Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Self Education: Photoshop

Yesterday I learned some more of the joys of Photoshop, and put together the image you see above. In doing so, I had the opportunity to learn a bunch of new skills, as well as take time out from my study, which is, I have to admit, beginning to melt my brain!

To be honest, this whole thing started as a neat, simple idea that quickly spiralled out of control. Originally it was just going to be Spidey sending his birthday wishes to a Flickr pal, but then I thought to add a party of friends. Then the idea of a handmade banner cropped up, and I played around with that for a bit.

Once I had a group set up and ready to shoot, I realised that Giant Sized Spidey didn't have a place to be, so I sketched out the basics of what I thought might work. He was then photographed separately against a green screen and removed from his own background to be placed in this image. This meant learning how to use masks, something I'd never tried before but was aware of.

Once Draft One was complete, I didn't like the text on the banner, so all of it was photoshopped out and brand new text was drawn into it on the computer! That had to be blurred, filtered, and have a little noise added to make it look smooth and part of the image as a whole. All new features to me again!

Draft Two complete, I realised Spidey now kinda just hung there, so I needed a frame. After going nuts trying to figure out how to just make a simple straight line and then put a curve in it, I almost gave up. Then I remembered about something called OOB (Out Of Bounds) a friend had used and looked that up, which taught me how to do the frame. A few minor adjustments and I was nearly there.

Thankfully I had learnt my lessons on layers from a previous project, so almost every element of the image was on separate layers, making it easy to have Spidey and the banner overlapping the frame!! But that brought up a new issue! You see, in the photo of Spidey I used, part of his left elbow was cut off. Originally I didn't mind it, as it was outside the viewing area of the image in early drafts, but now that I had added the frame, he needed to have a complete arm.

To solve this, I had to use another of the photos I had taken of Spidey against the green screen that did have the elbow but was an inferior picture. I cropped the needed part, dropped out the background using my newly acquired masking skills and grafted the missing piece onto the large image. Smudge tool and careful blurring made the area of surgery seamless! If I hadn't included this paragraph, I doubt any of you would notice the work unless you really went looking for it. It's a tiny thing, but possibly the one I'm most proud of for what I had to do and how it turned out.

A little cleaning up here and there and I was done! I'm really proud of this. Yes, I started it for my friends birthday, but I have to admit, I finished it for myself! The weird thing is, I've never met Fengschwing in real life! I only know him through Flickr. Ah, the joys of the internet!

Go check out the image in it's full, gloriously uncompressed resolution to criticise my work with confidence!

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