Monthly Archives: October 2014

Heads and Bodies – Part 4

Last week, a “cheat” technique I posted from Steve Caplin’s  How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed. showed how to make President Obama go bald.  In this next tutorial Caplin redresses the hair deficit by teaching his readers how to create a bearded Obama, as seen in the following images sequence:A fuzzy hair brushThreeThe first step to beard creation is fashioning a brush, which is accomplished by using a small soft brush to make a group of squiggly lines that looks somewhat like a tuft of hair.  Then, to turn the squiggles into a brush, choose Define Brush Preset from the edit menu.  When the Brush Presets Panel opens, the newly created brush will be displayed. The default brush will create a dense line.  For realistic looking hair the brush must be adjusted for Shape Dynamics and Color Dynamics. This enables the bush to make a more random, spaced pattern when used for drawing your beard.

Using my new brush, I went to work. First, I gave Obama the full-beard treatment, as shown in the middle image above. To me,  he looks more like a baseball player than a politician.  In the right panel, I used a layer mask to sculpt his beard. But, instead of using the typical soft-edged brush, which would leave an unnatural edge, I followed Caplin’s instructions to employ the very same brush used for creating the beard to create the mask. My result looks more realistic, but still not exactly presidential.

Beards and Stubble
In the next tutorial Caplin shows his readers how to create a short,  stubbly beard as seen in the following image pair:

BeardsBoth This technique uses Gaussian Noise and Radial Blur to create the stubble effect, followed again by a layer mask.  Doesn’t the beard make him look much tougher?

Regardless, I discovered that this technique, along with the previous one, also came in handy for designing the fur for the monkey statue as seen in Friday Challenges – The Problem of Fur, and again in this week’s Friday Challenge, which will be posted at a later date.

The Aging Process
For the final tutorial of this post, let’s consider another common graphics challenge: aging. Caplin  teaches his readers how to first to turn a 40-something woman into a senior citizen and then make her look even more youthful than before:

The Ageing ProcessThreeFor the elderly image, creating the hair grey was a simple matter of generating a new layer set to Color and then painting on it over the hair with either a black or a white brush. This  de-colorized the hair.  Next, facial lines and bags were developed by creating another new layer set to Hard Light. Colors from the darker parts of the face were sampled and a low opacity brush was used to build up the shadows on the cheeks, under the eyes and on the neck.  Finally, the whole image is desaturated using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer to get rid of the youthful glow.

In the youthful panel, the process is even simpler. The Healing Brush tool was used on the original image to get rid of the mouth lines and the eye bags. Now if it were only so easy to take 20 years off of a real face!

Next: Heads and Bodies – Part 5

Heads and Bodies – Part 3

At the end of my last blog post I stated that Steve Caplin,  author of How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed., had an additional “cheat” for dealing with hair.  Well, your wait is over! In this post I’ll not only cover that cheat but also a third cutout technique and a Photoshop magic tutorial.

Flyaway Hair Solution
Most of the time an image from a royalty-free site will have the subject’s hair cutout just inside the hair edge, which produces a clean cutout, but also looks unnatural even on a white background as seen in the left image from the pair below:

Flyaway HairBothIn the real world, as we all know, hair just isn’t perfect, even on a good hair day! So, what’s needed is some flyaways. In the above image, the flyaway effect was created with the Smudge tool. First a small splatter brush was used to pull out sections of hair. Then, to pull out single strands, a small, soft, round brush was used.  Next, the image is placed in front of a complex background and, viola, “perfect” hair.

Cutting Hair with Refined Edge
As in my last post, Heads and Bodies – Part 2, for this lesson Caplin revisits using Refine Edge,  a technique he introduced all the way back in Chapter 1 – Natural Selection, where the subject was a cat’s fir. This time, its the wispy hairs from the late German actress, Barbara Rudnik as seen in the following panel:

Hair with Refine EdgeThreeThe Rudnik cutout is a particularly tricky because her hair is close in tone to the original background. However, by using the Refine Edge dialog box, all those wispy hairs are captured.  On a white background, it’s obvious the image isn’t perfect. But, against a more complex scene, Rudnik and her hair look very natural.

The Problem of Hair Loss
The title of this tutorial sounds like a late night infomercial on hair restoration.  However, Caplin’s readers are doing just the opposite.   This technique has real-life application as   the best quality image of a subject is often an older one and the person no longer looks like the picture.  With Photoshop magic we can make an image look up-to-date as follows:

Problem of hair lossBothGranted, in reality Obama has gone gray, and not bald, but you get the idea.  However, Obama’s high, clear forehead makes him an ideal subject for practicing this technique.  By copying the President’s forehead, moving that copy upwards and then adding a layer mask, Obama goes from fuzzy to cue ball.

Next: Heads and Bodies – Part 4

Heads and Bodies – Part 2

As discussed in Heads and Bodies – Part 1, Chapter 8 contains a wealth of employment uses. And, the next tutorial even demonstrates a significant value of Steve Caplin’s How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed: expanding on techniques learned previously. This was a failing of my previous two courses on Photoshop. In those courses, a technique would be introduced by never used it again.  Not so with How to Cheat in Photoshop!

In Chapter 8 Caplin revisits Puppet Warp, which you’ll recall from the post Transformation and Distortion, back in Chapter 2.  This time, Puppet wrap is used to help with straightening posture as seen in the following examples:

Stand up straightBoth The key to making the slouchy teenager stand up straight placing the first set of pins on the major joints, where someone would naturally bend.  In this case, the pins were placed on her shoulders hands and midriff.  The next pin is placed on the neck and pulled upward, which makes the chin look deformed. Fortunately, moving the shoulder pins up restores the chin’s appearance. Next, a pin is placed on the model’s right clavicle and pulled up slightly to straighten the shoulders. Then, the pin on the hands is dragged to the left slightly to correct the tilting hips. Finally, a pin is placed on the sternum and pulled slightly up and to the right.  Now, if only it was as easy to fix a teenager’s attitude!

Body Banishing
Part 1 of this post discussed switching heads, but head substitution doesn’t always do the trick. Sometimes a person needs to be removed completely.  While this sort of thing has been going on almost since the beginning of photographic images, it is much easier to do in modern versions of Photoshop:

011207-F-9269H-015To remove Matt Damon, Caplin instructs readers to select George Clooney, plus the background and sky from where Clooney’s hair parts all the way to the right of the image. The selected features are then moved to the left until Clooney covers up Matt Damon. Next, Clooney is then scaled so that he is in proportion with Brad Pitt.  Finally, the lower half of Clooney is selected and stretched so that he now reaches the bottom of the page.

Beyond Banishing Bodies
I found the Damon-removal tutorial all well and good, but I’ve been asked in the past to swap out one person for another.  I decided to try using the techniques learned so far with this image by swapping out Damon for the Dali Lama.  Using a Google Images search, I located the original image of the Dali Lama,  below. On the right are my results:

dalai-lamaAdditionBothFirst, I removed the microphone from the Dali Lama image.  Then I desaturated the image so it would match the Pitt/Clooney photo. Finally, I straightened the Dali Lama’s posture and gave him a sterner appearance so he now looks like he’s joking around with Pitt.  I also did a little clone stamping in the composite image to cover up the parts of  Damon that were sticking out behind the Dali Lama.

Then, I posted the composite image to the How to Cheat forum in the “Problems and Solutions” section.  Here is Caplin’s response:

Very nicely achieved! I like the way you’ve tilted the head back and removed the microphone – but especially, I like the way you’ve desaturated the new image to match the background. Very good work!

“Very nicely achieved” AND “very good work” – well, now that is progress!

A Hairy Situation
The final tutorial of this post introduces another technique for creating realistic hair cutouts, which is one the trickiest tasks in Photoshop.  In this tutorial Caplin uses the background eraser, but he cautions the technique works best if the hair is photographed against a plain, preferably white background, and even then it’s not easy as discussed regarding the image pair below:

The perfect haircutBothIf the original image had been cut out and then placed on a light and/or complex background, the job it would have been a much more straightforward selection.  A light, varied background will hid the light tinge at the edges of the hair caused by being photographed against a white background.

However, sometimes the hair cutout will go on a dark, plain background.  In this case, the light tinge needs to be dealt with so the cutout looks like it belongs in the new image.  Caplin suggests using the burn tool set to Highlights or the Clone Stamp tool, or even a combination of the two, to darken the light edges of the hair so the cutout looks as if it belongs in the new image.  He also suggests there is another cheat but leaves that for the next tutorial – as will I.

Next: Heads and Bodies – Part 3

Heads and Bodies – Part 1

Welcome back! This chapter, number eight, in How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed, by Steve Caplin has a wealth of employment uses.  Companies frequently take pictures of their staff to use in promotional materials. But what to do when one of those staff members leaves and the company now needs a new person in the photo?  With Photoshop, it’s possible to swap out heads in a believable way, or even remove one person and add another.  This chapter has tutorials covering these workaday techniques.

Making the Head Fit
The subject of this tutorial is simple swapping of one head for another, in this case the tennis player Nicole Vaidisova with Anna Kournikova.  In the following image panel, note how the end bit of Kournikova’s pigtail is peaking out behind Vaidisova’s back in the Combined image, which is subtle but key to creating a realistic affect:

186 - Making the Head FitThreeIt’s easiest to swap heads that have been photographed from similar angles.  Here, the smooth transition is created by using a layer mask and then painting out the highlight under Kournikova’s chin.

Complex Head Attachment
In the previous example the skin tones were similar between the two images.  Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.  Mostly the skin tones don’t match, faces are obscured by objects, the lighting is different, image sizes are dissimilar and/or the grain of the images may be different. In this tutorial Caplin teaches how to address all these concerns.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABesides scaling Gates head to fit, his skin tones needed to be adjusted using a Curves layer mask.  Then, I copied the microphone and placed it on a new layer above the Gates head layer so it would be in front of his face, as in the Eric Clapton original image. Finally, the lighting effects and the grain of the original image needed to be added to the Gates head layer.  Now Gates looks like a rockin’ dude!

Combining Body Parts
Sometimes Various body parts need to be combined to achieve the proper look.  Here’s how it’s done in the following humorous tutorial:

Note the differences in skin tones between the three components.  Again, I matched these using Curves adjustment layers.  In addition, the woman’s torso was subtly rotated and all three parts were blended together where they joined using layer masks. While the subject matter makes the result an obvious composite, it’s easy to see how these techniques can be useful for shuffling employees – or even refreshing an executive who is sporting a modernized hairdo.

Next: Heads and Bodies  – Part 2