In one of Phlearn’s recent Photoshop tutorials, Aaron Nace takes several exposures and frames and manual blends them to create a stunning stylized and dynamic image. In this three-part tutorial, you learn how to shoot, process, and refine a stylized environmental portrait. The 2 hours worth of tutorials are designed for individuals that have a cursory knowledge of Photoshop and focuses on the specifics of concept, lighting set-up, workflow, and editing techniques. In the DJ Dolo Phlearn Pro Tutorial there is also a section that talks about a little about virtual copies and developing in Lightroom, on-location lighting set-up, hand painting, and how to color grade images for a stylized look.
But before we get into the nuts and bolts of the tutorial – check out some more from the photo shoot:
Behind the Scenes: DJ Dolo
The size of this download is going to take up 478.1 MB and will be in a .zip file. You are going to find 5 main folders:
- 1. Brushes
- 2. Lighting Diagram
- 3. Support
- 4. Tutorial Images
- 5. Video Tutorials
Along with tutorials, the download contains a new brush, tutorial images, a texture image (in this case, sky), lighting diagram, help files, and additional reference tutorials. The video tutorial folder contains three .mp4 videos that total just over 2 hours of instruction.
The mp4 format works well with most players and the video/audio quality was clean, even though it had been compressed in the .zip format. This is something that we have come to expect in these types of tutorials, and we were not disappointed here.
Use of Adobe Photoshop CS6 accommodates individuals with a solid foundational understanding of post-processing in Photoshop. Most of the tools used in the tutorial are a few generations old, so if you are running a Photoshop version that is slightly older, this tutorial will still work for you. Another interesting caveat of this tutorial is a 15 minute section designated to Lightroom. It is not a Lightroom tutorial though, and only shows how it is used in the workflow.
As an intermediate level tutorial, the videos are geared towards individuals with an established background in post-processing and Photoshop. If you are a beginner, I would suggest going back and reviewing some basic skills before tackling this tutorial – it can be pretty fast paced in sections and someone who is new to Photoshop can get lost quickly. Aaron is clear and concise with what he is doing as you watch, so if you feel lost, pause and rewind. At times, you may have to do that a few times. That is the blessing of video tutorials – the ever present pause and rewind.
In over 2 hours, and 3 videos, a lot of material is covered. For me, a few points stood out that I wanted to bring up
Hand-painting: In the tutorial, Aaron show you how to recreate a portion of your image from scratch. Though this is not something that always happens, if you come across something highly distracting and you would like to remove it, sometimes the clone stamp and healing brush is just not going to cut it. This is also great when you are creating an edgy look, and want a more stylized feel to your image.
Extending the Picture Plane: Composites can be tricky when dealing with distortion and lining everything up. Aaron covers a few ways to troubleshoot your composite needs using tips and tricks he has learned over the years.
Removing Distractions: This is a big one when doing an environmental portrait. You want your focus to be on the subject, not say, that sign looming just above his head. In this tutorial, you will learn how to use different tools, as well as color and lighting in post, to refine the interest in your image. You learn ways to control where the eye goes when looking at the image.
Lightroom and Color Grading:
The Lightroom portion is at the very beginning and is used to run through the photo shoot essentials and set up. Color gels were used in the lighting scenario and to help set the foundation for the color palette that Aaron decided to use for the final image. Further color grading is added in post and you will learn how that is accomplished (and of course – why). Also, this is a great section of the tutorial which explains a little about finding the right time of day to accomplish the look you want.
Most of the tools demonstrated throughout the tutorial can be used in various ways, all depending on what you are wanting to accomplish. Aaron breaks down why and how he uses each tool for the specific look he is going for. This is especially important when refining a stylized portrait.
Final Thoughts & Conclusions
Like most of Phlearn‘s tutorials, this one is done with specific challenges in mind and really work through each of them in detail. It is a more intermediate tutorial, so if you are new to Photoshop you may find yourself a little overwhelmed. The extra section on Lightroom and different ways to integrate it into your workflow is a plus, as you rarely see how industry professionals move between the two platforms. It is nice see to see how each platform is utilized in this workflow.
The style of these images and post-processing is highly processed. Techniques like hand painting, replacing the sky, removing unwanted objects, and extending the overall picture plane is used. It is definitely not for the faint of heart or the ‘au-natural’ photographer.
Aaron’s tone and clear directions will carry you through the tutorial, and with three separate videos, the 2 hours of material does not feel as cumbersome. You are able to watch a portion and take a break. The tutorial images and bonus PS brush file will help you work through the tutorial with ease.
In the end, if you really like the style of the image and you would like to learn a bunch of different techniques with lighting and post-processing, this tutorial is a good addition to your collection.
Until Next Time . . . .
Stay Inspired ~ Jules
Cool side note: When you view the first part of the tutorial, you may notice on the left panel of the Lightroom developing module, Aaron is using our Lightroom 4 Preset System.