Create a movie-style action scene

Seeing is believing - even if what we're seeing isn't exactly what was photographed in real life. In many movies a shot is augmented with hundreds of digitally manipulated elements: wires holding up props are removed, unwanted buildings are painted out, explosions are added, and bland skies are replaced with dramatic cloudscapes. Blockbusters like Enemy At The Gate required piles of PCs and armies of technicians to bring spectacular action sequences to life in a photo-realistic way.

We bring the special effects battle to our desktops by unleashing Photoshop's powerful tools on our source image. The photo was taken on a trip to the Hendon Air Museum. (Our would-be movie star is my little brother John, who posed in front of two genuine Spitfires.) We use the Paths tool combined with layer masks to replace the image's dull suburban background with something more dramatic. The new elements were created in Maya, a 3D package embraced by many of Hollywood's Digital Artisans.

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