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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.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week we're going to finish up our Photoshop type effect. Specifically, I am going to show you how to take this type right here and we're going to reflect the letters into the water in order to produce this effect. Now, notice that everything aligns beautifully. We have these letters resting directly on top of the water and they align well with the reflection. And the reflection matches the natural pattern of the water itself. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right! So here's the final effect that we're going for, here is the reflection that I will show you how to create inside of this movie, and here is our base file, which contains an image in the background and then some editable text, which is set in Nueva Standard, which is a font that ships along with the Creative Suite.
But if you don't have it and you get a font warning, don't worry about it, everything will work out as advertised. First thing we want to do, as is so often the case, is we want to take this text layer and we want to convert it to a Smart Object. That way, we can apply Smart Filters and the text will remain editable. All right! So go up to the Layers panel flyout menu and choose Convert to Smart Object. Now, let's make a copy of that text by pressing Ctrl+J, Command+J on the Mac, then click on the bottom copy right there, the original, and let's go ahead and transform it to create a reflection.
And we'll do that by going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Free Transform command, which you can get by pressing Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac. Then go ahead and drag that top handle down, like so. Now ultimately, what I'm looking for is an H value of -115. And to pull that off properly, if you want to get the exact effect I'm getting, then you go ahead and click on this bottom reference point. Even though it's now the top reference point, it was originally the bottom, and that's how Photoshop tracks things. Then change that H value to -115, as you see me doing here, and then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac a couple of times in order to accept that modification.
Now, we want these feet to line up exactly. So I am zooming in, and I will press Ctrl+Up Arrow--this would be Command+Up Arrow on the Mac--as many times as it takes in order to get those feet to line up so that there's no gaps between them. Now, I can zoom back out by pressing Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac. The next step is to create a displacement map, and we will see that we have to do this in three steps. So step number one is to go ahead and grab that background layer, select it there inside the Layers panel, right- click inside the image window, and choose Duplicate layer. And then we'll go ahead and put this layer inside of a new file by setting Document to New, and then click OK.
It looks as if this is a flat file because we see the word Background in italics, but that's not true. This is one of those little flukes in Photoshop where you have to actually make it flat. Notice that we're seeing a little bit of a border around the layer thumbnail. That tells us we do not have a flat file. So go up to the Layer menu and choose Flatten Image and that double border will disappear. And the thing is we have to do that because displacement maps do not support layered files. Next, I want you to go up to the Image menu and choose Mode and then choose Grayscale. Displacement maps are most easy to predict when they're grayscale images.
Go ahead and click the Discard button if you see that warning. Then I want you to go up to the Image menu and I want you to choose Auto Contrast, and that will just go ahead and make the darkest color black and the lightest color white so that we have the highest degree of contrast possible inside this file without any clipping. Then go up to the File menu and choose the Save As command. And I am going to go ahead and call this Sea dmap, because it's a displacement map of the sea and then I will click the Save button to save that file. Now, let's go back to our file in progress here.
We need to apply that displacement map to the text, so go ahead and click on the bottom relax layer there and go up to the Filter menu choose, Distort, and then choose Displace. The first thing you'll see is the Displace dialog box. I want you to enter the settings you see here. That is a Horizontal Scale value of 30, a Vertical Scale value of 0, very important. These other options don't really matter. You might want to go ahead and set Displacement Map to Stretch To Fit. Undefined Areas is irrelevant because there aren't any. Then click OK.
Navigate your way to that folder where you just put the displacement map, click on it, and then click on the Open button. We did just place the text. It does match the water, but we've got a couple of problems here. Go ahead and zoom in and you will see what I am talking about. Notice, for example, that the feet don't line up, which is really a problem; we don't want that. And then, we've got these really choppy transitions, because there's a lot of noise inside this image. So I am going to zoom back out.
What do we do about that? Well, we return to our displacement map, which I did not close--if you've closed yours, open it back up. We need to make a couple of changes. The first change is the easiest. You just go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur, and you choose Gaussian Blur, and you change the Radius value to about 10 pixels, and then you click OK, and then you go up to the File menu and you choose the Save command. Leave the file open of course. Then return to the file at hand; that doesn't automatically update the file. You have to reapply the displacement. By double-clicking on the word Displace, you will get this dialog box. You should see the same settings you just entered a moment ago. So click OK.
Then go ahead and reload that Sea dmap.psd file if you're doing the same thing I am, and then click on the Open button, and notice how much smoother the results are. Now, we've got to do something about the alignment of the feet right there. This is a little tricky. I am going to zoom out, I am going to grab my Rectangular Marquee tool, and then what you want to do is you want to select along that intersection of the feet, like so, and select all the way down to the bottom of the image. Now, you want to move the selection into the displacement map file, and you want to make sure to align it in place.
You're going to have to do a Shift+Drop. It's a drag with one of the selection tools here and then Shift+Drop the selection into the other file. If you're working on a PC the way I am, and you see all the tabs, here's how it works. You go ahead and drag the selection up to the title tab, wait for the image to shift--so you should be seeing the grayscale displacement map. Then move your cursor back into the image window, press the Shift key, and then drop. And notice now, if I go ahead and zoom out, you'll see that I have aligned that selection exactly into place.
I will go ahead and grab my Gradient tool, which you can get by pressing the G key. The mode should be Normal, Opacity 100%. We want a linear gradient, so all the default settings, and we want to create this gradient from the Foreground to Transparent--that's the one we want right there. Then we're going to change the foreground color to 50% gray. Now, if you know anything about displacement maps, dark colors go ahead and displace one direction and light colors displace the other direction. The only neutral color is 50% gray, and that's why we want this point at which the feet intersect to be absolutely neutral.
So drag from the top of that selection down just a little bit, press the Shift key--also very important. So we're creating this maybe pica-long gradient here with the Shift key down, and then you release and you get just get a little bit of gray there. That almost gets us there, but we have to make this area above the selection gray as well. So go up to the Select menu and choose the Inverse command, or press Ctrl+Shift+I, Command+Shift+I on the Mac, and then press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete in order to fill that area with gray.
Now, go up to the File menu and choose the Save command, and that will be our final save with the displacement map, by the way. It's now ready to go. Switch back to the image in progress, go ahead and zoom in if you like, press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to get rid of the selection, double-click on the word Displace, click OK inside the Displace dialog box, click on the D Sea map file you created, go ahead and click on the Open button, and notice the feet now align properly. In fact, they align precisely.
So they should fuse right together there. Now, if you look closely, you can see that for one reason or other, this displacement map ends up taking the characters down and a little bit to the right. They have a little bit of a slant associated with them. That's natural given the properties of the displacement map, but it's not desirable. What I am going to do is slant the letters in the other direction by going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Free Transform command. And what's going to happen is Photoshop is going to tell you you can't see the displacement as you apply the transformation.
That's unfortunate, but it's the way it works. So click OK. The displacement will go away temporarily. Then press the Ctrl and Shift keys on the PC--that would be Command and Shift on the Mac--and drag this bottom handle to the left slightly. And here on the PC, you can see this little heads-up display that tells me that I'm skewing about -3 degrees, which is what I'm looking for. That's great! If you're working in CS5 and earlier and you don't see that little HUD there, then just go ahead and eyeball it.
But about this much skew is what we're looking for. Then, when you're finished, press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac in order to apply the skew and you will end up with this effect here. Now, I want to fade the effect a little, so I'm going to add a layer mask. First though, I will get rid of this filter mask by right-clicking on it and choosing Delete Filter Mask. Now, with the layer selected, I will go ahead and click on the Add Layer Mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers panel. We're going to switch back to the Gradient tool here. And I want to create a black-to-white gradient, so I am going to go up here to be Options bar and click Foreground to Background, and that should go ahead and update that so it looks like it's black to white, which it is. And then I will drag up, like, so while pressing the Shift key, in order to create a fade.
That's too much fade, so I am going to back off the density by double-clicking on the filter mask. That opens the Properties panel here in CS6; in CS5 and earlier, you want the Masks panel. Lets go ahead and take this Density value down to about 66%, and we get this effect here. All right! Finally, I am going to click on the thumbnail for the layer itself, in the Layers panel. Press the M key to switch back to the Rectangle Marquee tool, and type in 88 to reduce the Opacity value to 88%, and we end up with this final reflection effect.
I will press the F key a couple of times in order to zoom in on the image. And that's how you create a reflection that exactly matches the contours of the water that you're reflecting into, using a fairly advanced displacement map here inside Photoshop.
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