An Article by MajorTom11
This article will cover how to prep images for upload to the Dakka Galleries, and get the most of them at the same time.
This is NOT a tutorial about cheating or enhancing your minis in a misleading way though!
The original pic from the Camera, untouched.
Auto Adjusts - Tone, Contrast and Levels
Let's get started. Open the jpg in Photoshop.
First thing to do is go to the image tab, and run (click) auto Tone, Contrast and Levels.
This step algorythmically corrects the lighting and contrast of the image. The end result should look a lot closer to the colors of the actual mini. However, although it does work most of the time, there are times where the result looks worse than the initial pic. Use your judgement to decide what looks more like the real mini, undo or skip the steps as you see fit.
Crop the Image
Next, we crop the image. It is very rare that a mini will take up the whole frame, in fact, if it does, you are probably shooting from too close and getting wacky depth of field and/or overall blurriness. Activate the crop tool as seen with the red arrow, and drag around the subject. Don't worry, you can tweak the crop box before hitting 'Enter' to make the crop final.
Image cropped -
Background Correction using Clone Stamp
Next, we correct the background with the clone tool. It may not always be feasible for a beginner to do this, but in this case the smooth, consistent background allows for an easy fix. Select the clone tool as noted by the left red arrow. Next, hold 'alt'. This will activate a crosshairs icon that let's you target a source area for your clone stamp. Keep holding it, and move it to an area just under the gap marked by the red arrow on the right and left-click. You may now hold down the left mouse button to clone and repair the background. Note, you may need to adjust the brush size and hardness, and also re-target the stamp to get around the sword (or something like it in your own image!)
Background repaired -
Manual Levels Adjusting for Advanced Contrast Control
Next we have Levels. Levels are basically a form of advanced contrast. You use them to control the intensity and distribution of light and dark in a given image. Hit ctrl-L to bring up the levels window. Theoretically the auto levels done earlier should have fixed this, but it is worth looking at anyways.
You want to bring in the left black arrow and right white arrow towards the beginnings of the histogram peaks. You may also want to slightly tweak the center grey arrow a touch left or right, again,use your judgment.
As you can see, it makes a big difference again even from the auto levels. Again, the key is to try and be subtle. Overdoing it will do just as much to mess up your images as just leaving the foggy color incorrect original shots.
Hue/Saturation - Advanced Color Control
Next up, Hue and Saturation. Hue/Saturation is to color balance as levels is to contrast, it is an advanced way to control the color, both overall and on an individual level. Press Ctrl-U to open up the window.
You may want to slightly tweak the saturation slider up or down for 'Master' (which applies the adjustments equally to all colors), use your judgment. I find that if you have done all the previous steps correctly, you shouldn't have to fiddle too much here.
HOWEVER - you will probably want to dampen the yellows or reds slightly if you shot in artificial light/night time. Why? the lights cast, depending on their distance from the subject, yellow (close to subject) or red hues (far from subject) into the shot. In my case, I switched the tab control to yellow and tweaked it down a few points.
Adding a High Pass Filter Layer
Almost done, last step here -
Duplicate the layer. In the layers tab on the right, drag the layer into the icon at the bottom that looks like a little set of looseleaf pages.
Congrats, you now have two identical layers :)
Next up, High Pass filter.
What does it do? It is a way for you to enhance the edges of an image, internal and external. It sharpens things up quite nicely, and much better than the sharpen filter. You want to run it on your newly created identical layer, go to the filter tab - other - highpass. Depending on the resolution of your image, you will want between 1 and 4 pixels radius. 1 for low res stuff, 4 for high res.
Don't panic, you end up with a grey mess.
What you want to do, is in the layers window on the right, switch the layer style to 'Overlay'. Boom! Better eh? Overlay essentially tells the layer to make the midtones transparent, essentially leaving only highlights and shadows (as opposed to screen which is highlight only, or multiply, which is shadow only). Try switching the layer on and off, you can see the difference. You may want to turn the opacity of the layer down a bit, to make it less harsh. I usually go down to 70-80%.
And there we go! Go to file, save as, save it as a jpeg, maximum quality.
Final Image and Side by Side Comparison
And you end up with this!
Depending on the size of the original image, and how much of it you are using (after cropping), you may want to resize the image to be a bit smaller. My rule of thumb in general, if I know the image is only for putting up online, I generally keep the width to around 1000 pixels. However, if you intend to print these ever, then keep them at their original size. Dakka is kind enough to give you unlimited space, so the only downside is waiting for them to upload lol!