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This is the final image that we’ll be creating:
These are the images used in this tutorial:
For the purposes of this tutorial I’ll be explaining things in a slightly different format. I’ll be running you through the basic steps like usual, but will also be dividing the tutorial in various headings, that better explain my thought processes and methods.
Open up your pigeon photo in Photoshop. As we want our photo-manipulation to be the main area of focus, I crop my photo down to make the pigeon central. To do this I select my rectangular marquee tool, and click/hold and pull out from the center of my pigeon, whilst holding shift+alt. Holding shift creates a perfect square, and holding alt ensures that where you first clicked remains the center of your square selection.
Before I look for a suitable second image, I must first make sure that I’m happy with my original image. The image is very nice, so doesn’t need much work, but I wouldn’t mind giving some extra focus on my pigeon. I zoom in using my magnifying tool, and then use my lasso selection tool to carefully select around my pigeon. Then I copy/paste onto a new layer. This new layer then contains only my pigeon part of the image. (You can see the contents of this layer below).
Set this isolated pigeon layer’s blend mode to ‘hard light’ in your layer’s palette. And then reduce this layer’s opacity to 50%. Then duplicate this layer and change the duplicates blend mode to ‘soft light’, keeping it’s opacity at 50%. Then merge down these two layers with your original, by pressing option+e twice if your top layer is selected. What this does is give your pigeon more contrast, and emphasis, but without giving this same emphasis to the rest of your image – thus your pigeon stands out more. I used only 50% opacity in my two duplicate layers as you want your image to remain realistic and believable at all times, you don’t want to overdo anything.
Now, my first pigeon image should allow me to select a suitable second image, in terms of composition. Looking at my pigeon, I can see that it’s head is pretty much at a profile angle, if not looking slightly towards me. Therefore, I must bear this in mind when looking for a second image to manipulate with the first. I eventually find a good image, of a dog’s head, at a profile angle.
With my first photo looking how I want it to, and a second photo at the ready, it’s time to put the two together!
Looking at my dog photo, I can see a lot of detailed edges due to it’s hairs sticking out. These would be extremely difficult and time-consuming to cutout using the lasso tool or path tool, so Instead I’m going to try to extract the dog image from it’s background using the Extract Tool.
First I duplicate my dog photo layer, so that I can retain the original below the duplicate. Then I hide my original, and select my duplicate top layer.
I go to filter>extract and funny enough the extract window pops up. Your dog photo should be in the center, and you should see a brush shape waiting for you. Brush carefully over the edges of your dog, trying to include all the stray bits of hair and fur. The best way to use the extract tool is to have half of the brush staying on the inside of the solid dogs shape, and half covering the stray hairs and details you want to capture. You’ll be able to see all this as the extract brush is a semi-transparent green, that will show through parts of the original image.
Once you have given your image a green highlight, look to the tools bar in the left of your extraction window. You should see a paint bucket icon, which is your fill tool. Select this and then click on the area you want to fill (in this case your dog inside your green border.). The fill tool should fill this area with blue.
So to sum up, the green marks the edges you want to try and keep the detail of, whilst losing some of the background, and the blue section marks the area you want to keep entirely. Once you’ve done this, simply hit ‘OK’ to extract your image from it’s background.
You’ll return to your original dog image, and see the results of the extraction. As you can see from the image below, most of the edges were extracted nicely, but some parts of the image got a little destroyed.
To fix these edges we are going to start by erasing bits of stray hair that we don’t really need. I can see sections of this particularly above and behind the dogs head, so I select a small, soft eraser brush at around 40% and start erasing these areas.
Now if you notice small parts of the dog’s face and the hair on his forehead are missing, as these got extracted by mistake. For some reason the history brush wasn’t working for me, so I chose another method to restore this areas.
First of all I made my original photo layer (not the extracted one) visible again. Then I noticed that my dogs face did not really have many stray hairs on it, and therefore was fairly easy to select using the lasso tool. I selected around just my dogs face, not the surrounding hair, and then copy/pasted onto a new layer above my extracted layer. This filled in the deleted parts of the face in my extracted layer, leaving just the forehead hair to restore. For this, I returned to my original layer again and selected my clone stamp tool. Then I alt clicked on hair from the dog’s forehead, and returned to my copied face layer. Then I simply brushed in the cloned hair where it had been lost on the extraction layer.
Finally, I merged my copied face and extracted layer’s together, resulting in a fully extracted dog, with face completely in tact.
The images below show my top face/cloned hair layer on it’s own, and then the result of merging this with my extracted layer.
Now I paste my extracted dog image back into my original pigeon image.
Now we want to resize the dog’s head to fit with the pigeon’s body. To do this accurately, hide your dog layer, and then create a new layer called ‘pigeon outline. Use a brightly colored brush (roughly 2px in size), and paint in the outline of the pigeon. Then return to your dog layer, making it visible again, and resize it to fit the outline as best you can.
Now with your dog layer selected go to image>adjustments>desaturate. This will make your dog black and white, to match your pigeon.
As you can see, the contrast of the dog is not matching that of the pigeon image. To try and fix this I repeat the technique that I used on the pigeon image. I duplicate my dog image layer and set the duplicate blend mode to ‘hard light’ and the opacity to 50%. Then I duplicate this and set the duplicates blend mode to ‘soft light’. This is getting closer, but the shadows aren’t quite as intense as the original pigeon image. To fix this I up the opacity of both the hard and soft light layers to 80%.
TIP: To try and match different images, try to make the darkest shadows and lightest highlights of each image roughly match.
Now as you can see parts of the dog image aren’t matching up with edges of the pigeon image. To start fixing this we’ll focus first on the large area of white hair hanging down below the dog’s neck. There is also white hair forming an unnatural border between the dog and pigeon images. Despite having extracted the dogs fur to the best of our ability, we’re going to have to go in with the lasso tool and cut away all of the white areas of fur manually.
There is still too much fur covering the pigeon’s wing, so I go in with a largish eraser brush (10% opacity, 30% hardness) and erase away most of the dog’s fur covering the pigeon’s body.
This step is quite important in the blending process. Use your magnifying glass to zoom in to your image. And then grab the smudge tool. Set your brush size to 1px, and set the strength to 88%. With your dog layer selected, smudge out individual strands of hair over your pigeons body.
Now identity the light source of the original pigeon image. I can see the it is coming from the top-right of the image to the bottom-left.
Grab your paintbrush, and set the blending mode to ‘color dodge’. Then reduce the brush opacity to 10% and make the color white. Then make the brush size 40px. Brush over the areas of the dog’s head that should be lit by the light source.
Now create a new top layer called ‘color overlay’. Select your whole canvas ‘option+a’ and then apply a gradient ranging from 373B3F to 1B1C1D. Then change your layer blend mode to ‘multiply’ and reduce it’s opacity to 10%.
I hope that you liked this tutorial. The steps are quite basic, but hopefully this can provide a start to basic photo manipulation for Photoshop beginners.
In writing this tutorial I tried to cater for the requests for photo-manipulation and tutorials aimed at beginners. Please let me know if you liked it, or if you’d like to see something different either through the comments to this post or the poll below. I’ve got a couple more ani-morphing tutorial ideas lined up if you want to see them. They are more complex and in full color etc…
Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.
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