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Remove distractions

From: Digital Painting: Transforming a Portrait

Video: Remove distractions

Despite a photographer's best efforts, it is all too easy to inadvertently let distractions appear in an image. This image is a perfect example. I shot this while in Paris a few years ago. In the bright sun, the fountain appeared as a vaporous cloud. And when I got the pictures back, I was confronted with a tourist relaxing, with a fountain coming out of his head. In this movie, we'll take a look at removing distractions, in order to bring focus to the subjects. So here we are, and what I want to do right now then, is evaluate the background.

Remove distractions

Despite a photographer's best efforts, it is all too easy to inadvertently let distractions appear in an image. This image is a perfect example. I shot this while in Paris a few years ago. In the bright sun, the fountain appeared as a vaporous cloud. And when I got the pictures back, I was confronted with a tourist relaxing, with a fountain coming out of his head. In this movie, we'll take a look at removing distractions, in order to bring focus to the subjects. So here we are, and what I want to do right now then, is evaluate the background.

And the thing we have to always keep in mind is that you don't want to be a slave to the photograph. We want to be willing to make changes, even big ones if it's necessary, to emphasize the subjects. Remember that the exact look of the image is all about the subjects. And so anything else is secondary. And one of the things in looking at this that I'm seeing already, is that the offset of the subjects is a bit disconcerting. In fact, I made a set of guides here so we can see, that's what will be the face of the canvas once it's made.

And you can see the father's head here, he's you know, getting close to what will be the edge, and she's rather far away from it. So, one of the things that I'm going to want to deal with here, is getting them more set up so that they're centered. And so, that's something that I, I'm going to have to think about. I'm not going to handle it in this particular video. We're going to do that in just a little bit, in the next chapter. So, I'm going to leave that for now. But the other thing that I want to address right now is, when I look at the subject's faces and I look back here, this is really a distraction how bright the highlights are back here.

The one thing I can do right off the bat is adjust these highlights. And a really easy way to do that is I'm going to go ahead and create a new layer. And I'm going to set this layer to darken. And then I'm going to go ahead and get an airbrush here, let's enlarge it up a ways.

I'm using the right and left bracket keys to do that. And I'm going to hold down the option or the alt key. And this let's me start to like grab a color here, so I'm going to take a darker color here. And you can see how I can go in here and start to darken these. And remember once again, that what you see right now is not the final image at all.

So even though these may look a little crude, they're not important, because we're going to be completely repainting all of this. So all I really am focusing on right now is reducing that background highlight. I may put a little bit of texture in there, But the goal right now is to tone these down, get it much darker than it was. Really what we're doing is establishing some noise in the image to take that bright spot in the background away. So even there now, these dots are starting to be a little distracting, but I know in advance that I'm going to be painting over this, so it's really not important. They key here is just getting things not so bright. And I can see even here. Now I'm going to go ahead and back these up. What I may do here, is just set my opacity down to maybe somewhere around 20 or so. Now I can do this and do it a little more subtlety. And just grabbing darker colors and, getting this all toned down.

So if we turn this on and off now, you can see, see when that's on the visual system is tuned to go for contrast, so it's finding these edges here. And even though you're not consciously doing it, your visual system just wants to go to those bright areas. When they're toned down like this, now that is not an area of focus any longer. The subjects become much more in focus. So finding areas that are these distracting background elements, and again, we could have had a phone pole or something coming right out of her head.

Those are the kinds of things you want to look for. And always keep in mind that it's the subjects that are important, not the background. In this particular image it's a backyard scene and we'll leave enough there so you'll get the sense of yes, they're outside in a treed area. We don't have to describe that with a great deal of certainty. Now some subjects could be in a rocking chair, Yes, in that case, that becomes a little bit more important, and so there are times where some of the background elements need to be identifiable because it's a certain place.

But, particularly in this portrait and most portraits, all of that you want to be diminished. And in fact, a photographer will often use depth of field To defocus those areas so, you don't have the same sense of sharpness, in the subjects that you would in the background. And that's yet another way as you can see here. That's out of focus, and your eye wants to go to where all of the focus is. So getting distractions removed during preparation phase really insures that you won't have to think about it later.

And this will allow you to concentrate on the painting process itself.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Digital Painting: Transforming a Portrait
Digital Painting: Transforming a Portrait

46 video lessons · 7931 viewers

John Derry
Author

 
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  1. 3m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. Using the exercise files
      35s
    3. Installing custom content
      1m 45s
  2. 5m 37s
    1. A short history of the portrait
      1m 42s
    2. Tools of the trade: Software
      2m 38s
    3. Tools of the trade: Hardware
      1m 17s
  3. 13m 1s
    1. The Photoshop PSD format: Working in Photoshop and Painter
      6m 20s
    2. Layer painting: Building up the image nondestructively
      3m 44s
    3. Getting your artwork printed
      2m 57s
  4. 29m 39s
    1. First step: Know your final output size
      5m 30s
    2. Extending edges for gallery wraps
      8m 14s
    3. Remove distractions
      5m 20s
    4. Preliminary tonal adjustment
      10m 35s
  5. 18m 26s
    1. Maximize the subjects via background adjustments
      7m 39s
    2. Back-to-front progression
      3m 44s
    3. The background is not the subject
      7m 3s
  6. 34m 42s
    1. Limit clothing detail
      9m 9s
    2. Handling patterns: Toning down selective detail
      10m 43s
    3. Handling patterns: Restoring selective detail
      5m 46s
    4. Jewelry is an extension of personality: More detail
      9m 4s
  7. 22m 56s
    1. Skin: Practice how to blend
      5m 12s
    2. Dealing with blemishes
      8m 54s
    3. Hands have personality!
      8m 50s
  8. 50m 10s
    1. An introduction to the face
      2m 8s
    2. Painting a child's face
      9m 43s
    3. Painting a child's eyelids and eyebrows
      2m 24s
    4. Painting a child's lips
      2m 57s
    5. Painting a woman's face
      8m 23s
    6. Painting a woman's lips
      6m 19s
    7. Painting a man's face
      9m 17s
    8. Painting a man's mouth
      4m 58s
    9. Painting a man's beard
      4m 1s
  9. 24m 23s
    1. Painting a child's eyes
      10m 31s
    2. Painting a child's eyes: Final touch-ups
      6m 26s
    3. Painting a woman's eyes
      5m 42s
    4. Painting a man's eyes
      1m 44s
  10. 28m 46s
    1. Painting a child's hair
      9m 56s
    2. Painting a woman's hair
      6m 51s
    3. Detailing a woman's hair
      6m 49s
    4. Painting a man's hair
      5m 10s
  11. 27m 3s
    1. Final painting touch-ups: Background
      9m 1s
    2. Final touch-ups: Subjects
      5m 21s
    3. Using vignetting to focus on the subjects
      2m 56s
    4. Adding lighting to the subjects' faces
      4m 23s
    5. Final color and density adjustments
      5m 22s
  12. 32s
    1. Next steps
      32s

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