In this tutorial we are going to show you the process in the creation of a “manip” as they are known on the internet or, Image Manipulation. Manips are often made in fan communities that try to imagine what a character in a movie would look like if played by a particular actor.
It’s been hotly debated on the SuperHeroHype whether or not Wonder Woman could look good on screen with her iconic costume. It’s my intention to show, with the right art direction, that it can be done, and of course how I created the image.
With Megan Gale attached to the Justice League Movie, actress names have been tossed about, but just for fun, I’ve used Erica Durance from this screencap of her already sporting some Red, White and Blue. I’ve also gathered some interesting pictures that we may be able to use from around the web.
I first started by erasing the straps and material on her top by using the Clone Tool, Smudge Tool, and the basic Paintbrush. The clone did most of the work on the straps by taking the skin beside it and painting over the white.
The blue areas were trickier. I basically made a 3-color swatch and took the lightest and darkest skin tone and found a good color in the middle to use as my base tone. (skinsamples)
I pretty much painted the area with the base and paintbrushed the outer areas with the dark and center areas with the light. The smudge tool with a lowered pressure allowed a blend of the colors to occur with repeated paint applications.
I found some great red leather corsets to cut up to use for the bustier. The Lasso Tool traced around the pieces I wanted and were then Cut/Pasted (ctrl+X, ctrl+V) into new layers to assemble like a collage.
Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation allowed the alignment of values. Pulling down the Saturation even further gives the material that Watchmen, 300 look that we’re going for. I used the Eyedropper Tool to select a red from this assembly and painted in the missing spots according to Erica’s shape.
Now on to the boyshorts. I took the smudge tool and just brushed in left and right directions to make the shorts look less sparkly.
On a new layer above this I traced along the shape of the shorts and filled in a solid dark blue. On this layer in the Layers Window the blending mode was changed from “Normal” to “Hue”. I found this blending mode to be pretty effective in transforming the shorts close to the desired look.
I found these sweet elven bracers doing an image search and just traced around them and cut them out. Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast were altered. I tend to lower the brightnest and pump the contrast a bit in most of the pieces in this creative process so you might want to use trial and error in your attempts. Brightness, Contrast and Saturation are key in elevating these manips to a higher standard of quality.
Unfortunately you can’t just copy and paste everything. Every time you add a new element, matching the lighting best as possible will make it look more convincing. Since I added bracers, I needed to create the shadow it casts as well. I copied the shadow area on her leg and pulled the swatch up on a layer behind the bracer. I used the Lasso Tool and drew a shape that would cut out what the shadow might look like. With the selection doing the “dancing ants” thing, I went to Select>Feather chose around 3 pixels and pressed delete. I also went to the layers window and changed the blending mode from “Normal” to “Overlay” to give the Shadow some translucency.
On this layer I used the Color Picker and chose the dark skin show color and painted a bit beneath the shorts.
Time for some metalwork. I took this image of a greek brass cuirass and chopped off everything from the waist up. Saturation and Lightness were both toned down.
I then used the Polygonal Selection Tool to draw what I planned to cut out. The cutout looked a bit unnatural so I used the Magic Wand Tool and clicked outside the belt shape and went to Select>Inverse. I filled that selection with the dark brown found in the belt and moved the shape up a bit to draw out the edge of the belt. I also applied some highlights with the light yellow along the edges on the metal layer to give it at least a little volume so it didn’t appear “scissored out”.
I actually found this great shot of this beautiful mini statue designed by Wonder Woman artist Terry Dodson. The torso was in a very close angle to Erica here so I simply traced around the golden “WW” and dropped it into place. It had to be manipulated a bit with the ctrl+T transform function to get the shape to match a better.
It too was given the contrast and desaturation treatment. To add some realism and make it appear not so toylike, I used the Eyedropper Tool again and chose the darkest value from the gold on the belt that was missing on the chestpiece. I drew some selections with the lasso tool and proceeded to paintbrush the color with a lower brush pressure. I used a higher pressure when painting into the nooks and crannies of the metal. I think this punches up the toy paint to match the real metal used in the belt brass.
The hair was just painted in black and then selections were drawn with the lasso tool and filled with black as well. The tiara is actually Aragorn’s crown from Return of the King with a red star I found popped onto it.
Once I was happy with Wonder Woman, I selected all the layers and merged them. I then magic wanded the area outside her and shift-clicked the negative space that her arm made and reversed that selection. On a new layer with the selection still dancing, I filled it with a gold color with the hexadecimal color of #8B6C27. This layer’s blending mode should be set to “Overlay” to help achieve that subdued monochromatic style that makes some comic book movies look so cool.
Now for the background! I positioned the sunset background behind Wonder Woman and placed the sun directly behind her head. A new layer was made in between her and the background that was filled with the same gold that was used on the silhouette. That golden sheet was set to Overlay as well in the blending modes.
I then dropped the picture of the Acropolis in between her and the sunset. And set the blending mode to Multiply. This created the contrast and dark shape of the mountain and Greek architecture but still allowed it to be transparent for the sun from the other background to shine through.
I really liked how the light pierced the clouds in the sunset so I took the Eraser Tool and increased the brush size and erased on the Acropolis layer to let the sun shine in brighter. Popped some white text up and put those on Overlay as well.
Final Touches. For some movie grain I flattened art and duplicated the layer. On the top later I added grain by going to Filter>Noise>Add Noise at 15% Gaussian level. This noise layer was then put through Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur at a 1.0 Pixel radius setting. I turned down the opacity and fill on this entire level to around 50% and even erased a bit around the face so the didn’t look the pixels didn’t look too noisy there.
I flattened, dared to use a lens flare (gasp!) and popped in a golden eagle for fun. So I hope you at least learned some cool Photoshop tricks and hopefully were convinced that a leggy on-screen Wonder Woman could in fact look pretty righteous.