In this article, we’ll see how to stretch pixels around images in Photoshop. As we know, Photoshop is great when you work with images, but still, images are not that impressive when you want to get a sense of movement. Here’s a way to make people look like they’re moving fast without using ugly blurring techniques.
Table of Contents
Steps to Stretch Pixels around Image in Photoshop
- Choose your image
- Duplicate and Extrude
- Select a vertical area
- Stretch the extrusion
- Deform the extrusion;
- Set the warp
- Mask the extrusion
- Add Some Shade
- Put the twist in the shade
- Add a Glow
- Add a background
Now let’s take a closer look at this
How to stretch pixels around image in Photoshop
1: Choose your image
For this technique to work, you need an image with no loose parts on the trailing edge. If we assume an image of a man holding a briefcase in his hand, and if there is a gap between the man’s arm and his body, the image would make no sense because the extrusion looks wrong. Make sure the figure is a crop, in your layer.
2: Duplicate and Extrude
Duplicate the figure layer, select all, then switch to the Move tool and hold down Option or Alt while pushing one pixel to the left or right (depending on the direction of travel) with the cursor key on your keyboard. You can first move the figure to the left and then to the right. Hold down the cursor key, as well as the Option or Alt key, and you will gradually produce a long trail of pixels. Continue until you have a clear vertical area of extruded pixels.
3: Select a vertical area
Use the bounding box to make a vertical selection with pixels extruded downward. Then invert the selection (Select > Invert) and delete everything else. You will end up with a long column of pixels.
4: Stretch the extrusion
Reveal the original layer and move the extruded column behind it. Then use Free Transform to scale the extrusion horizontally: with recent versions of Photoshop, you’ll need to hold down Shift while doing this to avoid scaling it evenly.
5: Deform the extrusion;
Use Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object on the extrusion layer so you can edit your transformation later if needed. Go to Free Transform mode again and click the Warp button on the toolbar. Then drag the top left corner down and the bottom right corner up to rotate the layer into an overlapping formation. Adjust the warp handles as needed to get a nice shape.
6: Set the warp
If you discovered in the previous step that some extrusion elements were not aligned. If you’re using the latest version of Photoshop CC, you can hold down the Option or Alt key and click Warp to add new anchor points so you can selectively move regions.
7: Mask the extrusion
Add a layer mask to the extrusion and paint black over the area projecting. (You can’t delete them because you’re working with a smart object.)
8: Add some shade
Create a new layer above the extrusion layer, set the Blending Mode to Multiply, and create a Clipping Mask with the extrusion layer (hold Option or Alt and click between the two layers in the Layers panel). Try a green color of the image and use a large soft brush set at about 20% Opacity to gradually build up the shadow behind the figure.
9: Put the twist in the shade
With the Pen tool, set the Path mode, and draw a selection along the edge of the rotating part of the extrusion layer. Then on the shadow layer here, paint shadows to add a three-dimensional quality to the track.
10: Add a Glow
Create another new layer, set the blending mode to Hard Light, and again use the extrusion layer as a clipping mask. Try a light green color for the image and paint a glow on the folded area to add interest.
11: Add a background
The image of the man looks much more convincing as he runs down a street. Slightly lower the opacity of the extrusion layer – about 90% works fine – and add a light shadow to the ground below.