Virtual pot selection
By Will Heath, USA
Bonsai by Nick Keren. New pot by Sarah Rayner.
In this tutorial I will show how I use Adobe Photoshop to help in choosing possible future pots for bonsai. I have found that by using Photoshop to virtually change the pot, the selection process is much easier as I can actually "see" the bonsai in the new pot before I purchase it. Virtually selecting a pot also helps me to avoid the "oh oh" moments that sometimes come once the bonsai is potted and you realize that it just doesn’t work with the new pot.
In the first screen shot, I have loaded the original image of the bonsai that needs a new pot.
Before I start, I first rotate the canvas by 2 degrees counter clockwise to correct a slightly tilted photograph and by doing so the formal upright is once again perfectly vertical. This will allow me to better judge the pot at the correct planting angle.
After the rotation the bonsai is once again perfectly vertical. We will correct the now uneven white areas bordering the picture later.
I load in the picture of the pot that is being considered, a Sarah Rayner creation, and roughly outline it with the “lasso tool.”
I then copy and paste the pot onto the bonsai. Oops, the pot appears much too big in the picture; I drag the layer with the pot into the trash. Pots are usually photographed from closer than bonsai are, as a result, pots will often appear out of proportion with the bonsai unless we resize them. A trick I have learned is to tape two chop sticks together so that their total length is the same as the pot you are considering. Place these chopsticks at the base of your current pot when taking the picture for the virtual. Resize the picture of the pot so that it is the same size as the chopsticks, this gives you an actual match from pot to bonsai. Once the new pot is pasted on, the chopsticks will be hidden.
I go back to the picture of the pot and resize the image to 40% of the original size.
I use the "lasso tool" again to roughly select the pot, copy and paste it onto the bonsai. I then use the “move tool” to position the pot where I want it.
Now, using the "zoom tool" I bring the pot and the surrounding area up to a workable size. This magnification may bring parts of the image slightly out of focus, but it is necessary at this point. The picture will remain sharp when brought back to the original size later. At this time I also close out the picture of the pot, which is no longer needed.
I select the "eraser tool" and then I select a size 5 eraser for the next step.
Using the eraser tool, I carefully erase the area around the pot that is not part of the actual pot. If I make a mistake and erase a part of the pot, I can go to the "edit tab" and undo my last step. On later versions of Photoshop, I can "step backwards" as far as I need to. Since the pot was pasted on top of the existing photo it is a separate layer and the eraser will only erase this new layer.
Now that the areas around the pot have been erased, you can see that parts of the old pot are visible and the soil/moss doesn’t quite match up with the new pot. We will take care of these distractions next.
Now that I am happy with the pot and the placement, and all unwanted areas have been erased, I will flatten the layers together in order to do some final work on the picture.
I’ll start touching up by using the "clone stamp tool" and select an area of the table by holding down the "Alt key" while clicking on the area I wish to clone and then start cloning directly above it, moving from left to right.
I use the "cloning tool" also on the back edges of the old pot. This time I select an area directly to the side of the area I wish to cover and then clone over the parts I do not want. At this time I’ll also clone over the ground cover and bevel it down more naturally.
Now I’ll use the "clone tool" once again but this time I will select the ground cover and use the tool to add more ground cover out to the edges of the new pot.
I bring the picture back to its actual size (100%) and using the "rectangular marquee tool" I select an area that does not include any of the white area created when I rotated the image.
I then crop the photo, leaving the finished picture with the new pot.
For a side-by-side comparison picture I adjust the canvas size to twice its current width.
I then select the picture using the "rectangular marquee tool" and cut it and re-paste it. This now allows me to move it to the far right side of the canvas with the "move tool."
I then open the original photo of the bonsai in its current pot and select all from the select tab.
I then cut it and close out the now empty canvas it was on. I paste it onto the canvas with the other picture and use the move tool to bring it just a bit away from the other picture. Flatten the layers and save the side by side comparison.