Today, I'm having my last play with my pretty boys in the piece 'His Boy'. At least for the moment, anyway. This is the story of how I put together the last series of wallpapers in Photoshop. Loads of fun.
My goal is to create a wallpaper from the portrait piece, His Boy. In that work Angel is much larger than Spike but now I want them to be sized in proportion to each other. I made a copy of my original psd and then opened the Angel group to resize it. After a bit of messing around I realised that there were too many adjustment layers further up that I would have to alter to fit the new size so starting over seemed the best way to go.
. I used the the Crop tool to increase the canvas size to 1600 x 900 pixels and positioned Spike near the centre.
I brought in my image of Angel, positioned and resized him to fit.
I masked Angel's layer and once again, used the Gradient Tool in the mask to remove the side of Angel that covered Spike. I still want Angel behind Spike and to use Spike's background in the finished piece. This is the mask. A neat trick if you want to see what your mask looks like, hold the Alt key on a PC and click on the mask and it will show in your work space. Repeat to get back to your work space. The same command works if you want to have a particular layer visible, or for instance see the original image before all the adjustments were added. Alt and click the layer then repeat to get back to your work.
Angel is blended nicely into the image. I use my brush with white to remove a little of the mask where I had lost too much of Angel's face.
I'm not too worried about the other side of Angel because I know that his background will change once I start on the overall background and add a few adjustment layers. I do remove the writing though as it's light and might show through later. I also take off the light edge for the same reason. I take these parts away by adding to the mask with a soft brush and black.
Now I add a layer under both Spike and Angel to fill in the background. A quick shortcut to adding a new base layer is to hold the Ctrl key on a PC, Command on Mac and click the new layer icon. I fill this layer with black, using the Bucket tool.
Now I want to lighten and smooth Angel a little to match the light on Spike. I create a curves layer, put my cursor on the centre of the line and drag it down into a nice curve about one grid cell. The input is 142 and the output 105. I rename this layer to Burn. I'll use this to add shadows. I make another curves layer and this time drag the line up toward to left hand side corner about the same distance as the last. This layer I rename Dodge and I will use it to add light to Angel and remove some of the little imperfections on his skin. I invert the masks on both layers so that they are filled with black. I use a soft brush, reduce the flow to around 10% and change the foreground colour to white. If you are using a tablet, as I do, turn off the pressure sensitive mode. We want the strokes to use the full flow of the brush for this. I am using these two layers to remove small imperfections in Angel's skin, some pixel artifact from enlarging Angel and dust and specks. I then create a new layer and used the sharpen tool on Angel's face, to bring out eyes and lips. Make sure your layer is set to Sample all layers. I use a soft brush and size it to fit the area I'm working on. Just a few strokes to emphasise the pixels in eyebrows, lashes, iris and the lips. Another new layer and this time I use the Smudge tool just to smooth a few imperfections that I did not catch with my dodge tool. Now I add another two curves layers and repeat the settings I used before and fill the masks. I am going to use these two layers as an overall light and dark tool on Angel whereas the first two, I was using more on a pixel level to remove spots and such. I use a bigger brush and paint in light on Angel's face and body to match the direction of the light on Spike. Then I work on the shadows to bring in some contrast. I put all these layers in a group and rename them Angel.
Now I add a Color Lookup adjustment layer and set it to Late Sunset. I reduce the layer opacity to 38%. and using a soft brush, remove it from Spike and soften it a little on Angel. Then I add my text layers. I've used two Fonts for this, Sculptors Hand Regular and Shipped Goods regular. Both are from AringTypeface and are part of a nice little Script package for a very resonable price. The designer is Mans Greback and he does beautiful work. You can find free for non-commercial use versions on DaFont.
Now I have a nice Black background with the boys looking sharp. Click the image for the full size version.
I then went on to add a fog layer by creating a new layer and filled it using Filter - Render - Clouds, set the Layer Mode to Linear Doge and reduce the opacity to 14% to give a soft textured finish. I mask this layer from the faces with a soft brush, black and set to 70% opacity.
Then I decided I'd like a white background. Now I could cut the boys out from their dark background or I could do something much simpler that would allow me to keep some of the soft blended background they already have. So using the command Control-Alt-Shift-E, I create a merged copy to which I add a layer mask. I have a collection of brushes called splatter brushes. They literally paint a splatter. You can make them from an image of large paint splatters or find them on the net. There are loads of brushes on Deviant Art, created by folk who are happy to share. Read the conditions of use before doing so though. Mine came through a subscription to Wegraphics, a site that has all sorts of Photoshop resources, some of which are free. Fill your layer mask with black using Control I and then set the foreground colour to white, size your brush and paint.
This is my mask
This is the image. You can tweak the mask by using your brush and black to add to the mask or white to remove from the mask. Because of the nature of a splatter brush, some of the image you want will have been painted out. Use black and paint it back in. If you need to alter the size of your splatter then un-link the mask by clicking on the little chain link, highlight it and use the Free Transform tool as normal. You can also use the Transform - Warp tool if you need to squish it around. So cool! Remember to re-link your mask when you are finished.
Now, turn off all the layers below this one. I put them all in a group and then turn the group off. It's quick and neat.
You've removed the background and have empty pixels. How cool is that! Now you can place new layers below and fill them with whatever colour you want the background to be. I have a white layer, though if I saved a jpeg from the above image it would automatically fill with white. I use the white layer and sometimes a black layer to help adjust my mask. To get my feathered white effect simply click on the layer mask and adjust the Feather in the properties box until you get an effect you like.
To get the red background, or any other colour, add a new layer under our masked image and fill it with red. For the textured effect I used a rough texture over the red layer and changed the blend Mode to Subtract. I left the opacity at 100% I could also have created a red backed splatter brush effect. Click image for full size.
The Finished Wall papers
Please click on any image for the full size version.