Introduction: Mummy Photomanipulation
Grand Prize in the
Halloween Photo Editing Challenge
For this tutorial we will be making a nice Mummy Scene. This will work well for any spooky events you have for halloween, archaeology, or monster balls.
Photoeditor (in this case Photoshop CS2 but any editor will do, none of the techniques are especially fancy)
cheap digital Camera or stock image site access
Immunity to Mummy's Curse ( and Malaria an asset)
This instructable assumes you know some basic workings of the editing program, basic layers, the simple tools, dragging and dropping, and simple colour adjustment sliders.
The rest of this section is some notes on helpful LIFESTYLE habits of being a photomanipulator/artist and how the theory of the image comes up, before you do any work at all with the photos. You can skip to the next page if you just what to see how to put pictures on canvas.
As in all photomanipulations I advise everyone to buy a cheap digital camera and carry it around with them at all times and snap several dozen shots a day until they build up an extensive archive of what doesn't have to be anything in particular. Rusty paint on posts, concrete on walls, tacky stuff at garage sales, metal on old lamps, woodgrain etc. You never know when a texture, a form, or a piece of metal will come in handy to build something that doesnt really exist.
I usually use my own shots exclusively, but this time I created an entire work with royalty free, stock from one of the many free stock sites online. I encourage everyone with large clear shots of anything (interesting or not) to volunteer their old photos cluttering up their hard drives to stock sites for artists. They are an invaluable resource for artists. If you are a world traveller, get into the habit of snapping shots of back alleys, wide vistas, gargoyles, textured patterns and anything that you can't find at home. An ideal help would be a nice 360 degree series of interesting things, especially the back. You never know when a fancy doorknob on an antique latch in darkest africa can suddely become a fantasy artefact in the hands of a master photomanipulator! If you have ever been in the middle of creating a fantasy battle scene of warriors rushing into the fray, you will understand why the BACK view of a wolf is suddenly invaluable as a picture, even though most photographers would never consider that angle. If you need some stock let me know I have lots of bits and pieces all online.
This image of course will start off in our heads and at the library or online resource.
We start with the 5 questions Who What When Where Why? You should answer all the questions so you know what you are getting into before you open up your editor.
Flip open any book or e-resource on your topic and find out everything you can on how writers DESCRIBE your topic, in this case a mummy but it could be a ship, a building, a sword, anything. Writers distill everything to it's basic components and those things will be your base instructions for what to put in your scene.
In this case we are doing A MUMMY, but what do we know about mummies? A guy in bandages. Done!
So there you are wrapping grandpa up in toilet paper and asking him to pose right? Sure if you are going to a Halloween party! This is actually a good start, you can see how light hits the paper, how it sticks out how it is highlighted and so on. Finally a fun reason to make friends with old people! Just picture yourself walking down the street...."Hey Mrs Johnston! You're Old! Would you like to pose for me to make a picture of a decrepid looking monster older than dirt?"
Um...right, grab a thesaurus and use fancy words that sound better.
But actually if you are poor like me, I highly encourage the friendship of people of different generations. It is amazing what happens when you put on a clean shirt and talk to grandma's friends. A lot of people when they are older like to be helpful and have the time to do so, and they may have resources well beyond yours...like TRAVEL PHOTOS. Older people travel a lot and they tend to go to more interesting places than the average youngster. A dream vacation to a beach and bar may be great when you are young, but once that becomes a bore, more interesting things like Tibet, and Egypt, Morocco, Deserts, China, and exotic locales are within their budgets and desires. A kind word to grandma and her friends may net you thousands of nice shots of far away ancient and exotic scenery and textures and details if you let them know before they go. A simple mention that you manipulate photos and would love to have a nice series of hieroglyphics in Cairo can bag you some really special shots to work with and they will usually give them to you just for the asking (or sometimes a little help with computers that you thought a 5 year old could do, but is a mystery to them). Later when you have your art show, you also have a built in audience of people probably with more money than you and your friends to come buy up all your stuff too! Word to the wise: Network with what I like to privately call "they old lady network" as you get older you will find out more and more that they somehow run the world, with nary a computer to be seen. You never know who "Martha" may have lurking in her extended family, and how much that "nice boy" she lives next to, should meet her Son's wife the art gallery director, or apply for that obscure annual grant or scholarship that some long dead friend of hers who liked painting set up to encourage young people, but only 2 people actually know about. Gotta love'm. :)
So armed with research we learn all the common details found in the Lore of Egypt and its history. So we have a lot of choices:
Who: A pharoah, a servant, a cleric, a beancounter, what did the LIVING person do?
What: What kind of condition is our mummy in? Everything from bare bones, to old but intact could happen.
Where: Inside, outside, what angle, lighting conditions, etc all must be considered.
When: Time of day, in the past, now, or future date?
Why: The character works better, when it serves a purpose, it can change the body language, mood, expressions, and surroundings.
We look around for sources and our best bet looks like these:
We will go to the top here. Royalty.
we will go for the old, but intact look. The structure will be intact if slightly bedraggled, and aged. A few iconic accessories.
Egypt definitely, outside some sort of ancient complex with symbols of that time, now older. (not a lot of swamp dwelling mummies are there?)
Mid-day, in that bright yellow sunlight of the Nile
Why: We will leave this ambiguous. He will be armed, but not agressive, a puzzle, but accessories as clues.
Step 1: A Base Image - Scene With Man
A. Base Image
This is kind of unusual for me since I usually put the background in last, but this picture was so perfect for what I had in mind for this project that everything I needed was there. I then proceded to replace 99% of the image completely with other pictures...funny that.
But it is our base. The steps will be isolate the man, egyptify the background from it's current Indian cultural memes, put on his hat, cover him with bandages, and add accessories. Not too bad.
First step is to isolate the man. You can duplicate the base image and then isolate the man with the tools of your choice (masking, erasing). While you are at it duplicate the man again and isolate just his face and put it on the top layer, it may help with positioning the head-dress. Link the 3 layers so they don't wander.
Step 2: B: Change the Wall From India to Egypt
B: Change the wall from India to Egypt
The lighting conditions on the rock were basically what I wanted, and the man satisfied the generalized conception of a vaguely brownskinned man with deepset eyes, and little hair which meant there wouldn't be anything needed to clone out, and when he was covered the racial characteristics would be close enough for the typical depiction of Egyptians in the historical paintings and Hollywood stereotypes. Unfortunately, the wall is all buddhist (I'm guessing) images, rather than Egyptian. Since we have saved the man, we can cover the background with real Egyptian wall images cut and pasted to fit the architecture.
(image 1: wall cut and paste)
1. I found a few egyptian hieroglyphic carvings and just cut and pasted them in, in rectangular sections, following the lines of the wall.
2. I selected a spot of colour from the rock and with a low opacity brush coloured in a few strokes to tone the colours a bit.
3. I used a small eraser to remove some of the areas where there were cracks and things on the original wall I wanted to show through.
4. I wanted the wall more balanced and was disturbed by the dark crack at the bottom right, so copied a bit of the dark horizontal line and pasted it in on the left side too.
5. Paste all the wall alterations under the isolated man layers.
(image 2: colour overlay)
6. To make the wall colours fit my scheme better, and even out the tones, I created a new layer above the wall and toned it
I picked some appropriate colours from the wall, and with a soft brush just made some horizontal stokes until I had a solid wall of colour and blurred it a bit. The layer was set to 64% opacity and blending mode to "softlight" in the layers palette.
note: at this point you could also add a low opacity overlay of a grunge layer (a large photo closeup of a scratchy random texture like an old concrete wall or sidewalk) to heighten the texture, but in this case I was going to blur the background at the end to heighten the focus on the mummy so I didn't.
Step 3: C: Head-dress
(image 1: mask on face)
1. The man was almost head on, so I just dumped the full King tut statue picture onto the canvas under the isolated face of the man.
2. lower the opacity of the human face a bit so you can use the rotation and resizing tools to put the mask at the right tilt and size to match the man's face.
(image 2: cut out mask face)
3. I just masked/erased the shoulders of the mask and the area under the skin face and then set the isolated skin face to invisible since I could see the skin on the full isolated man now on the layer beneath the mask. You don't have to be too careful about the erasing, since the bandages will fill in any real gaps over top anyway.
4. I selected a colour of skin shadow from the armpit shadow with the eyedropper tool and with a soft-edged paintbrush just stroked in some brown strokes on the top of his forehead on a new layer between the isolated man and the headress layer.
5. Set the layer to multiply and lowered the opacity a bit to "set" the headress on the skin convincingly
Step 4: D: Head-dress Reduction
D: Head-dress Reduction
Looking at the head-dress, I thought it was a little too "King Tut-y " as well as a little too "Mardi-gras Drag Queen In Training" for the mood I wanted, so to make him a little more generic Pharoah and less over the top, as well as removing a little bit of awkward perspective, I decided to give the lower part a bit of a trimming. Amusing story...I ran around the appartment with a tshirt put on and then pulled half way off inside out over the head with the neck around my forehead to sort of estimate the length to use, to the amusement of my significant other's houseguests at the time "how does this look?"... sigh...non-artists just don't understand genius at work right? :)
(image 1: trimmed headress sides)
1. I selected and cut off of each side of the head-dress hanging parts and pasted them back in separatedly on layers under the "isolated man" layer, so that his ears showed on top of them
2. I used the transformation tools to reduce the size of them by about half, matched the top corners and erased the extra hang on the bottom of both until they looked right.
3. To shade them I duplicated each side of the head-dress side pieces and set both of the duplicates to layer blend mode "multiply" to make them darker. They weren't quite right, so I just did that again to make a stack of 3 in total for each (normal, multiply, multiply) .
Step 5: E: Eye Sockets
E: Eye Sockets
Although the man had deepset eyes, I wanted him even more skull-like sunken, and needed a set of eyelids to set the false eyes into as well, so I found a new source of eyebags. I used stock here, but it is a great idea to snap as many pictures as you can get of wrinkles and other age related phenomena when you have access to your older friends. Fantasy art is always more fun with elderly wizards or evil queens to help or hinder our protagonist, and they are really hard to find online in the natural state or closeup. Here your network of older friends comes to the rescue. At weddings or other social functions while taking all the usual family photos, be sure to sneak in a whole lot of closeups when they are not expecting it to get what you want. As a second tip, you will get a much better response for older ladies posing, if you ask them to pose as an "evil high priestess or queen" than say a "hag" or "witch" what they don't know won't hurt them right? Weddings are also great places to get family members drunk and sign the model release forms.... :)
1. I took a close up of an eye and just erased everything but the skin folds under the eye and the crow's feet. I only had one, so I duplicated it and set them both in place above the existing eyes.
2. I used some darkness+contrast adjustment sliders to make them slightly darker
3. A few strokes with a low opacity brush added some more dark strokes and a bit of purple for puffiness following the existing wrinkle lines.
(image 2: eye gems)
4. I was just going to use the glaucoma "all white" eyeball approach for the eyes, but I figured all the wet part of the mummy would be decayed, so he would need new eyes. I found gem image but it was green which never really appears in Egyptian art, so I used a "hue+saturation" colour adjustment slider to shift the whole image down the spectrum to a nice yellow-gold.
5. I cut out the gem, and put a duplicate on layers underneath the eyelids from the lady where an eyeball would sit. I rotated one, so they looked slightly different.
Step 6: G: Bandaging the Face
Now that the basic structure was all there, we just need to wrap him up. I had found a nice skull decoration picture that used real stips of cloth in it, that were a nice aged yellow colour and cut out several of the available strips from it to work with. I cut out several versions, and then started pasting them in following the contours of the body. To add some variation, I used the transformation tools to make them a little thicker, longer, more curved as needed to give the appearance of more source samles than I actually had. A little cloning once placed added yet more variation on each strip.
(image 1: add some strips)
1. Cut out some cloth strips, and resize and angle them to fit the countours of the face and body. Trying to make it look like a logical pattern (worry about shading later, but where there is a natural highlight on his skin I tried to keep the stips in that area on the layers above the ones in the dark areas) Label the strips well, you will need to find them again. Just a shout out here for all artists to memorize the names of the muscle groups and bones in the body...something that was useful in labelling. Upper anterior tibia, is much easier than "arm" as a description when there are 10 "arm" bandages
2. I did the face first since it was the most complex. I had expanded the canvas during this phase too, so I could drag a copy of the body onto the right so I could see where to shade since the main part would be covered with bandages all the same colour.
3. I duplicated all the bandages as I went labelling the top version of each with the same name with "toner" on the end and linked them in the layers palette so they didn't wander when I moved one.
4. I then set all the "toner" copies of each bandage strip to "multiply" to make them darker.
5. Referencing the original source that I kept in the black area region on the right (not shown at moment) I selectively erased the dark areas created by the toner layer (masking helps here if you can do that so it is changeable) to shade the bandages where they were light and dark. On a few I made a second "light toner" duplicate layer set to "screen" to make some highlights and selectively erased where it seemed right to shade.
6. For further complication I needed a "shadow" layer under each bandage, so I made a new blank layer under each shaded bandage strip set and labelled it with the same name but with "shadow" as the suffix and set the blending mode to multiply. (It is a lot of layers, but it isn't difficult, just tedious, like counting pennies) If you link and colour all the layer sets, you can keep everything organized not too badly, especially if you know your anatomy. (If you need some incentive, at your next party, make it game like twister with a volunteer as the "board". The spinner picks a random part and if you get it wrong on the volunteer, you are out....depending on the list of parts made this can be fun for all ages :) )
7. On each shadow layer I took a soft brush and drew in some rough shadows along all the edges of the bandages as needed, following the contours of the ones below and erasing and smudging where necessary to make it look real.
8. When I knew I was happy with the face bandages, I finished off the eyes. I erased the tops of the gems to inset them under the brows, and added a few low opacity shadow brush strokes along the tops to sink eyes in even more.
9. To really make the eyes pop, I added a yellow stoke along the bottom lid of each eye to make it look like the gems were glowing, and reflecting off the lid skin.
Step 7: H: Bandaging the Body
H: Bandaging the Body
The process for the body was the same as the face. I worked down the arm, then each side of the chest. Remember to keep the strips on the highlighted areas on the layers above the dark areas. Keep refrencing the extra original body picture I stored on the extra canvas on the right. I intentionally left some gaps for some accessories, and where I wanted subtle skin to show through. Having limited strips as sources, I subtlely stretched, twisted and flipped them around to make it look like more than I had.
(image 1: first strips)
1. apply a series of strips to the body following the contours and shading as best you can. Work on one body region at a time for ease of labelling.
(image 2: shading)
2. repeat all the steps perfected doing the face. Each bandage strip will have 3 or four layers linked in order from top to bottom:
strip 1 highlight-set to screen - (if needed)
strip 1 dark toner-set to multipy
strip 1 original
strip 1 shadow-set to multiply and lowered opacity
3. when you are done, feel free to add some dark strips underneath some of the bandages, in tight groupings where the cloth would be wound tighter than the frayed outer layers. Leave a few skin gaps for later.
(image 3- full body toner)
4. to get the overall tone and shadow right, I duplicated the isolated man photo, darkened it a bit and moved the image to a layer above most of the bandage strips but a few that I wanted to be highlights. i then blurred it a bit, set it to multiply and lowered the opacity a bit. This shaded the whole body similarly to the original picture and melded the bandages together pretty cohesively visually. I then erased/masked the body toner layer with a large soft brush around the outside and more carefully where I wanted a few strips to be in bright relief.
Step 8: I: Weapon and Stripes
I: Weapon and Stripes
(image 1: weapon)
I had pre-made a weapon/staff before I started, and I inserted this into the scene now to see what it would cover and to and get the shading right. I made a full tutorial for it last year if you need instructions on how to build it from scratch (and perhaps a few more pointers on shading the blue) that full instructable can be found here:
1. copy and paste the weapon onto the top layer.
(image 2: blue stripe creation)
We will now colour the head-dress stripes to "Egyptian Blue", that you found in your study of Egyptology. This colour technology was actually lost for centuries when the Romans conquered the world. Which is a shame because I think that blue and gold is one of the best colour combinations ever invented in the history of art. Google the history of paint colours if you ever get bored some day...fascinating in a nerdy way!
The head-dress is currently in several layers with items in between them so you can't just merge them because they will shift above or below the face, but to paint the stripes blue, I can do that just on top so I just need a top layer fully merged.
2. Merge all visible layers and copy that layer and paste it on top of everything. You can do this manually just by saving the picture as a one layer file and then opening it and pasting it back in on top. (Photoshop has a useful shortcut for this. Create a new layer at the top, select it and then press Alt+Shift+Ctrl+e at the same time. (Ctrl=Cmd on a mac)) If your photo editor doesn't have a command to do this, write them a letter suggesting it. Very useful.
3. Select your merged layer and use your colour adjustments to change the whole thing to blue. I think I used "variations" hitting cyan and blue a lot to get it to shift to the blue tones.
(image 3: just the beginning stripes)
4. carefully erase/jmask out the entire picture except where the blue is to remain on the inner stripes of the headdress. The blue is not the right colour, but we can tone it like we did the bandages to make it darker. Duplicate the blue layer and set it to multiply.
Play with the colour adjustment sliders of your program to tweak it until you get it the desired Egyptian Blue like the weapon (which I left original colour in this demonstration to show the final desired result.
(image 4: Egyptian Blue Final Stripes)
5. Use the dodge and burn tools, or add a multiply layer with some dark brush strokes for shadows if desired to tweak the colours ( I darkened the side pieces a bit here and there, especially around the ears.
Step 9: J: Old Skin Gaps
If you have never written the line..."NOW INSERT the ELEPHANT" in an instructable, well you just are not a very good photomanipulator. If I had a nickel for every time I told a student to do that, I would...well...I would have some nickels. Part of the beauty of photomanipulation is finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. The average Joe looks at an elephant and sees an elephant, but a photomanipulator sees "Mummy Skin!" ...really, you just do NOT want to google the phrase "mummy skin" with your filter off. "Elephant" on the other hand is mostly safe...mostly.
Since I had intentionally left some skin gaps in the bandages, I now used chunks of the elephant picture to cover the skin where it reveals some great wrinkles of desiccated old flesh ("desiccated" is your word for the day...look it up). Elephant skin is great for old skin, alien skin, and things like living trees as well.
1. Create a new folder above the bandages and Select all the bandage layers and put them inside. Make the folder invisible for a second.
(image 1: elephant skin wrinkles)
2. After toning the elephant image with a hue+saturation slider to make it a little pinker and oranger, cut it up and proceed like you originally did with the bandage strips. Place the parts following the contours of the skin where it will be exposed. Use the warp or transform tools to stretch and bend it as needed.
3. Make the bandages folder visible again and tweak any of the skin layers as needed to make the wrinkles look good where exposed.
Step 10: K: Where Lesser Artists Fail - Secondary Interest
So looking at what we have at this point, the Mummy could be considered DONE. It looks pretty good, but it is a Mummy. If you saw it in a contest, you would nod and move on no matter how good your technical skill is, this where most artists fail. You can use your homework to take this to the next level.
Since we started with reading a book or two about the subject, we can now benefit from adding a story, and some more icons of the genre. If you read about Egypt you will find that there is a lot of talk of ASPS (poisonous snakes). The Egyptians loved political power, and when some inconvenient family member who was your "half brother first cousin husband and grandfather all at once" (royalty eh..messed up people) just wouldn't die already, there was always the odd handy little asp creeping around to get you what you wanted..and you could just blame it on an "unfortunate accident" during your coronation ceremony speech.
I have a fun guideline for making fantasy art: most people have an animal fetish, use it to control their emotions. Whenever you can in a picture, depending on your audience, always leave room for a kitten, mouse, spider, scorpion or snake. You would be amazed how many people will favourite utter crap if it has an animal they are emotional about in the corner.
Luckily I had thought about this in the planning stage and that chest cavity shadow on the left is where were are putting our little asp. The Asp is the same colour and its shape is coiled like the bandages so it will be a subtle addition to provide secondary interest. My mummy picture has been around for a while and I have seen people looking at it in galleries and almost EVERYONE tugs on their friends shirt when they see it and says "OMG do you see the SNAKE"...cha-ching...gottcha!
(image 1: insert the snake)
1. The snake was already isolated so it saved some cutting, and I just pasted it right into the area I needed and resized it with the transform tools.
2. I moved the snake in the layers palette so that it appeared below the frayed strand in the light and above some of the lower bandages.
3. I erased/masked a few of the coils of the snake to embed it in the bandages visually.
4. I made a new layer and with a few dark brush strokes added a few shadows, and then tweaked the snake shading with the dodge and burn tools.
Step 11: L: Tertiary Interest and Colour Additions
L: Tertiary Interest and Colour Additions
This one is almost done, but the blue colour appeared only in the head-dress and the weapon, and I wanted to sprinkle a little more subtle blue around the image to balance it out. From the research, I found that mummies were wrapped in several layers and that archaelogists always found jewelry and trinkets hidden in between the wrappings. This was a good opportunity to add some more spots of blue in a logical manner.
I wanted subtle, so I avoided real egyptian jewelry since most of it has many other bright colours and rushed off to find a simple gold ornament with stones in it. The funny thing about photomanipulation is that GOLD doesn't look like gold when you paste it in. I have learned from vast experience editing dragon hoard pictures that you NEVER start with gold items, it just doesnt work. So I rushed off to find the CORRECT item to use...SILVER. For some reason when you paste in silver items, and then shift the colour to the gold tones, it just looks better. I thnk it is because the white hilights just pop better in art.
I found a nice simple silver torque bracelette with some red stones to use.
1. duplicate the bracelette, and on the top layer erase/mask to just the stones and use color adjustment sliders to shift them to the blue colour just like you did the stripes in the head-dress
2. on the lower copy, use the colour adjustment sliders like "variations" (or "match colour" from a gold source) to shift the silver to a nice bright golden yellow.
3. I merged the now gold and blue bracelette and slid a few different sized, flipped and rotated bracelettes into the file above the elephant skin and a few of the lower bandages until I got a pattern I liked. I then erased out a few sections where the bandage placement warranted.
4. Darken the bracelettes as needed same as you did the bandage strips.
So now when a viewer sees the image they take in the full mummy as a concept, then notice the secondary interest in the snake, and having once found a hidden object they look for more, and they find the hidden jewelry. It provides a satisfying long term stare at your work for the viewer rather than a quck glance. The longer they look the more you win.
Step 12: M: Final Tweaks
M: Final Tweaks
(image 1: almost done)
I really wanted to get the mummy to pop in the foreground, so I blurred the background, and in the end added a few extra shadows and highlights to focus the viewer where I wanted them to look.. I then cropped the image a bit on the left to centre the mummy and frame it in a balanced way
1. To get the blurred depfth of field, created a new all-merged layer to the top of the layer palette like we did with the blue stipes earlier. (ctrl+shift+alt+e) on a top layer, but you can just save a one layer version and paste that into our picture on top.
2. use the blur filter to blur the entire top merged image.
3. Using a large soft brush erase/mask the blurred copy in the foreground areas quickly so the background recedes and the mummy is in sharp relief.
4. Tweak the lighting using the burn and dodge tools, and a few extra layers set to multiply, painting in with a soft dark brush.
5. Make a new merged layer of the entire thing, and sharpen the image to taste.
(image 2: cropped final)
6. Crop it down to a nice iconic framed region. Done.
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.