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10 Proven photo manipulation tips for beginners

06 July, 2018

Photo manipulation differs from editing. In editing, the photo is retouched, enhanced and corrected to render it crisp and appealing. In contrast, manipulation uses the techniques used for photo editing for presenting the subject in a different perspective, contrasted with newer background or other subjects. In order to manipulate photos aesthetically and accurately, you have to adhere to proven photo manipulation tips as discussed below for spectacular results.

Photo manipulation tips for beginners


Browse through all relevant tutorials and resources

In order to gain comprehensive command over techniques of image manipulation, you need to browse through all tutorials meant for beginner to advanced users carefully. Relying on handful of tutorials can be fatal as your skill repertoire would not be comprehensively developed. Knowledge about various software, tools, technical intricacies and particular techniques related to lighting etc. can be acquired in this manner.

Invest in stock photography to hone your skill

Ordinary images available for free may not have that cutting edge in them which would help you hone your manipulation tactics. Stock photographs are captured by seasoned artists who take care of the lighting, shades, shadows, toning etc. for spectacular results. Apply digital brushes on thematic stock images to gain expertise.

Learn about seamless cropping and retouching of image edges

In order to contrast the subject of one image against another, you need to seamlessly crop without any jagged edges. Learn to crop with newer tools for distortion free edges. Often, overuse of magic wand tool and feathering techniques may not yield the desired outcomes and the final image may appear unpleasant to eyes. For hard to crop regions like subject’s hair, you need to apply cropping followed by feathering or smudging. Next, you should paint over the cropped parts with matching colour to help the subject seamlessly blend in the new backdrop.

Invest time in prepping up the background

The appeal of a manipulated image gets enhanced when you work with backgrounds that naturally complement the image’s subject. Background already available may not serve the exact purpose. This is where various backgrounds ideas can help for manipulating photos. You should start preparing your own backdrops in which the manipulated subject can placed in visually enchanting manner.

Be careful with tones

You need to be careful with the image’s tone just like all best photo editing companies. A warm tone must not be placed alongside a subdued hue. The colour balancing, contrast, lighting exposure, curves and other tweaking should be exactly done for the subjects on the canvas. Toning the manipulated image can be carried out at later stage of refining. You can also blend the final picture with the layer of colour which you desire for the background. Color manipulation in Photoshop tools is an art and you should master it.

Shadowing and highlighting should be done before merging layers

The manipulated image’s dimensions are determined by proper exposure to light. The reflections, shades, highlights and shadows should be congruent with the source of light. The shadow must be directed in the direction in which light is focused. For this, you have to segregate the image’s light sources. Alternately, you can place your own sources at strategic locations. Next, go about rendering the shadows carefully. Anything and everything that comes in the way of light should be properly adjusted. For instance, if the light is incident on a mirror, it would ricochet according to the laws of science. If the source of light is obstructed by something, the same should cast a shadow of adequate length.

Never lose sight of the focus

Your manipulated image’s focus should be evident and must stand out in clear contrast with the objects surrounding it. The image’s sharpness can also be helpful for creating an effect of either blending in our out with the surroundings. The same should be harnessed critically to create seamless blending and transitioning effects. The appeal of the fading effect can be heightened with the use of feathering available in selection tools section.

Enhance the feel of manipulated image through proper texturing

The manipulated image’s mood can be depicted with right texture. You can apply texture to the entire image or a selected portion. Always decide the suitability of texture to the image at hand before applying.

Avoid over smudging or blurring

In order to pull off the desired effect, you can apply the smudge tool. Smudging can help you get rid of unwanted noise from the manipulated picture and also helps in blending the image with other artistic aspects easily. Refrain from using the noise reduction tools available as in-built or plug-in with the software you use for editing photos. The pixel flow gets disturbed by such deliberate effect resulting in edge destruction and unwanted selective blurring. Proper smudging helps you in controlling the pixel flow by helping in pulling off the right effect with effortless noise elimination. If the final image is giving a feel of shallowness and lack of detailing, you can counter this by painting over the picture with a fade out brush. The strokes of the brush would be most effective with visible highlights and visible shadows options.

Seek guidance of veterans and experts

Before starting to edit, aware about Photoshop tools list, you can take to the online platform and connect with experts or browse resources to learn from examples and experiences of others. Closely monitor the manipulated images created by others and try to figure out the stellar points and the discrepancies. Mentally map the tools used to bring about the results. Apply them on your own canvas.

The aforesaid image manipulation ideas would help you optimally bring out the latent artistic capabilities in you. You can be a great photo manipulator by practicing and seeking mentorship of industry experts.

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