Friday, December 10, 2010

Four Shots To Makeup One Image

There’s been all sorts of composite images here on the Gallery, but most are made up of two images put together.  There’s been skies replaced, people either put in or taken out, a flag put in a window a bird put in a sky and all manner of things added for one reason or another.  Today’s image is make up of four distinct images.  At least two, and possibly three, images are pretty obvious.  The flower, with its stem and branches is one.  The butterfly is another and the blurred background result in two more.  The one you wouldn’t guess, unless I told you, is a shot of a cloud formation.  Its only purpose is to break up the symmetry of the blur.  One thing to say is that each element of the image was born from the camera.  Nothing was fully made in Adobe Photoshop CS5.  Getting the silhouettes wasn’t as easy as it might seem.  It wasn’t “hard”, but involved more steps than I had anticipated.  One of the biggest things that had to be dealt with is using restraint, not letting it get crazy.  I do have to give a lot of credit to Richard Gaffney.  I was “thumbing” through the images on the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) portfolio site and came across his image of (I think) a snowy egret.  It caught my eye and I opened his portfolio.  He has a couple of silhouette images there that I thought were very good in their simplicity.  One is of a butterfly on a flower.  I said to myself, “self, you have images of flowers and images of butterflies; surely you can come up with a rift on his theme”.   I actually like Richard’s better than mine, but thought mine was “successful”.  I figured putting on the same type of framing as he did would be too much, but I do think it helps “make” the image.  That’s enough gushing about Richard’s work.  To find out how today’s image was made, hit the “read more”.

The Quick Selection Tool (W) was the star of the show for today’s image. It was used to isolate the flower in one image and the butterfly in another. Neither was 100% clean. Both had to be touched up. The flower was got to about 99% using the Refine Edge applet in PS5. Just a couple imperfections in the flower itself had to be filled in. There was nothing the Refine Edge applet could have done to “fix” them. The butterfly’s body was no problem for the Quick Selection Tool (W). The legs and antennae were a different story. Any attempt to use Refine Edge ended up getting rid of the fine lines. Using a Wacom tablet and a serious enlargement of the image gave the best results hand drawing in the three pixel wide antennae. The legs were slightly wider and it was more of a fill in the gaps there.

Once the two individual selections were made they were saved (right Click on the selection and choose Save Selection) for later use. In each case a new Layer was placed above the Background Layer and filled with Black. The Saved Selection (Ctrl click on the thumbnail in the Channels Panel) was picked and a new Layer Mask added to the blank, black Layer. This resulted in a Layer with a white flower (or butterfly) on a Layer with a Mask. Unfortunately, it was an image on a Layer with a Mask, not an image on a Layer by itself. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) the Masked image was selected, copied and pasted onto its own Layer. It was then inversed (Ctrl i), giving a black image on a white background. That was copied and brought over to the blurred background image.

Now we had two black images with white surrounding areas. Changing the Blend Mode to Multiply dropped the white from the images. The flower was just a case of sizing it to the background. The butterfly was positioned using Free Transform (Ctrl T) to size, spin and move it into place.

The cloud image was brought in to break up the blurred background. The clouds were blurred (Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur) and the Blend Mode changed to Overlay. The Opacity was reduced until a good, mottled effect was made. No enhancement of the colors was added and a vignette applied to finish the image.