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1. Alright, first thing to do is to load the original Natasha image into Photoshop, so go to the File menu, choose Open... and double-click Natasha.jpg. (Or whatever you called it. If you haven't done so you'll have to rip the original image from the finished Kirk_build composition first). To make Natasha comfortable in her new starship quarter environment, we have to seperate her from the background. Although the background has a fairly uniform color, the selection tools or color range command probably won't do us any good because of the fine hair detail around the edge. These usually call for a channel mask, so that is what we'll try first.
Click the Channels tab to go to the Channels palette, below the composite RGB thumbnail you should see the black and white versions of the red, green and blue channel of the image. (If you see colored versions of the channels press Control+K (Command+K on the Mac) to go to the Preferences Dialog Box, select the Interface tab and uncheck the "Show Channels In Color" Option.) What we are looking for is the channel that provides the greatest contrast between the area to select and the background.
As our model is a human being (or at least humanoid enough to attract Kirk) there are a lot of flesh tones going on which results in a bright red channel. The background turns out to be fairly bright too, so although the hair looks ok the red channel is probably not the best way to go, especially the shoulder area lacks contrast. The green channel definitely looks better, her face is delimited by hair on the left and some pretty dark shadows on the right. In the blue channel the shadows are even darker - which is great from a contrast point of view - but as a result of its blueish hue, the background turns very bright and starts to eat up some of the hair detail. So in this case we'll go with the green channel. To create a mask we first copy the green channel by clicking and dragging it to the "Create new Channel" Icon at the bottom of the Channels palette.
Rename the copy "Mask" (or whatever you like) by double-clicking the name next to the thumbnail, then press Ctrl-I to invert the channel. (If, like me, you tend to forget if the black or white parts of a mask will be turned into a selection, recite a hundred times: white selects, black protects).
To get rid of the bright area to the right select the lasso tool and roughly drag around the head (make sure to stay clear of the fine hair detail though) and invert the selection by pressing Ctrl-Shift-I. Then fill the new selection with black by pressing Ctrl-Backspace followed by Ctrl-D to deselect everything.
What remains is the area between black and white that contains the stray hair, this will take some trial and error. The first step to isolate the details is to increase the contrast of the mask. Press Ctrl-L to go to the levels dialogue box and lower the white point from 255 to 160. This will brighten the highlights to the point just before her shoulder blows out. To darken the shadows raise the black point to about 50, but keep an eye on the hair detail so that none of that gets swallowed.
The left edge looks pretty good now, on the right however we still see some nasty midtones which we will correct manually with the brush tool. This turns out to be the most tricky part of the whole thing, keep your hand on Ctrl-Z as you'll probably have to undo some strokes now and then. First, select the brush tool, set the size to about 300, the hardness to zero and the foreground color to white. We want a pretty large and very soft brush to do some subtle adjustments. Finally set the Painting Mode to Overlay, reduce the opacity to 40% and rather click than drag over the stray hair using only the edge of your brush. This will brighten the hair just ever so slightly without harming the darker areas to much, don't overdo it. It is easier if you keep the center of the brush within the white area of Natasha's head and then click along the edge carefully.
Now that the hair is brightened, we still have to get rid of those greys and one way to accomplish that is to use the burn tool. Select it from the toolbar (it might hide behind the dodge tool) or press O. Set the size to 300 with a soft edge, select "Shadows" from the Range dropdown menu in the control panel and reduce the exposure to 30%. Again, start to paint over the gray areas carefully with the edge of the brush to darken the shadows. It won't hurt your highlights within the head but if you overdo it some of the hair details will get lost. Don't try too hard though, we'll work on that edge again later in the process. After we have darkened those areas all we need to do to finish our mask is to fill the interior of the head with white.
As our edge is almost complete with the exception of a piece of the ear and the hair tie, we can use the lasso tool to complete the job. Just drag around the remaining black areas within the head and fill the selection with white by pressing Alt-Backspace. If you want to be thorough you can use the elliptical marquee tool and the magnetic lasso tool for the ear and the hair tie. That's our mask, by no means perfect but ok.
2. After all the work we can finally go on with the fun part. Press Ctrl-N to create a new document, name it "Composition" or whatever you like and set it to a size of 1499x840 pixels. In the Layers palette, click the "New adjustment layer" icon and select Solid Color... . Dial in 250° for H, 25% for S and 75% for B and hit OK. With the adjustment layer selected Click the "Add layer style" icon in the Layers palette and choose Gradient Overlay... .
In the Gradient dropdown menu, select the second option "Foreground to Transparent", then click the gradient next to the dropdown menu. That will open the Gradient Editor. Doubleclick the first color stop and change the values to 330°H 40%S 40%B and click OK twice. In the Layer Style Dialog Box set the Blend Mode of the gradient to Multiply, the Opacity to 100% and the Style to linear. Change the angle setting to -80° and reduce the Scale to 40%, then click OK to accept - thats it for the background.
3. In the next step we bring in a background picture to add some atmosphere. Press Ctrl-R to show the rulers, rightclick on one of them and set the unit to pixels. Now drag out a horizontal guide to +75 and a vertical guide to +780 pixels. With the Move Tool selected Alt-drag the blurred background picture from the final composition into our image, this will automatically place a copy in a new layer.
Then align the top left edge of the background picture to the intersection point of the guides. Rename the layer "Background Image", Done. (As our image has the exact same pixel dimensions as the original you can also Alt-Shift-drag to paste the copy into place, it will register at the location that it had in the source file)
4. With the background finished we can now bring in Natasha. But before we do that let's apply our diligently created mask to her. Go back to the Channels palette in the Natasha image and Ctrl-click the mask thumbnail. This will load the mask as a selection outline which can now be turned into a layer mask. Return to the Layers palette and click the "Add layer mask" icon, the mask should appear next to the layer thumbnail.
Now Alt-drag her over to the composition as you did with the background picture, then align her top edge to the top edge of the background and her right edge to the vertical guide. Now at a closer look against the lavender background we see that we run into a little problem.
Although we put so much effort into our mask there is still some weird color fringing going on in the hair. Depressing. But no need to despair, we'll snatch a trick from his Dekeness. Press Ctrl-J to make a copy of the Natasha layer, rename that copy "Normal" and hide it by clicking the eyeball icon. Then go back to the original Natasha layer and set its blendmode to "Multiply".
Good: the edge weirdness disappears. Bad: Natasha gets burnt into the background.
Now if we could just keep the good edges of the burnt Natasha and combine them with the face of the original Natasha - that would help out a lot. So lets just paint away the bad edges of the good Natasha. Go to the "Normal" layer that you copied before, unhide it, click its layermask thumbnail to activate it get your brush tool. Set the brush size to 100, hardness to zero, blend mode to normal, opacity to a 100% and the foreground color to black. Now we paint inside the mask along the edges of her head to conceal the "bad" hair and to reaveal the "good" hair from the multiplied layer below. How cool is that.
5. Still, having a properly pasted Natasha doesn't make her any more exciting, so let's add some lighting and make-up. We'll start with the red glow on her face. First, select the "Normal" layer and press Ctrl-Shift-N to bring up the new layer dialog box. Name the new layer "Background Lighting", set the blend mode to normal and click OK. Select your brushtool and set the size to 100, hardness to 20%, dial in 5°H 77%S 86%B for a bright red and paint over the edge of her face (If your color selector is set to RGB click the little down arrow in the top right corner to change it to HSB).
Back off the layer opacity to 70%, then Ctrl-click the layermask thumbnail of the original Natasha layer to load it as a selection outline, select the "background lighting" layer and click the "Add layer mask" button in the layers palette to mask it. Click on the layermask thumbnail and use your brush tool with a soft brush and foreground color set to black to paint away the glow from the earring.
6. Now, after hours of hair refinement we learn from Dekepod that stray hair wasn't popular at all in the sixties so lets mask it away :) To keep our Layers Palette tidy we create a group for the Natasha layers. Click the "Create new group" button in the Layers Palette, name it "Natasha" Shift-select the "Natasha"- the "Normal"- and the "Background Lighting" layer and drag them into the new group.
Then select the group and click the "Add layer mask" button to create a fresh white mask. Click on it and use the brush tool to carefully brush away the hair, for the red edge use a brush size of about 50 pixels with hardness set to 70%.
For the hair on the left you can go bigger and smoother, for fine details around the earring and the neck zoom in and use a smaller brush.
7. Next step: Cosmetics. Let's start by blurring the wrinkle below the eye, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool on the "normal" layer to select roughly around the area and press Ctrl-J to copy the selection to a new layer which you name "Wrinkle".
Then go to the filters menu and choose Blur -> Gaussian Blur, set the radius to around 10 pixels and click OK. Now Alt-Click the "Add layer mask" button to mask away the blurred piece, click the mask thumbnail and paint inside of the mask with white to reveal parts of the patch. If the effect is too strong take down the opacity to about 60%, done.
8. To make the eyes piercing we need to add some brightness to the irises, press Ctrl-Shift-N to bring up the New Layer dialog box, type in "Irises" as name and click OK. Set the brush size to 40, hardness to zero and paint over the irises with white, change the blend mode to "Overlay", that's it.
Next, create a new layer, call it "Shadow", leave your brush as it is, just change the color to 273°H 23%S 74%B and paint over her eyelids and irises. Finally, set the blend mode to hue.
9. The last step of beautification is to add some lip gloss. Click the "Create new adjustment layer" button in the Layers palette, choose "Curves" and throw away its layer mask by dragging it into the trash. Then grab the Lasso Tool, select around the lips, press Shift-F6 to open the Feather dialog box and enter a radius of five pixels, then hit OK. Click the "Add layer mask" button to create a mask from the selection. Now doubleclick the adjustment layer thumbnail to modify the settings, at an input value of 50 drag the RGB curve up to an output value of about 80, at 128 drag it up to 180 and at 192 drag it to 220 to make the lips brighter. Then select the green and the blue curve separately from the dropdown menu and drag them up to about 150 at the center, which creates the cool frost look.
As a final step to finish the effect we'll add a glossy highlight to the lower lip. Frankly I have no idea how this was originally created, in the video the Curves palette pops up, you hear some clicks and suddenly it's glossy all over the place. So as a workaround we'll try to do it manually. Create a new layer and name it "Gloss" then select the brush tool and choose chalk, set the size to ten, the foreground color to white and the opacity to 50%. Zoom in on the lips and paint in the highlight carefully, that should do an ok job.
10. Ok, we are almost there. In the last step we throw all the stuff we have finished so far into a smart object and apply some final polish. To do that select all layers, right click any of them and select "Convert to Smart Object".
After Photoshop has finished stuffing everything into one box, all that's left in the Layers palette is that new smart object. To bring it into a sixties TV set compatible format, crop away the empty right part of the image. To give it a real retro look we'll apply two more effects, the first being more blur, the second being film grain. Select the smart object in the Layers palette, then go to the Filter menu and choose Blur -> Gaussian Blur. Set the radius to 20 pixels which might look a little over the top, so hit OK and doubleclick the filter blending options icon. Take down the opacity to 30 percent, that should please the captain.
Now the final last step is to add some film grain to the scene. Create a new layer, name it "Grain" and fill it with 50% gray. Go to the Filter menu, choose Noise -> Add Noise, raise the amount to 350%, set Distribution to uniform and click OK. Go to the Filter menu again, choose Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 1.5 pixels, hit OK. Finally, set the blend mode to Overlay and reduce the opacity to 20%.
Done, here is the final composition.
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