HUGE Tutorial: Create a Minature Killer Photoshop Poster

So you want to create a image depicting a scientific nightmare come to life? Well, I can show you how to do just that.

Things you’ll need:

  1. Modern, powerful, computer: I run a Quadcore Mac stacked with ram, because power is king because of the processing needed to complete these images, and high res imagery, combined with complex visual effects & multiple layers make this a tough task to complete on yo mama’s Quadra 950 to be sure.
  2. A copy of your favorite photo manipulation software: I use Photoshop exclusively (not that I have some kind of deal with Adobe or anything (hint hint)), but in my opinion, it’s the best product on the market for this type of work.
  3. Time: I have none. Hopefully, you have some.
  4. Finally, you’ll need to consume a big ole’ bottle of pure creativity – nuff said.

Once you have all of these things, you’ll need to find your base image, this will be the first stumbling block on your road to visual world domination, and at it’s worst, the image in your brain just won’t be possible due to scarcity of the correct stock to make it happen. Remember: the key to a great artistic experience is adaptation.

Don’t get upset and throw your digital brushes out with digital turpentine… be open to change., if it’s not going to work exactly as you planned, so be it, find an image that will work and move on.

The project was simple; create an event within the confines of a lab. “Hmmm… lab?”, I said to myself, “but my work usually happens on a larger scale”. (This was going to be tough) So, I got some help, brainstormed a bit, and came up with this idea of an all knowing master puppeteer, pulling the strings of world disasters… the very-science of world destruction and social breakdown.

Big Brother Run Amok.

First off, the scientist; what can we do with the scientist to reinforce the idea that he’s controlling the world’s disasters? I wanted the scientist to be playing with something – an oil rig maybe? Nope. I decided on a plane – an object that is used frequently throughout my work, and with a quick stock photo search and I found my plane. Make a quick path around your plane – copy – place. With a little erasing (layer masking) of the parts of the plane that might be covered by the scientist’s fingers, plus some dodge and burn action for strategic shading, we’re there.

Next, I needed a space to hold my disaster. I needed a container or dish of some kind. But just simply searching, “Medical dish” on your favorite stock site doesn’t do much – essentially, you get 1,000,000 petri dishes., and that’s not going to work for this project. The base image did have a existing basic, square, metal, “dish” that was holding some sort of transistor looking things, so I extended the “dish” walls outward and covered up the transistors. All you’re doing here is simply cloning  the edges of the dish, extending them out, making a larger dish.

So, for the main disaster part… of the disaster, I decided to take a busy freeway scene and crack it in half, having vehicles dropping off into a deep crevasse. Head over to your favorite stock photo site again, I like ThinkStock & iStock Photo, and find yourself a freeway shot you like, with lots of traffic, cars, trucks, etc. Note: The trickiest part of this, and all comp. images actually,  is finding the right stock on the right angle.

Now, you want to “fit” your tiny freeway into the dish. Do a selection of the main area, plus the grass, dirt, buildings, whichever, and place it into the file on a top layer. You need to work the freeway into the space, so go to layers > and add a multiply effect, this will show you the underlying structure that you need to fit the freeway into. Follow the edge of the dish plus the trees, etc, with the pen tool and using the existing environment ie: trees, buildings, etc, will give your image a realistic feel by rising or pouring our of the dish, so-to-speak.

Crack time! Everything is right with the world… so far, but now it’s time to crack some road. Go ahead an draw a quick path across the freeway taking in to account, once again, the environmental elements. I had a big element to overcome in this particular instance… a building, just off to the right, which I figured would be covered over or out of the frame completely –  alas, I was wrong. So, once you have drawn your crack (did I just write that?) you simply make the selection, cut and paste the section of road right back into the piece, and o to your move tool and angle this section of road a bit, so it looks like it’s falling away. Admittedly, I could’ve done more here.

The really cool thing about this section of road in my piece was the cars…. since the road is falling away, the cars are going to be sliding off as well. To create this illusion, select these cars, copy and paste them, individually, back into the file. You now need to angle the cars, and delete any excess pixels from around them. This is a small detail which arguably, might even get missed by the viewer… but if people see it, it will add to the effect as a whole.

NOTE: Make sure you don’t forget to recreate the road that would be under the cars you just clipped out and flung across the freeway.

Going back to the elements in the scene that may cause issues with your crack (ha ha), ie: the building in mine.

What to do? DESTROY IT!! It has to go. It’s on the fault line and it’s going down!! But how do I you do this?

At this point, again, you need to find some images destroyed buildings – bits, pieces, busted up stuff. Type “Building demolition” into your fav. stock image site search field and viola!

Hint: You can always find good examples of destroyed buildings when you search in the right places. “building demolition”, even, “Construction sites” and “excavation” are all great searches.

Once you have your images together, you need to blend them together using the eraser tool, layer mask, copy/paste, various brushes, dodge & burn plus the clone tool to create the perfect building falling to pieces. A great side effect to the awesome demo shots you’ll find is that there will be dust in these shots, guaranteed, and dust adds a huge amount of realism. In my piece, I deleted the big building and created a new, destroyed building.

The base image is a ruined home, flattened but wrecking ball so to make it look like it’s happening in real time, use your clone tool to pick some  bits and pieces of debit from your sourced images, paint them into the areas of destruction. Rotate the whole thing slightly, to add some drama. Finally, paint-in some dust clouds, again, from your sourced  imagery. A good trick is to take your smudge tool > set it to a low tolerance, and “pull” some of the dust downward. Large pieces of debit would be falling from the building, pulling clouds of dust behind them; this technique adds realism to the piece bigtime.

To create the great crevasse, you need to create the earth between the crack to make it realistic; a rough cliff side will work well for this – seeing as though a cliff side IS one side of a crevasse. In my image I found it easier, and just as effective, to place the cliff side on a layer beneath the freeway. Then, it’s just a case of dodging and burning just under the edge of the freeway to create a “hang over”. The actual road surface is strong and less porous than the earth beneath it. Therefore, as the earth falls away, there will be some surface remaining or hanging over the missing earth… thus a shadow will occur. Making his shadow work, again, generates a huge amount of realism by creating depth. Obviously, to finish off the effect, select your burn tool and go nuts on the bottom section of the crevasse.

Launching cars and buses off and into the abyss is easy. BUT WAIT! You can’t use any shots of any vehicle that’s just straight on. You must only use cars that are on cool, unnatural angles, top views & 3 quarter. The vehicles must have the illusion of falling… so it’s back to the photostock site to search. Once you find the shots you like, go ahead and clip them out, cut & paste them in place. Remember that the falling traffic will create shadows against the crevasse walls. Dodge and burn the walls just a few millimeters away from the vehicles. If you want to show that some of the cars were moving faster than others a the the time of the “event”, burn further away form the vehicle, thus creating the illusion of greater air between the car and the canyon wall.

Cracks. Anytime you have a huge chunks of earth falling into the abyss, there will be giant cracks to go along with it. I like to use good old fashioned sidewalk cracks or cracks in pavement, whatever stock you can find. Try to get a shot with lots of little tiny cracks as well as big ones. This technique works and it’s quick. Simply take the shot you wish to use, rough select, and with the “magic wand”, cut the shape out and drop it into your working image. Now, use a multiply layer to add depth and deepen the colour of the cracks, after that, simply delete the pasts you don’t like or that don’t work for you.

It’s now time to tackle the brand within the piece. I originally opted for a name tag laying on the table in front of the scientist, but at the end of the day, that was a tad obvious, so we went with Mr. Chad Mueller’s idea… news clippings of past disasters scattered about Big Brother’s table; this would go a long way in reinforcing the “world domination” idea. Nice one, Chad! The effect was done by first finding scrap news clippings & strategically placing them on the table. I then made a new layer in the same shape of the overall layer of the clippings, and filled it with white, then using a Multiply opacity layer on the news clippings

I gave it the same colour as the rest of the objects around it, while the white base acted as a color fill so we don’t see the table beneath. Then, just clone out the original text and add the Inspiredology brand… the only thing left to do in regards to this part of the process was to delete the areas of the clippings that would be covered by objects on the table… ie: Bottle and wire.

Only a few more steps left. Using a large, soft, brush,  select your Blur tool and blur around the outside of the world that we have made within the dish, the idea here is to focus this “strategic clarity” to certain parts of the image only. Obviously, the roadway / crevasse is a good place to start, then the plane and part of the hands of the scientist, and in this case, the brand. The technique is a take on the popular “tilt shift” technique people have been playing with lately. The idea that if you blur the edges, you’ll make a small center of focus, the image then takes on a toy-like quality, essentially a manufactured depth of field.

To reinforce the idea of a toy-like world in the hands of a mad scientist, we want to enhance/push the colour of the world we’ve created. Go to Image > Adjustment > hue/saturation, and set your saturation to about half , 50 or so.

Lastly, it’s on to my secret weapon for overall colour and texture tuning. This will really bring it all together and give you a wash of colour so every piece has the same tint, at least a little bit.

Ready… Here it is…

You didn’t expect me to tell you all my secrets did you?
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.
Happy Destruction!!