Add Fabric to Make a Big Dress
We're gonna open up these Photoshop files and just peel back the layers, take a look at exactly how they were created and why they were created in the ways that they were. I should mention that I'm in Bridge right now, and that's how I prefer to look at my images. I know that a lot of people will prefer Lightroom or Capture One or something like that, and I don't have a great reason for not doing that except that I just don't need to. So I work in Bridge because all I'm doing is choosing maybe from a few different images that I've captured and just pulling them straight into Photoshop without doing any extra work to them. So I'm almost never taking a single image and editing that one image from start to finish because I'm compositing, so I just don't need to. So I'm in Bridge, and that's how I choose my images; and I've got these Photoshop files, and each of them has a slightly different way of being put together. So we're going to open them into Photoshop, just take a look one by one,...
and see exactly what had to happen here. So I've got a few different elements open here in Photoshop. I've got my navigator which is just, for me, a really great way of being able to see the image that I'm working on but much smaller, really quickly; and that's important to me because I think we spend a lot of time, like, really, really zoomed in to something, and then it's nice to just be able to see the whole picture there on the side. So I always have my navigator open. I always have history open; and I keep my layers open, of course, since we're working on many, many different layers. So I'm just gonna zoom back out, and we're gonna take a look at how this picture was created. So if I go and scroll through, the first thing that I'm looking for is did I not end up using any of the layers, but this looks pretty good; and I'm just going to, I'm not usually on a Mac, so sometimes I'm a little clunky. Option or Alt click on our bottom layer to reveal how this was put together. Now, I do tend to be a little bit lazy when I shoot; and, yes, I could have done a better job with this backdrop in smoothing it out and making it look really nice. But when it's just you and you know that you'll be able to get what you need from that one image, then sometimes you might tend to be a little bit lazier about things. So that's what I did here, and I started this image out with as much as I could get in one photo, which is important to mention because if you're a one-person show, it's often really difficult to get everything set up by yourself, especially if you are the subject. So in this instance, I knew that I wanted the veil to cover my face. I knew that I wanted there to be many, many layers of veil and dress in this image. But aside from that, I knew that I only was one person. I had to be able to, sort of, get my main shot here that I could build everything off of; so I had the veil covering my face. And I used this image as my main shot, and then everything else got built on top of that. So let's go ahead and just take a look. First, I sort of put this white layer over everything, just a soft curve layer to sort of soften everything; and then my very favorite step in every single image I create is just painting a certain color all around it, which is just making my own backdrop. So yes I could've simply put white in the background and made this much easier on myself, but instead I painted it; and I did so by sampling a color within this white that was in the background. So I didn't just choose white or gray, but I found a color that was already there. Then you can see I'm just adding little bits of fabric on. So this little bit of fabric doesn't match. You can see that it sort of connects right through here where the lace was, but you can also see in the background that it's really dark in comparison; and that's because I'm layering even more images on. So sometimes you'll see a little piece that doesn't look like it fits, but then something else pops in and suddenly it fits a little bit better. And so what you're seeing here is my playtime, my compositing playtime, which is to take all of the images that I shot outside of this main picture; and I'm seeing what fits where, what shape is appealing to me. I don't subscribe to a lot of different, you know, photo must-do things like creating certain shapes for your eye to move around; but in this case, I do love triangles, so I was trying to create that triangular shape here in multiple ways. And then I'm just changing light. So we're gonna talk about how to do each of these things in more depth once we get into editing our fresh images; but for now, all I want you to know is that I'm playing with where fabric goes. I have no formula for this. How can you, you're just playing; but aside from playing with where the fabric goes, I'm simply blending as I go. So I'm making sure that since I put these images in, you can see here that these little changes are just blending with the light and the contrast and things like that. And then we have this layer five, which is this very different looking image, which is smoke that I've added in as a separate layer that I photographed separately; and I'll show you those images later that I have from my stock. And you can see when I click on layer five that this little dropdown box says overlay, and that is a blending mode that I have changed. So if I were to go in and put that layer on normal, it would just be a normal picture of smoke; but instead I went through all of my options. I probably clicked in just like this and tried to see what each one would do and eventually ended on; what overlay was it? Okay, good; lest I forget. And so we just have a few more images just blending in that background so that everything looks super smooth. And I could go through every little detail of how exactly I made those changes. We'll do that later, but the overall gist is important here. I decided I didn't wanna be married for this photo, so I got rid of my wedding ring; and then I'm adding even more fabric. And a lot of this image was about playtime, just figuring out what goes where and how it can work. And this was another smoke layer, just making that even more apparent that she is coming out of smoke. So you might say, well, why didn't you just photograph that smoke there? I mean, why add it later? Then the answer is you could've done it then, and you could've tried to get the smoke and your subject all in the right position, but I find that with self-portraits I have a hard enough time just getting my face to look normal; I don't wanna deal with smoke as well. So I like to do it in separate pieces, and it tests my editing skills as well, which is fun. Here's a little bit of changing the light so you can see the light on the subject there. And then these are just some finishing touches with texture and one more pop of contrast. So that was this image; and if you guys have any questions as we're going, feel free to, yeah, please.
So from start to finish, about how long did this take you to do once you started in post?
This was probably, maybe two hours or so. I would say that my average edit is about two to four hours; and if it's on the lower end, then it's usually a very quick composite, so usually the images will come together really fast and then I can spend, you know, an hour-and-a-half just playing with colors and light and things like that. But if the compositing is really heavy, then it takes a lot longer; but I try to spend at least an hour, at least, just doing colors and lighting changes because that's really where my style comes in and that's where I feel I need to spend most of my time. But for other people, you know, maybe compositing takes a lot longer; and I'm not a perfectionist, I should mention. So I tend to just get in there, get it done. Maybe it's a little bit dirty and gritty; but, you know, I try. And I should say that I definitely make sure that the end product looks seamless, but there are certain things that you sort of catch on to that you know will be able cover up a little bit later as the editing process goes on.