This excellent example of photography was taken by Danny Warren, and features two members (Jeremy Warren and Chris Davis) of the Virginia Beach Star Wars Fan Force, The Tidewater Alliance.

Photo manipulation is a tricky business, even for the more experienced. With the right amount of patience and persistence, your images will begin to take on the form that you envisioned. Before I even put my cursor over the toolbar in Photoshop, I look at the image that I am working on and decide what I want to do overall. Then I figure out what in the image needs to be removed, what needs to stay, and what needs to be tweaked or adjusted. When making these types of decisions, it is important to remember what your personal limitations are with the program and images. Another resource that is always helpful to learn and know is the History panel. In times of frustration, this panel can become your best friend.

Step 1. Quick Selection Tool / Polygonal Lasso Tool

For tphotomanip12his photograph, I decided to remove the sky, light poles, people, etc. After opening the image i
n Photoshop, I doubled clicked the image. Doing this unlocks the image and allows you to rename it. At this point I added a new layer and designated it as the background layer. I then started the process of removing the sky by using the Quick Selection and Polygonal Lasso Tools. This is usually one of the most tedious processes in manipulating and retouching photos as sometimes the tools have a mind of their own. If and when this happens, just remember to take a deep breath and keep at it. After I removed all sections of the blue sky, I did the same to the small sign located underneath the two individuals in the picture. At this point, my image looked like this.

Step 2-3. Layer Manipulation/Blending

photomanip21After all the sections I wanted out of the image were taken care of I added my new background. Once the new background was in place, it was easy to see where I needed to go over with the Healing Brush and Clone Stamp Tools. Once everything was in place I noticed that I did not like how the background actually sat in contrast with the mid-ground. I used the Ctrl-T function on the layer to adjust the layer and put it on an angle. Then I added my custom science fiction sign. Around the tree edges I carefully used the Burn Tool to slightly darken around the trees, giving a blending effect with the darker background color. This tool was also used in spots inside the two shadows for depth. I also used the Dodge Tool to lighten certain spots in the new background.

Step 4. Rotoscoping

photomanip4For the finishing touch, I rotoscoped both individuals lightsabers, green for the Jedi, and red for the Sith. To accomplish the rotoscoping feature, you must have the LI actions installed in PhotoShop. The tools used to accomplish this feature are the Pen Tool, Custom Shape Tool, and the Line Tool. Normally you would use the saber settings that matched when the picture was taken, i.e nighttime photo, dark settings. This picture was taken during the daylight, but due to the darker background I introduced, I decided to go with darker saber settings.

Rotoscoping images is pretty easy if you have the correct program, tools, and patience. If you are new to rotoscoping or are even remotely interested. I will be making a rotoscoping tutorial in the near future so make sure you check for updates and new blog posts.