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Photoshop Tutorial : Wrapping Light For Composites

If you’ve used After Effects or other movie making software you will more than likely have heard of Light Wrapping. A simple technique to use, to help blend images when compositing. It’s been around for years and you probably already know about it anyway 🙂

The numbers I use on the demonstration here are only useful to this image (sorry). You will have to fiddle a little with the technique/numbers depending on the file size.

I used an image from Hara18 over at the stock exchange site … you can find it HERE I have taken the subject from the background using Calculations to create a new alpha channel and then fixed it up before placing it on the Clouds background. You can use one of your own images to try this on, or d/load the stock image and extract the girl from the b/ground.

Creat a new file 800×600px @72dpi, filled with white. Make the foreground colour 64, 21, 1 and the background 172, 111, 86 duplicate the background layer .. Ctrl + J and then go to Filter>Render>Clouds. You should end up with a file like the one below. Or nothing like it if you are using one of your own images 🙂

Next I dragged the girl over to the file, and resized her. See image below.

Even though she blends reasonably well, we need to make her look a little bit better. Rename the clouds layer …. clouds – and whatever your subject layer happens to be, so in my case I would name it girl. You should now have the b/ground layer (white) the Render>Clouds layer and the layer with the subject on (girl). Duplicate the Clouds layer and take it to the top of the stack. Make sure you are working on the topmost clouds layer and then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and on this particular … blur it by about 5 pixels. That might be a little much but it will let you see what is going on. Hover your mouse over the thumbnail with the girl (subject), hold down the Ctrl key and then click to select the transparency. Click back on top most clouds layer again and then go to Select>Refine Edge …. you can use the Modify command if you don’t have a version of Photoshop with Refine Edge. At the bottom of the dialogue box click on the Quick Mask icon. Move the Feather slider to 2.5 and Expand (plus) to 10. Click OK to accept then add a mask to the Blurred clouds layer (top of stack) Select the transparency of the Girl (subject) layer again and then go to Select>REfine Edge Choose Feather 5px and contract -10. Click back on the Blurred Clouds layer thumbnail not the mask, and then hit the delete button on your keyboard. Then deselect. Click the visibility of the Blurred Clouds layer on and off to see what you have created. You can use the opacity slider to tone down the effect and you can also select a black soft edged brush to paint on the mask if you have overdone the effect and want to tone it down.

And to finish the image off a bit better, click on the Girl (subject) layer and then use Image>Adjustments>Match Color and choose title of your image as the Source and the name of the layer for layer. So mine are Start and Girl. Then check the neutralize box and pull the slider to about 75 …. or whatever you feel is right for your image.

Below is a comparison image and then the final image on it’s own. Remember that each image will probably require different amounts of blurring and the Refine Edges filter applied ………… but it’s fun to play 🙂

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