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I'm creating a promotional flyer in Illustrator for a new product but after inserting the product photo it looks like garbage. I took the photo in raw, edited in Lightroom, removed the background in Photoshop, saved it as a PNG and then drag and dropped into Illustrator. The image file is 12x12" at 300 resolution. I shrank it down to 2x2" on flyer. If you zoom on the image you can see a few spots I missed when removing the background which I will clean up while I wait for a response here (I might ask another question for tips on that process).

So the question is, what can I do to make the bottle look better on the black background? To me, the transparency of the glass is where the issue lies but dropping the opacity ruins the label. I'm not sure if I can accomplish better blending in Illustrator or if I'm going to have to go back into Photoshop to prepare it better. Thank you in advance!

big dripper screengrab

  • Is re-shooting the product out of the question? – user82405 Dec 19 '16 at 16:04
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    Does it have to be a photo? Seems to me like an illustration of the bottle would sit better with the style of the ad. – Westside Dec 19 '16 at 16:05
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    I think a re-shoot with a darker background might be best if possible. The light background coming through the bottle is making this feel a little detached. – zeethreepio Dec 19 '16 at 16:32
  • A re-shoot is not out of the question however I don't have anything on hand to create a black background. I can probably find something dark but not black, do you think that would work? – Trevor Dec 19 '16 at 16:55
  • As far as illustrations go I have never had success creating a realistic glass bottle. Whether I pen tool the whole thing out or use the 3D method it always comes out pretty crappy because the glass and liquid aren't convincing. I haven't been able to find a good tutorial and I know I can't post a request for a walk-through here – Trevor Dec 19 '16 at 16:58
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An old case with no serious answering attempts. But the case isn't impossible.I haven't hires images, so forgive me some coarseness. And also the faded colors of my screenshots.

At first I made a spare copy of the bottle body (glass+label). It was easily separated with the direct selection tool. I separated also the label. It got the first actual fix. Its contrast was boosted with the curves to be in the same leaque with the big background bottom rings:

enter image description here

(not asked, but it would be optimal, if the rings in the label and in the background had the same viewing projection: the photo of the bottle should have been taken differently for it. I bet the label would not be reprinted)

Glass parts need 2 operations: Adaptation to the fact that there's black background and restoring the liquid color which will be lost in the adaptation. For those operations I made 2 copies of the bottle body, one as is and one desaturated to grayscale.

The adaptation is simply to turn some midtones black in the grayscale copy. The gloss must be saved. I tweaked the curve until an acceptable one was found. It has only one fault: It introduces some light grey at the top and bottom edges of the label. The primary cause is the not well defined border of the label. There was some dark left out. I'll fix them later:

enter image description here

The colored version was placed above the grey version with blending mode color. The remaining grey parts in the blackened body really catch some color.

enter image description here

The light grey stripes at the edges of the label are covered by making with the polygonal lasso tool a selection. In the label only layer some black of the label was stretched with the smudge brush over the grey. The edges of the label are essentially shifted few pixels. The selection defined the new edge.

enter image description here

Still 2 fixes: 1)The logo in the label is too faded. A copy was taken from the big version and placed onto the old one as new layer. It was warped very slightly to make it sit better on the curved surface. 2)There were some artefacts in the background at the shoulders of the bottle. They are painted black.

enter image description here

The cap was unfixable in this resolution. It has some 1 px wide white crap at the edges, probably caused by the original background removal. I let it be as is.

There's another method, which is more general than inverting the midtones of the glass. It's tried here.

enter image description here

Label needs the same fix as before (no logo warping). The cap is also marginally better now. It's taken actually from another image. It needs own layer. But the main trick, fixing the glass is very different.

Fixing the glass:

  • insert a layer mask to the bottle body layer, fill the mask with white
  • copy the bottle body to the clipboard
  • paste in place the bottle body to the layer mask. You get the mask onscreen by holding Alt and clicking the mask icon in the layers panel.The image returns to the screen when you click the image icon.
  • watch the image and at the same time apply curves to the layer mask. Invert it and make it steep. See my screenshot. The glass fades partially.

This method can be used also for other background colors than black. It's independent of the background.

If the background isn't black, it should be distorted heavily because the glass works like a bizarre lens. The bottle also affects the light on the background. These things are discussed here:

Photoshop: How to make shadow more realistic

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