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Gimping a beauty

Jul 19, 2014, 19:44 (This post was last modified: Jul 19, 2014 19:55 by ofnuts.)
Post: #1
Gimping a beauty
It started on reddit, where some aviation addict was looking for a picture of a T-28(*) in high enough resolution to make a suitable wallpaper. I remember shooting one recently at an air show, and had actually two pics:

[attachment=3769]

I asked the OP if he wanted one of them, and he found the top one to his liking, but of course although the shot isn't too bad, this was not already a good picture and it needed some improvement (in particular cleaning up a very busy background) so here is a log of the evolution of the picture with some of the tricks I used...

(*) The T-28 is a plane that was used for the training of fighter pilots in the 50's, it is actually one of the last military aircraft to use a piston engine (later propeller aircraft use turboprops). The feel of a "warbird" with some more modern avionics.

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Jul 19, 2014, 19:59 (This post was last modified: Aug 5, 2014 11:18 by ofnuts.)
Post: #2
RE: Gimping a beauty
Step 1: damage assessment.

The picture is taken with a DSLR and so has a 3:2 ratio. The target size of the wallpaper is 1600*900 so it's a wider 16:9 ratio. The picture has to be cropped, so the first things to do is to reframe it at the new aspect ratio. With some luck this can also remove some of the background features (not this time, alas):

[attachment=3770]

With the resynthesizer plugin the car on the right and the person on the left are easily removed, but the rest (in particular the green plane on the left) is not isolated enough... It will have to be done manually.

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Jul 19, 2014, 20:07 (This post was last modified: Jul 19, 2014 20:58 by ofnuts.)
Post: #3
RE: Gimping a beauty
Step 2: creating a path

It quickly becomes obvious that I will need a very clean selection on the plane. For this the best method is a to create a path. I spend a couple of hours working out the path (290 points in 6 strokes). The time invested will be worth every second spent on it. To check that I didn't miss anything, I used the path to cutout the plane and grafted it over an alien background to see if I missed anything:

[attachment=3771]

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Jul 19, 2014, 20:22 (This post was last modified: Jul 19, 2014 21:02 by ofnuts.)
Post: #4
RE: Gimping a beauty
Step 3: cleanup

Things under the wing on the right are quickly taken care of with the clone tool, while the plane is protected by inverting the selection from the path created above.

The tough part is the plane on the left. A big thing, rather intertwined with the subject. Once again, the path tool to the rescue: I create a path around that plane (this one doesn't need to be too accurate), get a selection from that path, and subtract from that selection the outline of the subject plane. Edit>Clear cuts a hole in the picture, "behind" the white plane. The green plane is gone but the hole has to be filled. So I select the biggest possible chunk of the shrubs on the right, and copy/paste it to a new layer, move that layer under the plane and drag it to the hole. Not bad, but not big enough, so I duplicate the layer and shift the copy. There remain a small problem: the sky color doesn't match. The sky is removed in the copied layers using color to alpha, a new layer is added behind them, in which I clone some of the nearby sky. Finally, a little bit of layer mask magic to soften the borders of the hole and make a nice transition.

Now there are no more distracting elements in the picture:

[attachment=3772]

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Jul 19, 2014, 20:33
Post: #5
RE: Gimping a beauty
Step 4: Adding some flash

Using the accurate selection on the plane I can do two things:

On the plane itself, increase contrast (slightly) and saturation (even more slightly)

To make the sky a bit more dramatic, I do a large rectangular selection from the top to the bottom of the bushes, then I do a rather wide feathering in the grass, and subtract the plane outline from it. A shot with the Curves tool to darken the clouds slightly and increase the contrast.

[attachment=3773]

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Jul 19, 2014, 20:43
Post: #6
RE: Gimping a beauty
Step 5: finishing touches

The image is now scaled to its final size (trivial since it already has the right aspect ratio). After a downscaling, it is customary to compensate the slight fuzziness by re-sharpening the picture. Here I use again my selection on the plane to sharpen only the plane. This makes it stand out a bit more. The final result:

[attachment=3774]

Roughly two evenings (4 hours) of work total...

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Jul 19, 2014, 23:19
Post: #7
RE: Gimping a beauty
Job well done ofnuts. Smile
I appreciate your efforts in detailing your workflow for us.

The title led me to expect a different subject though...I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Wink
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Jul 19, 2014, 23:25
Post: #8
RE: Gimping a beauty
I know my audience. On reddit it of course has another name to attract the warbirds nerds Smile

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Jul 20, 2014, 02:12
Post: #9
RE: Gimping a beauty
its pretty much perfect !

without knowing you did all this stuff, i would have never guessed

impressive !

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Jul 20, 2014, 07:29 (This post was last modified: Jul 20, 2014 07:29 by iForStyle007.)
Post: #10
RE: Gimping a beauty
(Jul 19, 2014 20:07)ofnuts Wrote:  Step 2: creating a path
...(290 points in 6 strokes). The time invested will be worth every second spent on it. To check that I didn't miss anything, I used the path to cutout the plane and grafted it over an alien background to see if I missed anything:

*whistle, thats a huge path! I'd be afraid of losing/ messing up on the selection. So I'd probably do half of the plane selection on an image that size, that is quite a feat ofnuts Smile

Awesome work ofnuts!
The re-synthesizer plugin is very useful! I used it when I family member had this picture with a shoe on the side and muddy grass in the background, I was able to remove both.
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Jul 20, 2014, 09:46
Post: #11
RE: Gimping a beauty
Real good job there and a nice detailed set of instructions. The one thing that I do find slightly off is the sky as seen through the cockpit glass. It looks a little bit too bright compared to the rest of the sky for me.

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Jul 20, 2014, 11:12
Post: #12
RE: Gimping a beauty
(Jul 20, 2014 07:29)iForStyle007 Wrote:  
(Jul 19, 2014 20:07)ofnuts Wrote:  Step 2: creating a path
...(290 points in 6 strokes). The time invested will be worth every second spent on it. To check that I didn't miss anything, I used the path to cutout the plane and grafted it over an alien background to see if I missed anything:

*whistle, thats a huge path! I'd be afraid of losing/ messing up on the selection. So I'd probably do half of the plane selection on an image that size, that is quite a feat ofnuts Smile

Awesome work ofnuts!
The re-synthesizer plugin is very useful! I used it when I family member had this picture with a shoe on the side and muddy grass in the background, I was able to remove both.

The path is used to make the selection. You do the path following the plane outline, then do Select>From path to get a selection on the plane. From the Paths list you can also do Path-to-selection or Subtract-path-from-selection (which I did often).

While you are creating the path there is no risk of losing anything, and you can do it in several sessions, and save intermediate versions. So, no sweat. My biggest path to date is 2358 points in 67 strokes (getting a path around an old ownership plate). This one took me several evenings but it gave my fingers a lot of training Smile

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Jul 20, 2014, 12:11
Post: #13
RE: Gimping a beauty
(Jul 20, 2014 09:46)caz Wrote:  Real good job there and a nice detailed set of instructions. The one thing that I do find slightly off is the sky as seen through the cockpit glass. It looks a little bit too bright compared to the rest of the sky for me.

That's deliberate. I wondered about this too, and it wasn't very hard to make the canopy partially selected when doing the sky (one more path Smile). But I decided not too, because as it is it makes the canopy more part of the general shape, and it makes it looks like there is a sun ray falling on the plane...

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Jul 21, 2014, 08:35
Post: #14
RE: Gimping a beauty
@ ofnuts

Yes, I see now. The light on the glass would make the sky appear brighter. Well spotted, I would have been tempted to darken it down, and lost the effect of the sun rays in the process.

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