Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wedding Composite

Every composite image has at it's core a destination where the artist must in-vision the end in order to know how to navigate from the beginning. Sometimes though a composite may arise from the ashes so to speak. Todays post is about the latter and not the former.
In todays example I am using a bride who signed the second verse of a song to he imminent husband. Obviously this can not all be captured in one image so a composite image lends itself to this situation. Here are the steps I took.
First was an image that can be used as a background. Of course the elements obstructing the background must be cloned out in order to provide a clean slate for the subjects in the foreground. One point here is that you may want to wait until you have the subjects positioned in the foreground befor you completely clone out the background. This way you don't have to do as much cloning as the foreground images bloc much of what gets cloned anyway.
In the case above I chose to completely clone out the background subjects so I could use this image another time rather than just for this composited image. From one of the images with the bride and groom I extracted the groom for this image.
All images are on separate layers to allow a logical stacking of the subjects. Below I have the bride in the position she was standing in relation to the groom.
The bride had to be extracted in order to make the stacking of the brides work for the composite. Below is the next image (sign) of the bride.
There are a total of five images of the bride that needed to be extracted from other images. This was a simple but tedious process. Selecting the bride from each of the images and copying them into the composite image was the easy part. Each bride layer had to have a layer mask to isolate the bride from the selection of the original image. This was the tedious part but well worth it to make it half way believable.
These two layers were critical in aligning the brides for the composite. Below you can see how they gave me a reference to each head and shoulder of the bride.
Now comes the tricky part. While the brides are placed in a stack, the overlap of parts must be worked to again make it believable. This first image shows the stack uncorrected. You can see where the vail is blocking the dress and arm of the bride stacked behind.
Through a series of selections, opacity adjustments, the image became more believable. Below is the layer of parts that needed to be added to show some transparency in the vail. (It is shown on a black background so you can better see the example).
Part of the problem I had with the vail is being transparent, it brought over the background from the original image. Some cloning... Ok, a lot of cloning was employed to eradicate the remnant background. The image above is not all on the same layer as that would not have worked at all. Each part has its own layer because it required a different level of opacity to make it realistic.
So now with all the layers on to show the entire sequence we have an almost finished composited image.
This would be fine for a final image except for anyone who was at the wedding, There was a trellis made from branches that set the outdoor scene for the couple. In another image I had extracted the trellis which in and of itself was a monumental task but now I have one. So I dropped it in just in front of the background, did a little free transformation and viol รก, a composited image of a beautiful moment in a scenic outdoor wedding. 
Double click on the last image as it will actually get bigger than the other images in the post.

Enjoy... Doug

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