Abandoned cathedral

Links to the pages of the authors of images

Before you start reading, I would like to warn you that this is not a “classic” lesson, where I will tell you step by step what to do in order to recreate this image. On the contrary, this lesson assumes a cursory description of how I created the details, how I used Photoshop (CS5 in this case) in order to realize my fantasies. You may not be able to recreate the image, but you will find some useful tricks and tricks in this overview lesson that will help you create your images as you imagine them.

Also, please note that in this review lesson I only briefly mention which tool I use, and sometimes I write a couple of sentences about how I use it. But if you need more information about a particular tool, try accessing the Photoshop help file (F1 in the program window).

Getting started
I do not have an established procedure for how to start creating an image (whether the work on the background is initial, the foreground is secondary, or the selection of stock images will be initial, etc.), in this case, I started with something completely different than you see below as the “first image”. I cut out the dress and tried to use it as a starting point, but then I stumbled upon my hard drive on the images of the church from the page of causticstock. I tried to combine both images, but nothing came of it.

So I dropped the image with the dress and concentrated on the background.
If something does not fit your work, do not be afraid to replace this image with one that you think fits better. As long as you do not need to stick to something specific or a specific topic (for example, for commissions or competitions), there is no need to cling to your original idea. You can always return to it later.

There seems to be little difference between the two images above, but if you take a closer look, you will see that the second image is a retouched version of the first: the silver in the foreground has been removed, as well as some chairs and other trash in the background.

How to do
In Photoshop CS5, you can simply use the tool. Spot Healing Brush (Spot Healing Brush) with checked Given the content (Content Aware). Then you simply paint over the points that you want to remove and, usually, the algorithm of this tool is simple enough for perception. If you are not working or can not switch to CS5, you can also use the tool Stamp (Clone Stamp) (hold Alt to clone, then paint) tool Patch (Patch) (draw a selection around an ugly object, and then drag it somewhere to another place to fill the selection with a pattern / texture that you selected when moving) or with a tool Healing Brush (Healing brush). All of these tools (including the new one) require some practice to achieve the results you want, although I think the new Spot Healing Brush (Spot Healing Brush) tool that does not require mental load – provided that it works well with the image and clearly defines the place that you have chosen for retouching.

Setting the atmosphere
Then I started to play with colors and set the basic mood using Gradient (Gradient) From transparent to color (Transparent to color) (mostly Radial (Radial)), installing it Blend mode (Blend mode) on Soft light (Soft light) or Overlap (Overlay). I often use these types of gradients in intermediate steps to get the right atmosphere — you can always use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + U to open a dialog box. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and play with the parameter sliders Color tone (Hue), Saturation (Saturation) and Brightness (Lightness) for each individual layer to adjust colors. You can also use Free transformation (Free Transform) (Ctrl + T) and / or its parameter Deformation (Wrap) or any other transformation method to get a “drop of color” in the shape you want. Draw, blur, mask, … as you like.

I often resort to subtle effects at the beginning and make more drastic changes later (which will also help to harmonize objects better), but, as I said, nothing stands still, so this time when I stumbled upon these gorgeous colors I could not confront them from the very beginning. Blue was my “idea”, but the red, orange, yellow tones were chosen by me from the picture with the help of a tool. Pipette (Eyedropper) (hold down the Shift key to quickly switch while using the brush).
Also, contrary to what I did earlier, I used Gradient (Gradient) set in mode Usual (Normal) to get a light mist effect. The window in the background looked like a source of light after these adjustments, so I decided to get rid of it: in this case, I just took color samples around the window and painted it, without going into detail and not wasting time, because I already knew that there was blue layer will be nothing anyway. If you do this on a new layer, you can also use Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter- Blur – Gaussian blur), which will help soften the edges.

Welcome to the Jungle – Part 1.

Tropical plants at the top were found among stock photos and were added to the image in blending modes. Overlap (Overlay) / Soft light (Soft light) (that is better suited). I used layer masks, applied gradients to them to hide unwanted parts and get a smooth transition.
Sometimes the color tones of the photo worked perfectly with those on my main image, in this case the green plants in the image above. But sometimes, they did not look, for example, an orange image. In cases like this, I like to use the dialog box Hue / Saturation (Ctrl + U) or apply Adjustment layers (Adjustment Layers) for the current layer as Clipping mask (Clipping mask) to change it Color tone (Hue) or Discoloration (Desaturate) / Toning (Colorize)). An important part here is usually the use of masks and changing the blending mode before the colors change. In this case, you can see if the changes will take root well.

Adding objects / animals.
At first, I added a parrot without fail, because I liked its colors and how they blend with the color between the stone columns. I quickly cut it with a tool Fast selection (Quick Selection) and Layer masks (Layer Mask) and transformed it into Smart object (Smart-object). I did the same with the altar.

I like to place objects in my collages in a very fast manner, without any adjustment of edges or stuff, without the time consuming cutting and mixing that you usually do. This greatly helps to see if the object fits into the overall scene in a given place. “Is the perspective of the object appropriate?” Is the first question you should always ask yourself. In order to see this, it is not at all necessary to build half an hour over the cutting of the object. And, as I noted earlier, if something doesn’t work, be it a perspective or a too small image to place it in your collage (never zoom hard, because, subsequently, it loses quality very quickly, because . the program is trying to fill the lost pixels), or something else, without hesitation, delete this image and find some other that will be better suited to the collage.

Sometimes, when you already have some color layers in the image, the selection of colors is no longer a big deal: in this case, I just put the altar under Correction layer (Adjustment layer), which I created earlier and, voila, it now definitely looks better than before. To make it more realistic to fit the image, you need to work more. Shadows should never be lost, even if they are very tiny, as in this case (the light falls from the top right, so the shadows should not be pronounced). Everything is still some kind of boring, more precisely flat. But, as with my other image, I move to the next object, instead of completing the last, as my idea gradually fades away. It’s easier for me, because I’ll have everything I’ve put together, and I don’t need to go back to the already selected objects that only need color correction and shadow correction …

Although it does not always work. In this case, it did not work with the cross, because the blue layer, which was set to Usual (Normal), creating a fog effect, harmonized well with the background, but made the cross almost invisible. A cross must be the center of attention. Then I put it over Corrective layers (Adjustment layers), as well as above the altar layer.

Above, you can see a fragment of my layers palette, in this case: Layer mask (Layer mask) for the group, hiding the plots that came to the altar. The layer with the cross along with its layer mask was again converted to Smart object (Smart-Object). In order to better combine the cross with the overall picture, I copied the blue layer, placed it above and applied it as Clipping mask (Clipping mask) layer with a cross (hold down the Alt key and hover over the space between the two layers in the layers palette – the shape of the cursor changes, and when you click, it will hold the two layers together). The cross layer now acts as Clipping mask (Clipping mask) for the blue layer, so the blue layer acts only within the shape of a cross. Finally, I changed the blending mode of the blue layer to Overlap (Overlay). At the top right, the difference between the cross without rendering and with rendering is shown.

Welcome to the Jungle – Part 2.
In the following 6 screenshots you can follow the evolution of the Jungle. Again, I inaccurately cut out objects and inserted them into a collage to get a feeling of a complete composition. As soon as I was satisfied with their location, I began to fit them to each other.
Also, you will notice that I adjusted the foliage at the top after moving the parrot to the cross in the center. He was out of the general picture on this side — too big, too obvious, not very well in tune, therefore, this time, I made several adjustments to him just as I did with the cross (Clipping masks (Clipping mask) with color layers for tone correction, using brushes instead of gradients … now they control the whole process better.

I apologize, I have not saved a screenshot with a sketch, which I did and to which I applied the puppet deformation.

I wanted to add a few vines. Therefore, I began to draw (throw) simple forms. I have a version of CS5, I really wanted to try the function Puppet Warp (Puppet Warp) (Editing – Puppet Warp (Edit – Puppet Warp), and I was pleasantly surprised at how this function allows you to manipulate parts of the vines to form beautiful loops of them.

But back to the image. The sketch was made in one solid dark color, a sample of which was taken from the image – do not use black! Using a hard enough brush with a low value Opacity (Opacity) (and the opacity should respond to pressure if you are using a tablet), I put some brighter colors on the sides where the light will fall to give the lianas a sense of volume. If you take a closer look, you can see more brown / red / orange tones in the lower part, while the upper part is tinted more in green / blue. I always take color samples for different parts directly near the vines – so they will blend in better.
Every time I remain satisfied with the result, I turn to the new Clipping layer (so I’m not afraid if I make a mistake). For the hard light in the last step, I set the layer to Lightening basics (Color Dodge). Be careful not to overdo it with this blend mode, otherwise your image will look as if you had dropped the entire color palette on it while the paint is still dry.

Final touches
The last step I take on the image is always the same: I try to combine everything together by adjusting colors and contrast last. I have not used Color balance (Color balance), Levels (Levels) or Curves (Curves). I usually try to use the method of adding layers of modes Soft light (Soft Light) or Overlap (Overlay), use different colors as I described above. Just as I did with the vines, I added a more volumetric effect to the cross, the glow in the upper part, where the light falls from the ceiling. I also added a flame to the candles to indicate the presence of people more clearly.

To give the candles a blur, I drew a flame on a separate layer between the blue adjustment layer and the altar layer. This time it automatically fits into the surroundings, as I used the light yellow color for the flame. I also added a small, almost black stroke to imitate the wick (not so that you could see it when the image was enlarged, but so that you could look at these details after printing).

To light them, I added two layers above the color corrections: the first is dark orange Radial gradient (Radial gradient), transformed so that it looks more like a flame set in mode Lightening Basics (Color Dodge). The second is a brighter yellow, smaller in size. Radial gradient (Radial gradient) than the first set in mode Overlap (Overlay).

I hope this review lesson helped you to highlight the process of creating my creations and opened up a new technique for you or explained the main aspects of creating collages.

Author: Jasmin Junger

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