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5 Playing with perspective Composing the scene Composing the scene



elative size is a commodity that you can use to your advantage when composing montages. In this example, the product is the star – in this case, it’s the PDA that needs to be the prominent object in the final composition. The background figure of the man holding the device is there to provide visual interest: adding him into the mix prevents the final illustration from looking like a mere product shot. As is so often the case, it’s the human element in an image that draws the reader into the picture.

How to Cheat in Photoshop


By enlarging the PDA to a ludicrously large size (above), it is brought clearly to the foreground. But we still need to show the ‘actual size’ of the machine; it is, after all, a pocket-sized device, and simply enlarging it would give the reader a false sense of its scale. Adding the hand at the same scale reaffirms the size of the PDA as a hand-held object, and the figure now looks as if he’s holding it out towards us. The shadow painted on the PDA makes it appear as if it’s being held by the hand.


Simply placing the PDA in the man’s hand accomplishes the task to a degree, but the tiny size of the device when included at actual size makes it too insignificant; it’s barely visible in the mix. It might be possible to create this image using just a hand, rather than the whole person. But when working with cutout objects, which always enliven a layout, it’s important to ensure that the whole image is shown. Cutting off an arm at the wrist, or fading it away to white, is a poor solution: cut-off elements destroy the cutout’s power, and are always a poor compromise.


If this composition were a single photograph, an accomplished photographer might be able to devise a means by which both the foreground object and the man in the background were both in focus – although, given the extreme difference in the apparent nearness of the two elements, it would be a daunting task. For the purposes of convincing montage, we can take the opposite approach: adding a small degree of Gaussian Blur to the background figure (right) accentuates the sense of perspective, and forces the reader’s attention onto the PDA. Blurred images are hard to focus on, by definition; adding a degree of blur allows us to direct the reader to the areas of the image we want to highlight.

HOT TIP The hand used in step 3 here is the same one I used on the daughter’s shoulder in the section Relative Values, earlier in this chapter. The hands in original photographs are rarely in the right position for a convincing montage: with a digital camera, it’s easy to build up a library of suitable hand poses.

How To Cheat In Photoshop : Chapter 5  

Playing With Perspective