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Photography: PS Tutorial: Giving Your Minis a Background


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#1
Kanazuchi

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Photoshop Tutorial 2: Cutting out Miniatures

This tutorial will show you how to remove your miniatures, clean them up, and apply a new background. This is great for those pics where you need to isolate a member of a squad, or perhaps you just have an embarrassing tub of KY jelly in the background!

Photoshop Level: Intermediate

What you'll learn/use:
  • The Pen Tool
  • Quick Masks
  • Gradient Masks
  • Gradient Tool
Okay then, let's get started! I grabbed a random Space Marine pic off the internet to start:

Posted Image


Next, you will want to open your Layer Palette if it isn't already there. (Window > Layers or just hit F7). Double-click the Background layer and click "OK" in the dialog box that pops up. Then, press Shift+Ctrl+N to create a new layer. Click "OK" in the dialog box. Next, drag this layer (now called Layer 2) beneath Layer 1 and leave it selected.

Your layer palette should now look something like this:

Posted Image


Having fun yet?? It is time to get down to business. Grab your Pen Tool from the left hand tool bar, or just press the letter P on your keyboard. We are going to trace the outside edge of the model using the Pen Tool. It sounds harder than it is!

The Pen Tool works by creating anchor points each time you click a spot. When you create an anchor point, before letting go of the left mouse button, you can move the handles of the anchor to create curves. Example:

Posted Image

I won't lie to you, the Pen Tool takes some getting used to it, but it is the best tool for cutting out objects. Now, we are going to start cutting out the model. Each time you make an anchor point that has a curve, make sure to Alt-Click the Anchor point or else it will affect your next anchor point.

Now see, that wasn't tooooo bad. You should have something akin to this now:

Posted Image

With your Pen Tool still selected, right click anywhere on the line you just made (called the Path) and select [/b]Make Selection[/b].

Posted Image

Make sure you have Layer 1 (the layer your mini is on) selected. You need to inverse the selection by either hitting Shift+Ctrl+I or Layer > Inverse in your tool bar.

Posted Image

Finally, press Ctrl+X or Edit > Cut and you should be left with this:

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Whew! What a job, huh? Now that we have your mini isolated from it's boring background, let's jazz him up a wee bit.

First, let's make our canvas a little bigger. Go to Image > Canvas Size and make some room beneath your model's feet.

Posted Image



Next, we're going to add a gradient in the background. Any color is fine, it is completely up to you. Just make sure you apply it to the Layer 2 we created at the beginning of this tutorial. The Gradient tool is located underneath the Paint Bucket in the toolbar. Second column, sixth tool down.

Click Layer 1 again and press Ctrl+J which will create an identical layer. Click back on Layer 1 again.

Now, press Ctrl+T and right click inside of the box created around your mini. Select Flip Vertical and hit Enter.

Using your Move tool (press V on the keyboard), slide this upside-down mini down as shown here:

Posted Image



Okay, we are going to apply a Layer Mask to Layer 1. Doing this by selecting the layer and pressing the button indicated here:

Posted Image



Select your Gradient Tool (pictured left) and click anywhere on the image and drag straight up. You will have to play with this a little bit to get it the exact way you want it. To undo a Gradient, just press Ctrl+Z or Edit > Undo.

Posted Image



Finally, I cropped my image down and added some text. You can also play with the opacity of Layer 1 for weaker/stronger effects on the reflection.

My final product:

Posted Image



Make sure to save two copies of this file. One in .psd format and one in jpeg or gif (for posting online). If you leave this in PSD, you can always go back and grab the model again...meaning you won't have to cut it out again!

Posted Image



I hope this tutorial has helped everyone. I know it is long and maybe seems a bit difficult, but once you do it a few times, it becomes second nature, trust me! Feel free to ask me any questions regarding this tutorial. And please leave C/C! Thanks.

PM me for your own custom sig! Include pics and/or quotes.
Check out my portfolio/current work for B&C at here

Gold Raven: I'd love to play a space marine, but I'd definately settle for a Genestealer. Just suck the DNA from other players all day long...And on retrospect, that came out all wrong.

#2
SCC

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Cool and useful! :woot:

If you've no objection we'd like to add this tutorial to the Librarium Kanazuchi. Or you can simply submit it to the Librarium yourself, that works too.

Can I ask if you use any other programs for image manipulation? Not everyone has PhotoShop and I'm sure folks would love this kind of instruction for Paint Shop Pro or even some of the more popular free image editors out there.

Actually the same applies to your Picture Tutorial - it'd be great in the Librarium and similar advice for other programs would be excellent too.

Feel free to PM/Email me if you've got any questions about Librarium submissions or if you'd like the Codiciers to add the articles to the Librarium on your behalf.

- SCC

#3
Vaaish

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If I can add in, to make the mini blend a bit better with whatever background you choose, after you have the selection made go into quick mask (q) and use the gaussian blur filter set to a very low number (like .5) to soften the edges of the selection mask.

#4
prophet-miniatures

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You know, using the wand is a hell of a lot easier than manually cutting out the image.

#5
Kanazuchi

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Eww. I hate the magic wand for anything but the most generic of cuts. The pen tool gives you such a smoother cutout. I guess, if you absolutely -have- to use the wand (ie, hate the pen tool and photoshop in general...) at least feather the selection so it doesn't look so crappy.

Oh, and the wand is terrible when you have a multicolored background......

Cool and useful! :yes:

Can I ask if you use any other programs for image manipulation? Not everyone has PhotoShop and I'm sure folks would love this kind of instruction for Paint Shop Pro or even some of the more popular free image editors out there.


I'll make a tutorial for GIMP (www.gimp.org). It is a freeware version of Photoshop. As for PSP...no idea. I don't use it. I only use Photoshop, Quark, Illustrator, InDesign and Corel X.

PM me for your own custom sig! Include pics and/or quotes.
Check out my portfolio/current work for B&C at here

Gold Raven: I'd love to play a space marine, but I'd definately settle for a Genestealer. Just suck the DNA from other players all day long...And on retrospect, that came out all wrong.

#6
metcalfedan

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Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!

At last. Thank you!
QUOTE (Cedric @ May 31 2009, 12:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
@ Captain Mike. Viva is Spanish/Italian for "long live". So "Viva Metallica", as the method is called, would roughly translate to "Long live Metallics!"

#7
drkwalker

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Additional tips: Use the Feather Layer mask ( 1-5 pixels will do) just to smooth out the edges of your cutaway.

FYI, if you save your file as a jpeg, it gets compressed every time you save, thereby lowering the resolution. ALWAYS SAVE IN .PSD OR TIFF BEFORE SAVING YOUR IMAGES FOR PUBLICATION. :)

Believe me, I learned this lesson the hard way. :P




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