Photoshop Secrets – smooth out backgrounds

Kitten in HammockMaking Beautiful BETTER…

If you like this Image, wait until you see how it was made with a little Photoshop Magic. Here are some  of Kelly’s Photoshop Secrets Revealed… PSD Tutorial: Smooth out background, add a blue sky with two examples attached.
BASIC PHOTOSHOP CS6 WORKFLOW: Please note: this PSD tutorial is not for beginners.  I am assuming you have photoshop experience and understand the concept of a painting with a mask, and using layers.
Kitten in Hammock
Here is the image before PSD (never before seen unedited version- yikes!)  **Most of the time, the shadows and wrinkles in the fleece blanket can be smoothed out ahead of time and clipped down tighter to help, however this image was taken on a messy background.  I will demonstrate in this tutorial how to smooth it out in photoshop.
Fleece backgrounds are prone to wrinkle when played on, however, for me they are still a practical solution.   Fleece blankets can be picked up at the dollar store in almost every color and kittens love to play on the soft surface.
Kitten in HammockEasy fix in PSD:
**Sometimes the only thing you need to do is use the guassian blur tool to smooth out the pock marks in the fleece, but in the case of big wrinkles, painting may be the best option. Here is the workflow: Duplicate the layer first. On duplicate layer, use selection tool and select the background fleece around the subject, duplicate it. On that duplicate layer, select the transparent area, then select inverse, then paint out the blanket wrinkles with the color of the blanket. When finished painting, deselect. Then, go to filters, guassian blur- adjust settings to your liking. Reveal under layer with subject. Use a mask on your painted layer to paint with black and paint away any blur that interferes with underlying subject layer. Save all layers in PSD format.
Kitten in Hammock blue sky PhotoshopNOW, Let’s make Beautiful BETTER! Go out and photograph the beautiful blue sky, with a few clouds (raw). In Photoshop, drag the sky layer to your other open psd image, as a layer on top.  Add a mask to the cloud layer and paint away the areas of the cloud that cover your subject. Use a soft brush and play around with the brush flow. This Image is one of many beautiful kitten hammock images that can be found in the image-bank 2016 Spring Collection.
EQUIPMENT/PHOTOSHOOT:  Canon Mark II EOS 5D, Canon Macro Lens EF 100 mm L IS 2.8 SETTINGS: F 2.8 SS 125 ISO 100, shoot in RAW.  Shoot gray card and custom set white balance. Lighting set-up: Window light with 1 monolight flash bounce off ceiling. Homemade hammock, blue fleece blanket background. one sleepy kitten and an awesome assistant (my daughter!)
Following is another cute image that lends itself to a beautiful blue SKY! This image is one from a shoot of several butterfly net images that can be found in the image-bank in the 2016 Spring Kitten Collection.
BEFORE and AFTER
Kitten Stuck in Butterfly Net
IMG_3248 unedited out of camera, fleece blanket has pock marks and needs to be smoothed.
Kitten Stuck in Butterfly Net
IMG_3248 edited background smoothed out with guassian blur tool, and in severe cases, painted blue
Kitten Stuck in Butterfly Net blue sky in Photoshop
IMG_3248 sky added on top