X-Men Character Poster


I love working on movie posters! There is something cool about working on a campaign for a big block buster movie like the latest chapter in the X-Men series. Last Spring I had the pleasure of working on this character poster featuring the young and old Magneto for the ad agency Trailer Park.

For those not familiar with the long process for creating a movie poster there are many rounds of design involved where the designers for the ad agency work closely with the studio client to create the final design. (It’s not unheard of for these designs to involve over 100 rounds before they get approved.) Once the studio approves the “Comp” the file is then passes on to the “Finishing" stage where high end retouchers complete the process of creating the final high res image for the poster.

The Finishing process involves adding a little extra canvas for “bleed” to make sure there is plenty of room for cropping and the various frames the posters will be placed in. Then it comes down to scaling the image up to the final size, usually based on a 27x40 crop at 200ppi, and the painstaking process of going layer by layer by layer replacing the low res images from the comp with the highest res versions available while adding the necessary retouching, masking and color adjustments to make the final image look as perfect as possible.

As you can guess the Photoshop files for these posters can get pretty big. The final file for this one weighed in around 10Gb and had around 70 layers.


Relaxed Glamour

Relaxed glamour should look effortless. But we all know true glamour takes work.

So when Dallas based photographer Stewart Cohen, who creates some wonderfully glamorous shots, needed someone to add a touch of Photoshop Magic to make this image look effortless he called on me.

In addition to the usual work bringing out the glamour of the model, this project involved combining several images together to get just the right balance of detail and lighting between the view in the windows, the model and the room itself. Reflections and stray roof panels were removed from the windows. Then the lights in the room were brought up just enough to give the image a nice home away from home feeling.

Here's the before image Stewart sent me to work on:


16 bits to the Rescue!

Ask any retoucher what their number one arch nemesis is and they'll probably say "Banding"!

You know them, those curving lines separating each band of color as the tones go from light to dark. These bands are caused when each step in color stands there screaming for attention. They taunt us while we endlessly work to chase them away.

Kind of like this:

_DS10337_W1b-8 crop

Recently I was working on a series of images for a luxury lifestyle brand. The final step in working on these files was to give them a cool color treatment. Two of the images were very similar shots of the model, Amanda, in a kitchen setting. After applying the vignetting and color grading to these images the bands above popped up saying "Hi there!".

Here's where many retouchers would say, "Should have been working in 16 bits from the start!" But alas here we were, right at the final step when we're getting bitten by that 8 bit banding bug. Too late for such a simple fix, right?

Maybe not!

You see that was when I remembered a tip from one of my retoucher friends, Carolyn Winslow. While most folks would say it's too late to gain anything by converting the file from 8 bits to 16 bits per channel Carolyn had shown me this very cool trick that saved the day.

So I took my layered file, complete with all the adjustment and vignetting layers and converted it from 8 bits to 16 bits. At first there was no difference. Zooming into a 100% view gave me a nice smooth image, but any other view brought back those vicious bands.

But then I flattened the file and Voila! the bands disappeared, vanquished by the coolest, easiest trick of all.

_DS10337_W1b-16 crop

This coolness works because as Photoshop converts the file from 8 bits per channel to 16 bits it adds just enough dithering to break up those bands. But while we're looking at the layered file Photoshop still gets hung up in the way it draws the image on the screen. Flattening the image completes the process and makes it much easier for Photoshop to reveal the nice smooth gradations we wanted all along.

With the bands gone we can convert the image back to 8 bits if we want, safe in the knowledge that our enemy, the evil bands, have been vanquished once and for all.

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Naami Mohamed with Rick Rose

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Bringing out the best in a Beauty shot like this calls for keeping the retouching work subtle. The trick is to strike the right balance between perfect and human.

And this demands paying careful attention to make sure the skin keeps that natural texture while bringing out the model's natural beauty. The retouching must remain invisible while enhancing the image in just the right way to complete the photographer's vision.

This shot was taken by Rick Rose, a young up and coming photographer I met last year. Below is the before image.

130919 P10 Naami Mohamed80801 Before


She's Alive! with David Zaitz

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When David Zaitz got the assignment from Dailey Advertising to create some photos for an upcoming campaign featuring Alive Multi-Vitamins he knew he'd need a little extra magic to get just the image he envisioned. And that was when he called me.

The idea behind the campaign was basically to highlight how taking Alive Multi-Vitamins would give you that extra energy to get through the day. In creating this image David constructed an elevator on set, (the doors were shot separately), and then shot the models in various poses.

Then following the Art Director's layout I composited in new heads for the models to the left and right of our "hero" lady as well as swapping the upper half of the lady in the green sweater on the far right.

Finally I added a color grading treatment to the shot, desaturating the regular folks to help make our hero seem even more alive. Below is the before image.



Gary Oldman with Michael Murphree

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When it's a shot of someone like Gary Oldman it's gotta look great! So when photographer Michael Murphree got the assignment to shoot Gary he called on me to help make sure everything looked just right.

With shots like this much of the work involves making sure everything balances properly while working together to guide the viewer's eye to the most important aspects of the shot. So exposures and colors for different areas are re-worked while gradations are added to the background to give the right sense of drama to the shot.

Here's another shot from that same series.

20110216_Paramount_Oldman_0131 W1a CC


Compositing Workshop for ASMP Portland: Nov. 9th

 The Digital Transformer, Dennis Dunbar: Compositing Secrets of the Pros

Join us on Saturday, November 9th for a workshop with Digital Transformer Dennis Dunbar!
In this workshop Dennis shares many of the techniques he uses to make complex composite images from Movie Posters to LifeStyle and Product shots.

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Lincoln MKT Hero

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Whether it’s combining many elements or dramatically re-working a single shot Dennis will show how the same techniques apply. He’ll cover the various challenges that face those who would tackle such tasks such as: Masking, Color Correction, Blending, and matching Noise or Grain.
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Dennis will discuss several ways to create a professional quality mask as well as how to check to make sure your mask is working the way it should. He’ll delve into Color Correction using Curves and how to simplify your Layers using Clipping Groups. Then he’ll show you how to blend disparate images making them look as if they all belong together through the use of Depth of Field, adjusting the density and color as well as other techniques for matching the Noise or Grain of the various elements.

The workshop will begin at 10am and end at 2pm including a Q&A session, with a short lunch break at 11:30. You can see his work on his website, read tips on his blog, or follow him on Twitter.
You don't want to miss this opportunity! Register now to ensure your space! 

Saturday, November 9, 2013  
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM  
Doors Open at 9:30 AM

Michael Jones & Andy Batt Studio
1910 NW 23rd Place  
Portland, Oregon [see a map]

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