Yesterday I was inspired to experiment. I had seen some Christmas themed graphics made up of triangles, and I thought, Hey, why not try layering triangles cut from my tree images?
Well, the resulting image “Forest Explosion” was far from the starting idea, but it was fun to create. I thought it would be a good tutorial on how to “cut out” shapes from images through blending.
First, you have to get a black and white image of a shape. I use the shape frames in the Afterlight app for this. Load in a solid black photograph and then select your frame shape. (To create a solid black image file, take a photo with the lens covered.) You can change the size of the shape with the slider bar along the bottom. You can also change the color of the frame, but for this exercise I wanted to keep it white.
Now I have my shape for “cutting out” part of an image. I could have just loaded the image file directly into Afterlight and used the shape frame on it, but in Afterlight you can only change the size of the image you are framing, you can’t tilt or rotate. With blending, the next step, I have more control of how the image overlays the shape.
In Image Blender, load the black and white shape image on bottom and the image you want to cut out on top. Use the “Arrange” function to place the top image where you want it relative to the shape. In this way, you control the part of the image that shows within the shape. In the case of this image, I wanted the trees to repeat the shape of the triangle.
Then you blend. In this case, I used Screen mode at 100%. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with blend modes lately, and will be covering them in more detail in my book. Blending is such a powerful creative tool for editing photographs, it’s something I think everyone should understand.
I didn’t end up using that tree image, but here’s the final shape cut out I did use, from an image I created earlier this year.
From here, I played with layering the different triangles I had cut out from previous edits. That didn’t go anywhere interesting, so I decided to play with some other shape apps. I pulled the triangle into Fragment, and started experimenting. The white space created interesting results in the fragments, and I loved the way the partial circles seems to explode out of the triangle in this pattern. I edited the fragment to match the original image tones.
I tried layering some other textures to soften the white background, but didn’t like the effect as much. It needed to stay a bit more stark and graphic with the white, so I left it as is.
There you have it. A way to cut parts of a photograph out, using a shape or any black and white image, and a fun combination of shape apps for an “explosive” result. It’s not necessarily something I will use every day, but it was great fun to experiment. Give it a try!