Change the World (with Photoshop)

Since my post on “Looks Good on Paper, Not So Much in Real Life” got a great response, I thought I’d do a follow-on post with a slight twist. This time I’m focusing on the use of Photoshop to not only improve, but to completely change reality. Some of you might remember the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, where a pretty but otherwise ordinary woman is transformed into a stunning beauty in a video called Evolution. I’d say that’s perhaps a somewhat wicked and misleading use of Photoshop skills. I prefer to use my powers for helping others.

In my own work, Photoshop is an extremely useful tool to not only “clean-up” photographs and make them more attractive, but also to showcases possibilities of design not yet realized. Helping clients visualize what something can look like through photo editing is a tremendous time saver. There are other ways to show clients possibilities including hand sketches or photo-realistic computer renderings. But both take considerable time and clients typically prefer to focus their budget on furnishings and fittings and not as much on the proposal. So, there are three examples to follow.

In this first shot, I show the photograph from the “Looks Good” post and right below it I show a modified version. In the modified image I’ve added a carpet, an outdoor scene and texture on the couch fabric. I’ve also altered the colors of the window, tree, flowers, throw, table, chair, table and ottoman. Personally I think the second image has a bit more character, but since the original design is someone else’s, I’ll give them most of the credit.

In this second set of images (below), I show how a design proposal progresses using only three snapshots given to me by a client. In the first frame (Original 3 Separate Photos) you see a portion of each of the three original snapshots that were emailed to me. Using software as well as my own touches, I combined them into a composite image (3 Photos Stitched) which required compensating for the original camera lens distortion as well as correcting for proper perspective. I then proceeded to correct the color and exposure (Color/Exposure Corrected) to make the image appear more natural and properly exposed. So the third shot is basically the “Before Shot”

In the fourth frame (Clutter Eliminated), I use a variety of editing tools, layering of new objects, painting in light and shadows and finally cloning to remove all of the extraneous objects, reproduce the flooring on the right side of the room and recreate some of the moldings. I’ve also cleaned up the reflection in the mirror.

The fifth frame (Cabinetry Added) is where the design starts. The client had asked for new storage to be added and I proposed a closet to the right of the fireplace and cabinets and shelving to the left. Both additions were in harmony to the existing style of the room and required very little alteration or construction.

In the final frame (Fireplace Removed Add Light/Mirror) I decided to finish the design with a proposal to box in the existing fireplace (which was non-functional and wasn’t wanted by the client), add the light fixture (a favorite of the client), put in the large mirror (which since this is a bedroom, was functional and matched the style of the existing bed frame) and close the door. In a few short steps I was able to realize the combined desire of my client and my own proposed design.

In my last example the client wanted more privacy between his home and the neighbors. This is a good example of how a Photoshop proposal can be quite similar to the as-built result or vice versa. In this case the client was sold on the screen as he could easily and quickly grasp the design and how it would look.

So as you can see, with the proper tools and minimal effort, designs can be quickly altered or even created on the fly. For those considering renovation or even a few changes to your home this is a great first step in the process.

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