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November 1, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Deconstructing Halloween: Rock & Roll in Layers

Geekdom, Halloween, Holidays, Photography, Pixelmator

When I posted the Halloween photos on Sunday, a number of people asked to see the originals out of curiosity. I've posted the original below, and the 10 layers in between the original and the final image. These were done in Pixelmator, which I only started using since Thursday so there may be an easier or more efficient way to get to the final result.

Because of our over-the-top rock & roll theme, I wanted the photo to also be over the top and somewhat ridiculous. The results are below.

The original RAW frame from the Nikon D40. Note all the clutter in the background and my ailing D7000

Step 1: saturate the colors. Increase the saturation to bring out the makeup and tattoos. Note the background artifacts. At this point, the photo is over-saturated, but it will look better once the background is removed.

Step 2: smooth skin. Add a blur layer to smooth the skin, then use a layer mask to paint out the blur other than the face. You can leave some blur to create a synthetic "depth of field" effect in the background.

Step 3: remove the background. Copy the predominate color from the background and fill in a layer over the entire photo. Then use a layer mask to paint away the background to reveal the underlying photo. This is where time up front to move furniture and take pictures in front a blank background pays off. You can also select the subject and cut it from the photo, but I'm not too get with the select tools, so I just painted it away.

Step 4: red eyes. Draw circles over the eyes and fill the circles with red. Then adjust the opacity of the circle to reveal the eyes feature and color the iris. This turned out to be far more subtle than expected.

Step 5: checkered background. This step is a bit pointless, but I decided to add a checkerboard background. Create a new layer, generate a checkerboard, then use a layer mask to paint away the checkerboard and make the subject appear in the foreground. Blend the background to create a slight shadow effect.

Step 6: tooth flash. Create a new layer and generate a "starburst" and position it over the tooth.

Step 7: add sunbeams. Create a new layer and generate a sunbeam pattern. Create a layer mask and paint out the sunbeams to bring the subject forward.

Step 8: add magenta gradient. Add a new layer and fill it with a magenta gradient to color the photo slightly rose-colored. Blend the layer.

Step 9: add a blue gradient. Create a new layer and add a blue gradient. Blend that layer.

Step 10: add a yellow fill. Create a new layer and fill it with a pale yellow, then blend the layer to slightly warm the frame. Done!

I'm sure you could combine some of these steps, but doing each in a separate layer allows you to turn them on and off based on your preference. The total time to process this image is about 25 minutes. I don't have a lot of stock photo art, but I would have added flames or lightning or other such nonsense to make the photo really ridiculous. Feedback welcome.



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Daily Photo: Rock & Roll - Before & After

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Death of a Camera: The Dreaded Nikon D7000 Err
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