Sunday, February 28, 2010

Digital Photo Editing Tips

by : Gen Wright

Thanks to advancements in editing software, a number of mundane pictures can be transformed into an eloquent collage, or even made to look like part of the same composition. To do this efficiently, however, one of the most essential tools is the lowly cut-and-paste.

Cutting and pasting pictures sounds quite simple - after all, that's the first thing four year olds learn to do in school! With intelligent scissors, it's about as easy on a computer as it is by hand... right? But think of a cutout featuring a woman against a multicolored background with hair flying behind her, or of a magnificent lion flaunting its mane in the African savannah. Do cutouts still seem that easy? Not so much!

The Photoshop Disasters blog stands as testimony to the fact that no photo editing gaffes are tolerated in today's world. If a cutout looks anything less than realistic, woe betide the person responsible for it! This is why intelligent masking is absolutely necessary for professionals, as the best alternative to spending hours selecting each and every fine edge individually. On complex and varied backgrounds such as trees, lattices or grass, the quality of the masking software is tried to its utmost. Being able to tweak transparency is also very useful, especially when blurry edges need to be blended into a new background.

Once cutouts are ready, it is time to play with them. Each individual cutout can be modified to fit the final composition you want to put them in. Image editing can broadly be grouped into color
editing, retouching and shape editing. Shape editing includes effects like scaling, shearing, and twisting the perspective. Retouching is done in a wide variety of ways - blurring, penciling, sharpening... anything that is required to remove blemishes and enhance where required. Color is also a huge playground for the photo editor, as color balance can be altered, colors muted or brightened in select parts of your cutout, making it look anything from utterly realistic to billboard-worthy to downright spooky.

Finally, you can place your cutouts in the final composition. Create a custom background or use an existing picture - you may want to delete the foreground figures in an existing photograph and place your own cutouts in their place, or you may take a picture yourself to use as background for your composition. Some of the changes you make to the cutouts may need tweaking or even total reworking at this stage, so be prepared to take some time at this stage of your project. In the endArticle Search, the goal is to end up with a project that looks exactly like the idea in your head made real.

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