Monday, April 24, 2017

Creating Dramatic Lighting in a Snap!

Hello again, LayerCake and StudioMagic friends! Here again is our own Harry Kerker with the 411 on how to take charge of the lighting in your scene with StudioMagic 2.

I’m reminded of how many times I’m driving on a fast moving highway and the sun breaks through the clouds creating a glorious array of light-beams and bursts. Or I’m in an old castle in Europe with light streaming through windows and my camera doesn’t see it, so I try the old nose grease trick where you rub upside your nose and smear it across your lens, but that only makes my lens dirty. The point is, most of these glorious moments we miss because they are unexpected and fleeting and we are just not ready.

I’m going to run you through the basics of creating streaming light with StudioMagic 2, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. In this before and after example, you can see that there is strong light coming through the window and casting light on the floor. Unfortunately the beam itself is not visible, usually because there’s not enough dust in the air to be picked up by the light streaming in. StudioMagic to the rescue, I go to my LightingEffex module and choose “Rays, Beams & Bursts. 

You’ll have a choice of light to choose from in the thumbnail gallery, so pick one and click OK, the create button will place the selected light ray in your image.  Now you may not see a perfect fit for the window in your choices which is ok, you just want to get close enough to the kind of light ray you envisioned as a starting point.  

Once you place you light ray, you can now shape it to your window. From your layers pallet, select the new light ray layer. Under the “Edit” menu choose “Transform” then “Distort”. You will now be presented with a box around your light ray with a series of square anchor points. Pull any of the anchor points and you will be able to reshape and angle your light ray to the direction of the light in the example. But what about that rounded top on the light ray, that’ll never fit in a squared off window frame!

Not true… select your light ray layer again and right click on it. In the drop down menu that appears, choose the option to “Rasterize Layer”. By rasterizing the layer, you can now cut and trim the layer to fit the window frame. You may have to go back to your distort tool to get just the right fit for the window. You’ll notice that I have light coming through the second window as well, just duplicate the layer and size it down to fit. 

For landscapes adding dramatic lighting is created using the same techniques as with interiors. Of course thick cloud cover with intermittent openings works best for dramatic lighting effects. Once you have decided which openings you plan to beam light through, draw lines to where you think the sun is located. The lines should all go back to the same finishing point, which will determine the angle of your lighting as it shoots through the clouds. 

Choose the appropriate light beam for the situation; in this case the light would be broken into multiple beams as it filters through the clouds. Once the light beam is placed, you can resize and rotate it to fit your directional lines. 

In this example I have seven different light beams. Don’t be afraid to experiment. A good little trick is to lay a flat light beam over a broken one to give it a bright glow. Try breaking a light burst through an area where the light passes through the opening. Lets also not forget that light hits the surface of the water as well, so try placing a light burst on the water’s surface and distort it into a long oval at the bottom of your light ray.

Harry Kerker, is the president and co-founder of LayerCake inc.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Creating realistic reflections used to be something only Photoshop masters could do. All that has changed.

It wasn’t that long ago that making realistic reflections in Photoshop was quite the challenge. Sure you could copy your entire image and paste it upside down beneath the original, but it never looked quite believable. If you wanted a water reflection with ripples in the water, you may as well forget it, unless you were a Photoshop guru. StudioMagic changed all that with the introduction of StudioMagic 2’s reflection panel.

Let’s first take the mirror reflection, the easier of the two types of reflections. You’ll want to crop the bottom of your photo first, because you’re going to want your reflection to butt up against the bottom of your original. Choose “Reflections” in your StudioMagic 2 panel and select Mirror Reflection “entire image”. We’ll cover use of the “Select Subject” option later. Your adjustments are defaulted to height and intensity 100%, finally, select “Create”

You have now created an accurate mirror image, but rarely do reflections display at 100% or the same height as the subject above, this is where your height adjustment comes in. 

Move the height slider to the left, in this case 70%. Again, hit create and you will see your mirror reflection change to a more accurate representation of a mirror image. If you want to try a few different sizing attempts, use the “Undo” at the bottom of the panel to go back one step. To start from scratch, select “Start Over” As you get used to the outcome of adjustment sizes, you can make them at the beginning of the process. 

Instances where your subject is not exactly horizontal are handled a little bit differently. Below you can see the refection does not butt up correctly to the bottom of the scooter because of it’s slightly off angle position. There’s two ways to correct this.

After you create your reflection, select the mirror layer that was just created. Go to “File” “Transform” and choose “Distort”.  Pull your anchor points until the reflection matches up properly with the subject. In this case I created an entire image reflection, which means when I distort the mirror layer, the white background layer beneath may show on the sides. No problem, create a third layer, sample the color of the background and fill to match. Move this fill layer to the back and you won’t notice a thing. 

The better way to do it would be to use the StudioMagic CutOut tool to remove the scooter. Add additional color canvas below the original.  Select the newly CutOut Scooter and in your StudioMagic Reflections panel choose “Selected Subject” This will make a mirror layer of just the scooter which will be much easier to distort and fit. 

As you’d expect, there are more variables with water reflections. Along with height and intensity, you now have “ripples”, “cooling” and “blur” It looks like a pretty calm day on the San Diego waterfront, so I’ll dial back my ripples to “2” height at 50% and 0% for both cooling and blur. Select “entire image”…

I hit a perfect match on the first try. We didn’t need the extra cooling because the subject image is already cool and it appears to be a bright day, which would give you sharp reflections rather than blurred. But I’d like to add a little more interest.

By simply dialing up “ripples” to “10” and selecting the update button it changes the whole look of the picture. Remember you can undo and as many times as you want until you get the right look. Just experiment, that’s the fun of it all. 

This is where the “selected subject” option comes into play. This is the original image, but I’d like to put a second subject into the same image. 

This is my studio shot of Kimberly, I first use the CutOut tool in StudioMagic 1 which simplifies Photoshop’s refine edge to easily remove Kim from her studio backdrop. StudioMagic’s CutOut is covered in earlier blogs and videos. 

I place Kimberly into the target image and choose the “select subject” option, then adjust my sliders to: Ripples 7, Height 93, Cooling 3 and for the first time, intensity at 95. Because our reflection is being applied over an existing image layer, this will give us additional latitude with the intensity adjustment.

Now hit “Create” It was that easy, and that’s not all, water reflections can be used to reflect clouds, birds even batman in the water if he happened to be flying over at the time.

Harry Kerker, is the president and co-founder of LayerCake inc.