SuckerPunch - Walkthrough

Sucker Punch


Since you really enjoyed the last (and first) walkthrough of the image of Lewis Joss (Magician) I decided to write up another walkthrough for you. This time I picked an image from my SuckerPunch shoot. Model Francesca Harding approached me with the idea and I went along with it. Most of you know that I work alongside an awesome Prop maker  ShortieProps. I spoke to him regarding some weapons, props for this shoot that we would need to make this look awesome. He provided me with all weapons and parts of the costume (Leather work) you can see in my SuckerPunch images.

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So here we have the out of camera shot. You can see see the gridded strip box in the background. I used 2 strip boxes slightly behind her to create rim lights and a gridded beauty dish overhead.

If you followed my last walkthrough you can kinda guess what my first step will be :)

Yep! We're going to clean up the background, getting rid of the strip box.That way we will have nice grey background and we can apply the same technique as last time to add a new background.

So I'm simply going to clone out the strip box. I do this on an empty layer and my stamp tool sample set to current & below.

The next step was to work on the skin. Whenever I work on this style of image I don't take the retouch on the skin too far (unless I think I should do it). In this image I simply wanted to get rid of blemishes, spots, ... The other thing that "annoyed " me in this shot were the highlights on the skin, so I got rid of them.

I created an empty layer and used the Healing Brush Tool to get rid of these problem areas. You can use other healing tools but the Healing Brush Tool is my favourite tool.

In the image below I applied my favourite technique, dodge & burn. Again, I used the 50% grey technique to enhance shadows and highlights in my image. (Create empty layer - Edit - Fill - and select 50%Grey). Blend mode set to Soft Light for skin and Overlay for other areas.

Because I felt the image was a tiny bit too saturated, I decided to take down the vibrance a tiny bit by using the Vibrance Adjustment Layer. Doing it this gives me the option to adjust if i wanted too at a later stage.

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Simplicity can be beautiful and awesome at the same time. My most popular images have 90% of the time a simple background such as a texture or a sky.

I really wanted this image to be about the character so I kept it simple. I added a moody sky as a background. Check out my tutorial on how to change the background super easy ( I also added in snow ( brush made in Photoshop - There's a tutorial on this on the PHlearn Youtube page)

I added in the snow after I nearly finished the image. I took a break from editing and when I came back I added in the snow and I liked it a lot! If anything, please take away from this walkthrough that my workflow is made up out of techniques applied in a non-destructive way. At any time in the image I can make changes. Work with layers, adjustment layers and smart objects is my biggest advice to anyone who uses Photoshop... regardless if you're new to Photoshop or you know you're way.

After adding a new background I will start working on colour. In this case I had a play with the different channels in the Curves Adjustment Layer. On my Tutorial page you can find another way off adding colour effects. After I had a colour I liked, messing with curves, I used the techniques explained in that tutorial.

Again, we're working with adjustment layers and this will allow us to have a play with different blend modes and opacity. It's all about understanding your tools and playing around! You'll be surprised what you can achieve by just messing around!

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I finished off the image by adding in some more colour by applying a gradient fill ( Layer - New Fill Layer - Gradient). I always start with the orange to purple gradient and then adjust the colours as I go. There's not really a reason why I use that one to start with... :)  I changed the blend mode of this gradient layer to soft light and played with the opacity until I was happy :)

I also added some more snow in the foreground in the same way I did at the start of this walkthrough. I wanted the snow to be really white so thats the reason why I left it till the end.

Have a look at different action movie posters on the net. A few things come back in most of those posters. Rain, buildings, fire/sparks, cloud/smoke, edge light/rim light, weapons, debris and explosions. You can find at least 5 of these in most of the action posters.

So after adding the colour and snow I added in some fire/sparks and a flare on the sword. A very easy trick to do this is to photograph fire/sparks/flares on a black background. When you then add the fire/sparks/flare to your image and change blend mode to Screen, the black will disappear and only the fire/sparks/flare stay visible. No selections needed :)

And that is a walkthrough of this SuckerPunch image. If you would like to see more walkthroughs, leave a comment below and make sure you share! If you have any questions, feel free to ask below and I'm happy to answer those!

Bye for now...

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  • Steve Moore-Vale

    on April 7, 2018

    Fantastic article. I love photoshop and although i don't use it for the same purposes you are, you're techniques explained here are really useful.