Friday, March 8, 2013

Sports Montages With Photoshop

I'm kind of getting into these sports montages using Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6).  Today's image is a continuation of the discussion from Wednesday's post.  One of the biggest comments I can make to start with is that the past few montages/digital painting cannot be sold.  For this one in particular I was a guess of the team photographer and shooting for pleasure.  Something fun to do after a day's work.  It's always better to be shooting rather than shooting products shots or photoshopping something.   At least being out in the field you get to stand, stretch, move and not become a lump in a chair staring into a box.  The reason this image can't be sold is that I didn't get a model release.  I can do whatever I want for my own pleasure.  I can post it on the blog because I'm using it to demonstrate a concept.  I can toss it onto my iPAD to be able to show it to friends.  I can show it to clients to give them an idea what it is that I do.  What I can't do with it is make money off it.  Without that model release the only way I might be able to make a buck off the image is to sell it to the guy in the image.  He**, I'd probably give him a copy just to get the model release.  I wouldn't do it as a routine matter, but if I thought I could make some change selling additional copies, it might be worth the "investment".  I don't know how many "fans" this guy has, and the fee they'd be willing to pay probably isn't very high.  With a model release the image is worth about $300.00 - $400.00.  Without it, a cup of coffee.  Just goes to demonstrate the old axiom that, if you're a serious photographer, trying to make a living, you should always have model releases in your gear bag.  And don't be afraid to ask to get them signed.  In fact, with the motocross images I did a couple weeks ago the plan would be to have samples of the work at the track and charge a "sitting" fee at the track, before agreeing to shoot the rider.  With the advent of smart phone based transactions (Square for example) it would be easy to charge a fee, get a model release signed, and leave the track with cash (charged fees) in hand.  Well, this is a photography blog, not one dedicated to how to make money.  So, to find out about today's image, hit the "Read More".

Today we'll go through the steps I use to make this type of image.  I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 as my DAM (Digital Asset Management) application, so I start there.  The first step is to find the "hero shot".  The one that everything else will be focused around.  From that shot some basic decisions can be made.  What colors will be included, what the supporting shots will be, what sort of brushes will work best to produce the cloud (or halo) around the hero, etc.  The set of shots are then opened in the Develop Module (D) and any adjustments are made to the hero shot.  The supporting shots are hen synchronized to the shot to produce consistent  colors, vibrancy, sharpness and exposure.

In Photoshop CS6 the first thing to do is to open a blank "canvas" at the size you want to sell the native print at.  Typically, for me, that's a 16 x 20 at 240 PPI, white background.  Once that's set I'll start bring in the shots.

The first shot is that hero shot.  I bring it into CS6 and grab the Quick Selection Tool (W).  I'll draw through the head shot and down into the torso.  You don't have to get everything below the shoulders.  That'll just be masked away anyway.  Once the Selection is made I'll save it (Select/Save Selection).  It's a habit, but it's a habit that's saved my butt more than once.  With the Selection still active, just click on the New Layer Mask (looks like a front loading washing machine at the bottom of the Layers Panel [top if you're using Adobe Photoshop Elements 11]).  That produces a Layer Mask and drops out the background.  The only "edge prep" I do when doing one of these montages is a one pixel feather.  I'll use Free Transform (T) if necessary and size and move the hero into position. 

Once the hero is in position I'll start making Layers under the Layer containing the hero.  I'll make a separate Layer for each color and type of Brush (B) I'll use and label each as I go (i.e. Maroon Clouds, Green Fire, Grey Green Grunge).  This gives me an idea what color and what type of Brush (B) I used to create the background effect.  This stage can be six to ten Layers deep. 

With the base image settled I'll start bringing in the supporting images.  I'll cut the out using a Selection and Mask for each one.  Each typically gets a Free Transform applied with the Shift Key held down to constrain proportions. 

Each image of the person gets a Layer Mask and other Brushes are used to cut away and/or soften the outside edges.  By using Layer Masks you can go back and forth by switching the foreground and background colors from Black to White and back. 

It's a fun technique.  Try it.