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Simple Postwork Tutorial

Author: Broken Angel

Tools Needed

  • Photoshop or any graphics programm that can handle layers

Introduction

This is a step by step tutorial showing how to enhance renders rather simply in Photoshop (or any other programm that can handle layers), using layers and a few tricks I learned on the way.

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Step 1 - Setting the stage

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Set up your scene and render your image, then save it as TIF-file (saving as a TIF-file will preserve an alpha-channel in those cases where you don't use backdrops. I use a backdrop here, but I made it a habit to save any poser-render as TIF).

I'm using a render with Fatale's Doloree here, a portrait headshot, so we don't need to worry about any render glitches Poser tends to do to her knees and armpits.

Save your picture under a new working name, this makes sure you don't mess up your original render (been there, done that, screamed at the screen in frustration numerous times;))

Then duplicate the background layer.

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Step 2 - Softening the edges a bit

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Select the new layer, and press Ctrl, ALT, Shift and ['] together. This selects certain colors based on the brightness value in the layer. You should have a nice selection visible now. Inverse the selection and hit DELETE.

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Remove the selection (Ctrl D) and go to FILTER - > BLUR - > GAUSSIAN BLUR. Use a setting of 5.

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Step 3 - Some layer blending

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Now we're doing some layer blending. Set the top layer (the one you've hopefully been working on all the time!) to OVERLAY.

Time to play with the opacity slider, I set mine to 80% here, it depends on how dark the image is after we set the layer to Overlay.

Side note: Ever wondered why there's a Fill slider and an Opacity slider? I'll tell you. :) The opacity slider has an effect on the whole layer, including any layer effects you've added. The fill slider effects only layer content, but does not affect the layer effects. Basically spoken you can apply a layer style like a bevel, then set the layer's fill opacity to 0% and any image content will vanish, but you still have the bevel effect visible. If you apply an effect like a bevel or drop shadow for exapmle to a layer, and then set the layer's opacity to 0%, both the layer's content and the layer's effects will become invisible. That's the simple explanation as far as I recall it.

Okay, now we have a nice, but somewhat bland image here, no? If you like your image this way, you might as well stop here. I usually go on and add a few extra steps.

Flatten your image.

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Step 4 - Fun with adjustment layers

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See that little black/white circle at the bottom of your layer palette? We going to use it to add a level layer, a curves layer and maybe a color adjustment layer to it. The nice thing with those adjustment layers is that you can make them invisible to see the effect they have on your image!

Click on that circle and choose Levels, then adjust each of the three sliders until you're satisfied with the brightness and darkness of your image.

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Now click that circle again (make sure your levels layer is visible!) and add a curves layer. Experiment with the gradient shown there, just move the point/s a lil a time, if you overdo it, you'll get a funny looking image! Again, use what is good for your image, if curves don't add or even take away from your image, delete the layer safely again.

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Step 5 - Color balance to add depth

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Last but not least, something to experiment with is the color balance. Especially when you added parts and bits of your own to the image, color balance helps to adjust all colors in all parts of your image to be more coherent in the end. Click the little circle once more, adding a color balance layer to your stack of layers.

Now experiment around, you can change the shadow tones, the highlight tones, the midtones. Red or Blue values can enhance your skin tones if you select a high amont of red, while you might want to select a high amount of blue to enhance your shadows.

Here subtlety was the key.

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By the way, did you notice that every adjustment layer comes in company of a layer mask? You can use the layer mask to make parts of the levels invisible, just by painting on the layer mask with a black brush (makes the layer you brush on disappear) or with a white brush (makes the invisible parts appear again).

Flatten your image, add your watermark, tag, trademark border or whatever you prefer and show it off to the world!

I certainly didn't invent the tricks shown here, I, too, got them from people who had more skill in postworking images than me (most of them still are more skilled than I'll ever be ;) ). I've been reading and still read a lot of tutorials I can find around the 'net, and almost all techniques taught in them can be adapted to postworking Poser renders.

Here's the final result:

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