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Submitted on
May 4, 2009


4 (who?)
Disclaimers and Such

1. This tutorial is designed for those interested in how I do my "painted" photo manips. If you are looking for tips and techniques for "realistic" manips, then I am not your man. I have no clue how to do those!

2. I use adobe photoshop. I don't know any of the commands for any other programs, sorry.

3. I'm a photo manip noob. There are probably better/faster/easier ways of doing many of the things that I do. This is just how I do them.

4. Feel free to ask any questions that you might have! If something is unclear for you, just ask for clarification. It can be hard to explain something visual in words, but I will try my best.

5. Sorry for the tucking fypos. I'm not proofreading this.

Ready? Here we go.

Step One: Finding Stock Photos

If you were to ask me what the most important part of the process is, I would say, "Finding photos to use!" A well-chosen photo can save your manip. A poorly chosen photo can ruin it. It's worth the extra time to find decent photos rather than just one that "will work okay, I suppose." On average, I spend thirty minutes to two hours narrowing down and/or picking out my stock photos. Often, I will chose the subjects and try out multiple backgrounds until I find something that "clicks" for me.

Helpful tips for choosing stock:

1. For my technique, form matters more than focus. In other words, if you find a shot that is a little blurry or out of focus, that's okay! In fact, I find that slightly blurry shots work a little better for painting over.

2. You heard it here first: bigger really is better! ...At least when it comes to stock photos, that is. It's easier to scale a large image down than scale a small image up. Blurry is fine, but serious pixelization is bad.

3. Don't forget to use only valid stock sources. I will list some good and bad sources shortly.

4. Follow all of the directions that your stock photographer provides. This usually includes things like crediting your source (which you should do regardless) and/or notifying the photographer. They are kind enough to provide stock, please respect their rules.

5. Keep a digital folder of stock images. It will make the searching process much easier if you already have some photos saved. Before you save any image, though, make sure that there are no unusual rules for using the stock image that you might forget. Also, keep track of the name of the site and the photographer. I usually do this by saving my files as Photographer'sName-AT-website.

Good places to find free stock

Right here on DA! Just search the "stock and resources" gallery.
Flikr: (Just remember that not all photos on flikr are stock! Search only the "creative commons" library in the "explore" section to be safe)
Your own photos ;)

Bad places to find stock

Google image finder
Magazines and books, unless they are specifically for stock use
Free wallpaper sites

Picked out your photos? Onward!

Step Two: Preparing Your Stock

For this section, we will assume that you have some type of subject; an animal, person, or item.

1. Put a second layer beneath your subject's photo. Fill in the layer will the flood tool. Any horrible, clashing colour will do. I use bright fluorescent purple or lime green. This is so that you can easily tell when you've removed the background from the subject.

2. To cut out the subject, I use the eraser tool and just erase the background. Typically, I use a round, hard brush to get a cleaner "cut." You can use a fuzzy brush if you want a softer edge. I also zoom in 200-300%. Now, carefully do your erasing.

3. Once that is done, you can delete your vomitous, retina-damaging background.

4. If you used a hard brush to cut out your image, or just want to blur the edges a bit, you can use this technique: Use the magic wand to select the subject. You may have to select the "blank" area and then just Select > Inverse. Now, go to Modify > Border. Input 3 pixles. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Select a value that will give your border a pleasant fuzzy edge, which will probably be somewhere in the .5 to 1.5 range, depending on the size of your stock image.

5. Arrange your subject(s) on your background. You will more than likely have to resize some of the images. I just do this by trial and error. Try out different backgrounds and arrangements. You might be surprised at what you find.

6. As a final preparation before we begin some of the painting process, I suggest doing some alterations to make the background and subject(s) match. Play around with the levels, lighting, colour balance, and contrast until your images look like they "belong" together. It doesn't have to be perfect right now. We'll revisit this step later!

On to part two:…
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lionheART101 Featured By Owner May 10, 2009
This is awesome I love it :D I used it to create White Wolf! [link]
vengeofthestars Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks again :) this is very helpful.
some screenshots of you working would be nice too, not like a full tutorial but just some shots so we know what everything looks like.

MoonsongWolf Featured By Owner May 16, 2009
I'm glad that it's helpful! I'll try to grab some screenshots of the next project... my problem is that I tend to start working and just completely forget about it. :lol: I "zone out" when I create.
vengeofthestars Featured By Owner May 17, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
mhm yeah i do that too

vengeofthestars Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
lol this was meant for part 2 sorry
skieswolf Featured By Owner May 7, 2009
Ah, this is great! Thank you! I get so nervous attempting photomanips because I'm not really sure what to do. The blurring of the edges with opacity and the blur tool can be so tedious; it's takes me hours! And thank you also for the good stock sources. This will help me out a lot! :D I'll be sure to stay alert for the next journal.
MoonsongWolf Featured By Owner May 12, 2009
Oh, I had no clue what to do, either, when I started! :lol: I've used a few tutorials. If you get stuck, that's the fastest way to learn new things. I also keep different copies of my layers and even the entire file as I go. That makes it easier to go back and change things if you don't like the way your manip is headed.
Jadestream Featured By Owner May 6, 2009
Whats the flood tool?
MoonsongWolf Featured By Owner May 6, 2009
Actually, I think photoshop calls it the "paintbucket tool." I'm just used to calling it the flood tool, because I believe that's what MSPaint calls it. The icon for it is a paint can spilling over. Basically, it will fill an entire selected area with your chosen colour. Very handy for filling in a background very quickly. :)
Jadestream Featured By Owner May 6, 2009
:o im dumb, of course thats what it is ! Thanks for putting this up its very useful :)
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