Saturday, February 4, 2017

Grunge It, Part Deux

In Part I of my Blog post on processing images with some "grunge" I tried to show how using this technique can be one of the weapons you should have in your arsenal of image processing. In this segment, I'll walk you through how I create some of my grungy images.

There are a lot of ways to create the grunge effect and it can be as mild or as heavy handed as your taste desires. The grunge effect I typically use is distinguished from another kind of grunge effect where an image is layered over a grungy-like textured background and the opacity of the main image is reduced to allow some of the background grunginess to come through. Here are some examples.

You can create the grunge effect I use in Photoshop, using layers and several of the tools in the program that allow you to transform any image into one with the grunge feel. If you're not interested in devoting that much time and effort into processing, you have another option - OnOne Software's Perfect Effects Photoshop plug-in. Follow along as I show you an easy way to create a grunge composite using Perfect Effects. 

Let's do something unconventional and use a portrait of a woman to create the composite. Normally, I don't want to detract from a woman's beauty by adding grain, heavy contrast, and lots of clarity but I'll go out on a limb and see what happens. I'll start with the background.

I opened the background image in Photoshop. It's a beach wedding scene and you'll see why in a minute.

I clicked on the "File" tab at the top, scrolled down to "Automate", and sent the image to OnOne's Perfect Effects (in this case, it's a module within my Perfect Photo Suite but it's also available as a stand alone plug-in).

On the left side of the screen where the Perfect Effects menus is located, I went to the Grunge tab and opened it to reveal the various options. I selected "Arkham", a dark, grungy preset. and clicked on "Apply" to apply the effect and send the image back to Photoshop with the grunge look.

Now for the model. Before I open that image, a few notes. I shot the image with using some dramatic lighting. I used strip soft boxes slightly behind the model on either side to create a rim light highlight all around her. A beauty dish was set up high and left, at an angle to her face, for my key light. A 4'x8' soft box was positioned in front ant to the right as the fill light. The key light was metered at f11, the fill light at f8, and the strip soft boxes at f5.6. Two additional lights were used to blow out the white seamless paper background metered at f16. These lights reflected some light onto the model's back creating an additional source of rim lighting.

OK, now let's open the image. Why, it's a model in a wedding dress! Fits pretty well with our beach wedding background, huh?

As with the background, I sent it to Perfect Effects and applied the Arkham effect.

I used the Quick Selection Tool to "select" the model and refined the selection using the Edge Detection brush to remove the white background from the tricky areas like the area around the hair, lace, etc.

I then reduced the opacity of the OnOne grunge layer (when the image is sent back to Photoshop from Perfect Effects, it comes back as a separate layer) down to 50% so it wasn't so harsh on the model. If it wasn't a woman, I might or might not reduce the opacity of this layer.

Next, I dragged the image of the model onto the background layer.

From a composition standpoint, I thought it would look better to flip her image horizontally so I used "Edit - Transform - Flip Horizontal" to do so. I then positioned her to my taste.

The next step was reducing the opacity of the background. I didn't want it to detract from the model so I created a duplicate background layer, reduced the opacity of the duplicate background layer, hid the original background layer, and flattened the image.

Because the model's image did not fill the entire frame on the background, I cropped the image at the top to remove the excess background.

Here's the final image.

All in all, it takes approximately fifteen minutes from start to finish. As you go along, adjustments can be made to taste, such as making the grunge effect on the subject more or less prominent. The same goes for the background.

Perfect Effects is available as a download and you can try it out for free before committing to buying it. You can buy just the Perfect Effects module for $59 or the entire suite of software for $109. I've been using their software for years and don't know what I'd do without it.

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