Learn all about layers, blend modes, masking, and so much more in this detailed After Effects tutorial!
We’ll transform a street photo into a complex composition photo manipulation by creating a glowing shape and compositing in a human who is flying through that portal into our city street.
• Inspiration for this tutorial •
Stock photo used in this tutorial: https://unsplash.com/photos/v63B_MUiFw8
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Tutorial Recording Notes:
Disclaimer: these are the actual notes I used to record this video and are written in a language you may or may not understand. Hopefully, you find them useful or cool.
- PORTAL = = =
- Begin with starting image, preferably something dark, with a neon or outrun vibe. Shallow depth of field is also a nice touch.
- Add a Curves adjustment to flatten contrast and darken the scene
- Use the Rectangle tool to create a 600px x 1230px shape
- Set a 30pt stroke #d40243 and center the stroke over the path
- Duplicate that shape and set a 7pt stroke #fffbcb and shut off this layer
- Duplicate the original pink rectangle 2x and add a 35px Gaussian blur to the bottom rectangle frame
- Add a 25px blur to each of the rectangle frames on top of this
- Set bottom frame to Screen blend mode and middle frame to Soft Light
- Turn on the yellowish frame that we turned off earlier and set it to Soft Light and duplicate the layer 2x until it looks like a bright, snapping ribbon of light
- Duplicate that yellowish layer again and set to Linear Dodge (Add) and reduce Fill opacity to 80% and reduce the stroke to 3pt
- Select all the non-blurred shapes and Free Transform>Perspective and pinch the left side until you see about 10º in the little tooltip
- Select the blurred pink shapes and Perspective transform this to match the shape we just transformed
- DUST = = =
- Select the Curves adjustment we had added just above the background.
- Use the Polygonal Lasso and select the inner area of the “portal” we’ve created and add a Curves adjustment layer to darken and flatten contrast in that area
- Add a Vibrance adjustment layer -15 vibrance and -15 saturation and copy up the mask from the Curves adjustment we just made
- Find some nice, fine textured dust brushes and set the foreground color to #d3296e and create a new layer above our frames and grab the brush tool and turn on Shape Dynamics and tweak the size and angle jitter.
- Set brush tip to about 250px and start painting one click at a time around the frame to build a nice fragmenting effect
- Duplicate this dust twice and shut off the top dust layer
- Blur both lower dust layers 1px
- Turn on the top dust layer and use Hue/Sat to make the dust solid white and set to Linear Dodge (Add) and reduce the fill opacity to 50%
- Select both top dust layers and duplicate them and then Free Transform + flip vertical and then Distort them to “pull” dust away from the right side as if it’s shooting away from the portal and tuck it into the left corners and just fuss with it until it looks good
- GLOW = = =
- Fill a little ellipse selection with #d40243 on a new layer above everything we’ve just done.
- Blur this shape 30px
- Free transform + Perspective to give this ground glow the illusion of falling away gently
- Duplicate this ground glow layer once you get it right
- Set bottom glow layer to Linear Dodge (Add) and 80% opacity
- Set the top glow to Soft Light and 70% opacity
- SUBJECT = = =
- Load selection around the model and set the mask and tweak the mask with a simple soft brush if needed
- Transform the model into place
- Select the model layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl + G and add a layer mask to this group (this allows us to add 2x masks to the same layer)
- Use a large soft-edged brush to fade away body parts that you shouldn’t see
- Use a 30% opacity brush to paint back the hands and feet “on the other side” of the portal
- Create a new layer, clip it to the layer group for our model, and set it to Soft Light
- Paint with a large black brush and create heavy shadows on the underside of the model
- Clip in a Hue/Sat layer and target the skin color range and reduce saturation -90 or more
- Clip a Curves adjustment layer and tweak the RGB and color channels to help blend the model
- Clip another Curves adjustment above this and set the RGB and color channels to create the base of the red/pink light painted onto the model’s clothingFill the layer mask with black and paint in where you want some of this red/pink color to lay on the clothing
- Use Blend If and split and drag the black point of the underlying layer to concentrate the color of this Curves adjustment in the brighter parts of the clothing
- Duplicate this Curves layer and clear the layer style and re-fill the layer mask with black and use a large, soft-edged brush to paint glowing patches of red/pink around our model as it feels right
- Create another batch of dust, colored #d40243 and add it around the model wherever feels right
- COLOR BLEND = = =
- Create a new layer and set to Hue blend mode and sample a blue color off of the background and paint that blue over parts of his cap and most of our model’s highlights on the “front” side of the portal
- Create a little more dust on a new layer if needed
- Create a Curves adjustment to begin the global color adjustment. Adjust the channels as we see fit.
- Add FuturisticBleak LUT adjustment layer
- Add a Hue/Sat layer and target the red/pinks of the glowing portal walls and boost saturation +10 and hue + 30
- Mask the Hue/Sat layer to a VERY soft area of the middle of our document
- Add a Color Balance adjustment layer – M: -10/0/+20 – H: +40/-15/-15 – S: -30/-5/-15
- Add a noise/grain layer above all of this to finish it all off. BOOM!
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