Play with scale in landscapes
Combine a landscape with a close-up shot to create a compelling illusion that’ll raise a smile
Combine a landscape with a close-up shot to compose a compelling illusion
• Software Photoshop or Elements
• Image type A landscape and a close-up shot
• Start images Try out the project using the Play With Scale Bg.jpg and Play With Scale Brush.jpg, which are provided in the Start Images folder
If you want to brush up on your Photoshop skills and are looking for a fun project to try, we’ve got a great idea for you. It’s all about playing with scale by combining two disparate images in an unlikely and amusing way.
The idea is to take a shot of a familiar object taken close up, and another of a landscape. With lateral thought, you can often find a fun way to blend the two and create a composite image that’ll brighten up your social media pages.
If you don’t have any images that fit the bill, try it out first with the start images that’re provided free with this issue. You’ll learn how to make a selection and cut out an object, how to relight it and even how to make it look like a miniature with the cunning use of lens blur. In a matter of minutes you can transform two prosaic images into a magical, whimsical composite.
1 Open your images into Layers
Open Photoshop or Elements and go to File open and navigate to the Start Images folder. Double-click on Play With Scale Bg.jpg. When the image appears on screen, go to File Place (that’s File Place Embedded for Photoshop CC users) and double-click on Play With Scale Brush.jpg. Hit Enter to place it on top of the background. Make sure you can see your
Layers Panel by going to Window and making sure that Layers is ticked. Select the Magic Wand tool (W). If you can’t see it in the Toolbox, it may be obscured by the Quick Selection tool. To select it in Photoshop, click and hold on the Quick Selection tool and a flyout menu will appear, from which you can select the Magic Wand tool. If you’re using either Photoshop or Elements, hold down the Alt key click on the Quick Selection tool until the Magic Wand tool appears. Untick Contiguous and click anywhere in the white area of the shot to create a selection around all of the white pixels.
2 Create a selection and mask out the hand holding the brush
To cut out the hand and the brush, we need to create a selection around them. The selection we need is the inverse of the selection we have, so go to Select inverse. If you hit the Add Layer Mask icon now, you will cut out the hand but the edges will be too hard and there may be a white outline visible. To prevent this, go to Select modify contract. Input a value of 1px and hit Enter to shrink the selection by 1 pixel. Next, we’ll soften the edge so it doesn’t look unnaturally hard. Go to Select modify feather (in Elements that’s Select feather) and use a value of 0.6px and click OK. With our selection made, all we have to do is click on the Add Layer Mask icon and Photoshop will create a Layer Mask that hides the unselected area.
3 Relight the hand to match the scene
The lighting in the two shots doesn’t quite match, so we need to do a little subtle relighting to help blend the two images together. To do that, create a new Layer (Shift+ctrl+alt+n). Now clip that new Layer to the hand and brush Layer by holding down the Alt key and click on the line between the two Layers in the Layers Panel. You’ll know you’ve done it right if a little downward-pointing arrow appears next to the top Layer’s thumbnail image. The effects of this Layer will now be visible only on the hand Layer and not on the background. With a soft, white brush (B) paint some white over the arm and any surface that’s facing the sky. These surfaces would naturally be brighter than anything that’s facing down. When you’re done, change the Layer’s Blending Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 20%.
4 Add some bounce light
If you really were to shoot a hand near to a green miniature, there would be some bounce light causing a subtle green colour on the underside of the hand and on the reflective metal on the brush. This is barely perceptible to non-photographers, but it’s the kind of tiny touch that can really help to sell an illusion. To recreate that reflected light, create another new Layer
(Shift+ctrl+alt+n) and again clip it to the Layer below by Alt-clicking on the line between the two Layers. This will cause all of the effects on Layer 1 and Layer 2 to apply only to the hand image and not the background. With the
Brush tool (B) still selected, hold down Alt to activate the Eye Dropper and click on the grass to select its colour. Paint this green onto surfaces that face the grass. Finally, reduce the Layer’s Opacity to 20%.
Adding a subtle, bounce light and some reflected colour to an object that you cut out of one scene and place into another can be an extremely effective way to sell the illusion, and trick the viewer’s eye into believing it was really there.
5 Dip the tip of the brush into some paint that matches the colour of the path
To make it look like the paint brush in the shot is actually painting the path onto the landscape, we’ll need to add some virtual paint to the tip of the brush. To do that, zoom in (Ctrl+plus) and create a new Layer (Shift+ctrl+alt+n). Clip it to the Layer beneath
(Alt-click on the line between the two Layers). With the Brush tool (B) still active, Alt-click on the path to select its colour, then paint that colour onto the end of the bristles. Keep painting until there are no dark bristles visible where the brush meets the path. There should be a seamless transition from the path to the paint. Next, Alt-click on the peach colour at the edges of the path and paint that colour onto a few of the bristles. These should be fairly subtle lowlights, so resize your brush with the [ and
] keys to make it the right size. Try to get the path and brush to blend together convincingly. To check the effect, occasionally hit Ctrl+0 to fit the shot to the window so you can see it ‘from a distance’, then zoom back in (Ctrl+plus) to keep painting.
6 Create a blurred background Layer
To make the effect more convincing, use
Lens Blur to make the entire landscape look like a miniature model. To do
that, select the Background Layer and hit Ctrl+j to duplicate it. Go to Filterblurlens Blur. Set the Iris Shape to Hexagon. Use a Radius of 34, a Blade Curvature of 51 and a Rotation of 121. Leave Brightness on 0, Theshold on 255, Noise on 0 and Distribution on Uniform. Click OK to apply the blur. You now have a blurred background Layer on top of a sharp background Layer. Next, we’ll need to mask out part of the blurred Layer so that part of the sharp Layer beneath shows through.
7 Mask out part of the blurred Layer to create a tilt-shift, miniature effect
Hit the Add Layer Mask icon to add a Layer Mask to the blurred Layer. Select the Gradient tool (G). In the Tool Options Bar, select Black, White, Reflected Gradient, and leave Reverse unticked. Click on the path below the tip of the brush, hold down the Shift key and drag up to the top of the hand. When you release the mouse button you’ll create a linear gradient on the mask that goes from white to black then white again. This will hide a thin strip of the blurred image, revealing the sharp image below, and create a tilt-shift effect that makes the landscape look like a miniature. All that’s left is to save your shot, so go to File Save As. Select the JPEG (JPG) format to create a small file that’s perfect for sharing online. Choose the Photoshop Document (PSD) format to keep the Layers intact for later editing.
After By compositing the images and adding some blur to the landscape, we’ve made the image look like a miniature. Before We use a landscape shot featuring a clearly defined path and another featuring a hand holding a paint brush.