Making of Moonlight Mirage Part 2: The Photo IllustrationsPublished by LeadMare • Jan 16th, 2008 • Category: How It's Made, International Horse, LeadMare Tales
With a great story for inspiration, creating the photo illustrations for Moonlight Mirage was a fun project. The process is similar to creating the images you see throughout this blog. It’s pretty geeky so I tried to summarize details. For those of you interested in digital art/photography, feel free to ask questions if you want more info.
The first step in creating any GHC photo illustration is to find one or more source photos suited to the content. I typically start by visiting favorite sites for inexpensive and free images. For Mirage, I wanted a background showing the colorful caravans associated with Gypsies. I found the photo below at iStockphoto and thought it was perfect, so purchased the image rights. Although the photo was taken in England, I decided it would do within the realm of ‘artistic license’…
Next I needed a source for Mirage. I didn’t find anything at iStockphoto so started looking elsewhere. I went to Flickr Creative Commons and eventually landed on a great photo taken by lgvanners. Since it was “© All Rights Reserved” I sent them a link to the story asking permission to use the photo. They kindly responded…
“You’re welcome to use this photo of Gracie to illustrate this story. That photo is at one week old on her first outing, so it is appropriate and also very cute if I may say so.”
Gracie and lgvanners, thanks for helping us bring Moonlight Mirage to virtual life!
OK, now for the Photoshop magic. First step was to separate Mirage from her background. To do this, I used the polygonal lasso tool. It allows me to trace around the outside of Mirage and remove her from the background. Eventually I ended up with this.
Next I combined the background, the image of Mirage, and the Int*l Horse border together. I pasted each image into a Photoshop layer then used various transformation tools (scale, rotate, flip) on Mirage and the background until I had the beginnings of a composition.
As you can see, when I moved the background up so it didn’t compete with the image of Mirage, I didn’t have enough background for the frame. No problem, thanks to the clone stamp tool, which allows me to duplicate some of the grass and flowers to create more background. I also blurred the background for more emphasis on the subject.
Now for the details that make Mirage feel like she’s part of the scenery, like adding a shadow so she’s anchored on the ground. To do this, I roughly painted the shadow in solid black. Notice it’s painted in the same direction as the shadows in the background. When compositing photos, it will look more realistic if the light source is the same throughout the image.
Then I blurred the shadow and adjusted the transparency so it looks more natural. Finally, I re-painted the ears so they’re perked forward, tweaked the color and contrast, and sharpened Mirage so you see the detail of her baby fur. Voila!