THE ILLUSION OF IMAGES WRAPPED
IN BACKGROUND COLORS
Usually, when you take a colorful BG to IM and use Composite/Bumpmap or Multiply on an image with a black or dark background, the background is once again black with the main image showing through with what ever colors or patterns it picked up from the background image. I did this with one image and not impressed with the result, decided to experiment with Displace. This page is the happy result of playing around with Comp/Difference, Comp/Displace and Comp/Bumpmap, in that basic order. This process gives the appearance of the background having wrapped itself around the image. The variations I sometimes use on the 3 composite options will be shown and discussed on this page.
The results may vary slightly depending on which IM you use.
It seems to work best with images that have somewhat large subjects, such as a face, with a black or dark colored BG. For adding color to black and white photos, this method is pretty WOW!
Using this great photograph of Lady Day, here is a sequence from the first time I stumbled on to this and found how amazing using Displace can be.
Resized Back #1
I first took in the above BG.
I rather liked the Comp/Dif (#1), and thought I'd Bumpmap it, figuring it would darken the background, but the result was totally boring (#2). Comp/Multiply was only a little better (#3).
That's when I decided to try Displace to see if it would mix up the colors a bit. It came out so distorted that not even Comp/Bumpmap brought it back to something I liked. So I tried it again, but this time I typed 180 in the Rotate box. I was so pleasantly surprised by the result, I didn't even notice she was now 2 headed (#4 below, look closely at her neck).
Next I used Comp/Bumpmap, only I forgot to take the 180° out of the Rotate box. What a great mistake! Now all I had to do was Flip it so it would look right-side-up (#5). This was when I decided to pursue the possibilities of this "Color Wrapped image" idea to make sure it wasn't just a fluke.
Comp/Displace, Rotate 180°
Comp/Displace, Rotate 180°
Comp/Bumpmap, Rotate 180°
Changing the BG with Flop & Comp
The only thing I didn't like about #5 was the shoulder that didn't look "Color Wrapped" so I flopped the BG and Comp/Diffed it with itself, resized it to use the upper half of the BG and tried again. The bottom of the BG ended up so busy that Rotate 180° was not an option, but the BG was changed enough that Displace 0° and then Bumpmap 0° looked pretty great (see 6 & 7).
I tried this with a couple of other B&W images and the same BG with great results, so now it was time to try a different BG. I went through quite a few disappointments until I came across this paisley fractal.
Resized Back #2
Comp/Displace, Rotate 180°
Comp/Displace, Rotate 180°
I really like the way the paisley came out. However, this time Comp/Dif. left her looking washed out so I tried Comp/Difference twice and then Displace (#8). Wow! Then Comp/Bumpmap (#9), I'm quite impressed with both of them!
Using Composite/Difference twice is also useful if comping with a bg with black areas because when you comp/dif the first time, those areas look just like the original B&W photo. Comp/Diffing a second time should remedy that.
The next example I've included because it's an exception to everything I've just written. It's a good example of how it does not always work. Using Displace with this beautiful photo titled "Lucy" and whatever BG, just reacts totally weird. I had similar problems with a photo that had a shadow on the forehead from a tuft of hair. It ended up looking like a huge growth on one side of the face.
On the first result I used BG #1. Displace made her look like she has a major double chin which I thought I could eliminate by trying Comp/Dif, Displace 180° and Bump 180°. Wrong! She ends up with one of those lovely bracelets right in the middle of her face. I also tried Displace, Rotate 20° and then Rotate 355°. They both eliminated the double chin but her hands looked like clubs
The 2nd result looks like she's removing her face or a mask. It was done with this BG.
Gamma 1.1 (to lighten)
First let me say that I only stumbled onto this a short time ago and here I am already trying to explain it. What follows is what I think I know.
The basics are just 3 steps- Composite Dif, Displace & Bump.
Thus far the variations I have used to the basic steps are:
STEP 1. Whether to Comp/Dif once or twice.
STEP 2. Comp/Displace at 0°, 180° or something one side or the other.
STEP 3. Whether to Bumpmap at 0°; or at 180° and then Flip it..
a.) Sometimes I use Bumpmap twice to help clean up the distortion of Displace.
b.) Using Gamma or Brightness to lighten or darken.
I'm sure there are a lot more possibilities I haven't gotten around to trying. A couple of times when I wanted the Displace to be more flowing I used a -90 Swirl before Bumpmaping.
These variations and any others you come up with are worth trying if the results just aren't interesting enough.
That's when I go back and try 180° on the Displace to see if that makes cooler color patterns. Then if the colors and/or patterns are more interesting in the top half, I try Bumpmap 0°, If it looks better at the bottom, I try Bumpmap 180° and then Flip it so it looks right side up.
Sometimes after using 180° on both Bump & Displace the upside-down result looks like a whole lot of nothing. Flip it and have a look anyway. You may be happily surprised.
I can't express enough that for the best results the importance of mega contrast, ie. a DARK background with a LIGHT subject (unless of course you want to have the background looked color wrapped and the central subject a silhouette).
Since my initial sucesses I've found that very few BGs work well with this process. It takes a lot of trial and error, but when you find one that works it's worth it. Of all the BGs I've tried, so far only a few are producing the quality I seek. BG #1 and #2 on this page seem to work without fail as long as the main image is large and somewhat smooth. I find faces and nudes work best. I will post the BG URLs at the bottom of this page so you can use them to see this actually works before you go looking for that one background in 20 that makes magic.
The criteria for a good BG seems to be one that's not too busy, but enough going on to be interesting. BGs with light areas don't seem to do well with B&W, but may work with color images.
Here are some BGs I've had success with. Cropped portions of them or flop and comping them with themselves works too. Once I find one that really works, it's well worth trying it Rotated Left or Right or Flipped to see what else it produces. Also try Equalize or Hue to alter coloration before comping. The image at the top of the page is identical to #5 except the BG was Hued at 160.
BG #1a, (cropped from #1)
BG #1aa, (cropped from #1a)
Use them if you want to experiment
Lastly, I have a couple examples using colored images
I used BG #1a. Comp/Dif, Displace 180°, Bump 180°, Flip
During my image search for this process, I found this great site for portraits of famous people through the ages. You can pick a date or a letter of the alphabet. Here's Ingrid's daughter, Isabella.
I am working on a page with more examples which can be viewed here.
Related Pages...More ways to get weird at IM
...but first, the fine print
Warning: My tutorials are experimental works in progress. I will add to them as I learn more about the combinations of effects I am trying to describe and try to refine my techniques and explanations, There are two other factors that are important here.
1. All images are NOT created equal. What works with one, may not work with another.
2. Things change at Image Magick from time to time, sometimes radically. I try to keep these pages updated.
Color Wrapping Images
Enhancing Gray Shade (Emboss)
remove interior areas
Making BGs at IM
for Classic and Plus units