Preparing The Image: Rendering and Exporting an Image From Poser
When preparing to render in Poser, consider your final composition. After preparing a composition, render your characters, props, and background separately so that you have control over the different elements during post work. You can hide a figure or a prop by: [Figure > Hide Figure], or by right clicking on the object and un-checking the Visible Box.
When exporting your images, select Photoshop PSD or Tiff format. Both formats produce an Alpha Channel, which separates the figure or prop rendered with the background. Alpha Channels will be used later in Photoshop to build the different layers of the final arrangement. The same technique will work in Jasc Paint Shop Pro or similar 2D software programs.
Setting Up The Composition In Photoshop
Open the image with your main character in Photoshop. Go to the Channels Palette and click on the black and white box: Alpha 1. Now click on the dotted circle in the bottom of the palette to load the Alpha Channel as a selection. Note how the white area of your image is now selected. Click on the RGB box on the top and your image returns to normal while the selection is still active. To create a new layer with your image, choose [Edit > Copy] and then [Edit > Paste]. Now your main figure is a layer of its own and ready to be post worked.
Layers allow you to work on a single part of the image without affecting the rest of your composition. You can add effects, styles, or change the order and features of the layers. You can follow the above procedure with other rendered images too and use [Edit > Paste] to copy the selected part into your main composition. This will automatically create a new layer.
Filling the background area with a contrasting color will help you work on the details of the image. Don’t worry about adding the background image just yet.
Working the details
Working with layers means that any changes you make will only happen within the specific layer. Erasing, blurring, desaturating, and most of the tools will only affect this area.
Dodge and Burn Tool
Sculpting the skin’s surface can be achieved by using the dodge and burn tools located in your toolbox. Select the layer you want to work with by clicking on the corresponding box in the Layers Palette. Select the Burn Tool from your toolbox, adjust the size, set it to Midtones, and slide the exposure button to 8%. Used like a paintbrush, the Burn Tool will darken parts of your image, producing shadows or lowlights. You can create different effects by changing the exposure values or by selecting between darkening the Shadows, Midtones, or Highlights. Use this tool to accentuate darker areas like those found between muscles.
In the same toolbox, you will find the Dodge Tool. The Dodge Tool will lighten areas and create highlights the same way the Burn Tool will darken. By using these tools you can create and define muscle structures on figures, add sheen to skin, or even create folds and creases on the skin. Use the Dodge Tool for emphasizing areas that naturally stand out and reflect more light. Also, use the Burn Tool to show where folds and creases – areas that receive less light.
Using Layer Styles and Attributes
Working on a separate layer allows you to add many effects. Select [Layer>Layer Style>Drop shadow] to add shadows around your figure. You can alter the shadow’s direction and intensity in the dialogue box. This option creates shadow effects cast by your figure onto objects [walls, floor, or other figures]. Selecting [Layer>Layer Style>Inner Shadow] will create shadows with a specific lighting direction within the outline of your figure. This is a great way to blend your figures with the background so the end result will appear realistic.
Interesting effects can be created by [Layer>Duplicate], and applying options such as dissolve or blend. For example, Multiply will darken an image and give it a rusty feel, while Screen will lighten it and make it softer. Try experimenting with these options. This comes very handy when blending in two or more different backgrounds, or when you want only the dark parts of a layer to appear.
The Smudge Tool And Placing It All Together
The smudge tool comes very handy when you want to create hair strands or cloth folds. The smudge tool will pick up a color and drag it across the direction you define or it can reproduce the effect of a wet paintbrush with a color you choose.
Through this example you’ll have the opportunity to see what the smudge tool can do and how some of the above tools can be placed into practice.
Open a file with a figure you’ve created. Isolate the figure in a layer as explained above. Now make a new layer. Choose a base color to create an outline of your new cloth item. After creating the outline, fill this area with a solid color. It’s best to use a hard brush so you’ll get nice, defined results.
Next create a new area and set up your smudge tool to get some nice wet brush effects that will simulate the darkest parts of the creases.
Select the Smudge Tool from the toolbox and check the “Use All Layers” and “Finger Painting” boxes on top.
On the Brushes rollout, set the Strength to 100% and Fade (located in Shape Dynamics for PSP 7) from 100 – 400. Note that these values depend on the resolution and size of your image so they may vary.
Now, click on the Layer you’ve created with the solid color, choose [Selection > Load Selection] and click on Transparency. This will make a selection around your base clothing, making it impossible to paint outside its borders. Click on the Eyedropper Tool in your toolbox and select a color that’s slightly darker then the one you chose to fill in the cloth’s base.
Click on the new, empty layer and start making light strokes that resemble the dark parts of creases. It will look very crude at this point but we will refine it later on. Remember that you can vary the brush size or fade values for different effects.
Create a new layer and select a lighter color. Use the smudge tool to create highlights on top of the shadows you’ve just created. It’s best to make these lines near the darker ones.
Merge the two shadows and highlight layers by selecting them and pressing [Ctrl/E]. Go to the Smudge Tool, uncheck Finger Painting and “Use all Layers” box on top, lower the exposure and slightly increase the size. Start blurring and merging the two colors until you see soft creases form. You can play around with the strength and size for crisper or softer effects. Adjust the brightness of your base layer to fuse the colors better. When you’re happy with the results, merge all the cloth layers.
Use the Burn Tool to darken areas of the cloth and to create contrasting shadows. Select the Dodge Tool to highlight areas. Think of where light should reflect off more and where shadows would naturally be created.
When you’ve achieved the desired results, play with the Layer styles or attributes to add shadows and more depth. By keeping the cloth in an independent layer, you can change its color anytime.
Create hair strands with the Smudge Tool. Select the “Use All Layers” box at the top, create a new layer, adjust the brush size from1 pixel to 4, and adjust the Fade option from 80 to 400 (depending on your images resolution). Start making strokes from where the hair is located at the base outwards and regulate the brush size and fade to get different strands lengths and sizes.
Finally, add your background and tweak the colors, saturation and shadows so it will blend with the rest of your scene. Adjust the contrast and fine-tune your image so everything works together. Experiment with the Layer attributes, with filters and lighting effects. Try your hand at using the same tools explained above, save often, and let your imagination go wild!
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May 30, 2005