Star Wars diorama backgrounds
Yes, this is literally "behind the scenes" of the dioramas.  Here's a sort of Photoshop tutorial on how I made the backgrounds.  Many of the images I had I simply found on the web or was able to get a screen capture off the dvd that worked as a clean plate.  However, the images below are ones where I had to remove or alter elements.

I did these out of order, so you can't see my skills improving.  However, there was definitely a progression.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Here I just used the smear tool to paint out the protocol droid.  This is most effective with solid, flat textures.

This was a combination of techniques.  Mostly I pasted approximate pieces over the parts of the wall and floor I needed, then I used the smear tool to blend the rough edges.

How dare this guy wander into the shot!  I covered him with sand and smeared it a bit.

Nothing but the smear tool.  I could have pasted textures over the characters first, but the background is so choppy that it didn't matter.

No, I didn't bother with the guy in the middle of the frame.  I never even noticed him in all the times I've seen this movie, so why bother with him now?

I needed a bit more of the senate chamber, so I pasted portions together.  I never bothered smearing the rough edges out though.

I just smeared out Qui Gon and Darth Maul.

This was a difficult one, so it ended up being fairly rough.  I didn't bother to fine tune it.

This came out better than I expected.  It was done entirely with the smear tool.  Ideally, I should have pasted things first, but I didn't.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

This was the only film of the saga where I didn't have the widescreen edition.  You can always crop things more narrowly, but fullscreen versions leave out elements at the edge of the frame that you might otherwise use.  As a result, I had to stretch things or paste sections together to widen backgrounds.

You'll see more of this in the Geonosis arena scenes, but I had to to paste portions of a panned shot in the Outlander Club on Coruscant.

Same thing here on this extreme pan (it goes more than 180 degrees very fast, hence the blur) around Dexter's Cafe.  I ended up using only a portion of this in the final diorama.

The line of symmetry was too perfect.  I just copied a mirror image of the left side.  I don't think anyone knows the skyline of Coruscant so well that they would notice the buildings are the same on both sides.  It would be easy enough to replace these with the originals, of course (at least in part), but nah.

The only weird thing is the subtle fact that shadows aren't aligned as they should be.  Of course, ILM was notorious for neglecting shadows on CG elements in The Phantom Menace in particular, so big deal.

Another trick is to get a useable shot that has only one actor (or CG double), then wait until he/she/it moves a little further along in the frame. 

In this case, I just copied the exposed area of the set from a different image a few frames later over the area obscured Jango in this portion of the shot.

As always, I used the smear tool to clean up misalignments of the pasted section.

Here's an example where I only needed a portion of the wall texture.  I stole this to use as the background in the war room.  I used the image below for half of that, then created a mirror image for the other half. 

I used the same mirroring technique for the plains of Naboo for the Gungan/droid battle scene. 

I needed a background for this battle.  Again, I just cropped the image where Yoda obscured too much of the (virtual) set to recover or recontruct it, then painted out Dooku.

I knew I needed some clean plates of the arena, so I just took Obi wan out of this one and cropped the Acklay.

In the end, I only used the bottom portion as a plate for the droids (which you'll see are sourced from the next image on this page).

This wasn't bad to begin with, but I decided to widen the scene a bit.  The tunnel in the background gave me some symmetry to work with.  As usual, I used the smear tool to dull the edges.

I then stole some of these droids for the previous manipulation.

This is far from perfect, but it came out better than I expected.  Again, the obscured elements (i.e., the fence and ground) were replaced with pasted sections.  I did some painting on the mountains in the background.  Everything else was smeared.

In hindsight, this would have come out better if I had used the portion of the fence in the middle of the frame.  I have no idea why I didn't.

Copyright 2006 Alexplorer.
Continue to Part II