A few people have requested an explanation of how the action montages I posted here were created so here is a walkthrough of my process. This is the first time I've tried to delineate my post processing so let me know if there's anything I can do to make it more understandable.

When I shot both sequences I wasn't thinking about creating a montage like this so I was hand-holding the camera and moving between shots. This means the framing and orientation of the camera will vary with each shot, so I know that I will have to use some cloning and transformations to combine the images in a believable way.

With forethought I would have used a tripod and framed the scene to capture all the action without having to move the camera at all. That would make post processing a lot easier but I think it would have been hard to use a tripod in this environment where you can't predict the subject's movements or timing.

Click an image to view it larger.

Step one

Open all your images in Photoshop. I've got these four vertical images that I shot handheld so they're not going to line up easily.

Parkour Series

Step two

The first thing we need to do is bring all the images together onto one canvas. To do this we will pick the first shot in the sequence and increase the canvas size. I think 5500 pixels will cover it, we will need a little room to move layers around.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step three

Now we want to drag all the images onto the same canvas. You can just select the arrow tool and drag the images from their canvases into the first. I have ordered the layers so that they run from left to right top to bottom.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step four

Only one image is completely visible at this point but I can see enough to make some basic alignments by moving the layers around. Here I'm looking at the railing in the bottom background and the brick wall on the right to give me some clues about preliminary positioning.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step five

Now the fun part begins. To start revealing the second layer we need to add a layer mask to the top layer. To paint on the layer mask I use a combination of the brush and gradient tool.

You can see in the above image that I've masked out enough of the top layer to see the second figure on the layer underneath.

All good, but immediately we can see that the layer below is slightly offset from the way the white wall near the figure's hands and the railing beneath his knees don't match up.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step six

To fix this I'm going to apply a transformation to the second layer, in this case a slight rotation and skew fixed the problem.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step seven

To reveal the third figure we add a layer mask to the second layer. I'm using the brush here to 'paint in' the guy because I know his hands are going to be 'behind' the second figure's hood so I want to be accurate.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step eight

As before we add a layer mask to the layer above to reveal the layer below.

This time I've used a circular gradient on the layer mask and I can immediately see the last image is badly aligned with those above.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step nine

Once again a transformation on the layer fixes the alignment and we can continue to reveal the last figure. Again I use the brush to carefully paint in the areas where the figure overlaps the one above. In this case his lower legs and feet.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step ten

Now the image looks finished. All four figures are complete and it looks pretty convincing.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step eleven

When you get to this stage it's time to zoom in and look for the less obvious errors.

Here we can see a misalignment between two images showing as a line.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step twelve

To fix this I use a combination of smudge, clone and blur tools. It doesn't have to be too convincing in such a small area, though you might want to do a better job than I did here!

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Step thirteen

Finally you can crop the image to eliminate the overlapping edges.

You're done.

Parkour Series - canon 20d w/50mm

Post





Comments

  • Beth Irvine

    This is a brilliantly clear walk-through, Miles. And really adds to my enjoyment of the pictures. Thanks!

    2006-03-04

  • Dwayne

    Great tutorial, thanks Miles!

    2006-03-04

  • JD

    Thank you. Some great tips in here.

    I still can't beleive it was handhel (from looking at the final result) and that you tracked the subject while in movement!

    couple of quick questions: what screen res are you runnin at? and do you use a pen+tablet at all?

    2006-03-04

  • Joann

    Thanks! I'd really wanted to know how you did this. It's simpler than I thought, yet a great technique.

    2006-03-04

  • Jeet

    Thanks for the tips. Waiting for someone to jump so that I can try it out :-)

    2006-03-04

  • David

    Thanks - very useful!

    2006-03-04

  • jeremy

    Miles,

    Fabulous shots and a great explanation. Well done.

    2006-03-04

  • Jessyel Ty Gonzalez

    And you do all this for us? Awww...

    Great tutorial, Miles. Very helpful. Brings many great ideas for the future...

    2006-03-05

  • Albedo

    Wow, great tutorial...
    Seems like a lot of work to produce such images ! But they look great !

    2006-03-05

  • Marina

    VERY COOL! Thanks for your time - is this the beginning of a new tutorial feature on here?
    Love the pictures too.

    2006-03-05

  • Donncha O Caoimh

    Great explanation, thanks for going to the trouble of doing this because I'm sure you didn't take screenshots of it as you worked on the image!

    2006-03-05

  • [t e r r o r k i t t e n]

    well to take that much time and effort is awesome....thanks so much and so simply explained.
    Phil

    2006-03-05

  • Miles

    Thanks everyone, I'm happy this could be useful.

    James, I don't use a tablet, I did have a wacom but I couldn't really get used to swapping between it and the mouse all the time. I have a Logitech mouse that is supposed to be 10x more accurate than most and it does a good job. The screenshots come from my laptop which runs a 1920x1200 resolution on a 17" wide screen.

    2006-03-05

  • GeckoZ

    i learnt about such photomontage from a book, it teaches to use a tripod. but i was amused when u did it in this special way. i havent got such good photoshop skills yet!

    :-)

    2006-03-05

  • jyoseph

    This is killer man. Really well written tutorial and great technique. Thanks for sharing.

    2006-03-05

  • Peter

    hehe cool, I'll have a try :) thanks!

    2006-03-05

  • Jeff Ambrose

    Very nice tutorial, never thought of handholding one.

    2006-03-05

  • Manolo

    Muy original. This is a very interesting tutorial

    2006-03-05

  • Philipp

    Wow that easy?
    The shooting of the subject seem to be the hardest part...
    Thx for sharin the technique

    2006-03-05

  • yungyaw

    GREAT TIPS! I must try this when I have a set of suitable images. Thanks!

    2006-03-05

  • bruno

    Great tutorial. Nice to see master in progress

    2006-03-06

  • Aaron M. Molina

    Thanks. Im a photoshop idiot and can use help in any way.

    2006-03-06

  • BigA

    Great work Miles. Hope to see more tutorials here.

    2006-03-06

  • prasoon

    enlightening indeed....
    thanks !!

    2006-03-07

  • marc

    sweet, it's always nice to see people share their secrets. It really helps those that are still learning Photoshop.

    I hope to see more in the future.

    2006-03-07

  • Alicia

    Wow, great job here. That's some serious Photoshop work. Thanks for explaining how you did it.

    2006-03-08

  • Raffi

    Wonderful tutorial. I may consider giving this a try some time! Thanks!

    2006-03-08

  • estan

    Wow! This is a very helpful tutorial Miles. Thank you very much for sharing this one :p

    2006-03-13