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.
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.”
Now that transparency works, the next step is to erase the background. Notice a few things here.
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.
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.
Notice the edge of my hair has a lower opacity than the rest of the image.
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.
Duplicate the background and go to color>colorize. Play with these settings. I like this warm, pinkish red.
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.
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.
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.
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.