Before and After

What Fantasy Photos look like before and after they get Photoshopped.


Ever wonder what my Fantasy shots looked like before they got edited? Then I think you'll like this short video I put together, as well as a short discussion about the techniques below:



The main ingredient in the making of each Fantasy shot is to get lots of footage, and to use a plain background. In the old days, a green-screen was often used, but I prefer using a plain colored backdrop when possible. This serves dual purposes:

  1. I get lots of usable shots that don't have to be fantasy. If shooting against bright white, the client has commercial shots they can use, if the background is greyed, with or without shadow, or even plain black, all of these can be used as great, artistic shots that don't have to be fantasized into something else.
  2. Editing in backgrounds and other objects during post processing is easier with a plain background. And, without using a green screen, I don't get "green spill" (where green can reflect back on the subject's skin).


Fantasy shots have a variety of techniques applied to them: cutouts, adding wings or other objects, adding abs or increasing muscle, and more. All of these though have two things in common:

  1. Many layers are used. A JPG image is just one layer, but in Photoshop you can add many layers. This allows me to add just abs to one layer, or perhaps wings to another,.
  2. All layers use layer masks. If you're not familiar with this, it's simply a way to say that I don't want to show all of a layer (say part of the wings), and I can brush-in just certain amounts of something from a particular layer.


Layers can also be adjusted in many ways. In particular, I concentrate on the blending mode and opacity. This allows me to use say a piece of meat as a layer, but blend it onto skin as an overlay, like in the picture below.


So grabbing a shot of a steak, I can use it as a layer above the main subject as an overlay, and using a layer mask I can paint it on where I'd like it.


The cutouts, deeper meat, and pipes are all different layers as well. But notice the 3-D effect -- that's also from other layers. Between the skin and deep meat there is a layer where I painted some black, then set the opacity to about 50% to add the shadow. Also, the depth of the meat is a series of layers with similar techniques.


In all, the picture above was comprised of 12 layers, which also included some adjustment layers (for levels, colors, and saturation).


Lastly, a big help in all of this is something to help me paint. Working on shots like these using a mouse can drive you batty (hmmm...almost made a funny there...something about winged mice...but I digress). Instead of using a mouse, I use a Wacom Pen Tablet. This allows me to sit back and draw as though I had a paintbrush or pen in my hand. Also, these kinds of drawing tablets are pressure sensitive, making brushes in Photoshop react as though I were lightly or heavily brushing an object.


Have a fantasy that you'd like to make into reality? Give me a shout, let's shoot, and turn your dreams into art.





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