Jul 15

Everything You Need To Know About Photo Manipulation (10 Techniques)

Thu, 07/15/2010 - 03:00 — julie


There are many techniques for photo manipulation that are being used by lots of today’s designers in order to create stunning visually creative works of art. It is most common in designers of graphics who choose to use Adobe Photoshop. The main benefit of this is the fact that once the key factors of photo manipulation are understood, anything you can imagine is possible to digitally modify and to reconstruct.

The most imaginative to the most minimalist ideas can be conveyed through Photoshop using photo manipulation. I will now review ten of what I believe, are the most successful methods for photo manipulation (in no particular order of importance).

1) Shadows


There is something that I will fuss about more than once in this article for you to understand how important it is to have a successful photo manipulation. When manipulating photos, you want it to be looking as real as possible – a nice crisp image without looking like it has had any alterations. Every item should have a shadow if needed, and everything must be proportioned to the rest of the items on the canvas for an original looking end result.

Photo manipulation is about bringing out things that would never happen in the ‘real world.’ Firstly, I will talk about shadows – an important factor of photo manipulation.

Look at this image carefully and take notice of the aeroplanes’ shadows underneath them. It is attention to detail like that, which makes this an excellent example of how a shadow can add to the realism of a photo – even if it is an imaginative piece of abstract design.

2) Proportion


Another key element for performing a successful photo manipulation is proportion. If you are going for a design that is predominantly far-fetched , then you have to make it look the part and proportion makes all the difference in how realistic a piece of work looks. You just have to remember where you want the images to go. This image is a great example of proportioning, look at the small castle at the back, compared to the horses in the foreground.

The castle on the right of the image is proportioned so that it looks big, however not overdone as the horses are nearby. The trees are also correctly proportioned to the size of the horses. Basically what I’m trying to say is, every image you use should be used in proportional harmony.

3) Image Rendering

It takes many different images for photo manipulation, whether they are photographed by you, or are just stock images, to merge with others on a single canvas. A good example is shown below. To cut out that image it is not going to be easy and her spiky hair won’t help either. Sometimes there may even be shadows that would disarray ones rendering.

Everyone familiar with Photoshop use the Pen Tool to cut images out, but it’s not as useful if the image is exceptionally hard to cut, in this case not even the pen tool can help you. This is where you might need to use another tool / program for a little additional help. I would recommend Vertus Fluid Mask. This program allows the user to render out images quickly and effectively using masking capabilities that make it easier than Photoshop to use for this process.

When rendering images, always remember that for a photo to work well with your designs, it must not contain any jagged edges, or parts of the old background remaining, which is why I recommend using this program. Below is an example of this type of rendering with the Vertus Fluid Mask.rendering

4) Colour Blending

Colour blending is used when an image may not match you background, texture or even some of your other images on the canvas. Photo Filters and Gradient Maps are used in Photoshop for adding or removing colour from an image, to fit the style and make sense of your project. This helps images blend together fluently with one another.
This image provides an excellent example of colour blending. Even though there are many types of different flowers throughout the whole piece, they will blend together very nicely to form a whole image.

Colours such as pink, white, yellow and orange blend together with great ease. This is something you must look for at first, colours that can blend together without too much hassle. This will also help with the overall colour theme of your project.


5) Textures

Textures are a very neat way to blend all your images together, but don’t forget that they don’t necessarily add to the realism of your overall design. Blending is another vital ingredient to photo manipulation, so any textures have to be carefully picked out.

I would say texture adds to the depth of your design. An example of this would be if you would like a rough looking feel to your design, you can use a rough ground surface as a background texture, or in contrast for something smoother you can use paper, or a wall texture. There are many textures you can use for your projects; Blue Vertigo is a website that has links to many sites that distribute free textures.

Look at the image below; it’s dark and grungy, using a nice cracked surface texture. The 3D elements used by the artist are roughly the same colours as the textures enabling them to blend perfectly. Even if you don’t have a background for your design, you must ensure that the texture you use matches the mood of what you are trying to achieve.


6) Picking Stock Images

Before you begin, selecting your stock images and gathering the required resources is vital after mapping down your idea and finalising it. You may not always be able to cut around these in the most perfect way, sometimes they are just taken from an awkward angle or have a slight blurriness about them possibly making them unusable. A good place to source decent stock images at no charge is stock.xchng.

Here are some examples to base your judgements on. Image 1 may be a good photo, but not good enough for photo manipulation purposes, as it would be difficult to work with whether it’s for overlaying on a texture or for placing on a coloured background.

Image 2 shows a perfect example of a photo to use because of its size, and every angle of the car and its shape is visible. I mentioned a grungy, rough looking textured background earlier that could be created from a rough ground surface, which would go hand in hand with this junkyard car.

Next up is Image 3, another image that would be too hard to work with. This image would be a nightmare to render due to its blurriness, even if you tried, the cars aren’t very clear at all, you should always stick with sharp images to work with so it’s easier to see what you are doing during the manipulation process.

Lastly we’ll take a look at Image 4 which is very clean and crisp, making it an excellent image to work with for photo manipulation.


7) Emphasis On Detail

When creating a piece of design it is good to have a focus point to draw the viewer’s eyes immediately to that area of your design. There are many techniques to set a focal point of an image, this could be the most colourful, vibrant, or sharp areas in the design – the best ways to attract attention.

A good example of a focal point like that is this image. The fire in the image is the focal point and instantly grabs your attention. It’s the most vibrant and colourful part of the image so it stands out really well. This is exactly what you want; you want something sudden and eye catching in your work when someone looks at it giving it that wow factor.


8. Leave In Style

This image enhancing technique is very advantageous if used appropriately. Stock images are generally plain, so it is up to you to do something spectacular with them, hence why image enhancement is so important.

The example image for this shows a simple bonsai tree duplicated with a different size, skewed a little, with further tree stocks. This has now transformed it and made it look impressive, compared to the original stock image.


9) Combining Images

Images are like pieces from a massive jigsaw, without the images you cannot really completely finish the puzzle – the small pieces to create the bigger picture. Sometimes you have to acquire lots of stock images to sample before finding the right ones to work with.

Take your time on your projects, don’t rush it. You should always first plan your project, before opening up Photoshop. Do this by mapping out either by sketching or taking your time and drawing out where you want certain images in your design. It only takes a couple minutes to do a rough sketch as a guide. While you’re doing this, you should also decide on the kind of images you might need.

This image shows an amazing way of using stock images. I love this piece of work as it proves my point by using many different pieces put together to create a final piece of design. The cityscape, the flower, the cassette tapes are good examples also. The excessive use of images in this artwork not only maintains coherency, they also flow properly together which is vital. You must be able to recognise this and use it to your advantage.


10) C4D

Now this is something not everyone using Photoshop knows about. C4D’s are 4 Dimensional images made from a program called Cinema 4D. Often abstract pieces of work, they can be used to enhance the feel of your work and give it an even more improved look. I will now show you how an image and C4D come together to blend beautifully.

The example image below showing two ships about to sink with a deep and long background filled with endless skies and waters. The C4D in the image blends brilliantly with the boat to give a very emotional feeling to the design by appearing as if it’s coming out from the ocean.

The use of 3D and C4D art rendering can definitely improve your photo manipulation. For this image, it gave it an abstract and almost futuristic atmosphere about it which would be difficult to achieve using ordinary stock images.



The next time you try photo manipulation try these 10 simple steps and apply them to your work as they are excellent points to consider which I have found useful in my design techniques. Focus on these basics before moving on to the more advanced stuff, and I can

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