The response to the Supergirl image I posted on social media a few days back has been amazing. DIY Photography contacted me and asked me to do a write-up for their readers.
For every project I do, I create mood board with inspiration and reference images for the subject. This mood board is so important during the actually shoot. It helps me direct the models / cosplayers and it gives them a good idea of what will happen during the shoot. My shoots are always very relaxed, a lot of fun with kickass images as a result.
Bailey, our Supergirl cosplayer, did an amazing job portraying her character. Working with her was an absolute joy! And it looks like everyone else thinks she did an amazing job too, because we received a lot of very nice feedback from hundreds of people!
This setup is pretty straight forward, although it uses 4 lights. The main idea is to shoot against a gray backdrop which makes cutting the model out relatively easy. Even the hairs.
- Grey Paper Background – that’s a no-brainer for composite artists
- 2x Gridded Stripboxes – Those on either side, help separating the model from the background, as well as give her a hero look.
- 1x 150cm Octa overhead – provides the key
- 1 x 60x60cm Softbox – provides the fill
Why use a gridded stripbox?
One of the questions I get asked a lot is… Why do you use a gridded stripbox?
- A stripbox allows you to both define and concentrate the light.
- A grid allows you to direct the light. So by adding a grid to my stripbox I will have even more control.
- In my work I use it to create nice rim lights and I love it!
I’m editing in Photoshop CC 2017 and always use a Wacom Tablet. If you’re still editing with your mouse… bin it… go buy a tablet!
Step 1: In this first step we’re going to work on the skin. Create a new layer and select the Healing Brush tool to tackle some of the blemishes, spots, … we want to get rid of.
Step 2: Time to change the background. Because I’m shooting on a grey background we can do this very quickly without making a selection!
Whiel there are lots of hairs and details, this step can be rather painless, Check out my video tutorial for this technique.
Step 3: In this step I created a vignette to bring the focus more to our subject. We have various ways of adding a vignette. One way to do this is to go to the Camera Raw Filter and add a vignette in the Effects Panel of Camera Raw.
Step 4: I created a Selective Colour Adjustment Layer and played with the Neutrals and Blacks sliders to create a colour effect that would push my image into the direction I liked.
Step 5: Let’s add some details! For this I used a plugin called Luminar by Macphun. Luminar is a very powerful plugin that also can be used as a stand alone app. At the moment it’s only available for Mac users. You can download a trial here.
To bring out the details I selected the Details Enhancer and played with the sliders until I ended up with a result that I was happy with.
Step 6: I added a Luminosity Mask and brightened up the overall image. To do to this you have to go to your channels and Cmd/ Ctrl Click on the RGB Channel. This will select the highlights in your image. I inverted my selection (Shift + Cmd/Ctrl + I) and with the selection active I added a Curves Adjustment Layer. Whenever I adjust the curve now, my highlights are protected by the luminosity mask we created.
Step 7: My most favourite part of the editing process… Dodge and Burn. Create an empty layer and fill it with 50% grey (Edit > Fill > Select 50% grey in contents dropdown menu). Select the Burn Tool and check that the range is set to Midtones and the exposure is between 10% -20%. Tip: When pressing Alt (and holding Alt) whilst working with the Burn Tool, the Burn Tool will change to the Dodge Tool with the same settings as the Burn Tool. With the Dodge Tool I enhanced the highlights and with the Burn Tool I enhanced the shadows.
Step 8: In this step I added some Lens Flares. Most flares come with a black background and are easy to use. All you have to do is change your blend mode to Screen and the black will disappear. You can get some awesome Lens Flare stock on the Raw Exchange website. Check out following links for either “real” flares or sci-fi flares.
Step 9: A simple way to add contrast is to add a Black & White Adjustment Layer and change the blend mode to Soft Light. Lower the opacity till you’re happy with the result.
Step 10: I added another Selective Colour Adjustment Layer and once again I played with the Neutrals and the Blacks to create a look I like.
Step 11: I added a bit of motion blur to give some movement to the cape and masked out the areas where I didn’t want the Motion Blur to be.
Step 12: In this step I added an Colour Lookup Adjustment Layer. In this example I used a LUT I created myself but you can get a similar effect by using the Foggy Night LUT that is already available.
Step 13: To finish off I added some glow. For this I sampled the colour in the sky and brushed it on the edges of my subject with a very low opacity so it looks like the light from the background is actually hitting her. Try sampling the colour that’s nearest to the area where you want to add the glow.
So, that was a quick walkthrough of this Supergirl image. Please note that a walkthrough is not a tutorial, however I do try and give away some tips/ techniques I use on a daily basis. Some of the edits may seem very subtle, here is a step by step illustration to make it clearer
If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me through my Social Media.
About the Author
Steve Thewis (a.k.a. DigiSteve) is a photographer, retoucher and digital artist from the UK. You can check more of his work on his site, and instagram, and connect via twitter and facebook.
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