Creating a fabulous collage in Photoshop – Part 1

Most of us grew up on some fairy tales. However, when we grow up, we begin to notice the subtext, and sometimes not very pleasant things in the stories. In this lesson we will interpret the popular fairy tale of a frog and a princess with cheerful irony. In the process of the lesson, we will look at some of the new tools available in Photoshop CS6.

Final image

Source materials:

Step 1

Create a new document. Width (Width) 4500px, Height (Height) 3000px, Resolution (Resolution) 300px / inch.

Step 2

Drag the stock image “Forest” to the working paper and adjust it to fit our canvas. Hold down the Shift key while converting the image to maintain the aspect ratio. Press Enter, when done, name this layer “Base”.

Drag the jungle stock image and place it also on the canvas. Name this layer “Background”, it should be above the layer “Base”.

Use Move Tool (V) (Move) to position this layer as shown below. Add a mask to the layer by clicking on the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

On the layer mask, use a black brush with Hardness (Hardness) 0% with the following parameters to merge the “Background” and “Base” layers. Brush over the mask, making visible the area of ​​the earth covered with moss, branches and other organic matter.

Make sure both layers blend well. Lower Opacity (Opacity) layer to see if all of a sudden you missed some elements, for example, the stones on the left.

Now let’s use the new blur option, available only in Photoshop CS6: Field blur (Blur field). Go to menu Filter -> Blur -> Field Blur (Filter -> Blur -> Blur field). With this very powerful tool, we can create an artificial depth of field without having to create multiple layers with varying degrees of blur. Just move your mouse over the area you would like to blur. The cursor will turn into a pin icon with a plus sign next to it, which will mean that you can add a pin. Then simply click on the mouse button and a new pin will appear.

Then click and turn the outer ring of the pin control to set the desired blur level (Turning it clockwise will increase the blurring level, counterclockwise will decrease). To get a uniform blur of the entire image, set the pin in the center of the image to a blur level of 19px.

The challenge now is to arrange several pins all over the layer so as to set different degrees of blurring to obtain a rich and believable depth of field. The more pins are installed on the layer, the smaller the range affected by each pin. When you add the next pin to the image area, the outer ring around the previous pins disappears. This is because, although all pins have an effect on the image, at the same time we can only adjust one pin, which is currently active, so this tool is easy to do. Just follow the scheme shown in the screenshots below to achieve the desired effect:

This is how our layer should look like at the end of the filter. Keep in mind that the branches in the upper left are closer to the viewer than the background image itself. Lighter areas should remain more blurry than anything else.

Step 3

Select the “Base” layer and go to the menu Filter-> Blur-> Tilt Shift (Filter -> Blur -> Tilt-offset). This is also a new feature in Photoshop CS6 that will allow us to create blurring of the edges, without affecting the center of the image (it depends on where you place and adjust it). Click on the clearest area of ​​the layer: This will be the area with normal sharpness in our composition, so it is important that everything is clear. Set the blur value to about 60px and move the white dots vertically above and below the circle, extending the depth of field. We want the foreground of the image to become muddy, like the foreground of a blurred “jungle” layer. Leave the rest of the filter settings unchanged.

Step 4

Drag the stock image of the frog onto the canvas and name this layer “Frog”. Do not change the size much – we still need it!

We have to get rid of the background behind our little prince, so choose a tool Pen Tool (P) (Pen), which is a wonderful way to select elements from photos. It’s not the easiest or quickest, but it’s the most accurate tool you can use for this business. Make sure that the option is selected in the options menu at the top left of the interface. Path (Circuit). If you are new to this, Pen tool (Pen) is very intuitive, but requires some direction: we will click on the borders of the shape of the frog and move our mouse to adjust the outline. Therefore, click on any part of the border where you want to set the starting point, then click the button in the nearest area and move the mouse cursor (in the example below, a little to the left), and you will see that the line between the two pointers is called “contour” adapts to the form that we need.

If you understand these basics, the selection does not require much effort from you. Remember to always move the cursor in the direction in which you want to receive the contour. Also, do not forget to zoom in (Alt + mouse wheel) for more precise selection.

There are a lot of bends on the entire surface of the frog, so take your time and scale as far as you need to create a selection.

Be careful with hard-to-reach places, such as double chin: zoom in to see fancy shapes, highlight them precisely, otherwise you will have to refine your selection later. When you reach the starting point, simply click on it again to close the path.

Right click and select Create Vector Mask (Create Vector Mask), then go to the layer and right-click on the layer mask icon and select Rasterize Layer(Rasterize layer). Voila!

Now right-click on the mask icon again and select Refine mask (Refine mask) to make our selection more accurate.

In the new window, check the box Smart radius and use the settings shown in the figure below. Thus, our borders will change for the better: they will become slightly blurred, because not the whole frog is in the area with normal image sharpness, so the other edges of its visual volume should be blurred according to the depth of field we use.

When you are satisfied, press Enter and tab Paths (Outlines) in the Palette Layers(Layers) right-click and select Delete Path (Delete Contour), if you are not going to use it more.

After all, the borders of the frog should look more or less similar to that shown in this example:

But now, if you reduce the size of the image, you will notice that some areas between the paws of the frog should be cut. Take again Pen tool (P)(Pen), and, create an outline of the areas we want to get rid of. Then right-click – Make selection (Make a selection) and specify 1px, because we want these borders to be more blurred than other areas of the image, as they are closer to the first plane of the depth of field. Remember to deselect Ctrl + D when done with selection.

Step 5

Now we have the highlighted frog, press Ctrl + T, scale the layer and turn it to the left by -22 degrees.

Move it down a bit and to the left.

At the end of the image should be located as follows.

Step 6

Although the edges of the frog fit well with the environment, they still look ugly. The fact is that due to the original lighting of the stock image, the orange color of the original image came out at the edges, and this does not correspond at all to the rest of our composition. So take Sponge tool (O)(Sponge) and in the top menu select Desaturate (Reduce saturation). Now use a small soft brush to paint over the orange borders. In any case, they will not look fantastic, but we will fix it right away.

Hold down the Ctrl key and click on the layer thumbnail to load the selection, then press Ctrl + Shift + N to create a new layer. Call it “Green Borders.” We do this in order to draw over the borders of the frog and not to go beyond it.

Zoom in and using Color Picker Tool (I) (Eyedropper), select the color next to the, now unsaturated, borders.

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) about 100px in size Hardness (Hardness) 0%, Opacity (Opacity) 100% and Flow (Press) 30% and walk it along the borders of the frog. Then set the blending mode for this layer. Screen (Screen) Opacity(Opacity) 55%.

Take a closer look to find all the borders and paint over them. You may need to change the primary color by selecting another near the place where you paint. Press the Alt key to select a new color.

Step 7

To slightly improve the Frog layer and adjust it to the depth of field of the scene, go to the menu Filter-> Sharpen-> Smart Sharpen (Filter -> Sharpness -> Smart Sharpness) and use the following settings

Step 8

If we analyze the perspective of a frog, then there is something in it that does not harmonize at all with the ground. We can fix this by removing the frog’s hand that is under the second chin. Select it with Pen tool (P)(Pen), right click on the contour, select Make selection (Form a selected area) Feather (Radius of feathering) 1px. Do not forget to remove the selection at the end (Ctrl + D).

Step 9

As well as on the “Background” layer, we will use Filter-> Blur-> Field Blur (Filter -> Blur-> Blur Field), so that the bottom of the frog corresponds to the depth of field of the foreground of the earth. First of all, click on the area that should be clear and set the value Blur (Blur) 0. Thus, we avoid the blurring of the area that should remain clear.

Then click on the area that should be more blurred – lower the “foot” and set Blur (Blur) 11.

Install near it Blur (Blur) 0, since this area of ​​the frog is so blurred enough.

Install Blur (Blur) 1 in the area between the legs.

A few more strokes, and we are ready to go further:

As you can see, at present the area under the frog looks better and corresponds to the depth of field.

Step 10

Lower Opacity (Opacity) layer “Frog” to 40%. Now we need to combine the frog with small branches and objects that were already on the ground, so as to achieve a three-dimensional view.

Use Pen tool (P)(Pen) to highlight this thread. Right click, select Make selection (Form a selected area) Feather (The radius of feathering) is 0.5, and on the mask of the “Frog” layer use Brush tool (B) (Brush) black color fill selection. Thus, the branch will look above the frog’s hand.

Use Blur tool (Blur) to blur a little stronger edge on the layer mask.

Repeat the process with this tiny piece of green under one of the fingers:

We will also get rid of the other finger so that the bump behind it becomes visible, since the position of the finger looks strange and does not match the perspective of a pine cone. It will be easier to highlight his tool Pen tool (P) (Pen), and fill it with black on the layer mask to remove it.

For some very small items, like how this thread may need to use the tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) black with Hardness (Hardness) 0% on the layer mask and erase more than necessary. Then switch to white to fix any details. Sometimes it works faster than playing with opacity.

Use a soft black brush to erase the lower areas of the hand behind a bulky moss-covered stone.

Highlight the longest finger angle Pen Tool (P) (Feather) and give it a more rounded and natural shape. Do not forget to right-click on the contour, select Make selection (Form a selected area), Feather (Shading radius) 0.5, fill it with black on the layer mask, then deselect by pressing Ctrl + D.

Take Burn tool (O) (Dimmer) mode Shadows (Shadows), Exposure (Exposure) 25% and walk it a little on the arm to enhance the shadow.

Take Dodge tool (O) (Clarifier) ​​mode Highlights (Backlight), Exposure(Exposure) 25% paint over the same area. So we’ll add some volume to a hand that looks flat enough.

Step 11

Duplicate the “Background” layer by selecting it and pressing Ctrl + J, or through the menu Layer ->Duplicate layer(Layer -> Duplicate Layer), drag it so that it is above the “Frog” layer. Name this layer “Rays of Light.”

On the mask of this layer, use a large, soft white brush to restore the bottom area.

Go to menu Filter -> Blur -> RadialBlur (Filter -> Blur -> Radial Blur). In the square grid, drag the center to the upper left corner and set Amount (Quantity) 41px mode Zoom (Linear)

Now we will add rays of light, making their way between the branches of the trees on the frog’s back. Thus, we emulate the direction of light.

Set the blending mode for this layer. Screen (Screen)

Go to menu Image-> Adjustments-> Levels (Image -> Correction -> Levels) and use the following settings to darken the layer so that it is no longer visible above the frog:

Add a new mask to this layer, take a large soft black brush, start painting over the areas in the upper right area of ​​the image to get rid of excessive light.

Hold Ctrl, click on the thumbnail of the Frog layer to load the selection, and start painting with a soft black brush on the mask of the Rays of Light layer of the frog area so that the lighting is not too excessive. Keep in mind the volumes of the frog to remove certain areas

Keep painting until the frog looks more or less like this one. At the end of processing, it should have barely distinguishable rays of light.

Step 12

We are going to add some atmospheric light, which will be guided by previously made barely visible light rays. Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) above the “Rays of Light” layer, name it “Lighting”. Select Gradient tool (G) (Gradient), in the settings, specify the radial gradient, the colors are black and white.

Draw a gradient from the bottom left to the top right.

Set the blending mode Overlay (Overlap) Opacity (Opacity) 35%.

Step 13

Speaking of lighting, you will notice bright edges on the right side of the frog’s head. Use Burn tool (O) (Dimmer) small size with soft edges in mode Highlights (Backlight), Exposure (Exposure) 25% to reduce the brightness of portions of this area until the edges acquire the same range of illumination as the background behind it (on the “Frog” layer).

Step 14

On the “Frog” layer, go to the menu Filter-> Liquify (Filter -> Plastic) to portray a beautiful smile on his face, changing it. Select Forward warp tool (Deform) and pull the left side of the mouth up.

Take a look at the screenshots below to see which areas of the face you need to pull a little to create a kind of smile. In addition to changing the shape of the mouth, you will need to move more cheek up to get a smile in his eyes.

Step 15

Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) above the “Frog” layer, name it “Frog Lighting” and hold down Ctrl and click on the “Frog” layer icon to load the selection. We are going to manually adjust the lighting using Brush Tool (B) (Brush). A graphics tablet is recommended for this processing. If you are using it, press the F5 key to open the Brush panel and select the function Shape dynamics (Dynamics of the form), specify Pen pressure (Pen pressure) in Size jitter (Size fluctuation) if your tablet supports it; Now you can control the size of the brush with the pen, instead of manually changing it. First choose black and use a size of 80px, Hardness (Hardness) 0%, Opacity (Opacity) and Flow (Press) 20% and paint over the natural shadows of the face at the moment already on the original image to emphasize them.

Reduce brush size to fill in the mouth line.

Increase the brush size again to improve the natural shadows on the face. It is important to keep subtle touches, and not to make black color visible.

In general, you must repeat this process across the entire surface of the frog. Always keep in mind that the light comes from the upper left corner, so that any different elements of the shadow should be located on the right bottom side or both. In any case, this is just the creation of indicative lighting, we will return to this point more than once in our lesson in order to draw light.

Once you’re done with the shadows, switch to white to draw the lighting in the same way we used before. Draw on the more projecting upper and left areas on each part of the frog. Remember to emphasize the natural light of the original image to give it some volume.

Set the blending mode SoftLight (Soft light) so that what we drew becomes invisible.

Duplicate this layer by pressing Ctrl + J, then merge it with the original layer by pressing Ctrl + E. Thus, we slightly increase the volume.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t draw very well, as we go into the menu Filter-> Blur-> Gaussian Blur (Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur) with a radius of about 10px to shade this layer and make something more uniform from it.

Lower Opacity (Opacity) up to 80% – 85%. Here we are with this at the moment.

Step 16

Let’s select a frog and change a little its color. Press Ctrl + U for Hue/Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and move the marker Hue (Color tone) slightly to the left so that the frog’s skin color becomes golden / yellow.

Now press Ctrl + B to open the dialog box. Color balance (Color Balance) and use the following settings to get the perfect color for our hero:

Step 17

To fix the lighting without destroying the pixels on the Frog layer, we’re going to use Patch tool (J) (Patch) and new feature Content Aware (Given the content). We will correct areas of shadows that do not match the light projected from the trees. Draw a selection on the area as shown below, then drag the selection to a lighter area to replace and merge with other skin areas. Make a selection of arbitrary shape, otherwise you will get hard edges. Be careful and make the selection in accordance with the natural lines of the frog.

Repeat the process all over the back of the frog and tubercles. In the following screenshots you can see some examples:

Now take Clone stamp tool (S)(Stamped) size 200px, Hardness (Hardness) 0%, Opacity (Opacity) 45% and Flow (Push) 100%. We will use a similar correction technique, but this time we will get a smooth dispersion of some unwanted shadows.

The areas in the white circles in the following screenshots show the areas that you should clone from the lighter areas.

Depending on the area, you may need to switch to smaller brush sizes. Thus, we eliminate the undesirable contrast, where the light directly falls.

Now lower Opacity (Opacity) so that the change is less noticeable:

At the end of this recovery process, our frog should look more or less as shown in the figure below, with smooth and clean skin.

Step 18

Since we got rid of the original volume of the stock image, let’s draw a real illumination that should fall on the frog. Use Dodge tool (O) (Brightener) large size with soft edges in mode Midtones (Mid Tones),Exposure (Exposure) 25% and start drawing a diffused light on the frog’s back, where the light should fall.

Switch to smaller brushes to illuminate the details of the face. Make the original lighting stronger and add volume to your mouth and eyes in particular.

Continue making big touches on the back and over the top of the arms and legs.

Also, walk around the edges of the frog on the left, which still look a bit strange.

Step 19

Select the “Green Borders” layer and go to the menu Filter-> Blur-> Gaussian Blur (Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur) to make them softer:

Duplicate this layer by pressing Ctrl + J and set the blending mode Normal (Usual).

Press Ctrl + U to open the window. Hue/Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Lower saturation and brightness, move the color tone marker to make green more attractive, replacing it with a similar yellow color:

Now go to the mask of the “Frog” layer and select Brush Tool (B) (Brush) black, size 20px, Hardness (Hardness) 0%, and start erasing the edges of the frog, so that a copy of the “Green Borders” layer remains visible. Thus, we finally get rid of the annoying orange edges.

Be careful not to erase too much. If you make mistakes, remember that you can restore the layer by painting with white on the mask.

Step 20

Go back to the “Frog” layer, take Burn tool (Dimmer) mode Midtones (Mid Tones) and Exposure (Exposure) 5% and paint over this layer to create dark areas. Start painting over darkened areas of the face to increase contrast.

Remember to choose a large size brush to darken the entire leg.

Refine some details in places where shadows are already present, such as on the arm and back, but do not darken them too much.

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