Exclu Tutorial by Stan Russell.
We’ve all seen those cool photos where the figures are flying through the air, or being pushed back by a force using Jedi, but have you ever wondered how that was done? Well, I’m here to show you how I remove them from my photos. Now, this is not to say this is the best way, or the only way, but it is how I do it.
EQUIPMENT AND ITEMS USED
- Canon T5
- 100mm macro lens
- Manfrotto Tri-pod
- Canon remote shutter release
- Revoltech Boba Fett
- Bandai S.H. Figuarts Obi-wan Kenobi
- Tamashii Nations figure stand
SETTING UP THE SHOT
First and foremost, when setting up a shot using this method, its important to have your camera set up on a tri-pod. The reason for this is because you will want to take a photo of the scene without any of the figures to use as a background for masking. Usually, you would try to position the camera in such a way that the figure stand would be hidden as much as possible. For this shot, if I was not writing this tutorial, I would have positioned the camera where the stand was behind Boba Fett, and Obi-wan was covering the base. I might have placed some branches or something else in the way to try and hide the stand as much as possible. Here you can see the set-up I used:
Since this tutorial is about removing the stand, I am not going to go over processing. If you are interested, check out the other tutorials here on Exclucollective! What I will suggest is that you should do you processing to the figure with the stand, then copy those settings onto the picture with just the environment. This way, both your shots are exactly the same. Here are both of my shots after processing:
REMOVING THE STAND
The first step would be to open both your files in Photoshop, and bring them both into one document. Place the image with the figures on the top layer, and the blank environment shot on the bottom layer.
With the top layer selected, hit the mask icon at the bottom of the layer pallet. This will create a full mask on that layer. Right now, nothing is being masked out, but that will soon change.
With the mask selected, select your paint brush, and make sure that your foreground color is set to black. When masking, the space that is white will be visible, and whatever is black will be masked out.
Using your brush, start drawing over the areas of the top image where the figure stand is visible. What should happen is the areas you are painting over look like they are just disappearing, and you are seeing the stand magically disappear. What is actually happening is that the top part of the image is being masked out, showing the blank environment image below. This is where using the tri-pod and the remote shutter release come in super handy. Both images should be exactly the same, so there should be no difference between the top image and the bottom image, except of course, for the missing figures.
As you are painting, you will see the mask being filled with black, and this is the area that is being masked out. Continue this process until the entire flight stand is no longer visible. I will use a pretty big brush for the big open areas, then decrease the brush size as I get close to the figures.
Here you can see the final masked image side by side with the original image.
After taking these shots, I realized that I hid most of the stand pretty well. The hardest part can often be those claws that wrap around the figure to hold it up, but if you can plug the stand into the peg hole in the back of the figure, or hide it with a body part (which is what I did here), that makes it a whole lot easier. There is another set of tools I would use to remove those if they were visible, and I will do a follow up to this tutorial with those, and then we can put it all together.
Now that the figure stand is all masked out, and it looks like Boba Fett is actually flying through the air, you can now add in any other effects you may want to the image. Here is my final image.
I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial on removing flight stands. As you can see, with just a little bit of pre-planning and set-up, removing these stands can be pretty easy to do. Is there another technique you guys use? If so, we would love to hear it!
Stan is a graphic designer from Orlando, Florida, and has been an avid lover of toys for his entire life. He love’s doing anything that exercises the creative side of his brain and toy photography has been a tremendous outlet for that. When he is not taking photos of toys (which makes his wife shake her head and roll her eyes when he packs toys on all his vacations), he can be find photographing his daughter doing dance, woodworking or flying his drone for cool aerial photography.