How to Levitate with Photoshop
Materials: blank wall or backdrop, chair or stool, digital camera, tripod
This lesson is great for getting students to understand MASKING in Photoshop. Students in my Graphics class and Photography class enjoy doing this lesson every year. The lesson will work best if you can take your photos against a blank wall or backdrop if you are a rookie. The editing will be much easier. Using a tripod will help keep all of your images aligned and makes editing much easier. Try to avoid any changes in the environment like lighting. Take several photographs and use the two that will match the best.
Step One: Setup
Take two photos for each project: One photo of a person or object sitting on a stool or chair and another photo of the background without people or objects. (HINT: Using a tripod is very helpful during this step so that your images matchup as close as possible. If you do not have a tripod, try to rest your camera on an object.)
Step Two: Combining Images
Open both images in Photoshop by selecting File>Open or CTRL/CMD + O. Fit the images onto the screen by selecting View>Fit on Screen or CTRL/CMD + 0
Select the Move tool (V). Use the Move tool to drag the picture of the person or object onto the background image. (HINT: There are numerous ways to do this. You can also select the first image and copy/paste into the Background image. You’ll end up with this image of yourself copied as a new layer above the Background Layer.)
You must unlock the Background Layer. Select both layers by holding shift and clicking on them. Go to Edit>Auto-Align Layers. Select Auto>OK.
Step Three: Removing Objects
Now select the layer with the subject or object on it and add a Layer Mask. The mask option can be found at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Mask do not remove images like an eraser. Instead, the pixels are hidden.
The Layer Mask will appear in the Layers Panel as a white box. Press D on your keyboard to bring up the Default Colors. Select Brushes from the toolbar or Press B on your keyboard to bring up your Paint Brush. Select a soft, round brush. Paint over the stool/chair and watch it disappear. If you remove too much of an object, Press X on your keyboard and paint with white to reveal your object. (HINT: When using a mask remember this. “White REVEALS” “Black CONCEALS”)
If you notice that your lighting or color is slightly off, select the background layer and add an Adjustment Level. This can be found on the bottom of the Layers Panel next to the Mask option or Press CTRL/CMD + L. Drag the sliders until your achieve the correct colors.
Step Four: Finishing Touches
Select the Crop Tool and crop out any unwanted background area that distracts from your image.
Using a Green Screen
When using a green screen for this project here’s a great shortcut to make the project easier.
1. Crop image
2. Unlock layer (double-click on layer>Ok)
3. Select>Color Range (select the green background)
4. Select>Modify>Expand>4-5 pixels
5. Delete (This eliminates the green pixels)
6. Use a layer mask to remove other elements from the image.
7. Apply layer mask (Rt click on mask thumbnail)
8. Copy/paste, drag, or place your image into a background image.