Transformation and Distortion

is post is a little longer, but it’s photo-rich and a quick read. So, don’t be afraid to scroll down.

Chapter 2 of How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed., by Steve Caplin is similar to Chapter 1 in its concentration on more “basic” techniques. But, like the previous chapter, there is also a surprising amount of new material. Most of the really new and interesting stuff is located under the Edit menu.

Free Transform and Image Warp
Almost every time two or more images are combined in Photoshop, at least one will need to have its perspective changed to make the composite look realistic. This can be achieved by using Free Transformation and Warp, both of which are found under the Edit menu and have been available since CS2. Free Transform allows for perspective changes on both horizontal and vertical axes. Warp (found under Edit-Transform-Warp) enables distorting an image in numerous ways, including creating the appearance of going around a curve.

For example, say you needed to add the poster image on the left to the three sigh boards on theater image on the rightTransformation in practiceOriginalAllSimply scaling the poster just doesn’t fit, especially around the curved side of the building for the middle sign board. And, you can’t put the poster on the right-hand signboard at all:Transformation in practicePostersUnrealistic
However, using Free Transform to scale the left and right posters while applying Warp to the middle poster yields a much more realistic result:56 - Transformation in practiceEdited
Further realism can be achieved by changing the mode of the layer from Normal to Overlay.

New in CS5: Content-Aware Scaling, Content-Aware Fill and the Ruler tool

Content-Aware Scaling
Let’s say you have a picture like this with some boring “blank” space in the middle:Content Aware ScalingOriginal
You need to add this picture to a publication, but space is limited. Simply cropping the edges causes the loss of interesting subject material. Previously, your only option was to crop out the middle, move the two ends together and spend hours hiding the join. Now, with Content-Aware Scaling, you just scooch the ends together without an unsightly join to remove:58 - Content Aware ScalingEdited

Content-Aware Fill
I have to admit I stumbled on to this new feature before encountering How to Cheat in Photoshop. However, because I tried to figure out how to use it on my own, I didn’t get a good understanding of this tool.

Content-Aware Fill has many useful applications for professional and home photography. For instance, you’re visiting an exotic tropical location and you want a picture of a pristine beach. So, you head out early in the morning to get the shot. But, darn it, someone is already there!beachOriginal
No sweat. Using CS5, just make a gross selection of the people using the Lasso tool then under the Edit menu go to fill and select Content-Aware in the dialog box and press OK. Presto-Chango! Now you’ve got the beach all to yourself!EmptybeachNote that with some types of photos you might also have to do a little work with the healing brush and the clone stamp tool, but at least Content-Aware Fill has done most of the grunt work for you.

The Ruler tool
Another addition to CS5 is the Ruler tool, which is located under the Eyedropper. It takes the guesswork out of straightening a crooked photo. And, combined with Content-Aware Fill can make even a skewed photo look professional. Here’s an example:

Oh dear, it looks like the ocean is going to pour right out of the picture!Content aware fillOceanViewFirst, use the Ruler tool to draw a line that matches the horizon and press Straighten:Content aware fillOceanViewStraightenandCroppedBut, with only the tiny bit of sky at the top, it looks as if a giant tsunami wave is about to crash down upon the viewer. YIKES!!

Fortunately, the Ruler tool is actually a two-step process. Undo just the last step. See how Photoshop tilted the picture to level the horizon as specified:Content aware fillOceanViewStraightened
Now, with the Magnetic Lasso tool draw just inside the perimeter of the image and inverse the selection to capture the white area. Then, select Content-Aware Fill and voila! Photoshop fills in the white area, and everyone stays safe and dry:62 - Content aware fill 2Edited
Also new in CS5: Puppet Warp

What a great innovation Puppet Wrap is. Often, an image would be just perfect if you could just move an arm, make it look like the subject is looking up, or even move the subject’s fingers. Now, you can do this without spending hours, or days, putting each element on separate layers, fiddling with Image Warp, joining everything back together and then trying to make it look seamless. What a nightmare!

Puppet Wrap is also located under the Edit menu. With it you can create life-like changes in an instant.  It works by creating a “mesh” in which you insert “pins.” The trick is inserting the pins at natural joints. Take this open hand:Front&back
Using the miracle of Puppet Warp, it’s closed:Front&back

Here’s another example. Say you wanted to make this rhea, a South American flightless bird similar to an ostrich, look as if it’s about to pluck some fruit off a tree.rhea
Simply place a pin at the base of the neck where it joins the body, a pin where the neck starts to curve up, one at the base of the skull and one at the tip of the beak. Now alternately drag the pins at the base of the skull and the beak until the rhea is looking up at the proper angle. Finally, place your rhea in the background and now you have a bird caught in the act of stealing some fruit:AppleTreeWithRhea

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