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Take your photos to the next dimension with this outside-the-box technique

Added on Saturday 22nd of September 2007 11:41 pm EST


Adobe Photoshop 7/CS/CS2/CS3

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


You many not necessarily capture a great composition in every photo you shoot, but that’s okay. You can add a new dimension to your images in Photoshop with this out-of-the-box technique.






As you scan through your archive looking for a fantastic image for your next assignment, don’t pass over images just because they have boring backgrounds or unbalanced compositions. Instead, use this technique and give your image a dynamic boost.




Not only will this technique save your blasé prints, it’ll add even more life to your action shots, like the one shown in Figure A. We’ll use this image to demonstrate the technique. If you want to follow along, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, and extract the file jump.psd. Then, launch Photoshop and open the file.



Note: We’ve also included a low-resolution finished file (jump1.psd) for you to download and examine.



Target your selections

The first thing to do is examine your image, decide which elements you want to jump out of the frame, and then isolate those elements on an alpha channel. For our example, we only have one primary subject—the young, enthusiastic lad.

We created a selection around the boy, and then converted that selection into an alpha channel. With the channel selected, we were then able to paint on the alpha channel to refine the selection, as shown in Figure B. Then, we turned the alpha channel’s visibility off, and selected the RGB channel to make it active.




Set up the layers

There are four layers necessary for this technique, so the next step is to get those in place. Important to note, the background layer must be locked. We added three new layers to our file and labeled them as shown in Figure C.




We filled both the Screen and White layers with white, and set the Screen layer’s opacity to 40. The Black layer required more work. First we filled the Black layer with—you guessed it—black, and then clicked on the Add A Layer Style button at the base of the Layers palette. We chose Blending Options from the pop-up menu. In the Layer Style dialog box, we located the Advanced Blending panel, set the Fill Opacity to 0 and selected Deep from the Knockout pop-up menu, as shown in Figure D.



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