Manual Stitching Technique I use for difficult stitches

OK…here goes for my first on line Tutorial!

Toneman asked me how I go about stitching difficult water based stithces that don’t have enough detail in them to blend in PT Gui and the likes.

I have developed a technique that works, but is a little time consuming, but with a little practise it certainly produces the results and often better than using PT Gui!

I start with a new file in Photoshop that I make much larger than what I expect the overall size of the image to be…say 20,000 pixels x 5,000 pixels at 300 dpi.

I then do all of the pre processing in Camera RAW (or in Lightroom I guess if that is your gig), but an important step here is to ensure that each of your images you are about to stitch have very straight horizons, or it will make the next phase very difficult.

Save each of these images onto your desktop as TIFF’s and then pull in the first and most left hand image straight onto the new file you have created. Note, don’t bother going through photoshop…just pull it straight in and it will come in as a smart object. Get it close to where you want and then push enter and it will become a new layer.

Then pull in the next image and align it as close as you can whilst its a smart object. Hit enter and get the alignment right by reducing down the opacity a little to assist you with the alignment. Create a mask after you have the alignment right and then with your soft brush at 100 % opacity and the foreground opposite to the mask, blend in the join. If you go too far to the right, change the foreground colour to white and bring it back.

Make sure you get this blend right and then repeat the process for each of the stitches until you have a complete stitch.

Note also here, that if you have a lot of wave movement sometimes it is cool to bring your opacity back to 30% and experiment with painting in and out from the different wave movements from each of the shots.

Once you think you have everything aligned I look at the stitch at 50% to see how the horizon is. Sometimes there will be a couple of gitches so what you can do at this stage is to flatten the image and then repull in the best image to fixe the glitch as a smart object..align it to cover up the glitch…create a mask and then rub in just the horizon to fix your problem..far better than trying to clone!

When it is all good then flatten, crop and process as you would your normal newly formed stitch.

Vola…that is my technique…somewhat cumbersome, but it has now saved many a stitch for me that would have been bin models if I was relying on the automatic stitching software and I feel that this technique is also easier than trying to manually put in control points as well!

~ by True North Mark on October 4, 2010.

8 Responses to “Manual Stitching Technique I use for difficult stitches”

  1. Good stuff Mark!
    The difference blend mode could help you when lining up the images rather than dropping back the opacity…things that are ligned up with that blend mode go black, so you can tell when you have things lined up perfectly

  2. Great to read your technique here Mark – I also have to revert to manual stitching a bit too, but do them with a different technique in PS, so next time I have a water/problem stitch I’ll definitely give this method of yours a go.
    tone 🙂

  3. Thanks for that mate, will give it a go if I run into a stitch I can’t get PTgui to do.

    One questions, I would presume this sort of technique would require a stitch shot at 50mm or above so there’s very little to no barrel distortion? A stitch at 20mm would be impossible to stitch this way no? Requiring a lot of warping that PTgui can do but which is impossible to do manually. Well, I guess if you overlap 50-60% it may work.

    Ta for sharing!

    • Indeed Bomontaruny!

      50mm stitches only!



      • Could get the skew an distort tools out and thn tweak it until you get all black with difference blend mode. Be a lot of work though I rekon haha

      • Indeed..don’t think I wanna go there Matty!



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