How to edit your forced perspective portrait
01 Open in Adobe Camera Raw
Download our start files and follow along! Go to File > Open and select perspective_start_1.dng in Camera Raw. Select the Crop tool, and crop away some of the empty edge areas for a stronger composition. We’re now going to make a couple of tweaks to boost the colour and contrast – if you’ve shot your own images you can make similar adjustments.
02 Adobe Camera Raw tweaks
Set Exposure to +0.20 to lighten the image overall. Set Contrast to +20, and set Highlights to -30 to pull back some of the detail and colour in the green balloon. Set Clarity to +10 to enhance the local contrast and bring out detail, and set Saturation to +15 to boost the colours. To correct the slight green colour cast set the Tint slider to +10 to add magenta. Click Open Image to open the image in Elements.
03 Add the sky
Open perspective_start_2.jpg in Elements, take the Move tool, and drag the image onto the perspective_start_1 image to add it as a new layer. You can hide this image for the time being – click the layer’s eye icon to do this. Now we need to select all of the concrete backdrop above the outline of the steps, so that we can hide it and reveal the sky.
04 Select the backdrop
Target the ‘Background’ layer, take the Quick Selection tool, and click-and-drag over the backdrop to ‘paint’ a selection. Use a large brush for the main part of the backdrop, and reduce the brush size for the more detailed areas. If you go wrong, hold down Alt and paint to deselect areas. This initial selection doesn’t have to be perfect, as we’ll refine both the selection and the mask, once we’ve created it.
05 Refine the selection
When you’ve made a rough selection, zoom in and use the Selection Brush tool (see Phrase Book) to fine-tune the edges. Next click Refine Edge, set Feather to 2.9 pixels and Smooth to 10, and choose New Layer with Layer Mask from the Output To menu. Click the mask, and press Ctrl+I to invert it so the steps and figures are revealed and the backdrop is hidden.
06 Tidy up the mask
Drag the masked layer above the sky layer, then make the sky layer visible by clicking the eye icon’s box again. Select the Move tool, click Show Bounding Box and move and resize the sky. Target the mask, select the Brush tool and tidy up the mask, using a white brush to reveal parts of the top layer, and a black brush to hide areas and reveal the sky layer.
07 Paint in the steps
Click the top layer, and press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to create a merged layer. To make the outline of the steps more prominent, select the Brush tool and select the Hard Charcoal Edge brush from the Brush picker. Set the foreground colour to white, the brush size to 9 pixels and the opacity to 65%, and paint along the outline. Use a small, hard-edged white brush to paint in the balloon strings.
08 Cloning and contrast
Use the Clone Stamp tool to clean up the concrete steps: Alt-click to sample ‘clean’ areas, then click-and-drag to clone these over the blemishes. Finally, to boost the contrast of the image, add a Levels adjustment layer, and set the Shadows slider to 18 and the Midtones slider to 1.14.
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