[Update: People on the web have been posting confused unhappiness with a detail of the short demo that I posted here. Gotta address it. Please understand that I did all the photoshop work on the original picture. 8 megapixels for the original shot. NOT on the compressed, reduced JPG images that I posted here. I mean, seriously folks, I show screenshots taken from my (big) monitor. It should be clear that the image I'm working with isn't 400 pixels wide, eh? And if y'all who are concerned peruse my site (and there's a lot to peruse) you'll notice that it's primarily a webcomic. With blog entries. My main biz isn't trying to teach CS5 to the CS4 experts. I'm just showing an interesting aspect of photography/PS, because I'm also a photographer. OK, on with the show.]
While strolling through the Comic-Con 2008 mob I noticed some way cool posters in the DC section. Given a view of Wonder Woman like the one below, the normal reaction is to walk over and stand in front of the poster to get a better vantage point. But what if you can't do that? Or, more likely, what if you've got a picture like the one below and wish that it had been taken from a better angle. What to do? Throw out the picture and sulk? Not at all. Today's topic is "How to see Wonder Woman like she was meant to be seen, even if your pic is crummy." A quick introduction to just one minor aspect of what you can do if you know what you're doing with Photoshop.
Let's start by thinking about what's wrong. The most obvious is that we're way off to the side, so the poster is massively squashed horizontally. Also, because we're viewing it from but a few feet away, there's a whole bunch of perspective going on (the top and bottom edges of the poster are highly slantified). The vertical edges aren't exactly straight up and down either – the poster is a bit tilted. And the lighting isn't so great – most of the light is being reflected directly in front of the poster so we're only getting edge lighting. Luckily, that's it – no other difficulties 🙂
We'll start by removing the poster's tilt. What you need to do it grab the ruler from the tool bar on the left and click and drag along the poster's right edge. You can see the drag line on the pic.
Next we go to "Image" and then go to "Rotate Canvas" and then "Arbitrary". This tells Photoshop to look for the ruler line and rotate so it's either vertical or horizontal – whichever is closest.
Here's the result. An image that's tilted but for which the poster we care about is straight.
Next I expand the canvas a bunch because I'm going to be pulling the poster image way out to the right and the original image isn't big enough to handle that much of a pull.
I select the poster with the selection tool:
and then go to "Edit", "Transform", "Scale."
I then grab the right edge of the selection rectangle and pull ot the right, expanding Wonder Woman thusly:
Wow. That's already pretty amazing. From an edge-on view to what looks pretty much like we took the pic from dead in front. However, we've still got the perspective distortion. So we go to a special item in the "Filter" list – namely "Distort", "Lens Correction."
This shows the control panel that pops up. Originally the slider for Horizontal Perspective (7th slider down) was in the center. I pulled it left until the poster looked pretty much square.
Click "Okay" and you get this:
The lighting isn't so good so I open up the "Curves" dialogue box and boost the midtones.
Diana looks a bit pale so I then open up the "Hue Saturation" panel and boost the overall color saturation a bit.
Finally, a bit of sharpening:
And here's the result. The top pic is the one I photo-manipulated and the bottom pic is one I actually took by standing in front of the poster. Not bad, eh?
If you look closely you'll see there's still some distortion in my version and I could remove that as well but at this point I'm going to guess you've had enough. What I'll leave you with is one final comparison – the final version next to the original. And now you've had a small taste of what you can do with Photoshop. So is it still true that "seeing is believing"? I sure don't think so.