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This installment of the After Effects Apprentice series introduces 3D space in Adobe After Effects. Authors Chris and Trish Meyer highlight key design considerations for working in 3D and provide step-by-step instructions for enhancing a scene with 3D lights and cameras. The course explores integration between Photoshop and After Effects, including modeling 3D objects with Repoussé extrusions and creating dimensional still images, and offers tips on using the different Axis Modes and maintaining maximum quality in 3D. There's also a chapter dedicated to the ray-traced 3D renderer, introduced in After Effects CS6, which allows you to build 3D layers into your composites, with realistic motion blur, depth of field, and reflections.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com library.
Once I'm done cutting it up, I will now switch to Photoshop, import that file, open Samoan cut-up.psd, Open and now you'll see I've these individual layers for the full frame background and the pot, wall and a little bit of that fan, the left pole, the right pole and the man. Now since nothing was obscuring the man, the foreground pole or the pole in the left, I don't need to do any further touch up work in any of these layers, they are fine as they are.
However, I do have bits of obscured for this pot, wall and fan, and then there is the background, it's going to need the most work. What I need to do is remove these objects, such as this pole, this pot, pole on the left and most importantly this man so that I've a clean plate that only represents everything that's behind those individual layers. That's going to be the most labor- intensive part of this whole process. Again, I'm not going to go through all of the steps here, but I want to give you a few ideas at how you might go about it.
First, I'm going to turn off these guides, since I don't need to see them for this work. And I'm going to focus on something simple like this pot, plus this wall. As I pan around this final composite in 3D, I'm going to be basically peeking around, this pole, looking at what's behind it on the left and looking what's behind it on the right. Therefore, this layer needs to have some actual information to look at behind that pole. But I want to keep this masked outline that I've already created. So with the pot+wall that is selected, I'm going to lock my transparency, so I don't alter the Alpha Channel of this layer.
Once I've done that, I'm going to use just the good old-fashioned Clone Stamp tool to extend this wall. I'm holding on Option on Mac, Alt on Windows and clicking to get my reference. I'm going to choose a slightly larger size here for my brush, maybe around 40 pixels or so, and then start dragging in through here to extend that wall across the pole. Very simple. Now I'll do the same thing over here.
Hold down Option on Mac, Alt on Windows to get a reference point. Move to where they line up, and then paint in that missing area as well. So now I can peek around the back of the pole by this much on the left and this much on the right. Next, I need to paint in part of this pot and this is going to be bit trickier. Actually here where it's dark it's not so bad. So I'm going to hold down Option or Alt, get a reference point. Just fill in these dark areas to start with. Clean that up a little bit there. I don't need to go all the way, so I don't anticipate looking all the way behind the pole, but I need to do a fairly good job.
It's going to be tricky now, as we're extending this pot, I could use the Clone tool to try to extend the colors. Well, frankly it would be even better at this point, would be to take a selection of this area of the pot, flip it over and paste it in on top, so we at least have a nice mirror image and things would match up nicely. Otherwise I am stuck with doing some cloning like this, which is going to give only so, so results, to be honest. I'm just doing this quickly to give you an idea what you might need to do.
Here on this other side it's very easy to replace the man's arm with this fan. I'll just Option+Click and start painting out parts of his arm. Again, I have the lock Transparency turned on, I did not alter my Alpha Channel, and then I need to do the same thing coming in the opposite direction, painting over parts of the wall and other objects on this side. I don't have a lot of material to work with, so I'm not doing a fantastic Clone job here. I'm doing what I can. Okay, and a little bit of this area down here.
I should go much further than that, but you get the idea. The background is a real challenge. Fortunately Photoshop has a few different tools to help make this easier. In addition to the Clone Stamp tool, which we've been using, and the Healing Brush tool which is also very useful, a relatively new feature in Photoshop is Content-Aware Fill, where it try to automatically fill a selection for you, based on other content in the image, and this gives you a great head start to painting out objects in the background. Indeed, Photoshop did not have this when I recently worked on the image.
I did everything with the Clone Stamp tool, but let me show you how I would tackle this with Content-Aware Fill. First, let's get rid of this pole. I'm going to select the pole, I'm going to up to Selection>Load Selection, load my selection from the Transparency of that pole, click OK, reselect my background and say Edit>Fill>Content-Aware Fill. You can also use solid colors et cetera.
Click OK, you see Photoshop thinks for a little bit and then fills in that pole the best it can from the content around it. I did a pretty job around here, but you see on this other side we're getting parts of the guy's ear and parts of his shoulder and stuff like that. We also have some manual cleanup work to do on there, but let's keep moving forward. I'll clean up the pole on the left, rather than use the Select menu item, all I need to do is Command+Click or Ctrl+ Click on the layer to load a selection. Select my background again, Edit>Fill>Content-Aware>OK.
Not too bad, I got a little bit of his arm here, but we can take care of that. This is a good start. Then finally, the man; he is the biggest part to cut out of here. I use the shortcut of Command+ Clicking or Ctrl+Clicking on the man's layer to load a selection. Click to reselect the background, Edit>Fill>Content-Aware>OK. After a moment of thinking, not a bad start, a lot easier than hand cleaning the whole thing. Command+D or Ctrl+D to release my selection, now I need to basically paint out all of these weird artifacts.
For example, this outline of the pole here is something that the Healing Brush is very good at, so I'll select Healing Brush. Again, get a slightly larger brush size around 30; just start dragging down this line. And as I do so and release, you'll see it nicely picks up the foliage and repairs this area. Get rid of that nail, that's repaired. And go up through here and I replace that pole with this roof. I can also do a little bit of cleanup here on the wall. That's nice.
I still have my pots in here, and actually since that's a separate layer, I can either clone this out or again take advantage of Command+Click or Ctrl+Click in the layer to load the selection. Select my background again, Edit>Fill> Content-Aware and use Photoshop to go ahead and get rid of some of that as well. Actually that worked out pretty well. Command+D or Ctrl+D, a little bit of Healing Brush, clean up those outlines, and this goes so much faster now. Not bad, in Photoshop CS5 or later than it did before.
Now with the man, this is a bit harder. I can use the Healing Brush for some of the outlines like this, get a little bit more there. Once I get into more complex areas like this pole that was behind, that's not something the Healing Brush can fix. I'm going to need to use the Clone Stamp tool to clone that pole back in and do other repair work around the image. No one said this was easy, and no one said it was completely automated, it does require work, but at least you now have an idea of some approaches to go ahead and repair these images to create a nice background plate and clean up some of your foreground layers as well.
Once you're done, I'm going to turn my layers all back on, and resave this as a layered Photoshop file. Samoan cut-up cleaned.psd, Photoshop Format, layers, Save. Click OK. Now that we've prepared the image, we can go back to After Effects and animate it.
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