Our Photo Montage Photoshop Tutorial

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1 Getting Started

Your first step in making a great photomontage render will be to import the photo of the development site into Photoshop.  Don’t forget to keep a copy of the original photo; you’ll want to show your client some before and after shots, especially if this is a renovation project.

Your next step is to adjust your photograph to the size and scale you want.  Once this is done, you’re ready to add in your raw 3D model into photo shop and superimpose it over space in which it will be built. Pay special attention to ensuring that you’ve got the correct scale and position for the model – use Photoshop’s ‘free transform’ tool to help. If you’re having trouble getting this right, try out this slick little tip we learned from top architects; reduce the opacity of the model to 70%, making it slightly translucent, and then place it over the background before putting the opacity back up. We must stress that you really can’t rush this part; take your time, and make sure that the 3D image fits the photograph perfectly.

2 Get rid of unnecessary parts

Use the ‘layer mask’ and ‘Brush’ tools to delete or hide any unwanted elements in the image.  For example, you may be making a montage of a new development on a busy high street.  Your photo could have bits of rubbish on the road, or pedestrians and cars that are blocking important elements in your design.  It is essential that you zoom in on any smaller areas or parts with fine details, and use a smaller diameter brush for this.  While this is quite an essential step in cleaning up your image, don’t get out of control with it.  If you start removing fixed features like street lamps, trees, hedges or such, you might actually be doing yourself a and your work a disservice as your making the render unrealistic.

Add in a sky if needed

The sky in the photo of the development site might already be stunning, and in that case, you can skip this step.  However, it is quite common to add a different image of the sky to the photomontage in order to enhance the image or get a certain type of effect, such as a night time shot or a sunrise shot.  Getting the new sky in is pretty easy; all you need to do is import the new photo into Photoshop and set it to to the appropriate layer.  Care will have to be taken, however, in making the new sky fit properly into the photomontage.

4 Color correction

Now that we have all the elements of the image in their proper places, its time to star processing it.  The first thing you’ll want to think of is getting the color correction down.  Remember, you’ve just composed a montage of a bunch of different images, so obviously the colours in each part aren’t going to match the others. Luckily though, Photoshop has al manner of tools for getting the colors right.  You can start with adjusting the tonality by clicking on ‘Levels’ and ‘curves’, and get those fine touches by clicking on ‘Color Balance’ and ‘Hue/Saturation’.  Don’t forget to pay attention to the white balance as well.

5 Give texture to your 3D model

Now that we’ve got the background sorted, it’s time to help make that raw 3D model you imported a few steps ago look like something from the real world, rather than something computer-generated.  This is achieved by adding textures. Some artists will create their own textures in Photoshop, but with so many great texture resources available for free online it’s not always necessary.  Start by importing the textures you want into Photoshop, and then stretch and fit them to the target surface. Next, use the blend tools to blend the texture layer and the background layers together to get the most realistic effect.  Lastly, remove an unwanted texture areas.

6 Lighting

The last major job you’ll have to take, and definitely one of the most important in making the whole scene a cohesive whole is to correct the lighting.   As you are going for photorealism, remember that you are not just looking at general lighting issues  like contrast and shadows; you want to make this look as close to real life as possible so throw in some blurring, lens glare and ambient occlusion to imitate the appearance of real photography.  You can also get a little creative with the lighting in order to highlight certain points of interest and make them ‘pop’.  Another thing to consider it an light sources you may have added to the render.  For example, if you’re making a photomontage of an interior design renovation project, you might have added in new lighting, such as wall lamps or new windows.  You’ll also need to adjust the light round these areas to make them look realistic.  If you are going to use special filters for specific effects, such as sepia tones or film grain, these can be added last of all..