Tastes Like Chicken Part 1

Here’s an entry I submitted to a fark.com contest. If you’re new to photochopping, I think you will find this tutorial helpful. We’re going to explore selections and the “lasso” selection tool. Ok, so here’s the original photograph. Click on it to get a full-size version, and save it to your computer.
chicken barbecue
What can we do with the above photo? Well, we could substitute the chicken leg on the fork with something else.

I found this picture of roasted iguana, but you can use anything you want. We want the finished product to look something like this, depending on what kind of meat or other object you graft on to the picture.iguana barbecue

Ok, fire up your grill, I mean, your Paintshop Pro. At this point, I assume that you basically know Windows and have used Paintshop Pro at least to improve a few photos using the automatic tools, and maybe cropped or put some borders around them. If you have Photoshop or GIMP, I think the concepts are pretty similar, but I don’t know what the menus and command are in those programs.

Load the original picture and the source picture (the one that has the object you want to graft on to the original picture).

Tip: In Chrome and some browsers, unless it’s a pretty large picture, you don’t have to save a picture from your browser to your computer, and then load it from your computer into Paintshop Pro. Instead, in your browser, you can right-click on the picture and select Copy Image from the popup menu. That puts the picture into your computer’s clipboard. Then, in Paintshop Pro, right-click on the picture area or click on the Edit menu and select “Paste as New Image.” If it doesn’t work or you get an error message, it’s probably because the picture is too large for the clipboard.

selection tool

Now that you have your source picture in front of you, we’re going to use one of Paintshop Pro’s selection tools. As the name indicates, the selection tools let you select a portion of an image for further manipulation. If you don’t know where the tools is, here’s a screenshot. There are three kinds of selection tools, and the one we want is Freehand Selection.

When you select the Freehand Selection tools, you get these options.

freehand selection options

Set the options like you see them above, and let’s start selecting. Too much theory is boring! Use your mouse to move to some starting point of your choice of the outer edges of the object you want to select, and click once. Now if you move your mouse, you’ll see that it drags a line along with it.

Move your mouse to some next point on the outer edges of the object and click again. That draws a line between the first and second point. It’s not exactly a straight line; if the object is distinct, the selection tool will try find and adapt itself to the irregularities of the object.

Continue clicking and stretching that line all over the contour of the object you’re selecting. If you want to reposition the last point, hit the Delete key once and click again on a better spot. Each press of the Delete key will delete the last point, all the way back to the start.

When you’ve gone all the way around the object and have reached the first point where you clicked, double-click on that first point. The line you stretched around the object will turn into a line of “marching ants,” also called a “marquee.” That is your selection. As long as that selection is active, with the ants marching around it, most operations you carry out will affect only the selection, not the rest of the picture. So if you press Control-C to copy or select Copy from the Edit menu, only the object you selected will be copied.

Press Control-C to copy what you selected. Now move over to the original picture and, from the Edit menu, select “Paste as New Layer.” You will see the object you selected appear on top and in the center of the original picture.

Now we’re cooking with gas, er, with layers. Don’t be afraid. Turn your attention to the Layers tab, which should be on the right hand side of the screen (by default). It should look like this.

layers tabFor now, check out the eye icons. Clicking on the eye icons will make that layer show or not show. Try it. However, which layer is visible is different from which layer is current. Layers are independent from each other, and the current layer is the one that will be affected by most of your actions. For example, if you draw a selection marquee around an object, but the object’s layer is not the current one, when you copy the selection, the selection will come from current layer, even though it’s not the one with the object you selected! This can be a source of much confusion and frustration, so learn it now. The current layer is the highlighted one, and to make a layer current, just click on it.

You will probably notice that the object in your second layer is not the same size as the chicken leg you’re trying to replace. Keep in mind that resizing to a smaller size doesn’t affect picture quality but resizing to a larger size does, though that can also be an artistic choice.

To resize the object in your second layer, first make sure that layer is selected (it should be, but make sure). Then select Resize from the Image menu. A dialog box full of options will pop up. The dialog box is divided into three sections, the first of which (Print Size) you don’t need to worry about.

In the Advanced Setting section, make sure that —

  • Resample using is checked and set to “Smart Size.”
  • Lock aspect ratio is checked.
  • Resize all layers is checked.

image resize dimensions

In the middle section, Pixel Dimensions, select “Percent” and then an appopriate number to grow or shrink that object in your second layer. If you guess the wrong number, you can press Control-Z to undo the resize operation, or you can just resize again. Note that multiple resizes can affect the quality of your picture.

At this point, you should have your original picture in a layer called “Background,” plus the properly sized object you wish to graft into the picture in a layer called “Raster 1.” You may close the other image, the one from which you took the object, as we won’t need it anymore. Now save the picture you’re working on just in case Paintshop Pro crashes on you or something. Save the file as a PSPIMAGE because that’s the only format that retains all the layers and everything particular to Paintshop Pro.

Now let’s take a break and come back for part II!



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