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Chicago Commercial Photography – Mountain Dew Ad Step by Step

I’ve been slowly working on a collection of commercial art projects over the past few months and felt it was time to share this one with you guys.  When deciding on a product to use, I knew I wanted to do a photograph where the product in question would illuminate in some capacity.  Since I only have three different colored gels for my lights, I wanted to work within this limitation and chose an item based on my options (I know it’s possible to adjust in post, but I’m trying to “shoot it right!” people!). My first thought was to use the orange gel with a Dorito shell taco from Taco Bell, however, the nearest Taco Bell was 7 city miles away and unfortunately, we couldn’t preserve the food long enough to last the car ride home.  Instead, we decided on a bottle of Mountain Dew.  Here are our base images:





Using thetwo images above (and another one for the head), I merged them all together using layer masks and removed my buddy’s arm using clone stamping and content aware fills.  It was amazing how easy this works in Photoshop CS6.  Merging these images is a bit more advanced and will be skipped for the sake of the tutorial, though I do cover clone stamping and content aware a bit later on.   After all of that, we’re left with this photo:

Aside from being a composite and the greenish glow/tint over the face (which was simply added by painting green on a soft light layer), the image above is more or less straight out of camera.   As you can see, it’s a bit weird.  We want to make this a bit more mysterious.  To do so, we started off by loading that image into Adobe Lightroom 4.

Here were the settings:

The resulting image:


So far, the image is coming together quite nicely, but the crop could clearly use some work.  After loading it into Photoshop and doing a normal landscape 6×4 crop, we’re left with this:

To fill in the sides of the photo, we used a simple photoshop tool called “Content-Aware.”  By highlighting the negative space and right clicking “Fill”, you can select Content-Aware from the dropdown menu:

After that finishes, go ahead and do the same on the other side.  Though the results may not be perfect, Content Aware usually does a “pretty okay” job on its own.  To fix the places where Content Aware seems a bit off, simply use the Clone Stamp tool with a very soft brush at 100% opacity/flow.  The final results look like this:


At this point I’m really liking where we’re going but I still want to add a bit of depth to the photo.  That said, I also wanted to further draw people’s attention towards the center product of the image and to do so, I added an Iris Blur filter in Photoshop:

To give the photo a more vintage/mysterious look, textures can go a long way in helping you achieve some really nifty effects.    For this photo, I applied two textures I bought from Phlearn’s texture pack

The first layer creates a foggy/smokey element around the photo while the second adds a nice grain/film feel.  Playing around with Layer Blending Modes can really be helpful when applying textures to an image.  For this, I used Lighten and Soft Light.  After that, I simply saved that JPEG and reloaded it into Lightroom where I lowered the Vibrance by about 10.  The final result:

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Steven Kowalski

About the author

Steven Kowalski: Portrait photographer based in Chicago. Teacher. NYU grad.

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