A Beautiful World- Photoshop tutorial

Alright, so part of the reason I started a blog was to share some of the knowledge I have accrued over the years in the realm of photoshop.  By no means am I a pro.  Everything I learned has been online and from tutorials written by others.  I never went to school to learn photoshop but the biggest thing I have learned is that you can do the same thing multiple ways.  The important thing to do is to experiment and try to come up with something that pleases you.  Remember, you won’t make everyone happy.  Now that last comment goes for everything in life.

I credit most of the skills I have learned to my favorite website http://www.photoshopcontest.com .  You are given a source photo and your job is to manipulate with photoshop (or another program like ps) into something creative.  Some of the contest are for prizes, but most are for bragging rights.  It was here that I did my first chop (a slang term for photomanipulation).  It took me about 90 entries to get my first win and I have come a long way since.  I love photoshop to death, without it I feel like something is missing.

The photo we had to manipulate was the flower seen here

Quite often we get flowers, and most of the time people do a dress on a dancer or something like that.  I remember a while ago running across an image on deviantart.com of a flower with nation flags on it.  I decided I wanted to give it a go and make it my own.  This is truly a great image and I hope I did it justice in my version.

So without further ado, lets get this photomanipulation started!

The fist thing I did was to carefully cut out the flower from the background.  There are various methods to use but the pen tool is by and far superior to any other method to get a clean cutout.  A clean cutout will make a huge difference in the finished work.  First I cut it out and then I copy it and make a copy that has been desaturated.

Next I am preparing to put the various flags onto the petals.  To do this we must use the displace map.  For anyone who doesn’t know what that is.  It uses a saved image and distorts and image to conform better.  It reacts to blacks and whites by raising and lowering parts according to the image.  In this image it is important to try and make the flags I place onto the petals look like they are shaped like the flower.   So now I create a displace map.  To do this I make another copy of the black and white flower and then I play with the levels by lowering the darks and bumping the whites by moving the slider.  Now I go to file-save as- and then save the file as a psd.  For this photo, I named it unitednationsDISPLACEMAP.  Here is the levels up, u cant see a huge difference but it will effect the overall distortion of the flags.

Next comes the time consuming and tricky part.  First I had to find flags of nations.  At first I was googling individual flags and copy/pasting them into the image.  It took forever and I had only gotten a few done.  It was late and I was tired after work so I knew I had to make a change to expedite the process before I had a bf(bitch fit), lol.   So after some searching I came across this image of vector flags.

So I took the rectangle tool and selected a flag.   I tried to be thoughtful as to the color scheme and the overall composition.   In fact, when I got to the end I had to replace a flag because it just didn’t look good and took so much away from the final work.  So think about those things and don’t just randomly grab flags just to fill space.  So I select a flag and then size it up over a petal using the free transform tool to get the right angle.  Next I go to filter-distort-displace and run the displace map at the default settings using the psd we created earlier.  The flag will change shape to conform to the petal.  Now I turn the eye off on the flag and create a mask to only show the petal I am working on and apply it to the flag so it only shows on the petal I am working on.  I then changed the blending mode of the flag to overlay and played with the opacity.  I still wasn’t happy so I copied that layer and changed the blending mode of that one to color burn and lowered the opacity to about 17%.  For some flags I had to adjust the settings so it looked better.  After what feels like 50 million flags here is what it looked like so far.

Next I had to fix the areas that were still black and white.  I could have colored the grey areas with the blending mode on color but to stay true to the source I decided to use the original flower coloring.  To do this I I brought the colored cutout to the top and created a layer mask.  I colored this black to hide everything and then painted over the parts I wanted to color with a white brush.  Here is the result.

Next I had to decide on the background.  Really this can make or break all the hard work we have done so far.  To me leaving it on a white canvas is a terrible injustice.  I did like the original works cracked background but for mine it didn’t quite work as well.  I thought about using the original background but. . . blahhhh.

You can see that I kept the original background.  I added another copy of this and put a stroung gaussion blur to give it a glowy dreamy look.  Not to bad but not what I had in mind really.  I love the original’s contrasy background and how it makes the flower stand out.  I searched and found a good cracked earth image and transformed it to be the same angle as the flower by shrinking it on top and making it larger on the bottom.  I changed the blend mode to vivid light so the original color scheme came through.  I didn’t love it yet so I made a second copy of the ground and bumped the contrast and levels up and also made it vivid light.  I added a shadow beneath the flower and blurred it.  I also added a black soft vignette around the edge to bring focus to the flower.

And there you have it.  I don’t know if this will win the current contest it is in, but really I don’t care because I had so much fun creating it and love the final result.  Here is a download of the psd I used in the making of this.  http://www.zshare.net/download/98504596a14849de/

Also here is the contest image of the chop http://photoshopcontest.com/view-entry/182047/a-beautiful-world.html

As always, thank you for stopping by and if you have any questions or suggestions just let me know!

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