Happy Tuesday! It’s time to finish off the tutorial I started last week.
But first, a quick check in on the #30edits project. There have been some challenging moments, but I’ve pushed past them and it’s going well. Here is #9, called “Merge/Emerge”. You can see what I’ve been creating on Instagram, and join in any time!
Now, it’s time to get into part two of the tutorial, the “cutting” part. I need to get that cactus in there! To see how I merged the mountains and clouds into one image, go to part one here.
The “cutting” process is done in the same app I used for cleaning, Handy Photo, using the “Move Me” function. I start with a terrible photo, taken from the window of the car. I was taking random photos out the window as we sped by the desert at 65mph, hoping to get at least one good, recognizable cactus silhouette to use.
Yay! Out of about thirty images, I had one that worked. The first step in cutting my cactus out is to convert the image to black and white. Since I want the cactus to be a silhouette against the sunset, it won’t do to have it green. I use Snapseed’s Black and White conversion, increasing the contrast to get the cactus as black as possible.
Now I am ready to cut! I load the black and white version into Handy Photo, and select the Move Me menu.
In the Move Me menu, there are four options: Lasso, Brush, Eraser, and Import. The Lasso, Brush and Eraser work the same as in Retouch from Part 1. Import allows you to import a previous “cut” item and place it in this picture. After I cut out my cactus and save it, I could import it here.
But first, I need to cut out the cactus. If the item I want has a strong contrast with the background, as I do here, using the Lasso is the easiest way to cut it out. I select Lasso, then draw around the item I want to cut. If my start and end lines don’t match up, that’s ok – Handy Photo will draw a line between them to close the shape. When my shape is filled in, I choose the “Fit to Edge” function (3) in the pop up menu that appears on the right of the screen.
“Fit to Edge” is an awesome feature, which gets software to do my detailed work for me! It finds the edge of whatever you highlighted, assuming you have good contrast between the object and background.
You can see it’s not perfect, so now I use the Brush and Eraser to finish up the fine details. One thing I want to make sure to erase are the highlights on the left edge of the cactus. Those will look weird since I want the cactus shape to be a silhouette. I select Eraser, use it on the photo (a zoom window will pop up, to show me where I am working), and do the detail work. If I need to, I can switch back to Brush and fill spaces in.
Once the shape is highlighted, there are two options for moving it. “Cut” takes the shape and does a content-aware fill on the background, so I can move the shape within the same image. “Copy” duplicates the shape so I can add more of the shape to the same image. For my purposes, either will work. I usually use the “Cut” option so I can see the detail better as I move the shape.
Once I’ve cut the shape, I can edit and move it. The editing options are shown on the bottom left menu: Transform (rotate/flip), Opacity, Saturation and Edge Smoothness. Edge smoothness is nice, because it can help you soften jagged edges from imperfect brushwork so the shape blends into a background better. It can also look weird if it’s done in the extreme, so experimentation is required.
Once I’ve edited the shape, I use the right menu bar to move it. The options are to move to a New Layer, move to a New Picture, or Export as PNG. For more control of the blending process, use Export as PNG and blend in Image Blender. Expore as PNG will save a file that has the shape only (no background pixels) to your Camera Roll. Here’s the shape PNG alone:
While I move on to the next part of the process, I keep Handy Photo opened in the background. If I discover that something is wonky with the shape I cut, I can return to Handy Photo, use “Undo”, and make adjustments to the shape without starting the process from the beginning. As long as you have not exited the Move Me menu, Handy Photo retains the history. That is nice!
Now I’m ready to add the cactus to the sunset image! In Image Blender, I load the composite sunset image as the bottom layer, the PNG as the top layer and then I blend using either Darken or Multiply at 100% to ensure the tones of the cut image match the tones of the background. Because it is a PNG which has a transparent background, the only pixels that are blending are the cactus. Nice!
Save this blended image, and I’m done. I now have my sunset silhouette for further processing. To finish the processing, I imported the composite image into the Circular app and experimented from there. I had to come back to my elements multiple times, adjusting the composition so the cactus was in the right place.
As a reminder, here’s the final image:
With Cleaning and Cutting, you have great tools to combine elements from multiple photos to create composite images. If something in your composition is not quite right, consider what you can do with Cleaning or Cutting to improve it. It’s a fantastic tool to make your photography-based art that much better.
If you are uncomfortable with this idea, remember this: You are creating art. Photographs are raw material, and you can do whatever you want with the images you create.