Step-by-Step: UO Volleyball

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but I’ve had a few questions about how I created the UO Volleyball posters from this past year. The process is fairly easy but it was a matter of getting the right assets upfront (mainly the silhouette) to pull off the look. Let’s dive in.

Step 1: RAW Image


Here is part of the RAW image used for the silhouette. I’m just dissecting the image from the layers so this is already in the crop and because of that we are losing some of the top and bottom of the image (but nothing important) and have a bunch of blank space to the left and right. Just as a note, since this image has a pure white background I added the black outline just for this so you can see where the frame starts and ends.

The initial concept was to let each girl have their own silhouette for what they were best known for (serving, spiking, setting, digging, etc.) but we really fell in love with this image and it made placing the portraits in later much simpler.


Step 2: Cutout


This is where we are taking the silhouette and knocking it out from the background. The white paper did a decent job (you can see some slight grey around the edges) but she jumped a lot higher than I was planning so I had to cut out her arm by hand.


Step 3: Silhouette Cleanup


Now we’ve fixed the image so it’s completely on white and I’ve darkened some areas of the silhouette. You will notice if you look at her legs you can still see some detail because it’s not completely black. That’s totally something I could have easily removed but in the final product I think it adds something. It gives it the feel that it’s two images and not just an image and some sort of illustrated file.


Step 4: Adding Text


The branding is something that is 99.9% of the time controlled by the University of Oregon on our projects. This is the .1%. Because the image incorporates the text so much I was in charge of placing it (of course with directions from the client) to streamline the process. It’s basically three different layers for “Fast” “&” “Fearless” so I could place them individually and size them accordingly.


Step 5: Adding the Portrait


One thing that’s not covered in this step-by-step is the process behind editing the portraits. That’s something that will have to left for another day. I actually shot all the portraits on white and had to edit them to be on black (you’ll find out why in the next step). It’s not a huge problem but it would have made my life a whole lot easier if I just shot it on a black background.


Step 6: Blending


This is where it all starts to come together and it’s actually really simple. If you’re not using blend modes (or don’t know them very well) you should definitely study up. I use them ALL the time on my images and don’t know if I could live without them. The trick here is to use a screen blend mode. What this does is drops out all of the pure black in the image (thus why I needed the image on black as mentioned in the last step) and just leaves behind everything else. And, since we are blending this with an image that has a ton of white it’s not going to blend there it’s going to blend with the black. There are definitely other ways to do this like creating a layer mask which would be super easy but I think that takes probably 4 or 5 steps where this takes one. Also, getting back to blend modes, you can do the exact opposite of screen with multiply. So, if you ever need to get rid of pure white in your image use multiply.


Step 7: Lens Flares


This is really just to make the image stand out a bit more. It looks a little flat and boring with so much black and white in the previous image so I wanted to add a little color to help the letters pop. Once again, using a screen blend mode I dropped in some lens flares that I have and just added them to the edges of the image.


Step 8: Final Touches


Here, I’m just adding a little bit more contrast and then some grain to give it a little texture (especially in the areas with the flare). And that’s really all there is to it. It was then sent off to the University where they add additional branding but this image was pretty much done by the time I sent it to them.

I know it’s hard to compare the images with them being in a long line so here’s a little gif to show you the steps in the process:



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