the blending menu it appearing as darken. This works in many cases, but in my case i had little errors like my hand which is little lighter than the other background so it was possible to see some "ghosting" of my hand. (picture 1.2) I just erased them with erase tool, you can also use layer mask.

This "darken" method does not work if youre adding the sparkles to the dark photo because if the photo is more dark than the background of your effect layer, you will only see the effect layer itself. This kind of situations you must help yourself with other methods which i am not explaining in this article. Maybe i will speak about them later in some other article.  

What about the fire in the bottle then?
It's not so hard as you could maybe think.

Have you ever walked on the streets out side at night? Then you saw a house where was lights on inside... And you did clearly see everything inside of the house.
Then another night or dark day you was inside of your own house and you realised that you cant see outside if the lights are on. That's actually because more light goes outside of the window than coming in. The same stuff is going on in that bottle. Thats why I just can add layer where is the lights and set is "lighten" just like i did with the sparkles. It cant be more easy. But yeah, it isn't. I needed to add actually two differend flame layers and I also duplicated those layers to set little bit gaussian blur to them. That makes so nice glowing effect for the fire. Then I did little bit draw with white brush in some specific places to make the fire more bright.  

Of course if you have light sourse, you also have somewhere the spot of the light. Light affects every time in real life its surroundings. (in photoshop sometimes you must fake it.) So the white brush again did get some extra work with that mud. I did not wanted to make the effect too serious, so i just added only little bit lighting in the places where i thought would be some kind of "hill" which the light would touch.

Okay. The smoke. It is made with photoshop's different clouds filter and it is just set as "lighten" or "screen". Then I just set its opacity lower and used erase tool to get off all the unnecessary.

In photoshop elements "clipping mask" is with the name "group with previous" I can't understand what for it is with different name in the photoshop elements version, but it works in same ways. So I just can paint and make it "group with previous" in this case with the bottle, I did add more reflections on its side with white brush and cloning some stuff around the bottle to make some reflections. Of course it cant be realistic, but it looks beliveable.

Sometimes I just spend little bit of my time to think that what kind of people there is in the Adobe actually developing photoshop? Is there two different groups working with photoshop elements and photoshop? Sometimes I'm angry because in the after effects is many of the features that i would like to use in photoshop with still photos and graphics. Photoshop is one big massive huge program. In these days you can also use 3d graphics in the pictures with photoshop. And most of people who uses photoshop needs only a little part of its capacities. Why then there can't be few little features from after effects if its going to be some kind of godprogram that can handle everything and both programs are from Adobe?

But still I am happy that there is this kind of program like photoshop. But I hate all the time change programs when i am trying to do something i just wanna open only one program and do everything with it.


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