Adding more room to the canvas (space is good)

Alternate Backgrounds (continued)     (home)

Lets get creative

Now the background of our photo can be anything we want. We could use another photo as a background out right, but this might take us back to where we started.

I enjoy a look that sort of takes one to a place between reality on location (like the original photo) and maybe a little like a photo studio setup or a movie back lot. But the point is really to make the subject stand out and accentuate the power, beauty, or action of the subject in some way.

First thing - space!

Our original photo is cramped. Let's give her some space to move about in. This is why we have the white" layer 1" bottom layer. Go to menu/canvas and click the "relative" box. Now add maybe 400 pixels to the width and 200 to the height. That is much better.




Use gradients to mimic color and lighting of original photo (or not)

I will start the background using gradients that mimic the color and lighting of the original photo. A large part of the perception of reality is based on the lighting and color casting on the subject. The lighting direction should match within a close variance of the original if you want to achieve a realistic intent. If you want it more surreal in quality then lighting can go anywhere. If you add other external elements to your composition then decide what effect they should introduce depending on your own purpose.

Note: I don't always plan compositions in detail. I enjoy the creative process of watching things unfold and the leading of one process to another and another. Where I start here is just a very basic foundation to build upon. I do love simplicity however.

So (right) you see a base similar to the photo and a forest gradient. Next , since I like atmospheric environments, we will brush in some texture.




Layers after initial background.


I'm not sure why I did this, but I loosely copied the street curb and some of the color from the original and pasted it on a layer. Then I transformed it with the distort tool to act as a strong base to the dancer. It is one of those weird things you do when you don't know where you are going at the time. (:-)


copied curb into layer (???)










Transform the curb with distort tool.

Knowing that I would be brushing in color, I can use the yellow/green to sample from. Sound good?






OK, now get ready to do some brush work. Download this custom tool preset here.

Click the brush tool in Photoshop first, then open the Tool Preset tab and at the little arrow menu click "Load tool Preset" and point to preset file you downloaded. It is a very unlikely brush isn't it? It is the Scattered Leaves brush but it won't look like leaves at all when we use it. At low opacity it looks like swirls of smoke or fog.

Using the scattered leaves brush is easy.

You should familiarize yourself with the Scattered Leaves brush default settings under the Brush Tab. Notice the scattering settings and also the Shape Dynamics settings. They are very important and good for building other brushes.

Adjust the brush size down a little and sample the gold color from the curb layer. Now gently go back and forth building this color up from the bottom as shown. I also used it at smaller size to brush the curb bar with consistent color .

Our goal is to add texture to the entire background using sampled color from our gradients.







Continue to brush in texture and atmosphere.

Continue to sample and overlay brush strokes until you have an effect that you like. You can brush in a completely new background if you want to. I'm trying to follow the basic scheme however.

As stated before, I think of this as a blurring texture and atmosphere layer and we will do more with it and blend other images into it as we wish. This is where you can really start to let your imagination go wild. This simple background already adds drama to the subject, but we are not finished yet.

By the way, you can do all this work on the background layer or add new layers on top. It is your choice. At stages in the layering process, I will merge several layers together for simplicities sake. Also you should save incremental files often.








Here is where we stand at this point. Hmmm... still looks a little like a paste up doesn't she? Also looks a little floatatious.

We'll have to do something about that.

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