Monday, May 19, 2008

How to fake a miniature in Corel's Paint Shop Pro Photo XI

I first saw fake miniatures (aka tilt-shift effect) on my friend Rich Legg's blog last year. Since then I've had it in the back of my mind to try it out. At a recent Photowalking Utah event I saw the perfect shot and took it. (Apparently I wasn't alone in my assessment.)

When I finally got around to doing the post-processing, I couldn't find a good, complete tutorial for Paint Shop Pro XI, so I decided to write up what I did. None of this technique is really original to me, but I did have to do some searching and adapt what I found elsewhere in a couple places. Hopefully, having this consolidated will help someone else.

First, a brief overview. The idea is to trick the brain's perception of the image to think it's looking at something smaller than it actually is. This is done by changing the queues the brain uses to gauge size. To start, this technique works best where the perspective is from above, looking down on the main scene. Secondly, we emulate a narrow depth of field, typical of macro shots. Finally, we boost the color saturation and decrease some detail, typical of models.

And a couple house keeping notes:
  • Click on any image to see a larger view.
  • The specific adjustment values given in this tutorial work well for this image. They may need to be adjusted for differently sized or exposed images.


We'll start with this original.
1 Original
As already stated, we want something where we're looking down on a scene that's fairly well exposed. This was taken from the 12th level of a parking structure looking down on a large construction project.

The first adjustment will be to make it appear to have a limited depth of field. To do this, select the rectangular selection tool and set the feathering to a large value. For this image, I used 150 pixels.
2 Rectangle select setup

Then select the area of the image that should be in focus plus extra for the feathering. The area needs to be large enough that the feathering does not come into the area that should be sharp.
3 Initial selection

Next invert the selection by pressing Ctrl-Shift-I or selecting Invert from the Selections menu.
4 Inverted selection

Now we're going to blur the selection by selecting Gaussian Blur from the Adjust menu's Blur options. We want a number large enough to give a good blur but not enough to make all the details go away completely. For this image, I used a radius of 13.
5 Gaussian blur option 5a Gaussian blur result

We're done with the selection, so press Ctrl-D or select Select none from the Selections menu. Now select Edge preserving smooth from the Adjust menu's Add/Remove Noise options. The idea here is to get rid of some of the details inside objects without losing the edges. For this image, I used a smoothing about of 12.
6 Edge preserving smooth option 6a Edge preserving smooth result

Next we're going to boost the saturation a fair bit. Select Hue/Saturation/Lightness from the Adjust menu's Hue and Saturation options. We don't need to change the Hue or Lightness values, so they can be set to 0. The Saturation value for this image I set to 30.
7 HueSatLight options 7a Saturation result

Finally, we adjust the contrast some by selecting Curves from the Adjust menu's Brightness and Contrast options and set two control points to give a standard contrast increasing S-curve.
8 Curve options

All this results in this final image.
9 Final
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