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This chapter is from the book

A Hollywood Parody

So, I have my friends over in the U.K. to thank for this one. Glyn Dewis is a photographer/retoucher and a Photoshop World instructor. Along with his friend, photographer Dave Clayton, they are always putting together themed shoots based on Hollywood movies. A while back, Glyn posted some test shots for a shoot based on the movie Looper with Bruce Willis. Well, I just had to have a go at it and asked Glyn if he would let me use the images. At first, it was for fun, but it came out so cool. So, here you go. Enjoy! Thanks Glyn and Dave!


Start by pressing Command-N (PC: Ctrl-N) and creating a new document that’s 1500 pixels wide by 900 pixels tall at 100 ppi. Then, press D to set your Foreground color to black, and press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill the Background layer with black.


Select the Gradient tool (G) from the Toolbox and, in the Options Bar, choose the Foreground to Transparent gradient from the Gradient Picker and click on the Radial Gradient icon (the second icon to the right of the gradient thumbnail). Click on the Foreground color swatch and set the RGB colors to R: 0, G: 73, B: 125 in the Color Picker. Click OK. Click on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a new blank layer and, starting roughly in the middle of the canvas, click-and-drag out a blue gradient.


Create another blank layer and set its layer blend mode to Soft Light. Press D, then X to set your Foreground color to white, and then create another gradient on this new layer starting in the same spot. This will enhance the glow in the center.


Press Command-R (PC: Ctrl-R) to bring up the Rulers. With the Move tool (V), click on the horizontal ruler at the top and drag down a guide to the 7-inch mark (or 700-pixel mark, depending on what unit of measure your ruler shows). This will establish a horizon in the scene, but also sets the frame for the text below, which will be added last.


With the background started, let’s work on the subjects themselves. Now, in addition to shooting the images, these guys actually posed for them, as well. This is Glyn assuming the role of Bruce Willis. This is right out of the camera, so we need to do a few things to get it Hollywood-worthy.


Normally, I would probably go ahead and extract the subject from the background first, but not this time. First, we are going to process it with a little HDR Toning. Yes, I also normally use this as a finishing touch, but sometimes you gotta try things a little differently. So, go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose HDR Toning.

In the HDR Toning dialog, start by going to the Detail slider, in the Tone and Detail section, and pushing it up to around 150%. Go down to Saturation, in the Advanced section, and set that to 10. Go back up and drop the Exposure just a bit to compensate for the Detail increase. Then, up in the Edge Glow section, turn on the Smooth Edges checkbox and adjust the Strength and Radius sliders until you see something you like (I rarely ever have the Radius set lower than the Strength). Once you have it tweaked the way you like it, go ahead and click OK. You can see the result has much more detail and has a grungy sharpness to it.


Now, let’s extract the subject from the background. Get the Quick Selection tool (W) from the Toolbox and start painting over the subject to generate a selection of him. The selection should snap to the edges, since they are more defined as a result of the HDR effect. Continue until everything is selected—I am not worrying about the cord hanging from the hair dryer, though. Remember, as you paint in a new area to add to the selection, it might select a part of the background in the process. If that happens, just press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key and paint back over the unwanted area to deselect it.


Once the selection is done, click on the Refine Edge button in the Options Bar. In the dialog, set the View Mode pop-up menu to On Black. I saw no real need to use the Refine Radius tool here, as the selection was pretty clean, so I just bumped up the Radius in the Edge Detection section for good measure. Also, bumping up the Contrast slightly will tighten up the selection a bit more—here, I set it to 5%. Finally, in the Output section, set the Output To pop-up menu to New Layer. Click OK when you’re done.

STEP 10:

With the first subject extracted, go ahead and copy-and-paste or click-and-drag this layer to the main background file we created earlier. Then, press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to bring up Free Transform and scale and position him as you see here. Press Return (PC: Enter) to commit your transformation.

STEP 11:

Make a duplicate of this subject layer by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J), then change the duplicate layer’s blend mode to Multiply and drop its Opacity to 75%.


STEP 12:

Press Command-U (PC: Ctrl-U) to bring up the Hue/Saturation dialog. Turn on the Colorize checkbox, set the Hue to 200, and set the Saturation to 40. Also, bump up the Lightness to 25. This will apply a blue cast over the subject, making him fit in the scene a little better. I use this method often to manipulate the temperature of an image composited in a scene. Notice the difference just by toggling this layer on and off by clicking on the Eye icon to its left (I turned off the rulers here by pressing Command-R [PC: Ctrl-R]).

STEP 13:

Now, open the second shot. This one is of Dave with his lethal banana. Same process as before: First, go ahead and run the HDR Toning (under the Image menu, under Adjustments).

STEP 14:

The order in which I adjusted the settings is the same, but because it’s a different subject, some of the settings vary (you can see them all here). Click OK when you’re done.

STEP 15:

Again, like before, use the Quick Selection tool to generate a selection of the subject. Then, bring up the Refine Edge dialog. Now, this time, I did utilize the Refine Radius tool because Dave had some hair that I needed to refine—I just touched up a little part in the front of his head. I also bumped up the Radius (in the Edge Detection section) ever so slightly for good measure, once again. Just remember to set the Output To pop-up menu to New Layer and click OK.

STEP 16:

Now, go ahead and place this subject in the main file, as well, but place this layer below the first subject layer in the Layers panel. Then, use Free Transform to scale him to fit in the composition in relation to the first character. Press Return (PC: Enter) when you’re done.

STEP 17:

Make a duplicate of this layer, change its blend mode to Multiply, and leave its Opacity set to 100%.


STEP 18:

Press Command-U (PC: Ctrl-U) to bring up Hue/Saturation, again. Turn on the Colorize checkbox, set the Hue to 200 and the Saturation to 40, but set the Lightness at 10 this time. Click OK. This applies a similar color cast to this subject, but it’s actually a little darker, which creates a sense of atmospheric perspective and creates a separation between them.

STEP 19:

Now, with the top layer of the second subject still active, click on the Create a New Layer icon to create a new blank layer in between the two subject layers in the Layers panel. Then, click on your Foreground color swatch and set the RGB numbers to R: 11, G: 149, B: 182 in the Color Picker. Click OK.

STEP 20:

Get the Gradient tool again and, using the blue color we just used and with the same settings we used earlier, add a gradient to create a subtle blue haze between the subjects. Do this two or three times in that area.

STEP 21:

Okay, so now we need to select all the subject layers and the gradient layer we just made. So, click on the top one, then press-and-hold the Shift key and click on the bottom one. Remember, just the subjects and the gradient layer between them should be selected. Then, from the Layers panel’s flyout menu, choose New Group From Layers. This will place all those selected layers in a folder in the Layers panel. This allows you to treat the group as one layer, even though they are still individual layers inside. I just went ahead and named the group “Subjects,” here.

STEP 22:

Click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a layer mask to the group. We’ll get back to this in a moment.


STEP 23:

With the Gradient tool still selected, press D to set your Foreground color to black, then in the Options Bar, leave the Foreground to Transparent gradient selected, but click on the Linear Gradient icon (the first icon to the right of the gradient thumbnail) this time. Create a new blank layer at the top of the layer stack, then click right on the guide we created earlier, and drag the gradient up just a little bit. This will black out the bottom area for the text we’ll add later and has a subtle fade up effect.

STEP 24:

Now we need a particle brush. Remember the one we created back in Chapter 1? I used the same technique here to create a more scattered particle brush from this video clip of someone throwing sand in front of a black background. I just captured the frame, then processed it into a custom brush. Refer back to Chapter 1 to see how to create the brush.


Click to view larger image


STEP 25:

Once the brush is selected, open the Brush panel (click the little folder with brushes icon next to the brush thumbnail in the Options Bar), then click on Shape Dynamics on the left and just increase the Angle Jitter to around 18%.

STEP 26:

Now, click on the layer mask we applied to the Subjects layer group. With your Foreground color set to black, just dab a few times to mask the subjects with the particle brush. Don’t go crazy, though—just a few dabs should do (I removed the guide here by going under the View menu and choosing Clear Guides).

STEP 27:

Create a new blank layer and move it just above the group layer in the layer stack. Using the same brush and black Foreground color, start in the middle and start painting in a small oval pattern, and you will see the particle effect build up. Again, don’t go too crazy. And, don’t be afraid to delete the layer and try again a few times until you get it the way you like it.

STEP 28:

Press X to set your Foreground color to white, then go up to the Options Bar and change the tool’s blend Mode to Soft Light. Starting a little bit lower than before, dab a few times to add some lighter areas of particles. In the Soft Light blend mode, it will ignore the darker areas and only apply in the lighter areas, thus making it appear as though the lighter particles are behind the darker ones.

STEP 29:

Here, we have a cityscape image to add to the background. You’re free to use this one or any other city skyline image you may have. Either way, go ahead and copy-and-paste or click-and-drag the image into the main design file and move it down in the layer stack right beneath the Subjects layer group.


Click to view larger image


STEP 30:

Press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to bring up Free Transform, scale the image down, and position it to the left of the subjects. Line up the horizon line of the image with the edge of the gradient we created earlier (as seen here). Press Return (PC: Enter) to commit your transformation.

STEP 31:

Open the Hue/Saturation dialog by pressing Command-U (PC: Ctrl-U) or going under the Image menu, under Adjustments. Turn on the Colorize check-box, set the Hue to 198, the Saturation to 38, and the Lightness to 12, and click OK.

STEP 32:

Change this layer’s blend mode to Hard Light and then click on the Add Layer Mask icon to add a layer mask to it. Get the Gradient tool, again, and with its current settings (the Foreground to Transparent gradient selected in the Gradient Picker, the Linear Gradient icon selected in the Options Bar, and the Fore-ground color set to black), add gradients to the layer mask coming in from the top and left side to fade the hard edges.

STEP 33:

Make a duplicate of this layer by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J), then press-and-hold the Shift key and click-and-drag this duplicate layer to the other side of the subjects. Drag it just enough that the tallest tower goes out of frame, so it isn’t immediately obvious that it is a repeat.

STEP 34:

Create another new blank layer and place it above the particle effect layer. With the Gradient tool still selected, click on the Foreground color swatch and choose a bright blue color (like the one I am using here) from the Color Picker. Keep the Foreground to Transparent gradient selected in the Gradient Picker, but click back on the Radial Gradient icon in the Options Bar. Then, change this layer’s blend mode to Soft Light. This will help blend the particles a little bit more. Now, create a gradient in the center of the image near the bottom.

STEP 35:

One more thing to add is this cool high-tech background. I want it to be a rather subtle effect in the background. This particular one is a stock image and I have to say I hate the color, but you cannot let that turn you off. After all, we’re using Photoshop—we control the color. So, when you see an image you think is lame, take a closer look. You may see something no one else does.


Click to view larger image


STEP 36:

Go ahead and press Command-Shift-U (PC: Ctrl-Shift-U) to remove the color information, or you can go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose Desaturate.

STEP 37:

Next, press Command-L (PC: Ctrl-L) to bring up Levels, or you can select it from the Adjustments menu, as well. Click on the black Eyedropper tool below the Options button, then move your cursor over the image, over one of the darker gray areas, and click once. This will force all grays in that range or darker to black, thus enhancing the lighter areas with greater detail and contrast. Click OK.

STEP 38:

Now, bring this new image over to the main design file, then use Free Transform to scale it, and position it on the left side of the image, partially covering Glyn.

STEP 39:

Move this layer down in the layer stack beneath the Subjects layer group, then change its layer blend mode to Color Dodge and drop its Opacity to 25%.

STEP 40:

Duplicate the layer by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J). Then, go under the Edit menu, under Transform, and choose Rotate 180°. Now, just slide this layer over to the right, so you can see some of the grid elements on the other side. There you have it! In the final image I added some type, with a flare effect behind it, at the bottom of the image. I used the flare brush we created in Chapter 1 (on a separate layer), and just used Free Transform to stretch and squash it.

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