photoshop creative

Create exploding photo effects (part 1)

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
May 23, 2015

Freeze time and capture explosive images normally invisible to the naked eye

1. Get selective

Open your image, set the Magic Wand to a Tolerance of 15 and check Contiguous in the Options bar. Select all of the background then hit Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+I to invert. Click the Refine Edge button and copy these settings: View Mode On White, Smart Radius 79.1px, Feather 1.4px and Decontaminate Colour on with Amount 100%, then hit OK.

2. Perfect cutout

Drag the newly created mask over the trash icon and click Apply in the following window. Create a new RGB canvas 3,071 x 3,626,and then fill the Background with the colour #090c1f. Drag your light bulb thumbnail onto the new canvas to create a new layer and rename it Hands/bulb. Now use the Patch and Clone tools to remove the two large reflections.

3. Broken glass

Open an image of shattered glass and resize it to cover the bulb. Reduce the layer Opacity to around 50%, then access Warp via Transform and apply an inflate preset with the Bend value at 70%. Select and delete some areas. Active selections can also be repositioned with the Move tool to shift segments.

4. Merge layers

Set the layer back to 100% Opacity, add a white layer below and then merge them into one. Press Shift/Ctrl+Cmd+U to Desaturate, then hit Ctrl/Cmd+L to access Levels and set the Input midpoint to 0.72 and whitepoint to 145. Go to Image>Crop, ensure the displacement is the target layer then select all and copy.

5. Displacement map

Create a new canvas, accepting the clipboard preset and set the mode to Grayscale. Paste the selection and flatten, then save it as ‘displacement.psd’. Back in your project file, disable the visibility of the displacement layer, then duplicate the Hand/bulb layer and rename it Bulb Shutter.

6. Disintegrate

With the Bulb Shatter layer active, choose Filter>Distort>Displace, enter 30 in both Scale fields then check Stretch to Fit and Repeat Edge Pixels. Click OK, and then navigate to your ‘displacement.psd’. When the filter is finished, press Alt/Opt+Shift and enlarge from the centre out, breaking the fragments away from the underlying bulb.

7. Blend with masks

Add a mask to the Bulb Shatter layer, then use a combination of soft and hard brushes to hide the central and left areas. Modify the mask with some custom brushes. Finally, mask the top half of the Hand/bulb layer with a large soft brush so just the bayonet and filament base remain visible.

8. Broken base

For this stage either find a picture of a broken bulb base, or use brushes and masks to create one from your original image. Position and fit to match the original filement, then add a mask and blend it into the original bulb.

9. Adjustment layers

It’s important to match the tonal and colour range of both light bulbs, so clip a Levels adjustment to the Broken Bulb layer with the following settings: Input blackpoint: 40, midpoint 0.90 and whitepoint 179. Next clip a Colour Balance adjustment to the same layer with midtone Red at -9, midtone Blue at +16, highlight Red at -12 and highlight Blue at +5.

Come back tomorrow for part 2!

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