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Integrate a 3D Render Into a Macro Photograph Using Photoshop

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In this tutorial we will explain how to integrate a rendered 3D model into a photograph to create a macro photography effect.


Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.


Step 1

We are going to start by creating the robot final texture. Create a New Document with same dimensions of the assets provided (600px by 704px). Open Textured, Chrome and Mask images and organize them as shown, add the Mask image to the Channels Palette, select it doing Command/Ctrl-click on its thumbnail and create Masks Layers for the two robot layers.


Step 2

Now we are going to create the scratched paint effect on the Robot, using the Brush Tool and Brushes number 200, 300, or 400 from the brush pack provided. Paint with 100% black some strokes on the Layer Mask to let see the chrome trough the textured surface.


Step 3

Add the background image on a new layer below Robot Group, and create a Levels Adjustments Layer, set as shown.


Step 4

Next phase will be about adjust and create the robot shadows for incorporate it into photography. Select the two Robot Layers and merge them, now we have only one, name it "Robot". Next create an Adjustments Levels Layer and mask it with the Mask Channel, name it "Light Shadows". Then adjust Levels as shown.


Step 5

For balance shadows we need the left-lower body a bit darker, to do that Duplicate "Robot" Layer and add a Mask Layer, name it "Shadows Mask". Then select the Gradient Tool and apply a gradient Black to Transparent as shown.


Step 6

Now, to finish this phase, we are going to balance a little bit more shadows. Merge previous Layers, name it "Final Robot", and add the final Adjustments Levels Layer to match better shadows of the environment.


Step 7

On this step we are going to add the ground shadows caused by the robot. Create a new layer, name it "Ground Shadows", place it below "Final Robot" Layer. Now using the Elliptical Marquee Tool make an elliptical selection, more or less of same size of the leg, create a new layer and fill selection with black color, then go to Edit > Transform > Rotate to transform the layer as shown. Duplicate this layer and repeat same steps, placing a black ellipse under each leg, for body make it a little bit bigger. When all be in place, merge all layers and rename it "Ground Shadows".


Step 8

For adapt shadows to the ground we are going to add a Displace Filter, so is necessary to create first the displace image of the ground. Go to "Background" layer and duplicate it on a new document, next go to Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer select Monochrome and adjust levels as shown. Now convert image to Grayscale, Image > Mode > Grayscale, and save it as PSD file.


Step 9

Come back to the original file and place on "Ground Shadows" layer, then go to Filter > Distort > Displace and apply settings as shown, press OK and select the PSD file we created before, the result is a new shadow that is best suited to the soil.


Step 10

It is necessary to repositioning it a bit, use the Move Tool to do it. Then set the Blending Mode to Soft Light and the Opacity to 80%.


Step 11

Shadows still needs more corrections, go to Edit > Distort > Warp and tweak it for simulate the leaf curvature.


Step 12

In some areas will be necessary to remove some shadow parts, do it with the Erase Tool and a Soft Round Brush with a low Opacity value.


Step 13

To finish the ground shadow apply a blur to it, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and give it a radius of 0,5px.


Step 14

We have the robot finished with its shadow projected on the soil, now is time to manipulate the whole scene, to do that will be necessary to Merge all visible layers, (Shift + Command/Ctrl + E). We are going to start blur it and create the "macro effect", so I decided to divide the view in three planes.


Step 15

We are going to work on the Channels Panel creating alpha channels for being used with the Lens Blur Filter, then let's make first plane alpha channel, go to Channels > New Channel, name it "1st plane", and make a gradient from top to down with white to transparent, you will get this.


Step 16

Create a new alpha, go to Channels > New Channel, name it "2nd plane", pick the Elliptical Marquee Tool and drag an ellipse over the robot head, inverse it (Shift + Command/Ctrl + I), then go to Select > Refine Edge > Feather and write 30px, finally go to Edit > Fill and fill selection with white color, you should have this.


Step 17

Finally the last alpha, here we will need to draw a bit more, create a new alpha, go to Channels > New Channel, name it "3rd plane". Select the robot shape doing Command/Ctrl-Click on "Robot's channel" to select its contents, and got to Edit > Fill to fill selection with white. Next make a gradient from bottom to the middle with white to transparent. Now using the Brush Tool and a Soft Round Brush, draw the branch shape.


Step 18

Now we are going to use the created alphas to blur the image, go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur, repeat it three times with following settings for each alpha channel.


Step 19

Then, now manually, with the Blur Tool we will add more blur touches, on the top and bottom. Image already had depth of field, but with the Lens Blur Filters we applied, the robot looks more integrated and small.


Step 20

Some areas of the robot needs color correction, to do it, go to Image > Adjustments > Selective Color and adjust following colors as shown.


Step 21

Light needs some balance too, to match robot and environment, to get it we will use the Dodge Tool with a Soft Round Brush with a Range of Highlights and very low exposure (3% is OK), we will clarify the areas closest to the robot.


Step 22

Now we are going to add the eye reflections, open the jpg "reflections" archive provided on the assets, import it on a new layer, then make Command/Ctrl-click on the layer to scale and rotate its content, and place it on the eye. Next use the Elliptical Selection Tool to make a circle selection of the eye, then use the area selected for apply a Layer Mask. Finally set the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 75%. Repeat this for each eye.


Step 23

On the two following steps we are going to add some atmosphere adjustments. Robot is too bluish and needs to capture the greenish tones of the ambient, to get it, add a new layer, name it "Green Atmosphere" and set his Blending Mode to Soft Light and the Opacity to 60%, apply on it a gradient from green to transparent, and from left bottom corner to top.


Step 24

Finally we will add a blue touch to the robot to capture the sky tone, add a new layer, name it "Blue Atmosphere" and set its style to Color and 25% of opacity, apply on it a gradient, from blue to transparent and from top right corner to down.


Step 25

At this point I noticed that the left edge of the robot was too dark and created an unwanted "cut effect", it needs to be lighten. Create a new layer set the Blending Mode to Soft Light and the Opacity to 100%, name it "Rim Light" then isolate the robot shape doing Command/Ctrl-Click on any of the previous Mask Layers, and create a new Mask layer, now pick the Brush Tool with a Soft round Brush set its Opacity to 30% and with white color paint on those edges.


Step 26

Now we are going to re-illuminate the image to continue integrating the robot on the scene. Create a new layer, name it "Global Light" set its Blending Mode to Soft light and the Opacity to 90%, then make a gradient with white color to transparent from top right corner to down. Next create a new layer, name it "Sun Bright" set its Blending Mode to Normal and let the Opacity to 100%, and repeat same gradient but now with half of distance.


Step 27

Let's cool down a bit the image for a better color balance. Create a new layer, name it "Blue Tint" set its Blending Mode to Color and the Opacity to 25%, and once again make same gradient as before but this time with cyan (50%) color. Next add another layer, name it "Shadows Tint", set its Blending Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 50%, pick the Brush Tool with a Soft Round Brush, set its Opacity to 25%, choose a greenish blue and tint the shadows of the lower part.


Step 28

Following with the robot's edges, now we will smooth them. Pick the Smudge Tool, set the Strength to 3% and use a Soft Round Brush with a 5px size, then smudge carefully all the robot's edges.


Step 29

It is time to add some dirt to the robot, create a new layer, name it "Dirt", set its Blending Mode to Soft light and the Opacity to 50%, pick Brush number 250, and with black color add some dirt touches on robot's surface.


Step 30

To continue adding details to the robot, now we will add some extra highlights and flares. Create a new layer, name it "Brights & Flares", set its Blending Mode to Normal and let the Opacity to 100%, we will use two different brushes, for the highlights use a Hard Round Brush for paint little dots, for example in the brightness of the eyes. For flares, use Brush number 500, and paint only on the major brightness.


Step 31

Now we come back to the atmosphere adding effects. Some air impurities will work well, create a new layer, name it "Impurities", set its Blending Mode to Lighten and the Opacity to 100%, use Brush number 200 and with white color, making size variations, paint some random strokes.


Step 32

Some "bokeh" highlights will add a nice touch, for it we will customize a brush, select a Hard Round Brush from the Brush Palette, then press F5 and adjust settings as shown. Create a new layer, name it "White Bokeh", and paint random circles with white color, adjust them with Transform Tool if necessary. Next add a Gaussian Blur, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur with a Radius of 3,5px, finally set layer's Blending Mode to Soft light and the Opacity to 100%. Repeat same steps as before but this time with light blue color.


Step 33

Last touch to the image will be the spider thread. Create a new Layer, name it "Spider Thread", use the Pen Tool and the Convert Point Tool to create the Path, then go to Path Palette > Stroke Path, first check your brush size and type, for first stroke we will use a Round Hard Brush with 2px size. To give it a transparent look use Eraser Tool with a 50% of Opacity for remove some parts. Select again the Path and stroke it again, now with the custom brush we created before, the result will be some tiny dots which will give a nice effect. Finally with Brush number 500 add a small flare to the thread.


Conclusion

Lastly, we will add a custom black vignette, and a noise layer to finish the scene.

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