A step-by-step guide
This technique is performed in Adobe Photoshop CC (2015.5) and is relatively straight forward.
The tricky piece is really selecting the right image to start with. Ideally you need an elevated view point, as if you were looking down on a model village, or diorama. So a shot from a Ferris wheel, or a hike up a tower, anywhere you look down upon a subject. I think aerial photography will allow you to capture images that suit this affect. The one thing to be aware of is the sky, and clouds. An image with clouds doesn’t work really.
In my example I have picked a shot taken with a DSLR, however it will work perfectly well with a shot captured on a smartphone or compact camera.
So once you selected you image, and here’s mine, we are good to go.
Open Photoshop and load you image
I always work with layers so I start by duplicating the background layer with a CTRL-J on my PC.
This will create Layer 1.
On Layer 1 you will need to apply a filter. That filter will be the tilt-shift... from the blur gallery.
Reposition the focal point to the focal point of your scene, in this case it is the house. You can change the bands to alter the periphery blurring as appropriate to get the desired effect for your image, then click okay.
Duplicate your Layer 1, and you will end up with Layer 1 copy. With our filtered image we are going apply two adjustment layers.
Firstly, one to adjust the contrast, I prefer the curves tool to perform this.
In my example we have dragged the bottom left point to meet the histogram, and then just selected a point on the left of the line and pulled that down. A further point near the centre of the histogram is also selected and returned to the line. In this example we have created a very shallow ‘S’ curve.
The second adjustment layer will be to adjust the vibrancy & saturation.
You will want to increase both values, in my example I have increased the vibrance by 50, and the saturation by 20. Start with these values and adjust as necessary.
Now you can stop here.
But I like to sharpen the image. If you want to give that a try, then follow me…
There are many ways to sharpen your image, Smart Sharpen, Unsharp Mask etc – just check out the options under Filter -> Sharpen. However, my choice is to use the High Pass filter.
So I start with creating another layer. Either Layer 1 or it’s copy will be fine. Take this duplicated layer and drag it to the top of the stack (it will appear to have undone the adjustments – don’t worry about that just yet.)
Then select the High Pass Filter from under the Filters-> Other -> High Pass
You will now be presented with grey, lots of it. In my example I have used 2.4 pixels, but again start with that and see how you get on.
Now you may be wondering what’s happened to your image. Well, now we need to adjust the layer blending option. There are 3 choices we are interested in; Overlay, Soft light & Hard light. I have chosen Overlay, but again try the options to see what works best for you.
Now we can call it a day and you can save your image – you have just miniaturised somewhere.