We will now start the post-production phase (Fig.25). The reason for rendering the ZDepth channel is to create a soft transition between the floor and the background color:
- Open the ZDepth image in Photoshop.
- Press Ctrl + L to open the Levels Adjustment window. Set the Min input level to 57 and the Max level to 165. Your values might be slightly different, but the objective is to have a completely white character and a gradient that starts near the character's feet and ends at the floor limit. Check Fig.25 to see what we are after.
- Select All (Ctrl + A) and Copy (Ctrl + C) to copy the image to the buffer.
- Open the render image.
- Open the Channels window (Go to the Window menu and choose Channels).
- In the Channels window, click on the icon on the top right and choose New Channel.
- Press Ctrl + V to paste the Zbuffer image into this channel.
- Ctrl + Click on the name of the Channel you have just created to make a selection.
- To see the original image, press the RGB channel.
- Go to the Layers window.
- Create a new layer on top of the background.
- Go to the Layer menu at the top bar and under Layer Mask choose Hide Selection. You have just created a mask for the layer.
- In the selected layer, in the Layers window, you have two little thumbnails: one for the image and another one for the mask. Click on the image thumbnail (which is empty) to paint on the image instead of on the mask.
- Using the color picker, pick the blue color of the background.
- With the bucket tool (press G), fill the layer with the blue color. We now have a smooth gradient blending the floor and the background color (Fig.26).
Apply a Levels Adjustment layer and adjust the levels by raising the Min input level and lowering the Max input level to get more contrast in the image and make it more appealing. The values depend on your image. My image was a bit dark so I have raised the Min input to 13, set the Mid input to 0.95 and lowered the Max input to 128.
As there is some light coming from above, I have created a gradient to fake the light scattering in the atmosphere. To do this create a new layer (use the same mask as before if you don't want to include the character in the light) and create a light yellow gradient. Set the layer mode to Color Dodge and a fill rate of 50% (Fig.27).
To create the smoke coming out of the cigarette I have used some smoke images against a black background. I have placed the smoke images in new layers and used the Screen blending mode to integrate the smoke with the background. Use the Fill value to adjust the smoke transparency. Also use the eraser with a soft brush to shape the smoke (Fig.28).
This ends the image composition and also this tutorial (Fig.29).
I hope you have enjoyed the tutorial and that you have created a great character and learned some new tricks. Feel free to drop me an e-mail if you need any clarification! See ya!