Thanks go out to Neil Duerden for this tutorial. See more of his work at www.neilduerden.co.uk.
Image choice is of utmost importance. You want something that inspires you and makes you feel good, as you will be staring at this for hours to come and the last thing you want halfway through is to think ‘this doesn’t work!’ So spend a little extra time tracking down the perfect model image for your piece.
Now create a clipping path around your image. Spend a little extra time around the hairline or, if you prefer, mask the whole image ready to cut and paste it into your new document. Masking is really the best option, but as we intend to integrate the hairline to new elements, in this case we can get away with a path.
Now create a new document to the finished size you wish to use this piece at. We have chosen a DPS, but will also make sure the detail will work as a single page. Paste the image on a new layer above the background and make sure you name your layers properly. Things will get complicated very quickly, so a few extra seconds spent on naming now will stop you throwing your mouse through the screen a little later.
Duplicate the layer with your model shot on to create a new layer and add a layer mask to Hide All. Click on your layer behind the original model shot and make this 50% Opacity. Now, select the hidden layer on the layer mask and choose a Brush tool to suit your piece. Simply paint the hair in to make it look as if it dissolves into the background.
You should end up with an interesting hairline now, but also don’t mask out right to the bottom. Again, choose a brush that is like natural media and blend the image smoothly into the background. Make it look like natural paint.
Duplicate the hidden base layer of the model and make the layer visible. You want to set the blending mode of this to Multiply and leave it behind your masked version. This will allow the hair detail to be broken further by elements later in the construction of this piece. Make your original layer hidden again. We are now ready to start decorating!
Now it’s time to start creating a theme. We will begin by first deciding upon how the model should be integrated. This particular shot suits a gothic look with a positive vibe, so we have chosen a couple of suitable shots – try image numbers ‘962630’ and ‘965985’ from www.sxc.hu as a start. Simply cut out your choices and paste then on a new layer just above the background.
Now position these elements to get a strong composition within your piece. You want this to look quite airy at this point as you will be building up the detail in the later steps and good composition is key.
Go and find a white sheet and suspend it from a vertical. (Nailing it to a post is always good, but your neighbours will think you are mad!). Wait for the wind to blow it and take some shots of the fabric in the wind. Clip this out.
Now cut and paste this from your shot (with the path selected), into you main piece. You want this to be at the base of the layer stack and also desaturate this layer to a greyscale with high contrast. Turn the Opacity on this layer down to around half.
To be continued…