Here is the original picture of Bill. That background wasn't very exciting, so I thought I'd change it! (Yes, that is a real sword. It is quite heavy and substantial.)
I extracted him from the background by using several Photoshop tools - the Magic Wand, mostly, and then just getting in the nooks and crannies and erasing. I added a shadow by making a copy of his silhouette on a new layer, and then filling it with a shadow color. Then, I skewed it with the "Transform" function to make it look like a shadow. I then blurred it a little, and lowered the opacity. I thought I'd leave the background transparent for now.
Bill is on the lawn of Yosemite National Park's Wawona Hotel. I plopped
the extracted picture of him onto the Wawona picture. I had to move
his image (which is on its own layer) around, making sure I put him
in a spot that looked right (proportionally). I added the shadow on
its own layer, and fiddled with it using the airbrush tool to make it
blend naturally with the lawn. I also adjusted the color on Bill a bit
until I felt he looked like he belonged in the picture.
Now Bill finds himself in Clint Eastwood's stomping grounds - Carmel, California!
had fun with this one. I used the eyedropper tool to get a sample
of the purple color of the background shadows. I used this color for
Bill's shadow, so it would match all the other shadows in the picture.
As usual, I made his shadow on a separate layer. I added a bit
of texture to the shadow (using the filter "Texturizer - Sandstone").
This shadow was going to be on pavement, and I thought a little
texture made it "blend" a little better. I then lowered its
opacity a bit. I didn't blur the shadow very much. The other shadows
in the background are pretty sharp and defined, and I wanted his to
match. I used the "Dodge" tool to make the shadow lighter
where it was over the white painted crosswalk line.
Now Bill is on a mysterious dark background. I did all of this with Photoshop, I didn't need any other photo as a background.
I added a new layer behind Bill and his shadow (which I made in the same way as I did for Wawona and Carmel). I added a gradient to the whole background, having the light side in the top right corner (where the source of light is for Bill's picture). Using the airbrush tool with a large brush size (and adding more layers as I went along for each new level of shadows) I "painted" the background. I pressed the Shift key when using the airbrush tool, so my brushstrokes would go straight across. This is where I had to use my artistic judgment and intuition - I just painted light and shadow areas until I felt like it looked like Bill was on something substantial and real.
I then used the
Marquee tool to select what I considered to be the "backdrop"
area - the dark upper two-thirds of the picture. I chose to feather
the selection by about 15 pixels so the transition would not be too
abrupt. I used Gaussian Blur to blur my various brush strokes, and then
I flattened the entire background. (I left Bill and his shadow "invisible"
on the Layers Palette, and then used the "Merge Visible" function
to merge - or flatten - everything else.) Then I added a gentle amount
of noise to the background. Just because I liked it that way!
Much thanks to W. Thompson, for the design of my email graphic!
All images and graphics © J.R. Dunster 2001 - 2006
Last updated July 29, 2004