Make your selections wisely
THE KEY TO ANY photo composite is being able to have your individual elements interact seamlessly. This means being able to have hard edges, or even soft edges, appear as they should. It’s also essential that you don’t include the background when you’re cutting out a model, or accidentally cut off parts of them. Thankfully, Affinity has three great tools for this.
You’ll be able to take advantage of the Selection Brush or Flood Select Tools, both of which offer a simple one-click approach, and both of which do an excellent job. You also have the Pen Tool, which allows you the ultimate freedom and control. Simply clicking from one point to another will create a line. You can then add natural curves to these lines, as well as move them or change the effect at any point, all of which make those precise selections very easy to master – ideal for our superhero shot.
1 Open your background shot
To give yourself bearings, open the background shot first, by clicking File>Open. Once imported, you have a reference point to work with. Next, select your superhero model shot and import it by going to File>Place.
2 Cut out your superhero
You now need to remove your hero from the background. If the background is pure white, you can use the Flood Select or Selection Brush Tools. However, if you have a busy background like ours, select the Pen Tool for precision.
3 Trace the outline with the Pen Tool
Zoom in and click on the edge of your model, where you intend to start the selection. Now click a little further up. You should see a straight line appear, which isn’t good for cutting out rounded shapes, so we need to learn how to create a curve...
4 Create natural curved selections
Click once more but don’t let go. Drag the mouse in any direction. You’ll see a line come out of the central anchor point, which will create a curve in the Pen Tool’s line. Drag until this fits the outline of your model but don’t let go.
5 Tell the Pen Tool where to go next
Still holding down your mouse button, hold down the Alt key and drag the mouse to move the line that was responsible for the curve. Point it in the direction of your next point and the transition will be much more natural.
6 Turn your outline into a selection
Once finished, head to the toolbar at the top and press Selection to create a path of marching ants. Now hit Ctrl+J to duplicate this Layer and delete the original. Use the Move Tool to resize and place your model.
7 Create a realistic shadow
Duplicate your model Layer and open a Levels Adjustment. Set Black Level to 100%, right-click the Layer and select Mask to Below. Now right-click on the model and choose Transform>Flip Vertical.
8 Place the shadow and add some blur
Move the shadow to the street below and grab the top of the movement box. Drag this down to squash the shadow Layer. Click Live Filters and choose Gaussian Blur. Move the slider right until the shadow’s edges are more natural.
Above The powerful selection tools in Affinity make cutting out your characters simple, while also giving you ultimate control.