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Name: Mario Sanchez aka Aegis-Illustration
Tools of the Trade: Adobe Photoshop CS2, Corel Painter IX, Apophysis 2.02, Terragen, Photomatrix Pro, Genius Tablet 8x6
Likes to use: Classic nude poses (specially from lockstock and justmeina ), still life objects, mixed media (photomanipulation + painting + 3D + vector)
Examples of his work:

Marooned by Aegis-Illustration Arquitectura Efimera by Aegis-Illustration Memento Mori by Aegis-Illustration

Aegis-Illustration’s tips and tricks:

1.- Textures:
Many people have asked me how I use textures. It’s pretty simple. Instead of taking some texture images and merging them, what I do is putting one as a background. Then, I start taking the rest of textures I want to use, and low their opacity around 40-50% and sometimes using Soft Light. Then I start cloning them with dispersion options to make them look smooth. I erase zones I think that are rough and then I merge all texture layers and desaturate them. Later I tweak with colour using Colour balance, Hue and saturation, Levels, Curves and Photography filters. That’s what I do for backgrounds. Later I add a single texture to cover the entire image, usually in Soft Light with 40% opacity.

2.- Cutting images and integrating them:
Sometimes using the Pen Tool is not enough. When you put your cut image into the background sometimes it stands out so much. I have a little tip for this apart of adjusting colours and light, obviously. It is making an inner shadow in Layer Style with 0 distance points and low opacity. It helps a little specially in dark backgrounds. Another tip I have is to blur with the Blur tool the borders of the image to do not make them stand out so much.

3.- Colours:
It is important to create a harmonic colour palette. Be sure to tweak colours in all layers. I use Colour Balance and Hue & Saturation for that purpose and I adjust lights too with Levels. Doing this simple step you will integrate the colours of everything and your images will look more balanced!

4.- The importance of a background:
Sometimes our images look chaotic because they have so many elements on them. It is important to keep a clean and clear background. You can add as much elements as you wish, of course, but avoid making a background with lots of elements or details because that will distract the eye from the main subject. You can always create a textures background but desaturate its colours to make it look in 2nd plane, or just blur it a little. Just keep in mind that the background is not the protagonist of your images (usually).

5.- Cleaning stock:
I could write a thousand lines about this but there are two simple steps to clean a stock image. The first one is with Filter>Noise>Noise reduction. Tweak with the parameters but be sure your image doesn’t end looking out of focus. This is a better way of using Gaussian Blur because that makes disappear important lines and the contour.
If you want to make your stock model photo look really good, there is a harder process, using the Smudge tool. Be sure to smudge only big parts and not contours or important lines like eyes, mouth, fingers, etc.

6.- Blur and Focus:
Like in a real photograph a photomanipulation could use blurring of the less important parts, as the horizon or some parts of the image to lead the eye to the main subject, which sometimes could use some focus on it. You don’t really have to know anything about photography, but for example, when viewing with your eyes, you will see some thing more contrasted and other more blurred. Maybe your main subject is in the 2nd plane, so then try to blur the 1st one, and vice versa. Play with that, it’s more important than you think!

7.- Lighting:
Lighting is something very important if you want to integrate all elements within a scene. Most of the times the different photos you are going to use will have different points of light. You should leave the lighting for the end process. When you have all elements, you have to decide where the light is coming from. If, for example, your lighting comes from the upper right corner, be sure to use the Dodge tool to lighten the parts at the right and the Burn tool for the left zones. Keep in mind that if an arm is in the left zone where is the source of light, although its left part will be lightened, its right part will still be dark. If the difference between darkness and light between your images is very strong, apply Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. Then you’ll be able to apply lights and shadows more easily.

8.- Composition:
Composition is not something only photomanipulation related. It is something you must keep in mind while creating anything. Before I start a piece, I always visualize where every element is going to be placed. Keep in mind that you need a main subject which is called “focus”. Your focus should attract the attention of the eye. You can give it a different tonal range, desaturate the rest of elements or put it in some position in which it grabs your attention. Even chaotic pieces have a focus most of the times so don’t forget that. Try to know what you are going to do before acting. Randomly is funny but that doesn’t assure you a good result most of the times.

9.- Filters:
Filters are dangerous. Most of them are. If you are doing a photomanipulation you should keep in mind that filters are not your friends, most of the times. Personally I only use filters of Noise, Sharpen and Blur. The rest will give an amateur-feel to your pieces. Avoid especially the Artistic filters. This is not exactly a tip but a suggestion, but I think it’s something to keep in mind.

10.- Post-production:
This is one of the most important steps to follow and sadly it’s forgotten most of the times. When you have a finished image, merge all layers. Now you can start playing again with Colour Balance, Hue & Saturation, Curves, Levels, and the like. Your image will turn in something more harmonic. Maybe this sounds like nonsense but I can assure you this will give a more professional look to your pieces.

11.- The final touch:
When you think you have finished your image, there it is a little touch that will make it looks better. With all your layers merged, go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask. Use a Radius no bigger than 0.3 and a size of a 250% more or less (depending on image size). See? Everything looks better now!

12.- And memory saving:
If you want to work comfortably in Photoshop before doing anything you should go to Edit> Preferences> Plugins and Scratch Disks. If you have more than a hard drive, in the first option put the one which has more free space. If you have only one hard drive as most of the people, you can always make a partition. Leave one for Photoshop only and leave it with a lot of free memory, then the program will go smoothly. Otherwise, while working with big images it could freeze! Keep in mind that if Photoshop is in the same place where most of your most used programs are, it will go slowly as well if you have a lot of programs running.

Aegis-Illustration’s 3 favourite tutorials:

The Ultimate Guide to Textures by textureific is a tutorial about composing textures and the like, how to merge them and make them look good.

Guide to Stock – Part 1 by AttempteStock is a great resource if you want to know how to take good pics for your photomanipulations. A must see!

Photomanipulation basics 101 by Cobweb-stock is an useful tutorial about cleaning images and adjusting stock model photos.

Please keep in mind that these tips and tricks are never meant as the only way to do something – they are the way the artist does things. They are meant to guide you or give you ideas what can be done and should be taken as such.

If you have any suggestions for deviants you’d like to see sharing their tips and tricks, feel free to write me a note. Just keep in mind that this article is mainly focused on photomanipulators.

Lastly, I would like to thank Aegis-Illustration for sharing his tips and tricks
and you for reading them :aww:
Add a Comment:
Bryanroger Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2009
Genial Mario! . Definitivamente es el dodecalogo que todo "Photoshopero" debe tener en mente
N2FL Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2009
i find this very helpfull... tnx
dzunnun Featured By Owner May 7, 2008
very usefull, thanks!
BeehiveStudio Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
wow =O i already new some things and some others are totally new and different to me :excited:
lazure Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2007
I think that tips and tricks are more useful than walkthrough because everybody can use them differently. Thank you very much, I learned a lot reading this. Thank you also for the link to the tutorials!
ShMaiz3R Featured By Owner May 2, 2007
thnx alot
shizophrenik Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2007
Great man.
This could be useful for all kind of "artists" on this planet.
Well done.

pezzano Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2007
Thanks for the can never have enough help!
Tintz Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2007
Thanks for the useful tips.
batetooz Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2007
Aegis !! you are my hero
hope you good luck :)
zaoris Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2007
Useful tips, very well written.
hize213 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
Wow, this was a great find. Thanks for all the tips and suggestions. I will definately be able to improve my skills after reading.
viaviolet Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2007  Professional General Artist
super tips!!!
for the beginner like me very usefull!!!
thanks for the information!
besos :via
flightless-angel Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
This is very helpful to me, as I just got into photo manipulations. Thank you for sharing! :nod:
cloud-no9 Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2006
Great tip for cutting images! I usually blurred the outline but never imagined to add inner shadow! This is brilliant!!!

Can't wait to apply it and see outcomes! Thnx for sharing!
Scarlett1313 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2006
Absolutely wonderful tips!
Guitarian Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Great Info! :D
BLEEDINGVEIN Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
this stuff is heaven sent.
jonic521 Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2006
This is some good stuff. Thanks!
Nox-dl Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
It can be very helpful!Thanks a lot! :)
purplesnow Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2006
Well stated!

WhiteTreeFox Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2006
lovely, lovely tips. awesome work, I really appreciate this :nod:
Kmee Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2006
This is excellent for me as an artist that wants to do "real" manips. Thanks so much!
badlittlemunky Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2006  Student General Artist



Thank you.
Shurakai-Zero Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2006
When you say you "clone with dispersion options" do you mean you're using the scattering in the brush options?
Aegis-Illustration Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
I don't really know who it is called in English, if you want to know, is by pressing f5>and clicking the second option, the one under Shape dinamics :)
Shurakai-Zero Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2006
Ah, yeah. Scattering it is. I'll sometimes use a rough-edged brush as well when I want to clone something and keep it from looking too soft at the edges.
JReedC243 Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
this has to be the greatest stride in photomanipulation history on DA since i dare say the formation of *Manipulators. awesome! i hope i do not miss a single one of these. i could always hone my skills more as well as add more tricks to my arsenal. :clap:
J-Ro-20 Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
awesome work!
Seyan Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2006
I end up at the right place! What a great resource! you have listed everything from Alfa to Omega & What not; i personaly found it very interesting! I would recmnd' this news for anyone who is interested in Manips'! Awesome Stuff! Keep it up! - Seyan.
Aegis-Illustration Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Glad you found it useful! :]
Seyan Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2006
No worries pal! Useful' resource is always useful' :D Keep it up!
trystianity Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2006
Wow! I don't do photomanipulation but I found some good tips in this. :)
buffydoesbroadcast Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2006  Student General Artist
EXCELLENT WORK!!!! There are some amazing tips in here that I can't wait to try out. Thank you!! :D
madnessism Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2006  Professional General Artist
Very helpful. :nod: :thumbsup:
mariux Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2006  Professional Interface Designer
great!!!c00l information!
thank you
nighty Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
great new article. I'm looking forward to the next one !
nemina Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006
Remarkably helpful and relevant tips. I'll keep them in mind when I do more photomanips.
dchon Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
well written.. these were all jumbled in my mind ;)
leaf-lover Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006
Great article idea and useful tips too, nice work, :aww:
chod Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006
good stuff. :)
rasuiakira Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006  Hobbyist Writer
cool reference.... ill give this a try.... any other references?
fbarok Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
great article...
oneghin Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
Beautiful & useful article, thanks a lot! :clap:
savagebinn Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006   General Artist
Thank you very much for taling the time to make this. I'm sure this will help. :)
tsheva Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Great article and we do several of the same things :D

Thanks for sharing!
Imp3RiaL Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2006   Interface Designer
thanks for this ultimate tutorial : )
PabloMonforte Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
:clap: Bravo!
LawrenceDeDark Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2006
Very informative... I particularly found the pointers about texture use interesting and will definitely refer back to this article. :thumbsup:
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November 9, 2006


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