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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang, this is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques! Today I've got another Halloween technique for you, and I'll tell you what, it just scares me. We're going to take this guy who never did a thing to me and we're going to lop off his head, and then we're going to put him in this misty scene. Do you see him right there? I tell you what, if I was wandering around this misty forest with my digital camera and I saw that guy there, I would throw my camera down so fast and turn around and run like you've never seen a guy run before.
Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, here is that final effect that we want to create. Can you just imagine if you actually saw this? The last thing I would do is take a photograph. I would turn around and run, but anyway, let's create a convincing composition here. We're going to start inside this misty forest image, comes to us from the Fotolia Image Library, about which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke. And we have this young man also from Fotolia. We're going to bring him into the composition by right-clicking on him with the Rectangular Marquee tool, and then go ahead and choose the Duplicate Layer command.
And I'll put this image inside the Misty forest.jpg file and I'll go ahead and call this guy stranger, and then I'll click OK. And now I'll go ahead and switch back to my misty forest, and you can see the guy is in front. Now we're going to have to scale him eventually, so I recommend that you convert him to a Smart Object by going over to the Layers panel flyout menu and choosing Convert to Smart Object. Now we want to edit this guy, get rid of his background and his head, so double-click on the thumbnail for that stranger layer. If you see the alert message telling you how Smart Objects work, just go ahead and click OK.
And then inside here what we want to do is switch over to the Channels panel. The darkest channels are going to be the Green and Blue Channels, because after all he is a portrait shot, so he is going to show up bright in the Red Channel. So go up to the Image menu and choose the Calculations command, and set the first channel to Green and the second channel to Blue. We want the blend mode to be Multiply, as by default, then go ahead and click OK, and you'll create a new channel called Alpha 1. Now I want you to go back to the Image menu, choose Calculations once again.
Make sure the first channel is set to Alpha 1, the second channel to Blue in order to further darken the image, and the blend mode should be Multiply, click OK, and you can see he is darker still. We don't need Alpha 1 anymore so you can just go ahead and throw that guy away, and then double-click on Alpha 2 and rename it mask. We need to do a little bit of work on this Alpha Channel here, starting with, I'll just go ahead and select his buttons there using the Rectangular Marquee. In my case the foreground color is black, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac in order to fill that region with black.
Then I'll click off the selection to deselect it. Now you want to get your Brush tool, which you can get by pressing the B key, and we're going to do a little overlay painting, which means that we want to increase the size of the cursor by pressing the right bracket key a few times. Right-click inside the image window and reduce the Hardness value to 0%. Go ahead and press the Enter or Return key to hide that panel. And then finally you want to change the blend mode from Normal to Overlay. Your foreground color should be black, if not, make it so, and then paint inside his gloves in order to paint them to black.
Then you might want to paint up into his shoulder as well. You could work on his shoes if you wanted to, but doesn't really serve any purpose for us. We do want to paint his face away like that. And then you want to right-click inside the image window, increase the Hardness value back to 100%, change the blend mode from Overlay back to Normal, and reduce the size of your cursor a little bit, and then just paint in these areas right here in order to paint back in some areas of his face.
Now you can't paint in his ears. If you want to, as I am doing here, just to show you that if you want to create a good mask, that's the way you go. But there's not a whole lot of point in it, because we're going to take his head off in just a moment. I'll press Ctrl+I or Command+I on the Mac in order to invert the image. It looks like it's a little too gray right now in places, so I'll press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac in order to bring up the Levels dialog box. I'll increase the black point value to 10, and I'll take the white point value down to 225, so we have more contrast.
All right, now I'll press the Enter key, the Return key on the Mac, let's go ahead and load up this mask by Ctrl+Clicking on it; that would be a Command+Click on the Mac. Then you want to go ahead and click on RGB, return to the Layers panel, and drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the panel and click on it. Now let's get rid of his head, and we'll do that using the Elliptical Marquee tool, which you can select from the Rectangular Marquee tool flyout menu. And then you want to draw a selection about ye big here.
You want to kind of enclose his collar like so. So we're drawing along the top of the collar, that's all I care about right now. Then once you've done that, go up to the Select menu and choose the Inverse command, or you can press Ctrl+Shift+I or Command+Shift+I on the Mac. Then you want to press the Shift and Alt keys or the Shift and Option keys on the Mac, so you get a little x next to your cursor, and drag down to encompass his big old head here. And you want to select the entire thing like so and then release and you'll find the intersection of those two selections, and you've now managed to select the top portion of his head.
With the Layer Mask selected, go ahead and press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete, assuming your foreground color is black, in order to fill that area and get rid of his head. Now you can click off the selection to deselect it, and we want to go ahead and fill in his face with his scarf. What I want you to do, because we want to work nondestructively, press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac to bring up the New Layer dialog box, call this new layer collar, and turn on Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask, so that we're painting inside of his existing collar and head.
You'd think if you want to heal away his face that you would use something like the Healing Brush or possibly Content-Aware Fill; neither of those is going to work for our purposes. What we want is the old-style Clone Stamp tool that's been with us forever. So go ahead and select that tool. You can also get to it by pressing the S key. You should have a Soft Brush, right-click inside the image window to confirm that the Hardness value is 0%, as it is for me. You want to turn off the Aligned check box up here in the Options Bar, and you want to change Sample from Current Layer or to All Layers, so that you can sample from the collar and paint into this new layer.
Then you want to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click right there in the center of the collar. I'm going to increase the size of my cursor just a little bit by pressing the right bracket key a few times, and then you just want to click inside of his face like so. No dragging, because then you'll bring in too much of the collar and you'll end up duplicating the folds and stuff into his face, and we don't want that. So just click a bunch of times on his face until it disappears; it doesn't have to be a great job. And you may notice that you're getting some wavering luminance levels, that is, we've got some dark patches.
And you can get rid of those by selecting the Dodge tool, which you can get by pressing the O key. And then what you want to do is turn off Protect Tones, believe it or not, because we don't want those tones protected. And then you just click a few times inside of those dark spots. They're not going to look great, but they will look good enough for what we're trying to pull off. I'll go ahead and turn Protect Tones back on, so the next time I use the tool, it's not all messed up. And then I'll switch back to the Elliptical Marquee tool, and I'm going to draw a selection kind of like this. I'm trying to reestablish the back of his collar now.
I'll return to the Select menu, choose the Inverse command. Now I can just go ahead and paint in this upper region here using, once again, the Clone Stamp tool, and I'll Alt+Click or Option+Click some place in his jacket and then sort of paint around. I don't want to paint any of that real collar region, that is this area there. So I Alt+Clicked over here, kind of in his right shoulder, and then paint up at the top. And Aligned is turned off so I can paint some more with a different brush stroke and I'll end up getting this effect here. Then press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect the image, and we now have an authentically bona fide headless dude.
I'm going to press the M key to switch back to whatever Marquee tool is active, and then I'll close this image. And I'll click the Yes button in order to save my changes here in the PC; you would click the Save button on the Mac, and you've got a guy without any head walking along in the forest. Let's reduce his size by going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Free Transform command, or you can press Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac, and these are the values I came up with. I changed the Width value to 14% and the Height value to 20%, so he is kind of tall and thin.
I also came up with some very specific Position values here that I'm going to dial in. For X, I'll enter 624 pixels, and for Y I'll enter 578 pixels, and that puts him right there, which is where I want him. Now I'm going to zoom in on the guy. Obviously he shouldn't be this colorful, given the scene. So we're going to recolor him by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and then you click the Black/White icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose the Gradient Map command.
Then will force the display of the New Layer dialog box. We'll go ahead and call this guy colorize, and turn on Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask, then click OK. Now what the Gradient Map command does, and is perfect for our purposes, it allows you to apply different color values to the blacks and the whites and everything else in between for that manner. And to do so, you click on this Gradient Bar there inside the Properties panel; that would be the Adjustments panel in earlier versions of Photoshop. Then double-click on the first color stop to bring up the Color Picker dialog box, and click in this greenish tree right next door to the guy there in order to lift that color and apply it to the blacks inside the image. Then click OK.
Now double-click on this final color stop, which by default is white, and you want to click right next to his arm in the background there in order to lift that color as the lightest color inside the image, and that totally takes care of it. Click OK, click OK again. The only thing left to do is merge him into the mist, so I'll close up Properties panel, click on the stranger layer to make it active. Then drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and click on it. Go ahead and grab the Gradient tool, which you can get by pressing the G key.
Make sure that your foreground and background colors are black and white respectively. You may have to press D and then X to make that happen. And then go ahead and drag from about his feet up to where his hand begins, and I'm pressing the Shift key as I drag, so that I'm creating a perfectly vertical gradient. And then when you release you'll go ahead and drop his legs into the mist. We want to put this image out there on the Internet, right, and have everybody go, oh my God, you saw a headless guy. So we need to save it as a JPEG image. Now normally I would recommend that you save a medium or high-quality JPEG file, but this time we're going to save a really low-quality one, because we want it to look super authentic.
So you go up to the File menu and you choose the Save for Web command. Let's go ahead and scroll over to this region of the image here. Might as well zoom in as well. And I'll click on the right-hand image, if you have it set up to 2-Up display. Then you'll see the JPEG image or what have you on the right. Normally you want to go with high, so that you get a decent quality JPEG, but as I say, for the sake of authenticity we want to go with Low. Possibly not that low, so I'll raise the Quality setting to 15, and we end up getting this extremely spooky web image effect.
If you want to open the image in Photoshop after you've done, then you want to turn on Embed Color Profile, so that you go ahead and include an SRGB profile inside of your image, and then you click the Save button. But I've already done than in advance, gone ahead and saved this image called Real-actual-photograph.jpg. I'm going to press the F key a couple of times in order to fill the screen with the image, and then I'll zoom into 100%, and we can see this very creepy composition here inside Photoshop.
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