Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How To Create a Movie Style Photo Effect in Photoshop

Everyone loves photo effects, especially those that are super easy to create and really transform your photos. Today we’re going to take a look at retouching a photo to create a cool cinematic movie effect with high contrast and blueish tones.

Photoshop movie effect

The original photo

Seeing as we’re going for a cinematic movie effect, a typical action movie style stock photo makes a great base for this tutorial, but the steps can be applied to any image.

Initial photo retouching

We all have imperfections in our skin, but one of the wonders of Photoshop is these blemishes can be zapped away in seconds. Use the Spot Healing Brush tool to zap any tiny pimples on the skin. Selecting the Sample All Layers option in the header and working on a new layer maintains a non-destructive workspace.

A common step in photo retouching is to smooth out the skin to further remove blemishes. Magazines often go too far and make the subject look somewhat creepy, but a light smoothing can really help out. Use the Mixer Brush Tool with the “Clean brush after each stroke” icon checked and the settings reduced to 20%. Lightly paint over the cheeks, neck, nose and forehead to iron out the skin tones, but stop before the pores disappear in order to maintain a natural look.

This young lady looks lovely enough in the before image, but those simple retouching steps really helps give the photo that movie poster quality.

Movie style color correction

Now the basic prep work is out of the way we can begin adjusting the tones and colours of the image. Begin by adding a Levels adjustment layer and moving the black and white handles inwards slightly to clip the shadows and highlights to increase the contrast of the image.

Next, add a Color Balance adjustment layer. Change the Tone to Shadows and adjust the sliders to Cyan and Blue. Adding cool tones to the shadows gives a dramatic or intense atmosphere, whereas using reds and yellows creates more of a vintage, summer feel.

Change the tone selector to Highlights and this time move the sliders to Red and Yellow. This contrast between warm and cool tones in the shadows and highlights creates a cool cross-processing style effect and really enhances the image.

The Levels and Color Balance adjustment layers can then be tweaked by altering each layer’s opacity. I adjusted the Levels to 50% and Color Balance to 70% to tone down the contrast and impact of the colour correction.

Finishing touches

Our image now has a cool cinematic effect, but there’s a couple more tweaks we can add to really make the image pop. Paint over the iris of the eyes with a bright green or blue.

Change the blending mode of the iris colour to Overlay and reduce the opacity until the eyes appear natural.

Go Edit > Copy Merged and paste this duplicate of the image on a new layer, then add a High Pass filter. Enter the setting of just 1px so the fine details are barely visible through the grey background.

Change the High Pass layer to Linear Light to sharpen the image. This sharpening effect looks great on the hair and eyes but it is bringing out too much detail in the skin’s pores.

Add a Layer Mask to the High Pass layer and paint over the facial areas with a soft brush to erase the sharpening effect, leaving it in place over the hair, eyes and lips.
Photoshop movie effect
Compared to the original photograph the colour corrected version looks great. The increased contrast and cross processing effects really help create an intense and cinematic style image.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to Create Cool Light Effects in Photoshop

This tutorial is maybe another proof that I’m a light and color effects freak, I like them very much. So, In this tutorial I’ll show you more light and layer styles effects. You don’t need any special brushes for this tutorial. Everything is done using a few stock images and a few techniques already used on my previous tutorials.
This is an advanced tutorial and you should know how to create a custom brush and how to apply layer styles. Other than that, it’s not a very complicated tutorial.
What I wanted to create was a sort of wizard that throws colored energy balls so I created some stock images and started to work.


Materials needed

Step 1

Open your model stock in Photoshop. You will not need to subtract it from it’s background unless you want to add something that requires that. The first thing I did was to make some general adjustments to the image using Adjustment Layers. I added the default purple-orange Gradient Map, set its Blend Mode to Linear Dodge (Add) and Opacity 10%. Then I increased the Saturation to 25 on a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

Step 2

I started by making a light ball. For that I used a stock photo made by myself. So open powerball.jpg scale it down and increase the Saturation. Change the blend mode to Screen so that you hide the black background. Once you have the stock image ready, get a big soft brush and paint two big dots and change the blend mode to Overlay. I used yellow and blue to match the colors of the stock image.

Step 3

At this point this doesn’t really look very good so I added some more details. Create the glow of the ball using a big soft brush and an orange color. I changed the blend mode to Pin Light and reduced the Opacity to 50%. This is very important because if you don’t create this, the Outerglow of the little dots shown on the next image will not be visible or will not look right.
Keep in mind that depending on the colors of your stock image, you might have to use different blend modes. Blend modes work differently depending on the colors and illumination. The dots are made using a custom scattered brush and with the Noise option activated. The blend mode of the outer glow is Color Dodge.

As you see on the powerball dots layer, the nice outerglow around the small dots is visible because of the big orange glow light.
In order to give more consistence and shape to this ball, I made some lines using the Pen Tool (P). I took a 2 pixels hard brush then I traced some arc paths and stoke those paths with the brush using the Simulate Pressure option. After creating 5 or 6 curved lines, you can duplicate them and rotate them, nobody will notice they are duplicated.

After making the lines, merge them all in one layer if you made them on separate layers and apply Outerglow. Again keep in mind the size and colors of your image may affect the final result so you might need to use different settings than on this tutorial.

Step 5

After making the first power ball I started adding some colors on the body using brushes and stock images. Open color-waves.jpg and paste it over the model. Scale it if necessary and change the Blend Mode to Screen. Create a layer mask and mask the upper part. See image below.

Add more colors on a new layer using a big soft brush and Overlay or Screen Blend Mode.

Step 6

Now I will show you how I made those 3D glassy squares and circles. Get the square brush and in the preset editor activate Scatter but do not add too much, about half way and increase Angle Jitter. Also increase Size Jitter to maximum and set Control to Fade if you don’t have a tablet. The Fade amount depends on the distance at which you want your pixels to become small.
Start with the brush on the left foot and make a long stroke towards the right hand. Adjust the Fade amount until the squares get smaller as you get closer to the hand. If the squares are too close together, increase the Spacing not the Scattering.

Set layer Blend Mode of the squares layer to Overlay and add the following layer effects. Try different colors and blend modes to get different results.

The 3D circles  are made the same way. I created some random size circles and reduced the Fill to 16%. Actually I copied the same FX from the squares layer and I changed some blend modes and colors and the Outer Glow settings. I will hide these 3D circles on the next steps so that you can see the other effects better.

Step 7

Open color-lines.jpg and place it over the left foot and change Blend Mode to Screen. As you can see, I’m using a technique that I already used on previous tutorials. Change the Hue if you want and increase the Saturation.

I created some paths with the Pen Tool (p) and then I used a 2px hard brush to stroke the path. This is the layer style applied to the lines.

Still working on the left foot, get a soft brush set the Brush Opacity to 43%  and paint two spots using the colors: c2839f and bac93c and change the Blend Mode to Vivid Light.

Step 8

Create two or three 45º selections with the Polygonal Lasso Tool. Press the Shift key while you make the selection in order to create 45º angle selections. Then use a big soft brush and paint along the edge of the selection and create something like in the image below. After you did that change the Blend Mode of the layer to Overlay or Soft Light.

Step 9

Open fractals.jpg and place it over the model then go to Filter>Pixelate>Mosaic. I used 30 pixels as cell size because I’m working with a high resolution picture but you can use a size that’s suitable for your picture. Try to keep some detail.  After that, I increased the Saturation and changed the Blend Mode to Color Dodge. You can also try changing the Hue to see what color combinations you can get.

Step 10

I noticed that the right side of the picture is too empty so I added some colors too. I used the squares brushes and created a few random squares not to far away from each other and I applied a 45º Motion Blur. Then, in order to add the colors I used the layer styles. I used the following style. For a stronger effect duplicate the layer.

So, after duplicating the layer to obtain a stronger color, I also added some soft dots using a scattered brush. These dots have an Outer Glow with Color Dodge Blend Mode.

Using a big soft brush and blue color I added a big light on the right leg. The Blend Mode used is Linear Dodge (Add).

Step 11

I made a second light ball on the other hand and again I used several stock images made by myself. Open supernova.jpg, increase saturation, scale the image, place it over the hand and change the Blend Mode to Screen.
In order to recreate the light produced by the ball, I took a soft brush about 800 px (because I worked with a hi-res stock image) and I made a big reddish orange soft spotlight. I used Linear Dodge (Add).

Use a scattered brush to add some particles to this ball like you did a few steps ago on the right hand. Add some Outer Glow with default color and Blend Mode Color Dodge.

Lastly, I created a tail to this ball using another light stock image. Open trail.jpg place it over the light ball and change the Blend Mode to Screen.

One more stock image to enhance the ball shape. This time I used shatters.jpg

That’s all. You can add more things if you want but it would look too crowded. So as you’ve seen I used pretty much the same techniques as in other tutorials.
As I said keep in mind the stock image you are using as Blend Modes work differently depending on the colors and contrast. Also remember that I used a high resolution stock so the dimensions of brushes and layer style settings might not work the same if you use a low res image. That being said, I hope you liked this tutorial. Below you have the Preview image and PSD download link.

Final result

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Friday, December 27, 2013

7 Best Photoshop Layer Tricks

When you’re using layers in Photoshop for photo editing and composting you can speed up the process of working with them if you know these cool layer tricks.

1. Unlock the Background

You will already know the Background of any photo is locked and you can’t do anything much with it until you unlock it. The quickest way to unlock a background layer is from inside the Layers palette. Drag the lock icon to its right and drop it in the Trash and the Background layer will be automatically converted to a regular layer.

2. One click add a Layer

To create a new layer above the current layer click the Add New Layer icon at the foot of the Layer palette.
To add a new layer directly below the current layer Ctrl or Command Click on that icon. Both options add a layer but without displaying the Layer dialog.

3. Merge Everything to One Layer but Keep the Layers too

To merge all the current layers in the document to a single layer and at the same time to keep all the layers intact below it, click the topmost layer of the document and press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E (Command + Option + Shift + E on the Mac). In case you are curious – it’s called Stamp Visible.

4. Select the Content on the Current Layer

To select everything on the current layer Ctrl + Click on the layer thumbnail in the Layers palette.

5. Copy a Layer to Another Document

To copy a layer from one document to another drag the layer from the Layers palette in one document and drop it into the other document. If you hold Shift as you drag the layer will be centered in the middle of the second document.

6. Quick Layer Moves

To quickly move a layer up the layer stack press Command + ] and to move it down, press Command + [.

7. Instant Delete a Layer

To instantly delete a layer, click the layer and press Delete.

Bonus Layer tip

To fill a layer or a selection with the foreground color press Alt + Backspace (Option + Delete on the Mac). Use Control + Backspace (Command + Delete on the Mac to fill the layer or selection with the Background color.
So, over to you now… what are your favorite Layer tips and tricks?
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How to Replace a Sky in Photoshop

One of the most disappointing things that can happen to you as a photographer is to have a once in lifetime chance to take a photograph of something and to have the weather let you down. So, instead of luscious blue skies you’ll get grey or dull skies in your image.
You can replace the sky in an image in a number of ways. One method I like to use involves the Blend If tool because it avoids the need to make a detailed selection around the area of sky to replace. This is particularly handy if the skyline has trees or other wispy elements along it. The principle of this tool is you blend two layers together conditional on the overall lightness or darkness of the top or bottom layer or you can do it conditional on the lightness or darkness of a color on the top or bottom layer.
For this purpose I keep a file of skies. Anytime I’m photographing, I’ll swing the camera upwards and shoot a few new sky images for my collection. Then, when I need a sky, I have plenty to choose from.
Here’s how to seamlessly blend a new sky into an image in Photoshop:

Step 1

Open both the image which needs a new sky and an image of some sky.

Step 2

Drag the background layer from the sky image into the main image. It will appear at the top of the layer stack.

Step 3

Move and size the sky layer so it overlaps the problem area.
If the sky is too dark or light for the image, use a tool like the Curves tool to lighten it so it blends in better with the target image.

Step 4

Click the sky layer so it is selected in the layers palette and click the Add a Layer Style icon at the foot of the Layers palette. Click Blending Options to open the Layer Style dialog.
Locate the Blend If area at the foot of the dialog. You will use Blend If to blend this layer with the layer below. To do this, drag the slider at the far left of the Underlying Layer panel in to the right – almost all the way to the right edge of the slider.
As you do this, you reveal the underlying layer in all areas except the lightest – the areas which contain the blown out sky.

Step 5

To smooth the transition between the sky and the remainder of the image, hold the Alt key and drag away one half of the small slider to split it in two. Drag the two pieces apart. The area to the left of the markers delineates where the effect is applied 100% and between the two pieces is where the effect transitions from 100% through to 0%. Click Ok when you’re done.

Step 6

To fix any problems where the sky has blended into the original image in an inappropriate place, either move the sky further up the image so it doesn’t overlap that area of the image or, if this can’t be done, use a layer mask. With the sky layer selected, click the Add a Layer Mask icon at the foot of the Layer palette. Paint on the mask in black to reveal the original image underneath.

Step 7

Now is the time to look at the image and determine what it needs to finish it. You might need to tweak the sky color and lightness using a Curves adjustment on the sky layer now that the sky is actually in place in the image.
In some cases you may see a halo effect around the tree branches and leaves or along the edges of buildings where the two images are blended. You can remove these using the Burn tool by painting over these areas with a low Exposure brush and with the Range set to Midtones or Shadows as necessary.


The Blend If tool can also be made to work on a single channel which can give better results in some situations. Select Blue, for example, from the Channel list in the Blend If area (rather than the default Grey) and adjust using that.
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