How to Impose a Person on a Background

This is my tutorial for the I’m Ready For My Closeup assignment. The assignment requires you to place a portrait of a person over an inappropriate background. This is my way of doing this. It is not the only way or even necessarily the best way.

First, pick a portrait you would like to use. I will be using this picture of myself in a warm winter coat. I will be using Gimp for this tutorial. I highly recommend using a graphics tablet as well, as it will make certain steps far easier. My tablet is a Wacom Intuos.

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The original picture is a JPEG, so it doesn’t have transparency. The first step is to fix that by right clicking on the layer and clicking on “Add Alpha Chanel.”

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Now that transparency works, the next step is to erase the background. Notice a few things here.

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I am using the eraser tool. I have a soft brush setting and I have smooth stroke active. Smooth stroke corrects my strokes and makes them less jagged. I almost never use my graphics tablet without this. Play with the settings until you find what you like. The soft brush is more forgiving of mistakes than a hard brush and it allows me to feather the edge a little bit so that the portrait fits more naturally over a background.

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I also have pressure opacity active. This is the main reason I suggest using a graphics tablet. Mouses are not pressure sensitive, so this setting doesn’t work with them. Pressure opacity makes it so that the brush will show up more strongly the harder you press on the tablet. This gives me a much greater degree of control over how hard or soft the erased edge is. It also allows me to lightly erase the edges of my hair so that it blends naturally into the background of the final image.

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Notice the edge of my hair has a lower opacity than the rest of the image. Screenshot (317).png

Now it is time to place the image over a background. I got this image from SnappyGoat, a large collection of public domain images. You could stop here if you wanted to, but I would advise going farther.

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Duplicate the background and go to color>colorize. Play with these settings. I like this warm, pinkish red.

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Now drop the opacity and set the blending mode of the layer to “Overlay.” Play with the opacity until you like how it looks. Notice how much warmer this makes the background look.

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Now, merge the overlay down and go to filter>blur>Gaussian blur. Play with the settings until you have something you like. This blur will make the finished image look much deeper and more realistic.Screenshot (323).png

Now, duplicate the portrait and colorize it, similar to what you did with the background. Because of how dark the forest image is, I have also darkened my image substantially to make the lighting clash less.

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Set this layer to the “overlay” blending mode and play with the opacity until it looks good. After that, export it. This is my final piece.



Selfies in the Jungle

This is my response to the I’m Ready For My Closeup assignment, worth 4 stars. I had to take a closeup of someone and impose it on an inappropriate background. I placed myself in some kind of tropical jungle. This doesn’t look too outlandish until you think about it for a moment. It is super hot and humid in jungles. Who on earth would wear a winter coat like that?

I created this in Gimp. I found the jungle background on SnappyGoat, a large online collection of public domain images. I erased the background from a photo of myself and placed it over the jungle picture. I duplicated the jungle image and made the copy a reddish pink color. I reduced the opacity and set to overlay to warm up the background. I also did this to the photo of myself, but I darkened the photo of myself to make it fit better into the scene. I put a Gaussian blur on the background to make the image look deeper.

A more detailed tutorial of how I did this is available here.


He Who Makes an Emoji out of Himself

This is my response to the Mashing Friends and Emojis assignment, worth 4 stars. I had to put a picture of a person next to an emoji with a similar expression. I found this picture of my dad that I thought was kind of funny that also reminded me of the toothy grin emoji.

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As I was placing the images in the layout, “Bat Country” by Avenged Sevenfold started playing in my head and it reminded me of a certain quote by Samuel Johnson: “He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” My adaptation made me giggle so I decided to use it. As usual, I made this in Inkscape.