Friday, 16 August 2013

Posted by Muhammad Naeem On Friday, August 16, 2013
I wanted to make a very basic tutorial that could be followed by anyone who had never done a "chop" before and was using Photoshop Elements for the first time. It also contains information about how to properly size and format the photo file for entry into Worth1000 contests.

Besides applying prints to clothing, the methods used in this tutorial can also be used in other areas, such as applying tattoos to skin, applying graffiti to buildings, etc.

As an absolute beginner, I made "tee" on Photoshop Elements 10 using a PC. Although I now have CS5, I recommend Elements as a good entry software for beginners, mainly because of its low cost (<$100 US). It contains most of the important features of the more advanced (and expensive) Photoshop CS.

Like many of the Beginners contests on this site, "Two Fish" was a B2B (Back-to-Basics), where a source photo is provided to "manipulate any way you like".
Here's the source photo, provided by Pikkatze (Thanks!).




I wanted to make the fish appear to be printed on some clothing in a different photo, preferably of a fisherman. So, I started searching. There are many sites to search for good source photos, but I like to start on "Flickr" because there are millions of photos, there is a good search function, and they are assorted by usage licenses (most are free).
I found this one:

Photo credit: Varin Tsai
There are several ways to get rid of the background in the two fish photo. Since the background was fairly uniform, I used the Magic Wand tool to select the background, then cut it, using the following steps:


To move the fish image onto the fisherman, open them side-by-side using the "Move" tool to click on the "arrange" icon in the upper left (red arrow), then click on the "2-up" option in the drop-down menu. Then click on the fish layer and drag it onto the fisherman.


Now follow these steps to be able to use the "free transform" tool on the "two fish" layer:

Use the "free transform" bounding box to move, re-size and rotate the two fish layer, until the position looks correct, relative to the shirt.

The perspective of the two original images was similar here, but in other cases it may be necessary to use other tools, such as "perspective", "skew", or "distort", to get one image to fit onto another, but we'll save those for another tutorial...Mmmm-kay?
Now, use the crop tool to get rid of those swimmers at the top and improve the overall composition.


Now, it's time to make the adjustments that will make the two-fish layer a believable part of the underlying fisherman layer. There are, of course, many ways to do this, but I think the following steps are the simplest.
I used the lighting and color of the fisherman's hat as a visual guide for the adjustments.

First, lighting:

Then color:

Don't worry about getting things exactly right here, because we'll go back to the same controls to fine tune things after we complete the blending in the next step.
One of the things I liked about the original fisherman photo was the way the light angled across his shirt, casting shadows that created depth and texture. To make the two fish look like a truly believable print, they have to conform to those folds and shadows on the shirt.
One way is to use a displacement map. I won't go into the details of this method (there are some other good tutorials that deal with that) because the result that I got wasn't any better (in this case) than just using a blending layer. And the blending layer is much simpler and easier.
Of all the actions that we'll take in this tutorial, blending is the closest thing to magic. For the next steps, make sure to click on the "two fish" layer to make it the active layer.
Using the "Move" tool, follow step 1 in the image below to get the drop-down menu that shows all the blending modes. Whenever I blend any layer, I look at the different results I get with each different mode. I highly recommend this as an educational exercise.
The mode that gave the best result here was "Multiply" as shown in step 2. The two fish layer has now taken on the light and shadow values of the underlying layer of the shirt. Like I said, MAGIC.
Finally, I wanted to "fade" the two fish onto the shirt a little more, so in step 3, I lowered the opacity to 90%.





Now, fine tune the lighting and color, following the same instructions as shown previously.
I wanted it to look like it had been through the washing machine a few times and also faded from being out in the sun a lot. Think about how your own favorite tee shirt looks after a while.

Looks about right, except for the area around the left shoulder, so let's zoom in on that. The zoom tool looks like a magnifying glass, next to the move tool. Just above it are two symbols, a "+" and a "-". Click on the "+", then position the tool over the left shoulder, and click and repeat until there's a good close-up view of the shoulders.


Notice how the left shoulder has brighter highlights, and that a part of the fish tail extends into this area (circled in red). We can make the tail fit into this area a little better by using the Dodge Tool.
It is grouped with two other tools, so it may be necessary to right click on the area shown below to get the drop-down menu and then select the Dodge Tool.
These tools have settings like brushes. I selected a soft brush set to "highlights" and 20% strength. (Make sure the fish layer is active). Then I just brushed over the tail a few times to get the result I wanted.


Here's a close-up of the result:

Now that the "chop" is complete, let's talk about saving files. For a work in progress, the motto is "save early, save often" to prevent a lot of hard work from being lost in case of an interruption. Just click on "File" then select "Save" from the drop-down menu. Do this frequently while working. Think of it as a free and easy insurance policy.
When the work is finished though, these files are usually too large to send by e-mail or to enter in contests. There's a different method to down-size files. Click on "File" again, but this time select "Save for Web" from the drop-down menu.
This opens the photo in a separate window that allows you to select various formats ( JPEG, GIF, etc.) and sizes ( by percentage or pixels ) for saving the photo. (Red arrows in the image below). After making the changes, click "Apply" to preview the result, then "OK" to save it.


The final version that I submitted to the contest was 699x1000 pixels and a file size of 483kb.
See the Worth1000 FAQ's for entry file requirements for contest entries.

Here's a smaller version (350x501 pixels, and 153kb file size) of the completed image.

THE END


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Naeem Sagar
Date published: 10/13/2015
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