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Ok, I'm using PSE so I'm posting this in the CS/PSE section, but it should transfer well to any program. I don't think any of this is specific to just PSE. So, I'm using this picture, which is pretty awesome (and not mine - thanks Heather) to start with:
First thing you do is edit your picture the normal way; ie. lighting, color, clarity and so on. Depending on the theme you are planning for the siggy edit as you see fit. I'm going for a fanciful siggy so my edit is a little dramatic. Here's my edit:
Create a cut out of the main person in the picture. So now you should have a layer that is the picture and the next layer is the cutout. I stroked mine so you could see it. (You don't stroke, I'm just doing it to show you what I cut out.)
Next if you have texture panels open the one you want, if not you can do what I plan to do which is using a textured paper. Open it and place in the layer under your picture then make the picture layer invisible. Resize the paper so you get the amount of texture you want. (again the red is just for the lesson, this isn't my paper and I don't want anyone trying to save and use it. The paper is from BZB Designs' Take Stock: Neutral Papers)
Next, and this is a very important step, make a duplicate of your picture and cut-out, make them invisible and move them under the paper layer, this is in case you need to start over.
Now, this is where I have to just generalize since each picture, texture, and siggy is different. First, hide your cut-out and change the blending mode of your picture to something in the darkening categories; ie. darken, mulitply, linear/color burn, darker color. I'm using multiply.
Duplicate that layer and use a blending mode such as overlay, soft light, or hard light. You will more than likely need to adjust your opacity so that its not overly bright - unless you want it to be. I did overlay at 60% opacity. Remember, your cut out will add to the lightness or darkness too when you factor it in.
Next make your cut out visible. Change the mode on it to one the lightening categories; ie. lighten, screen, color/linear dodge, lighter color. I'm using screen at 50% opacity.
Then duplicate your cut-out and use one of the blending modes from your last picture layer. I used overlay at 50%.
For just regular photo editing you can be done there. With that picture I made this siggy:
To create the effect of the wing (golden sparkles) and butterfly being not only in the picture but on the same side of the reflection I did the following (no pictures this time):
create cut-out of reflection of girl, duplicated it, set to normal 100% opacity, create new layer, fill white, clip into normal mode girl.
set wings in work area, resize and position to desired place, use magic wand select the white filled cut-out, click wing layer and then go to edit>cut. after that delete white filled cut-out.
duplicate and play with the blending modes and opacity of the wings until satisfied they blend well with the reflection side of the picture. add butterfly and do the same.
And there you go! Let me know if you have any questions.
Okay, Master Jedi, well maybe you can help me with this. I did all of the steps here and I came out with something -- not horrible. Not fantastic, but I don't hate it. But anyway, then at the end I wanted to put a mask on the whole shebang. And when I tried to merge all of the layers together so that I could do that everything went all kerflunk. What am I doing wrong?
Thank you to the SSMC makers for my beautiful siggies!
I've done this before but I decided to do it with my latest siggy too so I thought I'd post it here too. For mine I edited the pic as I normally would. Then I duplicated the pic, turned it black and white on the urban landscape setting and upped the contrast until I had blacks. Then I lowered the opacity on the black and white layer to about 65% so some of the brown came through. I put the paper on top and changed the layer mode to Linear Burn. Then I did a seperate layer and overlayed some blue for their eyes to give them a little color and lowered the opacity a bit so it was more subtle.