Miniatures: Tilt and Shift effect
Using expensive Tilt and Shift lenses to give your photos that trendy miniatures look is actually quite a tricky technique; however, it’s far simpler to achieve using a suitable picture in Corel® PaintShop Photo® Pro X3 (PSP). There are some prerequisites to this though; it won’t work with any image.
For it to work with impact, it’s crucial that the photo is taken from a high vantage point looking downwards. Another point to bear in mind is that there should be a point of interest: perhaps people, houses and shops, cars, planes or trains. Boats also work really well. The subject should be something that you might find as a genuine miniature in real life.
In this tutorial, we’re going to reveal a really simple technique, without making tricky masks, so we can emulate that really intense, fun miniature effect.
Step 1 Open your image from the Organizer
We going to assume you have your chosen photos displayed in the Organizer and that you’re looking now to open your images in the Main Editor.
Click on the thumbnail to preview in the main browser window and then click the Full Editor button top right.
Now, with the image open in the main editor, it should look something like this. But it does depend on what you had open before. In addition to following this tutorial, you could have the Learning Centre and Layers palette displayed, but they’re not essential if you have the Tool Options open on the toolbar.
From the main menu, select View > Palettes > Layers, Learning Center, and Tool Options, or choose shortcuts F8, F10 and F4, respectively, if you prefer.
I prefer the Graphite Workspace theme (View > Use Graphite Workspace Theme), as it’s easier on the eyes and doesn’t interfere with my colour perception.
Make a selection…
Step 2 Choose Freehand Selection
This step is far easier than it looks. Now, while I’ll admit using a fancy graphics tablet and pen is easier for freehand selections, it isn’t impossible to do with a standard mouse. Also, Corel has made it as easy as possible. First, choose the Freehand Selection tool from the toolbar.
Then make sure you select the Add (Shift) mode from the Tool Options (F10) palette (from step 1, above). This option makes selections far easier, because you can simply go back over any mistakes with the areas you’ve selected. And, as the name implies you can even (right) click and drag the selection to move it into a better position, if you feel you need to.
For our Tilt and Shift effect, we need to make a selection that will be the focal point, and we want a plane of focus across the image. We also want to skew it slightly, following the composition of the image, for greater impact.
Left click and hold while you draw a fairly deep rectangular selection right across the image. Start at the left edge, sweep across to the right, then down (outside of the image slightly to keep the edge straight), then sweep back left to the border, out again and up to join up to where you started. Now, release the left mouse button, and you’ll see the “marching ants”, depicting the selection.
If you made a mistake and the edge is ragged, for instance, draw a loop around it, from one edge of the selection to the next. Keep doing that until the selection is neat. You’ll soon get the hang of it. If you simply can’t correct it, or it’s taking too long, right click anywhere on the image to delete it. Then, simply start again.
Step 3 Adjust Depth of Field
With your selection wrapped it’s time for PSP to make a mask, but before you stop there, this is the easy (and definitely fun) part. From the main menu, select Adjust > Depth of Field…
This command opens a new adjustment window, showing before and after previews and if you’ve got the Preview on Image box checked, you’ll be able to see the effect on the image in the main editor window.
The trick here is not to overdo the Blur; I’ve selected an intensity of just 6 percent. If you have the intensity too high it’s just not realistic. You’ll need to keep the feathering low too. I’ve selected 6 percent again, but you’ll need to experiment to get it right for the image you are using. If it’s too high, or you’ve a narrow selection, you’ll find the image is blurred throughout. That’s not what you’re aiming for. I’ve increased the Focus range by ramping up the slider to the right but it seems to have very little effect on a small selection. Still, it all helps. Click OK when you’re happy. And, then Right click the image to remove the selection. That’s an important step.
Step 4 Adjust Saturation…
To make the image slightly unrealistic now, but definitely more miniature-like, we’re going to adjust the saturation. From the main menu, select Adjust > Hue and Saturation > Hue/Saturation/Lightness…or, if you prefer the shortcut, choose Shift+H.
The HSL window opens. You can preview before and after images again, or preview the effect on the main image. I’ve inched the Saturation slider up 30 points, but it’s something you’ll need gauge by eye. I’ve left both Hue and Lightness untouched. Click OK when you’re done.
Step 5 Sharpen to taste…
In our final step, all we need do now is add some sharpening. If you’re unsure about the various sharpening techniques for different subjects, simply head to Adjust > Sharpness > Sharpen More while observing the effect at 100 percent actual pixels.
To do this, click on the Pan tool in the Tools palette, and then from the Tools Options palette, click the 1:1 icon, Actual size. Now pan to the area of interest (the subject or centre of the image). If you feel it needs more sharpening repeat the command (Adjust > Sharpness > Sharpen More).
If, however, you feel confident using the Unsharp Mask filter (and PSP has an excellent USM tool with before and after previews) then from the main menu, select Adjust > Sharpness > Unsharp Mask… Remember, we’re trying to make this look slightly surreal, so we must be fairly heavy with the sharpening, but we must also try to avoid artifacts, such as unsightly noise and halos.
Invoking the Unsharp Mask command will reveal a new window, and if the Before and After previews aren’t shown, click on the little pull-down Preview arrow, top left. Check the Preview on Image box too, so you get an overview. As a guide, in the Radius box, anywhere between 1 and 2.0 pixels will suffice, set Clipping between 3 and 8 (lower being more intense). This then leaves you to adjust the Strength by eye between 100 to 150, depending on the image. Click Okay when you’re done, then Save, or Save As… to make a copy. And that is it; you’ll be left with an image imitating that vaunted Tilt & Shift look.
© copyright 2010, Kevin Carter