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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.
In this movie we'll take those primitive geometric shape layers that we prepared in the previous movie and we'll turn them into this photorealistic composition here inside Photoshop, and we'll do so using a combination of Smart Filters, adjustment layers, blending options, and more. I'll switch over to my image in progress, and you can see here that I've got all these shape layers with these layer effects applied, and I want to tidy things up a little bit. In Photoshop CS6 I can press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and click on this Up Arrow icon next to the fx symbol, and that will go ahead and collapse the layer effects for all of my shape layers.
Then I'll click on the star layer and Shift+Click on red 2 in order to select that entire range of shape layers. And what I want to do is apply Smart Filters and some global layer effects to these items, so I am going to combine them into a Smart Object, by clicking on the flyout menu icon in the upper-right corner of the Layers panel and choosing Convert to Smart Object. Then just to get the ball rolling, I'll drop down to the fx icon and choose Drop Shadow, located at the bottom of the list here in CS6. It's at the top of the list in CS5 and earlier.
And I'll go ahead and increase the Distance value to 10 pixels, and I'll take the Size value up to a whopping 50 pixels. And then I'll change the Blend mode to the darkest of the darkening modes, Linear Burn, in order to create this very dark drop shadow. Now, that might be a little bit too much, so I'll go ahead and take the Opacity value down to 50%, and then click OK to accept the effect. Now I want to add some highlights in the form of a dynamic lens blur filter.
So I'll click on the polish layer-- we'll come back to that one in a moment-- and I'll create a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac. I'll call this layer flare and then click OK. Then I'll tap the D key to make sure I have my default colors and I'll press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on the Mac to fill that entire layer with black. Now, as I say, I want to apply a lens flare dynamically, meaning as a Smart Filter, so I'll convert this layer to a Smart Object by clicking on the flyout menu icon and choosing Convert to Smart Object once again.
Now I want to be able to see the effect as soon as I apply it, so I'll make the black invisible, by going up to the Blend mode pop-up menu and changing it from Normal to Screen, and that will drop out all of the black, because black is a neutral color for the Screen Blend mode. Then I'll go up to the Filter menu, choose Render, and I'll choose Lens Flare. And mostly, I've got the default settings going, which is to say the Lens Type is set to 50-300mm Zoom, I've increased the Brightness value to 150%, and I've gone ahead and set the center point to right about here, which is the upper-left corner of the shield.
Don't worry if you don't get it exactly right; you can always go back and change your mind later. Click OK. And if you don't get the lens flare in exactly the right location, you can double-click on the words Lens Flare right there and modify the settings. I am trying to keep my Layers panel tidy, because I am going to have a lot of layers going on here. So I'll right-click on this white filter mask thumbnail and I'll choose Delete Filter Mask because I'm not using it. Next, I want to drop out some of this brightness to allow some of the dark details to show in from the underlying layers.
So I'll double-click on an empty portion of the flare layer to bring up the Layer Style dialog box, complete with the Advanced Blending settings. I'll drop down to the Underlying Layers slider. I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag the right half of this black slider Triangle over to 70. So the value should read 0/70 and then 255, and that allows some of these black strokes to show through. Then click OK to accept that change. And then finally, I want to take the color out of this lens flare effect so it's neutral.
So I'll press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, drop down to this Black/White icon at the bottom of the layers panel, and choose the Hue/Saturation command. Because I had the Alt or Option key down, I invoked the New Layer dialog box. I'll go ahead and call this layer nosat; that is, no saturation. And I'll turn on Use Previous layer to Create Clipping Mask so that I clip this adjustment layer to the flare layer only, and click OK. Then I'll reduce the Saturation value to -100. That takes the Saturation out of the flare layer, while leaving the colors elsewhere inside of the image alone. All right! Now I'll go ahead and hide that Properties panel.
That would be the Adjustment panel in CS5 and earlier. Next, I decided I wanted to add some texture to the shield, which is why I have this polish layer. If you turn it on, you can see it's a photographic layer of brush metal. I'll go ahead and click on the layer to make it active. I want to be able to warp this brush metal around the shield, which means that I need to apply a warp transformation, which is best done when applied to a Smart Object. So with the polish layer selected, I'll go up to the flyout menu icon again and choose Convert to Smart Object.
Then I'll go over to the Edit menu and choose the Free Transform command, which you can get by pressing Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac. And I'll click on the Warp icon in order to switch to the Warp mode, and then I'll switch the Warp setting up here in the options bar from Custom to Inflate. And I want an awful lot of inflation, so I'm going to take that Blend value up to its maximum, which is 100%, and press the Enter key in order to accept that change. Then, before you press Enter again, go ahead and click on the Warp icon in order to switch back to the standard transformation mode, and reduce the Width value from 100% to 50%. The Height value should remain 100%.
Then press the Enter key a couple of times-- that would be the Return key on the Mac--in order to apply that change. Now I want to blend this layer with the underlying shield layer, and it should really be named shield actually, so I'll go ahead and rename that layer. Then I'll click on the polish layer once again and change its blend mode from Normal to Soft Light, which I figured gave me the best effect. Now, you can see that the layer extends beyond the shield. We need to clip it to the shield by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and clicking that horizontal line between polish and shield, and that goes ahead and clips the polish texture inside of the circular shield.
And then finally, I'll type 25 to reduce the Opacity of this layer to 25%. Now I wanted to add some more highlight, so I've got this brush layer right there. I'll go ahead and turn it on, click on it to make it active. Notice it's just a few brush spots. They're just soft dollops of paint. I'll show you how I did it. I went ahead and switched over to the Brush tool, which you can get by pressing the B key, and then I increased the size of my cursor quite a bit by pressing the Right Bracket key a few times. This is a soft brush by the way. I'll press the X key to switch the foreground color to white, and then I'll go ahead and click, let's say, right about there in order to add a little more white to the layer.
Now we need to back off of the white, let some of the dark color show through, so I'll double-click on an empty portion of the brush layer to again bring up the Layer Style dialog box, drop down to the Underlying Layers slider, press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag the right half of that Black slider triangle over to 100, so the values read 0/100 and then 255. Go ahead and click OK to accept that change. Again, that allows some of the black to show through below. Now, at this point the overall composition seems too bright and not saturated enough either.
So I'll press the M key to switch back to the Rectangular Marquee tool. Then I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, click the Black/White icon at the bottom of the layers panel, and this time I am going to choose Vibrance. I'll go ahead and name this layer "vivid" and click OK, and then I'll crank that Vibrance value up to its maximum, which is 100. Now, I'll add another adjustment layer, this time to darken the composition, by pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac. I'll click that Black/White icon at the bottom of the panel, choose Brightness/Contrast this time, name this layer darken, and click OK.
And then I'll take the Brightness value down to -35, like so, and then I'll crank the Contrast value up to its maximum, which is 100. And then I'll go ahead and close the Properties panel. That would be the Adjustments panel in CS5 and earlier. All right! Just a couple of steps left to go here. I am going to zoom in on the shield, and you can see that we have these fairly jagged transitions between the stripes. That doesn't look natural to me. Now, there is a few ways to handle this, but the easiest way is to go ahead and blur the shield a little bit, and I am going to do so in a couple of steps.
So I'll click on the shield layer to make it active. This is a Smart Object, so I can apply Gaussian Blur as a Smart Filter, by going up to the Filter menu, choosing Blur, and then choosing Gaussian Blur. And I figured a Blur value of about 2 pixels looked great. Now, it may look a little too blurry here onscreen or if you're zoomed in on the image; however--I'll go ahead and click OK-- when you zoom back out or you print the image, it looks pretty darn good. Now I figured we should add a little bit of extra Gaussian blur just in the form of a kind of highlight, and so I press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac to invoke the last filter, Gaussian Blur of course, and I'll increase the Radius value to 10 pixels, and then click OK.
Then I'll drop down here, right-click on that White filter mask, choose Delete Filter Mask to get rid of it. Now, notice this top Gaussian blur. That's the one we most recently applied. I'll double-click in the slider icon to the right of it to bring up the Blending Options dialog, and I'll reduce the Opacity value to 25%, and that gives us just a little bit of a kind of soft glow. Then I'll click OK in order to apply that change. All right! Now let's darken up the shield to give it a little bit more volume, and we'll do that by dropping down to the fx icon and choosing Gradient Overlay. And the kind of gradient I am interested in is a radial gradient, so I'll change the Style to Radial.
I don't want it to be dark to light; I want it to be light to dark, so I'll turn on the Reverse checkbox. I don't want black, actually. I want a little bit of color in order to shade the shield, so I'll click on this white-to-black gradient ramp in order to bring up the Gradient Editor, and then I'll double-click on this black gradient stop to bring up the Color Picker dialog box. And here are the values: 210 for the Hue value, 100% for the Saturation value, and 25% for the Brightness value. Then click OK a couple of times to return to the Layer Style dialog box.
I am going to go ahead and drag this gradient up and to the right. I am also going to increase the Scale value to its absolute maximum of 150%. And then I'll change the Blend mode from Normal to the ultimate darkening mode, which is Linear Burn, and finally, I'll reduce the Opacity value to 20% and click OK. All right gang, just one more step. I want to add a big burst right here, a big highlight burst to the top-right corner of the shield. So I'll go ahead and scroll up the list to the brush layer, click on it to make it active, create a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac, and I'll go ahead and call this layer splash, and click OK.
And then finally, I'll switch to the Brush tool and I'll right-click someplace inside of the image in order to bring up the Brush panel, and I'll click on this little gear icon here, and I'll choose Assorted Brushes in order to load some brushes that are included along with Photoshop. Unless you want to lose your old brushes, you want to click on the Append button in order to add these new brushes. Then go ahead and scroll down the list. And you'll find this one midway down, that's called Crosshatch 1. It's got a little 25 under it, to show you that by default it's 25 pixels in size, which isn't nearly big enough, by the way.
So I'm going to go ahead and increase the size of this brush to 1,000 pixels and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac. You should see this big, huge, blobby cursor. Assuming that your foreground color is white, which it should be at this point, go ahead and click just once in order to create the starburst effect, and then press the M key to switch back to the Rectangular Marquee tool. And that's it, folks. I'll go ahead and press the F key a couple of times in order to switch to the Full Screen mode and zoom in on our composition, and to give you a sense of what we've accomplished, I'll press the F12 key to revert the image.
This is what we started with; it could not have looked more cartoon-like. And if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, this is how our composition looks now, arguably fully photorealistic, thanks to the power of Smart Filters, adjustment layers, and blending options here inside Photoshop.
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