Witty Wings 1/400 Airbus, against a sky background

Just recently I was passed a couple of small 1:400 airliner models from Witty Wings, and they included this Airbus.  In this smaller scale they are much smaller to my usual aircraft collection but I have been really impressed with the quality and detail they managed to get into these small models.

At the same time, I thought it might make a good opportunity to have a go at answering a question I have had from time to time over adding real backgrounds to model photographs.  Not what I'd call a 'professional' finish but something we can do for fun, for our own enjoyment, and do relatively quickly.  So here is a very brief explanation of how to go about it, and the album below shows the major stages in the process, along with the original pictures I took of the Airbus itself, one of which I then used for this exercise.

You need some picture editing software such as Paint Shop Pro, which is the one I use, though there are many others.  There is Photoshop Essentials which will do it, without the high expense of professional packages such as the full Photoshop package.  Basically you need to be able to work with Layers and to be able to resize the pictures.

I started with a generic photo of the sky and saved a copy under a new name (so the original is available to use again) as a 'background layer', resized for this example to a width of 1024 pixels.

Next I resized the photo of the airliner (a separate file at this stage).  Then 'Copy' and 'Paste as new layer' on top of the sky.

Next step is to use the erasor tool on this front layer.  Used at a fairly wide diameter tool, simply erase the background of the photo of the airliner that forms the top layer.  That reveals the sky underneath.  Just be careful at this stage not to go too near the edges of the image of the aircraft itself, so you don't accidentally rub out a piece you want to leave.

That gets the bulk done, then switch to a much smaller cursor tool, about 3 pixels wide, and zoom in very close.  Then very carefully, continue the same basic process but be careful, following round the edges of the aircraft.  This also gets rid of the stand that was seen in the original picture.  This will take you some time and practice, along with a steady hand.  If you make a mistake, select the 'Undo' function and go back to the last point where it was OK and have another go.

There are other tools, such as masks, which can be used, but this is a really basic way which I think many might like to have a go with.  Best to 'Save' the file at regular intervals, not so much to redo then if you make a mess of things.  When you are happy with it, save under a new file name, leaving the originals for further use at a later date.

That's a very quick expanation of how to go about it, and I hope that might prompt some readers to have a go and have a bit of fun.  The photos below show the main stages.