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 Fil­ter’blur’lens 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.

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