Deke's Techniques 87: Cloning Yourself in Photoshop

In today's episode of my weekly video blog, I show you how to create a party with yourself in Photoshop. Specifically, a pool party. Not one involving bathing suits, but rather billiard balls. Just you and a bunch of your favorite clones armed with big sticks and ready for battle.

What the hell am I talking about? Read the official description from lynda.com and find out:

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke shows you how to clone yourself with Photoshop, so that you'll never be lonely again and always have someone else to do the laundry. Well actually he creates a composite image featuring clones of his buddy and lynda.com director Jacob Cunningham. But you can use Deke's advice to have a full-on party, concert, or company meeting with yourself.

Despite the name of this episode, there is not a single pass of the Clone Stamp tool in sight. Rather, starting with a dozen separate images in different poses that Jacob shot of himself, Deke shows you how to blend all the Jacobs into one realistic scene. (Well, as realistic as one guy having a fight with himself, breaking up the fight with himself and having 9 other himselves looking on can be.)

Each additional version of Jacob needs to be carefully masked into place. To this end, Deke uses an entire arsenal of Photoshop tools, from a simple rectangular marquee, to a deftly placed gradient mask, to some meticulous hand painting. In the video, he considers each new addition to the composite, then troubleshoots the new challenges that each shot presents. Adding all these images together, he eventually arrives at this wonderful festival of Jacobs (as per the following graphic equation):

A progression of clones masked together in Photoshop

For members of lynda.com, Deke offers an exclusive movie this week, in which he shows you how to light this scene consistently and have the characters cast shadows onto one another.

Props to the aforementioned Jacob Cunningham, who is ultimately responsible for all aspects of this composition. Except for the heaping helping of hand-masking applied in Photoshop by yours truly. Just take a gander at a few of the more exacting layer masks (pictured below). After several hours of work, I am more intimately familiar with the shapes and sizes of Jacob's fingers than one dude ought to be on behalf of another dude.

A few layer masks rendered by hand in Photoshop

You might think cloning yourself would make you more productive. But in Photoshop, it takes time out of your busy day. Even so, if you can achieve a result like this one, I reckon the investment is worth it!

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