Here's a digital imaging project that you can do when it's too cold to go out and you can get some help from your children.
Words & images Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine
We're going to create an action figure using a toy and one of the offspring. Girls go for Barbie or one of the Get Real girls, boys either grab a picture of one of Busted or an Action man or, as I have done, photograph something out of the toy box. In this case, Buzz Lightyear, the famous Toy Story character.
Both pictures where shot specifically for this project so I asked Joseph to make a face like Buzz and captured it on a digital camera. The toy was then photographed on the carpet with light from a nearby window.
1 Open both pictures in your image editing program which must have layers or objects. Click on the face picture and hold and drag or copy and paste to the celeb/character image. You will now have two layers showing in the layer palette. It's a good idea to name these because we will end up with a few more. You will also have a picture that's covering most of the one below and this needs to be resized to suit the base picture.
2 Resize the top picture by going to the menu Edit>Transform. This puts a frame around the picture which can be adjusted in size. If you click on a corner and hold down the mouse as you move the box will change size. Hold down the alt key to keep the same proportions.
3 Reduce the opacity of the top layer to about 50% so you can see the layer below through it and use the move tool to position the photo in the right spot. You may then have to use adjust the size again using the transform tool and maybe, as I did use the Transform>Rotate option to ensure the head lines up correctly.
4 Create a layer mask and use the airbrush to paint out the unwanted parts of the picture. In this case it's the background.
5 With this all out of the way you can see the toy's face around the edges of the new one so this needs to be cloned out. Turn off the top layer and use the rubber stamp on the toy layer to hide the face. Then turn the top layer back on to see the result.
6 Reduce the opacity of the top layer so that it really looks as though it's behind the glass mask. Don't take the opacity down too low though or you'll start to see the background through the face.
7 Now let's create a new background to replace the carpet. In this example it makes sense to go for a space style back drop & dark stars and a bit of flare will do.
Open a new canvas. Make it about 300x200 pixels at the resolution you are going to save your picture at and fill it with black Edit>Fill, with black as the colour choice.Now add some noise Filter>Noise>Add noise. Set the distribution to Gaussian and make sure Monochromatic is selected. Adjust the amount so that the grain looks harsh.
8 To change this mess to stars we need to reduce the amount of white noise so that the black shows through.This is done using the threshold control Image>Adjust>Threshold. Drag the slider into a position that gives the number of stars you'd prefer and click OK.
9 Now copy the background. Paste it onto your project and make sure it's the background layer by dragging the icon in the layer palette so it is at the bottom of the stack. At the moment you won't see it. We need to remove the carpet!
10 Add a layer mask and, with the mask selected, airbrush out the carpet using a big brush for the easy areas and a small brush for the outline of the model. Go around the whole figure and the stars will shine through.
11 You could select areas of stars and make them brighter using the contrast control or blur a few here and there to make the whole thing look more galaxy-like.
12 Now for the flare.Select the background layer and go to Filter>Render>Lens flare. Move the main flare point to a suitable position by clicking on it and dragging it around the preview window and adjust the brightness on the sliding scale. You could add more than one.
The picture still looks a little static so lets rotate the body and head, making sure the two layers are linked. Use Edit>Transform>Rotate and give the body a slight angle so it looks like it's flying through space.
14 Now we will add some movement to the feet. Make a selection using the freehand lasso and add some motion blur at the same angle as the body. This will blur just the feet which is enough to give the picture a feeling of movement.
15 Finally let's make the space a little more atmospheric. Create a new layer and move it so it's above the background, but below everything else. With the foreground colour on black and the background on white go to Filter>Render clouds and apply this to the new layer. Then use the blend mode set to lighten and the opacity to about 30% to give a soft cloud like appearance. I added a small amount of motion blur to finish off.