"Pele" is a sport photo illustration using mostly basic skills so I decided to share this is a detailed case study which I will not only show the steps of how it was done, but I also wrote what was exactly done in each and every step so you can watch and learn a bit.

To see more of my work visit my behance gallery www.behance.net/paul0v2 (For tutorials and case study suggestions contact me at paulo.abduzeedo@gmail.com)
Pele is a collab I did with the photographer Sam Robles, he contacted me with a couple photos of this soccer player that reminds of the king Pele and what we had in mind is pretty much what we got as a result, place him on a field and make it look realistic and hot at the same time, and this is what I got. For more from Sam Robles visit samrobles.com and behance.net/Sam_Robles

view Pele on behance

CASE STUDY

Here you will be able to see the steps I took to get to the final result, the image started with the soccer player photo by Sam Robles, the others are stock photos I had to keep the quality so i went with the best place ShutterStock.

01 - First thing I did was to select the player out of his photo, I used a pen tool on this case. This is a very important step to your work, if you don't do this right it will bite you back at the end so take you time and make sure you get a good selection. I took me about an hour to get that in case you wondering.

02 - Now I place the stadium photo on the background, somewhere around the middle because I still have the sky and the grass to fit in.

03 - Since I first seen the stadium photo I noticed the grass was not exactly what I wanted that's why I grabbed another photo with better grass and here you can see the difference.

04 - Placing the sky now, I could go with something blue and nice but the final look that I had in mind was kinda dark so I decided to go with a nice cloudy sky.

05 - Now that I have almost everything in place it's time to work a bit on the illumination so I can make these photos look more like one. Starting with the grass, I create a layer over it and with the Gradient Tool and the color black I create a shade around the grass to make it look like it belongs there.

06 - The same step I did with the grass I repeat on the sky, getting it a little darker.

07 - Time to fix the stadium light now, this one is a little trickier because I want to make the right side a lot lighter than the left one so it looks like the light is the same way as it is on the player, to get that done I used the technique I taught here (Manipulation Basics: Illumination and Coloration)

08 - Now that I correct a little bit in every photo the image is starting to look better, to give a whole better look to it I decided to add a crowd there, it takes a bit of patience but it's not hard to do, I used the pen tool to select the empty spaces and placed the crowd photo in there, re-sized to look real and added a darker shade on the edges so it blends in well as you can see.

09 - The scenario already got everything I wanted, time to make it look even more real so I replace the soccer ball with new and better looking one. Also added shadow of the player (following the light direction on his body) and a little shade under his foot and the ball so they won't look like they are flying. I also created a new layer to add some light around the player so that area stay lighter than the others to bring more attention to that area.

10 - This step was essential for my image to have that look it had in the end. I saved the image as it was and using Adobe Lightroom I made the image look somewhere like an overdone fake hdr photo, saved as a .jpg and placed it back on top of all the layers, I reduced the Opacity a bit so the over all look wasn't too overdone and this kinda worked as a texture.

11 - Now on top of that I create a couple layers to fix the lights, this time more like an overall instead of each photo separate. I put some light coming from the top left, also add light to the stadium and got the grass a little darker.

12 - My last steps were to give more shadow around the player since I put light on the stadium the shadow usually goes 4 ways so I did that but still left that main shadow darker because the light on the player was on that direction. The last thing I did was add the color, I did that by adding a layer desaturating the whole image a little bit and another layer on top with the final color I wanted to apply on the image.

I hope everyone like this case study and remember if you want you results to come out good always pay attention to details.

About the author of this post

My name is Paulo Canabarro, I'm a passionate freelance web designer paulocanabarro.com and enthusiastic blogger here at abduzeedo. Catch me designing Wordpress Themes. Say hello on twitter @paul0v2.