Hi art friends. Popping in to share a quick Photoshop tutorial video on how I create the background diarama for The Takashima Extraction.

For those of you who prefer to read, here is my photo editing process.

The basic Takashima process

I composite my elements into a new Photoshop file. When the composite is final, I create a new layer from visible then duplicate the new layer. On one, I run an Unsharp Mask. On the other, I run High Pass and set the layer to Overlay or Soft Light, whichever looks better and adjust the layer opacity as needed. Next, I add layers to fine-tune and unify the image: color overlay layer, 50% gray dodge and burn layers. I create a new layer from visible.

Takashima is a black and white story, so I duplicate the final image and desaturate it and add a grunge overlay.

To retain the level of detail I’m looking for in the images, the background is composited separately from the character image. The 2 final composites are then combined. This gives me the flexibility to use backgrounds in multiple panels or as a standalone image.

“Takashima Alley” by L. Anne Thompson, Tenukihandcrafts

The composite alley background

I used a photo I took of the alley behind the Cinerama Theater in Seattle, split it into 3 layers: the buildings on the left, the buildings on the right and the alley pavement scaled up so it goes further into the background.

I took an image of the Dubai skyline (from Awake class content) and painstakingly cut out the buildings from the sky and foreground. I’ve tried using the pen tool, but it’s too frustrating for my poor hand strength. I use a hard edged brush and slowly work around the buildings. It’s time-consuming, but I mold the skyline as I work. I duplicated the skyline then stretched it vertically and layered the tall version behind the regular image and shifted the buildings so different buildings are in the background.

Once that was done, I created a new layer from visible layers and duplicated that layer. On one layer, I used the Unsharp Mask which has the effect of sharpening the overall image. On the other layer, I ran High Pass and set it to Overlay and lowered the opacity. This increases the whites and brings an almost line-drawing quality to the image.

For the sky, I took a photo of Seattle, just above I-5 facing south at sunrise and increased the saturation of colors to deepen the sunrise effect. Duplicated the layer and ran the Unsharp Mask on one layer and High Pass set to overlay on the other layer.

Unifying the layers

Compositing images always looks composited so a few additional layers are needed to make the composite look natural. For this image, I sampled a color from the sunset image, added a new layer and filled it with this color then set the layer to overlay and lowered the opacity.

I added a 50% grey layer. Using a soft brush sized to the light sconces, I painted beams of light down to the ground then blurred the layer to spread the light. The layer was set to overlay with the opacity lowered a touch.

I added another 50% grey layer and used the soft brush to paint black in the areas I wanted to recede.

Executed The Move and ran Paint Daubs from the filter gallery, which gives my images a hand painted look.

The final image

Running The Move again, I took this final image and desaturated it. I tried both the Black & White layer tool and Image Hue/Saturation and found, in this case, desaturating my image looked best.

The final touches

I added my signature and changed the perspective to make it look like graffiti on the building.

Although it’s not in the video, I added a 2 Lil Owls City Dweller 24 layer, desaturated it and set it to overlay.

Each image takes between 4-6 hours to complete. Now that I have my photo editing process down, my next step is to create a story board so I have an idea of how long it will take me to the complete story.

While Takashima is nowhere near completion, I good about my progress and my ability to use Photoshop to see this project to the end.

Happy creating!