HOW TO ADD AN ABSTRACT SHAPE FOR A FRAMING EFFECT
This week I thought I would cover a little trick that I learned from Photoshop guru Corey Barker in his Master FX Trick Shots video section called Abstract Shape Effect. Corey added several other elements to his tutorial, but the basic framing concept is pretty cool. The image above was taken of a Siamang Ape at the West Palm Beach Zoo and I am sure he runs this zoo! He was climbing up a huge tree in the middle of the zoo to announce in a rather commanding call the opening of the Zoo!
To do this technique you need to decide first how the main subject should be set up in the image, what texture(s) is to be used, and finally find a really nice brush or PNG file for framing your subject inside.
Workflow for Framing Effect
1. Clean up image in Lightroom or ACR and Photoshop as needed.
2. Choose a texture to place behind your image. In this case I selected a texture I had created a while ago. (For instructions on how this was done, see my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) The very organic nature of the texture blended well with the image being blended into the texture.
3. For the framing effect, a black layer mask is needed – to get a black mask: either hold down the ALT key when clicking the layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layer Panel, or just add a white layer mask and click inside it, then press CTRL+I to reverse the white to black.
4. Below are a couple ways to get an interesting frame are:
- You can paint your subject back in with a white brush using a smaller brush with a rough edges. Try painting not just at 100% white or black – use a 25 or 30% brush opacity to get some nice rough edges. A basic Photoshop chalk brush can give some interesting edge results.
- Try using a large brush that requires just one or two nice dab stroke. The watercolor brush strokes can make some good marks in your layer mask. If the stroke does not look like it is lining up correctly, change the size and the angle of the stroke by just dragging in the Brush Panel Brush Tip Shape circle with the arrows and set where you want. it may tape a bit of experimentation to get this set just right. Here are a couple sets of free brushes that have some nice dabs for framing effects: Spoon Graphics Watercolour Set 1 with 7 brushes, and Big Brush Strokes for Frames by Doodle Lee Doo with 53 brushes. For the above image, French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Dry Brush No 1-10 was used.
With vector objects or PNG files (this is a little harder to do but is nice if you have a certain object to place over the subject in mind):
Go to Adobe Bridge and find the file you wish to apply to the layer mask. Go to File -> Place -> Photoshop – it does not matter where it is loaded in the PS file as it will be deleted. Adjust the object to fit approximately where you want it in your image. CTRL+click on this layer to select the object, highlight the subject layer and click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. You may see something that looks rather messy – at this point, delete the original object file you just brought in as it can conflict with the mask you are working with. Take a small chalk or round brush and maybe add some Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter of 20% to add variation on edges and paint with white – your subject will show up. Use a lower brush opacity if you want a more blended edge look. If it is not in the correct place, you can CTRL+T on the mask to Free Transform it – can flip or stretch it. Just build up where you want the subject to be seen clearly.
There are so many things you can do with this type of framing. Make part of your image come out onto the frame like the trees do in the above. The image below used both of the free sets of brushes and a free texture called Happy Easter which matched the colors in the butterfly nicely. This time the subject Butterfly Topiary at the Cityplace in West Palm Beach, Florida, was cut out using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask5. It was placed on top of the background and another texture I painted in Painter. On the Painter layer, the free brushes were used in the layer mask to get the unusual effect. On the Butterfly layer an Inner Glow layer style was added – the Contour was changed to get the little line to go around the butterfly. Just a lot of playing with different Layer Styles and brushes to get a result I liked. The Butterfly image looks a lot different, but used the same workflow.