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Problem with shadows I think.

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  #1  
Old 08-11-2011, 07:47 AM
Canna W's Avatar
Canna W Canna W is offline
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Problem with shadows I think.

I tried to post this pic as a regular pic at flickr, but one of my friends picked up that it was a composite. When I asked her how she knew, she said (re the dogs), "Their paws are not pressed into the grass". Now I did give the dogs shadows, plus I used the smudge tool to pull grass up over their paws (though this is maybe way too subtle.)

Anyway, I can see what she means. Those dogs are to an extent floating.

Any advice with this, (or anything else), would be much appreciated.
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:22 AM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: Problem with shadows I think.

Hi Canna
I don't have a complete answer for you since I have similar issues in composition. The eye-brain combination is pretty amazing at telling that something is "off." Very similar to some comments that I have received in the past - it looks floating.

One overall suggestion is to compare to a similar image with similar source lighting that is not a composition and look for those subtle detail differences. Those details make a real difference in what looks natural.

BTW - while the image does look a little off, it looks far better than without the steps you already took.

Here are some thoughts
- Even though the tonality is already muted (background image must have been a cloudy day), the tonality from top to underside of the dogs looks too consistent. That tonality is not what my eye would expect even in an outdoor setting without special lighting.
- while the oval shadows add a lot, adding some subtle variations that would match the dogs outline (e.g. tail) a little bit would add a lot.
- The shadows under the dogs are too consistent in tonality
- Less obvious yet it sill looked off is that the shadow of the branch of the nearest tree (between the dogs) does not project straight down to the ground (in fact I do not see one). Location of shadows need to be consistent in the image in angle and tonality/sharpness. In this picture, you actually have the option of add a different shadow for the tree to match what you have done with the dogs.
- Instead of the smudge tool I would use the clone tool for the grass around the feet. Yours was too subtle yet you have a tough problem with well manicured and short grass to begin with.
- Under the right dogs chest area, there is a bright slice area that seems out of place.

What I would really like to have is a Photoshop tool that would create an accurate 3D model from the 2D image and do ray tracing to create a realistic shadow. Until then, I think I am in the same boat as you - struggling to make a composite image a little more real.

Good luck on your project.
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:23 AM
Dropt Dropt is offline
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Smile Re: Problem with shadows I think.

There's several problems here.

* You need to be careful with the perspective. The dog on the right doesn't look on the same plan as the left one. The eye is actually an excellent tool to enhance our visualisation of the perspective. You need to picture the plan in your image, and put the dogs in. How's the three in that plan ? Is that far away ? How big is it ? Maybe draw a quick sketch of the plan with the dogs inside, that may help you.

* Lights and shadows. Light falls on earth and creates different kind of shadows, as different kinds of lights. Look at the other elements in the pic to place the shadows of the dogs. Where's the sun light ? Is there another light source ? At this point, you may wanna dodge and burn the dogs a little, to make them real in the scene.

There's two sort of lights : Direct light that falls directly on the subject, and reflected light, that lay in the shadows of the object. The shadows divides in two types : Drop shadow, wich is the darkest, and the edge shadow, situated at the edge of a form, between direct and reflected light. You can think about that while dreaming the scene.

* Also make sure that the tones of the dogs are accorded to the image. You can afterwhile blending all in with a hue/saturation on top of everything; that would help the viewer to think that all is united.

Just a few leads that could help you.

Last edited by Dropt; 08-12-2011 at 04:52 AM.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:36 AM
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Canna W Canna W is offline
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Re: Problem with shadows I think.

Hi John,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful response. Working down your comments .....

*I am not sure what you mean here "compare a similar image with similar source lighting that is not a composition...." Not sure what you mean by "that is not a composition"

* I have tried to increase the tonality on the dogs, deepening the shadows on the undersides of their bodies - which I think reflects what is happening with the tree shadows.

* I have added a tail shadow.

* I have darkened the shadows under the dogs paws - hopefully this has made the overall shadows less uniform.

* How clever of you to notice that branch between the dogs. In r/l the ground drops sharply here...and the shadow is hidden on a slope you cannot see.....

* I have now cloned some grass around the dogs feet.

* That bright slice under the dog is one of her back feet. I have now darkened it.

I hope this has gone a bit of the way to lesson some of the problems with this image ...

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Dropt,

Thank you very much for your helpful feedback.

* Regrettably my spatial abilities are really awful. The dogs were on a slope in the original photograph - so yes - there may well be something slightly odd in the plane they appear to be standing on. Regrettably altering that is just beyond my abilities. I am really bad with spacial challenges....

* I did add some shadows to the underside of the dogs, to hopefully make them fit in better.

* I darkened the shadows under the dogs paws. Hopefully this is a bit more realistic.

* To be honest for this picture the tones of the dogs do seem to blend in fairly well with the rest of the scene. I have done composite images where this has been a huge issue, but here (to me) it seem okay....or maybe that is just my inexperienced eyes!

Thank you again for your help.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:53 AM
dkcoats dkcoats is offline
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Re: Problem with shadows I think.

Aside from the previously-mentioned problems, I think you have a scale issue here. Unless that's a very large putting green - or carpeting - they're standing on , I'd say the dogs are too big by a long shot.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:53 AM
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Re: Problem with shadows I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Wheeler View Post
What I would really like to have is a Photoshop tool that would create an accurate 3D model from the 2D image and do ray tracing to create a realistic shadow. Until then, I think I am in the same boat as you - struggling to make a composite image a little more real.

Good luck on your project.
Look here: http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/pho...g-shadows.html
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:14 AM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: Problem with shadows I think.

Hi Canna

What I meant is to look at some stock exchange pictures or your own where the image was not created through composite processes. Those can be guides to what looks natural in tonality, shadows, as well as areas aournd the dogs feet. Here are some links to stock exchange (free registration) images for some examples. One of the images was in a brighter more direct lighting to give an idea where and how shadows can fall.

The more an image departs from a natural image, the more likely it will look offl. If I were accomplished in this area (I am not) I would give more advice. Take your cues from nature and practice. Good luck

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/693509

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/534956

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/423394

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/49960
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:22 AM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: Problem with shadows I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amica999 View Post
Thanks for the pointer Amica. Looks intriguing. Have you tried that tool on something like the OPs composite image and if so how did you like the results. The initial examples from the web page you linked only showed flat letters/shapes yet this would be a winner tool if it covers general objects too.
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:02 PM
Canna W's Avatar
Canna W Canna W is offline
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Re: Problem with shadows I think.

Hi dkcoats....

You may well be right! I made the dogs larger when I put them in that background, and it may be that I went too far. Thank you for pointing that out.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi John....

Brilliant! That was incredibly helpful. I use stock xchng a lot, but not for reference. There are also a million pix on flickr I could have checked out too. Judging from the pix you showed me I have used far too much shadow for an overcast day. I must try and remember to do that in future!
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:26 PM
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Re: Problem with shadows I think.

John, did a quick fiddle with the OP file (Hope you don't mind, Canna)
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