How to Make a Picture Look Like CGI in Photoshop

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Just because your latest photo shoot fell a bit flat or you can’t seem to make your subjects come alive through the lens, don’t be disheartened. There’s a lot you can do digitally to enhance your graphics, similar to the way movie studios use CGI (computer generated imagery). With the aid of a computer software program such as Photoshop, available as part of the Adobe Creative Suite, you’ll be enhancing and transforming your pictures from flat 2-D images to something truly out of this world.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Digital image
  • Open Photoshop and pull down the “File” menu, then select “Open.” Browse to a picture on your computer to turn into CGI and double-click the file name so it opens in the Photoshop workspace.

  • Click the “Lasso” tool on the “Tools” palette on the left side of the screen. Draw an outline around an object in the photo, such as a person or an animal. When the blinking dotted line appears, right-click it and select “Layer via Copy.”

  • Pull down the “Image” menu, then choose “Adjust” and “Hue/Saturation.” Move the “Hue” slider bar to the left or right to recolor the selected area something unnatural, such as a pink cat or give a person purple skin. Move the “Saturation” slider bar all the way to the right, which amps up the color depth to a neon, cartoon-like level, then click the “OK” button.

  • Click the “Background” layer on the “Layers” palette on the left side of the screen, then use the “Lasso” tool to outline another area on the image, such as another person. When the blinking lines appear, right-click and select “Layer via Copy” again.

  • Pull down the “Filter” menu, then choose “Stylize” and “Glowing Edges.” Move the “Edge Width” slider bar all the way to the left and the “Edge Brightness” slider bar all the way to the right, then click “OK.” This renders that part of the image as if it is a neon glowing sign, picking up any little edges and brightness.

  • Click back to the “Background” layer again, then click the “Paint Bucket” tool on the “Tools” palette. Double-click the top square of the “Color Picker,” which is the two overlapping colored boxes. Choose a background color, such as blue similar to a blue screen for special effects, then click “OK.” Click the paint bucket onto the picture, which then fills with the color, but doesn’t fill over the top of the two areas you outlined and copied, providing a backdrop.

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