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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Photo Compositing - The Making of “Harvest”
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08/21/2007 08:17:24 PM · #1
I've had some requests on how I did a photo for the Sharpless Side Challenge so here's a step by step of what I did. I'm not particularly good at writing these sorts of things so let me know if you have any questions.

Final Photo:

574750.jpg

Editing Steps:

First off here are the photos I used to create the final image:

575348.jpg 575350.jpg 575351.jpg

Please note: The background photo has some obvious editing to it that I won't go into here for brevity sake.

Setup:

I start out by importing the photos into Photoshop CS3 each on their own layers. The girl photo is on the very first layer with the background placed on a layer above it and the apple placed on the top layer. I then hide the top two layers so I can work on the girl photo first.

Dodging and Burning of Girl Layer:

After I have duplicated the girl layer I start out by dodging the highlights with a soft brush (0% hardness) and exposure setting of around 30%. Since my wacom tablet isn't working these days I had to use my mouse. It's not as good as a pressure sensitive pen but it can still get the job done. The key thing is to just tap (i.e. click and let go) the areas you want brighten. For different sections like the folds of the dress I would adjust the size of the brush on the fly by using the bracket key shortcuts with my other hand.

For the shadows, I used a stronger exposure setting of around 66%. Before I start I duplicate the dodged layer so the burning can be tweaked further if needed by adjusting opacity. I also find this to be helpful to prevent color shifting since I can change the blending mode to "Luminosity" instead.

Here's how it looked after the burning of the girl layer and the other two layers hidden:

575366.jpg

Adding the Background:

I unhide the background layer and change the blending mode to "Screen", which gives me this:

575357.jpg

Now to have it fill the frame. I start out by cloning the areas where the background photo doesn't reach. All I am doing here is sampling an area on both sides of the photo below the tree and duplicating it along each side so that the scene extends down to the bottom. I'm not too concerned about having it "look" cloned at this point. All I care about is getting the coverage and then afterwards do some finer cloning. This particular background was pretty easy to work with since it has lines going across which are easy to clone and it's fairly dark and not sharp so it's not hard to make the cloned texture look unique if you use a low opacity clone brush and sample different areas that have similar tones. In addition there will be a texture going over it so it will help randomize the cloning further. Btw, this is using the basic clone tool as used in previous versions of photoshop and not the new features in CS3.

Now to touch things up. I start out by making a mask for the background layer. What I want to do here is bring out the girl's face more and also tweak some of the lines passing through her. I do this by using the eraser brush with a lowered opacity setting (around 25-50%) and start erasing some of the areas around her face and dress lines. Since I am not erasing at 100% some of the background is still seeping through. For areas like the the top of her dress where the horizon has a distracting hard edge to it, I clone those out creating a new pixel layer in the process.

At this point I want to do a little more dodging and burning so I do Copy Merge (i.e. CTL+SHT+C) and paste on a new layer. I then dodge and burn this layer some more. Here's how it looks now:

575352.jpg

Adding the Branch Texture:

The branch texture is applied using a custom brush. There are many free brushes you can download although I don't remember where I got this one. You can always create your own which isn't too hard. To add the branches on the dress I simply created a new layer set to "Linear Dodge" and applied the brush on it. Afterwards I applied a brightness/contrast adjustment to everything (i.e. placed on top layer with no mask). Here's how it looks now:

575355.jpg

Adding the Apple:

After I unhide the apple layer I change the layer opacity to 61%. I also do another brightness/contrast adjustment to the whole image. Here's how it looks now:

575369.jpg

Now to make the apple look like she's holding it and catching the same light. I beginning by creating a new layer just under the apple layer. This will hold the pixels for the shadow the apple casts on the girl's dress. To create this I use the paintbrush (0% hardness) with the color set to black. I paint behind the apple up to the girl's left arm. I lower the layer opacity a little so that it blends in some. Now I create another layer just above the apple and again I use the paintbrush to paint in some shadows but this time I paint over the apple. I start out with a very rough paint job and then use the eraser tool set at a low opacity and erase some of the shadows so that the apple will seep through giving it a scene matching highlight.

Once that's done I create a new layer and with the a custom paintbrush (grass texture) I create the stem that connects the apple to the girls hand. Here's how it looks now:

575356.jpg

Now all that's left is to apply the same custom brush we used before to create the branch shown above her hand. I use a new layer for this. Afterwards, I do some further tweaking of the apple's shadow and also clone out the specular highlight that is on the apple and I'm done.

For brevity, I omitted some very minor steps along the way but this is pretty much the gist of it.


08/21/2007 09:21:47 PM · #2
That's awesome Richard, thanks for the write up!

08/22/2007 01:04:52 AM · #3
thank you, i'm impressed, or is that depressed, i'll go back to my
knitting now.
:)
09/15/2007 07:28:55 AM · #4
Magic - because I can't imagine seeing those three images and finding a way to make them work as you have - I am in AWE!
10/13/2007 10:35:16 PM · #5
This is such a gorgeous photo.
10/14/2007 01:11:56 AM · #6
Great job on both the photo and the write up. Thanks Richard.
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