Monday, October 15, 2012

How I Got The Shot #33 - Zombie Composite

This post is a combo tutorial of getting the shot and a little photoshop!

I wanted to create a composite image for a calendar image.  It was for October, so - you guessed it, my favorite zombies are going to be featured!!

Here is what I built for the calendar:

We will build something similar today!!

See the full workflow after the break.....

I selected 4 images from the Zombie Walk Columbus event.

My idea was as follows.  I wanted the zombie pictures to look like they were polaroids and I wanted a bloody background and blood spatter on the polaroids.  So with this in mind, we start out with getting the tools and resources together.

Spatter brushes(free from Adobe Exchange) - some brushes are also called "splatter" so search for both terms and get the brushes you want
Images of zombies
Polaroid action for Photoshop(free from
Photoshop(I'm using CS6, but any version of Photoshop will work for this)
Also note, that I am working with a PC version of Photoshop, so all shortcut keys are in that format.   Mac users, please substitute the appropriate names as needed.

The calendar dimensions are 11" wide by 8.5" tall, so I created a new photoshop canvas with those dimensions @ 240dpi.

I always create a duplicate of the original background, so do that by pressing Ctrl-J to create a duplicate layer.

Now, I need to use the spatter brushes to create the background that I want.  There are plenty of tutorials on loading brushes, so if you need assistance, Google is your friend!  :)

Make sure your color palettes are set to black(foreground) and white(background).

Now, select your spatter brush of choice and start clicking all over the canvas at various sizes and angles.  Also, change up to different brushes for a more layered and unique look.  Once you've done that you should have something that looks like this:

That looks good, but not like blood drops...not yet, anyway....

We now want to create a new layer, but we want to create one of a solid color.  This will be our blood color.  Go to the layers palette and select "new fill or adjustment layer" icon at the bottom.  A menu will pop up and select the top option, "solid color".  You'll be presented with a color selection box.  find a shade of red to your liking and click OK.  You should have something like what you see below.

Now, there will be three layers in your layers palette.  In order for the spatter to look more like blood, we are going to need to change the blending mode of the layers.  Make sure that the solid color red layer is selected and change the blend mode to OVERLAY.

Your spatter should look like this now:

Now that looks like what we want!!

We are ready for the zombies!!  I've selected 3 images.  We want to make those three images look like polaroids.  You can do this by manually manipulating the canvas to create a white border around the images you have, or you can use the polaroid action I referenced at the top of the post.  I recommend the action because it does a few things for you.  1 - it runs the open file dialog for you, you pick the image -- 2 - you select the part of the file for the image and it does the rest.
There are two parts to the polaroid action.   The first part just builds the canvas around the image, where as the second one creates the canvas and a drop shadow and background.  I used the second one and then just brought over only the image and shadow layers.

The finished polaroid should look like this:

Here is the image dropped onto the bloody background:

I've gone ahead and done the same with the remaining two images, resized them and rotated them with the free transform tool from the EDIT menu.

Remember, if you want to keep your proportions the same on the resize, hold down the SHIFT key while resizing.  Also - remember to select the polaroid and shadow layers when doing move and resize operations.  Other options are merging the two layers together or linking them.  To link, select the two layers that you want linked using Ctrl and left mouse click - then right click on one of the selected layers and click the "link layers" option(this is what I did).

Looks good right?  Sure - but for me, not enough blood!!
I think a good looking effect will be to have the polaroids look like they were spattered with the same blood as the background.

To do this, quick and easy, we'll merge the solid red layer and the spatter layer.  Select the solid red and spatter layer, go into the layer menu and click "merge selected".  You'll see in the layers palette that there is now 1 layer instead of the two.

Duplicate the newly merged layer using Ctrl-J.  Move that layer above all the polaroids to the top.  When you first do this, all your polaroids will not display.  Our old friend the blend mode comes back into play.  Instead of using the OVERLAY mode like we did the first time, we want to use DARKEN.  This will allow for the dark parts of the images underneath to show through the blood spatter layer.

Now feel free to rearrange the polaroids if you don't like how they are sitting with the blood spatters.

Hope this was helpful and useful!

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