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Photography: Float on your pictures

Intermediate level Adobe Photoshop Adobe Photoshop

Field of Play

Without a doubt, football can be considered as the most popular sport with millions of enthusiasts around the world. It’s well-known for promoting values such as teamwork, discipline and organization, but it’s particularly thanks to the discipline and hard work that some great footballers are able to levitate off the floor when scoring a goal, like a magic trick, right?

To be honest, I’m really bad at sports and I’m not even able to jump without falling. If you you’re like me or simply you can’t find someone who captures this magical moment, join me and let’s learn together how to create this levitating effect from zero. Let’s begin…but don’t forget to warm up first! 

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Warm-up

As you must know, it’s very important to do some warm-up exercises before doing sport so that we don’t hurt our muscles. Something similar happens with this tutorial: we need to prepare the software properly in advance, like setting up the image resolution or color management, so that it’s adapted to our needs. 

In this project, I’ve used three photos that you’ll find in the Attachments tab or if you prefer, you can click here. This tutorial isn’t only for football; you can also use this levitating effect in other situations you find interesting. This is a really cool and visually attractive effect so, why don’t you apply it to your own photos? Later, you can share your results with me in the Projects tab in Tutpad.  

If you’re going to use your own picture, you just need to make sure that you take two pictures, with tripod if possible. One of them must have an empty background with nobody on it. 

Step 1

Firstly, we must create a new document (Ctrl / Cmd + N) with the measurements of the image we’re going to use. In this case, I’ve decided to create a document with the same size than the picture (5472x3648 px) and then I’m going to crop the image to adjust it to my needs. After, in order to insert the image, we’re going to click on File → Place embedded. Another option is, if you have the document open, to simply drag the image on to it. 

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Now, adjust the image to the canvas. Press Alt + Mayús at the same time so that we can resize it uniformly. 

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As I said before, we can also drag the image on to insert it if the document is open. 

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There's also another option: right click on the image and then  → Open with → Adobe Photoshop.

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All these options might seem similar but I honestly prefer the first method since it allows us to control the settings of the image.

Step 2

Let's include the three images in the project and put the layer of the footballer at the top. Then, we're going to uncheck the ball's layer since it's optional and we aren't going to work with it now. After that, we're going to rename each layer according to what it refers to so that it's easier to find them when working with the project in the following steps. We'll need to eliminate the white background layer because we won't need it for this project. 

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Fist Half

Once we have everything we need for the match, I mean, our photomontage, we're going to to start working with the layers. We'll start with the first layer and what we're going to do is using the layer masks to eliminate those things we don't want, like the chair, the tripod, etc. so that the football player is the only element in this layer. 

Step 1

We're going to create a mask layer in the footballer's layer. To do so, we'll use the Brush Tool (B) to color in black all the elements we don't want on the mask. I usually works with an intermediate hardness so that the edges aren't very sharp and the image can mix together with the background. A useful tip when clearing the elements is to hide all layers of the bottom. 

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When painting the mask layer, we'll need to pay attention to the superimposed elements, as it is the hand, which appears before the grass, or the forballer's hip, which is touching the chair. 

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Depending ont he image we're using, it might be a bit difficult to distinguish if the background is completely clean or not. We an use another layer with a solid color and bring it to the background to see the edges clearly. As the background of this image is white, it's not possible to see it distinctly, that's why I've used a red layer to improve the mask layer. 

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This is the result. In my case, I don't need to keep cropping the image, but obviously it'll depend on the image we're using, so you might need to do it differently. 

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Step 2

Once the footballer is cropped, we're going to work with the background. First, check the background layer and, once it's selected, click Ctrl / Cmd + T to activate Free Transform or we can simply click Edit → Free Transform. 


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Now, we're going to make the image bigger until covering the tripod on the left. Don't worry for the one on the right. The shadow won't be a problem neither since we're going to clear it afterwards using the Clone Stamp or Patch tools. At the same time we resize the image, we're going to correct the horizon line of the floor, or in other words, straighten it. In case it's necesarry, we can also finish the cropped area of the footballer. 

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Step 3

So, once we're done with the background layer, as I just said, we're going to remove the shadow of the tripod. In this particular case, we won't be able to work with the tools we've used before, because these are destructive editing tools and don't work with smart layers, like this one. There are two possibilities we can use. One of them is creating a copy by pressing  Ctrl / Cmd + J and then rasterizing it. This option allows us to keep the original file in case we need to do any sort of adjustment later. To rasterize the layer: right click → Rasterize. 

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Step 4

After rasterizing the image the layer, we're going to use the Clone Stamp or the Patch tool to remove the shadow of the tripod. In order to select the Patch tool, we'll need to go to the button where the Healing Brush (J) is. If we click and hold the button of the mouse, we'll see some tools where we'll find the Patch tool. Then, we select it and set it up according to our needs. 

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Then, we're going to select the area we want to substitute. 

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We're going to keep moving the selected area until we get the desired effect.

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With these changes, the image will be almost ready. Now, let's begin with the second part of this tutorial. In this part, we're going to work with the Liquify filter to make the footballer's hip bigger, which now is completely flat after being sat on that chair for such a long time. Poor boy. We're also going to add the shadow of the boy on the grass.

Second Half

Well, now that the field of work is ready, it's time to start with the second part, which is a bit more complicated. We'll need to make use of all of our Photoshop skills to make our image fly. 


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Step 1

As it happened before, we'll need to create a copy of the footballer's layer and rasterize it so that we can use the Liquify filter on it. This time, we're going to do it in a different way though, because we're only wanto to liquify the footballer. Firstly, we're going to select the cropped image of the footballer by clicking on the mask layer at the same time we press Control. 

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Then, we're going to duplicate the layer by pressing Ctrl / Cmd + J. Make sure that before doing it, the cropped area and the footballer's layer (not the mask layer) are selected. We're going to get a new rasterized layer with the cropped image on it.

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We're ready to apply the Liquify filter on the footballer!

Step 2

Select the rasterized footballer's layer and go to Filter → Liquify…

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Now, we're going to select the Smudge tool and go to the selected area of the hip. Then, we're going to use a big brush (around 550 px) and drag down the area of the hip smoothly in order to increase the volume of that part.  

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My recommendation is to expand and reduce the image constantly to make sure we don't go too far with this effect.  This is my final result. Do you like it?

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Step 4

Now that the footballer is ready, let's start creating the shadow. Firstly, we're going to create an empty layer on which we'll be drawing the shadow. To do so, activate the Brush tool and click and hold the I key so that the Eyedropper tool appears. We'll use this tool to find a darker green. 

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Once we've chosen a green which is dark enough for creating the shadow (#2c3617), we're going to click on the footballer's layer while pressing  Ctrl. Then, we'll need to go to the empty layer we created previously and paint the selected area using this color. 

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We're going to color it, press Ctrl + D to unselect it and, then, Ctrl + T to activate the Free Trnasform tool. Next, we're going to squish the shadow and put it under the footballer. 

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We'll move down the layer of the shadow until it's right under the footballer. Then, we'll go to Filter → Blur → Gaussian Blur… and set it at 100 px.

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When the shadow is ready, we're going to use the Eraser tool (E) to remove the areas we don't need. Then, select the multiply mode for the layer and reduce the opacity until we're happy with the result. In my case, I've set it at 40%.

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After doing this, we could say that the image is finished. However, it can look even cooler by adding the ball next to the footballer. Do you want to learn how to do it? Keep reading the tutorial and you'll find out!

Injury Time

We just need to retouche the image a little bit and then we'll be ready to share it with the entire world (and in the Projects tab in Tutpad). In this part, we'll be cropping the ball, scaling it and creating its shadow. Basically, we'll be following the same steps than before, but in this case applying them to the ball. As we're almost at the end of the match, we'll need to make the most of it to get the best result we can. Let's do it!

Step 1

First of all, we'll need to select the layer with the photo of the ball, bring it to the top of the list and activate it. 

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Step 2

We're going to choose any selection tool we want and, then, select the ball and mask it. I've used the Eliptical Marquee tool (M). Don't worry if you don't manage to do it at the first attempt since we'll we able to finish the cropped image with the mask layer.

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Step 3

Now, we're going to create the mask layer by pressing the button of the rectangle with a circle inside it which can be found in the Layers Panel. 

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Step 4 

We're going to put the ball in front of the footballer's right foot. Then, we're going to resize it with the Free Transform tool (Ctrl / Cmd + T) so that it has a normal size (remember that we need to click and hold Shift while scaling it).

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Step 5 

As we did with the footballer, we're going to create the shadow of the ball. In order to do so, we'll follow the same steps: create a new empty layer, click on the ball's layer while pressing Ctrl, select the empty layer and paint the selected area using the same shadow of green than before (#2c3617). After that, we'll only need to modify the shadow, put it on the grass, set the multiply blade mode and reduce opacity to 50%. Don't forget to bring the shadow after the ball's layer. 

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Step 6

This is the last step! Our image is already finished but before finishing, don't forget to name the layers properly and organize them in groups according to what they refer to. 

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Final Whistle

Yes, we've reached the end of the project! I really hope you enjoyed it and you found this tutorial useful. As always, I invite you to share with us your amazing result in the Projects tab so that all of us can see your great photo editing skills. Now, let's enjoy The World Cup, support our countries and show our sports skills off. Well, perhaps not in real life, but we can always make use of Photoshop...and have tons of patience. See you in the next tutorial!

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Are you tired of trying to take picture of you doing a scissor kick? Have you tried it so many times that your backside hurts? Stop trying and learn how to do it in a much easier way using Adobe Photoshop.

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