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Take a virtual journey to the bustling streets of New York in Bert Monroy: The Making of Times Square. Digital painter Bert Monroy reveals how he created the minute details that build the impressive 108,000 x 21,600 pixels, 25-feet wide photorealistic portrait of this iconic intersection.
In this installment, The Tools, Bert demonstrates how he uses the brushes, filters, and textures in Photoshop to create everything from the trees in Central Park to the billboards on Broadway, and shares his techniques for keeping his project organized with layers and groups. He also touches on the importance of channels and channel calculations, and how the evolution of the tools in Photoshop from CS3 to CS5 shaped his work.
CS5 saw the introduction of a whole new set of brushes. They are called the bristle brushes. These brushes exist in your panel right there. It's the first set of brushes that appear underneath the basic brushes, is all these strange little icon brushes. Now choosing any of the brushes and going into the Brushes panel, you see that the Brush Tip Shape is where you first come into and you can see the controls there. Go in to any of the other brushes, you see that the controls remained the same as such.
But when you access any of the new bristle brushes, that Brush Tip Shape panel changes completely to give you a whole new set of controls to work with these new brushes. These brushes emulate real-world brushes, giving you the ability to control the number of bristles, the length of those bristles, the thickness, the stiffness and the angle of those particular brushes. You also get this additional little animated preview up here. So that as I'm working with the brush, you could see that it's moving around based on the shape of the brush and how I'm holding it.
Now if you're using a mouse, this window will appear but it will not be animated. The little brush will be straight up and down, pretty much like that. So that brings the point, the fact that I am using a tablet and the tablet has pressure sensitivity and it has a tilt. As you can see the brush is tilting around. A mouse does not have pressure sensitivity. It doesn't have a tilt. So you can use these brushes but you would be limited on some of the effects that you would be able to get where you really need a tablet to maximize their effectiveness.
Now I am going to go in here and I am going to use this brush. To go in there and start to create some nice little effects, as you can see and so on, but what I am going to do is not actually paint with this brush. What I am going to do is create a brush tip using this brush which can then be used with any of the other tools. Let's switch over to say this guy here, the Round Curve Brush, or this guy, the Flat Curve Brush. It doesn't matter because I am going to manipulate this so strongly, it's going to do all kinds of weird stuff. So anyway, we will go back to that Round Curve.
So now what I am going to do is I am going to reduce the number of bristles way down. I am going to bring down their Thickness and I am going to go there and bring up their Spacing. In fact, let's use one of this little more of a fan kind of a thing. In fact we will use the Fan Brush, right, the Round Fan. So I am going to bring down the number of bristles, cut their Length down, the Thickness. I am going to bring the Stiffness way down. I don't want it to be stiff at all. I am going to play around with this Angle. I'm also going to go in there and increase their Spacing. So I start to get more of this kind of an effect. You can see what it's starting to create now. I might go ahead and increase their length again. There we go.
Getting that nice length going there. All right! So now with that in mind, I got in my Shape Dynamics where I have the Angle and I set the Angle to Direction. So it's going to actually follow my brush the way I am going to manipulate it around. So I will just close this down. And let's just go in here and just kind of doodle around until I get this kind of a weird little shape like that. There it is. That is my brush tip. That's what I want it to be. So what I am going to do is I am going to select that and go over and say Define Brush preset and we are going to call this fur.
So now I could just dump these guys. I don't want to see them. There we go. And I am going to get some text. I am going to type in right here Furry Friends. Now I have chosen a font that's fairly thin. I got Helvetica Neue, Light. I made it a nice large size. I am going to increase this spacing just a little bit. I am going to go in there and just get all these letters together here and I'm going to go into my character. I am going to increase the space between the letters there, Kerning.
I am going to bring up about +25 just to give them a little more room like that. That looks good. So now that I see. I am going to put in position right about there and may go in there and just make them a little longer, do a little Scale to make it a little taller, bring them up like that, bring it down, just so that we kind of fill up the screen like that. That looks good, right there like that. All right! So now what I have here is not exactly what I am going to use. The text itself is of no use for me. So I want to go up to my layers here and I am going to say Type > Create Work Path.
That created a path, which I now see here. There is my path. So in my layers I can dump the text. I really don't need the text, because I have a path. Now I might want to go in there and modify this path, which I can. Let's select this whole set of the paths right there and bring it down a little bit closer to the rest of the stuff here, and take the bottom of the F right here and kind of extend it out a little bit. Since it is a path I can do that. Just take that one and we will extend this one down just a little, just like that. So we have a little more character to our text.
So now we are going to go in there and modify this with our brush. Let's save that path and turn it off for now. In my layers, I am going to take my background and I am going to invert it. Now I am going to create a new layer right on top of it and this is where I am going to create my new text. I got my path. There is the path, so I could see it again. I am going to go and pick some colors for myself here. I am going to get a nice kind of an orangy nice color like that for my foreground and for my background I have the default of white.
Now I am going to go to my Paintbrush tool and I am going to choose that tip that I just created right there. It appears at the end. Nice and big like that. This right now is going to create that kind of an effect. So what I am going to do is I am going to go into my Brushes panel. We are now going to modify this, so it's going to make a big difference in the way it appears. Let's make the size a little smaller and we could see stroke that is creating now right? So I am going to randomizes this. I am going to go into my Shape Dynamics where I'm going to give it an Angle Jitter. Now you see that it's affecting each tip individually.
So I am going to go all the way to 100% so that each tip is following a different direction than its neighbors to the left and right. Same thing with the Size Jitter. I am going to increase it just about 52% so that each tip is a different size than its neighbors on either side. Give it a little spacing as well. Go there and just give it a little spacing just so that we can see the distinct tips like that. Now I am going to go down here to my Color Dynamics where I am going to say between the foreground and background, which right now are the orange and the white, I am going to go in there and say jitter between those two. 100%.
I am going to bring my Hue slider down to 0. I don't want to affect the Hue at all, but I do want to affect the Saturation just a little and the Brightness a little. Again, each tip is going to be affected independently of the ones to either side of it. So now that I have all these settings for my brush, I could turn this off, make sure I am into layer for my text. and I take the path. I have the brush selected as a current tool, so I say stroke it and I get my nice little Furry Friends. Now it looks a little chaotic. No problem. Undo that and make that brush much smaller, right there.
Now it's about the size of the strokes themselves, maybe a tiny bit smaller. Do it again and there we see we have these nice little furry text saying Furry Friends and it's a little more descriptive because we have a brush tip that kind of has that furry look to it. Now this is a technique that I used to create one of the many billboards that are in Times Square. That actual billboard we will see right here. There's the billboard. Furball the Musical. Now this of course doesn't exist. It's just a little tribute to all my cats that I have had throughout my life.
And to see it in the actual painting, we will look at the painting here and that particular billboard is way up in here. We'll kind of zoom into this little area right there. As we zoom in closer, you will see that there is a little Furball the Musical right there. It's really tiny, but it's effective and it's pretty legible. So in the overall painting, which expands 25 feet, it's just a little thing way down in there.
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