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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Photoshop Tutorial



I promised I'd do a tutorial, so here it is. It's mostly about layers and layer masks, and I didn't really elaborate on hue/saturation, brightness/contrast, levels, or color balance-- but you guys can figure those out, right?

Hope this was helpful to someone, because let's face it:

Making a tutorial is like presuming that I actually know something others don't, which is something I'm not so sure about . . .
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 09:00 PM
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Its to small to read, what is it on


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 09:26 PM
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Great tutorial Steven, I could always use some more tips and tricks in Photoshop. Thanks a bunch!
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 09:48 PM
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Steven, you crack me up. You are already in Photoshop, you could easily click on the "T" icon in your toolbar and type out the instructions, rather than handwrite it all out. . . haha
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 09:53 PM
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how about one for GIMP lol that would be nice. Also post bigger pictures or allow them to be clickable.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 10:24 PM
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From top to bottom... ?? means I don't know what it says.

1. Open original photo

2. Anticipating doing ?? , I copy and paste the image on itself in 2 or 3 extra layers.

3. This area was too dark. Use shadow / high light on one of the new copies.

4. Layer Mask. With a layer mask, only the areas colored white will be seen. Hit to make a layer mask.

5. Color the layer mask so that only the parts you want are seen. New layer has lighter foreground with original background.

6. Copy of layer 4 with ?? blur. Layer masks make these only visible where mask is white. Copy of layer 4, it has increased sharpness. Layer with composite image after levels/hue and saturation/brightness and contrast/etc.

7. Image now has right settings, is sharp in foreground and blurred in background. Remember, higher layers overlap lower ?? .

8. Filters. For sharpening, I use unsharp mask filter. Next step 13 to use polygon lasso to get the image in a new file. Do ?? some with blur. ?? The layer mask you can make sure only some parts get sharpened. This avoids extra noise.

9. After pasting into a new file, color the background white. Use paintbrush to redraw top rim of the aquarium. Use this to darken and lighten the lip of the tank to make it look real.

10. If you resize to post on a forum, use this setting.

11. Done!!


Okay, there it is. I hope Steven Chong won't get mad at me!!

Rena Filtstar #137!
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 10:32 PM
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2. Anticipating doing ?? , I copy and paste the image on itself in 2 or 3 extra layers.

the ?? says edits

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yoko View Post
Steven, you crack me up. You are already in Photoshop, you could easily click on the "T" icon in your toolbar and type out the instructions, rather than handwrite it all out. . . haha
haha I was thinking that too. I'll zoom in on this and read it in a bit.

Thanks for taking the time to share your methods.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2007, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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LOL!! I'm sorry guys-- I should have made it 2 pictures instead of 1. I thought I had to make it one picture though, and if I made it bigger, it'd probably make my computer blow up while trying to save it. The original dimensions of this image were 1000 x 8000, and even here the height is 3000!

For now, let me fill in the gaps:

From top to bottom... ?? means I don't know what it says.

1. Open original photo

2. Anticipating doing edits, I copy and paste the image on itself in 2 or 3 extra layers.

3. This area was too dark. Use shadow / high light on one of the new copies.

4. Layer Mask. With a layer mask, only the areas colored white will be seen.
Hit to make a layer mask.

5. Color the layer mask so that only the parts you want are seen. New layer has lighter foreground with original background.

6.

Purple: Copy of layer 4 with increased blur.

Blue: Layer masks make these only visible where mask is white.

Red: Copy of layer 4, it has increased sharpness.

Orange: Layer with composite image after levels/hue and saturation/brightness and contrast/etc.

7. Image now has right settings, is sharp in foreground and blurred in background. Remember, higher layers overlap lower layers.

8. Filters. For sharpening, I use unsharp mask filter.

Next step 13 to use polygon lasso to get the image in a new file. Do the same with blur.

Using the layer mask you can make sure only some parts get sharpened. This avoids extra noise.

9. After pasting into a new file, color the background white. Use paintbrush to redraw top rim of the aquarium.

Use this (dodge/burn) to darken and lighten the lip of the tank to make it look real.

10. If you resize to post on a forum, use this setting. (bicubic sharpen)

11. Done!!


Tropicalfish-- thanks for help with the interpretation!
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-20-2007, 02:26 AM
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In my personal opinion a lot of your photos end up a little over-processed.. Thats fine if its your aesthetic, but it sort of stops being a photograph once you're drawing in the rim of your tank with the paintbrush tool.

Disclaimer; I'm a designer and work in Photoshop twelve hours a day so I'm probably more opinionated than I should be when it comes to tarting up photographs. I'd just rather see the raw beauty of the tank. I have the same reaction to the obvious staged hair dryer ripples. If you're making a final shot for competition, obviously you're going to want to touch up the levels and enhance the colors a little bit, but redrawing the rim of your tank is going a little too far into the Playboy-esque airbush world for my taste.


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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-20-2007, 02:35 AM
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That came off sounding crabbier than the mere difference in aesthetic taste I meant to imply.

And I do applaud your attempt at providing a tutorial. I would suggest in the future saving each screen as a large seperate image so they can load individually, and typing the instructions as actual text. That should work out pretty well.


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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-20-2007, 04:12 AM Thread Starter
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It's also a lot more work. XD Both doing the tutorial that way, and . . .

Well, I didn't even have to say that I like to draw in the rim-- I could have lied and said that I just spent an hour erasing cleanly around the rim. I mean, I could do that and get the same result-- it'd just take a lot more work! I'll admit that I like the way tanks are presented in aquajournals etc., and if you look at 'em carefully, you can tell that Amano at least colors over/in things around the borders of photos with white-- pretty much the same thing.

Nat, if you have an easier way of doing these types of things, we'd all love to hear-- me included of course.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-20-2007, 04:47 AM Thread Starter
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Natx-- I do realize you meant just a mild expression of a difference in taste, so I'm not blowing up at you-- this rant I'm about to throw of did get triggered by your comment, but please realize this is not blowing up at you-- it's just blowing up.

[Rant]
I don't want to sound like a whiny, annoying, brat (who can't take the heat of being an artist)-- though that's exactly what this is going to sound like-- but I mean, I do get tired of getting so much criticism all the time.

Don't get me wrong, critique is very useful, and I count myself fortunate that I get critical feedback at all--

But I do get quite a bit of bashing thrown my way, sometimes with little or no justification (like low blow 1-star rate-and-runs). I know I rub in an opposing direction to a lot of members on these forums, and there's reason for friction, but I also know that I have reached a good level of aquascaping-- and am proud of it, and would hope that I could earn some respect from it. I respect others opinions, but quite frankly I don't think that I deserve to be despised at every turn (not saying that I am, it just feels that way sometimes).

I mean, I've started this like everyone else-- two years ago, as a kid in a fish shop spell bound by the first planted tank I ever saw and thinking-- "I got to do that."

But I've worked hard, endured a lot (on various levels), taught myself to do things on my own, and reached out to learn things that I knew nothing about but knew I needed to know. I still remember last May when I went to my uncle and said,

"I don't know anything about photography-- but I need to learn. I have 2 months-- please teach me enough to get into it, and I'll take it from there."

Then, now, and in the future-- I'm just a guy who loves the art of aquascaping, and has done everything he saw fit and within his power improve himself, and to help aquascaping grow and become a more serious art. That includes helping others learn what I've learned.

That also includes having very high expectations-- for myself and others. People get miffed when I critique because they're not used to it, and many do not have the same expectations. Also because my critiques can be harsh, blunt, easily mistaken for containing maliciousness-- so maybe I'm just getting a taste of my own medicine and proving myself a hypocrite by not being able to take it. Well, I have faith in them, and whether they listen or not, I'd hope that I could push them to do even better-- because we all can.

Including me. I know I got a long, LONG ways to go too, and that I am using tools that may not be the greatest in the world, and methods that might not be the best either. Maybe Amano can make those phenomenal photos without ever touch photoshop (which I partly doubt), but I'm doing the best I can with I what I got.

And I know that I've got a lot-- been given a lot-- and am grateful to everyone who has helped me. Which is a lot of people on and off these forums.

I'll continue improving, (because quite frankly I am still pretty bad at this) and continue growing and trying no matter what though-- doing what I can do, and sharing what I do with everyone. I can't be like the CAU guys, or the European aquascapers, or Amano. I can't, and don't want to be like the ever distant artists that have all our admiration. I can't be an aloof entity like them. So sorry, I'll be in your faces.

I'm an American. I speak English (decently), and am not afraid to share-- want to share!! I realize my seriousness can be the source of some animosity, and I'm not saying people don't have the right to hold it-- but geez, a bit of appreciation and compliments is nice here and there (and yes, I do realize I do get those too-- here and there).

Actually, when people criticize me they often do it by saying things like my work is junk because it doesn't live up to Norbert Sabat, or Justin Law, or Oliver Knott or whoever-- darn! Maybe the biggest compliments I receive are in the insults because those insults are comparing me to such high standards!!

I want to see myself grow-- and of course, to see aquascaping grow.
[/Rant]



PS-- Oh, and just in case people decide be cute and communally not respond to my ravings, I'll say it here: Ouch, that hurts, that stings. I really am insignificant. TT-TT And the funny thing is that even as I say that I'm typing in the URL for APC, or maybe I'll go work on the Japanese aquarium blog I'm working in hopes of communicating with Japanese hobbyists-- because I just can't help it. I just care about aquascaping too much . . . TT-TT
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-20-2007, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven_Chong View Post
and if you look at 'em carefully, you can tell that Amano at least colors over/in things around the borders of photos with white-- pretty much the same thing.
Not true. Look at how amano shoots and you can see he does not need it. Amano uses real studio strobes to illuminate the whole area, including the background, with a quick burst of light. That is how he gets those white backgrounds and gradients (using gels) on his photos. He doesn't have to fill in anything.

As far as the big huge post above - I think you over - analyze people sometimes and think too much about it, then write it all down into a post. Sometimes it's a lot more simple than that, and you just have to let it go. Dont be your own worst enemy by venting it all like that. People who like you will keep liking you and the rest who dont, you wont win them by doing that Chill.


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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-20-2007, 10:34 AM
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One thing I learned the hard way in art school is that taking criticism of your work in a professional manner, be it photography, anime, or aquascaping is the most important thing you can learn. Realizing that if your peers care enough about your work to offer up their opions on it, you've already accomplished something. They aren't attacking you, they are evaluating your work.

Being able to stand up in a class critique and accept, most importantly learn from, the comments of others who at first may seem to be tearing apart the thing you just spent two sleepless days working on is very important. One of the things that bothers me on this forum is that people tend to sugarcoat their responses to stuff. Thats good in the encouragement it provides to folks who are new to the hobby, but I personally wouldn't mind seeing some more useful and critical comments in the photo threads.

That said, in regard to the artistic motivation behind aquascaping as a whole, there was one passage from Amano's first book that I always go back to:

The Dutch style of aquatic plant layout is based on the Western esthetic of ideal forms and symmetry, while the natural style intentionally upsets the balance of the composition and seeks harmony among disparate parts. As I have emphasized in this book, nature itself is the best model for this style. The orderly beauty that can be found in the chaos of nature if it is observed closely and carefully is amazing. It is the best teacher.

When I see things excessively photoshopped, rigged with hair dryers, meticulously pruned, trimmed and teased.. To me, personally, it gets away from a lot of the real beauty of the planted tank. Sometimes the ugly can be just as visually rich as the perfect show tank. I think even Amano sort of moved away from this original idea with his later work, but I don't know enough to comment on that.


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Last edited by natx; 04-20-2007 at 10:35 AM. Reason: spelling
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