Good morning guys! JP here again with another image breakdown. I’ve been friends with Mario for quite some time now and his recent work just blew me away, so I wanted to get in touch with him and get a step through of his some of his latest work.
Today he’ll be sharing how he blended CGI into his composition to make an album cover for the artist Carlos Contra. Take it away Mario! *points to Mario*.
How did the idea come about?
Carlos told me that his idea was he walking trough a desert, so I told him that would be awesome if we had a door in the middle shining in the night, he agreed.
We started with a shooting of him walking so I could compose that later in Photoshop, we took several pictures until we got the perfect walk frozen. The light setup was easy, one 90×60 softbox in front of him simulating the door light and another one behind to give more drama and texture to his back and jacket.
So where did you go to create this desert? Was it an on location shot?
So here comes the tricky part, I was looking for desert pictures that could fit with our needs, but there wasn’t any desert pictures in the perspective we wanted and without copyright, so I choose to create the whole desert with CGI within 3DSMax, my fav 3d software.
Then I tried to build the door within Photoshop with just 2D layers, but I wasn’t achieving the look I wanted so I had to build the door in CGI as well.
So I’m assuming the orange and blue colour scheme was intentional here?
Once I had all the elements with their respective lighting, I started to compose the image. For the door I used 3 layers for the Colour Correction so that way it could fit with the cold mood of the scene. Here is an image of how every layer affects the door and some final touches like the lighting, the yellow/orange light complements the cold tones of the whole scene so that’s why is stands out so much.
Were the stars a stock image or?
For the stars I used a procedural texture made by noise and contrast to give some variety in the size as stars, and for the Milky Way I used an awesome picture that my brother Alex Sahagún took on one of his journeys, he’s an amazing photographer and Adobe certified instructor.
Nice!!! Thanks so much for talking us through this, it;s insane what you can achieve with such a simple setup (though in this case some hefty 3D knowledge it seems! Have you got any other pointers you think are important for compositing in general?
– Perspective: This is so important because it can make something appear bigger or smaller, or just could not match with the whole scene and angle of the camera you want to achieve.
– Contrast: As a tip, the closer the elements to the camera the more contrast you’ll have, so remember to match the contrast depending on the distance you have your elements. There are existing particles in the air that create something called “haze” or “fog” that lower the contrast of the farthest elements.
– Colour/Tone: Colour is very important because it will fake and make the blending of the elements closer to the same mood. You can do this part of the process on the top of the composition with different adjustment layers as gradient maps, solid colour as soft light, etc. This will help you a lot to merge elements also.
– Light source: If your light source of every element are different, the brain will tell you that something is wrong with the composition it won’t appear as real as possible. Photoshop is amazing because with adjustment layers you can easily create shadows or highlights, so you can choose where you want the light source of every element is coming, I think this is one of my favorite parts about compositing.
– Haze/fog: Creating haze or fog using layers blended in “Normal” mode or “Screen” mode on the top of the composition also helps to blend a lot your elements, this makes the shadows of every element being affected by this effect and looks more believable to eye so the brain likes it, you just have to experiment with different opacity.
Here you can see an animation GIF I made for the process I went trough, as you can see to give depth to the composition I put some “haze” to separate the background and the foreground elements, that helps a lot for the depth part and lower the contrast of elements as I mentioned before.
Wow. Thank you so much Mario! Any last words?
I think that’s it, have fun with compositing and be patient, but more importantly, OBSERVE, observe how real life works and try to understand everything about light, go slow and experiment a lot. Do not expect someone to solve your problems, experiment to find a way to solve it if you don’t find one, believe in your intuition and have fun trough the process.
Compositing can be stressful but it is also the most fun thing in the world withing Photoshop, you can create EVERYTHING you can, it is the perfect tool for materialising dreams and everything inside the mind.
You can check out more of Mario’s work on his website.