Video: Removing distractionsIt's very useful to add visual elements to an image to tell a story. And we're going to be doing that in this title. But there's another thing that's equally important. And that is to remove anything in a photograph that doesn't serve the subject. This gets into the whole mindset of a photograph being true to reality. We're telling a story here, and this is going to end up being a painting. It's not a representation of reality. So, you need to keep in mind that you want to remove things that may somehow confuse the viewer or do something that leads them astray from looking at the image.
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Learn to think like a painter and render images that look like they were created with oils or acrylics, using the latest digital artist's tools. Author and artist John Derry introduces the process of interpreting a photograph into a painted work of art. He begins by explaining his system of visual vocabularies, which describe how to replace the visual characteristics of a photograph with that of expressive painting, and also shares the custom brush sets and actions he uses to achieve these results in Adobe Photoshop. The course also covers working with filters, layers, effects, and more to add further detail and texture.
- Setting up a Wacom tablet
- Removing lens distortions
- Correcting distracting image elements
- Making shadow and highlight adjustments
- Simplifying details with filters and Smart Blur
- Modifying color
- Cloning layers
- Using a traditional paint color swatch set
- Using custom actions
- Working with canvas texture
- Creating physical surface texture effects
- Painting with custom brushes
It's very useful to add visual elements to an image to tell a story. And we're going to be doing that in this title. But there's another thing that's equally important. And that is to remove anything in a photograph that doesn't serve the subject. This gets into the whole mindset of a photograph being true to reality. We're telling a story here, and this is going to end up being a painting. It's not a representation of reality. So, you need to keep in mind that you want to remove things that may somehow confuse the viewer or do something that leads them astray from looking at the image.
When I'm working on an image, I apply what I call the What's That rule. And by that, I mean, if you're working on, or looking at an image, and you see something, and your first response to seeing it is, what's that? You want to get rid of it. Because, just as sure as you didn't know what it was, the viewer's not going to know what it is either. And you want to eliminate anything that distracts from telling a story, or cleanly telling exactly what this image is. Effectively, you're going to be creating an image that the viewer is going to read.
And if you throw oddball words and phrases and sentences into that image that make it hard to understand what it is, then you need to get rid of that. And I'm going to show you a couple areas in here that have that. If we go ahead and zoom up on here, right here towards the top, there's this guy. And when I first saw that you know what I said? What's that. And it took me a while to figure out that's actually a spotlight that is used to light the exterior of the building in front of it. It made me say, what's that, and therefore it's something that needs to be removed.
And this is pretty simple. This is really just a basic cloning technique here. So I'm going to go and ahead and get my Cloner tool, and I'm going to go ahead and hold down the Option key, and that sets our Source. So let's just grab an area right here. Let's just go in and start to eliminate this. Now, you don't have to be real precise here, because remember, we are going to ultimately paint over this. But I do sort of exercise, and I'll probably say this more than once throughout the title, I do try to clean up my photograph prior to painting it, to make it as clean and sharp and as good of a photo as it can possibly be. Even though I'm going to turn it into a completely non-photographic image, I feel the closer and more precise you get this image, the more it's going to translate into a painted result later on.
Here's another area. We need to fix this, and it's got a shadow over it. So, what I'll often do, especially in architecture, is look around, and sure enough, here's another piece of element that is exactly that same little architectural detail. So, once again, I'm going to hold down my Option or Alt key here, and grab that curved corner and then we'll just go right here and this lets me basically paint that in. I need to get the rest of the shadow out, so I'm just going to utilize this area over here. And remember, as I'm saying, this is not photo re-touching we're doing here.
It does not have to be absolutely perfect. So that's pretty much enough. I see, I guess, the standard that this light was on, it's still there. So we'll get rid of that. So basically, this is just using little local areas of the image to remove the offending area. So, that's pretty much gone. Now, I do see, there's still a little bit of noisy residue here. So let's just grab the top of this window right next to it. And use it just to clean that off. There we go.
So, we've gotten rid of this one element that was a What's That element. The other one is going to be a distraction and it's right here. Now, I'm going to tell you a little bit in advance that we are actually going to be removing this entire castle image from its environment and put it in another image. So, knowing that in advance, I'm not going to worry about all of this tree, but this area right here, that is actually in front of a little a bit of the architecture, I want to remove it. And I'm going to take advantage of the Content-Aware fill, but I first need to select these areas.
And how do I select such slender little elements? Well, I like to switch over to Quick-Mask mode, so I'm going to switch right here, and what that does is let me use black and white to be able to paint in these areas, and then eventually turn the painted mask into a selection. So, let's go ahead and grab a simple brush here, and I'm going to go ahead and use a hard-edged brush. And let's go ahead and reduce that size. I'm also going to zoom up. When you're working on something very small like this, it helps to get even over 100%, so let's get really close, and I'm going to reduce my brush size.
And normally, when you see me reducing brush size during this course, I'm using the left and right bracket keys. Left bracket to reduce size, and the right bracket to enlarge. So, I typically, as I'm working, will have my hand resting on those keys so I can very quickly adjust the brush size. So, I'm going to make this just a little larger than the size of the branches, and make sure that I'm painting wtih black. And so now I can just go in here. And paint these areas. So, I'm going to go through here and paint all these and then once we're done, I'll show you what the next step is.
Okay, so I've pretty much gone through here and covered all these areas where the offending branches are. One little trick I did. And this is from a knowledge of having used Content-Aware Fill in the past, is where there's this junction between the branch in front of the building, and then going into the sky. I tend to stop just short of the building and not crossing over it, because that's going to confuse the Content-Aware Fill Algorithm. And I want to be as kind to my friend Mr. Content-Aware Fill as I can.
So, we've covered that up. Let's back out here a little bit so you can see how much I did, and now there's a couple tricks we have to do here. First of all, we're going to switch back to Selection mode, so now we've selected, but if you look up here, actually what we've done is selected everything but the branches, so we need to do a reversal here, and I'm going to use Shift+Command+I to switch that around, so now I've truly selected those paint lines that I've drawn. It's a little confusing that the way Photoshop works.
Once you've used the Quick Mask, and you go out of it back into the selection, it's actually reverse from what you think you just did. And once you've done it a few times you get used to it, and you'll correct it on the way out. If, for some reason, things seem backwards to you, you haven't inverted the selection after you've painted it. So, let's go ahead and do the Content-Aware Fill and to quickly get to that, if I just hold down the Shift key and hit Delete, that brings up our Fill command, and we've got Content-Aware selected, so I'll go ahead and say OK.
And now it's just analyzing the image and let's go ahead and deselect, and there, it's gone. So, we've been able to pretty much, taking a little bit of time to be careful about drawing these lines, get rid of them. You could've used, say, a cloning tool, but trust me, trying to do that with a cloning tool would have been much more time intensive, whereas here it's just a matter of covering up the element that you want to remove and it pretty much removes it for you. And keep in mind too that while I play this game of, I want this to be as good of a photograph as I can before I paint it, I also have to balance that with the fact that I do know I'm going to paint this.
So, once we get into painting over all of this, all of this detail is going to go away. Your playing a little bit of a balancing act here. Yes, you want to correct it, make it as fine as you can, but on the other hand, don't sweat trying to make this absolutely perfect. Because this is going to be a painted image, you're going to lose a lot of the detail anyway. But it does pay to try to get this as close as you can to the photograph you want to work with going forward into a painting.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Digital Painting: Architecture .
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- Q: I'm unable to install the custom Wacom settings included with the exercise files. Any advice on how to load them?
- A: After the course was recorded, we discovered that the Wacom preference files are not cross-platform and are specific to the machine that created them, which limits their use. However, in the exercise files you'll find a PDF labeled Intuos4 Mapping_PS_CS5.pdf; using this document, you can manually enter the settings in the Wacom control panel. Also, please note that the settings are not necessary to complete the course.
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