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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
So, if you worked through the previous movie, you know that we went ahead and rendered out some leafy letters with the help of the Refine Mask command. It's a great trick. However, aesthetically speaking, it's not really true to call these letters hedge letters, because they're not actually emerging from a bush; rather, it's as if we have a bunch of character-shaped wreaths that are hanging from this fence. What if you want a true topiary effect like this one here? It still makes use of that Refine Mask command; however, this time it goes by the name Refine Edge, and it works on selection outlines. So let me show you how that works.
I'm going to switch back to our image in progress and I'm going to go ahead and click on the HEDGE layer-- not its layer mask, just the layer thumbnail--to make that layer active. And I'm going to zoom out and click here, so then I've a little room to work. Armed with my Rectangular Marquee tool, I'm going to select along the bottom of those letters all the way to the bottom of the image. So notice that I'm just slicing through the very bottom=most leafs associated with each one of those letterforms. Now I'm going to go up to the Select menu, and notice now we're seeing Refine Edge command, and that's because we're working on the selection outlines itself.
You can still press that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+R or Command+Option+R on the Mac, in order to bring up the dialog box. Now you're going to get a pretty puzzling preview at this point. If you want to be able to see the layers instead, go ahead and choose On Layers, but that's still not going to do the greatest job. What we're really seeing is the selected portion of this HEDGE layer right there against the background fence, but we're not seeing the masked letters, so just bear that in mind: the masked letters will still be there. Let's go ahead and enter those same values we used before. That is, I'm going to crank the Radius value up to 20 pixels, and notice I am now engaging the leaves into my selection edge.
I'm going to take the Contrast value up to 50%, and then I'll raise the Shift Edge value to 25% in order to move the HEDGE upward just a little bit. Now it would be helpful if we could see the letterforms, because that would give us a better idea of how far we want to shift those edges. But 25% is going to work, and then turn on the Smart Radius check box in order to achieve the best results. Having done that, go ahead and click OK and you'll see that Photoshop just got done modifying the selection outline but not the layer, not the contents of layer or its mask.
Now click on the layer mask thumbnail to make it active. White is my foreground color when I'm working on a layer mask, so I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac in order to fill that selection with white. Then I'll click off the selection and you can see, we now have the bottom portion of the HEDGE. All right, I'm going to zoom back in at this point by manually modifying my zoom ratio value there. I just happen to know that 76% is a good ratio for this image. Now let's say I want to bring back-- I'll go ahead and turn off this layer for a moment--I want to bring back this text here at the bottom, YOUR TEXT, and I want it to actually cut a hole in the hedge.
The first thing I would do is Ctrl+Click here on the PC, or Command+Click on a Mac, on that T right there in a layers palette. It appears as a T thumbnail in Photoshop CS5 and earlier. And now I'm going to turn off that YOUR TEXT layer because we don't need it anymore. And I'll turn back on the HEDGE layer, click on its layer thumbnail to make it active. Now we're going to once again modify the contours of these selection outlines. You can barely see the marching ants of this point. But we're going to modify those selection outlines using Refine Edge once again.
However, because we want the letters to form a hole, we need to turn them into a hole in advance. So go up to the Select menu and choose the Inverse command or you can press that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Shift+I, Command+Shift+I on a Mac. Now we have letter-shaped holes and a larger selection outline. Go up to the Select menu and choose Refine Edge once again. And I'm going to enter those same values. So I'll change the Radius value to 20 pixels and that turns all those letters into little blobs. We can't even see them anymore. Now I'll change the Contrast value to 50% and change Shift Edge to 25%, just so that we are reemploying those same values.
I'll turn on this Smart Radius check box, and now you can see that we have just barely any holes left whatsoever. We can open them up by decreasing the Radius value. So I'm going to click inside that Radius value and press down arrow several times in a row. Every time I press down arrow, I'm reducing that radius value by 1 pixel. And pretty soon I start to open up the letters around 6 pixels, as you can see there, but I ultimately arrived at a value of 4 pixels. I just happen to like that look the best.
Now, having done that, again Smart Radius is on, the Radius value is set to 4 pixels, Contrast is 50%, Shift Edge is 25%, click OK, and the results are returned to the selection outline, as you can see. Now I want to fill the letters with black inside the layer mask, which means first I need to click on the layer mask thumbnail to make it active and then I need to go back to the Select menu and choose the Inverse command. Again, it's very important you work this way. And that goes ahead and select those letters. And now let's fill the letters with black.
My background color happens to be black, so I'll press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac in order to fill that selection as you see it there. Now I'm going to click off the letters in order to deselect them, and you can see we've got some nice leaf action going on inside those cut-out letters. Finally, I decided the fence is too dark, so I'll click on the fence layer to make it active. Then I'll click on the black-white icon down to here at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose the Levels command in order to bring up the Properties panel here inside Photoshop CS6. This would be the adjustment panel inside of CS5 and earlier.
I'm going to click inside that white point value and I'm going to take it down to 215, so I'll press Shift+Down Arrow four times in a row. Then I'm pressing Shift+Tab in order to make the gamma value active, this middle value, and then I'll press Shift+Up Arrow three times in a row to change that value to 1.3, as you see. Now everything is done. I'll go ahead and hide the Properties panel, press the F key a couple of times, and zoom in, and that is how you change leafy letters into actual fully realize topiary hedge, here inside Photoshop.
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