Thursday 1.13.11

A bad tutorial.

I’m not much of a tutorial guy but there was a question on a forum today about how I achieved a certain look. For those who are experienced with photoshop – and more experienced than I am, this will be kind of a no-brainer. With many of the images I take and/or do, I am trying to do something to enhance the original image in some way. Perhaps I’m trying to create a greater mood or maybe I’m hiding a flaw in the image or the model.

In this image, KJ has no flaws. The idea here was to try to create a tasteful nude image of a beautiful woman. The question is, how can I do this? How can I take a picture of a naked woman and show it to you so that you understand that she is, in fact, a naked woman and yet NOT show you specifically how naked she is. How can I show you skin and breasts and nipples so that you can understand and make sense of the image and the parts involved without “really” showing them in a blatant manner?

Like this:

Ok, so how did I do this? I started with the original image which was shot with an inexpensive Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. These run about $100.00. I was using a Canon 50d. Since I can get pretty good bokeh with this lens, I was attempting to shoot across her body in a way that would gradually blur out as it went over her chest and towards her legs. I did not quite succeed with the shot, so the rest I would do in post.

The original shot:

I wanted to create a greater blur over her body to help conceal her breast. I used Alienskin’s Bokeh to help create the effect. This can also be done in regular photoshop in a gradual series of layers. What you might do in that case is to select a portion of (in this image) the upper left 4th of the image, feather it and then give it a very slight gaussian blur. Moving more to the upper left, make a selection of this layer and repeat the process. Keep making layers and doing this until you have a gradual, sensible and believable bokeh going on. It really does not take much. You can probably do it in about 3 layers. Make opacity adjustments as needed. I use Alienskin Bokeh as it simply saves me a few steps.

At some point here I cleaned up the skin a little and reduced the tone of her cheekbone. I then used a Nik color effects Ink filter to adjust the overall tone and color of the image at this point.

Knowing ahead of time that I wanted to throw in some kind of flare, I decided to just create a flare layer. This is actually a series of layers to get to the end result. First, I started with a new layer and filled it with black. I then used the lens flare feature in photoshop and set the point of origin somewhere in the upper left as if this was coming in from out of frame. I used 35mm prime and set it to about 150%. Next, I created a layer mask on that layer and used the radial gradient tool at 100% set to reverse (top) and pulled about 1/2 way into the lower right quarter starting from the center of the flare. The blending mode was set to lighten. Along with this there was a large ball of light (yellowish) placed in the upper left corner – another layer – using a large soft brush. I hit it again with a whiter light in the upper left corner and then Gave it a blur. The lines with the magenta are simply another layer. I used the marquee tool to create a couple of intersecting lines, blurred them, used the marquee tool again to create spots along the lines and filled them with magenta. I blurred them as well. Once they looked right I merged them and once again used the radial gradient tool at 100% set to reverse (top) and pulled about 1/2 way into the lower right quarter starting from the center of the flare.

The fanned out light is yet another couple of layers. I created a circle and filled it with a solid yellowish color. On another layer I created a line that ran vertically just above and below the circle. I wanted to create a sort of a star pattern with this line so that eventually I would have sort of a dashed circle outline. There are probably better ways to do this. I filled the line with black, copied it and rotated it 90 degrees. I merged down and copied that – then rotated it until it fit between the last 2 lines – 45 degrees. Merge down, copy and turn and keep doing this until you have a nice pie thing going on. Select that and then go to your circle layer and delete the selection. Turn off your pie thing… you are done with this.

Create a circle marquee selection just a little smaller than the circle and delete the selection leaving you with a dashed line. Make a couple of copies of this layer. Hide them for now and work with one. I used the move tool and pulled the dashed line out of, or into the shapes you see there. I blurred the layer. I opened another dashed line layer and did something similar. I also used the radial gradient tool at 100% set to reverse (top) and pulled about 1/2 way into the lower right quarter starting from the center of the flare. Once everything looked right I merged all to a new layer and closed the layers I had used to create this. I set the blending mode to lighten.

After taking a look at how this would look over the image I decided to make a copy, flip it and have one coming from the other side as well.

Which resulted in something like this.

There are a zillion ways to do stuff like this and for me it is just a matter of how I think it is looking… personal taste. My personal taste might suck. I hope this sheds some light on the idea.


EF 50mm f/1.8

One response

  1. Hi JSV,

    Great, many thanks for sharing your workflow, its a great help !


    January 14, 2011 at 5:02 am

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