When you take a picture, you can make adjustments to take advantage of all the features of your device. Thus, to create a speed effect, you simply need to browse through the settings of the device and quite easily obtain a speed illusion. But that’s if you are skilled enough in adjusting the device. For most mortals, it’s with Photoshop that we manage to do the editing. And that’s good because in this article, I’ll show you how to easily create a speed effect by cleverly choosing the right tools in this software.
First step: Choose your image
First, it should be noted that it’s not possible to add a speed effect on every image. For example, an image with a very homogeneous background (whether in colour or element) is not ideal for creating a speed effect. We might get a totally “Photoshoped” photo.
On the other hand, an image with many details that revolve around the main element can be transformed into a realistic photo by carefully applying a speed effect. So be smart in choosing your picture.
Second step: Apply a blurry effect
Let’s start by opening Photoshop, then go to “file” and “open”. While going through our collection of images, we opted for a picture of athletes captured while doing water jumps in a steeplechase.
At the risk of losing or damaging our photo completely during all touch ups, let’s take some precautions, and start by duplicating the layer. To do this, in the menu bar at the top, click on “layer”, then on “duplicate layer”.
It is on the first layer that we will apply the blur effect. But why creating the blur effect? Because it gives an impression of speed, of course only if you isolate perfectly the main subject of the image. So, still in the menu bar, click on “filter” and then on the “blur” effect. You will then have a long list of blurry effects. Depending on the layout of the main element in the image, you need to choose an appropriate blur effect. In our case, we chose the “directional blur”, because apart from being the ideal option to create a speed effect, it corresponds well to the characteristics of our image: the subjects are moving in a precise direction.
A dialog box opens so that you can adjust the angle and distance of the blur, and where you can also preview the changes. By adjusting the angle, we can accentuate the movement direction of the main element. The distance is measured in pixels and is used to adjust the intensity of the blur. We will increase these pixels to get a blur effect appropriate to our image (80 pixels is perfect).
In case you want to know more on the subject, Adobe has written a good and clear article on the effects of blur. To discover here.
Third step: Create a merge mask
The merge mask is very useful for creating a speed effect as well as for other types of retouching. To create it, you have to select the layer on which you want to apply it. Then click on the icon “add a fusion mask”, symbolized by a small gray rectangle with a small circle inside (located at the bottom of the layer pallet).
Now to proceed, click on “Merge mask” represented by a white thumbnail, next to the standard layer in the Layer pallet. When you click on it, it will be framed, indicating that the merge mask is active.
Step four: Create a speed effect
With the mask still active, select the brush and choose a colour at the bottom of the toolbox (white or black). By selecting the white, we will work on the foreground and selecting the black, we will work on the background. Basically, the game of black and white colours conceals and reveals the pixels of the image (the black erases and the white restores). To improve the effectiveness of the brush, just right click and adjust its thickness and hardness.
To create the speed effect on our athlete photo, we will clear up the blur on the body part of the main element (the athlete in the foreground). Using the brush, you must play on its opacity to avoid sudden changes. Initially, we start with a 100% opacity. Arriving on the “edges” of the subject, we will reduce this opacity to refine the speed effect. To create a perfect speed effect, you have to decrease till 41%.
We will also clear the part which is in front of the athlete and the splashing water around his feet and still leave some blur, especially on the edges of the back, arm, elbows and leg. Be meticulous about this process of lightening, because creating a speed effect differs from one image to another.
Note that having a real image quality is not only steps in Photoshop, but also good judgment and appreciation on the user’s part. The user can get a preview of the change by clicking on the eye tab next to the layer where we applied the blur. If one finds something wrong with this overview, one can always improve the image until one gets a great result.
Nevertheless, creating a speed effect is not just about retouching steps, but also exploring other options that can enhance the quality of the image. For example, it may happen that the colours of the image appear distorted, losing intensity or, on the contrary, becoming too bright. So you need to be careful and especially get in the habit of working with a calibrated screen. In our case, we can continue, but we can still duplicate our image a second time. In the options bar, we chose the “product” option as the merging mode.
We have also decreased the opacity of the layer and here is the result.
Once satisfied with the final result, all you have to do is save the changes. So, in “File”, click on “Save as”, and choose the type of Jpeg file, and end with “OK”. And that’s it, you have successfully created your speed effect!
>See also: Hiboutik, a good 3-in-1 POS software