Make your se­lec­tions wisely

Practical Photography (UK) - - Discover Affinity... -

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.

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