Behind the Scenes: The Making of “Train Hard Win Easy”

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: July 26, 2012

Category: General

Hi Folks,

So how’s things?

Ok so before I head out for the early viewing of The Dark Knight Rises (Me=Excited) as promised here’s a look at what went into putting together my Train Hard Win Easy picture.

Now the whole retouching process in Photoshop will be in a future issue of Practical Photoshop Magazine in the coming weeks; there’ll be a step by step write up plus a video tutorial so you can see not just what but also how.

Today though I thought I’d show you the stages that the pictures (studio photo of Shaun and original running track) went through and a look at the lighting set up:

Click to enlarge

The Background
9 times out of 10 if I’m putting together a composite the backgrounds are made up of photographs I’ve taken myself. However it’s not always possible to get out and photograph or indeed find your ideal background. Of course in these cases there’s always stock images to turn to; however…doubly wammy…there’s no guarantee you’ll find something suitable there either.

Solution? Shoot/Find a background that kind of fits the bill and then use Photoshop to manipulate it, twist it, turn it, play with the perspective crop and all that fun stuff and see what you can come up with.

Of course knowing what you want from the outset helps a great deal but then that’s how I approach what I’m doing each and every time. I’ve written and spoken about it before but knowing what you want your final image to be like even before you’ve taken a photo helps incredibly.

Think about it…knowing the final picture means you’ll know what lighting to use and how to light your model, what your model should wear, what expression they should have, what props to use, what background elements you need and so on… Knowing the final picture before beforehand will also save you masses of time when it comes to working in Photoshop. Before working this way I used to load pictures into Photoshop and then end up sitting, scratching my head thinking “Now what should I do?”; I knew the techniques in Photoshop BUT I didn’t know which ones to use, and that’s all because I didn’t have a clear vision for the final image…does that all make sense?

Anyway the pictures below show you the start image for the background and then what I made from it (the sky was from a picture I’d taken whilst in my back garden)…

Studio Shoot
Ok so for the picture of Shaun I photographed him in the studio on a white seamless background. Why white and not grey? Well again this boils down to knowing in advance what background Shaun was going to be put into and how I’d end up cutting him out.

White seamless was used for 2 main reasons:

  1. The contrast between Shaun & what he was wearing compared to the white background meant cutting him out would be very easy
  2. Any challenges extracting Shaun’s hair from the white background would be easy to deal with because if any bright/white areas couldn’t be fully removed it didn’t matter all that much as he was going onto a bright background anyway; again a BIG advantage of knowing what it is you want to end up with in advance.
As for using a 3 light set up, this was done so as to purposely add rim light around the outline of Shaun’s body as in the final picture it would represent the bright light behind wrapping around him a little. Had I wanted to add a sun into the final picture slightly off to one side then I would have turned one of the rim lights off (the one on the opposite side to the sun) so that there was just the one direction of light giving highlights…as it would in real life.
Compositing Step by Step
Here you can see the stages that the each of the pictures (Shaun & running track) went through to end up with the final composite.
How long did I spend editing ???  Well I guess in total this would have taken maybe 3 hours but alot of that time was playing around with with techniques in Photoshop to get the final look. Putting it all together and getting around 80% finished was actually quite quick but it’s the playing around and tweaking that can eat up the time.

Click to enlarge

In a few weeks I’ll have an article coming out in Practical Photoshop Magazine covering every single step of the retouching process in detail (no secrets) plus a video I’ve recorded to accompany it that you can follow along to. Oh and it won’t take 3 hours either…more like 25 minutes unless of course like me you can’t help tweaking this and that 🙂

Right, I can’t fight the anticipation any longer…I’m off to the cinema.

Have a great weekend folks and I’ll catch you back here on Monday with a new Photoshop tutorial video and more news about my new Photoshop “Know How” workshop series,

Glyn 🙂

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  1. DaveT

    Hi Glyn,

    Another excellent post with good solid tips. I really look forward to seeing the full set of instructions with video in Practical Photoshop (thanks for the heads up on that magazine by the way, I got my first issue the other week after your recommendation – very informative magazine).

    In your post I can relate to the point you made about having a clear vision before starting as to how the light will look and how it will all come together in post processing. I am usually trying to composite material from random shots I have taken as opposed to starting from scratch with an end point in mind.

    Hope the file was good.


  2. Kevin Sharpe

    Another great blog post laid out perfectly to follow and understand. After the weekend workshop I have a much clearer understanding and vision of my future composites, as you state don’t just shoot without an idea of the finale outcome, the lighting may just be wrong for what you want. Also I won’t be rushing excitedly through my composites but taking my time to perfect the look I really want, thanks Glyn for a great post, enjoy Batman! 🙂

  3. David Tothill

    Yep I like it, and I couldn’t have done it, but now I feel I could.

  4. Denver

    Great instructional post. Thanks Glyn.


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