Aquafresh Toothbrush Post Production Tutorial: Using Photoshop to Render a Digital Background
Hello my name is Giorgio Cesarini I’m a photographer and post producer based in Rome, Italy. I studied still life and fashion photography at IED, European Institute of Design. In this tutorial article I want share a strategy of work and the importance of work plans in the process of image creation.
I have always been fascinated by how advertising agencies achieve and create their images, and how they very often use different image sources to create a single one that has their communicative content goal. What was interesting to me that I also noted was many of the commercial photographers have used the same stitching techniques and how this method offers significant advantages in the creative field as well as better technical image quality and resolution.
Personally I believe that digital work affects modern photography more and more, and the authenticity of the result is just a human limit, both in the use of the software and the quality of photographic project.
For these reasons, I developed many of my images in different steps, planning the different pictures that can be blended together for a better total result. The separate development of background photos and shots of the subject (commercial product) also allows a better choice of individual images and a step by step way to decide which combinations work best for your taste.
Using, for example, hand light painting, it is frustrating to have a good shot of the product, but not of the light paint effect or the inverse. This common situation forces me often to create another photograph, with the total loss of the work already done, or by doing grueling post-production work on it.
So I plan to focus on the product photography and background separately, and also how to create digital effects that could simulate possible photographic effects quite well, but with more and better control of lines. For these reasons this article will be 90% a post-production tutorial as opposed to a photography tutorial.
I want to apologize to you if I missed some step in the images that I will introduce now, but when I was working on this file I had no idea of having to write an article about this, so I melded some level of work in the file. I hope that understanding the process itself will be quite understandable all the same. *Editor’s note: The Photoshop screen captures are in Italian, however the function are the same for any language.
The Photograph of the Toothbrush
To begin with I will show you the initial product photograph where I started; The lighting of this image is really simple; 2 softboxes 80 x 120cm one in the front of the other with a little open angle in the background. The softboxes have no external light diffuser sheet, so they worked partially as a diffuser (with the internal diffuser sheet) and partially as a reflectors cage all around the product. The blue light on background was created with only a snoot with a blue gel on the speedlight. I’ll spare you the steps where I removed the stand that supported the toothbrush
I chose this high diffusion lighting in order to not create shadows on the product, especially when I want to work heavily in post production on an image. I tried to photograph an object with no shadows. The shadows and the direction of light create a lighting “identity”. The brain perceives that the light comes from one direction, and if the other objects do not have the same lighting identity this could create problems. With no shadows, the products appear as a drawing, and it is more simple to add other drawings to the images. In this case I thought it was appropriate
Creating The Background
The second step is the creation of the background
I chose a background from my database of images created with light painting and elaborated it with the lens optical blur instrument in PS. I tried to correct the colors in the background to follow the same tones in the product photography.
One of the instruments I use the most in PS are the optical blur filter or lens Blur and the move effect. English Version: (Filter > Blur > Lens Blur)
The Light Drawings
To create the light drawings I started to add traces created with Bézier curves. You can draw bézier curves with the pen instrument on PS or simply typing the (P) key. (Pen Tool)
After creating the trace, I used a brush that could simulate a light painting, you can find a good selections of those in the PS brushes database. (Natural Brush preset is close)
Note, for this effect it is better to use a brush with no full tract, but one that is diffused and calligraphic. Try a brush and choose the one you like, or create a personal one. The Bézier curve is one of the most important instruments of my post production work. This is one of the few vectorial instruments in PS, and the possible applications of its use are practically endless.
Personally I also use it to create contours of products. The vectors are mathematical functions, and are not a raster image (image built by pixels). This mean the potential resolution of vectorial images is infinite, and in the pen instrument the vector become a raster image only when you trace the path you just created. (Stroke Path > Brush)
After you have a trace with the pen instrument, simply right click the trace and use the function “Stroke Path”. PS will open a another menu where PS will ask what kind of instrument you want use for the trace. Select the brush. PS now will use the brush you had just selected before. (Select Brush, under the Pencil option after selecting Stroke Path)
The Vectiorial instruments are important, they create curves mathematically defined that always work very good for our brain. The human brain continually seeks mathematical rules in the images that we see in the same way as it searches for these rules in sounds; music is based on this principle.
Following this principle, I also create a line that followed the same structure of the product. If the traces created in this way are too aggressive and distracting, it is better to use a mask of level in PS in order to make them less incisive and marked. It’s possible also to draw traces, blur them with an optical PS filter or field of blur, and then redraw them again, resulting in an aura effect. English Version: (Filter > Blur > Field Blur)
For the final drawing I wanted something to simulate the toothpaste, and I wanted it to indicate in the direction of the head of the toothbrush (where the toothpaste should be used). For this step I used a different dimension brush tool in PS, and the spiral was made by 2 different traces.
The Final Touch
For the last effect I created flares that do not disturb the product image too much. I used the lens reflections render filter in PS, and I chose the intersection between the two tracks of light.
Hope this will help you to start creating a digital backgrounds for your product shots. Digital backgrounds is VERY USEFUL in product photography, and this tutorial is a good starting point to master this skills. Thank you Giorgio!Discuss this tutorial on our FB group or on Photigy Forum.